As quickly as the gunfire started, it ceased even more suddenly. The only indication of the previous carnage is the ringing left in my ears. That, and the dead bodies of four Ralgoth invaders in the middle of the engineering chamber. Their dark yellow blood has painted the surrounding walls and panels.
“You wanted some, you got some!”
Rendez. Of course, the first to celebrate.
“Stay alerts, boys. There are still four of these bastards somewhere.”
I tentatively walk over to the stagnant bodies, my steps leaving tracks in the pool of blood that covers the floor. My rifle is aimed high and ready to unleash hell in case they don’t need blood to keep fighting. As I get closer, it’s easy to see that they aren’t going anywhere. The amount of ammo we used was not only excessive, it was offensive. Where there isn’t a bullet hole there is burned and scarred bone-like flesh.
We really fucked them up.
I grab the comm unit strapped to my left shoulder to fill Jacobs in on our status.
“LT, this is Mendoza. We have engaged the hostile force in engineering. Four confirmed dead. No sighting of the remaining four. Any word from Intel on if they have seen anything on the internal sensors?”
Jacobs’ voice crackles through the engineering hall and echoes off the walls as it comes through.
“Negative, Mendoza. Intel is reporting eight Ralgoth lifeforms in engineering…..”
I turn around to give the boys a puzzled look, just in time to witness the ceiling collapse. Four Ralgoth warriors along with an assortment of debris crash to our level. The arteries of the station are visible through the hole, snaking off to provide power to faraway offices. The first attacker recovers at a remarkable speed. It gives its blade a wild circular swing over its heard, then guides it effortlessly through Rendez’s neck. The sickening despair sinks in as I watch my comrade’s head roll on the floor.
The bastards managed to get into to service area above us!
I scream and bring my rifle up quickly to take revenge. Rendez’s murderer immediately charges toward me as the rest split off toward the others.
I manage to get three shots off directly into the attacker’s skull before she grabs my rifle and jerks me forward off my feet. The bitch drives her elbow into my helmet. The face plating gives little resistance as she pierces through, making contact with my face. These helmets were designed to stop bullets, but it was probably the only thing that kept me alive.
The pain is excruciating. The need to vomit overtakes me. My nose is broken. Bright flashes explode behind my eyes. Then the world goes dark. I lose my grip on my rifle as I collapse to the deck, my head numbly bouncing off the floor.
When my brain starts registering sight again, I see her standing over me. All two and a half meters, long blade tossed over her shoulder. Before I can reach for my sidearm, I witness a standard issue tactical knife thrust into her side. Her shriek of pain delays my execution.
“Fight me, you ugly piece of shit!”
I recognize that voice. Rogers, you glorious bastard!
It takes every bit of willpower I have left to get to my knees. Rogers bought me some time, maybe with the cost of his own life. I don’t know how he managed to pierce her skin, but I do know it won’t take her long to retaliate. I clumsy reach for my sidearm, and unclip it from its holster.
I’m too late. Before I manage to raise my weapon, I hear a terrifying crack. Rogers body remains facing his attacker but his visor is thrown back to glare at me from a horrifying angle. I let out a defiant scream and begin to fire my sidearm wildly at the monster. A few shots find their way to the target, splintering off pieces of flesh. Most miss and bury themselves into the far bulkhead.
I pull the trigger four times after the magazine is emptied before I accept the futility. I allow my gun to fall to the deck and raise my chest to stare into that hideous face. If I’m going out, I’m not going out like a coward.
Make it quick. Rendez and Rogers are waiting for me.
Her left arm raises smoothly and wraps its four large fingers around my neck. She drives me back against the wall of the reactor, forcing my head to take another hard pounding. She could snap my neck with the slightest pressure, but it seems I’ll get a slow death.
Not my first choice.
Quick movement off to my left grabs my attention as I struggle to focus on the periphery. The sound of a Heltzer on automatic fire fills the chamber followed by a glint of reflected light that can only be produced by copious amounts of polish.
The only weapon that shiny in this galaxy belongs to Smittie.
Knowing that Smittie is still alive jumpstarts my survival instinct. I can’t die if there are still men left in the fight. The alien begins to draw back her right arm to deliver the killing blow. I see my opportunity. There is a small separation between the bony plating in her armpit.
Ralgoth Anatomy 101: Solo Lung located above the upper right abdominal quadrant. Lung collapse leads to death.
Without thinking, I bend my knees and drive my feet into the wall behind me. Thankfully, it catches her off balance. Roger’s knife is still lodged in her side and I remove it with a violent pull. The sudden jolt of pain is enough for her grasp around my throat to weaken. I redirect the knife through the opening in the armpit. I drive it hard. I don’t stop until I feel it bottom out at the hilt.
A loud pop erupts from her ribcage as if an oxygen tank relief valve is failing. It is followed by a continual hiss. Her cries of panic are muffled by a loud wheezing. I can feel the strength leaving her grip as I force myself free.
The creature falls to the floor. She separates the knife from her body, and places her arms over the wound in a desperate attempt to seal the leak. Her body twitches violently with every failed attempt to draw in air.
That’s right, bitch. Take in a couple deep breaths.
The joy of my victory is suddenly extinguished when I notice what is left of Smittie. He is crushed beneath a dead Ralgoth. The only recognizable part of him are the locks of red hair that managed to escape the carnage.
At least you took one of them with you, brother.
I pop my helmet off and toss it on top of Smittie’s last kill. The damn thing wasn’t doing me any good anyway. It only blinded me from what was coming up behind.
I look in the direction of Johnson’s voice to see him in the grasp of two Ralgoths. Each has an arm and leg in their grasps. I watch in horror as they give him a violent pull. The tear begins at the right shoulder and works its way down to the groin-ripping him in half like a cloth towel. A terrifying scream is the last testimony of the young soldier.
The two Ralgoths discard the remains of Johnson and spread wide to come at me from both sides. My whole team has been annihilated. Only one man left.
These two enjoy toying with their prey. They approach me tauntingly, and without haste. As I take a step back, my right foot hits something that feels like a Heltzer rifle, but bulkier than normal
Thank you Rendez!
His grenade launcher must have been knocked around during the fighting.
That thought barely registers before the entryway darkens with more Ralgoths. The other invading party has now found its way to engineering. I assume by their presence that Jacobs’ team is already dead.
“You have got to be fucking kidding me!”
A thought creeps into my head. An idea so insane it would only blossom in the mind of a man reduced to no other option.
‘When the rules say you’ve lost, change the rules.’
“You come onto my space station, kill my brothers, and now you want to finish me off! Don’t you know who I am!?!”
The last bit of adrenaline in my body sharpens my gaze and mind. I pick out Smittie’s helmet amongst the debris on the ground. I start to slowly walk toward it while I continue my verbal defiance to the Ralgoth horde.
“I am Sergeant Fernando Mendoza. They tell stories about me to scare recruits. When I’m done with you, your entire race is going to know those stories. They’ll know that I give you Ralgoth trash the horrible death you deserve.”
My left foot taps Smittie’s helmet. Show time.
I quickly reach down and grab the helmet. It doesn’t exactly fit my body armor, but I have no choice. The closest Ralgoth will be on me seconds.
“Let’s see if you assholes can breathe vacuum.”
I fire the grenade launcher directly at the bulkhead. When I feel the rifle kick in my hands, I release it to hit the seals on the helmet. Smittie’s final gift to me.
I don’t feel the explosion at first. Then I’m thrown backward toward the reactor and close my eyes in anticipation of a rough impact. Then a riptide pulls me in the direction of empty space and weightlessness takes hold. As I open my eyes, I see nothing but distant stars. Then Portway Station. Then empty space again. I ‘m spinning uncontrollably in a black void.
The shock of my unexpected survival wears off quickly. I activate the maneuvering thrusters on my suit which helps to slow down the nauseating rotation. Smittie’s helmet didn’t seal perfectly with my suit and I can feel a small breeze blowing past my neck as air is being lost. I can’t afford to use any extra air for the thrusters in an attempt to return to the station.
I instinctively go over the standard operating procedure for a man overboard. First, keep an eye on your oxygen level. The heads up display on the inside of my helmet tells me I have 73% of my air left. That would last me several days, but the vacuum is taking its share, as well. Second, check water reserve levels. These suits have their own water supply for long battles, plus it will recycle my urine. At least I won’t die of thirst.
Finally, broadcast a mayday signal. I tap the comm unit on my shoulder a few times to open a channel.
“This is Sergeant Mendoza of the Special Protection Operations Unit Alpha. I have been blown out of Portway Station and request immediate assistance….or, whenever you can get around to it, really.”
Within a minute of broadcasting the mayday signal, I notice small pockets of flame rippling through the exterior of the station. These small explosions quickly connect and combine into a final massive burst as the station breaks into pieces.