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“Good evening, all!” Yuki says from behind an open computer panel, waving with a screwdriver in hand. “Won’t be long now. Just a little fine-tuning of the system is all.”
Her assistant walks over to her, having just doused his hands in Go-Jo. “We’re getting close to having everything set up for our otherworldly visitor from a few months back.”
“And if all goes according to plan, we’ll never have to hear from that bastard ever again.” Yuki ducks back into the computer and continues, her voice muffled, “Who the hell bursts into Colorado, of all places, and goes after the natives?”
“It has to be a one-off, right? Like, those figures don’t appear anywhere in the mythology. So, everyone who saw these guys had to have died before word could get out.”
“Correct. They didn’t stick around long, so they’re definitely trying to find us again…just a few hundred years off is all.”
Yuki crawls back out of the computer and closes the panel and secures it. “That’s all done now. We can move on to tonight’s excursion. This is a bit of a sad and terrifying one, so please be aware of that.
“For tonight, we’re focusing on a broadcast sent out all over the web from an undisclosed location. A veteran recounting the aftermath of staggeringly bloody war, almost forgotten in the vastness of space.”
I will never forget the short time I spent on Thogerth vii. Those horrible, dreadful hours were undoubtedly the worst of the war humanity was engaged in at the time.
No, wait, let me rephrase that.
Those hours were the worst that I witnessed. The torment of those men and women; the months…the years…unfathomable. All the faces before and after freeing the pows are burned into my memory as well. They ranged from vacant and comatose to angry and hysterical. By the time we reached them, there was no joy to be found.
And who could blame them?
Like I said, we were only on Thogerth for a very limited time before it was blown to hell…but I’m honestly lucky to be here at all. The scars across my arms and the damage to my liver would concur.
Most of my brothers and sisters of the 103rd didn’t make it to their fortieth birthdays—many of them by their own hand. The rest…turns out the atmosphere wasn’t fit enough for humans, after all.
Shit, here I am rambling.
I’m telling you this now because no one else has, either because they couldn’t or because nobody wanted to listen at the time. Why would they? We’d won. No need to be a Dour Debby over the woes of the war—it was to be celebrated!
I am also telling you this because disturbing rumors are slithering across the darkest depths of the subnet…and they very well may be legitimate. So if all those digital rumblings happen to be true, I implore anyone that may have information or who can gather it to please bring it forward!
Okay, okay…I’m getting to it.
We weren’t on Thogerth but for five minutes when I was overcome by an extreme feeling of unease. At that point, I’d been on a dozen worlds outside our solar system on military operations. Each time I was able to take a moment to gaze in awe at my surroundings.
But no, not on Thogerth.
To begin with, the whole place looked cold and inhospitable, despite being at a constant thirty-six degrees Celsius and humid as all get out. Everything from the ground to the walls of the cave where the pows were being held looked to be alive. It all pulsated or moved around ever so slightly. The planet itself was a living being and felt like it was ratting us out to the Denit’zar. We were the intruders, after all.
The 103rd was the infantry division that took down those alien bastards once and for all. Once the battle was over, numerous teams were sent in to fully map out the area and report any findings. My team within this was responsible for mapping an inconspicuous cave the Denit’zare were strangely defending with all their might. We were also charged with reporting and assisting pows until the other, more specialized teams could take care of them.
The mapping teams over the region were worked in pairs. I was teamed with Sofia Valderez; a relative newbie, but had a reputation for having some damn good eyes while scouting. This was her first live mission off-world.
From the time we left our ship, it took us around an hour to wade through the corpses, alien and human alike, to get to the cave entrance Intel provided us.
Two klicks passed before either of us realized we were passing intricately hidden doors the whole time. The bastards looked identical to the actual walls, save for the subtle indentations one would use to apply pressure and cause them to roll open. Sofia noticed similar concave anomalies within the structures that we later found acted as locks, undone by crystal fragments; they varied in size and number, which dictated a level of security (an example being 3 crystal fragments of one size being a lower grade of clearance to a door needing three crystals of three different sizes).
As we were without the strange keys (so many of them were found amongst the piles of bodies outside the cave), we could not accurately map everything within. But we had to continue.
My group didn’t find the detention area…however, we did find what they were doing with the prisoners…and learned how the Denit’zar were able to replenish their numbers throughout the multi-decade war despite the tremendous casualties on their side. Every time we thought we had won, they inevitably came back like a horrible bedbug infestation.
Hundred of women, as far as my eyes could see, suspended above the floor in stacks of six. Each were laid out naked on a semi-transparent, gelatinous substance that molded around the underside of the body and had them at a thirty degree angle. A thin membrane covered their eyes, wrists, and ankles…it had to be holding every one of them in place.
Atop each of the women, the familiar bloated and scaly forms of a Denit’zar. I could feel the rumbling of the guttural cries in my chest. My skin crawled and my knees very nearly failed to support my weight. Thankfully, the cries of the women were drowned out for the moment.
“Alpha-Charlie,” I whispered into my mike, “are you getting this shit? Over.”
After a brief spell, my headset crackled to life. “Copy Romeo-Tango. Your eyes are ours. Still mapping the area and hotspots. Over.”
“Any more info? Over.” I wait for the next response.
“The corridor on your immediate left: there is another room. We don’t have a full scan, but from the data we have compiled we can presume it is a holding area. The other pows may be there. Over.”
“What do we do about…all this? Over.”
“Disregard. Keep your focus on your objective. Echo-Tango will handle this. Do not engage unless under fire from hostiles. Over.”
“Copy,” I replied through gritted teeth. We’ll check the corridor. Over.”
“Romeo-Oscar’s data is uploaded concurrently; your team should see the update momentarily. Over.”
“Switching channels. Over and out.”
I popped over to Remeo-Oscar’s channel the moment I was able to view the segments of the caves they mapped. It appears they, too, found a collection of rather large rooms. Before I advanced my team, I at least wanted to enquire in the findings.
“Romeo-Oscar, do you copy? Over.”
Another blast of static hit my left ear. “This is Romeo-Oscar. Over,” a shaken voice answered. It was Valderez, we’d gone through the hell of bootcamp together. Normally a tough son of a bitch…it was strange to hear her so rattled.
“This is Romeo-Tango. Need further info on your findings. Have you found the pows? Over.”
“Affirmative, Romeo-Tango. We’ve located three enemy dormitories…and…fuck…a couple horrible rooms. Over.”
“Ditto. We’ve found pows, but it is not a holding area. Repeat, it is not a holding area. Over.”
“Likewise…it’s fucking awful. It appears to be a…breeding room of some sort. The men are being rounded up and are being used until there’s nothing left. Piles of bodies…just swept up and discarded. Over.”
I relayed all that we found up until that point and further advised we were on the way to check another room as specified by Alpha-Charlie.
Valderez decided to stay on the channel while we investigated. Once more, we did not find any sort of prison cell…but of course, being Thogerth, it was even worse.
Sorry…this is the part that stands out the most vividly.
This room was the second we came across filled entirely with human women. No sign of Denit’zar females. Nothing else was present to cover up the pained screams this time. Dozens of them cried out, bodies contorting and writhing. All were on the same blobs we saw earlier, although closer to a ninety degree angle. The light was much more dim in this area than all the others, but I could clearly see a mixture of fluids on the ground. The stench was incredible. Vomit and shit dominated the undercurrent of blood and had us gagging from the moment we slipped in. In seconds we’d known that we’d not entered a prison cell—we were in the birthing room.
From the back an ear piercing shriek rang out. Startled, I hid in the shadows of a nearby corner and made myself as small as possible. A smaller passage opened up above our entryway, and another blob, a fraction the size of all the others, glided toward the source of the cry. It neared a petite woman with a massive belly that looked too large for her to carry around on her own. Her arms and legs and face were skeletal, her heavy breasts dropped and sagged to either side.
The small drone descended and found a spot between her thighs and hovered patiently.
“No! Nooo!” the woman cried out. “Get the fuck away from me! You’re not taking them! Fuck off!” She tried in vain and swiveled her hips. Her leg muscles tensed as she tried to kick. The membrane around her ankles had no give whatsoever. Over and over again through gritted teeth she hissed and shouted like a feral cat. Obscenities echoed throughout the room.
I watched curiously as the jelly-like orb shook and split itself down the middle. And, like a cell, replicated itself and pulled apart into two distinct entities.
The woman’s body tensed, her muscles contracted and she looked like she was willing her body not to eject the child.
Edwards, to my left, readied her weapon to fire—at the woman, the drone, to this day I still don’t know. Never got an answer from her. I signaled not to fire. We hadn’t a clue how many might still be further in the cave system, not to mention however the hell many were in the breeding chambers.
My money was on no further protection at all. The Denit’zar needed offspring, no way were the males going to stop what they were doing unless assaulted directly. All the other possible warriors had to be above ground and rotting in heaps. Never before had we encountered Denit’zar in such vast numbers. But with so many unexplored nooks and locked access points, it would have been foolish to bring attention to ourselves.
Another two hours was spent steadily descending into the alien tunnel work. Plenty more inaccessible areas, but a surprising amount of places we could explore. Not a trace of Denit’zar or human presence.
When I reported in that both Romeo-Tango and -Oscar had completed the assigned missions, all of us were to provide support to Echo-Tango as they cleared the area of hostiles and liberated the pows, both alive and dead.
Our groups arrived shortly before Echo-, so we spread out and formed barrier over all the exits. Although it turned out to be totally unnecessary, the crack shots had a half a dozen of them down in a matter of seconds. They engaged the beasts icily and stealthy. All that could be heard was the thup! of the semi-automatic weapons and the crumpling of the dead bodies as they crashed to the ground. The last remaining Denit’zar got wise to the situation and charged us, but only got as close as thirty meters before they were put down.
Getting the pows out, now that was another situation entirely.
While there were those that clawed at the gelatin-like membranes alongside us, others (probably held for several weeks or month) resisted our help and fought every step of the way. Their expressions haunt me to this day. One in particular being the glare from the woman who had been in the process of birthing twin half-breeds earlier. She didn’t say a word as I helped cut her down. A pair of ice daggers stabbed me dead on. I haven’t a clue what she was thinking exactly, but I’m sure it was along the lines of ‘how could you take so long?’ or ‘why didn’t you help me?’
The second the last of her bonds were severed, she found the strength to lunge forward to Edwards and caught her unawares. When she connected with the shoulder check, the woman retrieved the holstered sidearm, spun around, and fired three times. None of us had time to react and it took a second or two for us to realize that two of the rounds hit the babies in the throat and chest. The third stray shot punctured the small floating blob.
Edwards wrestled the woman, who did not fight back, to the ground, disarming her. Neither of the tiny creatures so much as whimpered or moved. The blood poured from the wounds and splashed on the ground. That’s all I remember hearing; to this day I’m not sure if the room just got quiet after the shots were fired or if I just started going into shock at that point. Yeah, the rest of our time on Thogerth was a blur. I was just doing things automatically at that point. I must’ve been doing an alright job or didn’t seem off…nobody pulled me aside or called me out on it.
So yeah, that was Thogerth.
Now you’re probably wondering what that had to do with anything. Why was this old woman going on and on about things that happened well before most of you were born?
Those images seared into my memory, the ones that I relived for you all right here…keep those pictures in your mind’s eye and remember those words…what they did to us. Monstrous. Inhuman.
If what’s out there in the wired is true, it’s happening again.
On this planet.
In this country.
Perpetrated and kept quiet by our elected officials and those that they appointed.
So please, I beg you, if anyone out there knows something or can get more information, please get in contact with me. It goes without saying, if you can get into their systems, you sure as shit can find me.
All I can offer—
“So, we’re gonna look further into this one, right Yuki?”
Wide-eyed, Yuki nods. “Oh, you bet your ass we are, this one seems too juicy to pass up.”
Her assistant jots down the details in a small notepad. He pauses and reads off the coordinates displayed on the screen to his left. “Alright, we’re good to do some more research there when the time is right.”
Out of nowhere, an alarm rings out. It’s not as bad as the one when their interdimensional friend decided to show up, but it does it’s job to get everyone’s attention.
“What the hell is that!?” Her assistant shouts, clutching his chest.
Yuki smirks fiendishly. “Our buddy almost found us again. When the system detects its presence, the same unit that propels us through space and time sends off a signal close enough to our plane of existence and diverts that asshole and keeps him wandering harmlessly for awhile.”
Her assistant blinks. “Okie-dokie then.” And gives her a thumbs up. “Not the big fix, I guess?”
“Nope. But you’ll know.” Yuki focuses on her guests now, “Thank you all for joining us again. We’ll see you in a couple weeks for our next adventure. You all take care.”
The assistant waves as well. “See ya later!”