Darkness. Darkness surrounded them, enveloped them, hid them. For so long they had been locked away in this dark, dark place. They had come to accept the darkness, over the years, even praising it. They associated it with safety, being hidden from the evil ones.
Who were they? What were they? Upon looking, some might find that they don’t know the answer. But the evil ones knew. The evil ones knew what the dark ones were, for they had created them.
At the end of a poorly-lit hallway, locked in a secure cage, a dark one sat. His eyes were yellow and bloodshot, with narrow pupils like those of a feline, and were locked on the thick metal bars that imprisoned him.
The dark one was breathing heavily like some kind of dog, mouth open to reveal his sharp teeth. He was one of many caged in this dark place, but as said before, to his kind, darkness was safety. Darkness was protection.
The dark one had a name the evil ones had labeled him as. 571. The number was displayed above the bars of his cage. He could care less what the evil ones called him, it was what they did that affected him, and all the others. There were hundreds of dark ones imprisoned here. Most lived in constant, terrified fear of the evil ones, their demonic keepers, but a few, like 571, viewed the evil ones differently.
Dark ones like 571 looked upon the evil ones with seething, burning hate.
Bright lights suddenly flashed in 571’s mind for a fraction of a second, and he clutched his head, growling in pain at the memory. Bright lights overhead, hurting his eyes, the silhouettes of evil ones looking down at him as he thrashed wildly in his restraints, screaming in agony as he felt himself injected, ripped open, and electrocuted.
571 banged his head against the wall of his prison, causing the horrid flashback to dissipate. It was his oldest memory, and it hurt terribly to recall it, but he couldn’t control it, and it happened frequently.
571 then heard someone approaching. Evil ones. 571 snarled to himself, for he knew what this meant. He sat still and stoic as three evil ones appeared in front of his cage, and slowly unlocked it. As one evil one cautiously pulled the door of the cage open, another extended a metal pole with a wire noose on the end into the cage, intending to hook it around 571’s neck.
At that moment, 571 gave a piercing, animalistic screech and lunged at the evil one, escaping from the cage and pinning the evil one to the floor. 571 roared in the evil one’s face, and was about to end him, when the second evil one looped the wire noose around 571’s neck and yanked him back, and 571 felt himself shocked by the evil one’s electrical staff. 571 howled in pain and gave in to the evil ones, allowing them to bind his arms.
571 was silent as the evil ones led him down a hall illuminated by lights overhead, the dark one’s claws scraping on the cold floor. As they passed the other cages, the dark ones looked out at them, their glowing eyes wide as they saw 571. 571 looked up at them, and he could see their fear. Fear of the evil ones, and fear for what they would do to him.
The evil ones continued to lead 571 through the winding hallways, until they came to a set of large metal doors. 571 stared at the doors in frozen silence. He knew what was behind them, and he knew it was inevitable.
The metal doors then opened by themselves, and blinding white light flooded the hallway. 571 screeched and tried to cover his face with his arm. The light burned his eyes and he was instinctively afraid of it. 751 tried to run, away from the light and the evil ones, back into the safety of the darkness, but the evil one yanked hard on the pole, stopping 571 from escaping.
The evil ones then dragged 571 into the horrible light, where he was quickly placed on a cold metal surface and restrained with metal clamps and chains. A light was shined over him, and 571 screeched in anguish. His limbs were restrained, preventing him from shielding his eyes from the awful light.
It got worse. More evil ones came, garbed in white suits and carrying various strange tools, their pale faces staring down at 571. And then the suffering began.
The evil ones did horrible, torturous things to 571, and the halls echoed with the dark one’s screams of agony. 571 thrashed wildly in his restraints, but the struggle was pointless. He didn’t know exactly what the evil ones were doing to him, but the pain was excruciating, he could feel their tools cutting into him, and he was conscious the entire time.
Hours passed. When 571 was at last given a moment of rest, he felt ready to die. His limbs were still restrained and his eyes were shut tightly against the stinging light that still plagued him. As he lay, in pain and feeling nearly dead, he overheard one of the evil ones speaking into a small device in its hand.
571 could understand broken pieces of the evil ones’ speak, and he could make out the words “Subject”, “571”, “Responding”, “Tests”, “Negatively”, and “Terminate”. 571 did not like this.
It was now that several more evil ones came, and at last unlocked 571’s restraints. But the dark one did not struggle or attack. He was too exhausted from the horrific experimentation he had just gone through, and now all he wanted was to return to the cool, comforting darkness.
571 submitted to the evil ones as they led him back down the hallway. He desperately wanted to rest, but whenever he slowed in his pace the evil one behind him would electrocute him with its shocking stick, forcing him to move on. The other dark ones, locked away in their steel cages, stared at 571 as he passed by. Thankfully he wasn’t badly hurt, just aching and utterly exhausted. The other dark ones growled and snarled to each other in some kind of speech as they watched.
When 571 at last returned to his own cage, he growled in relief. He didn’t struggle as the evil ones shoved him back into his prison and relocked the barred door behind him. When the evil ones were gone, 571 collapsed onto the cold floor and curled up into a tight ball, relieved to finally be back in the safety of the dark. His fellow dark ones inside their cages hissed and called to him in concern, but he reassured them that he was ok. 571 then closed his eyes and rested, soon falling asleep in the comforting darkness.
When 571 awoke, he was glad to see only darkness around him. He pushed himself up, snarling at the ache in his body that remained from his suffering at the hands of the evil ones. He turned around to lick his wounds, when he suddenly heard the footsteps of an evil one. 571 looked through the metal bars of his cage to see a lone evil one strolling down the dark hall, shining a small light into each cage to look at the dark ones inside as he passed them. The evil one, of course, did not care that the light terrified the dark ones.
571 narrowed his yellow eyes. It seemed that some of the evil ones even enjoyed torturing the dark ones. 571 hated the evil ones with every ounce of his being, but all he wanted was to simply get away from the evil ones and never see them again. Not just for himself, but for all of his fellow dark ones imprisoned here, subjected to constant torture.
When the evil one reached 571’s cage and shined the glaring light at him, 571 forced himself not to cringe and back away. He stood there, staring directly into the evil one’s eyes with burning hatred, forcing himself to endure the light. This seemed to give the evil one a definite scare, and 571 heard it cursing as it continued down the hall.
When the light from the evil one’s bright stick left him, 571 shut his burning eyes tightly and hissed in pain that he had kept from the evil one. 571 wasn’t invincible, but if he could, he would not show weakness in the face of his enemies.
After recovering for a few brief moments, 571 heard the shrieks and growls of more dark ones being hit by the guard evil one’s light. He then heard a high-pitched, terrified screech come from one of the cages across from his. 571 scrambled to his feet and looked out between the bars. The evil one had stopped at the cage across from his, which held a female dark one labelled 576. The evil one said something to itself in surprise, before pulling out the communication device it possessed, calling for others. The other dark ones noticed this, and they knew what the guard evil one must have seen in 576’s cage.
More evil ones soon arrived on the scene, and the dark ones all went wild in their cages, screeching and clawing at the evil ones from their prisons. The evil ones opened 576’s cage, and she screeched at them defensively. 571 could see her from his cage, and he knew why she was acting this way; all the dark ones in this sector did, but now they were powerless to help.
The dark ones’ angered cries echoed in the halls as the evil ones looped a wire noose around 576’s neck and dragged her out from the back of her cage and into the open. She thrashed and shrieked wildly as she clutched something in her arms, something she was desperate to protect.
Dark ones began banging against their cages to try and bust out, but it was no use. 576 tried desperately to escape the evil ones’ clutches, but they shocked her with their electric sticks, allowing them to snatch what 576 was holding away from her: her child.
The baby screamed as it was torn from its mother’s arms and locked in a small cage to be taken to the evil ones’ labs, and the dark ones’ roars and howls of rage increased tenfold. From his cage, 571 felt himself consumed by rage. He knew that the evil ones would do to the baby in their labs, and it was far worse than any suffering he had been through. He would not. Let. This. Happen!
With a roar of crazed, unbridled fury, 571 thrust himself at the door of his cage, bursting straight through the solid steel bars and launching himself into the air. 571 landed on an evil one’s back, sending them both onto the floor. The evil one and the dark one tumbled into a beam from the hall lights, revealing themselves;
The evil one looked up to see a green, dog-sized insect that looked like a hybrid of a praying mantis and a dragonfly, with vertical jaws lined with razor-sharp fangs, and its burning yellow eyes were disturbingly human.
571 stared down at the evil one’s flat, pale, fleshy face, staring up him in terror. 571 screeched savagely and raised his spiked-lined mantis arm, and brought it down on the evil one in seconds, slashing its throat clean open.
The dark ones and the evil ones froze in shock. This had never happened before. 571 turned to face the other evil ones, their small eyes wide in horror, their mouths agape. 571 screeched at them monstrously, and they ran away down the hall, dropping the cage and 576, who in the light was revealed to be a red and black wasp-ant hybrid. 571 quickly grabbed the cage that held 576’s baby and ripped it open, and the plump, pale larva squealed as it immediately scurried back to its mother, who took him safely in her arms.
This was what the dark ones were; giant, mutant insect hybrids. The evil ones had created them to be more like the vertebrate creatures that looked down on them, but had imprisoned them here in this place of suffering.
571 then realized, he had broken out of his cage. He could see all the other dark ones looking at him in shocked silence, before unleashing a huge uproar of cheers. A dark one had never escaped before, and certainly never, ever killed an evil one before!
571 looked down at his claws; they were still stained with the evil one’s crimson blood. He felt something surge through him, a feeling of power and strength.
Suddenly, an evil one’s voice sounded from the ceiling, and an alarm began wailing, alerting the rest of the evil ones that a dark one had attacked and killed one of their own. The dark ones went quiet in fear, knowing that more evil ones were coming. 576 held her larva close as he whimpered in fear. 571 looked at them. If they were captured, all three of them would surely be killed. 571 snarled. As long as he breathed, that would not happen.
571 screeched, calling to the other dark ones. He crawled over to the dead body of the evil one, snatched the electric stick from its waist, and held it over his head with a roar of triumph. The other dark ones joined him, and then an enormous dark one burst out of its cage and roared. It was 580, a huge, purple dung beetle-like dark one, with four yellow eyes and huge jaws. 580 roared 571’s name loudly, pledging his loyalty to the mantis-dragonfly dark one.
More dark ones busted out of their cages, and those who weren’t strong enough to free themselves were freed by the stronger dark ones.
Soon all the dark ones in this sector were released, but the evil ones now knew about them. To 571’s surprise, all the dark ones turned to him. 571 hadn’t expected this, and wasn’t sure what to do. But his fellow dark ones were looking to him in this dire moment, and he could not fail them.
Summoning his courage, 571 stood atop the body of the evil one he had slain, and roared mightily, with all the dark ones joining him; they were breaking out. Now.
“Goddamnit! I told you we should’ve had thicker bars installed for the specimens’ cages!” An angry evil one shouted to the others in the room.
“We tried, sir, but it wouldn’t fit in the budget!” Another explained.
“To Hell with the budget!” The first evil one shouted. “The specimens in sector 7 are loose! God knows what damage those monsters will cause if they escape the complex!” The evil one then pressed a large red button, sounding the alarm. “All units, we have a code red! Repeat: code red! Break out in sector 7! Get the Hell down there!”
Hearing the alert, dozens of evil ones hurriedly grabbed their various weapons and filed down the halls toward sector 7. Both the evil ones and the dark ones were in for the fight of their lives.
Red lights flashed and alarms wailed as the hoard of dark ones charged down the hallway, 571 leading them on with 576 and 580 at his side. They were heading towards the lower levels of the complex to free the rest of their kind, before all escaping en masse. So far they had only encountered a few evil ones alone, and they had been dealt with swiftly and deservingly.
571 screeched for the dark ones to stop when they came to a three-way split in the hall, and they immediately came to a halt behind him. The hallway on the right was labeled Laboratory 7h, while the other two led to a weapons room and a stairwell to sector 6. 571 growled an order to the other dark ones; 580 and the larger dark ones would storm the laboratory, and save any dark ones trapped there. The rest would follow himself and 576 down to sector 6 to liberate their fellow dark ones from their cages. They would avoid the weapon storage room.
580 nodded and roared for the bigger dark ones to follow him, and charged down the right corridor towards the lab, over a dozen beetle, spider, and wasp dark ones behind him. 571 then led his group down the hall to the stairwell, bursting through the heavy doors and charging down the staircase to sector 6.
580 burst through the laboratory doors with a deep roar, his soldiers right behind him. What they saw brought shock and horror to their expressions; before them were experimentation tables holding the mutilated bodies of their fellow dark ones, their exoskeletons cut open and their soft tissues sliced and torn out, covered in varying colors of blood.
Words could not describe the horror the dark ones felt at this ghastly sight. Some of the sprawling bodies on the tables had even been kin. After grieving, 580 felt violent, destructive rage surge through his being. He roared to his comrades, swearing to take revenge on the evil ones for the awful things they had done, and all of them agreed.
Suddenly, a group of evil ones garbed in the white suits came into the lab, freezing at the sight of the dark ones. 580 roared savagely and charged, his followers behind him. The dark ones caught the evil ones before they could reach the alarm button, and completely massacred them, their claws and teeth fueled by anger at what the evil ones had done to their kind.
After slaughtering the evil ones, 580 and his soldiers went about searching the lab for any living dark ones and freeing those they could find. 580 then roared a command that they meet back up with the main group, before racing out of the terrible lab and back into the halls, now with over a dozen liberated dark ones with them.
Down in sector 6, 571 pulled the release lever for all of the dark ones’ cages, freeing them. The dark ones cried out in excitement as they leaped from their cages, and praised 571 for releasing them. A roar then came from the stairwell, and 571 turned to see 580 and his soldiers returning with the dark ones they’d freed. 571 congratulated the beetle mutant for succeeding, but he was interrupted when a cry of terror came from the newly-freed dark ones.
571 turned to see dozens of evil ones approaching, carrying weapons. The dark ones cowered and tried to escape, terrified as they hadn’t encountered so many evil ones before. 571 was going to command the others to scatter, but he realized that, if they were all going to get out of here alive, they could not run. They had to stand together.
Eyes narrowing in defiance, 571 rapidly beat his dragonfly wings and lifted off the ground, and the dark ones stared in awe; even though many of them had wings, they had never gotten the chance to fly before. But now…
571 screeched at the evil ones as he hovered over them, unwilling to stand down. The evil ones aimed their firesticks at him, when, all of a sudden, he was joined in the air by 576! Dozens of other dark ones joined them, flying into the air as an army. Even 580, awkward as he was, joined 571’s side in the air. The dark ones who could not fly were no different; they joined together and stood their ground, snarling fearlessly at the evil ones, who by this point seemed more than a little unnerved.
With a courageous roar, 571 dove towards the enemy, his army of dark ones at his side. The evil ones fired upon the dark ones, but their bullets hardly had any effect on them. The evil ones who weren’t slaughtered ran for their lives, but were soon caught and killed by the dark ones. After their victory, 571 led his followers in a triumphant roar. 571 then screeched for the dark ones to split into divisions; the groups would go down different hallways and corridors to the labs and cage areas, freeing as many dark ones as they possibly could. Then they would all reunite at the bottom level of the complex where they would make their escape into the outside.
The groups then split up, each going down separate hallways. 580 and his group led some of the stronger and faster dark ones to the cage areas, while the better-flying dark ones, the hornet, wasp, fly, dragonfly, mosquito, and small beetle mutants, flew down the stairwells to the laboratories. The smaller dark ones, the ant, termite, and small spider mutants, as well as the centipede-mutant dark ones, crawled through the numerous vents and air ducts in the walls. Finally, 571 and 576 led all the dark ones with larvae or eggs down the halls, with several agile fighters for defense.
As the dark ones spread throughout the compound, the evil ones tried to stop them, but all failed and were given well-deserved retribution. As more dark ones were liberated, they joined their freers without a second thought, eager to leave this terrible place and to take out their long-built up hatred on the evil ones. In the labs, dark ones were reunited with friends and kin, and mothers were reunited with their precious eggs and larvae. Many dark ones were killed in the fight, sadly, but they gave their lives for a noble cause, and those who died were swiftly avenged.
Finally, after much fighting and bloodshed from both sides, the dark ones at last were all freed, and were making their way back through the halls and vents to the bottom floor.
571 and his group were storming down a narrow hall, when up ahead an automatic door began to close. 571 knew that they wouldn’t make it in time, and was about to call for the group to turn around, when a huge rhinoceros beetle-tarantula dark one thundered past him towards the door and held it open with his massive strength, allowing the others to pass through. 571 thanked the huge dark one for doing so, before catching up to the others.
As the darks ones all hurried towards the bottom level, some would go out of their way to help others in need. Everywhere, if any dark ones became trapped or injured or cornered by evil ones, the other dark ones would come charging to their aid, and no one was left behind.
Soon, all the dark ones joined together in a massive hoard that burst through metal doors and crashed through walls, and massacred resistance from evil ones. 571, 576, and 580 were all in front, leading the great charge. This was it. Finally, after so many years of imprisonment and torture at the hands of the evil ones, the dark ones, all of them, were finally going to be free.
When the army of dark ones reach the bottom level of the complex, however, they skidded to a stop; between them and the huge, mechanical bay door that led to freedom, were hundreds upon hundreds of evil ones, all armed with their various weapons. The dark ones had met their match, even 571 was frozen in shock and uncertainty. Many dark ones tried to step back, but then dozens more evil ones came up from behind. They were trapped. It was hopeless.
571 saw 576 holding her larva tightly to her chest as it whimpered. The baby’s eyes were filled with fear, and it looked at 571 desperately, gurgling something, which, in the dark ones’ growling speak, roughly translated to-
571 then knew: he could not give up. He would NEVER give up.
Eyes narrowed in fury, 571 roared with all his might, declaring to the evil ones that he would fight them to his last breath for his fellow dark ones, his family.
At 571’s roar of defiance, all dark ones, great and small, joined in, bellowing their refusal to be imprisoned any longer in a thunderous, echoing roar that rattled the walls of the complex.
Then it began: the battle to end all battles. Dark ones versus evil ones in a final fight for freedom, the likes of which has never been seen before.
The dark ones in front charged onto the battlefield, while the ones in back turned and engaged the evil ones cornering them from behind. The evil ones in the hall were quickly dealt with, as they were enclosed in a small space with little room for maneuvering. Once they were out of the way, the dark ones charged forward back into the loading dock to join the bigger fight;
Dark ones screeched and firesticks went *BANG!* as the fight raged on. The spider dark ones shot ropes of silk and sunk their fangs into the evil ones; wasp and hornet dark ones stung their enemies to death, ant dark ones literally tore the evil ones apart. Everywhere, evil ones found their weapons to be practically useless as they were slashed, bitten, rammed, crushed, gored, disemboweled, ripped in half, and even had their flesh burned off by the attacks of the bombardier beetle dark ones. Dark ones were wounded and killed as well, but they kept coming strong, relentless. An evil one even shot off a cockroach dark one’s head, but as the evil one laughed, the dark one’s headless body, enraged, stood up and grabbed the evil one by the shoulders and forcibly ripped off HIS head as payback. Jumping spider dark ones crashed into evil ones and slammed them into walls, killing them, and a gigantic scorpion-centipede dark one juggled multiple evil ones in its numerous arms before tearing them to pieces. But perhaps the most fearsome sight was 571, who didn’t fight one-on-one, but flew through the army of dark ones, slashing them with his mantis claws, taking down dozens in minutes. 571 then flew above the battle scene, scanning the area for something that would open the bay door.
Then he found it; an upturned lever beside the door. Surely that had to be the way to open it! 571 dove down towards the wall, and pulled on the release lever with his claw. But it didn’t budge! 571 pulled on the lever with both claws, but it was still stuck. 571 didn’t know what to do; more evil ones would soon arrive, and there was no time to find another exit. This was their only chance.
571 screeched and pulled down on the lever with every fiber of his being, gripping it with both his claws and two of his legs. Finally, the lever gave and 571 pulled it all the way down, deactivating the locks on the door. With a loud bang and the trembling of huge gears, the bay door began to open.
The dark ones drove off the remaining evil ones, and let out an uproar of cheers as they gathered by the bay door as it creeped open, 571 joining them. Suddenly, however, light from the outside began pouring into the room, and the dark ones cried out in fear. The dark ones were about to scatter, when a resounding screech made them stop and go silent. It was 576. 576 hovered above the frightened dark ones, and said to them in the dark ones’ speak that they had just done something incredible: by standing together, they had defeated the evil ones, and if they could do that, then surely they could defeat their fear of the light, if only for a while until they found a safe new home.
576’s words succeeded in encouraging the dark ones, and they gathered back at the door, ready to face their greatest fear. 571 congratulated the ant-wasp dark one as she landed, and she touched her antennae to his, flustering the mantis-dragonfly. All of a sudden, the door stopped, and began turning back, closing! 571 looked back towards the lever, to see that a surviving evil one had pushed the lever back up!
Before 571 could react, 576 screeched at the evil one and charged at it, but the evil one raised its firestick and shot 576, shooting off her arm as she cried out in agony and fell to the floor.
No word in any language could possibly describe the intensity of 571’s fury at that moment. With a demonic roar of pure, burning rage, 571 launched himself at the evil one with lightning speed, grabbed its firestick and snapped it in two. 571 slashed his claw into the evil one’s side, and it screamed in pain as red blood poured from the wound.
571 looked dead into the evil one’s eyes as it lay at his mercy. The evil one then spoke, and 571 understood it;
“You killed my best friend, you monster! How’s it feel?” 571 glared at the evil one in hate, and then he said,
The evil one’s eyes widened when it heard the dark one speak in its language, and even more chilling was what he had said.
571 then hurried back to 576. Her arm had been shot off, and blood seeped from the wound, but she was still breathing and her heartbeat was steady, and her arm would grow back. 576 opened her eyes, and 571 helped her stand up, and she nuzzled him. 571 breathed out in relief, but then he remembered the gate!
The door was closing, but 571 couldn’t turn it back on with the lever because the evil one had broken it intentionally to stop them!
Hope seemed lost for the dark ones, when all of a sudden, 580 roared and charged the door, and with him were dozens of rhinoceros beetle, ant, and other dung beetle dark ones. They crashed into the door and began pushing with all their might against it. The door halted again, and the dark ones cheered. Rhino beetles could lift 30 times their weight, ants 50 times, but dung beetles like 580 could lift over 1,100 times their weight, and since the dark ones were enormous and mutated, that strength was multiplied nearly a hundredfold!
The dark ones all cheered as the door gave in to the pushers’ incredible strength, and finally collapsed to the ground, revealing the outside. The dark ones cringed and shielded their eyes from the light, but they remembered what 576 had said to them, and did not fear.
571 and 576 led them all out into the outside world, roaring and screeching in joy as they breathed sweet, fresh air and felt the wind in their antennae. But the bright light from the sun still hurt their eyes and burned their exoskeletons. They needed a safe, dark place to live.
571’s eyes adjusted slightly to the light, his claws shading his eyes, and he spotted a large object raised out of the ground. Some kind of hatch. 571 called to the other dark ones and pointed to the hatch, telling them to go there. 571 and 580 jumped onto the hatch, dug their claws into the rusted metal and pulled, and soon the hatch opened, revealing blackness below.
Overjoyed, the dark ones hurried down the entrance, and once they were all safely down, 571, 576, and 580 hopped down after them, 571 pulling the hatch door shut.
Down below, the darks one gathered. 571 looked around; before them lay a wide, dark tunnel with stone walls. 571 screeched into the tunnel, and heard the echo continue for a long way. 571 then turned back to the other dark ones, who stared in wonder at their new surroundings. They seemed fairly hopeful for this place, and, with some modifications, it would be perfect for them.
571 then spoke to the dark ones; saying that they had endured imprisonment, torture, rebellion, and had at last escaped from their evil captors and found a new safe haven. To the dark ones’ great joy, 571 announced proudly that they would stay here in the underground tunnels, seeming to have been made just for them. The dark ones all roared their cheers, and the sound echoed off the tunnel walls. 576 then walked up to 571, her larva riding on her back. The two dark ones then embraced, and touched antennae again.
571 felt nothing but relief at this moment. Relief that, after all they’d endured, all they’d suffered through, the dark ones had finally, finally found a home of their own, where they would never again have to fear the evil ones’ or the light that exposed them to the evil ones.
They were free. At long last, they were free. They would remain here in this dark sanctuary, and no longer would they be locked away.