The gate gives off in eerie light, nearly unobservable unless looking directly at it. It’s like a red mist- an ominous orange cloud at dawn, foreshadowing a storm. The hazy figure on the other side would need to stoop to exit the inter-dimensional portal, which stands at least 15ft. high at its peak. As far as we can tell, the more “the burn” has set in around a rift, the better grip it has in our world. However, the fastest way is for the area to be filled with death. The sudden release of life essence provides the fuel needed to anchor a gate firmly.
My faith leads me to believe that the souls of the departed continue on to their final place, be it heaven or hell. Or maybe it’s my sanity that tells me that- the other implications are too horrific to even imagine…
“Whatever that is, it’s too large to exit with a gate this unstable,” Somsien says, “I’ve watched it for a few days. At first the smallest came through, then a little larger, but nothing anywhere near that size.”
“Do you think that’s the gate guardian?” I ask Somsien, as he would have the best guess.
“I’d imagine so, he’s been standing around there for days. I believe the guardian needs to be there for the gate to allow passage.”
“So, what do we do now?” Dahvid asked, as perplexed as we are at the moment.
“Even if we went in and killed it, we wouldn’t be able to get out,” I propose, although none of us would care to enter that realm.
“It already knows we are here, apparently sound crosses the barrier,” Dahvid surmises, “I’d assume there’s going to be a welcoming party.”
“If we kill enough of them, the gate will be able to support that thing,” Somsien says out loud what each one of us is thinking.
“Is that really something we want to do, make this gate stronger? What if we don’t win?” I ask, trying to keep the station in mind.
“If we leave, they’ll just reinforce this area, and we’ll have an even harder time shutting this place down,” Dahvid gestures to the gate with his free hand as he is speaking.
“It seems, gentlemen, the time to decide has come to an end- they just decided for us,” as Somsien finishes speaking, several smaller humanoid figures emerge from the rift.
The creatures are roughly five feet tall- probably more, except they scuttle along with a hunched back. Their heads resemble an octopus, but facing backward on their shoulders. And where the back of the octopus’ head would be was a group of eight luminous eyes above a viscous maw filled with fangs. They move fairly quickly for their small bodies, which are covered in glowing scars. They’re called imps for short. Or maybe it’s gremlins. I get them mixed up due to their similarities…
As each phases through the gate, there’s a sound like sizzling flesh followed by a loud popping, like when you crush a sheet of bubble-wrap in your fist. As they emerge, we scatter from our semi-huddled formation to find better tactical positions.
They come out firing and we feel obliged to do the same. They use demonic weapons as well as human, and for a few moments the sound of gunfire is all around. We realize, as do the demons, that our immediate death would be the best possible scenario. They could open the gate on their own time with three less hurdles in the way.
However, the instance we are all counting on is that we will kill enough of them that the gate can support larger and larger demons. They have the advantage, we just need to hope that they send out the gate keeper before we are dead. If we could just shut this gate, we would set them back months of casting and preparing rituals. But by killing them right here, we are accelerating their progress. That’s why we need to kill the gate guardian as soon as possible.
Wielding my nodachi and a single pistol, the things are dropping left and right. I shoot in small bursts and aim for the head, slashing wildly around so as to at least maim any I don’t kill. These seem to truly be cannon fodder, as their weapons just barely register hits on my armor.
Dahvid is dropping them at an impressive rate, with his weapon on full auto. zzzzzzztt zzzzzzzzt zzzzzt It is as one solid stream, once again almost a laser beam of lightning. He likes to fire over my shoulders and past my sides when he’s showing off. He says he has his targeting computers on, but the last time I updated the drivers on his helmet was months ago.
Even Somsien’s weapons seem ultra effective, tearing apart legs, torsos, and faces while he dances about, finishing them off with a swift kick to tear them open at the middle- or a jab in the brain to stop them cold. Their death-cry is a mix of a gurgle and the scream of a pig being slaughtered.
This wave of demons is nearly finished, but I can easily see more figures charging through the rift. The color of the gate is much more pronounced, and the creatures coming through are much clearer just before they emerge.
The difference in the first and second wave of creatures is quickly apparent. The ape-like creatures rushing toward us are known as fetid hulks. They use their massive arms as legs until they are in range to batter you to death. They also glow dimly, with a sickly green color pulsating on their surface. Though not very intelligent, their brute strength and surprising agility make them incredibly perilous. Not to mention their acid breath. There are four of the beasts, and to make matters worse, there are several zombies that seem to have wandered out of the portal with them.
Zombies, while not very dangerous, make me sick to my stomach. The thought that those had been people, possibly my friends, makes me incredibly disgusted- and maniacally enraged. I holster my pistol and get a good grip on my daikatana. As one of the fetid hulks charges me, I prime my boot thrusters. Right as the beast is almost upon me, I leap into the air and land on its back.
While in the air, I see that Dahvid has switched to his cluster rifle. Rockets are flying all around the battlefield, and the explosions are confusing the hell out of those hulks, and tearing up the zombies. Somsien is nowhere to be seen, but the gunfire from his twin spike bolter dueling pistols appears all around the field, further disorienting the monsters.
As I land on the creature, it slams haphazardly into the wall I stood in front of. I bury my blade into its spinal column mid-impact, and the force of its own weight paralyzes the beast where it lies. I leave it to suffer, and sprint back into the fray.
I fell zombies with one swing, like grass before the scythe. They are abominations, that have no place in any world. The fetid hulks are nearby, being bombarded with explosives. Confident in that fact, I get an overgrown fist in my back.
Two of the hulks are down, but one of the others has gotten a heavy shot on me. I roll and try to recover but get swarmed by zombies as I stand up. Not able to get it readied in time, I drop my sword and begin to punch them to try and clear some space. Dahvid comes to my aid, firing rockets at close range. I notice the third hulk down with Somsien’s rapier sticking out of its throat.
Some zombies crawl around with their bottom halves missing. The field is clear except for the last hulk which is nearly on top of Somsien. He only has one pistol and he doesn’t have a chance to kill the thing before it breathes its acidic breath all over him. He rolls and avoids the worst of it, but the liquid quickly begins to burn through his armor.
Dahvid beats me to the beast as I retrieve my sword, focusing his spark rifle fire (having switched back to it) on one of its hind legs, making it stumble. He jumps into the air and drop kicks it, making it fall over. As he lies prone, I liberate the thing’s head from its body, executioner style.
Somsien is meanwhile pulling off pieces of his armor. The creature’s breath weapon is highly corrosive, eating almost immediately through any material, even enchanted diamond.
“You all right?” I ask him, fully aware we should be expecting another fight soon enough.
“Yeah, it burnt out a lot of my computers, though. I don’t think I can wear the helmet,” he answers, “Cloaking is offline, too.”
His face is drenched in sweat, and he is missing much of the armor from his upper half, be it from him removing it, or it was just burnt through. Scars cover his body, self-inflicted on his arms, others streaming blood from our battles with these things. It brings to mind our humanity, when I so often believe us to be invincible.
“Can you hold out?” I ask him, seriously worried.
“I can still shoot,” he says painfully as he recovers his weapons.
Dahvid meanwhile picks himself up off the ground and finishes off the zombies in the area, in preparation for whatever came next.
Just then we realize that the gate is, what appears to be, fully operational. The gate keeper is emerging with no resistance. The creature is at least 18 feet tall, with massive bony spikes all over its back. It doesn’t appear to have eyes, but I can feel its hateful glare. It is humanoid in appearance, but arms and legs is where the resemblance stops. One of its arms is small and shriveled, while the other is massive. It appears to have been grafted on, a mixture of flesh and metal.
The beast lumbers toward us, dragging its gigantic arm on the ground. I have no doubt it could crush me with one blow. Dahvid immediately begins to pepper the thing with rockets, while I pull out both pistols and open-up on it. Somsien likewise riddles it with small-arms fire.
At first the creature doesn’t seem to know what to do. It is confused for but a second, as it swings its massive arm down to pulverize Dahvid. He dodges just in time, but chunks of stone from the shattered street fly up and knock him once more to the ground. I rush to distract the thing, shooting its hind quarters as I advance. It spins with unbelievable speed and snatches me in its massive claw. I continue to fire as it crushes the breath out of me, hoping my friends can finish it off. It holds me up to its face and roars its triumph at my demise. I begin to black out as it crushes my lungs.
Yet Dahvid, on his back, fires several rockets directly into its open mouth causing it to choke and drop me to the ground. Meanwhile, Somsien makes his way toward me, with a constant stream of gunfire. The beast seems to cough and pause for a second, and then spins and crushes the building standing behind Dahvid. The avalanche of rubble topples down onto him, silencing his rocket launcher.
I lie on the ground, fading in and out of consciousness, hoping the thing believes me to be dead. But it is apparent it does not, as it opens its mouth again. Not to roar this time, but in an attempt to swallow me alive.
I pray to God with my last second of consciousness that it won’t last long. As I pass out for good, I see what appears to be several large explosions- and then darkness.