The Hole

tagnone

18

18

The Hole

Jacobs was barking orders at some new recruits and sending them off to join the rest of the ASF teams on guard duty when Fox and his team arrived.

"Finally, you're here. I have a job for you." he said, motioning them to follow into a tent nearby.

The tent was a dark blue and emblazoned with the Authority's logo. Inside a young man was shivering, clutching his weapon with tears on his face.

Jacobs gestured towards him and Lance stepped forward putting a hand on the recruits shoulder: "Hey there kid, you're alright, you're safe." The recruit jolted, dropping the weapon caught by a gloved hand.

"Brian, I told you to be careful with loaded weapons," sighed the woman.

Lance noticed her badge read "X-Ray-6".

"Sorry, he was in the Crypt with an other team." She put the weapon in a nearby locker.

"He went to the Hole." Said the Priest, tending to the wounds of other agents.

"The Hole?" repeated Gilmour, "Is that your equivalent of a toilet around here?" His joke got him a punch from Fox.

"No, I'm afraid it's something much worse." Said the priest, applying a bandage and tightening it around the wound. "It's a place where we stored a vessel possessed by some of the most ferocious demons."

"That's your next assignment. You are to investigate "The Hole", and retrieve the anomaly if possible. Otherwise, the usual." Said Jocobs.

"Ugh not this again…why do we always go to the most exciting places?" groaned Pearce. "At least it will be less mountain climbing: my legs are dying."

The priest finished praying and stood up, putting his hand on the shoulder of the recruit who calmed down at the touch.

"The Hole is a round stair case with multiple corridors and chambers. My brothers used them to store some of the anomalies, as you call them, but we abandoned that section and sealed it away once it became too dangerous."

"You’re gonna need gas-masks in there: there’s little to no oxygen." Added Jacobs. "I already briefed Delta and Bravo, you’re gonna rendezvous at the entrance of The Hole." He continued.

"Sir, what about them anomalies?" Asked Fox.

"They’re dead. Don’t be fooled though, there’s still something in there… ASFs said they looked like rocky giant lizards… they’re probably half-blind, so I suggest you keep those flashbangs close, and the NODS even closer, ‘cause it’s gonna be as dark as a rat’s butthole in there." Warned the Officer.

The team exited the tent, blinded by the sun. They headed over to the entrance of “The Hole”, which was right under the monastery, but separated by the rest of the crypt.

As they approached the old, yet well preserved monastery, the team engaged in some chit-chat.

"Did you see them folks back there? What kinda fucked up shit did they lock up?" Questioned Gilmour. "Lordy be, these folks really high on something." He added.

"Gill, you do realise them boys and gals here did us a favour?" Barked Lance in response.

"Well, yeah, but that don’t make it any less fucked up!" He stated.

"Aw, c’mon kiddos, I’m sure it ain’t gonna be that bad. Besides, we got through an entire Malthusian camp, all cloaked up, and no one noticed a thing; if we could make it out of that, we gonna get out of this too." Stated Fox, reminiscing old memories with his teammates.

"I guess I’m just here for my bloody pay-check at this point…" Muttered Pearce, in a tone of resignation.

"Whaddaya mean?" Asked Fox.

Pearce mumbled for a moment before answering.
"You know, everything here smells fishy: - we got a bloody monastery only a quarter of us heard about, containing anomalies since the fucking Renaissance. Shit, this place is so old they have Leonardo fucking Da Vinci’s works in here. Suddenly, everything goes wrong, and we get called in to save everyone’s assess…and that’s ok, if only we knew what the fuck is actually wrong with these wankers!" He protested.

Lance noticed his friend was getting visibly frustrated, and tried to make him reason,
"Look, you know how this work is. There are some things we’re just not supposed to know."

Pearce slightly raised his voice: "It’s not about what we’re supposed to know, bloody hell, it’s about the fact that we were sent out to help them with a threat we still don’t know about! Does it look like someone, even the higher-ups, knows about what we’re dealing with? No! All they have is a stupid diary talking about some demon who went apeshit, and I’m surely not gonna believe it’s because of a bloody muppet from Hell!" He stated in front of his team.

Lance sighed: from a side, they were just soldiers, and they just had to follow orders; from another, they had little to known intel of what was really going on, aside from a couple some evidences that lead to the possibility of a “demon” from an alternate dimension having broke out.

"Look guys, just focus on the mission now. We’ll discuss these bureaucrat stuff later." Cut them off Fox. They had arrived.

The two teams were already there, patiently waiting. At the sight of Alpha, the team leader of Bravo team arm wrestle hand-shook Fox.

"Damn Foxy, where’d you been all this time?" He asked enthusiastically.

"You know me Ross, I’m gotta pay them bills, don’t I?" He said, while lightly laughing.

The other Team Leader stepped into the conversation, quietly.
Ross noticed him, and introduced him to Alpha.

"Gentlemen, this is Hawk, he’s the TL of Delta, and a fucking bulldozer too!" He exclaimed.

Hawk didn’t say a word, he simply shook hands with Fox and the rest of Alpha.

The soldiers were bringing quite heavy gear with them, with many bags of ammunition, and explosives. The gas masks covered their faces entirely, and the helmets had a NVG system incorporated to them. Making NVG usable even when wearing gas masks was quite an accomplishment for The Authority.

One of the soldiers from Delta had a bigger bag with him, which caught Lance’s attention.

"What’s in that bag?" He asked him.

The soldier looked him in the face; he could almost see his eyes through the mask.

"Oxygen filters. I have about 15, all lasting around 10 minutes." He answered.

"I suppose we ought to be quick then." Lance muttered to himself.

All the Team Leaders suddenly got a radio call: "Insertion in 10 seconds". The moment of truth was almost there.

The entrance of The Hole was dark, the torches on the wall the only source of light. The gate was made purely out of steel, like the ancient medieval gates, and it was extremely rusty; from the holes of the gate, almost nothing could be seen, as everything faded into a great and chilling darkness.

"9" The countdown had started.

"8" The soldiers were all ready by that point.

"7" They approached the gate.

"6" They pulled the lever of the gate.

"5" The rusty, old, giant piece of metal was lifted up, its ear-crushing sounds echoing into the room.

"4." The teams slowly crossed the entrance.

"3." They activated their oxygen filters.

"2." They shut the gate once again, blocking themselves and anything inside once again.

"1." They turned on their NVGs.

"Foxtrot-4, you’re all set, you know what to do."

The teams passed through this dark corridor. Some of them were already sweating from the heat in the giant structure.
They slowly walked out of the corridor, weapons at ready, their nerves sharp.
They were inside a titanic cylindrical structure, with a spiral of stairs going only one way: down.
Here and there one could find some small chambers, possibly where the anomalies were once contained, but all of them were opened, and all filled with the corpses of these monstrous creatures.
What could have ever killed such things? No one knew, all they knew is that it was the same thing that attacked the ASFs.

Gilmour walked to the edge of the stairs, looking down.

"That’s one hell of a toilet" he exclaimed.

Fox looked at him, and signed him to keep quiet, and to pull out his heartbeat sensor.

While slowly walking into the darkness, one of the soldiers from Bravo had found one of the ASFs into a the chamber, amazingly still alive.

"Sir! I got one here." He quietly exclaimed.

Two other soldiers from Bravo ran to their teammate.

"Cover our backs." Ordered Ross to the other two teams.

"Copy that. You heard the man." Said Fox to his team.

Hawk nodded and signed his team to regroup on him.

"It’s alright. We’re Foxtrot-4. What the hell happened? Who attacked you?" Questioned Ross.

The soldier looked visibly sick, probably because he had been breathing carbon dioxide for more than 10 minutes.

"Here, take this." One of the soldiers handed him an air filter.

"I… I can’t…" he muttered.

"He can’t move his arm sir, it got crushed under this damn pillar… there’s no way we’re gonna pull it off." The team’s medic pointed out.

"Do we… cut it?" Ross asked.

As soon as he heard these words, the ASF panicked a bit, but tried to keep composure.

"Sir… you must… you must get away…" he warned.

"What attacked you, son?" He questioned again.

"I… I dunno what it was but… it wasn’t only one of them… no… they were…" he started breaking down.

Ross gave him a pat on the back to reassure him, and possibly distract him too.
An instant later, the soldier felt an excruciating pain. He wanted to scream but he knew he could not, because the safety of his saviours was at stake.

"I’m gonna apply bandaging. Keep talking to him sir, we don’t want him passing out." Ordered the team’s medic.

While all of this was happening, on the outside the other two teams were patiently guarding the chamber. Everything was going smooth, until…

"Sir… there’s at least… ten-no, fifteen… wait, nineteen. Twenty now…" Warned Gilmour. "Sir, it’s a swarm." He added.

Fox mumbled a curse, and ran to Bravo.

"Ross, we got at least more than a dozen contacts. We gotta move." He told him.

"Yeah we’re comin-" He was cut out by a scream.
The teams opened fire. One of Delta had been thrown into the giant pit, off the stairs.

"CEASE FIRE!" Ordered Hawk.

There was a moment of silence…everyone’s breath was short, most wondering what did they just witnessed, and some still asking what attacked and killed their comrade.

The ASF was helped standing up, still stunned by the amputation.

Gilmour kept scouting for contacts, but suddenly, they had disappeared.

"Fox, can you help me carry this man?" Asked Ross.

Fox went over to the ASF, about to carry him on his shoulders, but the calm was soon broken: the ASF was quietly and brutally murdered in front of his saviours by one of the creatures; it’s pointy and razor sharp tail passing through the man’s chest, as it was crawling onto the wall.

"OPEN FIRE!" Shouted Fox at the top of his lungs.

The silence was broken. Gilmour started detecting all the hostiles again.

Everyone was firing their weapon; sometimes, the bullets would connect, emitting an oddly satisfying sound when coming in contact with the creature’s flesh, other times they would hit the ancient rocky walls, leaving fresh bullet holes.

The creatures swarmed onto the teams and nearly overwhelmed them.

"I can’t fucking see them!" Screamed some of the soldiers.

One jumped onto a Bravo, pulling off his head with its mouth.
Another one tried doing the same on Pearce, who instead crushed his back onto the wall, stunning the creature, and breaking its neck.

"Eat shit wankers!" He yelled at the top of his lungs. Those things could surely be killed.

They kept running down the stairs, almost close to the bottom.
Another soldier from Delta tripped off the stairs and became an easy target.
Hawk tried getting him up, making his way through the swarm with his teammates, but it was too late.

"GET BACK HERE!" Yelled Lance.

"Get inside the chamber!" Ordered Fox, pointing at yet another chamber of The Hole.

They quickly, yet not easily, hid inside the small room, locking the door.

"How’s the filters?" Asked one of Bravo.

"Gregory had them with him… shit… they’re at the bottom of the pit now." Said Hawk, still shocked by the death of two of his teammates.

"What in the bloody fucking hell are those things?!" Asked Pearce.

"I… have no fucking idea…" Answered Gilmour, metaphorically licking his wounds.
"Fuck… I think I broke a rib…" He complained.

"Ok… let’s be rational for a damn moment…" Stated Fox.
"Them things attacked us in full dark: they can hear and smell us very clearly. They used the height at their advantage to get a jump on us… and they surely are sneaky bitches…"

"What are you trying to imply, Foxy?" Asked Ross.

Lance answered at his place: "That we gotta shut the fuck up and hope for the best. We are close to the bottom, we can do this lads."

"Yeah… I think we can… aw shit!" Kept whining Gilmour, as he was being medicated.

Fox went over to pick up his radio: "This is Foxtrot-4, Alpha 2 TL Fox here. Can you copy command?"

Nothing, not even static.

"Connection must be bad." Theorised Hawk.

"No… the damn channel is off. Shit… that’s all we fuckin’ needed."

"My filter is at about another 3 minutes… and so are yours…" Warned Pearce. "We need to move our assess as quiet as possible."

"Since when do you make plans?" Joked Gilmour, receiving a bad look from his teammate.

"Ok then Foxtrot… it’s now or never." Stated Fox. "We’re gonna Make sure we go back home… we lost enough men today."

They slowly opened the door again. Fox, Lance and Ross were upfront, Hawk and the last Delta were in the back covering Pearce, who was helping an injured Gilmour. The rest of Bravo was scattered around the corners of the formation, covering the angles.

One of the creatures was crawling right by the wall, close to the team. It was aware of their presence, and emitted low whiz.
When the soldiers noticed, they finally had a good look of what they were fighting: it’s shape was almost humanoid, with legs, hands, razor sharp claws, the already-noticed pointy tail, the elongated head, the small, bright, white eyes, and small, sharp fangs that were able to pass through the Kevlar of the soldier’s helmets.

"What in the bloody fuck?!" quietly exclaimed Lance.

Slowly, about another dozen of the creatures started getting closer to the squad, who kept going down the stairs as quietly and fast as they could, the air in their filters running short.

One of Bravo looked at his clock: they didn’t have much time.

The creatures were still creeping up on them.
Hawk made a sign to the squad, asking to speed up, as the monsters were closing in on them.

Delta’s last soldier, who was with Hawk, suddenly felt a strong pull right on his neck, and soon enough, he was dead.
Hawk, watching his last teammate die, signed the squad to stay away from the walls.
As the kept going down the stairs, one of Bravo was pulled down to the bottom; they were low enough that he could survive the fall, but the bump had alerted the monsters, it was only a matter of time.

The heat was rising, and the soldiers were sweating more than they ever did in their entire lives.

Lance watched his clock. They only had one minute left.
Fox, Ross and Hawk looked at each other: they knew what they had to do.
The sound of them running on the stairs alerted the creatures.
Pearce took a few out with his weapon, as Gilmour injured them with his sidearm.
The creatures were screaming, roaring, crawling and jumping around the squad, but to no avail: they adapted to the enemy quickly.
Lance threw his flashbangs, which stunned the monsters and sent them away for awhile, enough to finally take what they had come for: a small prism, full of incisions, glowing of with golden light.

"What the bloody hell is this?" Ross asked in in confusion.

"Don’t care. I just want to get out of here!" Responded Fox, as he took the object.

The moment it was put out of its place, the object changed: it did not glow anymore, the incisions became more clear and the shape went from that of a prism to a sphere.
Suddenly, the ground started shaking, the structure collapsing, there was only one thing to do: Run.
Not a word, not a glance, they just knew they had to run…however, they had forgotten one slight detail…

"Shit, I feel dizzy…"

"Me too Pearce, the filters must have ran out. Just focus on getting the hell out of here!" Ordered Lance.

The creatures stopped caring about the squad, but rather tried to save themselves. Their lack of good vision was ultimately their doom.

A faded communication took Fox and Ross by surprise.

"Foxtrot-4, this is Command. Do you copy? Answer me Foxtrot!" The voice was unmistakable, it was Jacobs.

"Sir, open the fucking gate! Everything is falling down!" Requested, almost begged, Fox.

"Is the anomaly with you?"

"It is, now open the fucking gate, for God’s sake!"

While taking the final steps, Ross collapsed on the ground.
Fox and Lance ran by him, trying to save him, but it was too late: the debris had blocked the way already, and he probably was under them too.
Without any time to mourn, the squad rendezvoused where this nightmare had started.

And ASF and Jacobs were waiting for them.

"MOVE!" He shouted.

The squad had made it in time. As soon as Fox crossed the gate, Jacobs started mercilessly questioning him: "Have you got it?"

"We do…" Fox sighed.

"Give it to me…wouldn’t want those monks to annoy anyone about it."

Fox handed over the sphere.

"What happened?" He asked.

"Hell happened…"

"I’m sorry Fox: Ross was a good friend of mine too, we’re gonna miss him."

Gilmour, still injured but in slightly better condition, stepped into the conversation: "Sir, the radio channel went… ugh… off, w-why?"

"EMP attack. We lost an anomaly November-12 had just retrieved… Crow was an infiltrate."

"Crow? That guy? Not surprised, lad looked suspicious." Said Lance.

"Listen, we’ll talk about this later, now take a rest and refresh yourself."

The camp was full on panic mode, with ASFs and MSTs running everywhere to make sure the situation was safe. The survivors of The Hole watched almost indifferently as they headed over their tent.

While the last surviving Bravo needed psychological support after witnessing his whole team being slaughtered, Hawk didn’t say a word, and just retired in silence.
Lance walked over to him, his hands still sweaty from the mission, and just looked him in the eyes.

"You did great."

Fox was mourning in silence, Gilmour had to get immediate medical attention, Pearce started resting on his bed.

Lance looked outside the tent, gazing over the sunset.

Another mission completed for F4-Alpha-2.

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