: “ Requiem des Garbes ("REQUIEM FROM THE GRAVE")


High Orbit
New Empress Starfighter Manufacturing Plant, Landing Bay 56
A Few Minutes Later

The shuttle pilot was really pushing all the stops. The ship careened and sped recklessly as it left orbit and went straight for the New Empress Starfighter Manufacturing Plant just off the Shipyards planetary orbit. The pilot was challenged but all she said was, "The old man is here."

"What the... move it! You have priority clearance!"

He came upon a scene of controlled chaos. The spacedock was full of Homeguard units, some in armor, all with their weapons aimed at one door. Nearby, in a partitioned off area on the docking bay was a triage of medics, doing their best. Fortunately, or unfortunately, as the case may be, they only had one patient. The man was almost comatose, and he suffered multiple kinetic energy trauma. Simply put, he was skewered in several places by laser bolts. The man winced as a medic slapped on a FastHeal(tm) on his still-smoking arm while the other medic, a comely female dosed him with an autojector full of pain-killers.

Before the shuttle even landed properly, Hon thumbed the release and jumped the last few feet down and strode over to the nearest commanding officer. Rather, the captain saw who he was and strode over to him. The wind from the shuttle whipped hair and vehicle antennae about as it made a landing nearby.

The Captain had to raise his voice a bit before the shuttle's engines shut down, as he gave a salute to Hon, "Good evening sir! We're having a situation here,".

Hon strode up to the barricade erected by his troops as the captain followed him. "Fill me in."

"Those scumbags refuse to negotiate. They've never said a word since they've taken over the control room. Since this is our territory, the Union is leaving this problem to us. Well sir, those bastards are having a murderous crossfire at the t-junction to the control room, we tried rushing it but I've lost a fire-team to those bastards. Then we've tried using platolum tower shields to move in and cut off either side from a cross-fire, but one of those bastards, the left side I think had a grenade launcher. The damned thing went off, and killed the shield bearer for the left corridor. The right one got shot in the gut and we tried to evac her, but I've lost another man trying that. That's eight people I've lost, sir, and if we don't
evac Private Harrison in a few more minutes, she's had it."

"Those sick bastards. They're using her by making us move in to evac her... like bait. Okay. Now, tell me, what was their pattern of fire and movement like, from what you've seen?"

"Damned professional if you asked me sir. There's around three on the left, two on the right. The left has a grenade launcher, a stolen Archer, and a Tanfen Iguti Types Special Laser Rifle I think. The right just has two SMG's. And from the way they fired, they were damned accurate sir. They shot each of my men at least twice, always at critical spots."

"Hmm, Porhen Maskirovka agents. A reprisal squad sounds like. Second, did you inform TPRO of this yet?"

"Yes sir. They're covering it up now. With any luck, this will be dismissed as a little workers strike."

"It damned well better be. Move your men back and hold the perimeter, I'm calling in some extra help."

He reached for a nearby holophone and keyed in his personal link. "This is S'Hoon Hon, Authorization Code Orochi. Send in the Marines."

It took around half an hour, but an unmarked Tanfen shuttle arrived and landed with a thud. Out of it came four men, and a woman, all in black fatigues with no insignia, save the Tanfen logo on the back. They all had heavy sniper rifles, Archer's and eyes so cold that you could freeze water with them. They moved with a precise near mechanical step, but with a vigorous spring, as if they were tensed and ready for action. Their muscles moved like corded steel as they walked like panthers. As one, they lined upline abreast in front of Hon and as one saluted.

The woman, honey blonde with flinty eye's stepped forward and thumped her breast in salute. "Sergeant Yuriko Kusanagi, 5th Loyalist Marines Squad reporting for duty Commander Hon."

He gave another salute back at Kusanagi. Hon filled them in on the situation. "Go in there and clean up; make it fast. You have about fifteen minutes before they can launch another A/M drone. One of our people are dying from a gut shot there. Do it fast, and don't leave a mess"

Without another word, they moved past the stunned barricade HG guards. A trooper literally moved double time to get out of their way as they strode past him. His companion gave a laugh. "What the Hell are you so scared for?"

"I hope damn hard those bastards in there have said their prayers. They're dead meat. The old man sure isn't playing around this time."

As the four men and women moved down the corridor, they passed a final barricade manned by two troopers, all the while ignoring them while they all quickly took in the schematics of the complex from hand held datapads. Both CAS trooper's stood aside, then resumed their positions. As the five reached the T-junction, they paused.

Kusanagi unholstered her rifle and unsafetied it. She then pointed to two other men, then pointed at the ventilator ducts. Two of the men, both wiry and lean nodded then proceeded a few meters back down to ventilation ducts. Without use for finesse, they simply grabbed the duct plate, and ripped it out, screws and all with their bare hands. Job done, they dropped the bent metal and then hoisted themselves up into the ventilation network. The two men proceeded separately, one headed for the left of the junction, the other the right, crawling in the tight spaces with unusual speed. Kusanagi nodded in satisfaction and joined her remaining two men as they looked at their chronometers.

One minute...

She heard her comlink beep, "Four in position" her second sub-vocalized to her comlink.

Then another beep. "Five in position," followed another trooper.

Kusanagi uttered only one word, "Now."

As one, she and the two men with her reached for their vests and pulled out stun grenades, powerful blast weapons that used loud noise, and bright light to temporarily stun opponents then tossed then up the t-junction. There was a loud explosion, and a light so bright it seemed like a nova as the three grenades went off one after another.

Kusanagi then fired her rifle into the air for effect. The high pitched screaming noise her rifle made when fired would definitely buck them up into thinking an attack was underway. The blind grenades were a standard special forces tactic used to force strongpoints open. She knew that. They most probably knew that. Their standard response would be to hold positions, and spray the junction with carpet fire. Which was what they were doing. Standing at safe distance, she watched as all manner of ordnance spewed out in a solid wall to ping over the metal bulkheads. She paid them no heed, the real attack was elsewhere.

In the ventilation ducts, each man kicked it open at the sound of the grenades going off. Four leaped down into the three men holding the left corridor with a laser knife and Archer. One of them heard the noise and began bringing his rifle to bear. But it was too late. Much too late. With savage efficiency and surprise on his side, he upended his knife and stabbed into the grenade launcher holder's head, causing brains to spew out like a messy over boiling stew pot. Then he thumbed his Archer on full auto and severed the other two in half at the head and torso with one long burst. Red mist floated around before it settled all over the corridor.

Five did much the same, except he used his bare hands to smash one man's neck, leaving it hanging at an odd angle living people can't imitate, and stabbed his laser knife into the other's throat, causing the blood to sizzle on the hilt, as the man gurgled and died. Four and Five, their job completed advanced onward, Kusanagi and her other two men following.

"Yuriko here, Commander, the choke point has been neutralized. Moving on the secure main objective."


Three more minutes...

They passed other corridors full of slain Tanfen technicians and Homeguard soldiers, their bodies lying where they fell. Some of the corpses were terrorists. The blood was starting to congeal already. She passed what looked like a desperate last stand by a Tanfen light security squad, the members all in a sad circle as they fought to the death. It seemed to be that for every slain "terrorist," there were at least two or three Tanfenners that fell. She was inured to carnage but she was mindful of waste. As it was here, with so many of the dead. They advanced upon the main control room, then paused before the blast door. It was pitted with bullet holes and laser scorch marks and hung half ajar.

Kusanagi looked around.

There were several corpses nearby, two of which were formerly Tanfen Homeguard troopers. It didn't matter, it would suit her purpose either way. She motioned one of her men to grab one corpse while she grabbed another by the scruff of the neck. The body hung weakly in her hand like a puppet. The trooper was shot in the head, his durasteel helmet did not protect him, since the bullet smashed right into his face, turning it into pulp. Bits of meat pulp fell onto the floor along with drops of blood as the cooling corpse was lifted, breaking the coagulating blood.

She held the body in one hand while she armed her Archer with her other hand. Her other team member did likewise. Five stood by the emergency door release, his fist hovering over the trigger. Four and the last trooper armed a pair of heavy SMG's.

"On three. One. Two. Three!"

Five slammed the release. The door hissed open. She and her trooper then tossed the bodies into room, followed by themselves. The two already dead Homeguard were further subjected to more mayhem as a plethora of bullets and ammunition flew from the room to skewer and dismember them, but totally ignoring the real threat.

Kusanagi and her man hit the ground guns blazing. Their quick eyes took in the scene. Three men. All with heavy pistols. She took out one already with a head shot. Her victims head virtually exploded like a ripe melon as the Archer's explosive round dug into his grey matter and detonated, showering the nearby consoles with the gray stuff, bone shards and blood. Her man took out another with a throat shot. Arterial blood gushed out high like an obscene fountain as the man died instantly. There was one left. The man, seeing there was no way out then jammed the pistol he had in his mouth and pulled the trigger, sending a cloud of crimson mist over the consoles.

One minute left....

Job done, Kusanagi strode over to the control panel and thumbed the auto-shutdown on the manufacturing plant controls. She then reached for her comlink. "Threat neutralized, Commander. Mission Accomplished."

"Good work, Kusanagi. Now get back home."

"Yes, sir."

They left as quietly as they came.

As more conventional unit's came in to mop up, Hon followed them. He personally made sure Private Harrison was carried carefully to a Medivac shuttle before he continued about his other business. Job done, he came upon the scene of the counter-ambush. The captain still insisted on a bodyguard of four Homeguards though. Hon ignored it, but gazed at the whole scene of incredible mayhem.

One of his guards broke discipline as he gave a whistle of admiration. Hon turned around, "Listen, soldier. You get this straight. From now on, this never happened. You never saw it happen. Do you get me, grunt?"

"Er... er... ah... er... yes, sir!"

"Good. Now shut up, boy."

"Yes, sir!"

Hon thumbed a direct laser link to Fortress Home. "Bellamy, our plans can continue on schedule. The little problem has been taken care of."

"Good, get back here. Your damned coffee's getting cold."

"Heh heh, sure is, you old geezer. Hon out."

He then turned to the Captain. "Clean this mess up."

There would be time to get even with the Porhen's for this little black-ops they pulled and the people they killed. No doubt about that. But now was not the time. Knowing the Tan's and the Lai's, they'd be howling for blood. Porhen blood. But later. All later. Right now they had something a whole lot more important to worry about.


Tanfen Corporation Orbital Research Base XR-/B/T/E230
Hellespont System. About The Same Time

In such a situation, with degraded communication between bases, the Corp had a failsafe system of double decoding its own messages, after being passed on by fast messenger corvettes. The messenger handed over the lead lined file, double layered in platolum armor and left, the door hissing upon his departure.

The receiver of the file nodded. He was tall and well built, with Irish features. Red hair in a crewcut, a face that was tanned and lined with worry lines inlaid with dark green eyes. On his uniform was the bars of a major from the Laifen Homeguard. His second, a tall and lanky man affirmed the receipt of the file. He too had the same haircut and uniform, except his hair was pale blond. On his chest was the tag, "Fritz. S" along with a lieutenant's bars.

Both watched the other as each laid their own palm print over the file, prompting it to hiss open with the wail of escaping argon gas. Inside lay a hardcopy written in combustible plastic. Placing the hardcopy on the table, they each took out a worn red book and flipped it open. They then both sat down to decode it. It took time, but what came out surprised even the Major.

"Do I confirm order Tango-Orion?" the major of the Homeguard asked.

His adjutant, reading his own decoded copy of the message nodded. "The order is Tango-Orion, sir."

The older man nodded tiredly and punched the intercom. In all his career, order Tango-Orion; immediate evacuation of local facilities and destruction of all non-portable assets had only been issued twice. This was the second time. Things would have to be desperate for the Corp to actively ensure that their own research did not fall into enemy hands.

"Now hear this! Now hear this! This is not a drill! Execute order Tango-Orion! I repeat, Order Tango-Orion is in effect. All personnel, prep for evacuation as per plan Alpha!"

Upon receipt of the order, the whole research base seemed to move into high gear. Technicians and personnel begun unplugging and shutting down hardware and software systems, removing them and storing them into halon filled protective cases. Cases were marked in three colours, red, green and blue. Green casings, containing items of the highest value and priority were shipped out first on the transports. Blue items were next. Items tagged Red were items too large to carry, or deemed to hazardous to shift and were to be destroyed before departure by demolition charge.

The major watched as sector after sector on the facility reported in, except for the Bio-Tech division. "Professor Horaki, what is keeping you? We are leaving in eight minutes!"

No reply. Damn.

What was keeping him?

Horaki should have known the drill. The whole base should have been evacuated in under ten minutes, with the last two spent arming the self-destruct. He would have to personally see to it that Horaki's little freak show was either transported, or destroyed so that no evidence remained. The major motioned to his second to suit up.

He thumbed in a rapid code into a locker in the wall that hissed open to reveal a small armory. He selected a HV machinegun and a set of fragmentation grenades, slipping in a few spare clips as an afterthought into his hip belt. He took a flak vest out and velcroed it onto himself hurriedly. The armor he wore was bulky, but light and reasonably comfortable; the latest in ferro-plastics. His second went for a flechettegun with an underslung grenade launcher mount. Suitably attired, they pushed the door open, motioning to the two door guards flanking the door to follow them to the BT division sector.

As he and his retinue stomped for BT sector, his comlink beeped. "Sir, the Green transports are away-except for BT division. Blue are almost completing loading. Demo charges are armed and ready to blow," then there was a pause and static.

"Kowalski? Report!"

"... ir, we've had a report from the outer picket. Something has penetrated our perimeter and is approaching the base. We've lost contact with CAP Arrows Five through Eight. We may have a Hotel Indigo."

Hotel Indigo. Homeguard code for Hostile Incoming. It looked like the message came a tad too late. No matter. He had his orders.

"Hold the perimeter at all costs! I'm going to get that little SOB Horaki and arm the destruct on the main power-plant myself"

He strode down corridor after corridor, following the bright red arrows, with the symbol for Bio-Tech underneath each one. The further he went, the more triple moon bio-hazard signs appeared, signaling forbidden territory of sorts.

He soon stood before the blast door leading into the lab. He felt almost tempted to blow it off its mag-rails, but resisted it. Instead, he thumbed in his priority override password into the door, and it hissed open to reveal an absolute mess.

Professor Horaki was the generic mad scientist. If there ever was one, he was prime candidate for Dr. Frankenstein look-alike of the millennium. Tall, thin and with that weird, "I know more than you ever will grunt!" smile on him, the Major always felt irritated in his presence. However, Horaki cost the Corp more than ten million credits, hence his reluctance to correct his ways using physical trauma.

Professor Horaki stood amidst large tanks of... something. The tanks were about man-sized, filled with a bluish greenish gunk the consistency of an ice slush. Most of them were empty, one of them wasn't. Something moved inside.

Horaki turned towards the Major. "Look Major! I've finally perfected it! It's..."

"Yeah right, I don't care less if you've managed to clone my sainted mother! I want you packed up and moved out. Now!"

"You do not understand! If I move now the whole project may be jeopardized!"

This was finally getting on his nerves. He raised his SMG and pointed it in his general direction. If he was a so called mindless grunt, then he'll act the damned part.

"If you don't haul ass now prof, I will jeopardize you! Now move! We've got unknown hostiles incoming and you're stalling the bloody schedule!" Horaki intended to give a petulant refusal before the whole station shook, tossing beakers and scientific impedimenta helter skelter. The thing inside the canister moved.

The lights turned off for a few moments, before turning back on in the harsh red lighting of emergency lights. The major raised his comlink.

"Kowalski! Report!"


"Report, damnit!"

"... ir! We have multiple hostiles incoming! IFF's never seen'em before! They've bulled past the perimeter mine-fields and are..." the station shook again, "... urret guns are engaging the enemy sir. Air cover took a beating. There's still one transport left. We'll try... God! They're in the base! We're being..."

Then there was an ear piercing scream before the hum of static filled the channel.

"Kowalski! ComCen! Anyone!" Nothing again.

The major threw down the useless comlink and raised his SMG. He had his orders. Now, he had to reach the transport in the launch bay or reach an escape pod with Horaki and hope to be tractored up by one of remaining friendlies in the area. Both were unpalatable options. The landing bay sounded like it was already overrun. One of the pods it would have to be then.

"Okay, Fritz take point." He gestured at his second. "Yukiko, Meinhard..." He pointed at the two troopers, both carrying combat shotguns filled with isometal flechette rounds. "Take the rear."

He took a look at Horaki. "You, prof, stay in the middle. Anything happens you hide. Understand?"

"But what about my research?"

"Screw your research, you little screw-up! You're more important to the Board!" He raised his SMG to curb further protests. "Now move!"

Horaki gave one last look at the thing in the tube before collecting his research, all stored onto a datacore the length of his arm and the thickness of a salami tube.

Outside the lab was just as bad. Whoever it was was fast. The station was wreathed in the harsh red lighting of emergency lamps. He could smell something in the air. Something he can't place. Something in the back of his head that spelled danger. That pheromonic smell instilled in that most primitive part of the brain that told a man, danger is coming. Stalking you. Approaching.

The Major hefted his SMG. Nothing was going to stop him. There was an escape pod about a three hundred meters down the corridor. He motioned Fritz towards the pod and followed him, the rest close behind.

Before Fritz took five steps, he doubled up, as if something hit him in the gut.

"Fritz, you... what the...?!"

A three foot spike, long with short sharp hairs, more like an insect's leg, armored with chitin suddenly appeared from Fritz's back, causing a geyser of blood to fountain out. The spike/limb seemed to twitch and flex as if it enjoyed the feeling of impaling something. Fritz could only gasp, "M-muh-ma... mama!" before he seemed to explode like a water balloon, splattering apart with a wet tearing sound. The impact of falling organs sounded like wet sponges underscored by the sudden splashing deluge of blood. Visceral bits of Fritz hung onto the limb, as if it relished the feeling of being showered in gore. The major heard a weird squeal in the darkness.

The sight of Fritz being gutted like a pig galvanized the major.

"Fire! Fire!"

He immediately knelt to give clear firing space for the men behind him, while giving the professor a sharp kick behind the knees, forcing him to fall prone. Horaki's pince-nez shattered as it hit the floor into dozens of tiny glass shards.

Blast after blast from his fire team tore into the target. He heard a high pitched squeal, like the sort a cricket or some other chitinous critter would make when squished under a boot heel, except this was magnified a hundred times until it sounded like the damned thing was screaming through a loud-speaker. Over the racket of two combat shotguns and a HV SMG, he heard something cracking and snapping. Something thin and hard. Like armor plating. Through the flashes of his SMG, he saw something hideous. Like the monsters his mother once told him about. Like bogeymen. Like the bad dreams he had been having lately. The thing however was thankfully sliced apart by the hail of metal flechettes and armor piercing shells that slammed down the corridor like a metal sleet storm.

"Cease fire! Cease fire!"

The silence was deafening. The only sound heard was the tinkling of rolling shells on the chrome floor, the "kchak! kchak!" reload of his two men's combat shotguns and the major's own labored breathing. Whatever it was was definitely not human, and now most definitely dead. He aimed his SMG mounted spotlight at the thing on the floor and nearly retched. It looked like some gigantic bug. If you could call a bug. It would put a Tanfen powered armor Marine to shame in terms of size. What little was left of the thing was drowning in a pool of its own ichor the color of a decaying corpse. Dark green, filled with weird pieces of pulsing gunk from its hellish anatomy. A nauseous stench wafted in the clean ozone of the station. It smelled like every bad smell in creation rolled into one hellish new stench. Its multiple legs , hairy and layered in chitinous armor and ending in razor sharp tips seemed to twitch in the after-reflex of death, as if it wanted to swim in its own guts. The thing had compound eyes, their multiple facets taking in a million images of the major shining his torch down on its battered form. Its massive head, like a praying mantis, ended in mandibles that seemed to clack. One of the mandibles were torn off, ripped to shreds by a flechette round.

It was a freak of nature. And it was still twitching. It seemed to want to reach for him with its weird claw-like appendages like a dying man thirsted for water.

He aimed his SMG at what he took for its head and pulled the trigger. Its compound eyes exploded like an overripe tomato, splattering the walls with more of its ichor. "Go to hell, freak."

He prepared to move on, before he heard something. A voice. A human voice. Not that grating rubbing of chitin on chitin. That fearful noise that you can't place that occurred constantly in the background. The dull hum of fear. It was familiar.


The voice that came back sounded labored and wheezing. As if each word was forced like air through a bellows. "You shouldn't have done that, Major. They were friends. Friends. Yes."

"Kowalski!? Show yourself!"

It was then that Kowalski seemed to lurch out from the corner. He seemed to be wounded, his head lolled forward, as if he was drunk and his arms hung limply, as if he was dragging them. His uniform was streaked with blood. He seemed to lean heavily on the wall.

He lowered his SMG. "Kowalski? What's wrong? What happened to the landing bay?"

It was then that Kowalski looked up. His eyes seemed wide and dilated. They were also staring straight up at the ceiling. It was then that he noticed the trickle of blood flowing from his nose, eyes and mouth. He saw something pulsing beneath his flesh. His temple's seemed to... move, as if the veins underneath were pulsing. Something was strange. He didn't look right.

"Kowalski! Damn it, come out from that corner!"

Kowalski seemed to get another intake of breath in, wheezing all the way before replying, "Free you... we will. Life is a curse. We will free you! The harvest..."

Then Kowalski, or whatever it was, lurched forward into the corridor. The Major nearly heaved his guts. Everything from the waist down was missing. His entrails dragged along, leaving wide crimson stains on the chrome floor. Blood from torn arteries punctuated the thin trail of blood and entrails like crimson punctuation marks all over the floor. Something was stuck in him, right up his spinal cord, something no medical journal in history had a name for. It seemed to pulse and writhe like a weird tentacle of sorts. And attached to it was one of those hideous aliens. Kowalski was nothing more than a puppet for the thing!

He had seen horrors few have. He had fought in the hell of the Meiwan Archipelago. Watched whole troopships sunk, their crews left to the tender mercies of the razor sharp aquatic wildlife that haunted its wretched churning green seas. Heard their screams and saw the water turn red as everything that was in the water was turned into shredded paste. Saw them reach their hands up plaintively in screaming agony to escape the tender mercies of the predators below. He fought in the hideous purgatory of the Gemini Belt, against raiders and Porhen Industries Sekuritat Cadre fanatics. Watched the impoverished bastards charge like human waves in their thin unarmored space suits at him, with their chests strapped with explosives. He had participated in violent hand to hand combat in the reaches of space, where one cut could end it all and explosive decompression turned a soldier into an exploding human watermelon. He had seen his own men, and his enemies die, bursting apart, their insides turned inside out as the frigid hell of deep space made through one cut killed them. Watched their face plates turn blood red from the decompression before cracking apart, spewing its contents all over you. Heard their frantic screams for mercy and pain, both from his own men and the enemy before the almost gentle "ker-splash-pop" sound of decompression ended the transmission.

He had seen the worst war against fellow man had to offer. None of it compared to the horror before him.

There was no argument. The first thing the Major did was pump half a clip at it. The HV SMG chattered a staccato beat as it fed out dozen depleted uranium 10mm rounds at more than half the speed of sound. Spent shell casings flew like crazy skeets in the tight confines of the corridor with an ethereal "tinkle tinkle" sound as each hit the floor. Kowalski's face was mercifully erased in a white hot volley that sent chunks of his mortal remains splattering all over the tight confines of the corridor before impacting into the weird bug. It gave a high pitched ululating wail before turning itself into bug patty, chunks of armored chitin bouncing off like metal plate all over the place along with green ichor. Some hit the ceiling, dripping down in gelatinous lumps like mucus.

He heard a scream behind him. One of his troopers seemed to double up in pain before literally falling apart; as if the only thing holding him together was glue. Pieces of him flew widely, covering the rest in gore. He never had time to scream. Yukiko returned fire, pumping her automatic shotgun down the corridor for all it was worth. Spent rounds flew out of the breech as she pumped her whole load down into the darkness. She gave a savage grin when she heard a chittering scream.

More of them came swarming at them. The major knew that getting out of this one was unlikely. There was no possible escape. He'd done enough operations to know when he it was impossible to change the odds. One thing was for sure, if they were going to go down, he'd take as many of the bastards with him as possible. The Major doubled up back with Yukiko and reloaded his last clip.

He couldn't see the professor, though one of the ventilation grates seemed to be out of place. At least the imbecile knew when to hide. He only hoped the aliens didn't find him and that Corp reinforcements would arrive to recover him. He gave a look at Yukiko. She nodded. There could be no mercy, no surrender. It was a fight to the bitter end. They had to lead them away from the professor. He wasn't about to scream some insane battle-cry like those fanatical Loyalist Marines or any of the Honour Guards. He was a career soldier, and this was how it was about to end. Pretty much expected anyway.

Nevertheless, he gave a savage grin. "It's a good day to die, mother fuckers!" He held no regrets as he pumped the trigger again and again.

The professor did not have a good view of anything, but he saw the harsh backlit shadows from the emergency lights played on the corridor opposite his small hideaway in the ventilation shaft. He heard a pain filled gurgle and saw a head flying. Then another. This one with a ponytail following it, like a little streamer.

It was over in seconds.

He kept quiet. Really, really quiet.

Outside, the base was pock-marked and silent, its only sign of life being the emergency pilot lights. Scattered around it were the ruined remains of the Corp's TASC fighters, shredded Arrow fighters, their pilots killed or dying; tossed about like ruined toys, their last ditch efforts in vain. Like a grotesque child's playground, around the isometal tombs were the remains of the perimeter minefield and turrets, their bent barrels pointing at an enemy they would never return fire to again. The sharp spikes of the silent mines, bereft of their control signal turned dormant, rolling end over end in the void. Amidst it all sat a ruined transport, hulled and ripped apart by unknown forces.

They say space is silent. But if one listened closely here, one could hear the dead screaming. And screaming. And screaming.