Swarm

Having touched back down on the surface of Terra 3 and met with the commanding officer of third battalion, Lieutenant Colonel Frakes, Echo are now winding their way through a wide tunnel lit with flares. From what Lieutenant Colonel Frakes has told them the room at the end of this tunnel had been sealed by a solid bone and metal composite door. By sounds of things it is similar to the bone that comprises the alien swarm’s shells and claws. Lyra, and the rest of Echo, aren’t sure whether they like the idea of going near it, especially as by all accounts the door is no longer sealed.

Frakes had radioed back to command for orders during the exact timeframe that Lyra woke from her vision. She is sure it can’t be a coincidence and wonders if the aliens masters, those that control them and are stopping humanity from settling this planet, are somewhere inside.

It’s something that Lyra knows they will soon discover, as she and the other three members of Echo squad join the two other squads tasked with investigating whatever lies beyond the threshold of this now open door.

The squad members exchange pleasantries before being informed that Echo has lead on this. Sasha is shocked, but immediately falls into the role of commander as she tasks Zeta squad with holding position at the entrance while Echo and Golf squads enter. Sasha decides shell will be at the head of the two squad formation, with Frank taking up the rear to cover them from behind.

The space beyond the now open door is at first narrow and dark, and only illuminated by the high intensity lights built into their combat helmets. But before long they leave the confines of the murk as they enter into an open space which is pitch black. The twin squads quickly break formation as they fan out to cover this larger area, their head beams casting over instruments and tools as they delve deeper into the space.

“What is this place?” Josh asks in a hushed tone.

“Looks like a morgue.” One of the members of Golf squad replies.

“Oh this place gives me the creeps.” Another member of Golf offers with an audible shudder.

“Just keep your heads on a swivel.” Sasha orders as she continues to edge forward, her head beam casting over some of the tools lined upon a countertop. They all remind her of ancient human medical implements fashioned from steel as they gleaming brilliantly in the light when it hits there surfaces.

Lyra feels off, there is something about this place that doesn’t fit. This can’t be here, she tells herself, but she can’t hear anything as she look all around her. Suddenly she realises she’s alone and that the shadows have set in, surrounding her. She doesn’t panic though. Instead she closes her eyes and asks what they want. At first she gets no response. Then the answer comes as she feels something cold press against her chest.

“Lyra. Lyra!” Sasha calls out as she spins on her heels to see her sister has consumed within a mass of light.

“What the fuck is that?” Josh asks.

“Lyra!” Sasha roars as she races toward the mass that has engulfed her younger sister, but Frank grabs her and stops her.

“Let me go. It’s got my sister!” Sasha bellows as she tries to break free of Frank’s grip.

Then the room flashes full of light. The seven soldiers each recoil in pain at the sudden change in brightness. They feel the sudden change in light levels burning their eyes as they screw their eyelids shut, but as they do the screaming starts.

Sasha is sure it’s her sister as her eyelids bolt open again, but it’s not. Instead it’s a member of Golf squad who she glimpses being torn in half by a mighty large member of the alien race that towers above them. It’s alone, but its massive, Sasha realises as the remaining soldiers open fire with everything they’ve got. Sasha joins in on the assault of bullets against the mammoth of an alien, but can think only of her sister beneath the mass that this giant alien seems oblivious to. Sasha is thankful for the lack of attention it is giving the mass of light as it suddenly reveals that it has a tail. The long appendage comes whipping round, cutting another member of Golf squad in half. The top and bottom sections of the now dead soldier topple in different directions as the tail comes whipping round to strike again. Frank tackles Sasha as the blade of the tail slices at the space where she had been standing seconds ago, slicing Frank’s arm open. The oldest member of Echo squad howls in agony at the sting from the alien, which is thankfully only a graze.

Meanwhile inside the mass that has surrounded Lyra she probes at it with her mind searching for answers, even as the weight against her chest intensifies. She is sure she won’t be able to take any more pressure as sudden flashes of images race across her mind, lasting only a few seconds. They’re images of pain and loss. She realises this mass is not her enemy. That this mass is not like the aliens and they’re hidden masters. These beings stand apart, but they are alone and cannot fight the aliens. They need to bond and they think Lyra will make a suitable host. She asks why, but gets no response. She isn’t sure, as the voice in her head tells her this is madness, but she ignores it as she opens her eyes and takes a deep in breath. The mass, or at least the tiny machines within the mass, seep into her pours strengthening her until both they and Lyra are fully bonded. It is at this point that Lyra realises she can feel everything as she bursts out of the now hardened mass of black to find the space beyond is very bright by comparison. Her eyes instantly adjust as Sasha calls her name, but Lyra ignores her older sister as she launches herself up into the air six metres, holding her arm high above her head. Her fist, harder than diamond now, slams into the lower jaw of the alien, which relents and is cut in half by the force of her strike as its head is snapped back, violently.

Sasha, Frank, Josh and the last remaining member of Golf, leg missing, stare on as Lyra lands a couple metres from them, with a smile, as the hulking alien’s dead body shrivels to the floor.

“What the actual fuck?” Josh manages with eyes wide enough they look as though they will pop out of his head.

“Ly, what’s going on?” Sasha asks worried about her sister as she rolls her head one way and then the other.

Lyra has to admit she has never felt this good before as she opens her eyes so that she can gaze upon her older sister and the rest of her squad. She is eager to tell them about their new found ally.

“This place was a lab. The aliens’ masters, a race called the Eternal, made hyper-advanced machines which nearly wiped them out because they no longer wished to be treated as slaves. In response, the Eternal sealed what remained away here, with a guardian. The Eternal refer to the aliens we are fighting as Drones and are immune to the machines that revolting against the Eternal, who call themselves Legion. But Legion want the same as us.” Lyra explains softly.

“And what’s that kid?” Frank asks.

“An end to the Eternal’s reign.” Lyra replies.

“So how do we do that?” Sasha asks succinctly.

“Bond with them. They’re symbiotes. They need a body. Their original forms are all gone. Destroyed by the Drones.”

“How do we know they’re not going to enslave us?” Josh asks sceptical.

Lyra smiles at the notion. She understands the scepticism but knows that Legion pose humanity no threat as she takes a single step to her left leaving an outline of her body occupying the space she had held seconds ago. The shape is a perfect outline of her own body.

“Wow. Nice trick.” Josh utters impressed.

“They’re friendly.” Lyra manages with a chuckle as she steps back into the outline of herself, the sentient machines bonding with her once more.

“And you trust them sis?” Sasha asks trusting her younger sister.

“Yeah. I do.” Lyra replies honestly and with a smile.

“Count me in.” Sasha replies sure.

“What? Really?” Josh asks as Sasha is bonded with millions of the tiny Legion machines.

Captain Sasha Jones immediately feels stronger, smarter and faster than she has ever felt, as the memories of Legion show her their entire history. She feels nothing but positivity from the tiny machines as she nods to her sister who smiles back at her.

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