Posted 18 July 2006 - 01:06 AM
Jennings carefully picked up his flamethrower and crept out into the road. His nerous eyes peered up and down, but saw nothing. Slowly, he took a few more steps forward.
He heard a growl. Spinning, he was shocked by the sight of the lumbering behemoth earlier - still alive. It was smoking, charred and burnt, but as he watched it grinned a horrible grin and leapt at him.
There was no time to dodge. Jennings screamed and fell backward, expecting its titanic black teeth to rip into his throat. But the pain never came, and when Jennings opened his eyes he saw the alien's face inches from his. It contained a feature he didn't remember, however; that of a shining steel blade portruding from its forhead. The blade slid upward, splitting the alien's skull in two. It slumped forward onto Jennings's legs, pinning him to the ground. Jennings bent back his head and saw the bearer of the sword; an incredibly attractive Japanese man, dressed in black attire. A rifle was slung over his shoulder and a modified Desert Eagle hung from his hip, as well as a plethora of other battlefield equipment.
Suddenly, there was a bizarre alien battle cry, and the edges of Jennings's vision was alive with movement. More of the armed, floatiing aliens - "Floaters" would be good enough a name, he supposed, leave the creativity to the scientists - appeared from outside the soldier's field of vision and soared about the sky. They were all armed with rifles but for one with the huge off-white plasma weapon, and Jennings lifted his flamethrower. It was immediately clamped back down by the foot of the mysterious newcomer.
"Don't worry," said the Japanese man in a melodious voice. "These are mine."
The one with the off-white cannon - something Jennings had heard could punch through a car, through he wasn't sure that was true - levelled its weapon first, and a rush of fear hit Jennings' system before he saw the Japanese man leap. It was like nothing Jennings had ever seen - from a standstill, the man soared metres into the air as if supported by wires. His body was carried majestically to the floater where he delivered what looked like a simple open-palm strike to the side of the Floater's neck. The blow sent the floater soaring sideways, though it kept its grip on the white cannon.
The man continued his glide until he came into contact with another floater - "collision" would not be an appropriate word, for there was nothing but grace in his movement. One foot landed on the floater's base sphere, and suddenly the sword was in the man's hand - it had been drawn too quickly for Jennings to see. The man backflipped off the floater, but as he did, there was a flash of light as it reflected off the sword and a spray of blood into the air. The floater looked normal for a second, before it fell to the earth - in two biscected pieces.
As the man spun through the air, the rifle - Jennings could see now that it was an AK-47 - was retrieved from his back. Even before he hit the ground it was firing, and lines of blood were being drawn up the bodies of two floaters. Both ended with shots punching through their skulls, leaving a trail of blood behind as a sort of makeshift tracer. The gun did not fire actual tracer rounds, however - Jennings could see that the man didn't need them. By the time he had hit the ground, another floater had been felled to the rifle, which seemed to barely show recoil at all.
As soon as his feet touched earth, the man threw the rifle into the air. He drew the modified Desert Eagle and started to fire. Even a single shot was able to blow the aliens' organs out of their backs, and one to the head was sufficient to reduce said extremity to a mist. The floater with the cannon still existed, Jennings assumed, only because he had not yet returned as a threat; only now was it regaining control of its movement.
It was only at this point that the aliens, so reduced by their inferior training, had time to fire. One that had avoided being shot or slashed started spraying snap shots at the man. Jennings was about to warn him, but saw that he had the situation under control when the Japanese man calmly avoided the bolts of green plasma with barely a small step at a time. Shots missed him by inches, but he seemed unconcerned, until at one point when he turned and fired his handgun at the alien. The bullet passed through a bolt of green plasma in midflight and came out the other side as an ultrahot slug of liquid metal. It punched into the alien's chest cavity, which immediately burst into green flames. The man calmly bent to the side, avoiding by hairs the final plasma round, as the floater was roasted alive.
More floaters soared into view, but Jennings knew they were but moths yearning to crumple and die in a candleflame. With a shake of his head, the Japanese man holstered his pistol. "So much limitation in guns," he said quietly, his melodious singer's voice clearly audible. "True strength can only come from one's own spirit..."
With a flash, the sword was in his hands again, and Jennings only saw a blur when he moved. There was a whirlwind of wavy-patterned steel as floaters were reduced to pieces of their former selves. Jennings saw the head fly off of one alien directly above him, its face forever frozen in a state of surprise as it bobbed into the air.
When only three floaters remained about him, the man sheathed his sword and had only his empty hands - thus resorting to his true ultimate power. A heel of the hand to one floater's chin instantly snapped its neck. An elbow to the chest of the second collapsed its ribcage, causing bloody vomit to spray out of its mouth before it fell stone dead to the street. The last tried to level its rifle, but the man grabbed its arm and twisted. There was a horrific popping sound as every joint was torn to shreds. The floater looked about to scream when the severed head of its compatriot fell back downward and passed in front of its face; the man drove a fist through the skull of the severed head, and continued on to punch right through the skull of the living without the slightest hint of effort.
And as the dead floaters fell away and the man dropped to the ground, Jennings saw that the floater with the cannon was still alive. It levelled its weapon at the man's back and seemed about to pull the trigger, when it suddenly made a choking sound and grabbed at its throat.
The Japanese man turned a condescending look over his shoulder at the floater. "That hit I made ruptured every blood vessel in your throat. You're drowning in your own blood."
The floater wrapped both hands about its throat, but to no avail. It gave an oddly human-like scream before fountains of blood gushed out of its throat, and it fell spasming to the road.
From the sky fell the AK-47, which the man caught with a dextrous movement before resting over his shoulder, barrel pointing behind him. He adopted a casual stance and looked down at Jennings.
"Oh my god, that was amazing! How much ammo do you even have left?" cried Jennings, overcome with admiration for the Japanese warrior before noticing a floater corpse behind him shifting.
"I have more than enough," said the man as a wounded, but alive floater rose from the ground and pointed a rifle, before the AK-47 barked - without moving from its position of pointing behind its owner from over his shoulder - and the floater was felled with a shot to the head. "And now I have none."
"What..." Jennings's words caught in his throat. "What's your name?"
The man looked down at Jennings through his deep, handsome eyes before speaking. "Oroku Gawa - or my enemies whisper, Night Stalker." He looked up at the sky. "I must now take my leave."
"Wait" shouted Jennings as Night Stalker leapt out of his vision, and he struggled to free himself from beneath the gigantic corpse. "X-COM needs you! Come back! Come back"
* * * * * * * *
"Come back...come back..."
"What's he talking about?" asked Ibsen, looking down at the heavily wounded Jennings.
"He's not talking about anything," said Tammy. "I had to give him some drugs for the pain, and to make sure he doesn't do anything in his concussed state. I'm amazed he's able to dream at all."
Ibsen's face went grim as he looked down at the heavily wounded body of his teammate, and he nodded.
* * * * * * * *
Greg Conner, otherwise known as "Ghost", was living up to his name. He had been with Ki-Tat before the latter had heard of Warlord's distress, and taken off like a bat out of hell. Ghost was fast, but even he had to admit that Ki-Tat was going at a rate he couldn't even expect from a human being. He'd have to, anyway, to get to Warlord - Ghost didn't know what he expected to do to help a man all the way across the bay...
The point was, Ghost was now alone, and if there was one thing he had learned from his Delta Force stealth missions, it was that the lonely get hidden or they get dead. And hiding was one thing Ghost was good at. So good, in fact, that an alien had soared right over top of him while he was between shops and hadn't even spotted him. So good, that Ghost had been tailing the alien, keeping out of sight, for a good minute now and it had been none the wiser. Ghost figured he could have killed it at any time with almost no risk of reprisal, but it was that "almost" that worried him. Alone, even the smallest chance that the alien could get off a shot could very well mean his death. So while he figured the odds were overwhelmingly in his favour, Ghost preferred to stay out of sight until he was absolutely sure he would have the drop on the alien.
He got his chance a few seconds later. The alien had gone inside one larger shop, the garbage bags of rotting food stuffs outside suggesting a restuarant, and had left an easy trail for Ghost to follow.
I can't believe it! How is it possible? seethed Ghost. To understand the concept of doors enough to know to open them, to even use the knob - but not have the manners and decency to close it behind them?! It's outreageous! It's outrageous and terrificially rude. I should complain about their terrible manners. I should - As he followed, he heard the sound of a radio very close by. He couldn't understand it, except for the final portion as a plasma rifle fired and the radio ceased. Ghost was able to translate that well enough.
Ghost leapt to the final door, saw it led into the main eatery, and saw the alien. Its side was to him, but it was distracted by the exploding radio. It was barely four feet away. He pointed the pistol and fired -
Except the trigger was of a different weight than he was used to, and it went off at the wrong time. Which was, in fact, a very good thing, as the shot flew past the alien and the serving counter to hit a table a few metres away. And as the antiphotons hit the wood, they reacted - creating a burst of searing heat that flew over the alien and continued to Ghost. He got rather little of it, being behind the cover of the alien, which was lucky because even as it was his exposed skin instantly recieved the equivalent of a sunburn.
Ghost shouted in surprsie and fell back away from the door, blocking himself from the alien for maybe half a second. Cocking hell! What the hell kind of dentists do these people go to! he thought to himself.
But he knew what had happened. Leave it up to scientists to design a science experiment when they should be making a weapon. The gun didn't throw off a bad amount of radiation to the user so long as it had the range to dissipate - normal weapon ranges, or at least, outside. Inside, however, at extremely close distances, there was still enough radiation to hurt the user. And Ghost knew just enough science to know that much radiation was Bad News.
He expected the alien to come after him with its much more indoors-friendly plasma gun, but he was saved. From the other side of the restauant he heard a door burst open, and heavy human boots clomp on the floor. It was a human...but that meant...
"DON'T USE THE LASER GUN!!! Ghost rolled to his feet as Tim's finger pulled away from a nerly depressed trigger. Other soldiers may have disregarded the advice, but X-COM was the best of the best and Tim trusted his teammate, whose voice he recognized as Conner's. Trust didn't mean the situation was resolved, however, and the alien was swiveling, plasma rifle coming to bear on him. Apparently useless/dangerous/something laser pistol in his hand, he dived behind a table and pulled it down to provide cover. Pulling a grenade off his belt, be peered around the cover to see the alien was much too close to use the grenade on - in fact, so close its gun was pointing right at his head...
...when an arm wrapped around its neck and pulled backwards, throwing off its aim, and second arm plunged a combat knife into its throat. "You have terrible manners, by the way," hissed Ghost's face, appearing over its shoulder; apparently, Ghost was more than deserving of his nickname and had noiselessly moved from his hiding place to the alien's back.
However, it was unfortunate that as quiet and skilled with a knife as Ghost was, he was used to fighting human opponents. It was more unfortunate that though human necks are a vulnerable portion of the anatomy, all the vitals of this alien's neck were protected by layers of muscle and bone. And so, while a knife to the neck was certainly disturbing to the alien, it was by no means lethal. And that allowed it to pull away, bringing its rifle to bear.
If they were outside, this would be the end of the X-COM soldiers. However, the complications of the environment finally began to work in the humans' favour; this particular alien was quite fond of its ability to fly. So much, that as a whole they fight and move with the presumption that they would have room to make the use of three dimensions. However, the ceiling was low, and the alien had to glide unsteadily to the side. And while it could do this quickly, quicker than most people could react, X-COM agents were not most people. And Ghost, extensively trained in Close-Quaters Combat, reached out and grabbed the end of the alien's rifle.
Immediately he could feel the barrel, still hot from the plasma that it had fired into the radio, burning his flesh. With one fluid movement he pulled the gun towards himself and pivoted, delivering a strike with his other hand to the creature's elbow. Again, alien anatomy got in the way and its grip stayed strong.
Whatever. Ghost yanked the alien towards himself a delivered a crushing elbow to its face before twisting its arm, trying to force it to drop the gun. This only seemed to tighten its grip, and as its gigantic hand closed around the grip green plasma bolts ripped into the floor. Blasted burning embers flew across Tim's face, whose training didn't allow to do much more than watch and maybe cheer.
Ghost gave up on his disarming maneuvers and just yanked on the gun proper. It popped out of its hand easily, but Ghost dropped it to the floor. Too unwieldly at this range. And anyway, without duct tape, it would take both hands on the grip to fire, something he certainly couldn't do with some purple thug all up in his face like -
The alien delivered an outstretched arm and a closed fist to Ghost's jaw. The soldier's head snapped back and his jaw closed with a metallic snack sound. His vision reeled and all he could think was: God, he's a strong sunuvabitch, ain'he?
It was a good thing he was so trained he didn't have to think. The alien swung at him again and he grabbed its arm, twisting under it and smashing it across the face. He spun, rolling across its body, and delivered a punch to where its temple would be, were it human. It wasn't human, however, and an individual lump of bone stuck out from its skull and succeeded in breaking Ghost's ring finger. Grabbing its other arm and locking it in a hold proved slightly more useful as he brought a knee up into its midsection, right where metal met flesh.
A gnarled purple arm swung about and was blocked by Ghost's own, but he wasn't expecting the alien's anti-gravity machinery to lurch backward and pull him off balance. Another blow smashed into his head and threw him backwards, falling onto a wooden table that shifted under his weight. The alien started to pull away, heading back towards its weapon, when Ghost jumped furiously off the table and jammed his heel into its back. He followed this up by grabbing the bizarre cape it wore and yanking, pulling it towards him. He then just let loose; delivering a flurry of punches, knees, elbows and slasms to anywhere he could. He no longer cared about hitting when it hurt, as it seemed this monster was deliberately constructed just to frustrate him; he just wanted to keep it busy.
"Tim, goddammit, do something! I don't know how to kill this bastard"
"Then move and let me shoot, Conner, you're blocking me" Ghost paused to look over his shoulder and saw Tim, crouching, both hands wrapped around the grip of the rifle, the end of it placed on a table. The ex-Delta Force operative locked an arm around the alien's neck and held it still, almost like some twisted version of friends with arms across each other's shoulders.
"Say cheese" shouted Ghost as a bolt of green fire, like the tongue of a dragon, shot from the rifle and buried itself in the alien's midsection. There was a frankly horrific smell, though not so bad as those of the bug-eyed grays, as its torso opened up and burned organs and circuitry spilled from the wound. Its anti-gravity abruptly died and it crumpled to the floor. Ghost, who suddenly became aware of pain lancing about from most of his body, fell back against a table, panting heavily.
Tim stood up. "So, now that we've almost died, why can't I use the laser?"
"Goes off like a firecracker at close range. No one figured we'd be firing pistols that way. Goddamn lasers." Ghost's face twisted into a grimace and he started furiously kicking the corpse in between words. "It's things - like this - that make - me wish - I had - my CAR-15 - if someone - didn't give - me crap - about the number - of items - on the goddamn - plane"
Tim rolled his eyes and looked away, then back. "Wait a minute. Conner?"
"Didn't you get killed by that big alien?"
Ghost tilted his head and took on a confused expression. "Didn't I what?"
"When we got out of the plane. Didn't you get hit by that alien?"
"What? No, that was Dodge."
"Oh." Tim was silent for a moment. "Damn. Dodge...damn."
"Yeah." Ghost nodded and looked away, before muttering to himself. "They do so count."
"Hmm?" asked Tim.
"Huh?" answered Ghost, feigning obliviousness.
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