Surging out of the planet’s atmosphere the glorious service skims low across the troposphere to avoid pirate fighters. An exhausted Wassi turns the controls over to the Goblin pilot, Pawkets, her arms drooping as she goes to get some rest from keeping the transport on station. Pawkets grins a shark toothed smile. All that time in the sims would finally pay off.
“Here’s our target,” Technobowl transmits, giving the coordinates to a point further out into the black above the planet. The engines burn hotter as the vessel gets further away from the planet’s gravity well.
“Enroute.” Pawkets confirms.
Within the vessel the rest of the team is at their stations, Crissum and Tvarag are reloading, recharging, and rearming the squad’s weapons and armour. Doggo sits back with a cool Space Pale Ale listening to twanging music in the weapon’s turret. The unconscious Graes remains in the team’s Medbay, nutrition tubes feeding and rehydrating the simian.
“Guys…I think you should see this,” Pawkets voice comes through the team’s com-net.
The view ahead of the Argent Knights is one pulled straight from a dark tale. An ionized field of debris, intense radiation, unstable reactor cores, and unexploded munitions. The third house of death, Exigo Station, had been hidden inside the remnants of an ages old space battle
“According to the sensors the god damned magnetic charge that laces the area has kept the cloud from drifting apart. This must have been a f*&$ing incredible battle.” Crissum curses looking over Techno’s shoulder.
“The coordinates are almost dead center of the debris field,” Pawkets queries fretfully, “I can’t see anything through the cloud, are we really going in?”
“I have a weak signal in the right destination.” The Grey transmits.
“Firming a F*&$ing path through with the sensors,” Crissum directs, “punch it.”
Tvarag grabs a beer from the new mini fridge, tossing one up the waiting Vlaka as he mans a gun battery.
“Boy, I tell you what, I do love shewting things.” Doggo hoots, cracking open the cold freedom can and bringing his cannons to full readiness.
The entire ship shudders as the shields flair.
“Space Mine, my bad.” Pawkets calls out.
“Another Mine, Mine bad.” He cheerfully yells, a slight note of panic in his voice. The ship veers heavily as the pair manning sensors maps out a less direct, but fewer obstacle path towards the sensor ghost.
“WATCH OUT FOR THAT DRIVE CORE!” A panicked mental cry causes everyone to twitch.
“I saw it!” The goblin reassures, moving the joystick moments after the Grey’s mental scream.
“Screw goddamned stealth,” Crissum profanes as he highlights a series of targets, “f*&$ing start shooting.”
With little need for encouragement the ship’s weapons start speaking, blasting enough structural support out of an old Vesk battlewagon that Pawkets flew the Service into the avoid the minefield around it.
“Heavy ionization ahead,” the sensor team reports, “there’s a void in the debris with something at the center.”
Breaking through the last of the obstacles, a small, but heavily armed station sits ahead of the ship. The two-level station sits at the eye of the debris, a bubble of safety in the deadly wrecks. Large Capital grade anti-ship cannons and a battery of smaller point defense weapons spot the central hub of the rotating station.
“Wha’ in tha name of freedom is wrong with that?” The Vlaka asks, zooming in with his weapon optics.
The station obviously stands in a state of distress, red warning lights wink through the viewports of the main level, on the upper level two of the three docking arms are blasted, bodies and wreckage tumbling around the artificial gravity of the station.
With only a minor scraping collision to the station, the Glorious Service is brought to the remaining docking collar.
“Listen Wassi, get the F*&$ing ship away from this piece of S#$% station the moment we’re clear.” The Strix politely requests as the suited-up team board the station.
“WASSI!” the usual response came. Moments later the hiss of depressurization and a slight thud indicate the departure of the Argent transport.
The station had a barely noticeable hum from its reactors, silence pervades the station, no chatter, no boots walking down deck plates, no idle com-chatter. The team barely take a dozen steps before a service locker slams open. A half dozen weapons pointing at the source of the noise.
“NOOOO! Wait, we need to escape!” Weapon muzzles tracked the Lashanto alien as he raced down the corridor, grubby sweat stained coveralls hang over his frame. Yellow cheeks are slightly sunken from lack of nutrition and an odd fire burns in the eyes of the humanoid.
“Why, no, please, we need to leave now….please, we need to leave now.” The worker says, slumping down against the airlock door.
“Who are you, what happened?” One of the team asks.
“I’m Susreth Susaro,” the exhausted station member bleakly answers, “the monsters killed everyone.”
The beleaguered alien weeps softly, he begins telling a tale of horror. Exigo station is an albionan research station that explores extradimensional instability caused by unique conditions in the battle site. Susreth is responsible for basic administration, making sure supplies come in, and the facility maintains operations.
“The creatures were brought back through from one of the rifts that formed. They are sleek killing machines. They were brought back sedated; their carapace was incredible. Lasers bounced off and energy weapons barely caused any deflection in the tough material.”
The alien sags against the wall.
“Then these strange humans appeared wearing black clothes that weren’t clothing, but old uniforms, that were actually archaic clothing…..”Susreth’s yellow eyes glaze slightly, “They cut the security feeds and the creatures were released. Everyone died, the creatures are unstoppable. They tore through a power armour squad like the ferrofibers were wood pulp.”
A few minutes of questioning established that the city’s safety protocols blew the two shuttles when it discovered aliens stowed aboard, between the safety protocols and the aliens none survived and parts of the station were exposed to hard vacuum. He had cut one of the four lifts and two others were destroyed in the explosions, but hopefully the creatures are stuck in the lower portion of the station. He helpfully provides a map of the main level before returning to his hiding place in the locker.
Even combined fire would only temporarily put them down for less than a minute before they got up and kept killing.
“They hunt by sound, try to stay quiet.”
Getting few more answers from the sobbing man the party slowly makes there way forwards into the station complex.
“You might want to take off your F*&$ing armour lizard,” Crissum chides and the slink of metal on metal rings loudly in the hallway.
“Nah, it’s better if I keep it on.” Tvarag replies with a nonchalant and grating shrug.
Making their way through the team moves past scenes of quiet, scattered parts, empty lifter suits, until they arrive in a warehouse.
“Bork Bork, that deckplate is moved,” Doggo points as they check a supply closet. Gathering around the party confirms that a deckplate is missing, opening access to the subfloor.
Continuing further through the warehouse the team pauses as Tvarag holds his fist high. There…in the shadows. The dark corner high on a rack is darker than even the low lighting should have allowed for. Quietly he raises his machine gun and gestures with the barrel.
All the party heads whip to watch Doggo, who sheepishly nudges away a wrench with his foot from where he brushed against the racks.
With a sibilant hiss the darkness uncoils, black chitin drinking in the lights as the alien, over 2 meters tall and nearly three meters from snout to black knife tip tail crawls quietly down the racks and moves towards the party.
Listening to the warning, the team silently move to flank it, lifting weapons as it enters their kill zone.
A quick glance shows Doggo having stepped on the same wrench he dropped earlier.
The creature moves fast, before the party can blink it races forwards, its long talons opening up the dog’s suit.
“Wha’ in the name of patriotism, I’m being attacked by an illegal alien.” Doggo cries, “This doesn’t make Albion Great.”
The party unleashes the full might of their weapons, to almost no result. Doggo and Crissum’s laser rifles score direct hits, only to deflect off the dark carapace. Only the barking machine gun seems to do anything, slightly staggering the creature and cracking its armour, causing a milky white fluid to leak out and seal over the injuries.
A second claw swipe shreds more of Doggo, fur and blood spattering his suit.
Turning to run Doggo sprints to follow the already running goblin, if not for a well timed sticky grenade tangling the creature he would have been brought down by the creature.
“It’s trapped, “Tvarag cheers, but his elation is short lived as the creature effortlessly tears free of the sticky mucous before chasing the fleeing Vlaka.
Doggo runs, getting closer and close as he tries to get to the safety of the bulkhead doors where Pawkets has already run through. The creature draws closer behind him, the sound of its skittering claws digging into the metal decking a reminder of its lethal potential. Even if he got past the doors, there’s no way he could shut them in time.
SHUMP THUMP SKRITCH, SKRITCH, SKRITCH
Unaware of their comrades fate the other three make their way for a different door as the goblin and Vlaka race out of sight. They move with slow and deliberate steps. Technobowl opens a short corridor and the trio duck into it.
“I wonder where it went?” The Strix asks, glancing behind at the bulkhead, but continuing forwards anyone, putting one more door between him and the creature.
Ahead of him is a computer room, monitors and terminal standing blinking in the station lighting.
“Perfect, hey F*&$heads, I found a computer room.” Crissum cheers, moving up to the first terminal.
“Oh that’s, awesome, now we can see what’s going on.” Tvarag agrees, his armoured footfalls ringing on the mesh decking as he makes his way into the room.
Crissum’s blue skin grows pale as he glances at an open spot in the floor, the grating having been peeled down and away.
“F*&$ this!” he declares, moving swiftly to the south door, abandoning the console.
THUMP Techno backs away from the northern door as a skittering sound of claws on steel rings from the bulkhead he was playing with. He too retreats, shutting the second door and following Crissum out of the control room and back into the hall they originally entered the station through.
“Huh, looks like we went in a circle.” Tvarag opines, his heavy boots ringing loudly on the mesh decking.
The moment the Vesk steps onto the more solid tiles Techno shuts the doors to the computer room.
Glancing down the long corridor, they see a familiar pair.
Pawkets used his psychic hand to time the door closing perfectly as he heads into another chamber, the doors closing just ahead of the xeno’s claws.
Injecting himself with a healing serum, the canid lopes forwards for the next door, following Pawkets as the advanced serum stops the bleeding and knits flesh.
“Ok, here’s the plan. I go back in there, pump loud music over the Tannoy system, and we deafen it.” Crissum says. Not waiting for dissent he and Techno head back to the control room and open the door.
The hiss of the door opening reveals the insectoid black shape of the creature as it makes its way along the deck, stepping through the now open computer room door.
All but one member of the team freeze at the hideous alien visage, bringing his reaction cannon up from its sling, Tvarag charges the weapon.
Stepping in between the members of the team the creature lets out a low clicking whistle.
Doggo backs up in fear, still aching from the cuts that burn his chest. His nervousness causes him to back into a loose wrench, kicking it back a pace. With the new noise the creature races forwards between the team, zeroing in on the source of the sound.
Having prepared his psychic ability, Techno reaches out, the Grey touching Tvarag’s weapon. The enhanced bolt that ripped from the gun smashed into the Xeno creature’s carapace, causing a spiderweb of cracks that quickly filled with white fluid.
The creature wheeled, ignoring the cowering Doggo to race towards the Vesk. Doggo, Pawkets, and a screaming Suresh, jumping from his locker, fled to the unexplored section of the station.
Bravely holding the creature at bay Tvarag fires again, slightly damaging the fiend. It slashes his chest, cutting easily through the armour. Falling backwards he barely clears the door as Crissum slams the button, sealing the room in the monster’s face.
At the other end of the corridor, down a turn Doggo is frantically assembling his freedom turret. Glancing up he sees the creature racing down the hallway at him.
“OH BORK!” He yells, “Identify Friend or Foe? BORK THAT JUST FIRE AT DEM ILLEGAL ALIENS!” He whimpers, engaging the turret which begins spraying a volley of freedom at the onrushing alien, erecting a wall of spraying metal between the two of them.
Falling back he dives through the hatch that Pawkets slams shut behind him.
The two sit with their backs to the wall listening to the bark of the weapon and scream of metal as the creature reaches and slashes at the weapon.
“What the F&*$ is happening Sh&%bag?” Crissum in his politest tone asks through the team Comms.
“We don’t know.” Pawkets responds, “And we’re not opening the door to find out.”
The Vesk, Grey, and Strix sneak out of their room, happy to put the open grating behind another wall. The technical experts had used their time well and could barely hear themselves over the noise blasting from the speakers. The hope was that it would deafen the creature.
Sneaking forwards Tvarag walks into the hallway, servos tracking the turret fires another salvo of bullets, striking him heavily. With the glance he could tell the creature was down, almost fallen on top of the firing platform.
“Turn the DAMN MACHINE OFF!” Crissum screams to be heard into his Comm.
A short while later the machine is off and they stand over the body of the creatures, its black carapace mottled with white coagulated fluid. Pawkets unloads several rounds from his sidearm into its head for good measure.
“Throw it into the water.” Suresh says, cowering behind a nearby door, gesturing at the catwalk going over a large fluid tank.
“Let’s throw it out an airlock.” The team decide.
Doggo heaves the creature into his arms and makes his way towards the airlock, Pawkets and Tvarag escorting him. Crissum and Techno retreat into the computer room.
The plan is simple, carry the creature to the airlock, dump it there, and then retreat behind the bulkheads, hack the door to open without a ship attached and jettison it into space.
Unfortunately, fate had other ideas, as Pawkets nears the airlock the creature stirs. The Vesk and Vlaka flee as Pawkets can fly himself to safety.
Before he reaches the end of the corridor, the creature wakes up, slashing a ragged gash in the goblin.
“BLOW IT! BLOW IT! BLOW IT!” The Wounded goblin screams as his suit’s autopatch begins closing the rend.
With a halfhearted Shrug and a quick ’F*&$ it’, Crissum and Techno trigger the program.
As the air evacuates Doggo and Tvarag grab onto struts and keep themselves from flying out. Pawkets is not so lucky and goes spinning into the void.
The doors slide shut and begin to repressurize, unfortunately for the team the creature had dug its claws into the decking and remained within the station.
“Well, Time to Die!” Tvarag shrugs and opens up with his machine gun, only to be ignored as the creature makes its way to a hatch that Crissum had welded shut earlier and uses its immense strength to tear through, disappearing below the decking into a crawl space.
The team takes a break, rearming, patching wounds, and makes their way to the elevator to the main level.
“OK guys, let’s get in and out silently and quickly. Get what we need, then get out of here.” They plan as the lift descends to the main level.