Episode 64

Alarm lights spin within their aged glass enclosures and circle a red cast upon the main intersection of the facility. Klaxons blare a jarring drone that echoes throughout the long halls. Aristespha, Bach, Cideeda, Dretphi, Sebastian, and Sotalia gawk in sheer, utter horror as something watches on from behind the heavy, double security doors. A chaotic display backlights the amorphous, silhouette as it peers out the small gap between the failing doors. Red cybernetic eyes upon magically inscribed platforms glide across the featureless surface of its huge, undulating form. With mechanical precision contrasting its warping mass, the creature’s glares affix upon the team and study them during a brief lull from the chaos. It shifts closer to the gap, pauses at the opening, and waits. Slipping through the divide, slim, black appendages slick out, lap the exterior face of the reinforced doors, and flatten securely onto the metallic surface. Tentacles writhe in between the door gap, unnaturally coil up with purpose to bridge the divide, and brace against the edges. Slowly, the flexible limbs pulsate thicker with each second, and press against the weakening door. With each surge of growth, hydraulic fluid blasts out in a torrent and the gap between the doors widens.

Sotalia’s fear suppresses her urge to wretch. Aristespha’s intellectual calm falls to pieces as she gawks in frightful terror. Cideeda grits in teeth, drops her furry ears, and leans back reflexively disturbed. Bach blinks in blank horror as his jaw hangs open. Sebastian remain frozen in stunned fear. Dretphi stoic exterior gives away to utter fright as she grips tight hold of her sub machine gun. Sebastian snaps out of his stupor, glances over to the group, and shouts. “RUN FOR IT!”

Situational awareness slams the team back into the immediate, terrible reality. The group sprints off down the long main hallway, while the sprays of hydraulic oil mixes with the din of alarms, and grinding shrieks of strained steel resonate loudly through the structure. The team flees down the lengthy corridor deep in the structure, and frantically navigates around debris and other obstacles. A frightening chorus of strange beast and machine roars out from the main intersection behind them. Powerful thuds shake the facility and rattle dust and rust off overhead supports.

The electronic announcement system crackles out a new series of phrases over the ambient noise. Sotalia briefly closes her eyes to sort through the words in her mind and glances over to Aristespha puzzling. “Something about emergency containment measures? Being armed?!”

Aristespha nods quickly as she navigates through a narrow passage between old storage containers, and searches around fruitlessly for some kind of indicator. “Yes? That’s what it sounded like to me. I don’t know what it could mean!”

Cideeda grits her teeth as she maintains her pace with group, and grimaces with worry. “I hope it doesn’t mean that force field at the entry. Because that might not work anymore! Or it can, and we’re on the wrong side of it!”

Fighting off the growing panic in his tone, Sebastian maintains a hover above the team and keeps a watch behind them. “Okay! Once we’re out of here, we head straight to the humvee, and run for it. I have no fucking clue what that thing is and I don’t want to find out right now. Especially, not in this gods damned tunnel!”

The loud crashes against the overall structure halt. Sebastian focuses his stare upon the distant intersection. From the side corridor, thick, black tentacles slap and stick upon the floors, walls, and ceiling. A huge bulbous, spherical mass shifts out into the middle of the junction. Gliding upon the dark exterior skin, platforms of cybernetic eyes aim down the long main corridor and witness the team running away. With pulses of brightness, the red dots shine and the mass undulates its form forward. From the featureless surface, slick tubes emerge, stretch forth, and thicken as they reach out into new tentacles. The contorting limbs launch out, splat upon the floors, deform upon the walls, and coil around the ceiling supports. Pulsating with frightening strength, the creature pulls its dark, fluctuating mass forward and quickly coasts towards the team. Tentacles from behind release their strangely dry, powerful adhesion, shrink to thin tendrils, and merge back into the shapeless, amorphous whole, while new limbs grow out to continue the beast’s locomotion. The platforms of red, cybernetic eyes steadily concentrate their full focus upon the team despite all the motion.

Sebastian's ethereal form pales as abject horror overwhelms and fear sparks new motivation within him. “KEEP THE PACE UP EVERYONE! MOVE AS FAST YOU CAN!”

Bach glances over his shoulder. He witnesses the fast moving entity and snaps his head forward, eyes wide and an expression of survival driven determination plainly visible. He draws out his plasma pistol from the holster, and turns it on to a high pitched, charging whine. Cideeda’s furry ears guide her quick gaze at Bach, and she peeks behind her. Her emerald eyes snap ahead and she deftly moves her hands to activate both her laser pistols at her sides without breaking stride.

The synthetic voice blares out over the announcement system again, and Sotalia darts her eyes around searching for the source. “Containment locks... Engaging?!”

Cideeda’s furry ears flick forward, and she cringes towards a muffled explosion ahead, followed by the dull rush of water. On both sides of the hallway, two side panels fall open into a dwindling flow of orange brown, stagnant water, and the edges of a pair of rust coated, sliding doors grind out. The massive, water soaked steel plates creep slowly together with an unsettling mechanical strain. Cideeda cringes and covers her nose while coughing. “Fucking great! The containment doors are junk.”

Sebastian glances back to see the incoming beast and directs the team’s attention ahead. “Doesn’t matter! Maybe they’ll slow that fucking thing down! Focus on getting through the gap before it closes!”

He gazes ahead, judges the speed of the closure, and commands out to the team. “Single file, everyone! Sprint through!”

The team lines up into a single column, aligns to the closing gap between the massive, rusted doors, and rush on through. Seconds after they clear the divide, the edges meet solidly, and mechanisms strain to come to life. Interlock systems resonate metallic groans until a muffled snap abruptly halts them to silence. The team slows their pace briefly, attempt to catch their breaths, and stare behind, hopeful but wary. A powerful mass impacts the doors with a rattling crash. Large sheets of rust drop off the surface of the heavy doors and shatter upon the hard ground. The team slows to a brisk walk, and watch expectantly. Another series of massive slams constantly pound upon the doors, and punctuate the shrill unnatural roar of the... Thing... on the other side. Each crash flakes off rust and corroded metal from the other side, and a slight warp of the steel grows to a visible bulge. The assault stops and no noise emerges from the other side. A brief spark of hope ignites in the eyes of the team. It vanishes when thin oily tendrils seep through the irregular, rust chiseled gaps between doors. They pulsate into larger tentacles, and begin to pry the containment doors slowly open. Dretphi leads the team’s curses of frustration with a grath phrase, as the group launches into another sprint down the long corridor.

Hurrying through the tunnel, Sebastian, Aristespha, Sotalia, Cideeda, Bach, and Dretphi keep up the pace as they head towards the distant daylight at the end of the long corridor. Each occasionally glances back to check behind them when mechanical strain blasts out over the constant drone of klaxons and alarms chimes. The automated base announcement system blurts out a partially garbled phrase that leaves Sotalia perplexing. Aristespha searches her mind, pieces the parts together, and widens her gaze forward. “Layer two containment engaging?! Another set of containment doors!?”

Loud explosions boom out from the section of hallway ahead, and the team staggers their progress between covering ears and shielding themselves from bright flashes of light. A pair side panels from the walls violently crash clear of closing tracked doors and land meters away from the team, leaving deep gouges in the reinforced floor. Sotalia winces through the confusion, shakes her mind out of the stunned haze, and focuses ahead. Two massive, steel doors launch out from the newly opened compartments, and quickly slide towards the middle of the corridor. She grits her teeth, tears off in sprint while gesturing out an incantation, and shouts out. “NOT FUCKING TODAY!”

A surge of magical flow erupts from her body, swirls in an energetic spiral towards her hands as throws them forward, and blasts out towards the closing gap between the door. A translucent, billowing mass of magical energy expands out onto the edges of the heavy steel, and stiffly envelops them. Mechanical strain groans out from either side of the hallway as the massive, reinforced doors slow down to crawl. Sotalia staggers as the magical energies blockading the containment gateway fluctuates and she summons another surge of energy to deadlocks the doors, seizing a narrow gap between. Bach and Dretphi keep at her sides, and escort her towards the gateway divide. Sebastian stops at the doors, hovers above, and watches down the red alarm illuminated hallway. Aristespha slips through the space between the doors. She turns around, quickly gestures out a similar incantation, and flings out a similar wave of energy upon the powerful doors. “I can stabilize it for a while... But... HURRY! Please!”

Sotalia summons her strength while maintaining her contribution to the spell, and speeds up to a fast walk towards the gap between shuddering containment doors. Cideeda deftly moves to the other side, and frantically searches the compartments housing the doors. She digs her claws into a vented panel, and yanks it open. “Gods dammit! Where the hell are the controls for these things?! There’s GOT to be an override or something! Who the fuck designed this garbage?!”

Bach and Dretphi keep to Sotalia’s sides as she moves towards the opening, and stare watchfully down with plasma pistol and sub machine gun drawn. A chorus of unsettling noises sounds out from deeper within the compound. A rolling series of forceful, heavy splats peak over the background drone of alarms, and increase in ferocity and volume with each passing second. From the fluctuating crimson illuminated hallway, a black spherical mass appears distantly into view from around the corridor’s gentle curve. It flies down the tunnel upon a chaotic swarm of adhesive tentacles, and multiple red, pinpoint cybernetic eyes lock onto the team. Overhead support beams break loose under the short, thick coils torquing them free, walls coverings flex against the hard pulls of thin appendages, and chunks of old floor loosen under the twisting, undulating tentacles. Bach and Dretphi exchange glances, nod in silent agreement, and pivot in step. Both slip an arm underneath Sotalia’s shoulders, hoist her up, and jog her over to narrowing doorway, much to her surprise. The trio reach gap. Bach and Cideeda lead the tiring Sotalia through, and turn around to aim their weapons at the approaching beast. Cideeda reaches through the divide and helps guide Sotalia along.

The entity arrives meters away from Bach and Dretphi, and multiple eyes affix upon them. Bach and Dretphi simultaneously flip the safeties off. Front protrusions emerge from the featureless skin of the creature as it supports itself in the middle of the air, and lash out towards their targets. Bach and Dretphi open fire. A rapid volley of plasma bolts pelt the black mass, and the impacts ripple out across the surface of the monster. Dretphi unleashes burst after burst sub machine gun fire, and sends rounds into the bulbous body of the amorphous entity. Upon the support of its tentacles attached high and low, the monster swings it form around and warps its shape to avoid the attacks. A few plasma bolts and sub machine rounds bounce off briefly opaque energy fields protecting its many eyes. Emitting an omnipresent, unnatural roar into the area, the monstrosity flings out its tentacles in wide swipes towards Bach and Dretphi. Dretphi maneuvers her tall self around, expertly avoiding strike after strike. Bach frantically avoids each attack, moving unusually fast and wildly shifting his balance into dodge rolls upon the floor. Cideeda spins around after getting Sotalia to the other side, draws her laser pistols, and reaches through the door divide. Two beams of bright blue light up against red ambient cast, and drag across the slick surface of the thing ineffectively. A beam crosses a red cybernetic eye and the red pinpoint blinks out as the platform sparks violently. The eye jets frantically away from the beam along the exterior of the beast.

A pained bellow rattles the vicinity, and the creature momentarily looses its focus. Bach and Dretphi quickly retreat towards the gap between shaking containment doors. Sebastian flies out in a chaotic flight path around and in front of the monster. While many eyes track Sebastian, one red eye creeps out from hiding behind the massive orb, and spots Dretphi lining up her approach through the gap. Three thin, quick tentacles eject out from the black, undulating mass. One wraps around Dretphi’s helmet, one slaps firmly attached upon her chest plate, and another splats upon a shin guard. Each sticks firmly upon glinting golden surfaces millimeters away from the armor.

Terror overwhelms Bach as the limb around Dretphi’s helm pulsates thick and coils tighten with each moment. Surrounding Dretphi’s helmet, a golden barrier pulses visible and buffers the crushing forces upon it. Watching the familiar golden barrier, Bach snaps back to awareness with determined grit of his teeth, and pivots towards the monster. Putting his hands together, an energy orb forms within. Layers upon layers of chaotically spinning rings build up in mere fractions of second to a ten centimeter ball of disintegrating energies. Charging forth, Bach thrusts his hand containing the ball of magical energy right into the pulsating tentacle leading to Dretphi. Upon impact, a fine black mist erupts as the slick surface disrupts to a thick spray of ichor. The spherical blob vibrates out in pain and shudders as it frantically reels back. In the flurry of creature panic, Dretphi frees her head from her helmet as tentacle yanks back and drags it off. Balancing herself against the pull of the adhered limbs, she deftly slides her hands underneath her chest plate, and tears through the hook and loop fasteners in a loud fabric release. With final lift her leg, she rips off the fastening straps holding the shin guard, and kicks it away with the tentacle.

Bach grabs hold of Dretphi’s shoulder, ushers her through the gradually narrowing door gap, and fires his plasma pistol wildly towards the monster. Cideeda snags hold of Dretphi’s arm and pulls her through with all her might. As Dretphi clears through the space, she reflexively grips onto Bach’s arm, braces herself upon the other side of the door, and pulls Bach through with her strength. When Bach, Cideeda, and Dretphi clear away from the opening, a flurry of tentacles whip out through the gap and lash out wildly. Sotalia witnesses the horror reaching from the other side, and immediately releases her spell.

The containment door slams shut hard upon the writhing mass. The flailing appendages quickly slack and hang limply from the join between the doors. Unnatural moans of pain and misery reverberate through the thick containment door, as the team distances themselves from the doorway. Aristespha, Bach, Cideeda, Dretphi and Sotalia muster their strength and catch their breaths in the lull of activity as the constant drone of klaxons fills the air. Sebastian quickly phases through the door and lands next to the team. “IS EVERYONE OKAY?!”

Dretphi combs her hand through her platinum blonde braids, slows her panting to calmer, longer breaths, and nods to Sebastian. “Yes. Missing plating. Fine otherwise.”

Bach braces himself up with his hands on his knees, glances up briefly to make eye contact with his brother, and gives a thumbs up. “Yeah... Whew... That mini D-ball took a little out me, but I should be fine in a minute or two. Still can move.”

Aristespha wipes a bit of sweat off her brow as she supports Sotalia up, and sighs. “I’m fine, Sebastian. A bit taxing, but I should be okay.”

Sotalia pops open a pouch on her belt, pulls out a large vial, and quaffs the potion down in one swift motion. She exhales a mix of relief and exhaustion, and blinks her golden, graying sclera eyes. “I’ll be fine. Potion should kick in a soon, and keep me moving.”

Cideeda shakes her head, drags her clawed fingers through her short multi-colored hair, and calms her breathing. “Oh gods, that was too fucking close. I’m okay...”

While Sotalia passes Aristespha and Bach similar potions, Sebastian smiles his relief and gazes towards the door. “Good. Very good. Okay... Now, the next question is... Will that hold... It... back?”

The team’s attention shifts towards the limp tentacles hanging out from between the doors. As the minute passes, they watch as faint pulses of life pump into the slack limbs, and thin tendrils ooze out through the joint between the pair of steel barriers. Dread looms over the group and as visible anger and fear erupts. Cideeda growls, baring her teeth as she walks away. “Oh, to hell with this thing!”

Sotalia clenches her fists and shakes her head as she turns to walk away. “Gods fucking dammit! Who the fuck thought THIS was a good thing to make? Well, let’s not hang out here any longer.”

Dretphi grimaces with a contemptuous sneer of her upper lip, and glares. Her ire boils up to her face, and she scowls as she concentrates her anger. With a swift breath in, she spits on the ground in front of the doors, checks her sub machine gun, and joins Sotalia in the march towards the exit. Aristespha gathers her composure, checks her equipment, and catches up to the group. Sebastian and Bach follow along behind the recovering team, and glance back at the growing black, slick vines gradually prying the doors apart. After a few moments of inner thoughs, Bach glances over to Sebastian. “That door isn’t going to hold it for long. It’s making a lot of progress on getting it open.”

Sebastian drifts along side, slowly nods in agreement, and peers into his mind for a solution. “I know, bro. I don’t what the hell we are supposed to do against something like that.”

He glances ahead at the portal of daylight at the end of tunnel, and shakes his head uncertainly. “I mean, once we catch our breaths... The only thing I can think of to do is to head to the humvee, get as far away from this place as possible, and send an alert to the guild to send a military emergency containment force.”

As Bach picks up the pace with the team as they regain their strength, a terrifying thought crosses his mind, and he stares at his brother. “Brother... It’ll probably get out before they can do anything about it.”

Sebastian turns to face Bach, blinks as his mind processes the situation, and releases an ethereal sigh of dread. “Ah... shit... I know...”

He glances ahead towards Cideeda and inquires. “Cideeda, do you see anything ahead that looks like another set of containment doors?”

Cideeda glances over her shoulder briefly, thinks a moment, and squints her eyes down the corridor leading outside. After a few seconds, her emerald eyes widen in surprise and she directs her concerned tone back. “Actually, no. I don’t see another set of those panels anywhere...”

Dretphi’s awareness returns to her surroundings, and the anger fades from her face as worry replaces it. “Those doors may be the last means to seal it.”

Sotalia grumbles, rolls the frustration out of her shoulders, and grits her teeth. “A lot of good those damned things did! It’s going to use the same trick to get through those soon enough.”

Horror washes over Aristespha as the possible end result appears frighteningly in mind. “And, it will escape outside.”

The group shares a pseudo moment of silence with the drone of alarms long filtered out unconsciously. They quietly deliberate their options. Sebastian speaks up as he hovers along with everyone else. “Any one have any ideas?”

Cideeda’s ears perk up, and a reserved grins graces her lips. “We could try to collapse the entrance. It might not be enough to stop it from digging itself out, but I bet it’d slow it down a lot. I’ve got a powerful concussive round for my shotgun that might rattle enough of these old supports to drop them down.”

While Aristespha, Dretphi, Sebastian and Sotalia judge Cideeda’s option, Bach gazes to the team determined. “A barrier.”

The rest of the group shifts their attentions and await an explanation. Bach draws in a long breath and relays his thoughts. “I can craft a barrier to try to seal the damned thing in. The only way it has getting through so far is if it can pry open the doors and force them apart. Maybe... Just maybe... If I made a really slick matrix and seal off the gaps, it won’t be able to use that trick and it’ll be trapped behind it.”

He pauses to gauge reactions and pleads in a worried tone. “It’s risk, but... I mean... Something needs to be done. It’s going to crack those doors open soon enough. As much as, I like to run to the humvee and get away, it’ll get loose and probably go on a killing spree. Or worse, disappear into the woods and terrorize the whole area for who knows how long?!”

As Aristespha, Bach, Cideeda, Dretphi, Sebastian, and Sotalia jog closer to the archway exit, the team ponders individually about the predicament. Eventually, Sotalia nods in agreement and glances over to Bach with a grin. “I’m willing to give it a shot.”

Dretphi firmly grips Bach shoulder, and smiles warmly with a determined cadence. “It can NOT leave here.”

Giving a clawed thumbs up, Cideeda winks back to Bach with a toothy grin. “Sounds good to me. And, it might work to our advantage! If you can get it sealed away, that’ll give me plenty of time to set up some real explosives, and we’ll see if we can collapse this whole entrance.”

Aristespha nods to Bach simply with an appreciative tone. “I think we’ll all sleep better if it never leaves here. And... This place is too close to a town to just leave it alone.”

Sebastian grins proudly toward his brother, and gazes over to him. “Okay. So, where do you want to set this thing up?”

Bach blinks slightly surprised and points out ahead. “Um, maybe ten or fifteen meters away from the mouth of the entrance? Far away from those doors, but down from the entrance enough to have a good section of tunnel to collapse?”

With single nod, Sebastian smirks in agreement and points out a spot ahead. “Let’s do it there.”

Gathering his determination, Bach glances briefly over to Sebastian before studying the spot ahead. “I’ll try to put up the best damn barrier I can, then... I just hope this is the better option...”

Sebastian laughs nervously, slowly shakes his head while he flies next to Bach, and grits his teeth. “Don’t worry about that, bro. I think we’d all rather risk containing it, than risk have to face that fucking thing out in the open woods while we rush back to our ride. And then, hope it doesn’t chase us down while we’re trying to drive away.”

He looks into his brother’s blue eyes and speaks resolutely. “Do what you can, and we’ll do the same. This is the best plan we’ve got at the moment. Thanks for giving it to us.”

Bach draws a slow breath in, cracks a smile, and nods. As the Sebastian hovers nearby, Bach positions himself in the middle of the long corridor, fifteen meters short of the exit archway, and raises his hands up in front of him. “Okay, looks like this spot will work. Seems structural and there’s no obvious panels. Gods... Here we go.”

Closing his eyes slowly along with a long exhale, he relaxes his posture briefly. His eyes reopen a bright glowing blue, and fine streams of magical flow swirl around his body, and condense to a billowing haze in front of his hands. Thin wisps of energy travel rigidly along straight paths to the floor, walls, and ceiling of the hallway, and collect upon growing structures. Seconds later, a translucent golden lattice of large hexagons form and solidify from the constant output of magic. The stabilized energy support beams layer out in increasing diameters, anchor points root deep into the very structure of the facility, and smaller hexagon lattice work emerges within the larger cells. While the demanding process continues Sebastian maintains a careful watch down the tunnel to the red, cyclically illuminated void, and catches glimpses of the emergency lighting glinting off the distant, slowly opening containment doors.

Cideeda perks her ears and trains her emerald eyes upon the architecture of the facility’s entrance. She points to various location near structural intersections and support girders, and mentally calculates the requirements for destruction. Dretphi walks over near Bach, stretches her body out, and readies her sub machine gun. She raises the barrel, tosses her platinum blonde braided hair back, and maintains her aim down the corridor. Sotalia stands near the other side of Bach, rolls the tension out of her shoulders, and stares fiercely down the chaotically lit tunnel in a casting stance. Aristespha stands at the mouth of the entrance, holding her aetherphone out, and slowly moving it around in search of a signal.

The golden barrier shimmers with each surge of magical flow radiating across it. Hexagonal patterns within hexagonal patterns shrink the largest openings gradually. Bach’s full attention focuses upon the sealing structure in front of him as he fights off traces of fatigue. Sotalia studies the wall of golden energy in front of her, and grins eagerly. “There’s no way it’ll get through this!”

Bach smiles briefly, breathes carefully, and continues his intense work. “Yeah... I hope so... But, these gaps are taking forever to close up properly...”

A loud metallic pop echoes out from the distance containment door. Cideeda’s ears flick over and her eyes widen in fear. “Something blew loose in the door’s hydraulics! I hear fluid spraying! Nothing is stopping it now!”

Sebastian squints down the fluctuating crimson lighted hallway, and watches as the huge, reinforced containment doors open faster behind a misty spray of hydraulic oil. He yells down below to Bach, Dretphi, and Sotalia. “Bach keep doing what you can. But, Everyone... Get ready to run for it!”

Bach grits his teeth angrily as determined surge swell up within him. “FffffUCK! NO. No. No. You ARE NOT GETTING THROUGH! NOT... TODAY!”

A wave of prismatic energy pulses out from surface of Bach’s body, gravitates towards his hands, and weaves into the flows entering the golden hexagonal barrier. Core structural components ignite into a bright glow and radiate out towards the rest of the magical mesh work. Bach winces his eyes closed as he strains more into the sealing structure before him while muttering. “Come on... close the gaps... close the gaps...”

A structure shaking snap reverberates through the facility, and a loud, bright explosion of fire erupts as the hydraulic fluid ignites into a plume of flame. The distant containment doors slam wide open, and a black orb mass launches out the gate in a shadowy blur through the roaring inferno. A chaotic cacophony of tentacles smashing onto floor plates, ripping off wall panels, and yanking apart ceiling supports blast out. The spherical black, amorphous form ripples through the corridor at great speed, keeping all of its brilliantly bright, red eyes focused at the group. Sebastian pales in wide eyed terror and shouts. “INCOMING! RUN!”

Bach remains upon his task, his awareness lost within his work. Sotalia ready herself and glances over to Bach. Dretphi sharply and firmly grasps hold of Bach shoulder, and shakes him back to the immediate. Bach blinks out of his haze and snap his gaze over. Dretphi speaks firmly with a commanding tone. “WE GO NOW!”

While Bach regains his understanding of the situation, Sotalia snatches hold of his arm, and rushes off towards the entrance. Dretphi pushes Bach forward along as they all escape towards the outside beyond the archway. Bach returns to his senses and soon drives the pace forward. The creature flies down the hallway and slams it’s full weigh into the golden barrier. Its form deforms upon the barrier from the thunderous impact, and the shock ripples across its featureless, black exterior, while eye platforms drift aimlessly in the confusion. The golden structure glints with strain and gradually flexes with the force, but quickly settles back to unmoved stability. Bach glances back to see the monstrosity frantically feeling around the partially constructed barrier, and grins triumphantly with a fitting hand gesture. “HA HA! Try that out you wretched shit! Have fun in there forever!”

A synthetic voice blares out a message over the facility’s speaker system. Sotalia searches her mind, puzzles a moment, and yells out. “The hell is it saying now?!”

She slows her sprint down after passing the threshold of the entrance to the outside air with a sigh of relief. Bach follows shortly behind with exhaustion creeping into his gait. Dretphi maintains her rear guard over Bach, as he stops to catch his breath. She pants out, relaxes her body, and slowly shakes her head. The later afternoon sun casts a calming light upon the moment of peace.

Three thin, long black tendrils shatter the tranquility as they swiftly wrap around Dretphi’s waist and legs. The dark flexing limbs yank her to the ground, and pull her across the entryway. Bach hears Dretphi fall onto the ground, watches her slide inside, and reflexively dives after her outstretched arm. Both secure a grip onto each other’s forearms, and Bach tugs back against the thinly stretched tentacles. He slides along the dirt, manages to wrap his other arm around the archway structure, and maintains his hold. Dretphi tightens her grip, and grimaces under the strain as the competing forces lift her off the ground.

Starting deep within the facility cascade of electrical junctions loudly switch, and a loud hum resonnates nearby. Cideeda quickly grips hold of Dretphi’s free hand, digs her claws into the ground, and pulls as hard as she can. Sotalia rushes over, immediately takes aim, and unleashes a power bolt of energy towards the tentacles. The bolt solidly impacts, sends ripples along the limb’s slim form, and shakes its violently. Dretphi’s boot loosens free and the tentacle snaps harshly back along with the armor, and slicks back through a small gap in the golden magical barrier. Aristespha quickly gestures out an incantation, points towards the remaining two tentacles, and unleashes a bright beam. The ray drags across the general path of the slick, black lines and sears the beast’s limbs. The stretched appendages thrash about against Dretphi, and tearing a thigh plate free. The limb snaps back and one tentacle remains around Dretphi. It pulsates thicker, tightening it’s grasp around her waist.

Sparks of life flicker within the archway. The ambient hum grows louder, and an energy haze begins to fill the plane encapsulated by the force field generator. Cideeda grits her teeth, tries to maintain her grip on Dretphi’s arm, and winces as the energies building within the space of the archway electrocute her away in a powerful arcing burst. Bach maintain his grip as the field thickens against his arm and sparks crackle against his burning duster. The beast pulls upon Dretphi while she continues to tense her body to buffer the tension. Bach feels the strain, grits his teeth with determination, and focuses his glowing blue eyes. Flows of magical energy glide along his body, and seep his into arms and back. With a powerful draw of breath, new levels of muscle definition emerge in Bach’s arms as he pulls hard to get Dretphi closer to the developing force field and away from the monster.

Aristespha and Sotalia hurry over, quickly cast spells, and work together to repulse the energy away from Bach, gradually widening a hole in the archway barrier around his arm. The monster roars out in an unnatural, shrill scream, and contorts it’s form. The pull of the tentacle around Dretphi surges. The force travels through her, and yanks Bach helmet first into the translucent force field. In a spray of sparks and arcs, Bach maintains his grip despite the repeated impacts against the crackling field and the golden barriers on his helm fracturing. Cideeda gets back on to her feet, and frantically searches for kind of controls for the archway. Sebastian flies off towards the monster, and desperately tries to distract it. Many of abomination’s cybernetic, red eyes watch Sebastian, but one maintains watch upon Dretphi.

Dretphi gazes on. She watches as Aristespha and Sotalia focus their energies to keep the force field from collapsing upon Bach’s arm, as smoke fumes off his burnt duster. She looks into Sotalia’s gold on black eyes and the struggle apparent on her face. Her steely gray eyes follow Cideeda in a panic trying to find something she can override on the archway. She hears Sebastian spew forth taunts and insults behind her to try to distract the beast. Then, her gaze settles upon Bach’s flickering blue eyes behind his visor. Through a shattered golden barrier, she watches the steel of Bach’s helmet heat up against the constant contact with force field wall. Trembles sneak into Bach’s grip as his muscles tense to strange definition and spasm from the unnatural magical augmentation. Dretphi smiles warmly to Bach, grips hold her sub machine gun with her free hand, and closes her eyes sadly.

A chorus of mental terror blasts out in Bach’s mind as he watches with blood chilling horror at the scene about to play out before him. He grits teeth, releases a torrent of emotion from within, and mutters loudly. “Gods. Damn. You. Isaac.”

Dretphi opens her eyes towards the black mass monstrosity, aims her gun, dons a grimly stoic expression, and lets go of Bach’s arm.

She doesn’t move.

Her bewilderment snaps her glance back towards the outside.


Dretphi feels a renewed, powerful grip upon her gauntlet covered arm, and gazes into the brilliantly glowing white eyes of Bach. She immediately snatches her grasp firmly back upon Bach’s forearm. Flows white energy protectively coat around Bach and wisps sink into his body. Struggling with each word, Bach glances over to Aristespha and Sotalia, and commands. “Save your strength... Will need your help to open the field for Dretphi... Wait for it...”

From Bach’s powerfully clamped hand, threads of elder energy weave down Dretphi’s arm, spread out across her shoulders, travel between her and the tightly wrapped, pulsating tentacle, and envelop her legs. Seconds later, Dretphi feels a wave of relief as the tension upon her body fades, and the white matrix of energy flickers across her under armor suit, and absorbs the pulling and crushing forces. Bach musters a smirk as he slides his hand from the outer edge of the archway, and presses his elder energy coated forearm against the barrier. Pushing against the arcing and crackling energy field with his elbow, he releases the straps of helmet, tears it off, and flings it clear. It rolls along the dirt, trialing behind wisps of smoke from a faintly orange-red glowing spot, and flaking shards of golden magical energy. Supported sideways by the constant pull of the monster’s tentacle, Bach slips up each of his elder energy coated knees up onto the powerful field, sparks and arcs erupting out with the sustained forceful contact.

Gazing towards Dretphi, Bach braces himself against the force field, pulls his free arm back, and concentrates a surge of white energy in his hand. In a fountain of sparks, flames, and plasma, he drills his arm through the barrier, opens his hand, and reaches for Dretphi’s other arm. Dretphi immediately grabs hold tightly. Against the tugs and yanks of the enraged beast, Bach and Dretphi coordinate their grips and ready themselves. Sliding his knees up relatively underneath him and positioning his feet between him and the archway energy barrier, Bach releases a surge of energy throughout his body, and calls out. “OPEN IT NOW!”

Aristespha and Sotalia simultaneously cast their spell into the barrier, and pierce a widening hole from between Bach’s arms. With muscle definition highlighted by magical energy flow, Bach power lifts himself into a standing position. Crackles of energy spew forth from the contact between his boots and the fully powered energy barrier, and splatters of magically infused plasma rain upon the ground. Dretphi emerges from the widening hole as Bach stands up straight. She puts forth all her strength to climb up Bach in a coordinated fashion, and he changes his grip on her to help continue to hoist her clear. The moment Dretphi clears the barrier, she curls her legs away. Aristespha and Sotalia immediately release their spell.

The opening slams shut on the stretched, black tentacle. It still holds onto Dretphi, and powerfully wrenches against Bach and Dretphi, and tries to harshly yank the two back through the field. Bach grits teeth in a painful wince, and stabilizes his foothold against the barrier upon flows of elder energy. Cideeda witnesses Bach struggling and Dretphi trying her best to get free. She bares her sharp canines, and marches towards the force field. She pulls her shotgun into her hands, reaches into a large pocket on her vest, and retrieves a long metal shell with a sharp, pointy tip. Loading it into the under-barrel of her shotgun, she calls out to Aristespha and Sotalia, and points to a section of force field. “GIVE ME AN OPENING!”

Aristespha and Sotalia quickly exchange glances, summon their magical energies, and pry open a portal in the archway barrier. Cideeda quickly thrusts her shotgun through, takes aim towards the beast, and searches for an opportunity. In the fractions of a second, Cideeda studies the monster, the surroundings, and the small gaps Bach’s golden magical barrier. Many eyes pay attention to the distracting antics of Sebastian, but she notices one lone cybernetic eye fully focused on Bach and Dretphi. She snarls her upper lip, narrows her emerald eyed glare, and shouts to Sebastian. “SEBASTIAN! Go for the eye at the bottom!”

Sebastian halts a moment, glances down to the solitary eye, and zips right in front of it. Summoning his fury, he releases a fiery radiance around his ethereal form. All of the beast’s eyes pay attention to him. Cideeda pulls the trigger. The projectile fires out the under-barrel, rockets through the hallway, slips through a gap in golden barrier, and flies straight underneath the center mass of the monster. It sticks perfectly into a floor tile and remains for a second.

A concussive wave of flame bursts out. The shock wave concentrates beneath the amorphous blob, launches its warping form up into the air, and slams the twisting mass in a thunderous splat against the ceiling plating. Cybernetic eye platforms fly in chaotic orbits around the body, crash into each other, and drift aimlessly across the featureless, dark surface. Tentacles reflexively deflate and retreat to the stunned center blob. The wave of concussive force vents through the many small gaps in the golden magical barrier, and the outer archway force field bulges slightly. Dretphi and Bach free fall down to the ground.

An eerie silence floods the area for seconds, until the sounds of nature return with the faint, muffled background din of a large mass quickly retreating fading away. Dretphi stirs and blinks back to conscious thought. Her eyes search the area from her prone perspective in a confused daze. Eventually she lifts her head up slightly, brushes her hair clear of her face, and notices the strange, awkward expressions upon Sebastian, Aristespha, Cideeda, and Sotalia. Puzzling an absence in her mental haze, she starts to search for Bach, but a strange sensation distracts her. She feels a warm, moist flow of air alternating with a cooler draw of air... upon the middle of her chest. Tilting her head downwards, she recognizes the familiar top of Bach’s brown, white streaked head. But, his face is smothered... by her under armor suited figure.

Dretphi blushes brightly, pushes herself up off of Bach, and immediately swings over to the side to give him some room to breathe. She quickly checks on him as Aristespha rushes over to investigate, and awkwardly states fact. “He is... Breathing.”

Aristespha maintains a professional demeanor as she evaluates Bach’s vitals. “Yes. I believe he passed out from the strain and halting the energy suddenly. He should come to soon.”

Minutes of investigations later, Bach stirs back to consciousness and groggily opens his eyes. Gazing out to the gathered team, he lifts his head up slowly, catches a glimpse of the archway, and immediately backpedals along ground away from the entrance in a fear reflex. The team shifts with him and resettles down to rest a bit. Cideeda lays out on the ground, stares up at the clouds over head, and sighs out all her stress with a wavering laugh. “Oh gods... I think that explosive round sent it packing.”

Sebastian nervously chuckles with hints of hope. “Yeah. I think it did. It took off the other direction after that. Hope it stays deep in that hole.”

Bach props himself up, sniffs sharply through his nose, and rubs the bridge out to the tip. Aristespha quirks her brow curiously, and asks. “Something wrong with your nose?”

Contorting his face to work out the discomfort, Bach perplexes over the odd feeling. “Not really. It’s not broken or anything. Just feels a bit off... or something. Like it got pushed to the side... By something soft? I don’t know how to describe it. I think I’ll be fine. Must have bumped into you Dretphi when we fell down? You okay?”

Dretphi blinks briefly, presents a tight smile while averting her gaze, and nods quickly. “Oh. Uh. Yes.”

Aristespha continues her professional exterior while see eyes Sebastian into silence. Sotalia pivots away covering her mouth, suppresses the chuckling snort fighting to escape, and narrows her humored gold on black eyes at Dretphi. While concentrating a stoic glare firmly upon Sotalia, Dretphi fails to hide the embarrassment slipping through into her slightly red cheeks.