Episode I - Activation
My eyes suddenly shot open. The air was thick and musty, and it only seemed to make the spinning inside my head worse as I groggily pulled my torso up to sit, feeling every muscle in my body ache. What the hell happened? I was driving home from a friend's place in the countryside and then- And then I'm here, sitting in this dark, dank, and stuffy room.
"Good morning, Earthling," a static, robotic voice suddenly rang out into the air. I was suddenly aware of a large metal band encasing my left forearm, mounted with a small speaker and what looked to be like a screen. "You have been chosen to participate in the 27th annual Deathmatch games," the voice from the speaker continued.
I was stunned, hardly believing any of this. "Chosen? Deathmatch? What the fuck-?"
"Attached to your arm is your official Overwatch monitoring band," the voice blared on. It must just be a recording. "Attempts to remove or tamper with the band will result in disqualification from the contest. Please pay attention to the screen located in the middle of your band." Not wanting to find out what 'disqualified' meant, I obediently studied the small screen as it flashed on. "The patented Deathmatch Monitoring System will allow you to track your progress though the duration of the contest, and provide essential information to your survival." My eyes were drawn to a crude human-like silhouette on the left hand side of the screen, with the number 50 beside it. "In addition to a map of the contest area, the number of combatants remaining, including yourself, are displayed for you. Should you eliminate all 49 contestants, or all 49 contestants being otherwise eliminated, you will be declared the winner of Deathmatch, and be rewarded with your freedom."
Oh God no. This was some sort of sick joke. Right?
"Please look to your left, and you will find equipment originating from your home planet."
I slowly craned my neck to the left, and my jaw dropped when I saw what was laying beside me. An Uzi, revolver, fire axe, and three grenades were clumped together in a neat pile, complete with straps and sheaths and everything. 'Originating from my home planet?' If those were 'from Earth,' where the hell was I now?
"Please put on your best performance for our sponsors. Good luck," were the last words from the speaker before the transmission it fizzled out.
My heart began to race. This can't be real, I kept telling myself over and over again, hoping that somehow I'd start to believe it. I'm no fighter- I'm no athlete- hell, the most physically taxing thing a guy like me has ever done was running. I'm not out of shape or anything (alright, maybe a little round around the edges), but still, what the fuck did these... these.... "Overwatch" assholes think I was? I don't think I've ever gotten into a fight in my life. Rolling over towards the weapons laid out for me, I picked up the Uzi with one hand, almost startled by it's surprising weight. The revolver wasn't much lighter compared to how small it looked either. Popping out the firing chamber, I saw six large bullets sitting cosily inside, with the number .44 engraved on the butts. A .44 Magnum. Those fuckers had given me a god damn .44 Magnum. I could barely even lift the thing comfortably, and I was horrified at how it would feel if I fired it. The Uzi didn't look much friendlier either.
Suddenly, I heard a noise coming from far away. Once the feeling of my heart leaping out of my chest had passed, I hurriedly gathered all of my weapons, strapped them on my body, and peeked out of the only doorway I could see. A large room stretched out before me, complete with crumbling walls and fallen rubble- like a bomb had hit the place, greeted me. Underneath the string of lights that still worked along the left-hand wall, I saw something that looked like a big box- maybe about as tall as I was (It was kind of hard to tell from this distance). There was some clinking coming from that box, or machine, or whatever the hell it was, and I squinted to get a better view of it. There was a hand- a blue hand, reached around to the face of the machine, doing something or other to it. Before I even knew what I was doing, I had raised my revolver in line with my eye and the hand on the machine, and pulled the trigger.
The force of the gunshot and the bang behind it shook my hands and ears violently. I winced, feeling like my right hand was broken or something. Above all that, I heard an agonized yelp, and saw a dark figure suddenly sprinting away from behind the machine. A flash of light suddenly shot from that figure and up at my perch, driving me back behind the wall. More of those shots rang out, each with a distinctive "thoom thoom" sound, as they battered the wall that was shielding me. "Oh shit," I whispered in between panicked breaths, "this is real!"
Once the barrage had stopped, I cautiously peeked out from the doorway, and looked around some more. Burnt splotches dotted the wall that had saved my life, still hot and smoking. What the hell was that thing that the.... thing... was firing at me, some kind of.... shit I don't know- laser beam? Whoever that was seemed to have bolted, and the room was left in an eerie silence. Gathering what was left of my courage, I ventured out into the open, scurrying along the wall like a scared rat, down to the box-like machine that creature was hiding behind. Steadily creeping up to it, I saw the large bullet-hole I had put into it, with something that looked like blood lined around the jagged edges. I peeked around the front of the machine, and saw that it had a large glass window on it, with something that looked like a keypad on the side. "The hell is this, a vending machine?" I asked myself (a bad habit I've never been able to kick), studying the insides of the machine more closely. There were rows of.... stuff lined inside, so I guessed it was a vending machine of some kind. Something suddenly caught my eye on the floor- a small circular object- like a coin, lying at my feet. Picking it up, I looked at the key panel of the machine. Something that looked like an LCD display of a circle divided into quarters was the first thing I noticed, with the last quarter unlit. My eyes wandered further to the left, and I saw a thin trail of blood drops, leading away from the machine and out though another door nearby. With the coin in my hand, I briefly glanced at the machine again, and the gears in my head began their work.
Following the trail of blood, I stopped when I began to hear slightly agonized breathing in the next room the trail led to. Taking a deep breath, I dropped my revolver into its holster on my hip, held both hands up in front of me, and boldly walked into the room with a "Hey."
The creature sitting on the floor inside jolted with shock, hastily whipping out and pointing a gun-like object at me. Briefly glancing at the alien creature with an oddly female human form, I saw her right hand, heavily bandaged, resting limp in her lap. She glared at me with two piercing silver eyes and a scowl. Then a slight look of confusion set in, probably wondering why I had put away my weapons. After a brief but intense silence, she said, "What the hell are you doing?" I was surprised that she both spoke and understood English. Why? Hell if I know. She just did, and that was good enough for me for now.
Without a word, I slowly reached into my pocket, careful not to startle her undoubtedly itchy trigger finger. I pulled out something I had bought with that coin from the vending machine, and gently lobbed it into her lap. Her jaw dropped, and her eyes gazed at the snack I had given her. Taking another deep breath to soothe my already shot nerves, I said, "Let's make a deal."
She looked back up at me, still keeping her gun trained on my face. "What kind of deal?" she snarled, still unsure of my intentions.
I glanced briefly down her arm, and saw that she too sported a metal band like mine. "How about we team up?" I asked.
"Team up?" She snarled back.
"Yeah," I said. "You and me. We watch each other's backs, keep each other alive. If we work together, we'd stand a better chance of coming out of this in one piece, don't you think?"
She snorted. "And when it's down to just us?"
I swallowed a lump in my throat. "When it's just you
and me, we can fight it out then. But for now, how about it?"
She paused, mulling my proposal over. Finally, she sighed in defeat, and lowered her gun. I breathed a heavy, silent sigh of relief. This blue-skinned alien lady had a slim but defined build to her- she probably had a better idea of how to fight than I did. Tearing into the package I had given her, she took out a bar of.... whatever the hell it was, and took a bite out of it. "This doesn't mean I trust you," she muttered.
"The feeling's mutual," I said, not wanting to look weak.
After finishing off the bar quickly, she took out the last bar from the package and was about to bite into it when she paused, and turned to me. "Hungry?" she asked.
I was suddenly aware of the empty pit in my stomach. "I'll survive," I said, wanting to do everything I could to earn her trust.
I had to move quickly to catch the bar being thrown in my face. "If we're going to work together, I don't want you dying on me."
"Thanks, I think," I muttered, uneasily starting to nibble at the bar. It was actually pretty good- though I couldn't even begin to describe the weird taste. It didn't feel like it was killing me (and she wolfed down hers easily enough), so I found the guts to stomach it all. "So, how's your hand?" I asked.
She shrugged. "Cut it on the hole your gun left on the machine," she said. "Nothing serious, but I don't think I'll be able to hold a gun right with it until it heals."
She nodded. "You wouldn't mind doing most of the shooting for awhile?"
I shrugged. "I guess I have to."
Her expression suddenly soured. "Do you even know how to use a gun right?" She asked.
Well, I had fired that Magnum pretty well on my own, but my right hand was still tingling from the kickback. "Do you know much about Earth guns?" I asked.
"Earth?" She asked, "Is that the name of your planet?"
Ah well. I figured it was worth a shot. "Yeah," I said. "That round I fired off at you? My first time using a gun."
She groaned and rolled her eyes, running her fingers though her slicked back fiery red hair. "Think you can do it again?"
"Sure, I guess."
"Good enough. For now," she said. "My name's Mylan."
Mylan, huh? At least it was easy to pronounce. This lady
sure didn't look like the type you'd want to piss off. "Mine's-"
My introduction was suddenly cut short by a steady creak echoing through the building. "Ohhhhhh shit!" Mylan hissed, her pointy elf-like ears perking up.
"What?" I gasped, bolting to my feet.
"The place is going to come down after all!" she yelled, leaping to her feet, grabbing me by the hand, and pulling me along with her out of the room. I didn't bother to think of where she was leading me, I only struggled to keep up with her. Jerking me though a corridor, we were suddenly blinded by the light coming from outside, and with tightly shut eyes, we made it outside as I heard (and felt!) a mighty roar of collapsing building behind us. Opening my eyes again, I was shocked to see the alien world outside.
It looked almost like Earth- except for the reddish ground and hazy sky. More big buildings that look like a blast had ripped them apart were in no shortage, absolutely nothing that looked remotely like vegetation was to be seen anywhere. "Where the hell is this?" I wondered aloud.
"Your guess is as good as mine," Mylan muttered. "I've been to a few planets in my life, but nothing like this."
I breathed another uneasy, silent sigh of relief. I really got a winner, didn't I?
Mylan muttered in frustration. "The one fucking building that looked like it would hold up-" she cursed. She sighed quietly, and placed her hands on the numerous alien weapons strapped on her hips. "At least I got all my stuff out."
"Hey, we even got a snack out of it too," I said, trying to lighten the mood.
Mylan snorted, grinning ever so slightly.
"So," I asked, "Where to?"
Mylan paused, and looked around the wasteland before us. "Shelter. Anything, anywhere," she said, picking a direction and walking forward.
Still shaking, I blindly followed.