Darkest Sacrifice

DARKEST SACRIFICE

 BY EDWARD DRAKE

 

 Warning: This story contains explicit scenes of gore, violence and horror.

 Darkest Sacrifice joins a squad of soldiers aboard the freighter Lathiathan, as they search for their lost comrades and the missing crew of the ship, but something lurks in the darkness.

 

They ran as fast as they could down the narrow metal corridors, their boots thundering on the grating. Screeching to a stop as they reached the large pneumatic doors they breathed deeply trying to recover. There were four of them, three men and one woman. They wore blue combat armour that cover them from neck to toe and sweat glistened across all of their faces.

‘Get the door open!’ ordered the leader of squad, a tall aged, grey haired man with a scar above his brow that resembled a star. His right hand rested upon the hilt of a sheathed blade while his left held the drawn bolt pistol. Captain Steiner had a hardened and focussed face, but he looked impatient as two of his men heaved at the door, its controls smashed.

‘Sir, there’s another entrance around the next corner!’ stated the woman who stood beside him. She appeared strong, a rival for any man, and her blonde hair was cut short, almost down to the scalp. She had served at Steiner’s side for years as had the other two members of the squad. She carried a repulsor rifle, a weapon that had seen much use in the past years.

The captain reviewed his data-pad, a luminous map displaying the interior of the frigate.

‘You’re right Corporal Johnson,’ Steiner agreed. ‘Rhienhardt, Vartok, leave it!’ The two huge bulks turned, more sweat upon their faces from their efforts. The two men were twins, both with stern, toughened expressions and had the same features, short dark hair and fiery eyes. The only difference between them was the burn scar across Vartok’s cheek and their weaponry. Rhienhardt carried a repulsor rifle, the same as Johnson, but Vartok carried the bigger and heavier Glieger.

Following their captain they hurried further down the corridor and rounded the next corner. There, they found the next door, covered in blood and gore. It opened automatically as they neared, and the squad were greeted with a scene worse than their darkest nightmares.

‘Oh my God!’ swore Rhienhardt, the same thought that echoed through each of their minds. Before them, in the Dining Hall of the freighter, covering the floors, lying atop the tables, hanging from the lights and impaled upon the walls, were the bodies of over forty people. Bones and organs had been torn through their flesh and littered the entire floor. Vartok vomited instantly as the smell hit them. Food, plates and dining tools were scattered everywhere, all covered in the vital crimson liquid.

‘Check the bodies for signs of the Alpha Squad and the vessel’s commander,’ Steiner ordered. ‘Keep a look out though. We have no idea what happened here.’

The squad inched inside, moving cautiously and carefully over the bodies. They wore the navy blue uniform of the Arhiant Corporation, the freighter’s crew. The dead were difficult to distinguish from each other, their remains torn into bloody ruin. Upon the walls they were held by spikes that were a strange metal, unseen by any of the four soldiers. There was no sign of any living or any signs of an intruder or what the attacker could have been. By the hideous claw wounds on their bodies, they could not have been killed by anything human.

‘What could have done this?’ asked Johnson aghast.

‘Sir!’ called over Vartok. The soldier had found two bodies whose uniforms were different to the rest, instead wearing a yellow combat armour.

‘Marshall and Deacon of Alpha Squad,’ Steiner stated, recognising the two men. Their armour had been torn completely open, and Marshall had been speared by two of the strange spikes. The captain placed a hand to his ear piece before speaking.

‘Command this is Bravo Squad, requesting further orders,’ he stated, but his words were only met by static. Steiner repeated his request again but was met with only the crackle of more static. ‘Command if you can hear this, we have found most of the crew and two members of Alpha Squad. All are dead. We will continue searching for the rest and the artefact.’

He then turned to his squad who awaited their captain’s orders. Each had a look of fear in their eyes that Steiner had never seen in them before.

‘We continue with the mission as planned,’ he commanded.

‘I’m not sure about this sir!’ Rhienhardt said shakily.

‘I don’t often agree with my brother but he’s right,’ added Vartok. ‘This ship stinks of death and evil.’

‘We do as the captain has ordered!’ Johnson said, supporting Steiner. The twins shook their heads, but said no more.

‘Keep your weapons primed,’ Steiner ordered, and was soon met with the clicks and electronic hums as their armaments came to life. He also drew his sword, a curved blade made of Bysontine steel, strongest metal in the known galaxy.

Stepping out into the corridor again the captain checked the data-pad and then led the squad on, towards the Primary Deck, the main hub of the ship where navigation, flight and all systems were controlled. The corridors and rooms were an eerie, terrifying silence that delved deeply into the fears of each member of the squad. More sweat appeared on their faces, but this was not from the heat or exhaustion. None of them showed their fears but all felt them.

As part of the Guardian Crew, they were tasked with policing these space lanes and when the Arhiant Corporation freighter, the Lathiathan, had been detected drifting off course, they had been dispatched. The crew of the freighter did not respond to hails on any frequency and the Alpha Squad had been sent to investigate. Their orders were simple. Find the crew and what had happened to them and discover the artefact that was being transported. Radio silence had claimed them almost immediately and now two of their squad had been found slaughtered.

Bravo Squad continued down the narrow corridors until they reached a stairwell. At its foot was a massive puddle of blood, the stairs and handrails also covered all the way up. Suddenly the lights powered down and the squad was plunged into darkness. From all around them they heard a low hissing that became deeper, almost a roar.

‘Body lights!!!’ ordered Steiner, activating the luminous bulbs at their shoulders. Around them, surrounding them, were beings, masses of claws and fangs amongst tangles of blood and flesh. They waited and watched the squad for a second who stood back to back, forming a defensive diamond. Then, the terrifying beasts lunged forward as one.

‘Open fire!!!’ screamed Steiner but the order was not needed as all of them pulled the triggers on their weaponry. The corridor and stairwell were illuminated by flashes from their guns and rifles, but their sounds were drowned by the screaming emanating around them. Shell and energy casings dropped to the floor as their guns tore through the hideous creatures, the kick-back of the discharge being the only comfort amongst their horror. Blood and unspeakable fluids poured from the creatures as they were cut down, but still more came onwards, reaching for the four soldiers who relentlessly fired at their attackers as they tried to claw and tear at them.   

‘No!!’ grunted Rhienhardt as his rifle jammed and ceased to function. Out of the darkness the beasts lunged forward, tearing through his armour with ease and slicing at his body with such speed no one saw it happening. He screamed with pain and tried to hit his foes with the useless rifle. Johnson and Vartok tried to bring their guns to bear but were close to being overwhelmed themselves.

Gripping onto his exposed rip cage, Rhienhardt was dragged away amongst them and torn apart.

‘Brother!!’ roared Vartok in a mighty battle-cry. Firing his mighty Glieger he leapt amongst them, forcing them back to begin with, but they came out of the ceiling vents and up through the grating of the floor to seize him.

‘Come on!!’ shouted Steiner as he grabbed the back of Johnson’s armour and dragged her up the stairwell. Taking a pulse grenade from his belt he pulled the pin and dropped it behind as the pair paced as fast as they could up the stairs. Five seconds later and they were thrown forward as the stairs were engulfed in green flames, disintegrating the nearest of the creatures.

Not waiting to recover, Steiner pushed them onwards until they reached the Primary Deck, reloading their weapons as they moved. As they came to the doors that gave access to the main hub the lights around them flickered back to life. Then they heard the low growl and hissing from behind.

‘Get those doors open!’ Steiner ordered, covering behind her as she tried to unlock the door via its control panel.

Before him in the light he could see four of the creatures, in all their horrifying glory, slowly approach down the corridor. They looked like demonic, twisted forms of humans, their bodies and bones deranged into new and terrifying forms. Claws and spikes ripped through flesh, organs and brains clearly visible, working like they were trying to power an elephant. Their heads were enlarged and cracked skulls bursting through the skin of their faces. Fangs lined their jaws which hung widely open, as if grinning. From their brutal forms hung the tattered uniforms of the crew of the Lathiathan and the yellow armour of Alpha Squad.

They roared and screeched at Steiner before hurtling forth down the corridor. The captain squeezed the trigger of his bolt pistol again and again, slicing through their ruined flesh but still they neared. From the ruined and still smoking stairs lurched another of the beasts, but Steiner knew the twisted and disintegrated face that peered and roared at him, Vartok. His body was warped, claws and twisted bones protruding through the skin and blue combat armour. His eyes met Steiner’s but there was no recognition there, only pure malice. With three rounds from the pistol the captain ended the suffering of his squad-mate.

‘Got it!’ shouted Johnson and the doors finally opened. The two soldiers ran into the main hub without looking what was inside and then tried to force the doors shut with all their strength. Just as the doors edged close the nearest beast sent two spikes flying towards them from its body. The doors shut and both Steiner and Johnson slumped down to the floor, but only the captain was breathing hard.

‘You okay?’ he asked but there was no reply. The spikes had ripped through the Corporal’s armour and torn through her body and out through her back. Her eyes were glazed over in death’s stare.

Welcome Captain Marcus Steiner!’ hissed a deep voice from behind him, but he ignored it.

‘I’m sorry,’ Steiner whispered as he kissed Johnson on the forehead gently and activated a tool on her belt. He then dropped the bolt pistol to the floor as he slowly turned.

In the centre of the hub, surrounded by data screens and controls to pilot the freighter, was something that was worse than even the deepest, darkest nightmares could conjure. It resembled one of the creatures that the crew had become, but was bigger, bulkier and what remained of its skin was greyed, the veins a midnight black. Like the others, scraps of a uniform hung from its ghastly body, chevrons on its shoulders. The flesh of its head was completely gone and dark eyes peered out of the cracked skull.

‘Captain Mynash,’ Steiner sighed deeply and tiredly, not overwrought by the thing that stared hungrily at him.

Not anymore!’ the being stated as it lurched forward slowly on multiple legs. ‘What you would call an infection from that artefact that was obtained has made me into so much more! I am now something far stronger than that pathetic human could ever be! You will become one of my children, like the others!

Steiner merely shook his head and looked up into the devilish eyes of what he could only call a demon.

‘You killed your crew, the Alpha Squad and my squad!’ he stated angrily. ‘I know I cannot escape you or those abominations outside! I will die here! But so will you!’

With that he drew his sword and charged at the beast. Steiner roared as he hacked and slashed at its many clawed limbs and pierced the demon’s body repeatedly, but it did not slow, nor show any signs of injury or slowing, despite the foul blood and fluids that poured out of its wounds. Then with a mighty, piercing scream it leapt forward and its claws tore through his armour and into his chest. Other hands grabbed his sword and shattered the shining, gore splattered blade. Sending agonising pain coursing through its prey, the demon lifted the captain up so that his face was just in front of its own.

You will become one of us!’ the demon screamed.

‘No…I…won’t,’ Steiner managed to say weakly as he smiled, blood dribbling from his lips.

Then from across the room, at Johnson’s belt, ticked a countdown. The room, deck and the entire Lathiathan freighter was then engulfed in light, as bright as any star.  

Copyright. Edward Drake. 2011

Comments
  1. JasonC says:

    Great suspense and horror. Like a good version of that Doom movie!!

  2. Rick says:

    Really good Ed. I like proper sci-fi horrors and I’d definitely read more if you upload them.
    Keep up the good work.

  3. JJ says:

    That’s a really cool sci-fi horror. You should do some more in this genre as this was really good!

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