Well, after we’d returned from the last incident, I knew things would get real spicy real soon.
Marcia had made it clear that she wanted to get rid of Theodor. It hadn’t only been her actions or the way she stared at him, no; it had been the special permission she’d mentioned.
So here I was, with no clue what to do. If headquarters would give her clearance to get rid of him, what the hell should I do?
Shit, this was all way too much for me. I wasn’t smart enough to figure a way out of this mess. Hell, we shouldn’t even be bothering with something like this!
If Theodor wasn’t just insane and there was an eldritch being coming, we shouldn’t be antagonizing each other. We should be out patrolling the city, should call support and try to figure out a way on how to stop it. Fuck, we should be anything except what we were doing.
I sat down in front of the computer. I rerouted drones, activated Sandra’s various scanners, looked for any and all signatures, but there was nothing.
That’s when I started thinking. That last signature, Marcia had transferred it to us. Sandra’s system hadn’t even picked up on it. What if that bitch had somehow fucked with Sandra’s system to keep us in the dark?
“Shit,” I cursed and bashed my fists against the desk. There was nothing I could fucking do, nothing at all!
I thought about getting into contact with headquarters, but what would it do? They’d sent Marcia her to clean house, to antagonize us.
We were fucked, totally and utterly fucked.
I sat in front of the computer, rubbing my temples before I made my way over to Sandra. Her hands were so small, what remained of her fingers so tiny. Once again, I talked to her. Not about what was going on, just random things. At one point I administered her with the daily dosage of healing contraptions and memory alterations.
Today, though, like every other day she’d warned me about Marcia, I got no reaction. No frowns, no grimace, just nothing. She lay there like dead.
And as if things couldn’t get any better, my phone rang. Without even looking at the caller ID, I knew it was Marcia.
“Exterminator 7D11087, we’ve got confirmation of a new signature. You need to take action immediately. The data indicates it’s a D-Class signature, so there’s no need for me and Exterminator 3B66901 to accompany you.”
“Wait, you’re just-?”
“There’s no need for higher ranking personnel to bother with incidents such as this. No, someone like you is ideal to handle it. However, I have to insist that you put on a communication device to stay in direct contact with me for the duration of the incident. And now, get to it.”
With that, she cut the connection. That fucking bitch!
This whole thing smelled fishy. Considering the last incident, I doubted this was a simple D-Class. Fuck, here we go again.
I called Theodor and together we stocked up on anything that might help us stay alive. Then I rummaged through the storage room until I found one of the small in-ear communication devices she’d been talking about. It had been ages since I’d used one of those.
When I checked the data, I saw it comprised dozens of smaller signatures in one of the forestry areas near the western outskirts. The data informed me we were up against a swarm type, yet I couldn’t help but wonder if she’d tinkered with the data.
Shit, we were going in absolutely blind.
The moment we’d made it there, I hit up the close-range scanner. It showed me nothing but a more detailed version of the data Marcia had submitted to us.
Eventually, I hit a few buttons on my phone and established a connection with her.
“Exterminator 7D11087, the area’s under lockdown,” I heard Marcia’s cold voice pop into my ear. “Proceed with the extermination.”
I couldn’t help but shiver. I didn’t like this freaking connection one bit. Having that bitch’s voice so close made my skin crawl.
“Well, Theodor, let’s get going,” I called out to him.
He said nothing as he followed me. His expression was dark and distant, and I could tell he wasn’t fully there.
As we made our way into the forest, I rechecked the data. The fuckers were moving already. If the data was correct, it was a migratory type, one that was already spreading its influence.
Fuck, I hated swarm types. My gun would be pretty much useless. The only thing that worked against them was flamers, and I still remembered how that had ended last time.
We’d just pushed our way through a few bushes, when a flock of birds erupted from the trees ahead of us.
Then, as a loud buzzing and the clicking of mandibles reached my ears, I realized those weren’t birds. We’d stumbled right upon the first of the fuckers.
What we were up against were insects, giant fucking insects the size of birds.
They were bloated, disgusting monstrosities. I saw sharp, long mandibles, pointy clawed legs and huge multi-faceted eyes. God, how I hated bugs.
I couldn’t help but grimace. I’d been right, they were way too fucking big for this to be a simple D-Class incident.
“We made contact,” I spoke up after activating the communication device. “It’s a swarm type, but there’s no way this is a simple D-Class. We might need some additional support here.”
“Exterminator 7D11087,” she spoke up, not able to hide the gleeful undertone. “I’m sure you’ll be able to handle the situation accordingly. As for now, we’ll assess the situation and request a reevaluation of the data.”
I ripped out my phone and tried to hit up headquarters myself, but I couldn’t get through. She’d blocked the connection.
By now, though, we had other things to worry about. The fuckers had noticed and the first outliers descended on us.
I ripped out my gun and lit them up, but what could a single gun do against a dozen of fist sized insects.
The moment I’d shot one down, the rest got angry, seriously angry.
I shot two more before I threw myself on the ground, to avoid their mandibles and clawed legs. Yet, it didn’t do a damn thing. Within moments two of them were upon me, tearing through the protective armor.
I screamed up in pain, rolling on the ground, and kicked the damn things off me. Shit, this wasn’t good, not good at all. In an instant, I threw myself behind a tree and shot down another one, but more and more of them were coming for us. It sounded like the entire fucking forest was buzzing with them.
From where I was, I saw Theodor. His combat knife cut through the air, slicing through one, then two more of the insects. But I knew he wouldn’t last.
“Theodor, there’s no way you can handle a swarm type on your own and we’ve got more of them coming! We’ve got to find the damned hive! If we don’t, they’ll tear us apart!”
He glanced at me, gave me a curt nod before he did his best to hide himself.
For a moment my hand closed around a flamer, and I considered burning the entire fucking forest to the ground. But what would that do? The fuckers were airborne and with my luck I’d instead burn Theodor and myself to a crisp.
“Exterminator 7D11087, this is no time to rest. Should any of the organism escape, they’ll most likely form a new hive. Get going and take care of the extermination!”
Yeah, as if I didn’t know that!
However, how the fuck were we supposed to handle something like this? We were pinned down and we had no clue where their damned hive was!
As I shot down another one, I strained my eyes, but there was no hint of it. Then I got an idea.
“Theodor, get over here!”
In an instant, he darted across the forest and threw himself down next to me.
“We’ve got to find the hive and I’ve got an idea.”
“Well, shoot it, Dylan.”
In an instant, I took out a flash grenade. I couldn’t help but smile a little. Hadn’t used those babies in a while.
“All right, I can’t say it for sure, but the hive is most likely near the center of the signature, right here. So, we’ve got to make our way over there.”
Theodor nodded, and in an instant I activated the flash grenade and threw it high into the air.
A moment later the sky was drenched in blazing white light and I could hear the confused buzzing of the insects around us.
Without even looking, Theodor and I hurried over the forest floor. My eyes were glued to the phone’s screen. We didn’t have to go far, but I knew those fuckers wouldn’t be out for long.
We’d barely crossed a hundred meters when I had to throw a second grenade. Another surge of light erupted above us. This time, though, I turned around to light the fuckers up. If anything, I might be able to at least diminish their numbers somewhat.
Still, there were dozens of them and it seemed the grenade hadn’t affected all of them. I didn’t like it one bit. The fuckers were learning to avoid them and they were learning fast.
“Shit,” I cursed as another group of them came for me.
I shot down three more, dodged another bunch, but one of them got a hold of my shoulder. Its clawed legs dug deep into my flesh and its mandibles were about to tear into my throat.
I pushed it back and put the gun right against its head and pulled the trigger. Disgusting, greenish goo exploded all over my face. For a moment I gagged before I threw myself behind another tree. Theodor had continued on, and I could see him a couple dozen meters ahead of me.
And that’s when I saw where he was running. Between the trees ahead of us, I saw a giant fucking hornet’s nest.
So that’s where you’re coming from.
Without wasting another second, I threw the last flash grenade behind me and rushed toward Theodor.
I ripped out a flamer and threw it. It crashed against the side of the nest, blanketing it with hungry flames. Trees caught on fire, then the nest, before it tore wide open.
I’d hoped this would do the trick, would throw the swarm into chaos, but my eyes grew wide.
I saw mandibles, giant mandibles and a moment later, a monstrosity pushed itself from the nest. This thing, it was the size of a human being. No, I realized, as it spread out its wings, it was much, much bigger.
A loud, high-pitched buzzing cut through the air as the thing lifted itself upward. Then it screeched so loud my ears popped.
In an instant, the rest of the swarm flocked towards it. Shit, it was gathering them for an all-out assault.
But then, something else happened. Its mandibles opened wide, and it plucked the first of the many smaller hornets from the air, instantly devouring it. Yet, the rest of the swarm didn’t flee. No, they sacrificed themselves.
In horror, I watched as the thing gorged itself on the rest of the swarm.
At that moment, I remembered something I’d read a long time ago, something I’d forgotten. Most swarm types breed and multiply to increase their numbers. Yet some acted differently. The word cannibalistic that Sandra had once mentioned came to my mind. This entire damn swarm was bred to nurture and feed an alpha organism.
And this beast in front of us was exactly that.
“Theodor, we’ve got to take care of it now before it,” but I broke up.
I could already see the creature changing, growing and mutating. A second pair of wings spread from its back and additional legs pushed outward.
I got my gun, started shooting it, but the bullets didn’t seem to hurt its chitinous body.
A second later, the thing came for me. I’d thought I was safe behind the trees, but in front of me it effortlessly tore through the forest as if it was nothing. In an instant, it had reached me, descending upon me with its giant mandibles.
I had barely enough time to throw myself aside, felt its legs scratching over my back as the surrounding trees exploded under the thing’s attack.
When I came to a rest on the forest floor a few meters away from its path, I felt a hot, sharp pain in my arm. I tried to lift it, but saw the long, wooden splinter that had impaled it.
Fucking shit, what the hell could we do against this thing? And where the fuck was Theodor?
My eyes darted around, but a moment later the thing came for me again. This time though, the trees were gone, the path was all but clear.
Its mandibles clicked in anticipation and I could see its multi-faceted eyes focusing on me.
No other way, I thought as I pulled out another grenade.
Closer, come on, come closer. When there were only about a dozen meters between us, I threw the grenade. Not at the thing, but at the ground in front of it.
I was thrown backward by the resulting shockwave, but the creature was hit as well. It staggered before it crashed to the ground, and I saw that one of its wings was broken.
Yet, the damage was already healing. I watched in horror and fascination as a new membranous wing started forming.
Right at that moment, I saw Theodor. He rushed for the creature and then threw himself on its back. The thing screeched, batted its wings trying to shake him off, but within moments Theodor tore through them.
Its mandibles clicked in anger. Legs scurried over the ground, but it couldn’t reach him.
For a moment he was about to fall, but then he got a hold on its body, raised the combat knife high and plunged it right into one of the creature’s multi-faceted eyes.
The thing started shaking, began skittering over the forest floor blindly. Theodor was thrown off as it crashed against a tree.
Goo was streaming from the thing’s damaged head as it flailed from tree to tree, tearing through the forest.
Eventually, its energy seemed to leave, and it came to a rest. Its legs were still kicking, still moving, and I knew that the thing could mend the damage it had suffered from.
Not going to take any chances, I told myself as I stepped up to it. I unloaded an entire magazine into the thing’s head until nothing but disgusting, greenish goo was left.
For a moment the body started flailing around again and I already held a flamer in my hand, but then it grew silent.
“Fucking hell,” I cursed.
As the adrenaline left my body, I realized how badly my arm was hurt. It was almost entirely covered in blood. I reached for the piece of wood that had impaled it, but the moment I tried to move it, the pain almost made me pass out.
All I could do was to pour a healing contraption over it and hope that it would stop the bleeding until we’d made it back.
I looked over to where Theodor was. He’d fought himself to his feet and was grinning at me.
“Got that fucker good, didn’t I?” he called out to me.
“You’re freaking insane,” I said, shaking my head.
I was about to hit up Marcia that we’d taken care of the incident when I noticed something.
At first I thought it was a remnant of the swarm, but then I saw plastic, saw metal. It was a drone, but why was a drone…
I didn’t get to think about it, as it flew past me and right into Theodor’s direction. Don’t tell me…
“Theodor, watch out!”
He looked at me, not understanding before he noticed the drone coming for me.
A second later the drone went up in flames. Theodor was engulfed and thrown aside.
I rushed towards him and for a moment I thought he was dead. Then I watched as he fought himself to his feet.
He was burned, one of his arms was covered in blood, but for all I knew he was okay. As okay as one could be after being hit by a fucking explosion.
For a moment he staggered and spat a mouthful of blood on the ground.
His eyes focused on me, not understanding what had happened.
“Marcia,” I brought out. “That was Marcia!”
I hit her up via the communication channel instantly.
“What the fuck’s going on? Why the fuck did you-?”
“Exterminator 7D11087, special permission to handle this abomination has been given a mere ten minutes ago. The extermination will be carried out as-“
“Don’t fuck with me! Theodor’s the only person who knows, who’s seen what’s-“
“Exterminator 7D11087, what you’re referring to as a person has just been designated as a target for extermination. But don’t worry, I’m not as heartless as you think. You can stand down. Exterminator 3B66901 will carry out this extermination.”
And in that moment I saw that freakish partner of hers. The man darted out from between the trees and rushed right at Theodor.
Something long and shiny glistened in the afternoon light.
Theodor staggered, could barely dodge the attack, but when he tried to get away, he crashed to the ground. Before he could get up, the fucker went for another attack. This time, the knife he was wielding made contact, and he buried it deep in Theodor’s arm.
I got out my gun, tried to hit up headquarters, but the line didn’t connect. Fuck!
Theodor dodged another attack, but I heard him scream in pain when Marcia’s partner landed another deep cut on his chest. Yet, Theodor wasn’t done. He rushed forward, crushed his head against the guy’s and for a moment I saw Marcia’s partner stumble back.
I pointed the gun, was about to press the trigger, but right at that moment I heard Marcia’s voice again.
“Exterminator 7D11087,” Marcia shrieked. “You’re hereby commanded to stand down. This extermination will proceed as planned. Any action from you will have dire consequences.”
In front of me, the two of them clashed once more. This time Theodor had the upper hand and the combat knife Marcia’s partner had been holding was batted aside. Right away, the man threw himself back and vanished between the underbrush.
A moment later he fired at Theodor, but the bullets merely grazed him before he charged after the man.
I did my best to follow them, but they were fast and a moment later more gunfire reached my ears.
When I saw them again, Theodor had closed in on the guy, but was bleeding from a gunshot wound in his lower abdomen.
Still, he could finally land a hit against the guy’s head. The mask was torn from his face and I gasped when I saw what was below.
It was an inhumane, comprising nothing but scare tissue. The only visible thing were his bloodshot eyes. Where his mouth would have been was nothing but a stitched line.
I’d read about them before. That guy was a freaking enhanced human. But those practices, they’d been outlawed years ago because of their side-effects.
“You’re telling me Theodor needs to be exterminated but that thing’s-?”
“I like to inform you that while the practice of artificially enhancing humans has been abolished, we higher-ranking exterminators have certain freedom in choosing our assets.”
“Then Theodor’s one such asset as well!” I spat at her.
Marcia iterated her tirade about me standing down and headquarters permissions once more.
And in that moment, I had enough.
Fuck that bitch and fuck headquarters. Sure, Theodor was a crazy freak, but by now, I couldn’t call him anything but a friend. Without him, I’d been long dead. Hell, without him, we’d not been able to take down that A-Class organism.
My hand closed around the gun. I pushed my finger against the trigger and marched forward.
“What you are about to commit, Exterminator 7D11087, will be deemed high treason and-“
I didn’t give a shit anymore. Blame everything on me for all I care. With that, I tore the small communication device from my ear and threw it deep into the forest.
I could see that Theodor was barely keeping up with that freak. He was covered in wounds and one of his arms wasn’t working anymore, but at that moment I pointed the gun at Marcia’s partner.
He was fast, tried his best to dodge, but two of the bullets still hit him. One went deep into his upper body, the other hit him straight into the head.
He was thrown aside, staggered for a moment before he crashed to the forest floor and lay still.
I knew I’d just made the biggest mistake in my entire fucking life, but I didn’t care. All I could think about was one thing.
Fuck monsters and fuck artificially enhanced humans.