Olympus Squad, despite being formed, had yet to decide who was in the squad. It had been narrowed down to thirty men and women of different skills. Each agent was code-named after a Greek god or legend, usually representing their skills, and the thirty were divided into three groups.
This particular group had a strange composition. Led by Agent Anemoi, the team consisted of Tartatus, Thanatos, Epione, Enyo, Apollo and Cerberus. They had been placed on a team because their skills complimented each other, which Anemoi did not see. The former World War II pilot was used to comrades having far more training and discipline, not this rag-tag band of history’s “finest”.
The automated ship landed, and the door swung open. Thanatos and Apollo exited first; weapons raised. Epione, Cerberus and Enyo followed, with Tartarus and Anemoi bringing up the rear. The dropship sped back into space through a force field. Already, Anemoi was wishing he were still dead. Whatever was through the doors to the rest of the ship had the ability to grant this wish, so he pushed this feeling down.
‘Olympus teams, check in,’ Anemoi said into his mic.
‘Check,’ came the cold voice of Agent Hephaestus.
‘Check,’ came the jovial voice of Agent Styx.
Anemoi nodded, then gestured with his hand to Thanatos to open the door. The sword wielder moved quickly and pressed the door release. It opened with a pneumatic hiss and a horrid smell greeted the squad. Anemoi closed his helmet using his re-breather to filter out the stench. The little clicks told him his squad had followed suit.
Thanatos entered the corridor with Apollo and shone his light down the darkened halls. He saw little glowing circles of scarlet and immediately turned the light off. Apollo knelt and aimed his combat rifle. It wasn’t the type of gun he was used to, but Apollo had a theory with guns: Pull the trigger and brace yourself and you should be fine. So far, Apollo had used fifty-eight types of weapons and his theory had never let him down.
‘Contact, undetermined amount,’ Apollo breathed into his mic.
Anemoi and Tartarus entered the corridor behind them and signalled the others to wait. No one here knew what exactly they were facing, only that it was dangerous and had most people on the My Lady Elizabeth scared of it. An alien force known as the Klisk.
‘On my mark, Apollo, flash your light down the hallway. Thanatos, cover the others. Tartarus, you and I only fire if they approach in a hostile manner.’ Anemoi’s orders were direct, spoke of his discipline. No one spoke.
Tartarus pulled the bolt back on his rifle and aimed down the corridor. Thanatos stepped back and rose his blade to cover the other three agents. Anemoi looked down the corridor through his scope, tightening his grip on the stock.
Apollo switched his flashlight on, and a beam of high-powered tunnel light burned through the darkened corridor. Dozens of grotesque abominations of flesh and bone were now in view and roared in frustration and anger then barrelled towards the three soldiers. Olympus started firing in unison, 20th and 21st century people using 23rd century technology to fight aliens. If this was a comic book, Anemoi might have read it with his son.
A beast tackled Apollo to the ground, separated only by the gun the agent had used to block it. It snapped and drooled over Apollo’s helmet before its head exploded into thousands of pieces of bone, brain and globs of green blood that sizzled on the wall and Apollo’s suit. He fell back on the ground with a sigh.
‘Are you alright?’ Anemoi said, helping Apollo up to his feet.
Apollo nodded before noticing the breaches the blood was making in his suit. They were small but an expert marksman could use them to cause Apollo a lot of pain.
‘Acidic blood?’ came the inquisitive voice of Enyo from the entrance. She did not even wait for confirmation. She hurried over to the largest mass of blood, which was burning through the metal floor.
Anemoi’s team was still alive, despite the surprising tenacity of the monsters, so he spoke into his mic.
‘Team One is inside, proceeding to objective.’
Enyo stood up, beaming. The glove of her highly advanced and expensive suit had melted but her smile touched the hearts of all on her squad.
‘The blood is not blood,’ Enyo said, barely able to contain her glee. ‘It shares an 89% similarity with highly corrosive substances. It is acid.’
Tartarus kicked the head of a dead Klisk lying on the ground despite the warning.
‘So, Thanatos, your tactics need to change,’ Anemoi said. ‘It’s too risky to engage in close combat.’
Thanatos sheathed his sword and knelt down to put his rifle together.
‘Epione, how’s Apollo?’ Anemoi asked.
Apollo had discarded the still liquefying suit and was having his vitals checked by Epione. The scrap metal on the floor hissed and sizzled, protecting no one.
‘His adrenaline spiked but given the situation I’d say it’s normal.’ Epione said quietly.
Anemoi nodded then gestured to Thanatos to take point up the corridor. Thanatos leapt over the hole in the floor leading to unknown dangers and tried to open the door with his handprint. Nothing happened.
‘Power’s out,’ Thanatos said simply. Before anyone could stop him, he smashed the butt of his rifle into the control panel. It fizzled and whined then the door opened with a whoosh.
Anemoi shook his head then leapt over the gap to Thanatos and peered inside.
Tartarus had been watching the entire exchange of information. These people were not suited to work of this level. Anemoi, maybe, but certainly not the others.
‘Why is that, do you think?’
Any other person might have believed they were going insane, but Tartarus knew who the voice belonged to. Before leaving the My Lady Elizabeth, he had volunteered for surgery to rewire an artificial intelligence into his brain. This intelligence, who had named herself Alice, had been designed by someone who had an unnatural love of anime. Hence her image was that of a cat-girl, a fact that annoyed Tartarus greatly.
Alice appeared in Tartarus’s vision, standing over the bodies of the dead Klisk, with her hands on her hips. A shimmering red hologram wearing a sun dress that only he could see. Her ears flicked, and her tail curled behind her.
‘They are not like you, true, but imagine if you were doing this on your own.’ Alice pointed out.
‘I’d be dead,’ Tartarus said quietly, prompting a glance from Enyo. ‘Reckless behaviour like that in enemy territory is not what we need right now, Alice.’
Tartarus leapt over the gap, then gestured to the others to follow him. Once everyone was across, Tartarus peered into the doorway and was thankful he was wearing a helmet, lest anyone see his skin pale.
‘Alice... what the hell is that?’
Whatever it was, it took up most of the room with its mass. Orbs of green blood and pus grew out of it, and there was no sign it had a head or could register them in any way. Tartarus got the vibe of “mother” from it.
‘That is a Klisk, specification: Biomancer. They cannot move, but once it knows we are here, it will continually create more Klisk until we destroy it.’
‘And how do we destroy it?’ Tartarus asked. No one interrupted when Anemoi held his hand up for silence.
‘Either by blowing it up or burning it. It is immune to everything else.’
‘Fire or explosives,’ Tartarus said to Anemoi. Immediately, everyone went through their equipment to search for anything remotely close to those two. One grenade was passed to Tartarus by Apollo.
‘Will this work?’ Tartarus asked, holding the grenade up to his eyes.
‘No, the explosion is too contained.’ Alice said.
‘Fine. Analyse the entire situation and find a way to the bridge from here that doesn’t involve dying.’
The silent minute it took for Alice to compile all available information was deafening. Epione was shaking out of fear that she’d be eaten. She used to be a paramedic; she wasn’t meant to fight aliens in space!
Finally, Alice returned to Tartarus’s vision, and displayed the holographic plan she had created. The vent running parallel to the chamber could get someone without armour through to the other side, where the venting controls were. They could set a timer for thirty seconds, then take cover in the vent. Theoretically, the Biomancer would be ripped into space by the vacuum.
‘Risky, and we only have one person without armour.’ Tartarus murmured.
Tartarus relayed the plan back to the others. Apollo was, to put it lightly, annoyed. He was quickly volunteered by Tartarus to go through the vent and initiate an insane plan that would only end up killing Apollo again!