Chapter IX – Untested Hardware
The gravity weapon rolled to a stop twenty-five yards from the Cyber-demons. The weapon sprouted two metal arms and plunged them into the dried soil, anchoring itself; it then spun open, revealing thin metallic prongs surrounding knotted tubes of red liquid. The prongs began spinning around the liquid as they flexed at varying degrees, radiating energy was emitted from the prongs, used to cushion the molecular effects of the red liquid. An electronic hum was rising in intensity from the weapon. The Cyber-demons continued approaching, unaware of the trap set in their path.
The Commander lifted the Echelon into the air, targeted multiple enemies and fired the plasma cannons. The marine continued fighting the hordes of monsters, their numbers were beginning to shrink, he hacked and slashed in smooth, graceful movements. It was a savage dance of death, blood spilling freely around him. The gravity weapon spun faster and faster as the build-up of energy continued. The gravity vortex shot out from the machine in two giant ribbons of fluttering energy. The waves of energy fluctuated, the machine worked to stabilize the energy beams. The Cyber-demons were in the thick of it when the ribbons of energy became perfectly flat and reached high into the sky, it became four columns of spinning energy. Small and large objects were swept away by the vortex and instantly burst into pieces; cars, trees, boulders and small structures were sucked into the vortex and torn to shreds on impact.
Viewing the vortex from the Echelon’s bridge was stunning, strobing light flooded the compartment, small monsters were sucked from the ground and thrown helplessly into the vortex. The five Cyber-demons found themselves being drawn into the columns of energy, they fired their rockets into it, exploding harmlessly against the surface. They split into two paths and attempted to move around the vortex. They stomped around the column but their powerful hooves began slipping under their weight as the gravity vortex pulled them closer.
The marine was still in the midst of his epic combat, corpses in many piles and blood flooding the ground. The intensity of the battle had lowered, in the distance he saw the Cyber-demons aiming their cannons, fused to their arms, at the vortex and fired wildly. Their furious roars of frustration could be heard over the deafening strobing sound of the vortex. He activated the auto-pilot program and ejected himself from the battle-mech. The mech blew out an upper hatch and the entire control seat, terminal, controls and all flew out at an upward angle, streams of jet propelled him away from the aliens remaining on the battlefield; he gripped the control sticks and steered himself towards the Echelon. The battle-mech’s programming was already running, it had dropped its weapons and began running toward the vortex.
The Cyber-demons fought against the force of the weapon, their cybernetic components were torn from their flesh, they smashed against the surface of energy and fell into thousands of tiny pieces. The monsters desperately gripped the earth, trying to back away but they continued to slide closer as metallic cybernetic parts were pulled out and streamed into the vortex. Their arm-cannons were soon stripped bare, the bolts fitted into their metal hooves began to fly out. The metal leg twisted under the giant demons weight. The survivors on board the Echelon watched as the Cyber-demons had their metal hooves stripped away. Their furious roars grew in intensity, one fell clumsily against the column and bloomed into a bloody mist.
“Where did they get those cybernetic parts?”A soldier asked the commander.
“The best theory I’ve heard is that those parts are what became of much of the UAC property that went missing during the events of the teleporter accident” replied the stoic Commander. Soon the remaining former Cyberdemons fell and were consumed by the spinning columns of energy. They were thrown into a putrid cloud of bloody particles, a defiant roar was cut short by sudden demolecularization. A large cloud of red demonic molecules surged above as small objects continued to fly into the vortex. Aboard the Echelon’s bridge, the survivors cheered when they saw the messy demise of the once feared giants. Commander Thompson reached into her pocket and flipped her holo-disc into the air and let it land into her palm. It turned on and she selected the gravity-vortex program.
“Here goes nothing” she said and initiated the program’s emergency shut down command.
The weapon made a high-pitched sound as the machinery tried to stop the energy beams from firing. The weapons hardware made a terrible screeching sound, exhaust pipes shot out and pumped plumes of smoke, the smoke came a little at first but was soon exploding with coloured gases. The beams of energy began fluttering wildly in all directions. A loud pop radiated from the weapon, the beams straightened and continued spinning.
“Damn it”! Shouted Thompson. “Error. Weapon malfunction has resulted in an incomplete shut-down. Please exercise emergency procedure golf-victor-one”. A schematic of the weapon was displayed on the Commander’s holo-disc, a component was flashing in red colour. The emergency energy conduit melted in the open position. The marine had ditched the ejected command module and was running toward the Echelon as the battle-mech ran toward the gravity-vortex. The Echelon used it’s zero-gee thrusters to make a fast spiraling descent toward the marine; without the mega-armor weighing him down, he ran toward her at a good pace, passing many angry aliens along the way. He leaped through the air and caught the steel stair-case of the ship’s access hatch, the aliens were close behind him. He swiftly climbed up and grabbed his only grenade, he popped the cap and twisted the top. The grenade glowed green, he threw it down the access hatch. He watched the aliens amassed below the ship, the grenade sailed toward them. The ship drifted away, the aliens’ attacks deflected off the ships shields. He remotely detonated the grenade when the ship was a safe distance away. A rippling burst of plasma tore through the horde as the battle-mech continued moving toward the vortex.
The marine exited the airlock and accessed a universal command console and input coordinates to the navigation system. Fire and plasma balls sizzled against the Echelon’s shields as the zero-gee thrusters pivoted the mammoth ship, the ship hovered motionless for a moment and then fired its main engines, its sound from outside was apocalyptic; the Echelon sailed away from the malfunctioning gravity vortex device. The doors to the bridge split open and the marine strolled inside, wearing his mega-armour and holding his helmet at his side. His smiling face was coated in sweat. He hadn’t had any social interaction since before the Phobos incident and his close encounters with the omni-dimensional aliens stained a twisted expression on his face. Commander Thompson was inwardly taken aback by the marine’s intense composure. Thompson saluted the marine.
“Christ, that was some crazy fighting, never thought I’d see anything like it”
The marine snickered loudly, “That war machine made things easier, it just happened to be in the ships armoury” he replied.The Commander turned to the scanning terminal and adjusted the knobs, the holo-terminal focused on the image of the malfunctioning vortex.
“Unfortunately, we failed to shut-down the gravity-vortex device”. The marine stepped toward the terminal and compared its data with the data on his armour’s holo-computer. “The mech is set to self-destruct, the reserve of BFG ammo should give us enough punch to take it down” said the marine. On the monitor, the battle-mech came running into the scope of the scanners, moving toward the weapon. The advanced structure of the mech withstood the extreme forces of the vortex. The marine remotely detonated the mech just before it would have impacted the energy column. The explosion filled the view of the scanning terminal and briefly jammed the sensors with its bright illumination. When the static cleared, it was revealed that the vortex was gone.
The crew put it upon themselves to rescue three other groups of survivors. The marine used the ships advanced scanners to determine where the centre of demonic activity was occurring. Strangely, the most activity was coming from an area that the marine had frequented regularly before being transferred to the Phobos base. Further scans revealed a very large portal operating in the area. Because of the heavy infestation in the area the crew had to drop the marine several miles from the location. The Echelon’s crew made some more rescues, they then took the ship high into the sky, beyond the atmosphere and set her into orbit.