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Squad 6 ` Prologue & Chapter 1 ` More Coming Soon

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Squad 6 ` Prologue & Chapter 1 ` More Coming Soon

Post by Ivyshade-Admin on Fri May 31, 2013 9:55 pm

Squad 6

Prologue

They think we’re all dead. They think that every last one of us was pulverized in the massive explosion that wiped out half of Atal.
They’re wrong.
All of us are alive. We managed to cram into an escape pod and get to a closely neighboring planet, Isarth. But what we found there was even worse than what we left behind.
I wish with all my heart that we could come back to Atal. But I know that I would find a once great planet littered with rubble and the bodies of the innocent dead. I know that we would have to face Captain Trissa and tell her why we left and why we stayed for so long. Worst of all, I know that the Ultharians will be swarming over my beloved home.
But it’s not home anymore. It’s a wasteland.
It’s essentially the same thing over here on Isarth. I can’t keep count of the times we’ve escaped packs of Ultharians, blood-hungry and fueled by the simple fun of chasing humans. It’s bad over here.
But our escape pod crashed and we don’t have the resources here to fix it, so we can’t go anywhere else. We have no choice but to stay here and spend all of our time running away.
How can we get closer to the truth when we are chased so far away?




PART 1
INCERTITUDE


“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.'”
- Eleanor Roosevelt




Chapter 1

I dare cast a glance over my shoulder. “Faster!” I scream between gasping breaths. There’s no point in trying to keep quiet now; they know we’re here. I force myself to lengthen my stride, even though my feet feel sharp with pain at every step and my lungs are screaming at me to stop.
As I hare over the broken concrete of what was once a road, I suddenly realize that Alex isn’t with us. I skid and barely save myself from toppling forward as I whip around.
Further down the alley, from where we just came, Alex is standing with his back to us. The Ultharians swarm around the corner, giant mouths lolling open to reveal bloodstained teeth as long as my upper arm. Alex is holding out his burst gun, finger gently resting over the trigger.
Upon seeing him, the Ultharians hesitate. I turn and see the others darting around a sharp corner of a brick building. Relieved, I follow them, only to freeze in horror as I see the barrier of discarded cinderblocks and old I-beams.
It’s a dead end. We’re trapped in a dead end. Out in the alley, I can hear Alex’s boots pounding on the concrete as he escapes. Panic forms a hard lump in my stomach, and I begin to feel sick.
In front of me, Lyla is examining the barrier. She runs her hands over a cinderblock and then gives it an experimental push. I can see the top of the pile begin to shift.
“Guys,” Lyla calls back to us. “I think if we work together, we can move this stuff out of the way.”
Behind us, Alex and Rocco are peering out into the alleyway. Rocco turns and pushes past us, grabbing as many cinderblocks as he can carry from the top of the barricade. He stumbles a bit as he tosses them towards the Ultharians.
Alex clearly picks up on the idea and lifts one end of an I-beam. “Help me carry this out,” he grunts, and Rocco hoists the other end as the two slowly make their way towards the mouth of our dead end. I hear a loud clank as they drop it and begin sliding it towards their makeshift barrier.
Lyla calls my attention away from Alex and Rocco. “Come on. Let’s try to move the rest of this while they hold off the Ultharians.”
At Lyla’s word, Jesse, Raven, Thorn, Arianna, and I all begin to shove at the wall. I can hear a beam at the bottom creaking, and I allow a small bud of hope to flower in my chest.
However, that hope vanishes as I hear Rocco call from the alley, “Hurry up! They’re pushing through the barrier!”
At nearly the exact same moment, Arianna pushes out a couple of blocks. The top of the pile sags lower.
Around the corner, five Ultharians swarm towards us. Ahead of them are Rocco and Alex, sprinting at full pelt.
“Get over!” Lyla screams, giving me a shove. “We’ll hold them off! Climb over the wall!”
The barricade still seems impossibly tall, but upon closer examination I realize that there are plenty of footholds and notches to help climb over. Now, the thing that scares me most is how solid the metal and bricks will be when we climb over it.
I realize that Lyla is shoving me madly. Trembling, I go for the wall, fixing my fingers into a set of gaps between some cinderblocks. I haul myself up; for a moment, my legs dangle perilously until I find a tiny ridge of an I-beam to balance my toes on.
Beside me, Raven is already swinging her legs over the top of the wall. I envy her agile grace. Arianna is following her closely, with Jesse and Thorn bringing up the rear. Lyla, Alex, and Rocco are desperately trying to fend off the Ultharians with their burst guns, but they’re rapidly being pushed back closer to us.
Pure, white-hot panic sears my limbs like lightning. I scramble faster, higher, wincing as a protruding block scrapes my knee. However, the cement isn’t jagged enough to pierce my suit.
I finally grasp the top beam with my fingers and haul myself over. The other side is more like a gentle slope of mud and bricks. Raven and Arianna steady me as I stumble to the ground. I whirl around at a loud clank behind me. It’s Lyla’s burst gun colliding with the top beam of the barricade.
My heart twists as I hear a sickening scream. Lyla is being dragged back again by unseen claws, and I know it’s the Ultharians. As her hands clutch at the barrier, it begins to disintegrate, crumbling into its separate components.
I wish it hadn’t, and not just for our own safety. Now I can see Lyla. An Ultharian has her by one arm in its vicious claws. Almost her entire sleek, black suit is spattered with her own blood. I feel sick.
Alex and Rocco spin around, clobbering the Ultharian with their fists. But the creature’s thick skin merely glances away their blows. My breath catches in my throat as Rocco takes the butt of his burst gun and jams it into the beast’s eye. It roars furiously, letting go of Lyla.
Thorn and Jesse scramble back over the debris, their burst guns at the ready as Alex and Rocco heave Lyla over their shoulders and charge over to us. Fortunately, Raven and Arianna are building up the rubble again. They pause to let Thorn and Jesse through as the Ultharians claw madly at the cinderblocks.
“We have to get out of here!” Raven snaps. She motions towards an old wooden building at the far edge of the road. “Let’s hope that warehouse is abandoned.”
Alex shoots a swift glance at me. “Brynn, go with Raven and make sure it’s safe.”
Raven and I pound across the street and yank open the rusted doorknob. Inside, the corners are laced with cobwebs. I can see a ladder that must lead up to a loft of some sort.
Lyla would be safer up there, I think, but I don’t know how we’d be able to get her up.
Raven nods at me and motions at the door. “Go and get the others. I’ll keep watch.”
I dart back out into the street. “Come on, it’s safe!” I call. Alex, Rocco, and Thorn are carrying Lyla, while Jesse and Arianna keep a lookout behind them.
They manage to maneuver Lyla through the narrow doorway. I show them the ladder, but I can tell that they don’t think we can take our injured comrade up.
Suddenly, huge feet pound outside the door. We can all tell what it is when we hear the snarling and watch the doorknob jiggling.
Thorn grabs Lyla’s uninjured arm and begins to hoist her up the ladder. Alex and Rocco follow, each supporting her limp body with their hands and shoulders. By now, I can tell the Ultharians have given up on twisting the knob and are slamming the door with ferociously sharp claws. A resounding clank rocks the warehouse, and I can see dents in the metal door.
“Hurry up!” I scream. Alex and Rocco begin to climb the ladder with Lyla’s feet resting on their shoulders. Thorn pulls her over the top and collapses next to her, gasping from the strain.
Arianna and Raven follow me up just as the Ultharians break through the door. I feel terror begin to well up inside of me as the door goes flying across the dirt floor of the warehouse and the Ultharians come storming in, tongues lolling, feet stomping. One of the lead beast’s eyes is mangled and bloodied. I suddenly remember Rocco gouging at an Ultharian’s eye with his burst gun to save Lyla.
“Guys!” I hiss through clenched teeth. “It’s the same Ultharians from the alley!”
Alex’s head appears over me, his eyes sharp. “How can you tell?” he breathes. I point at the largest Ultharian’s eye, and for a moment I feel helpless. We’ve spent nearly our entire lives running away. But we can’t run away any further, I realize as the Ultharians gather around the bottom of the ladder. Their nostrils are flaring with our scent.
I scramble up the last few lungs to the loft. There isn’t much space, considering that most of the platform is cut off by the slope of the roof. There’s hardly enough room for me to wriggle aside as Raven and Ari grab the ladder and begin hauling it up into the loft to prevent the Ultharians from climbing up.
“Why not just tip it over?” I protest as they try to cram the ladder in with the rest of us.
“We need a way to get back down,” Thorn points out, managing to sit up.
Luckily, there’s a foot or so of wall room before the roof connects, so we wedge the ladder back there. We have a bit of trouble getting it over Lyla, however. She’s splayed out on the floor with her own blood pooling beneath her. Her black hair looks messy and frazzled. On her right arm, her tech suit has been ripped away to reveal raw gashes where the Ultharian’s teeth sank into her flesh. My stomach seems to flip over, and I turn away.
It’s a good thing I did, too. On my other side, the roof seems to be rattling, as if something is trying to get in.
“Does anybody know why the roof is shaking?” I ask, my voice wavering. The others exchange confused glances.
“It can’t be the Ultharians,” Ari says, frowning. “They can’t climb very well.”
“Whatever it is, it might be dangerous,” Alex snaps, shoving Ari back with a hand. “Stand back.”
I scramble back to the others and turn around, watching as the patch of roof shakes even more violently. Suddenly, with a loud crack, a wood plank breaks and crashes into our loft. My breath catches in my throat.
Four people tumble through the hole in the roof, all of them dressed in ragged jeans and t-shirts. Alex’s hand reflexively goes to his burst gun, but, surprisingly, the strangers hardly pay us any heed except for a brief glance. All four of them crouch and leap off of the loft platform. I think of the Ultharians pacing below, and cold horror gathers in my stomach.
“No!” I scream. My panic is too great to form any other words; jumbled sounds string together in my mind.
Although I’d hate to see more people torn to shreds by the Ultharians, I poke my head over the lip of the loft platform so frantically that I barely save myself from tumbling over after the four girls. My palms are so sweaty that they slip on the rough wood, and my heart feels like it’s trying to punch its way out of my chest.
However, as the strangers land, they don’t turn and run. They turn and fight. I can barely keep myself from gasping in shock as a girl with wavy auburn hair ducks under an Ultharian’s thrashing claws and trips the beast, then leaps onto its back and gouges at its salamander-like skin with a knife. Further away, another newcomer with golden-blonde hair dodges away from an Ultharian, but as the creature turns it lashes out and catches the girl across the side of the head. I stiffen, waiting for blood to seep from the wound, but then I realize that the stranger had managed to avoid the sharpest part of its claws and was only momentarily stunned by the blunt blow. She scrambles to her feet, curses loudly, and leaps back into the fray.
Alex, Rocco, Thorn, and Ari are putting the ladder down again to help the others. As soon as the Ultharians see all of us, they turn tail and flee, busting through a wood plank wall to get to the street.
The newcomers were standing, trying to catch their breath. Rocco nods to each one in turn. “Thanks. We would’ve been shredded without you.”
The auburn-haired girl looks away. “We couldn’t stand by and watch you get torn apart by Ultharians.”
I scramble down the ladder. There’s something about the strangers that captivates me, and I want to get to know them. But Alex pushes me backward with a hand on my chest as I approach.
“Get back up into the loft, Brynn,” he commands.
“No.”
“We don’t know who they are.”
“But they saved us from the Ultharians!”
As we argue, the newcomers contemplate us with even glances. Finally, the auburn-haired girl steps forward. “There’s no need to argue. We come in peace.” She dips her head to Alex in a show of respect. “My name is Ivy, and this is Aura, Maude, and Elsa.”
Alex narrows his eyes; clearly he is still suspicious. “I’m Alex,” he announces abruptly. “This is Rocco, Arianna, Thorn, Brynn, Raven, and Jesse.” I notice how he doesn’t mention Lyla, still lying injured in the loft.
But Ivy obviously noticed. She motions at the thin wood platform above our heads. “Wasn’t there somebody else up there?”
Thorn’s voice is tight as he replies. “Lyla. She was hurt by Ultharians.”
For a moment, the four girls are silent. Then Elsa speaks up. “There are a few plants around here with healing qualities.”
“We could gather some for you,” Aura offers.
Alex looks surprised. I can tell that he didn’t expect these newcomers to be friendly, much less helpful.
“That would be appreciated,” he says in a slightly more open tone. “Raven and Arianna can go with you to make sure you’re safe. Those Ultharians could still be around.”
“Thank you,” Ivy says. “Aura, you and Maude can go with them. We’ll stay here.”
I wish I could go with them.
The others are climbing back up to the loft; I follow behind Thorn and in front of Ivy. She seems to be a leader of sorts to the others who just arrived; I hope I can get to know her better.
I wish we could have met in better times.
Soon enough, Raven, Arianna, Aura, and Maude return with plants clutched in their hands. As Maude begins to mash up a few gray-brown stalks with spiky flower heads, I ask her what they are.
“Liongrass,” she answers without looking up. “Good to stop infection.”
She spreads the liongrass pulp over Lyla’s arm. Aura secures it in place with some bindweed. It looks no different than it did - now, the raw gashes and blood are covered in dry plants. I suddenly start to doubt the effects of the plants.
Ivy stands up as far as she can get without hitting her head on the warehouse ceiling. “It’s time we were going.”
Disappointment slams into my throat, but I know I shouldn’t object. I know I shouldn’t speak at all.
Rocco and Alex thank them again. I can see Ivy’s gaze traveling over all of us, one by one, missing nothing. It stops at me. Her eyes are a warm hazel. I meet her gaze, and she gives me a tiny nod. If I wasn’t paying attention, I might’ve missed it.
I feel a fierce ache within my chest. I don’t want them to go. They seem so much like us.
Ivy’s gaze is still locked with mine, longer than the others. Finally she turns away and slips down the ladder, followed by Aura, Maude, and Elsa.
And we’re alone again.



- - - - - - - - - - - -
TUNNEL SNAKES RULE
WE'RE THE TUNNEL SNAKES
AND WE R-R-R-R-R-RULE

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