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Stowaway by Dispraiser

Stowaway Part 1
Date: 11 April 2003, 2:19 AM

       The phone suddenly rang and I awoke to the harsh world again. In the darkness I rolled off my bed and fell to the ground, much to my vexation. I arose, one eye half awake and looked at the alarm clock. 3:43 AM. A little earlier than I normally woke up. I picked up the phone sloppily as more sleep began to fade from my mind and the anger of being awoken began to set in. "Hello?" I answered.

       "Jeff, get your ass down to the docks, we have a job!" I instantly recognized the voice as that of Robert, my partner in our shipping operations.

       "This'd better be damn important to wake me in the middle of the night like this." I replied, stepping into my closet and turning on the light, blinded by the contrast of the dark room suddenly turned light. I rubbed the last of the sleep from my eyes as I adjusted to the light and grabbed a shirt.

       "Don't worry about that, it is. How would you like a monopoly on shipping?"

       "Money..." I was suddenly interested. Money was my life, and this might as well have been the fountain of youth. Dreams of rolling in a sea of cash suddenly flowed into my mind.

       "Exactly... I have a plan." He replied. Rob was one for plans. He always seemed to have one, and few went right. I, however, was always ready to follow one because it usually could lead to money, my life. Besides that, we were almost out of money after our last shipping mission's failure and my rent was coming soon. "Come to the docks and we'll start getting bidders." I was already running for my car. In my business time meant money, and money earned was as a result of time saved. The echoes of one idle second could mean thousand of dollars worth of punishment. As I grabbed my coat and threw it over my shoulder I caught a glimpse of my face in the mirror. My brown hair seemed to jump as I had at the offer of money, and my slightly receding hair along the sides of my forehead seemed to challenge me to find a way to eliminate it. A small grey band around the top of my sideburns decorated my hair and gave me the appearance of wisdom. I made certain not to let my sideburns extend past my ears though in fear of looking like anything but a formal and wise man. I considered my appearance as effective as a marketing campaign in that it sold to the customer that I was a normal person, just like them. I stumbled down the stairs of my apartment brushing my teeth and reading the newspaper of Sunday, March 6th 2540. I smashed the crash bar door at the bottom open to reveal the dark nighttime sky, though the sun was within a few minutes of peaking over the horizon. As my car drove along the coastline headed for the harbor I noticed dramatic contrast between the mechanized city with buildings that literally scraped the skies to the almost infinite plane of the ocean. I was distracted by the rising sun at a traffic light and quickly awakened from my daydreams as I missed the green light by the other driver's horns. One passed by telling me to "watch the road ass hole", and another waving his middle finger at me while driving by yelling to "keep your eyes on the road jackass!" I quickly accelerated though they had already driven past me.

       I jumped into the dock's club and suddenly slowed my stride, passing by a few women. I tried my best pickup line, 'Hey there, Baby' to no avail and was forced to move along. I stepped to the table overlooking the dock and sat down at the seat opposite Rob. He sat talking on his cell phone organizing some transfer worth 500,000 credits, more credits in that one transaction than I had ever had in my life. Outside, however, spoke that we wouldn't be shipping anything, the storm outside only intensifying. "The plan, Rob?" I asked.

       He mouthed 'Just a second' and continued talking on the phone. "Alright, we'll have it to you by Monday." The phone quietly mumbled a reply, "Yeah, I'm sure we can have it there by Monday." Again, the phone sputtered uselessly, at least from my distance, "Yeah, bye." The phone mumbled a quick reply and Rob closed the phone. He slid it into his pocket.

       "Monday? Have you seen the weather outside? No weather for shipping, three days is a press even with normal conditions."

       "Exactly my plan.", he replied, reclining in his chair.

       "What, is your plan to run with the money?"

       "No, I was thinking something honest, but certainly not fair. That storm out there is pretty intense, but we have something to combat it." He pointed outside to a large ship. I looked upon the magnificent cargo tanker. It appeared to be a refined oil transport, most things on it lower and a long metal rod extending from above it. "Take a look at it Jeff, it is our companies missing link between us and money. We have 2 million already resting on this thing, and given we can get the cargo there before Monday, even more!"

       "That's supposed to get us through that storm out there?"

       "Yes, it is, it is our newest ship, an old Mathean blockade runner from the days when we had an embargo on em. It could lie low to avoid some detection and it had a long lightning rod on it to sneak through storms. They called it the Viridian. It can supposedly live through any storm though it never went though one like this. I'm banking on that it can live through one. If we can get this boatload of cargo to the people we can have a boatload of money..."

       "Why can't we just wait the storm out?"

       "Because, the storm is our profit adventure. Think of it this way... The big shipping corporations and most of the little ones won't risk their lives to cross through a storm, and besides that, they can't. So we have the only shipping company that isn't avoiding the storm. That means that their cargo get to them nine days sooner than had we decided to avoid it. It's flawless."

       "Keep talking... How much profit can we expect?"

       "I'd say 4 million a piece without taking out the crew costs. We'll need to hire a crew for this one. I think that ten should do, what'd you think?"

       A generic waitress walked by wearing a mustard yellow outfit and gestured with coffee. I mumbled for her to give me a decaf and a quick thanks as she poured it before I continued talking, "How much would that cost?"

       "Well, we would need to hire the best. Few of the amateurs would be confident enough to risk their lives crossing through a storm like that one. We can hire ten veterans of a few shipping adventures like this one and we should be fine. I already have eight people signed up, just a matter of getting two more. Course, ONI told me that they were sending on of their guys to go on this little cruise with us."

       "Any familiars on the list?" I took a sip of the coffee.

       "Well, two that have pretty big reputations, Dusty, and Crazy."

       "Crazy?" he nodded, "You're letting Crazy on the boat? As long as your family pays for the funerals..."

       "Don't worry, it's just rumors that he's insane.", Rob said. I hoped that this was not just his hopes but his knowledge.

       "Right, after he served for 6 years on the Mathean guard? He had a kill tally of 42, he captured over 113 soldiers. He lost his hearing in an artillery misfire, but rumor has it he still years everything you say." I replied. I, personally, was terrified of Crazy, especially being the hatred he must feel for Easterners.

       "Well, the rest of the crew is hardly noteworthy, all just run of the mill sailors with a little need for cash and a little will to survive the storm of the decade."

       "You're certain we'll survive it, right?" I set down the coffee and looked out at the rusted ship in the harbor. It looked like it was sturdy when it was new, but it had clearly been pushed past its limits over twenty-five years ago. The red hull was painted with a custom banner on the side and a set of eyes and teeth on the front. The eyes were lopsided and probably done by someone untrained for a cheaper price, but such was out life. The bridge seemed to be a smaller size, only four stories high, and was painted white. A small white cover extended over the cargo area and the ship seemed to be packed to the gills with cargo. A chain swung in the wind leading to the increasingly disturbed ocean. The words Viridian was tattooed along the side of the ship and underneath them the words Storm Serpent. At least it thought it was ready for the job...

       I sighed heavily, the latest addition to our crew had no idea what he was doing, but acted as if he were our superior. Chaz McDougal. I continued his tour of the ship and tried to tell him the basic functions of each area. Luckily it was a short tour, most of the ship consumed in cargo space, especially with such a small crew and large shipment. "And so here, next to the bridge we have the bunks. A dozen of them, so we each get our own. We have a few cabinets for personal effects, but I doubt that we really need to worry about that, it is only a short three day cruise to Awwek. Anyway, if you hear a ringing in that room it is probably the station alarm. All you do is ask one of us what to do and we will go have you do something." I continued to talk as we circled around to the back of the bridge, "The other bunks on the other side are not being used on this mission, so don't worry about them, they are just full of cargo. Anyway, back here behind the bridge we have the upper observation deck, barricaded off of course, we have no use for it. Anyway, that's all that's on the top level of the ship. Down the stairs here and you have the galley floor, meant to suit something like forty eight, with only twelve we should be fine. If you continue down the stairs you have another U shaped hallway, this one just an area surrounded by cargo storage areas and one detainment cell for pirates that we encounter. Hopefully we won't. Four floors down is the lounge, play cards, try to make friends with the guys, relax, etcetera. There are two doors there that lead to the main deck area, which is basically a large flat area with a little bump in the center for the cargo area. We will keep a sentry or two out there at all times to watch for pirates, so make sure to be ready for your shift. Anyway, then, below that all you have is storage areas for three floors, and on the bottom floor you have the reactor to the back of the ship. A basic diesel engine, but we like to call it the reactor to make us think it might be nuclear or something."

       "I think I've got it all figured out. I'll tell you if I need anything." I pondered whether or not to believe for my own interests that Chaz was as elite as he tried to sound but found no confidence in listening to him blather on about his abilities.

      I walked Chaz to the first floor and introduced him to the crew, "Rob" I gestured at rob, who nodded, "he's the leader of the crew, Dobie" Dobie followed suite and nodded, "He'll kick your ass if you bug him, Justin over there," I watched to see that Justin did not nod his recognition, "he'll try to convert you to his religion with his little prophecies, Dizzy, a drunkard," as I finished talking the lagged reactions of Dizzy allowed him to nod, "Doc, he'll fix you, Dusty, old and wise, Fats, Tabs and that ONI creep over there." I gestured to the corner of the room where a man looking much like a snake sat, his tongue seeming to flicker evilly. He scared me...

       "Missing one."

       "I am?"

       "Yeah, him." Chaz pointed to the corner of the room where the twelth member of our crew sat, Crazy.

       "Yeah... We don't talk to him much... See, he is a Mathean, he hates us Arrels."

       "Should we have let him on the ship?"

       "Well, Rob says so." I replied hoping that that was both a good enough answer for him and myself.

       "One more question... Why are we taking a cargo ship when we could be flying in space?"

       "Well, in Lunar 4 space is a no fly zone. All the warfare between the East and the West in space made it so that we were not allowed to use it. It would take nine days to get a pass to fly up there and we would have no advantage over the others. See, it is like pulling the guns out of our hands. After the third Mathean war when a million were killed from space the UNSC realized it to be a weapon to us. To create peace they, almost literally, disarmed us. They knew they couldn't stop us from making weapons, so they took away our ground.", myself I was no more comfortable with sailing than he was, and most of our crew only held experience as sailors on warships or recreational purposes. I was, however, comfortable with having a fat wallet...

       The winds and sea crashed against the reinforced hull of our ship, our mission to reinforce our wallets. I stood on the deck as waves crashed over the deck before me. A dim light lit the deck, but it was hardly enough in the thick fog and rain. I stood in my raincoat and other raingear though the water still seemed to bleed through the coat and into my shirt beneath. The white peaks of the myriads of waves seemed an infinite chasm fading from chaos to peace as they became invisible behind the fog, much as Lunar 4 was. The politicians believed that so long as the problem was hidden it was gone, but that was not the case.

       "Jeff." I turned to see a drunkard stereotypical sailor stumble behind me. His lopsided footsteps indicated either that he was a novice sailor getting his sea legs or that he was drunken past his limits. His breath, tainted of whiskey proved the latter. From this behavior I was able to assume his name from the crew record. Dizzy. "Don't you think it's a little windy out here to be a'standin?" I noticed his slurred speech and thick southern accent. He wobbled on the deck trying to regain his balance, and upon his success he looked up and smiled.

       "No, I'm on watch. I make sure that we don't hit any debris in the storm." I yelled over the roar of the ocean.

       "Don'tcha worry, I got yer back, just you get on inside, it's me shift.", he replied, again stumbling as some water crashed over the deck. Horizontal rainfall pelted our faces.

       "I wouldn't trust you with anything right now, I want you to get in the ship and get sober for the rest of the mission. Is that okay?" The roar of the storm seemed to drown half of my words, and I only hoped that they drunkard was able to piece together what I had said.

       "Yes sir, I'll go get my goggles, the rain is a little--" The ship suddenly hit a gigantic wave. I was lifted from the ground and flipped forwards three quarters the way, thudding to the ground on my back. The front of the ship elevated I slid down the deck towards the cabin. As I accelerated I began to kick my legs looking for something to grip onto so that I wouldn't break my legs at the wall. The smooth metal deck only laughed t my pleas, roaring as the ship rocked in the water. The front of the ship crashed back to the waves again and I begin to slow, rolling over to my chest and searching for something to hold. I quickly found a railing, and against my common sense grabbed it. Being near the edge of the ship was potentially deadly, but being that my alternative was sliding and breaking my legs I quickly determined to grab onto it. "The deck is slick! The deck is slick!" I watched as Dizzy skidded to a stop. Suddenly the boat crashed into another wave and the forward half of the ship was instantly drown beneath a wave. The water rushed towards us as the front of the ship again began to rise, throwing Dizzy, who was still drunkenly incompetent from the deck and dropping him about twenty feet towards the fore. Frenetically he began to try to anchor himself to some object, but as the ship again rose found himself flung to the wall. I heard the distinct popping of a leg snapping and the distinct scream of a man in pain. Frantically, despite the pain and his alcohol lagged reactions he managed to grab onto the wall, quickly finding a large vent to slid his hands into. I sighed and began to try to scale the railings of the ship to get to the wall and inside the ship where it was safer. Catching a break in the waves I quickly stood and ran down the ship, grabbing Dizzy and letting him use me as a crutch, stumbling back to the ships main control room area.

      As we stumbled in three of the others came to help us, asking what happened. I explained to them that he had slid down the deck, and we immediately began to clear off a table to lay the wounded and disgruntled man on his back. I watched as Rob shuffled to the medical cabinet and pulled a splint, scissors and some gauze from within it, shuffling with both in hand quickly to the table. He handed the scissors to Doc, who quickly began work on cutting the leg of his pants away. He cut around Dizzy's knee and slid the pant leg off to reveal a horribly mangled leg. The lower portion of his leg had another joint at the middle of his shin, and was beginning to swell from the internal bleeding. The purple tint of his skin due to the bruising matched the sky outside the ship. Doc immediately moved to set the leg, quickly gesturing to Rob and Dobie to hold his arms as they slid the bone back into place painfully.

      Rob quickly handed the splint to Doc, who began to fasten it to his leg, wrapping gauze around it with superhuman skill. Doc was a kind older man and had spent a dozen years in the Marines as a medic, and as was unusual for medics still had some personality intact. He was also never a man for jokes, and was literal and serious at all times. Anyone who crossed him would be ignored, though that was usually not much of a change. Doc was also a quiet man.

      Dizzy struggled against Dobie, but was held down easily. Dobie was a large man, very strong and powerful. He could easily beat about half of the rest of the crew arm-wrestling and was never crossed by anyone unless they were so foolish as to have a death wish. No one knew, nor asked why he was named Dobie, and most followed orders from him. He was also very loyal and brave, and survived three battles with the Covenant, honorably discharged for an injury he suffered. He supposedly carried a pound of shrapnel in his chest. He was the mirror to Crazy, and had an extensive military heritage behind him though it was only against the Covenant, not against my race. He was also mirror of Chaz, the newbie of our crew. This was his first mission, and had it not been for his physical fitness he would not be with us. He, however, considered himself at the highest of regards and believed himself to be a great and superior sailor.

      I was bedazzled as I watched them assemble the splint for the drunkard and force him to swallow a half dozen pain pills. It appeared as this would be one of our greatest missions, a shipload of riches and a crew capable of guarding it. Checks cashable to me...

       I stumbled, feeling the top of the table for a flashlight. The pitch blackness was abridged only by several lightning strikes, the blackness from our loss of power immense. Finally finding the flashlight I was looking for I turned it on and began to walk away from the bridge stepping around the corner. I jumped, spotting Rob and quickly realized who it was, calming myself.

       "Man... You terrified me. Any idea what's taking Chaz so long?" I asked.

       "Been like this for the past half an hour, damn hotshot probably has no idea what to do. Trying to impress us, not a bad thing at all, but if he signed up to fix the generator not knowing what to do, he'll regret it. How much should we dock his pay?" replied Rob, clearly agreeing with my statement.

       "A percent every two minutes. Now that I have a flashlight we should go the reactor and see what's going on. It shouldn't take him this long." My voice seemed to echo in the corridors of the catacomb-like ship. Rob replied with a simple nod and we began to walk to the reactor. Both of us seemed to fear breaking the silence created when the ship was powerless and neither of us broke the silence. We quickly arrived in the reactor room noting Chaz's absence. "Damn kid, doesn't know he's on a real ship, probably thinks this is a toy or a game..."

       "Yeah, he should know his place by now... Hurry up and get that reactor fixed, idle time in the ocean could even set us backwards along our course."

       "Alright, just a second or two--" I pulled a lever and suddenly the lights flickered back on as the engines started to whir, "more..."

       "Nice work, now let's find Chaz and yell at him some." Rob replied setting the flashlight on the toolbox nearby, ignoring that it rolled to the ground and clattered away, rolling across the ground. "Grab that flashlight, will ya?" I nodded and walked around the corner spotting Chaz's face around the corner as I picked up the flashlight. He was lying on the ground, maybe he had fallen. It could explain his failure.

       "Chaz?" I shouted, "Rob, I think I found our idiot." I stepped towards him suddenly noticing a crimson trail leading around the corner. Accelerating to a quick paced jog I stepped around the corner and looked down to see Chaz lying on the ground in a puddle of his own blood.

Stowaway Part 2 (1 of 3)
Date: 28 April 2003, 9:04 PM

A little note to avoid confusion... On Lunar 4 there is a strong seggregation between the East and the West, and Westerners, also called Matheans hate the Easterners, called Arrels. Arrel is an insult, but Mathean is not. Mathean is used as an insult by most Easterners though...

       "He's dead alright." Doc replied, removing a bloody finger from the side of Chaz's cold, dead neck. The man lie on the ground in a pool of his own blood, missing half of his lower abdomen and one of his arms from the middle of his bicept down. The gored flesh quickly gave way to the point where only a fragment of his arm extended onwards. The rest arm was some six feet away. The hole in his side extended to the point where we could see his spine at the apex of the wound, and the remains of the rest of his stomach were yet to be found. His face was frozen as cold as him in a face of perpetual terror. Something he had seen had scared him and killed him.

       "We knew that when we found him. No one could live like that. Our most important goal now is to figure out who did this and make them pay. I think it was pirates. Probably the Mathean Red Pirates (on Lunar 4 there are many kinds of pirates but three descriptions. There are the Red, or Crimson Pirates who attack anything that resists them, the White, or Pearls that use non lethal resistance nullification and the Black Pirates who seem to be mainly Easterners, and killed most Matheans they found.) , they do this kind of stuff, particularly if they knew he was an Arrel." Rob replied, again diving headfirst, this time into an assumption and not a mission.

       "I would agree. The Reds would do something like this. I have seen them kill someone for asking who they were and would gladly kill Chaz if they were coming to steal our things and needed to disable the ship, he would be interfering with their plans." Dusty replied. With his guess came my instant trust. As a seasoned veteran of sailing the seas of Lunar 4 he was more than capable of figuring out what was going on aboard this ship, and hopefully would before this became a problem we could not handle.

       "Well, just in case they are still onboard we need to congregate in one of the barracks. Everything on this ship is insured against piracy, we can lose it, but a life is irreplaceable. We need to get to a place that they will ignore us, but before we leave we need to put this body away. Someone get a tarp and we will form a crude body-bag." Fats replied, his words rolling together and barely distinguishable. He talked that way almost all the time, especially when he was scared or nervous. He had talked that way this whole shipment.

       "Hmmm... These wounds are unlike anything I have seen before..." Doc mumbled, "It would look as if the attacker struck with ungodly force. The Xray, which may be distorted by the storm albeit, shows that three of his ribs are cracked. Some external bruising in the are seems to confirm it, though there is only a small bruise. He probably died very soon after being struck. It was right above his heart as well, probably a deathblow, but I rarely see people so powerful as to punch someone so hard as to kill them. The arm appears to have been ripped off at about the same time though, and may have been because it was his primary arm and he was holding the flashlight in it. Perhaps they have night vision and wanted the advantage, or perhaps they knew with a flashlight he would be found. It didn't look like the attacker tried to hide the body at all though, so it was most likely either random, accidental or to disarm him. The abdomen may have been attacked to stop him from screaming, the diaphragm was ripped, and he could no longer breathe, and therefore he would die silently. I have no idea what could cause this kind of damage, and I would lean towards a shotgun had it not been for the fact that we didn't hear anything. A shotgun of this power would likely not be suppressed if for nothing else for the sole reason of showing its power. Honestly, I have no idea what to think, I have never seen anything like this before. He is absolutely mauled, and I hope I never see anything like this again. All we can do is hope the pirates left." Doc pointed along with his descriptions to the bloody mess that was but an hour ago a member of our crew.

       "Well, the fog out there is so thick the pirates could have their boat tied to the sides of our and we wouldn't know. We should run a tally on all the cargo before we barricade ourselves into the barracks. If we can get that info maybe we can figure out what allegiance they are." Rob said. To defeat a foe you had to know them, and Rob was not looking to walk away from this situation with a loss in hand.

       "I'll go have the computer run a diagnostic on the cargo area. It can tell us what is missing better than we could. Should I run a message over the intercom to take whatever they like and we will not sop them, just not to hurt us?" I asked Rob, who was growing to become more of a leader to our crew than ever before.

       Rob sighed, "I would hate to surrender all of this cargo, but I doubt we have any other choice. I'll go to intercom to the pirates, you go and check the cargo monitors. Doc, you rally the crew in the left bunk room. Oh, and Jeff," I looked up, "See if we have any weapons aboard in the cargo. If we do have any aboard I want you to grab whatever is automatic in the crate. Dobie, you're with him, you should be able to tell us what is good enough to keep some pirates away. Take the ONI guy too, he might know something about the weapons on here." We began to scatter to our different roles, but before Doc could leave Rob called him again, "Don't let Crazy in."

Stowaway Part 2 (2 of 3)
Date: 29 May 2003, 2:54 AM

Lunar 4 Vocab: An Arrel is a Western Racial slur used to insult the Easterners, and Mathean means Westerner though it is not an insult.

       The intercom echoed through the ship with the voice of Rob surrendering, and the quiet beeps of the computer display filled my ears, the silence of the ship, even its diesel engine awe inspiring. I pressed the screen to open the cargo checklist and watched as the computer checked to see what cargo was taken. It slid down the list, checks making the crates that were still intact. I watched the checks as they continued down the list, nothing missing, but as it came to the bottom item it froze, placing a red X in the center of the last item on the list. I scanned the rest of the line to see what was in the crate, it could have been a professional job specifically targeting it.

ITEM NO. 1337 CONTENTS:UNKNOWN SHIPTO: 7311 Drive, Oniopsys, Awwek

       The crate was being shipped to the ONI headquarters of Lunar 4, clearly whatever was in it was secret. That increased my suspicions regarding the probability that this was a professional and premeditated strike against this ship and the cargo aboard it.

PROMPT>> Run Crate Diagnostic..............................................

Completed. External damage to crate. Weight 250 lbs. Contents 0 lbs.

PROMPT>> Find Cargo Contents CONTAINING="Military"..............

Completed. Listing Results 0-0.

PROMPT>> Find Cargo Contents CONTAINING="Weapons".............

Completed. Listing Results 1-1. Crate 24. Contents: Eight Rifles.........

SHUT DOWN>>.....................................................................

       I let Dobie view the results of my query. We quickly walked to crate 24 and opened it, grabbing the eight rifles and the munitions within. Dobie seemed angered at what we found though, but when I asked him he claimed it to be sufficient, though his actions argued against him. We then ran to the stairwell in the back of the ship, the shadows seeming to move everywhere and the ship tat was once our financial lifeline now the thing that almost gave us heart attacks at every lightning flash. Shuffling around the corners of the ships as fast as the lightning bolted across the sky above we charged to the bunk room. We stepped into the room and dropped the rifles on the table, Dobie beginning to slide a magazine into each. All the others were huddled around one of the bunks. I walked over to ask what was wrong and was greeted by the foul odor of death. I suddenly realized what had happened. "He's dead." Rob said solemnly, looking down at the body of Dizzy, "Another is dead." Dizzy lie, a look of terror on his eternally frozen face. Crimson blood stained the side of his neck and the bed below him, where a pool of his drying blood lie host to little moisture. His eyes surrendered his final moments to be violent ones; should his throat, which was ripped out not betray the secrecy of history. His throat, split in two left him to die silently, but the snapped neck he bore showed his assailant. He was probably dead before his alcohol-retarded senses let him feel the pain of his horrible wounds.

       "Damn pirates, killing in cold blood... Or was it pirates..." I turned to Rob, "We do have a Mathean aboard.", I continued, "a Mathean who killed a dozen Arrels in the wars. A Mathean who could want all of us dead."

       "I never considered it myself, but come to think of it he did kill a ton of us, and he did lose something in the war. He can never hear again thanks to an Alliance artillery strike hitting his base, I'll bet that would make someone hate Arrels, perhaps enough to want to kill us." Fats muttered.

       "Well, before we go on a crusade to kill the Mathean consider this, someone smashed open a crate that was being sent to ONI. The contents wasn't listed, but it could mean that someone wanted to take the crate, so that would rule out Crazy, he would just take the ship."

       "What if there was a weapon in there? What if it were some new sonic weapon, that would rip us apart like this? He could be here to hijack this ship and take it to his nation. I mean, this could be a key weapon shipment that ONI needed fast, it would explain why they wanted it shipped on this ship. We were the fastest."

       "That actually makes sense. Call everyone to this room, everyone besides Crazy, we don't want him in here with us." I looked around and counted the people in the room, eight. With an original crew of twelve and two dead, one the probable killer of the others and one more that would be missing. "Who's missing?" I continued, scanning the faces of the worried sailors. The person who seemed the most shocked, however, was the ONI monitor.

       "Dusty is missing, sir. He left to get some flares for if you couldn't find any other weapons. He figured they would be easy to find regardless and would be of use even if you did find some weapons." Justin said, gesturing towards the small room at the front of the boat, the emergency room. It was a small room containing two pods for any escape should the ship sink and all of the medical supplies the crew could need.

       "And you let him go alone?" I asked as the lightning outside cracked sternly. Perhaps it wasn't fond of our intrusion to its rage.

       Justin sighed, "Yes, sir. We figured he would be safe so long as he stayed above the decks. Pirates hate rain just like us."

       "Idiots!" I shouted hitting Justin in the bicept, "You do realize that though pirates and Matheans don't like rain that they would probably hate us getting away more! One of the first things they would have done was barricaded off that room and killed whoever tried to get off of the ship. Damn fools... I can only hope that Dusty does not pay for your stupidity." I stepped towards the front of the ship and looked out the window seeing nothing. The thick rain constantly bombarding the window created a blinding sheet.

       "I'm sorry sir. What can I do to help him?"

       "You can pray. Nothing else."

       The lightning outside echoed as the feeble old man stumbled across the deck shielding his eyes from the blinding wind, the cadence of the sea beating against the hull seeming synchronized with the pain associated with the wind. A dim light a dozen feet away lit his path and the old man reached for the door before him, stumbling a few feet before his hands touched cold steel. He slid his hand around the door for a second before finding the doorknob but quickly pulled it open, stumbling into the dry interior. He pulled the rubber hood of his raincoat back to reveal his gray hair, soaked in the torrent outside. He walked forward as the light above flickered, its light proving to be as useful as the random and sporadic flashes of lightning from outside. Suddenly, a silhouette appeared, and Dusty jumped, terrified. He looked down again and it was gone. He continued forward and stepped into the stairwell quickly walking down it and into the front area of the main cargo hold. While he paced, the ship eerily silent he managed to convince himself that the shadow was nothing but a figment of his imagination. As he reached the cargo hold and pulled open the crate containing flares he heard a metal can near him drop, bouncing on the floor. He quickly moved to see what it was. Stepping at the intersection of four passages between crates Dusty looked down to see a small can of spray paint. Looking for the cause of the dropped can, and knowing that anything like this that may fall would be tied down he looked around. Left, right, and behind him he looked to no avail. A sudden noise, the noise of parting air above him caught his attention. He looked upwards as he died. The lightning struck again both as sparks outside the ship and a skilled warrior inside...

       "Someone hear that?" I asked. I thought I heard a distant scream.

       "Probably just the lightning." Rob replied weakly, more hope backing his sentence than belief. His foot tapped frantically on the floor revealing his true panic. Suddenly footsteps appeared in the hallway outside the door and slowly continued. The steady pace brought fear into my heart, and all movement in the bunkroom stopped as we all raised our rifles, ready to shoot whatever stepped around the corner. I saw a human shadow outside getting closer to the door. Crazy stepped around the corner, blood trailing down his arm and his white shirt stained in crimson blood albeit faded from its absorption. His hands flung into the air faster than any of us could react to fire, and he began to shout that he surrendered. Getting on his knees random shouts from our lines began to flood his deaf ears, but he seemed to look to my lips to see what one of us was saying, he must have grown a trusting for me. I told him to get his ass moving and get lost.

       "My arm! I need help!" his slurred speech as a result of his hearing impediment seemed odd, though he was actually very adept at speaking considering his inability to hear himself. "The thing got me!" heartlessly Rob fired a warning round at him, the bullet bouncing down the hallway. He screamed running for his life and slowly we began to calm again.

       "He's the one," I said, "His arm was coated in the fine blood of an Arrel, any Mathean blood such as his would be rung with impurities brought by his race. He is hardly worthy of having the red blood of a mammal. It is clear that he killed the others, and it is now clear what we must do. We must hunt him down.", I said. Everyone raised their gun into the air and cheered because we had a chance to live, all we had to do was kill a Mathean Ex-SEAL...


       Swiftly our ragtag group pushed through the cargo hold after sweeping the rest of the ship for any Mathean presence, and after searching half of the cargo hold we were fairly certain that the Mathean was very adept at hiding, like the coward all Matheans are. I stepped into a crate, leaning my back against it and peering into the next hallway of crates, and seeing it to be all clear leading the rest of the group forward to the next area. The ONI man seemed particularly unnerved as we continued our pursuit of the Mathean garbage. Suddenly the twitchy ONI man fired a volley of gunfire into a corner. There was a moment of silence before I shouted at him, "What the hell was that?"

       "I thought I saw something move." He replied quickly before I heard another series of gunshots behind me. The gunfire, originally fired towards the canopy above us, began to ricochet around the cargo hold.

       "Stop! Cease fire you morons!"

       "Sorry, I saw a shadow move in the rafters." Fats replied.

       I turned to Rob and began to speak, "Rob, we have to get out of here, this place is making the men paranoid." Another arc of tracer fire shot over the cargo hold, this time echoing down a distant hallway. Quick sorry followed it.

       Rob sighed deeply, "Yeah, if Dusty is down here he would have heard the gunfire. Luckily the Mathean is deaf, he shouldn't have heard us."

       Moments before we turned and left Doc pointed along one of the tunnels formed by the crates, "Sir, I see Dusty, he looks hurt." His flashlight dimly lit the frame of an old man lying on the ground, or at least a significant part of him.

       "Well, what are you waiting for, come on, if we can save him we need to move!" I shouted. With the discovery of Dusty came a flood of hope, hope that he was alive and a temporal relief from many of my stresses as one of the captains of this star-crossed voyage.

       We ran over to the body and there was a moment of silence as we saw the poor mans body. He was dead. His face was frozen in terror like the rest, and his eyes, still wide open, had a glare that could only be described as paralyzing. The pool of blood beneath him was very large, and his gaping wounds were also great in size. A large cut near to severed his head and spilt an ocean of blood, while a gaping wound in his chest exposed most of his internal organs. The jagged cut was different from some of the others we had seen inflicted, but just like the others Doc quickly went to work trying to figure out what we were up against. He began to examine the body and give his report, but again stated that the cause of these wounds was not a knife, but instead something far cruder. I was getting a little nervous, though, standing in the open.

       "Alright, if you're all done here I would like to head back to the bunk room, I hate it out here just as much as all the rest."

       "No can do, sir, I think I found something in this body. In the neck and chest wounds there appears to be some extra bone tissue protruding. I don't think that this came from a fractured bone within, and whatever it is, it could be a clue." Doc said gesturing to an odd bone protruding from inside the wound within Dusty's neck.

       "How long will it take to get out?"

       "Well, it's stuck in his neck pretty good, maybe three minutes."

       "Well, I'm gonna leave the ONI guy with you, get back to the barracks as soon as you can. All the rest of you, come with me, we need to barricade the bunk room with some added defenses."

       "Alright, I'll be quick, go ahead, we'll be right behind you."

       "Good luck. Keep low and make sure to keep your flashlights trained on any suspicious areas."

       "Yes, sir!" Doc replied.

       The doctor sat on the ground as the nervous ONI man stood behind him, rifle in a combat stance. He looked around frantically, searching for anything that might come too near to him. The doctor's hands were soaked in blood, and his thumbs slipped on the bone. After a brief struggle with the bone he pulled it out and began to examine it. It was a triangle and was slightly curved. The bone also appeared to be a tooth. With the doctor heard a noise behind him. The ONI man and the doctor tensed and looked into the corner where they heard the noise. For a half minute they stodd watching the corner before the ONI man began to scream and run away. He watched as the flashlight disappeared into the distance between the crates. The doctor stared at him in disbelief as he ran to the bunks. "Damn coward!"

       "At least I'll be alive" he yelled as he ran from the body towards the back of the ship.

       "This crew... Seems like Rob and me are the only good ones around here..." Suddenly a footstep sounded behind the Doctor, "Ah, decided to come back I see." The doctor looked at the tooth, still staring at the body, "This thing, it is a tooth, I have no idea how the Mathean stuck this in him." He looked very closely at its edge, "it has perforations that are unnaturally jagged, this didn't come from any shark, and besides that, god knows how a shark got on the ship." Suddenly the lightning crackled outside and the doctor noticed a reflection in the pool of blood, it was not the shape of a human, it was the shape of something far worse. He turned to see 600 pounds of killing machine staring at him and managed to mutter "Crap..." before being ripped apart

Stowaway Part 2 (3 of 3)
Date: 30 May 2003, 2:18 AM

Again, the vocab. A mathean is a Westerner, Arrel is easterner. Both are interpeted as racial slurs, but mathean is not specifically meant as one.

       I looked over as the ONI creep suddenly ran into the room. He tripped over one of the various traps we were setting up and shot a wooden stake across the room, it coming within inches of splitting his skull. He lie shivering on the floor near to crying from terror. Three people were already hovering above him asking him what happened.

       "The Mathean, he got him! He took out the Doctor and near to killed me!"

       "Damn Mathean!" I shouted.

       "Yeah, he got the jump on us, he wasn't using a sonic weapon though, it was some sort of... I don't know... Shredder cannon!"

       "Crap, he is armed... That could be a big problem... Alright, we need to have an active patrol to keep us safe, just a group to patrol the hallway. Three armed people in each division, each on an eight hour shift, one of us will have to take two shifts, I think I'll do that because this is my plan. Each person will take a shift patrolling and a shift guarding then they can wrest, we should be there within two cycles, I am sure that the authorities can take out that scumbag."

       "Sounds good, wanna draw straws for shifts?" Fats suggested.

       "Alright, someone have straws?" I looked at the motley group of sailors turned combatant. "Anyone?" I trailed off. "Alright, everyone pick a damn number between 1 and 21." Everyone said a number, "Alright, 1-7, first shift, 8-14, second, 15-21, third shift, I will fill the two small shifts." I had to fill the first and third, the first with Rob and Fats and the third with Tabs and the ONI guy.

       I looked at my watch as we walked down the back hallway of the ship again. The Rolex seemed out of place when I noticed the muzzle of my rifle no less than a foot away. I was no soldier, I was a Sailor. I hate this ship. "Hey, Rob," Rob looked towards me, "Is it just me or does this suck?"

      "Does what suck?"

      "Everything! Look at this, we are stranded at sea with no radio communications whatsoever, three, maybe four dead crewmates and one on a rampage, I mean, this really sucks."

      "Yeah, you're right, this is the worst transport run I have ever been in. Damn storm, if the Mathean wasn't bad enough... Look at this, it knocked out a ceiling tile... Gonna destroy this 'unsinkable' ship..." he gestured to a ceiling up the hallway a dozen feet. The ceiling tile had fallen recently; otherwise we would have seen it before. It lay on the ground, broken, and cracked. I looked up at the exposed hole in the ceiling. Some raindrops fell from the area above it, that or a leaky pipe. Either one could be the primary reason as to why it fell. Rob walked forward into the area where it had fallen and stood beneath the hole and flung his arm up into the air angrily, pointing at the hole. "This ship sucks!" I began to walk over to the hole and looked up into the ceiling to see only the infinitely deep abyss of darkness. I took one more step forward to get a better angle to look into the ceiling when I suddenly slipped on some rainfall. My vision began to recover a second later and I saw a menacing face above us, though I was certain it was not Human.

      "Rob! Look--" Suddenly a tail swung down and, using one of the spikes on its tail grabbed Robs side. He let out a quick scream of terror and dropped his rifle before he was dragged into the ceiling. His kicked his legs and thrashed his arms to no avail, trying to break his attackers grip. I looked upwards, shining my flashlight into the area and watched helplessly as I saw the dinosaur like monster pull Rob into its grasp. Suddenly his struggling proved to be useful and he managed to break one of his arms free, grabbing his lucky Swiss army knife and quickly flipping it open. He drew his arm back as the beast clawed his chest and prepared to stab the monster. He swung his knife downwards into the beast's chest. It shrieked in pain as Rob twisted the short knife in its chest hoping to break free, but having no such luck. The beast lunged it's ferocious mouth at Rob's hand and ripped his arm fro its socket with no pause, bone and tendon ripped alike as the incredible monster shredded Rob's arm. I watched in terror as blood spurted from Rob's new amputation, and the beast moved to make another. It drew back its head like a snake coiling for attack and lunged forward, biting Rob's throat. It pulled hit throat free with a final violent jerk and began to move to flee. I stood up quickly but was showered in Rob's blood, causing me to slip again. I grabbed my rifle and flipped the safety off, firing the full thirty round magazine into the abyss. Fats fired his rifle into the ceiling too, and the others who were gathering to see what was happening began to follow suite, and soon a hail of gunfire coated the area. I heard a loud thump as Rob's bullet torn and mangled body fell from the ceiling and another as whatever got him landed some distance around the corner. I reloaded the rifle with my last magazine and charged around the corner to see the glass shatter outward as what appeared to be a dinosaur smashed its way out the window and onto the deck of the ship. It fell forty feet to the ground and quickly returned to running. I shot my machine gun out the window at it in futility; it was able to disappear into the fog and rain...

       I threw the ONI man against the wall in the detention cell. We had considered it best to leave the area we had been before to avoid the monster, so we went down a deck and headed for the back of the ship. "The Mathean did this!?!" I shouted at him.

       "I SWEAR!!! It was dark! I thought it was the Mathean who got him!"

       "Well, I'm pretty sure we didn't grab that monster out of the ocean! An ONI crate is busted open, unknown contents and ONI sent you with us because it is so important that someone of their own has to defend it. What the hell was it!?!" I shouted hitting the wall next to the ONI man.

       "I don't know!"

       "Yes you do. Do you know how we settle our revenge on Lunar 4?" I asked him, drawing a long, curved dagger and flaunting it in the air.

       He swallowed, "Blood?"

       "Something like that. Pain.", I stepped closer to the ONI man and suddenly stabbed towards his head, narrowly missing him and cutting his ear slightly, "Oh... Did I cut you?" I asked rhetorically as I drew the knife back again, "I had assumed I would miss, but we all make our mistakes... Mistakes like letting crap like you aboard. You know what's going on here and you are trying to cover it up. And, trust me, I have four guys here that would be more than willing to kill you brutally and whatever the hell that thing was."

       "You can't kill it." He spat some blood onto the floor, "It is better than you." He looked around spotting each of our faces in the dimly lit room, ""It is stronger, faster, smarter, it is everything."

       "None of those things matter, we can kill it."

       "No you can't. It is designed to hunt soldiers, you are no soldiers, you are just some Arrel Garbage going on some little crusade."

       "What, you're a Mathean too?"

       "No, but no one on Lunar 4 has any respect for your kind. I hope the AE kills you all."

       "The AE?"

Stowaway Part 3
Date: 2 June 2003, 7:56 PM

       "The AE?" I continued.

       "Yeah, AE, the Adam and Eve, AE."

       "What the hell is that?"

       "You're all dead anyway, what's it matter?"

       "I'm standing here with a heart beating within me that begs to differ." I held the knife to the ONI man's chest, "We could make one less heart beat, though, couldn't we..."

       "What, you think that ONI would let you live? Kill me, kill it, you're all death-marked anyway. ONI will hunt you to the ends of Lunar 4 until you are dead. If you are lucky enough to kill the AE first, that is."

       "Wait, if we are dead anyway why don't you at least tell us what we are fighting?" I asked, hoping to at least gather closure on what would kill my crew.

       "Alright, fine, but you have to pay attention, this is complicated. You know how the Spartan 2s exist, right? Super soldiers trained on Reach.", I nodded "Well, as you hopefully don't know some Spartan 3s were in training on Lunar 4." He continued, "ONI was never fond of the Spartans, we hated them, and they were using Lunar 4 to get a majority in the house, and we couldn't let that happen. Before Lunar 4 we were letting them create the Spartans, on Lunar 4 we got even. We created two at first, really just Spartan 3s with slightly different cranial genetics, they could think on their own. They were named Adam and Eve, and they were the first. As we discovered, Humans are weak, we are full of flaws, so we began to remove them, first our AEs got minor things, they never grew an appendix, they were immune to some genetic deficiencies, but soon it became more complicated. We began to create things that were like nothing you have ever seen before, the particular one you are seeing normal infantry. It takes the mind capacity and opposable thumbs of humans along with the natural predatory abilities of the Velociraptor and makes itself much more powerful than any other creature, even an Elite. It has countless upgrades, shark teeth, three rows of them, improved smelling, hearing, night vision, poison like Jelly Fish, everything, and it seems as if we were doing everything we could to take control of Lunar 4. Then a blessing came for ONI, the Spartans of Lunar 4 began to go rampant. It was a sign of weakness, the Spartans hive minds leading them to rebel and kill their leaders. They were escaping into the woods and deserts, and soon we had an array of things that were gathering legendary names like Chupacabra. We couldn't have this as is, but it was also the proving ground for the AE. This one was on this ship heading to kill Cain, the "Vampire" of the sewers."

       "That sucks for us..." I replied.

       "Pft... I'm out of here," Justin threw me his rifle, "I'm taking one of the escape pods, I'll drift out here till I'm rescued, this is too deep for me. I can't deal with genetic monsters and evil conspiracies," Justin was already out the door, "Anyone who want to come with me, feel free."

       "I'm in." Fats said. I looked back to see him leaving and suddenly felt the rifle I was carrying get slapped out of my hands. I spun around to see the ONI man holding it and waving it around the room.

       "EVERYONE FUCKING DOWN!!! THIS IS MY SHIP NOW!!! All of you, stay! Fats, down!" The ONI man fired a few warning shots into the ceiling. I began to get on my knees and place my palms on the back of my head. Everyone else followed.

       "What're you going to do?" I asked.

       "I'm going to go get Justin and lock you all in here, stay in here!"

       "And if we move?"

       "You won't be able to, I'll lock the door, both sides! That way your damn friend can't come help you!" He stepped out of the door and locked it behind him. I watched as he silently recited the code to himself three times. If he didn't remember it there would be some trouble...

       As soon as he passed around the corner I stood up and whispered, "Guys, he left all the rifles here, Dobie, Tabs, get on the sides of the door with rifles and blast the hell out of that dirt bag once he gets back!" They grabbed the rifles and shuffled to the sides of the door. I watched in anticipation of his return, though I knew it would be a few minutes. Suddenly I heard the crack of gunfire and saw the ONI man run around the corner to run through the cafeteria. The AE pounced into view behind him and snarled knowing its quarry was cornered. He shot it six times with his rifle, until he ran out of ammo, to no avail. The bullet holes on it literally seemed to fade from sight. The ONI man turned to his last resort, us. He pressed a series of buttons on the lock only to hear it beep in reply that his access was denied. "2834?" another beep, "Damn... 2384!" another beep, "Damn..." the beast charged at him and smashed into the door, crushing his stomach. Blood spewed from his mouth and I noticed the door dent in a few inches. Was this beast so strong as that it would break down the door? I watched as it drew back its head and headbutted him. The ONI man's skull was shattered by the blow and the small window behind him spider-webbed. I looked around the room frantically for a route of escape finding only two, one of which I wouldn't be too happy with, the other which would be hard to get to. I looked out the back of the ship from the small porthole, the treacherous sea below us reminded me of my place, which was not out there... Outside the AE roared and the window was coated in blood. I heard the footsteps leaving the area and was awoken to a new hope.

       "Do you think it's leaving?" Tabs asked. Suddenly the door dented in another few inches, his question was answered. It was coming to get us and we could do almost nothing.

       "Hurry up! Get the damn boxes! Stack half against the door to slow it down, the rest form a tower to get to that vent up there! Dobie, suppressing fire though the window!" I shouted, the only way out of this room besides circling the exterior of the ship would be to climb through a little vent over 20 feet in the air. I grabbed a crate and slid it along the ground towards the door, pushing it up against it as the AE rammed the door again. Dobie fired a few shots through the window to hear one resulting shriek. Another crate quickly slid into place behind me as I walked forward to peer out the holes in the window. I saw the AE at the end of the cafeteria turn, and becoming a near blur for a second it rammed the door again. Dobie shot the beast again and I watched as a bullet pierced its neck. Suddenly the bullet dropped out of its body and some of the skin from its back stretched to seal the wound. It was invincible.

       I ran to the other side of the room and slid another crate to barricade the door. I noted that the tower was about halfway to our goal of 20 or so feet. I ran to the back of the room as Dobie fired another few rounds down the hallway and slid another crate near to the door but close enough that we could use it to get up the tower. The door budged again and Dobie threw his expended rifle to the side and pulled one from Fats' neck. He flipped the safety off and fired down the hallway. I slid another crate behind the door. We had managed to create a line of boxes that extended across the room and helped to barricade the door. I watched to see how it would affect the AE. The AE rammed the door and cause less damage than ever before. I looked to my left as I saw one of the crates begin to bend... "Alright, everyone to the tower, get a few more crates up there and we can get the hell out of here!" I shouted while I began to climb the tower to help to drag the final crates up. The door behind us suddenly exploded its hinges and slid inward even further. The wall in the back of the room also began to warp outward. I helped to lift another crate to the top of the tower and to create the stair like system to get to the top and quickly scrambled to the top. I grabbed my rifle and smashed the butt of it against the grate three times before it gave way. I looked into the narrow vent, which was pitch black. I grabbed a flare that Dobie handed to me and dropped it into the vent. It was suddenly illuminated red. I crawled into the vent as quickly as I could and soon realized that there was a ledge about three feet in. It lead ten feet down to a grate. It was a leap of faith. I dropped to the grate and hit it, feeling the floor waver.

      I looked down and I could see the AE below me. It looked up and glared at me before resuming smashing the door. I saw the gored body of the ONI man now. It was missing most of its major parts and retained only its rib cage. All other organs and limbs were shredded and lying in pieces around the hallway in random piles, wherever they landed when the AE ripped him apart no doubt. I crawled forward down the vent and tried to ignore the AE below me. Behind me I heard another drop as Tabs fell, followed by Dobie. Suddenly the AE smashed open the door and ran behind us. I heard Fats scrambling to get into the vent as the AE got into the room. I looked back and waited for the final person to drop down, Fats. He dropped down the ten foot drop and hit the grate with more force than anyone else, and dropped to the AE. He stood and tried to run for the cafeteria but was no match for its speed. The AE tackled him below me and began to kill him. The AE stomped on his back and held him down while its powerful jaws began to rip him apart. It aimed first to rip off his limbs, it seeing the gun that he had albeit that he was out of ammo. It then bit his neck and left him paralyzed on the ground, probably already dead. It continued to assure itself that he was dead by biting him and throwing pieces around the hallway. It probably went to such means to show itself that they were dead because Spartans could probably survive large amounts of damage. I watched as the AE looked up at the ceiling and listened to us, looking ahead to see that we were headed for the cafeteria. Suddenly it ran to the left and disappeared from my vision. I continued down the vent until it ended in the center of the cafeteria and waited near the end for the others. When Dobie caught up I continued forward and dropped into the cafeteria. I quickly surveyed the area for any threats and signaled for the others to come down. I muttered under my breath, "It's quiet. Too Quiet..."

      "Not any more buddy." Dobie replied. The AE stepped up to the door and stared in at me. It leapt at us and out stream of gunfire held it back while we ran. I turned and ran first, stepping into the main hallway. Dobie continued to fire at it until I could shoot some more and try to keep it away. Tabs followed me and shot at the AE whenever he could. The AE dodged most of our bullets, ducking behind tables and columns to dodge most, but a few shots hit him, and from what I could tell, though the AE could take a bullet to the chest it wouldn't like it any more than I would. I looked at the AE, which was now heading for the hallway to circle the cafeteria and attack us. Dobie ran back into the cafeteria so that we could make our way to the stair column, which was very near to where the others had died. We ran through the cafeteria watching for the AE in front of us when suddenly we noticed a hiss by the room, the AE. We all began to shoot at the AE, and we managed to force it back enough so that we could run past it to the spiral staircase that lead to the cargo hold of the ship. If we could only get to the front of the ship we could take one of the escape pods. Suddenly an escape pod blasted away from the front of the ship, I watched as Justin flew into the distance with one of our lifelines. Dobie took point and charged into the cargo hold with us following closely behind him. We ran to the right side of the ship upon reaching the bottom floor and clamored up the catwalk staircase to walk over the cargo hold. "How many bullets do you think we got in that thing?" Dobie asked.

      "My best bet is 10, maybe 15, sorry, but we aren't trained to be shooting, Dobie." I replied.

      "Well, as long as you do your best you might live. Listen, we need to get inside a cargo crate, we can climb in through one of the tops of one of the larger shipment crates and hide in one until we can find a way out of here. I think we hurt the AE though. It looked like it was bleeding."

      "We aren't safe until it's dead, chances are that we just pissed it off."

      "Good point, but we need to find shelter. That crate over there should do." Dobie gestured up the ship to a crate halfway up the cargo hold with an open top. Chances are it was a corporate megacrate, really just one crate with many little crates in it used to remover the clutter from shipping operations. We shuffled across the dimly lit catwalk to the crate and clamored into the center of it, dropping to the ground and resting. Inside Dobie pressed a button that sealed the top of the crate, though the top was off center because of some shifting in crate layout because of the waves. I leaned against the wall closest to the front of the ship and began to catch my breath. The others did the same thing in their own way. Suddenly we heard footsteps outside, stagger-footed as if wounded. They seemed lopsided but still very fast. Suddenly there was a sharp rap at the door to the crate. "Don't open it, it's the monster..."

      "Okay." I replied. The knocking soon stopped and the footsteps seemed to limp away. I was just about to relax when suddenly a figure dropped into the crate. I rose my rifle to shoot it when suddenly it raise its hands, its human hands. It was Crazy. Tabs leaned back against the door suddenly feeling very safe. Dobie began to look through some of the crates, apparently we were in a Softball shipping crate. Dobie's boredom led him to a baseball bat where he sat swinging. I set a hand on Crazy's shoulder so he would turn to read my lips, "Oh, thank god it was you man... Sorry about shooting at you and all... We were a little confused..."

      "No fucking kidding." He replied with slurred speech stereotypically assigned to deaf people.

      "Yeah, well, you almost gave us a heart attack when you knocked at the door a second ago." I replied.

      "I didn't knock at the door..." He replied. Suddenly the door burst downward crushing Tabs to death, and above the wreckage stood the AE, angered and covered in its own blood. I raised my rifle to fire as Dobie did to realize that we were both out of ammo, and seeing the only loaded rifle in the dead hands of Tabs. Crazy ran to the far left side of the crate and began shouting at the AE to try to lure it away from the gun as Dobie flipped over a few crates of baseballs and grabbed his bat. He ran at the AE, which was paying attention to Crazy, and hit it on the back of the head with the bat. The AE wavered and fell to the ground, though only temporarily. It stood back to its feet within a second and was swinging at Dobie, though the courageous man blocked all of its swings with his bat. He swung at its chest and hit it, I could hear bones shattering. It opened its mouth to show its three rows of teeth, and scared the hell out of me. I looked over at Dobie, who now held the stub of a broken bat and was facing off against one of the deadliest creatures known to man. He bravely stood his ground over the body of Tabs. The AE suddenly pounced on him and wrestled him to the ground. Dobie drew his sharp baseball bat shrapnel back and stabbed the beast in the side spurting poison and blood with the pressure. He screamed from the poison he touched while accidentally contacting the AE and was bit in the stomach. His last brave act was a simple kick and a smile as the gun of the now dead Tabs slid across the floor to Crazy. Looking for a way to distract the AE and save Dobie, though there was little hope, I grabbed a baseball and pitched it at the AE. It was hit and reacted with anger. I quickly grabbed another baseball and threw it at the AE again. Suddenly it wasn't very interested in Dobie and it charged at me. I pressed my back against the wall and realized I had nowhere to run. The AE pounced at me and placed each of its arms on one side of me. It cut my arm and I suddenly felt the burn of the poison on its skin. I watched in terror as it drew its head backwards and prepared to kill me. Suddenly its head exploded, three bullets passing through it. I slid down the wall as a 600 pound beast collapsed on my legs. I wiped the sweat from my brow and thanked Crazy when suddenly we heard helicopters overhead and the sound of feet repelling to the deck. We were the only survivors, soon to be dead, killed by ONI. What a day...

       "That's it for the Weather Report, thank you Dan, and now for a special report, this breaking news, a ghost ship has washed ashore. There is no sign of the crew being on the ship and both escape pods are intact (ONI loves to tamper with things like this...). No cargo is missing, but it is believed that a pirate vessel attacked the ship and killed the crew. We will keep you updated as more is revealed about this tragedy. The names of the crew have not been released though we are told that there were 12 aboard at departure and that at least two of the crew were noble soldiers. May god take good care of them. Lucy, back to you." The news report flickered of the screen and a plump man in a suit frowned.

       "Was that really needed, to kill them all?" the man asked another skinny man with dark hair next to him.

       "Well, we still have that one on the loose, think of the damage he could do. We had to do it." The skinny man replied.

       "Well... Whatever... I just hope these are the last lives the projects claim, too many innocents have died for the secrets of this planet already..."