First Contact: Horror Unleashed

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Lights. Red lights flashed all around him. Ryan sat up, the blood rushing back to his head, while a loud hissing indicated the hatch of his cryo-chamber opening. As soon as the warm, unpolluted air of the ship entered his nostrils, Ryan heard a beeping sound from the control panel.

How long had his crew – Trevor, Steve, Hickman, Blaine and himself – been in cryo-sleep? Ten years? Fifty? Time seemed to stop while one was in cryo-sleep, the body frozen, so that long voyages across space could be made without the crew dying out before they reached their destination.

The rest of the team cursed and swore aloud, frustration in their voices. Ryan ignored him; they were people he could trust. He stole a glance at the holographic clock overhead.

It was the year 2257. Fifty years ago, his ship – the Pegasus – had left the spaceport of Luna One, largest colony on the Earth’s moon, to patrol known star systems and map unknown ones. His ship was owned by the United Systems Military, the force that governed and protected all off-world human colonies.

“Computer, deliver message,” Ryan ordered the machine. The crew stood around him, faces eager with anticipation. They were hoping for a chance to return home, Ryan knew, but it was not the message anyone had expected to hear.

It was a faint distress signal, and the crew strained to hear the words as they were being spoken. A young man appeared onscreen, his features contorted in what looked like pain, his voice rough and hoarse. Behind him, Ryan could see flickering lights and overturned tables.

“This is Strauss Chandler of the Serena Dawn research facility on Anchor-375. We are under attack. The facility has been breached. Need backup now. Repeat, Serena Dawn is being overrun,” the man coughed, then slumped against the display, his eyes rolling about wildly in his head, his mouth open, tongue hanging out.

“This is Captain Ryan Kramer of the USM Pegasus. What is the situation? Who are the intruders?”

“Sir, I can't's all dark down here. There's people panicking! This is chaos! ARGH! I've been hit! Oh God, here they come! They’re behind me captain. Do you see them? They’re demons, you gotta believe me, I’m not mad!” the man turned around, then back at the screen. For an instant, Ryan could see half a dozen tall, dark figures scurrying quickly towards the other man.

The crew watched in open-mouthed horror as one of the figures dropped from the ceiling onto the scientist and blood sprayed onto the screen. Seconds later, the communications link was severed, and an awkward silence filled the tight confines of the dimly lit cockpit.

“How far are we from Anchor-375, captain?” Trevor suddenly asked.

Referring to the star charts, Ryan replied, “Only three days…”

Blaine grabbed the captain’s arm, “We gotta save them, sir.”

Steve shook his head, and said, “That would mean changing our course…”

Blaine turned to Steve, his voice laced with anger, “I don’t care. People are dying and we’re probably the only ship close enough to have received the call.”

Hickman nodded, and he kept his voice low to ease the tension, “Blaine’s right. Serena Dawn has no security. We have got to rescue these people from whatever it is that’s killing them.”

Ryan appeared lost in his thoughts for a moment, before he finally agreed, “Okay, Hickman. Take us there.”

Serena Dawn, built in 2180A.D., is a research facility with a team of only 150 scientists and technicians. Located on Anchor-375, the workers living there have extremely little physical contact with the outside world, as the planet is the only landmark in a vastly uncharted star system, visited only by the occasional supplier once every few years. Data is transmitted back to Earth which takes a long time to arrive at its destination. With its atmosphere controllers and water-processing plants, the base remains relatively independent.

In 65 hours, Anchor-375 was within sight of the USM Pegasus. The planet is a cold, dark and desolate world dotted by dormant volcanoes and flat, wide plains stretched across its surface. Grey was the color of the dust and sand of the rocky world. The planet had a thick atmosphere, and storms rage constantly. What fascinated the scientists to study the planet was the discovery of water-ice buried beneath the sand, eight years before Serena Dawn was built. Twin moons orbited the planet – each ¼ the diameter of Earth – with only one moon visible on either side of the planet. One could only see both moons if he stood at the poles. The extreme distance from the nearest star meant that the planet was always in darkness, unless the storms came. Lightning would light up the night sky.

The crew began gearing up. Flashlights, medkits, automatic pistols, Environmental Hazard Safety Suits, food supplies, ropes, and many other equipment were brought along.

The Pegasus broke through the atmosphere, and a bleak alien landscape greeted the men aboard. Serena Dawn lay on a vast, almost endless plain, and the ship’s autopilot guided it towards the base.

The facility’s lights were dim, but seemed to offer a warm welcome to visitors, despite the fact that newcomers were uncommon here. No one would’ve guessed the destruction and chaos within.

The spacecraft hovered over the base, and landed slowly. A large elevator automatically activated, bringing the ship below the surface, where the heart of the facility lay.

The lift came to a halt, the ship’s hatch opened, ramp rolled out, and the men saw the first sign of damage to the building. The main doors had been torn open, and the crew walked cautiously through.

Flashlights switched on, and weapons pointing ahead, beams of light shone into the semi-darkness as they continued on.

“Something isn’t right. Look at the walls,” Trevor directed his beam on the left wall. “What is it?” Hickman squinted, moving closer.

‘It’ made a loud scratching noise. It clung to the wall, and when it turned its head, the men raised their weapons at the ‘thing’. No, not a ‘thing’. It was a man, his body bloody, his cheeks caved in, right arm missing. Only three limbs supported him as he hung on the wall. A pitiful moan of agony escaped his lips, and the man dropped to the floor, his head crashing against the metal ground.

The crew moved in, surrounding the man. He writhed on the floor, his body spasming uncontrollably.

“Help…me…” he mouthed. His eyeballs were complete whites now, and his head shook from side to side. “Damn! What happened?” Blaine asked, eyes avoiding the gruesome sight.

Steve knelt, placing his gun against the dying man’s head. “I suggest we kill him. Who knows, maybe he’s one of the intruders…” “Steve!” Ryan barked, his gaze hard and cold.

Steve nodded, then stood and holstered his gun. “Sorry, captain. We should be careful.”

Suddenly a loud, deafening, banshee-like scream cut into the silence of the air. No one had time to react, because there came rapid footsteps, and a split second later, the bleeding man vanished. Ryan looked up and out of the corner of his eye he saw two kicking legs disappearing into the shadows above them.

“Holy shit!” Blaine cursed; firing wildly in the direction the man had disappeared. The bullet casings clanked on the floor, as the shots hit only metal or ricocheted off the walls.

The inhuman scream sounded again ahead, and Ryan led the men as they jogged, towards its source.

They followed the trail of blood along the tunnel, before they came upon a small room, a laboratory, that housed various tanks and containers filled with strange chemicals. Ryan raised his hand, stopped the men.

This room was much darker. The crew saw the bodies sprawled, twisted and bloody, on the floor, some so horribly mutilated that they were barely recognizable. Some others were little more than masses of bone, flesh and gore. The heart-wrenching scene sickened the men.

The crew scoured the room, examining the corpses, searching for clues that would tell them what happened here. One scientist had two metal poles sticking out of his chest, while another’s neck had been shredded, revealing the spine. A third corpse they found held something tightly in his acid-scorched hands. His unblinking, open eyes stared lifelessly at the men, seeming to beckon to them. Hickman stepped forward and pulled the digital device from the man’s grip.

Retrieving an audio player from his backpack, the crewman inserted the item into the player, and hit the play button. The men stood listening intently.

“This is senior technician David Cortez. My men and I have locked ourselves in the outer research laboratory, and while we are safe here for the moment, the creatures would find us very soon. I believe the attack began weeks ago, in silence. My technicians, those working in the maintenance sector, have been reporting strange sightings to me for the past two weeks. Most of them concerned weird noises and shadows of figures deep down in the facility. These men sounded sincere enough, but we tended to ignore them, dismissing the sightings as mere hallucinations. One of our technicians, Adrian, told me three nights ago that he had seen the shadow of a person darting across the wall in the deepest parts of the facility when he knew he was the only one there. Just yesterday, his corpse was found, his body mutilated. The creatures have reached us. I fear our end has come. Whoever is fortunate enough to survive this madness, I urge you to find a way out of this facility and get off this hostile planet as soon as possible.”

The recording finished, and four pairs of eyes fixed upon Ryan. Deep inside him, the captain sincerely wished he could heed the advice of the dead technician. He also knew however, that there might still be survivors trapped in the facility, who needed to be rescued in the shortest amount of time. Conflicting thoughts about the safety of his men and the seriousness of the situation threatened to tear his mind apart and plunge him into insanity.

His mind raced, and a small thought came to his immediate attention. They still didn’t know what enemy they faced. He decided that finding survivors was top priority.

Without warning, a soft moan pieced the cold air, shattering all doubts the crew had that anyone was still alive.

“A survivor!” Trevor exclaimed, hurrying over.

Lying atop a white, metal table was a person, with a brown-colored blanket draped over the body. Hickman, always the eager one, reached out and pulled the sheet off the body.

What lay there was unlike anything the men had ever seen before. It was a body, stark naked. No, it was not human. It had a vaguely human female appearance, and seemed to have an exoskeleton, black and hard, that covered its nubile form. From its scalp protruded long, metallic, and segmented dreadlocks instead of hair, and its face, although beautiful, was so bizarre-looking and alien-like it sent chills up and down the spines of the men gathered around the figure. Its eyes were the most disturbing. Lidless orbs that glowed green stared straight ahead. The lips were slightly cracked, and a thin layer of slime appeared to cover its entire body. The ‘thing’ (no one knew what it was) was at least 1.7 metres tall.

“What the hell is that thing?” Steve gasped, but before anyone could reply him, the ‘thing’ on the table suddenly leapt into a crouching stance. A second later, the creature pounded onto Hickman’s chest, while the crewmates stepped back in shock.

There was a surprised look on Hickman’s face as he tried to comprehend what was happening to him. The alien female gripped the man firmly in its hands and wrapped its long legs around his waist. Then, it reared its head and let out a blood-curdling scream.

Hickman delivered a weak punch to the creature, and tried to shove it off of him. The alien reached for the man’s helmet and wrenched it off his suit. There was an audible snap as the helmet came off. The creature brought its hands around Hickman’s neck, squeezing the life out of him. The crewman’s eyes bulged and widened, blood pooling at the sockets. He made a gurgling sound, and his hands pulled at the alien’s, struggling to release them from their firm grip.

The alien female screamed again, hinting of its frustration that the man was still alive.

It was then that Ryan’s survival instincts kicked in. He would not, could not, let Hickman die. Reaching for his automatic pistol, he slammed a clip into the weapon, loaded it, and leveled the gun at the alien a second later.

Ryan pulled the trigger, sending a burst of projectiles speeding towards the abomination. The bullets found their mark, tearing into the alien’s side, damaging the critical organs that lay beneath its carapace.

For a brief moment, the alien’s head turned in the direction of its attacker. The glowing orbs glared with intense hatred at the captain, before the creature released its grip on its victim, and fell lifeless to the ground, its blood-soaked body hitting the cold metal with a sick, wet thud.

Hickman, his life fluids leaking out of him from his ruptured neck and spine, staggered back and dropped dead, his equipment spilling out of his backpack and clattering onto the floor.

For a long time, no one moved nor said anything. Then, the captain muttered, his face blank and expressionless, “We should move on…”

“Damn it Ryan! Hickman’s dead! You heard what the dead man said, this place is hostile to life!” Steve yelled, the anger and fear present in his voice.

“Calm down, Steve. There is no other way,” Trevor said softly.

“There is a way! We can leave this place and never talk about it again!” Steve persuaded.

“Not when these people need our help…” Blaine added.

“For Christ’s sake, Blaine! We may be the only ones alive now, we should get out of here before it’s too late,” Steve pleaded, tears trickling down his face.

Ryan looked down. He could see the fear in his friend’s face, the horror that he’d just been through. Maybe they should leave the facility, but what if there were people still trapped in there?

Steve started backing up towards the entrance, his eyes darting wildly across the room and at his crewmates.

“I’m getting out of here. No one’s gonna stop me!” he shrieked madly.

“You’re not going anywhere,” Ryan said bluntly, his gun trained on the other man’s chest.

Steve opened his mouth to protest, but suddenly he clutched his chest, and bent forward. A long, black appendage burst forth from the man’s chest, and blood sprayed out from the gaping hole that formed there.

The man gasped, and in the flickering darkness, Ryan saw a shape emerge from the shadow.

No, not one, but three shapes. There were three more alien creatures now. Leaping onto Steve’s hunched body, they dragged him to the floor, and a flurry of attacks followed. The clawed hands drew lines of red across his body, while sharp, yellow teeth bit into every unprotected area of flesh visible.

Amidst the gunfire that ensued, Steve yelled, a slow, torturous cry, “Run!”

The creatures were blocking the entrance, and the only other means of escape was the tunnel at the back of the room that led deeper into the base. Having no other choice, and knowing that they could do nothing to save Steve (the creatures were far more powerful than they thought), the crew fled in the direction of the next tunnel.

The tormented screams of the dying man echoed across the darkened room, spurring them on. His last cry was abruptly cut off, and the wails of the alien females dominated the air.

Ryan’s heart pounded in his chest, and his legs buckled as he fought to maintain his speed. His stamina was running out quickly, and already he could hear the rapidly approaching footsteps behind him.

Every few seconds, a banshee-like scream would sound, sending shivers of fear creeping into him.

The other crewmen seemed to be slowing down, and started firing their weapons blindly into the semi-darkness.

“There’s the exit!” Blaine pointed ahead. Sure enough, a large metal door appeared, the distance separating the men and the exit quickly shortening.

Within moments, the door slid open and the crewmen tumbled through. They caught a glimpse of half a dozen creatures crawling towards them as the door closed.

They were in another room, and this was bigger than the previous one. Too late, they realized their mistake. They had fled from one threat only to find themselves facing another.

For now the men stood, trapped between two groups of creatures, one beyond the doorway, and the other in the room itself. The overturned coffee tables and control panels brought a hint of recognition to the men’s faces. This, they realized, was the room in which the man who had sent the distress call had been…

The stench that permeated the room was overwhelming. But, what horrified them more were the four aliens that were alive and moving in the room. In a corner, an alien was straddling a naked man – who was also alive – while another was lying in a pool of black blood in the center of the room, a grossly-deformed infant wailing on the ground beside it, its umbilical cord still attached to its alien mother. Cracks in the child’s armored skin allowed a strange white slime to flow freely out of its body.

The other creatures were feasting on the corpse of a technician – he was wearing an orange suit. None of them noticed the crew, yet.

The only human survivor in the room – that young man in the corner – gasped in agony as the alien thrust its hips towards his pelvis, and let out an inhuman wail.

“Save…me…” he sobbed, and his body started to quiver. Blaine raised his pistol and let loose a single bullet at the alien figure. The projectile ripped into the creature’s head, shattering its skull, and it collapsed forward onto the traumatized man.

The technician shrieked, shoving the bloodied body of the alien off of his own. The two other aliens looked up from their gory meal of flesh and blood, and screeched at the men. Stepping back, the men fired at the creatures, while Blaine slammed a new magazine into his gun.

The volley of carefully aimed shots smashed into the aliens, halting them as they leapt at the men, as pieces of black carapace were blown off their bodies, clattering against the floor. One of the aliens dropped dead instantly, but the other fell to the floor and struggled to rise. The alien managed to stand on its ruined legs, but seconds later, its body exploded in a shower of black and green fluid as more rounds ripped through it. The alien, with half of its carapace lying on the floor in fragments, hit the hard metal facedown.

The last alien and its child had mysteriously vanished during the fight, but a faint trail of blood led into the shadows that covered much of the dimly lit room.

Ryan walked over to the sobbing man on the floor, and knelt beside him, while Trevor retrieved a white sheet from his pack and pulled it over his naked form.

The man was hysterical and continued talking to himself. He had just undergone an utterly terrifying experience that Ryan hoped would never have to happen to him or anyone else. The captain gave him time to rest.

The technician recovered quickly, to the relief of the crew who wanted to waste as little time as possible.

Trevor was the first to question him, the gentleness that was always a part of him now absent in his harsh tone and relentless barrage of questions, “What’s going on? Where did they take the others? Is anyone else still alive? What did they do to you? What are those things?”

The questions struck the man hard, and he withdrew from Trevor, his eyes wild with fear and darting across the room in anticipation of something…

Ryan glared at his crewmate, then turned to the survivor, smiled, “Don’t you worry, you’re safe now. We’re here to rescue you and the others.”

The man’s eyes widened, “There…are no others.” Ryan frowned, “What do you mean?” The man, who gave his name as Giles, seemed to panic again. The fear in him was evident by the strain on his face, as he fought to control himself. The eyes stared blankly at the captain.

“They’ve been taken, killed, or like me, a different case…” Giles cried.

“What did they do to you?” Blaine asked.

“They…”Giles paused for a moment, seeming at a loss for words. “They bred with the prisoners, and me…”

“This is impossible!” Trevor exclaimed.

“You saw it with your own eyes, and so did your friends…”

Giles continued, “Cross-species reproduction. The mating between two species to create a new strain of creatures more deadly and lethal than either of their parent species.”

“If their purpose was to mate, why did they kill the others?” Ryan asked.

“Those who resisted were killed first, and I learned not to struggle when they took me. So they let me live for the moment…”

“When I looked into the alien’s eyes, I saw visions…of the future. I read its mind,” Giles added.

“What did you see?” Trevor urged.

The man’s features twisted and contorted in fear, and he whimpered softly. “Ahh…” Giles struggled to speak, but the words wouldn’t come out.

Suddenly, the man clutched at his chest, as if something was inside, and a look of indescribable pain crossed his pale face, and he started coughing up blood and saliva.

“Ugh…” he groaned.

“Are you alright?” Ryan asked in concern.

“There’s…” Giles stared open-eyed into the darkness behind the crewmates.

“What is it?” Trevor asked, turning around, expecting to see something, but there was nothing out of the ordinary – except for the alien corpse on the floor.

“They must never be allowed to reach Inner Sol,” Giles warned, and the whites of his eyeballs showed, his body convulsing uncontrollably.

Trevor lowered his head in genuine grief, while the rest of his friends looked at the man, dead on the cold, hard floor. He bent forward, and pulled the sheet over the man’s face.

There was again an uncomfortable silence as each man was lost in his own thoughts. The silence seemed to drag on forever, but at last, Ryan spoke, “We have to get to the control tower. The USM has an outpost on Miranda V, within reach of our sensors. They have to be informed of the situation here. This place has to be sealed and shut down, quarantined, so that no one gets out before or after us. We cannot afford to let the infestation spread.”

“First, we have to find a way out of this room,” Blaine interrupted, gesturing to the doors. “We’ve been locked in. The creatures must’ve sealed them while we were speaking with the survivor,” Trevor said.

A black shape suddenly darted across the room, creating a blur as it moved. Ryan spun around, but saw nothing there. The lights, once flickering, now dimmed and went out completely.

The men began to feel lethargic, as if the air were being sucked out of them. No, they were suffocating in their own suits.

“Gotta get out…” Blaine gasped as he grabbed his helmet and tossed it aside. Trevor was on the floor now, and he struggled to stand, but his legs were too weak to support him anymore.

Ryan felt something- or someone- bump into him from behind, and he fell forward. He heard heavy breathing beside him, and as his eyes closed, the last thing he saw was a dark, alien-female staring at him, its dreadlocks dangling in front of his face, and slapping against his visor.

Minutes- or hours, he couldn’t tell- later, Ryan awoke, sweating profusely, his hair sticking to his face. He felt damp, wet, and the heat was intense. His nostrils drew in as much of the thin air as they possibly could, while his eyes slowly opened, and his vision grew focused and clear. He heard groans around him.

The first thing he noticed was that he was in a different room, and that when he tried to move, he realized he couldn’t. As his eyes lowered, he saw the reason why. Ryan was bound against the wall, his arms and legs held firmly together by a white, gum-like substance.

Ryan looked around frantically for his shirt and pistol; he was clad only in his underwear. He couldn’t find them anywhere. Flanking him on both sides were his friends Trevor and Blaine, who were also bound the same way as he.

The walls, ceiling and floor of the entire room were coated in the same substance, that white slime which stuck to the skin like glue.

Then, Ryan spotted the large oval objects lying on the far side of the room. Purple and blue lines ran along the length of the brown eggs that pulsated slowly, as though having heartbeats of their own.

With every throb, cracks appeared on the eggs’ leathery shells. As the lights in the room died out, the eggs and the white mass glowed in the dark. In the eerie, green glow, the most unexpected thing happened.

With a loud crack, one of the eggs was torn open, and more of the white slime flowed out. From within the ruined egg, an alien-female- different from the ones the men had seen earlier- crawled out on all fours, the fluids dripping from its body while shell fragments clung to its back.

This creature had a light-grey and flawless skin, and none of its exoskeleton was visible. Maybe it didn’t have one. The eyes, still lidless, were now black, almond-shaped orbs. Trevor struggled, trying to free himself. The bonds were too tight. More eggs hatched, and more creatures staggered out unsteadily.

When they spotted the three men bound to the wall, they hissed in anticipation. One after the other, they crawled towards the captives, their eyes seeming to burn with hunger.

The alien that hatched first walked towards Trevor. The man clenched his fists as the emotions of fear and anger filled his mind.

The creature brought its hand up, caressing the man’s face, before its other hand shot out and tore into Trevor’s exposed chest. His ribs shattered, and the sharp fragments of bone clattered to the floor. Then, the alien ran its clawed hand down the length of the man’s torn body, shredding the skin and flesh of his abdomen; while Ryan and Blaine watched the organs spill out, splattering against the alien’s feet. The man let out a silent, tormented cry, his body quivering and going out of control.

The other creatures raised their heads, mouths open, and shrieked wildly in unison. They pounced onto the bloody mass, and started devouring the remains of Trevor’s desiccated body. Bits of flesh trickled down their chins as they fed.

Teeth bit into the still-warm flesh as the creatures fought over the corpse. Trevor’s body, horribly mutilated and unrecognizable by now, dangled lifelessly from the wall. Ryan could not bear to look at his dead friend anymore. He would be next, he knew, and he hoped for a quick death.

On his right, Blaine whimpered. “I don’t wanna die…”

“It’s too late now,” Ryan said.

“No, captain, that’s not the point. We must not allow the creatures to leave this place. The USM must know about this, and only you can warn them.”

“Too late…” Ryan sighed in defeat.

“No! Look, for the past hour, I’ve been cutting at this. I’m almost free,” Blaine gestured toward his back.

Ryan saw his crewmate, holding a small knife in his left hand as he cut frantically into the hardened slime.

With a grunt, Blaine slumped forward, and said softly, “My legs are buried too deeply into the slime; I can’t free them…”

“But you can, captain,” Blaine suddenly said, looking up.

Before Ryan could protest, Blaine brought his knife to his ankles and cut into them. The man bit his lip as the blade tore into the flesh and sawed through bone.

The creatures were still fighting over his friend’s body, but Blaine was now free. He fell forward and hit the floor hard. His ankles were bloody stumps, his feet severed. The man had, without hesitation, sacrificed a part of his body so that he could save his captain.

Ryan felt a tear form at his eye and run down his cheek as he watched his friend crawl slowly toward him. Blaine crawled on his elbows and knees towards his captain and helped to cut the bonds that held the man’s legs together.

“Captain, there is an exit behind me, at the back of the room. The communications tower is just beyond the door. You have to get there,” Blaine whispered as he worked to free the hands.

Finally, Ryan was freed. “Captain, you must go alone. I’ll stay here to distract them, while you find the exit. You must get to the tower! I’ll hold them back,” Blaine told his friend.

“Blaine, no I won’t leave you. We’ll go together,” Ryan persuaded.

“I can’t move fast enough. I’ll only slow us down,” Blaine pointed to his feet, no longer there. “Now go!”

Ryan nodded reluctantly, giving his friend a reassuring look.

Wasting no time, the captain sprinted as fast as he could towards the door, barely visible in the semi-darkness.

He heard a muffled scream behind him. Turning his head to look, he saw the alien creatures piled atop each other, with his friend lying on the ground, blood covering his entire body. The knife flicked about wildly, slashing into soft flesh and letting loose showers of black blood that sprayed all over themselves.

The strength leaving his dying body, Blaine managed a glance in the captain’s direction. He allowed a weak smile to form on his face, before his eyes closed forever.

The aliens screamed in victory, as Ryan reached the door and slammed it open. Racing up the flight of stairs, he heard footsteps that came closer and closer with each passing second. After what seemed an eternity, he found the next door and crashed through it, entering a room that head a row of screens and controls panels on one side, and windows on the other.

For a short moment, Ryan stood, his jaw dropping open as he stared at the sight beyond the windows. The night sky cast a foreboding scene on the landscape, but what shocked the captain were the dozens of ships that hovered above the ground, their green lights shining at the tall, rusty tower.

Ryan remembered the ship he and his crew left in the hangar of the facility as he worked the controls, searching for the buttons that shut down the power to the elevator and locked the doors to the hangar. He would not let the aliens steal his ship. After he had secured and sealed down the hangar doors, he opened the communications channel that would broadcast his message through space.

The footsteps were so close now; Ryan could feel the metal beneath his feet tremble with each step. He spoke to the machine, relaying his message to the computer.

The aliens burst into the room, but the captain ignored them. There was not enough time! Within moments, he felt a searing pain in his side, and he screamed in agony, as the claws drew lines of fire across his naked body.

The warm, slick blood ran down his body, but Ryan continued to work the controls. Sharp teeth bit into his neck, while a clawed hand buried itself deep into his back.

As his life fluids drained out of him, Ryan finished his task, and with a shaking, bloody hand, he slammed down on the button that would send the call for help to Miranda V.

Victorious, the captain didn’t resist as the next blow hit him hard on the back of his head and his vision faded…

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