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Stormbringers Part 6: Shadow? As in dark-and-sinister-alley Shadows?
Posted By: WildebeestNZ<wildebeest_nz@hotmail.com>
Date: 28 January 2003, 11:36 pm

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"Well done men. You go and get some rest, I'll send your weapons and armour down to maintenance."

The engineers were surprised to find a nasty scratch on the back of Jarvis' armour: they didn't normally get hit. It wasn't even common for them to even be seen. However, situations were sometimes difficult for any man to resolve, and there had been one or two times in the past, where the Stormbringers had turned up with the odd burn or bash mark on their suits.

"I think this is what you might be looking for, Sir."
Jarvis removed the disk from his pocket and handed it to The Boss. His real name was Colonel Steve Hugo. They'd nicknamed him Boss because of the way he always sat around with a big fat Cuban cigar sticking out of his mouth. Cuban cigars had gone out of fashion since the anti-Communist revolution in the early 21st century, but The Boss was a bit of a rogue.

"So what exactly is all this Shadow stuff?" Jarvis didn't need to tell him about the life-support tanks and the things he'd seen in the base. It was probably already on the disk.

"We're not entirely sure. Still, ONI asked us to pass it through without delay. Sounds kinda weird. I'll send it now."

Jarvis saluted The Boss and left the room anxiously. Whatever was in those tanks wasn't a good thing. The Covenant were planning something. It was only a matter of time until the Stormbringers found out. Jarvis hoped it would be sooner rather than later.

Daedalus Command Post, Planet Servo Prime, Proxima Centauri System
Private Derek Regis watched the dust drift across the landscape. What in the name of God had possessed him to join this outfit? He had joined the Corps in the hope of some action: some real Covenant butt-kicking.

So the bastards had posted him to some backwater command post in the middle of a desert. Even worse: he had been made a sentry. Quite possibly the single biggest waste of time in the Corps- well, in this dead sector anyway. To top it off, other than himself, several other sentries and a handful of officers, this place was empty.

"Hey Evans, why do we even bother having guards here anyway?"
Regis' co-sentry looked back at him through his environment-helmet.
"I don't know. We're in the middle of a war, Regis. Anything could happen."
"Yeah right. Slap me when it does."
Regis turned, walked about a hundred metres away from Evans and looked out into the vast expanse of desert again.

Regis glanced at his motion-tracker. He could almost swear he saw something move on it.
"Evans, did you see that?"
No response. Evans must've fallen asleep. Again, he thought. Better go wake him up.

"Evans? Yo! Where you gone this time? Come on, this isn't funny."
Still no response.
"Alright that's it, I'm coming to get you. If you've left your post I'm dobbing you in!"

Regis jogged halfway to Evans' post and then stopped dead. A motionless humanoid shape lay at the post, next to the door.
"Holy sh*t!"

Regis sprinted. Evans' body lay on the ground. He had a blank expression on his face, as if he hadn't realised what was happening when he died. Surprise attack.

Regis turned the body over and almost retched. There was a fairly large, round hole where Evans' spinal cord met his skull, and the flesh was all burnt and cauterised. Something had burned a hole right through the back of his head. Similar to plasma-scoring, Regis thought, from what he saw on the training videos.

He panicked.
"Sergeant! This is Private Regis! We have a KIA, suspected plasma burn! I repeat! KIA! Poor bastard."

Regis waited a couple of moments. No response from command.
He ran towards the door to the command bunker. The control panel was broken, and the door slid open. This wasn't right. Someone had tampered with the panel.

Raising his rifle to eye level, he crept down the corridor towards the command station.
The lights had gone out. He flicked on his torch. This was like a nightmare come true.
And it was.

Jenkins heard something behind him and turned around.

The air was stabbed with a scream that could make even the most hardened soldiers shudder in their boots.