170 years later...
The day, like any other usual day, is covered with thick, grey clouds as winds blow through the abandoned city of Edenrald. While cautiously holding my MAK-12 submachine gun, I gaze about my surroundings, the dystopia that lies beyond the walls of my hometown, to kill time, but only half-ruined, fallen buildings fill my sight. Despite today’s my first day on the job, I’m already bored as the person paid to sit still and act like a statue.
I sigh. Well, at least there’s nothing out of the ordinary.
“Marksman no. 2 to Marksman no. 4, Cole, how’s it going there?” Jom’s voice emitted from my transceiver.
I click the button. “Nothing.”
“Copy that.” I hear a click.
And then another click. “Marksman no. 5 to Marksman no. 4, Cole, have you ever shot a Corrupted before?” David laughs.
“Nope,” I reply, “You know Corrupteds have never entered the walls before.”
He guffaws. “Right, right. You better be careful! Those things can rip you to shreds within minutes.”
“Oh c’mon David, it’s his first day and he’s a fresh graduate. Give him some slack.” I hear Wynona, Marksman no. 3.
“But it’s true!”
Seems like everyone dispenses the formalities, because in the next moment, everyone’s now referring to each other by their first names.
“Be on your guard! This is not an appropriate place to chat!” Hans, the supervisor or battalion leader of Team South, where I’m in, explodes within my earpiece. I couldn’t help but cringe from the piercing pain traveling through my head.
Afterwards, no one no longer had the guts to speak. Finally, I have some time for himself. I walk over to a nearby beam jutting out from a pile of debris. I test its durability before proceeding to to perch myself on its cold, metal surface.
My weapon was polished enough to show my reflection. Call me vain, but I had no where else to look anyway, so I stare at myself. My dark hair that rest upon my shoulders, my eyes dark like the endless abyss, and my skin is slightly tanned from all of the tests and exercises I had to go through in the Hauria Military Academy. Currently, I wear full body armour and it kinda limits my movements. It’s different from the blade wielders since their weapons were simply swords and daggers.
I produce a scrap of paper from my pack hanging on the back of my hips and read its contents for the 9th time today.
Corruption = Main disease. Found in the first comet that landed in the Philippines in the year 2015. Anyone infected by it are in risk of infecting the others if fluid exchange takes place, such as sexual intercourse, saliva, sweat, inhalation of skin particles, and more.
In the first 24 hours, no symptoms are shown.
Afterwards, the infected experiences the following signs and symptoms (First stage):
— Severe headaches
— Coughing. Blood is usual
— High fever
— Internal Bleeding
Cannot be treated through holistic means. You can only treat it by symptoms. In the next 24 hours, the infected goes through the second and final stage:
— Violent behaviour
— Skin starts shedding black substance
— Acute vision
— Increased strength
— Increased agility
— Regenerative abilities (Bullets are only served to slow them down)
Notes: Only death by beheading can bring them down. To kill them, it is advisable to have great distances between you as it can give you enough time to be in full effect of the Boost.
Delayed Corruption (DelCor) = It’s still Corruption, but the cells responsible for advancing to stage 2 aren’t present, and the effects are rather different and are categorised into 3 types.
= Type 1
= Type 2
— Weak Immune system
= Type 3 (Much more susceptible to women and children)
— Loss of Melanin
— Abnormal eye discolouration. (90% Purple, 60% Red, 2% Gold)
Note: Type 1 is the only category wherein the infected is not able to infect others.
Divinus = Cannot be received through body fluid exchange, but rather through genetic means. Found in the second comet that landed after the first.
— Increased strength
— Increased agility
— Half the usual reaction time
— Healing Factor
— The infected loses his/her sanity
— Considered as an outcast to society
I finished reading, lost in thought. The infected, especially the Corrupteds, are whom were are protecting the sample collectors from. I work in Light Department. A military and science department where our job is to find the cure by gathering whatever we could find. It consists of One Commander and 4 squad leaders. Each of those squad leaders have a supervisor for their 2 teams. And one team has at least 2 Medics, 5 Guardians, 5 Marksman, 5 Blade Wielders, 3 Sample Collectors, and lastly 1 Sample Storer.
And so far, after 170 years with all those members, nothing’s came up. Call me cruel, but I don’t really give a damn about the cure and the infected. I only took this cursed job just so I can have enough money to support my family. And the pay is colossal. Mom’s sick, dad’s job isn’t giving much, and my little brother’s currently struggling through his teenage phase. I have to do my part to survive.
I grow restless by the minute, craving to go back home. I try to alleviate it by standing up and kick the metal beam. “Damn it all!”
I shouldn’t have done that. Debris surrounding it collapses inwards. Sounds of ripping metal, cracking stones, and grinding rocks traveled everywhere as a cloud of dirt fills my vicinity. I could only manage a cringe.
“Blade Wielder no. 4 to Marksman no. 4, I heard a disturbance in your area. What’s your status!?” I can barely hear the woman’s voice in my transceiver. I didn’t know her name though.
I immediately click. “Nothing’s wrong! I just touched something and well...” I stared at the mess I just caused. “Shit happened.”
She sighs. “Be careful dammit. You might lure the Corrupteds. Be glad they lost their ability to hear.”
I titter. “Sorry—“
I hear moaning coming from the distance. I thought my mind’s been playing tricks with me since I often imagine things after being startled, but this one’s real. From afar, I see a figure below the dark shades of a fallen building, dragging itself towards me.
Ever so slowly, I reach a hand up to my shoulder and click on the transceiver, “Infected spotted.”
“Did it see you?” My supervisor says.
“Yeah...” I found myself breathing deeply, panic rising.
“Use your boost now! Kill it before the situation’s gone worse!”
On my arm is a gauntlet, which under it is a secured syringe containing the Boosting drug only accessible to the Light Department members. To avoid any more movement, since the Corrupteds only attack when they detect it, my gauntlet has been programmed to activate the syringe through voice command.
Except the DelCors, humans are too weak to defend themselves against the Corrupteds and the Divinus’, so a large corporation called Friar Biomedical Technologies, or FBT for short, invented the boosting drug, known as Dea-90, to allow its users to have increased senses and half the usual reaction time.
But there’s a catch. The drug will take full effect in 10 seconds and the safest dosage can only last up to 5 minutes. Any more than that, then the user will experience muscle spasms, dehydration, and possibly, seizures. If the drug’s been abused, permanent hearing loss, heart complications, and brain damage will occur. Lastly, only the Light Department has access to these, because test subjects have been known to become addicted.
I say, “Dea-nine-oh, activate!” I hear a click and a sharp prick on my arm as the syringe injects the Dea-90 into my system. Now I have to wait for 10 seconds.
The Corrupted scans me from afar. Its messed up throat produces gurgling and dry sounds. Its head sways from side to side. Its limbs twitch to every movement it makes as if the creature could no longer resist to unleash its inhuman strength. I’m not sure if this thing has an increased sense of smell, but from the way it looks, I guess it’s starting to think that I really am a living being.
“Shit!” As if on instinct, I instantly roll to my side to dodge as the cursed nightmare charges toward me, roaring and drooling with hunger.
First statement for encountering a Corrupted for the first time? “That thing’s faster than I thought!”
I can feel the full effect of the drug now. My ears can hear myself blinking, my eyes can see a fly from a hundred feet away, my limbs graceful as a dancer. I feel like a new person. Reborn would justify it. No wonder it can be highly addicting.
I was so caught up in my moment of reverie that the Corrupted nearly had me by the throat. Everything felt so automatic. Before I realised it, my gun’s already firing a horizontal rain of bullets to my target’s head, forcing it off. The black, headless nightmare collapses and dissolves into black sand.
“Hell yeah!” I click my transceiver. “Marksman no. 4 to Supervisor. Target terminated,” I enthusiastically say.
“Already?” I expected the Supervisor, but the team leader was the one who responded. “Not too shabby for a beginner.”
“I am the top of my class after all.”
“Good job then. Continue.”
“Roger...” My increased hearing picked up a moan. No...two moans? It was from afar, possibly a hundred yards away. 5...8...9... “Requesting immediate extraction!!”
“There’s an army coming right at my direction!”
“Requesting all members to—“
A Sample Collector interrupts him. “Wait! We’re not done collecting the—“
“—return to base! That’s an order!”
They must’ve seen the rain of bullets from afar. When a wave of Corrupteds are coming, drop whatever you’re doing and just run.
Only 2 minutes left, I guess my increased agility can get me to the main vehicle in time.
Without further ado, I sprinted off southward to where my crew is located. Even though I’m boosted, the Corrupteds are still faster than me.
30 seconds left!
I can see the 5 military vehicles. 4 took off and one stayed, waiting for me. Dangerous, but leave no man behind. Every single human uninfected was considered vital to mankind. It was for the sake of humanity’s existence, or so they say. David pokes his head out from one of the bullet-proof windows. He gestures vigorously for me to hurry the hell up as the Corrupted behind me were picking up speed. I hear one, moaning and gurgling, jumping over me. I thought I was done for, but immediately, a spray of bullets went past me, pushing the once incoming Corrupted back.
“Hurry!!” I can hear David screaming from the vehicle and the transceiver, repeatedly gesturing and urging me.
Oh gods no... Disturbingly, in such a wrong time, my muscles cramp, my eyes blur, ringing sounds fill my ears, and a crawling sensation overwhelms me. “Dav—“ I cough as I pitifully stumble down the hard ground. I was about to say my boost has faded. But, every part of me gave up. Weak and exhausted. No, it was more than that. I curse, trying to move a limb, but it disobeys me. I cannot die like this!
Everything around me was blurred, so I only have my ears to depend on. Over the ringing sounds, I make out the words of someone.
That someone must be David. “Hurry! Shoot as much as you can!”
Later, screams of agony and panic poured down everywhere, invading my ears.
I must’ve fainted for a moment there, because the next thing I realise is that I’m lying supine on a stretcher in a military vehicle.
“Cole!” Our team leader, George, comes into view. I crane and twist my neck to see who’s in this vehicle. Aside from George, Wynona, Jom, and Reika are in their seats.
There’s one missing. “Where’s David.” Ominous silence pours around us. Jom ran his gloved fingers through his newly shaved hair. Reika sighed. Wynona did nothing.
“Another vehicle came into the vicinity. David’s in the Medic’s vehicle,” George said, but no one’s smiling. He continued, “He was bitten on one leg and scratched on the other. We had to slice off both of them and he’s in critical condition.”
“I knew we shouldn’t have hired this damned kid!” Reika said sharply. “Now the commander will surely get his ass off.”
“We are running low on members. We have no choice,” George said.
“I don’t care!”
I heard this Reika girl is David’s girlfriend. I’m not surprised, but deep down, I feel a pang of guilt, gradually getting worse by the minute. I want to say I’m sorry, but keeping it shut for now is a much better