Well, today’s job was simple, at least on paper, that is. It was another D-class signature, a swarm type, meaning a lot of fucking bugs. They are usually not much of a danger when handled quickly and efficiently.
And here we have the crucial difference between them and other D-class signatures. Those fuckers breed fast, really fast. If left alone for a few weeks, or hell, even days, they multiply by the thousands until they aren’t even considered D-class anymore. There have been cases when unsuspecting homes and even entire small settlements have been swallowed by them.
Today, I didn’t bring my trusty gun. As much as it pained me, I knew it would be useless. Instead, I scurried through the storage room until I’d found one of headquarters, certified flamethrowers. The thing was small, barely larger than a handgun, but it could shoot out balls of concentrated fire that could evaporate almost anything. Other than that, I went with my usual outfit of protective armor and a bottle of some anti-flame contraption in case things would get heated. Then, in a temporary bout of insanity, I also got a hold of two flame grenades, flamers for short.
The signature was relatively new, so I didn’t expect too much trouble. Of course, I was only half-right, but more about that later.
Today, I decided to share a few of the intricacies of my work with you.
First, I can’t tell you much about headquarters. They are some sort of big organizations, but their name alone seems to be one of the most well-kept secrets of the world.
What I know is that they operate on a global scale and keep a tight net of surveillance going. Some areas are less surveyed or ignored, while others, mostly urban areas, are more tightly surveyed. The reason is simple, more people means more danger of things getting out of hand. Also, you can easily hide the fact that shit hit the fan in some remote village. When things go wrong in a city, the entire world would be watching.
When I started my work as an exterminator, my city wasn’t high on the priority list. While it’s fairly big, the population density is low. Recently though, surveillance has been tightened since the number of incidents has been steadily increasing.
I’ve wondered before how they keep this level of surveillance going, but of course there’s no way anyone would share such details with someone like me. It might be a satellite based system, swarms of survey drones or, hell, more of their magical mumbo-jumbo.
Once they find hints of strange activity, the signature is analyzed. Should there be a hit, an exterminator is sent out to handle things.
While I work alone, I know that there are other areas in which groups of exterminators are active.
As for signatures, those are organized by class and type. The division by class refers to the level of danger. D-class is regarded as low danger, while A-class is reserved for incidents of the highest level.
D- and C-class can generally be handled by a single exterminator. B-class signatures are a lot tougher and require multiple exterminators. I only was involved in a handful of these incidents, and it wasn’t fun.
The real fun, however, starts with A-class. Those are the biggest, nastiest fuckers. There are records of them leveling entire towns and causing massive destruction in cities. The procedure here’s entirely different. If you’re on your own, you’re forbidden from engaging. Instead, you’re tasked with providing additional information while the area is evacuated and put under lockdown until enough exterminators are present. Thankfully, A-class is rare, and I never had the bad luck to encounter any of them.
The type should pretty much be self-explanatory. There are a lot of different creatures out there. Headquarters has put together an entire freaking database, a compendium, showing you every nasty little fucker that crawls around out there.
Now, where do those things come from, you might ask?
Well, some of you might be familiar with the multiverse theory. It states, for simplicity’s sake, that there’s an infinite number of parallel universes. I’ve got no clue if that’s what’s going on, but it comes close enough.
Most of the creatures I take care of aren’t part of our world. Instead, they come from different planes of reality. I read about reports of portals creating overlaps between different realities in some notes provided by headquarters, but I’ve seen nothing like it. These reports state that if such a portal should appear, things can slip through and make their way into a different reality.
Most creatures come here by accident. They are stranded in an alien world and try their best to survive. Which means preying on its inhabitants.
Those are not the only ones, though. There’re beings who are smarter, who seek those portals and who slip through on their own volition. Those are the nastier ones, the ones that mean trouble.
However, there’re other cases. Sometimes the external influence from a different plane of reality is enough to taint animals or people native to our world and change them for lack of a better word. You can imagine it as interdimensional radioactivity. The results are as nasty as they sound.
Well, that’s enough for now. Class is over.
As I said, today’s signature was a swarm type. Now those fuckers don’t just crawl into a house and start eating people up. No, they find themselves a suitable hiding place and multiply.
Today’s signature told me that these particular buggers had opted for a park in the center of my city. While the place isn’t central park, it’s still an enormous place with its fair share of wide meadows and large forested areas.
To tell you the truth, I hate swarm types. You never know how long those fuckers have been breeding. While most signatures are discovered quickly, sometimes, the fuckers can hide themselves well enough to avoid discovery for days. That’s when the fun starts.
What makes this entire thing even worse, is that I hate bugs. Always have, always will.
When I made it to the park, the sun had long set. Great, I thought as I got out my close-range scanner, should have brought the night vision googles. So much for being prepared.
I didn’t like this, not one bit.
As I continued on my way through the park, I couldn’t help but watch my steps. If you were careless, you could step right into the middle of their nest. Even now, I still had some scars from the very first time I encountered a swarm type. Never again, I told myself.
Step by step I continued on, scanning the area with my close-range scanner. But so far, there wasn’t a damn thing.
For a while I followed one of the many hiking trails through the park, but before long I knew it wouldn’t get me anywhere. So I pushed myself past trees and right into the underbrush.
You wouldn’t expect someone like me to be scared of the dark, but to tell you the truth, I was anxious as fuck. Knowing that you can be swarmed by hundreds of multi-legged horrors at any moment would freak anyone out.
Finally, the scanner got a hit and after a few more steps I could make out the first of the buggers.
They were a nasty bunch, all right. They looked similar to ants, but I could tell they were much, much bigger. For a moment I stopped, told myself to calm down, took a deep breath and hit the scanner once more, slowly increasing the range.
And wouldn’t you know it, today was my lucky day. The entire area ahead was teeming with them.
“Fucking shit,” I cursed to myself as I stared at the dark forest ahead of me. Why’d it have to be the middle of the goddamn night?
Flamethrower at the ready, I inched forward. The moment I got close enough, the first wave of ants came for me.
“Light ‘em up,” I joked as I hit the flamethrower. The entire wave was engulfed by a concentrated ball of fire. Their screeching and the sound of their carcasses popping was music to my ears.
“Fuck you, you goddamn bugs,” I mumbled with a grin on my face.
The rest of the swarm remained wary, retreating to a small hill that I assumed to be their nest.
Step by step I inched closer, my hand closed tightly around the trigger of the flamethrower. For a moment my eyes scanned the trees next to me and the branches above me. Nothing.
Right at that moment another wave came for me and another ball of fire took care of them. The few that remained gathered around the nest ahead of me.
Well, checkmate, I thought as I took another step forward only for my foot to sink into the floor. There was no resistance, and my leg vanished between a teeming mass of ants.
I’d been careful, I’d been prepared, but I still lost my balance. I stumbled forward and plunged face first into the hole. No, not a hole, I realized, into their real nest. What they’d created ahead of me had been nothing but a fake, a trap to lure me in. And once more, I’d been dumb enough to fall for it.
Yet, I didn’t have time to think about that. Within seconds I was swarmed by the things. Hundreds if not thousands of them descended upon me from a multitude of tunnels. I could feel them all over my body, tearing at the fabric of my clothing and the protective gear below.
I swayed, flailed around, trying to get them off me, but more and more of them were coming.
In desperation I tried to push myself up, to get to my feet, but by now it felt like the entire swarm was on top of me.
“Fucking hell, you won’t get me that easily,” I screamed as I punched the trigger of the flamethrower.
I felt the heat of the fireball, heard the sizzling, burning carcasses, but soon enough the flames were doused, blocked off as part of the swarm scarified itself to save the rest. And that rest was getting angrier now.
Shit! Goddamn shit! Why did things never go my fucking way!?
I fired again, tried to do it a third time, but by now it didn’t do a damn thing. The flamethrower was blocked off.
Even worse, I could feel them getting past the protective armor, could feel them on my body, digging into my skin and the flesh below. This wouldn’t end well.
I tried once more to get free, but it was futile. All I could move was my right arm. No other way, I decided as I ripped out one of the flamers. I tore my arm free, pushed it out of the seething teeming mass, activated the grenade and threw it as high into the air as possible.
Moments later, an explosion tore through the air above me. Even below the mass of the entire swarm, I could feel the blast wave before liquid fire descended. It ate through the nest and the damned ants like nothing, before it reached me as well.
Once more I flailed around, jumped up, tried to drench the flames, but eventually I had to spray myself with the anti-fire contraption I’d brought along. The pain shot through my body in sharp, fiery bursts, and I knew I got some serious burns.
As I pushed myself from the remains of the burning nest, the flame thrower was in my hand again.
I clenched my teeth as I fired at anything that was moving in a blind rage. A cacophony of screeches and clicking noises filled the night. I saw that some of the fuckers were trying to flee, but I was relentless. Before long the entire area around the nest was covered in flames and any and all insects had been burned to a crisp.
I finally I took out the second flamer and threw it into the center of the nest for good measure. Bits and pieces of the burning nests and the ants were thrown into the night sky, blanketing the forest all around me.
“That’s what you get, that’s what you fucking get!” I screamed at the burning pit in front of me.
I hit up the close-range scanner again and was glad to see that there were no more signals. For all I knew, I’d eradicated any hint of the things. This time there was no nest left. For once I’d been thorough, truly thorough.
And as I watched the burning forest floor and the first of the burning trees in front of me, I realized I might have been a bit too thorough.
“Oh, you’ve got to be,” I cursed.
I reached for the bottle of anti-fire contraption, but in my panic I’d used up most of it inside the nest. What remained wasn’t enough to douse the flames all around me.
With a few clicks, I notified headquarters I’d taken care of the signature and that the night was over. As I stared at the burning trees and listened to the distant sirens of fire trucks, I knew I’d fucked up once again.
For the first time in a long while, I considered just smashing my phone, but I knew it wouldn’t do me any good. Headquarters would get into contact with me one way or another, and they’d tear me a new one for this.
As I retreated from the now burning area of the park, I cursed to myself again and again.
Fuck monsters, and fuck my own goddamn stupidity.