As Jayce explained his devised tactic to the team, the Bulks grunted restlessly, as if having detected the unfamiliar human presence in the building. The tension in the air built up by the second and the slightest spark could ignite the entire situation.
"Shark, estimate how many M-Wave Grenades you'll need to clear out the Reapers. Toss it on our mark, and run towards us." Jayce explained. Before Ling could interrupt, he continued.
"The explosion will set off the Bulks in both our rooms. Ours will run straight into a trap we'll set and it'll be taken down. Humans can outrun Bulks so we'll grab the weapons and equipment in our room. The Bulks from your room will be charging straight into our gunfire."
"Brilliant, Scorpion. Brilliant. Viper, heard that? That's exactly what we'll do. Get ready." Ornelas ordered. Jayce and Rissa immediately set up a trap comprising of wired ropes to trip the Bulk. Bulks had a weakness at the back of their neck and it would be exposed. Artemus counted the Reapers and prepared 2 grenades. The plan was ready to go and Viper was awaiting the mark.
Ornelas whispered in the radio chat, "Ready? Five, four, three, two, one. Go!"
Arty tossed the grenades and immediately ran off with Ling and Kanith. The explosion had disintegrated the Reapers almost instantly. It burnt the Bulks and they spun around angrily. The explosion set off the Bulk in the Weapons Room and it charged straight into the trap and fell. Jayce drew his mechanical sword and stabbed it through the back of the neck. A clean hit. It killed him but now they had the two from the Data Room to worry about.
The trio from the Data Room arrived and they grabbed the first guns or mechanical crossbows they saw. They sat prepared and as soon as the Bulks arrived, they were met with a mix of gunfire and mechanical arrows and were stumbled immediately. Rissa drew her mechanical double daggers and sprinted. She ran up and leapt off the wall, slashing across the first Bulk's neck and stabbing the second's.
She landed with them and hopped off in style. As she sheathed her daggers, she was faced with the impressed faces of Viper.
"Damn, girl. That was sweet, Fox." Ornelas praised. Apart from Jayce, Ornelas had rarely praised others and the rest of the team could detect his affection for Rissa growing. Jayce was genuinely impressed and gave Rissa an acknowledging smirk before walking by. Viper walked by the carcasses of the Bulks and were irked by the atrocity of the monster. Ornelas then lead the team who brisk walked towards the Data Room.
In the Data Room, the team was faced with three huge hologram screens and wide computer keyboard. Alas the keyboard characters were Japanese and Viper had to rely on the one member they wished they didn't have to. Ling smirked and strolled over the keyboard, studying the Japanese characters. Jayce then guided her into navigating through the files and breaking to their system. Meanwhile, Rissa and Artemus stood guard by the door to watch for more Beasts while Ornelas and Kanith looked around for clues on an alternate exit.
After roughly half an hour, they navigated deep enough into the data and managed to find military plans against England.
"Get the ones for the other countries as well, they're useful leverage." Ornelas reminded. Jayce nodded and extracted it before keeping the memory drive safely. Kanith gathered the team and showed a map of the place he found. There were no alternate exits and the hallway was of a simple structure. The fork from the entrance leads past the Weapon Room and Data Room respectively, before it reconnects and goes down straight, with entrances to bunks and storehouses along it which eventually led into dead ends. The path then leads straight down to a solid wall.
"This is it. We're trapped. We retrieved the information, but for nothing." Ling lamented.
"No. We can transfer the data back to HQ using their computer system. Jayce, get on it." Ornelas instructed. Jayce returned to the computers while the rest studied the map.
"It's just not possible for a military base to have only one way in and out, no matter how secret. It's impractical." Ornelas said while scratching his head, looking across Viper to see if anyone had ideas. A theory hit Artemus and his face lit up.
"If it's not on the map, it's secret. Who would know of secrets? The head. Where would the entrance then most logically lie?" Artemus said excitedly.
"The Major's room." Ornelas smiled while patting Arty's shoulder. Jayce had happened to have finished transferring the data and regrouped. They brought him up to speed with Artemus' theory and they headed down the hallway. The hallway was crawling with Beasts and there was no way they could sneak past them all.
"We could use the smoke bomb as a distraction. We just need to throw it far enough down the hallway to lead them away." Jayce looked back at the team. Ornelas approved and now all they needed was someone strong enough to toss a smoke bomb far down the corridor. Heads turned like clockwork to Kanith as he smiled sheepishly. He took over the smoke bomb from Artemus and hurled it.
It landed far down the hallway before exploding into a ball of smoke. Beasts of all sorts were immediately startled and started crawling towards it. Viper took the chance and sneaked into the Major's room and locked the door.
"Guys. Did you see? I'm pretty sure amongst those Beasts, I clearly saw a Banshee crawling through. It's not that attracted to non-human objects and a nose that can smell humans at least 100 meters away. We don't have long before it comes to hunt us down." Jayce had an extremely sharp senses since birth which was something he had used often to his advantage, and eventually for scam and fraud. Ornelas agreed but that was on the bottom of their list of worries at that moment.
The team searched frantically around for clues before finding a secret button under the bed. Ornelas pushed it and the bookcase sunk into the ground revealing a door. However this door was not what they were familiar with. It was an old door made of granite and controlled by an electrical system that seemed outdated. It had made use of electrical circuits instead of electron porting, which was the technology used for most electrical devices in their time.
"This technology is ancient. It's as if it's from the Year 2010." Kanith said, dumbfounded.
"Probably to make sure not just anyone was able to get in. Kanith, can you get through?" Jayce said. Kanith nodded and immediately started working on the circuit with his toolbag. While Kanith worked on the door, the others looked through the peephole to make sure the Beasts hadn't found them yet. The electrical system sparked after a few minutes and the door moved upwards, screeching loudly its way through.
It startled the entire team, but more importantly, all the Beasts in the hallway. After moments of silence, the beasts stomped their way towards the door and started attempting to knock it down. With the strength and ferocity of Beasts like the Bulk, they didn't have long to distance themselves. However, the door's system suddenly self-destructed and the door came falling down.
Kanith immediately ran to support it and was barely able to hold it. The door was held merely 30cm off the floor and Viper had to crawl through underneath one by one. Before they could help lift it, they were interrupted by Kanith.
"This thing... is... heavy... hurry... get.. out of here!" he yelled with all his strength. As they started crawling, the door was partially knocked down and a flying spike came through and stabbed Kanith in the torso. He fell to his knees and blood oozed out from his abdomen but had still managed to hold the door in place. Beasts were overflowing on the other side of the door and time was running out.
Viper was shocked as soon as they saw Kanith's injury but he reassured them but kept them moving. All of a sudden, a huge, thick strand of tentacle-like hair came through the cracks of the door and tied around Kanith's body, tugging him slightly. Yet another flying spike came through and this time, impaled him through the chest. The blood had not only flowed from his body but now from his mouth as well.
As the last of the team crept through, they tried to help Kanith but he was losing his grip. Yet another tentacle hair whipped through and grabbed him by his legs. This time it pulled hard and hauled him off his feet. Ornelas reached for his shirt and grabbed it while Kanith still held the door in place, but at an even lower height.
"Don't... worry... about... me... get... out... of... here... survive... and... escape!" Kanith forced his last words out before the final tow from the tentacle yanked him away into what seemed like oblivion and the door fell shut. All that was heard after was the scream of a man and cries of beasts. One of which was heard clearly. A Banshee's cry.
And silence followed soon after.
The team was left frozen in place for almost ten seconds. Waves of disbelief had struck and overwhelmed them. Tears started flowing down Rissa's cheek as she covered her mouth and sobbed uncontrollably. Ornelas held her in his arms and consoled her, fighting to hold in his own emotions. Jayce fell on his feet and was more than engulfed in a sea of emotions which was not expressible by facial movements alone. A good man fell to the prey of a beast. A beast with a scream that struck fear into their hearts once again.
Artemus got up and slammed the door, now motionless as the entrance's.
"NO! NO! KANITH! NO!" shouts of sorrow echoed down the hall, which had reflected what was in the hearts of Viper. Ling got up undeterred and started pacing around for the team to muster themselves, and seemed almost annoyed by their emotions.
Silenced ensued in the seemingly empty secret base, filled with nothing but the cries and sorrow of the team, with anguish overflowing over the loss of their team mate. Their comrade. Their brother.
Lost to the Banshee.
END OF CHAPTER 4