Approx. 4100 words
All Rights Reserved
Copyright 2015 SJ
The Mobile Mine
written by SJ
Captain Falconer didn’t want to land too close to the Mobile Mine, something everyone agreed with, since they had NO IDEA what to expect. And even thought Specialist Sheldon said it was almost impossible, they expected to find the Mine completely taken over by Tyranids. However, from a distance of one kilometer, they found he was right, there were no Tyranids and everything looked normal.
Sergeant Baker ordered all but two of his Marines to be armed with shotguns, leaving two of them armed with flamers. He didn’t want to use bolters inside the Mobile Mine simply because the weapons could easily punch holes through the walls and possibly injure survivors. Even the flamers would be used only as a last resort. He also had his Marines reequip their full battle suit armor, Falconer telling him that most of the Mine’s interior had large doorways.
Once they were on their way to the Mine on foot, Falconer ordered his spaceship to return to Base to pick up a platoon of infantry, and some medics; they were to return and form a small medical compound guarded by the infantry, ready to receive any casualties and/or survivors.
Mobile Mines were huge, giant, structures with treads like a tank. This one was one hundred meters long by eighty meters wide. From a distance, Falconer found the first thing wrong with the Mine:
When the Lictors were alive, the Mine had four lookouts, each of them manning the railgun emplacements. Now, they were supposed to have at least one lookout on the roof at all times. But, no one was there. Once they were closer, Falconer called out loud several times, but no one answered. When he tried his communicator again, he still got the same ‘line busy’ message.
However, the Tyranid biologist had been scanning all during the approach to the Mine. When he stopped to analyze his findings, Lana had made a few of her own scans.
Sheldon stood for awhile, then spoke, reporting, “I’m getting both Tyranid AND Terran bio-signs--”
“You mean there might be a battle going on up there?” Falconer was surprised. “I thought you said Tyranids can’t function cohesively once their Hive is dead?”
“THEY CAN’T.” The biologist was adamant.
“I’m not picking up any weapon’s fire,” Lana announced, concluding, “if there’s battle going on, they aren’t using firearms.”
“Then all the Terrans would be dead.” Falconer stated the obvious.
“If all the Terrans were dead, then I wouldn’t be getting any Terran bio-signs.” Sheldon sighed angrily, then shouted, “none of this makes any sense!”
“Unless there are some survivors hiding in there.” Falconer deduced. “That means we need to get in there ASAP.”
As they made a quick sweep around the base of the Mine, they found the boring chamber down, but not in use. There were two speeders and one airsled parked underneath; the airsled was NOT Cocker’s. Both of the elevators were up.
Falconer was a little upset at not finding Cocker’s airsled. But, he quickly became more concerned about how they were going to get inside the Mine. Lana began using her Ops oPOD to remotely connect with the elevator controls, having trouble, then reporting, “they’ve locked down all the elevators.”
Falconer frowned, then asked her, “is it locked down with a password? Can you hack it?”
“Maybe.” Lana kept working.
The Captain had an idea. “I might be able to contact HQ and get an override code.”
However, it was Specialist Sheldon that came up with the most logical solution. As he got into the driver’s seat of a parked airsled, he said, “I’ll shuttle everyone to the top of the Mine and we can go in from there.” He drove the airsled out from under the Mine and into the open, ready.
Falconer nodded, “good...let’s send the Marines up first.”
The airsled could seat four people in back and two up front. But, due to the size of the battle suits, only two Marines could go at a time. Baker selected two of his Marines, plus Lana took one of the front seats. Soon they were landing on top the Mine, the Marines exiting quickly, their shotguns ready.
Even before he had landed the airsled on the roof, Sheldon was already shouting his surprise amazement. “That can’t be! That’s a Tyranid bio-structure. NO...it can’t be.”
When the airsled came to a stop, the Marines exited the vehicle, shotguns ready, pointing at the bio-structure.
Lana began her own scan.
“Is that thing dangerous?” One of the Marines asked. Both of them stood aiming, ready.
When the biologist didn’t respond right away, Falconer called via com. “Sheldon...what’s going on? Did you find the lookout up there? Give me a report...and bring that airsled back down to pick up more Marines.”
The biologist began talking to himself as he scanned...
“Sheldon” The Captain called again.
Eventually, Lana got Sheldon’s attention, telling him to exit the vehicle and finish his scans outside the airsled. Then she took control of the airsled and landed it on the ground, where Falconer took the drivers seat, picked up Baker and another Marine, then flew to the roof, letting them all out, returning for more.
“Is that thing dangerous?” Baker finally insisted on an answer.
“No...but, there’s no way it should be here.” Sheldon then tried to explain. “They need a Hive mind to make complex bio-structures, or at least a synapse creature...and I haven’t picked up any signs that would give evidence that any of those are around.”
“I’m finding Terran DNA in that thing.” Lana stated her own scanner findings.
As Sheldon moved closer to the bio-structure, Baker ordered one Marine to guard each of the stairways going down into the main Mine building. By the time Sheldon had come to a conclusion about the bio-structure, everyone was on top the Mine, waiting for an explanation.
Falconer had his own prognoses about the bio-structure. “Can’t the Tyranids communicate from planet to planet using a type of bio-structure?”
“Yes.” The biologist agreed. “That’s how the Hive on that island was able to communicate with the Queen on Thanatos-5. But, we blew that up.” He pointed. “This bio-structure is WAY too small.” He sighed. “And, it wasn’t built for that.”
“What was it built for?” Falconer frowned, wanting answers.
Sheldon almost smiled, amazed at the ingenious of the bio-structure. “As far as I can tell, it’s designed to give off some kind of EMP pulse. That’s what damaged all the communications inside the Mine. That, of course, left the Tyranids able to communicate, but not the Terrans. It’s probably why we’re getting ‘line busy’ every time we call here.”
“But, WE'RE still able to communicate.”
“Yes. But, if it gives off another pulse, we’ll lose--”
Falconer frowned and pointed. “Burn it!”
Baker gave the order to one of his Marines, and in seconds, the bio-structure was a smoldering ruin. Afterwards, he had to mention, “by the way, if there’s another EMP pulse, they won’t be able to knock out OUR communications. My Marines and LaFong are protected by force shielding. He looked at Falconer. “If you have a normal Guardsman’s armor, you should have protection also.”
The Captain thought a second, then checked the settings on his armor. He smiled, sort of embarrassed. “I haven’t worn armor for quite awhile. It seems I have two nodes. Is that enough?”
Baker nodded. “Yeah...that’s good.” Then he looked at Sheldon, who was just wearing civilian clothes. “I’m afraid you’ll lose your com if there’s more of those things.”
But, he didn’t seem concerned, saying there was probably only one of them...and that he still wanted to go inside the Mine with Falconer.
Lana had finished analyzing her own scans of the bio-structure. She showed Sheldon, asking, “did you get the same thing I did?”
“Yes.” He answered knowingly, then explained, “the bio-structure was grown out of a living Terran body, consuming him as it grew.”
Falconer sighed, not liking the conclusion. “So, that’s where the Mine’s lookout went to...consumed to make that bio-structure. I don’t think that’s normal, is it?”
Sheldon frowned. “NO, it’s NOT! Tyranids are omnivores and can eat us. But, I’ve NEVER heard of parasitical infestation on this level.”
The Captain looked at Baker with determination. “Okay, Sergeant. Let’s go inside, kick butt, and see if we can find survivors. How do you want to go about it?" He looked at Lieutenant LaFong, waiting for either or both of them to come up with a plan.”
LaFong and Baker conferred only a short time before they each decided to take command of a team: Baker, four Marines (3 shotguns/ 1 flamer), Captain Falconer, and Sheldon would enter down the stairs at the front of the Mine, while LaFong with four Marines, would enter down at the back. The two groups would then travel down their respective hallways and meet in the center, where there was a lobby that led to offices on one side and the mess hall/recreation area on the other.
Lana brought up the names of her team on her oPOD: Corporal Maly, Private Cole, Private Leone, and Corporal Smith (flamer). By that time, Sheldon was standing in front of the stairs on his side reading his scanner, forced to mentioned another problem. “Hold on everyone, we’ve got spores.”
“Mycetic spores?” Faloner was shocked. “INSIDE the Mine?”
“Yes...I’m not sure how dangerous they are, but we should wear protection.”
“That’s no problem for my Marines.” Baker assured, then ordered his squad to check their filters.
Lana and Falconer had standard filtration masks and began putting them on. Baker handed Sheldon one of his extra masks. In a short time, they were ready.
Both teams went down the stairs from the roof at the same time. Lana led the way on her side, using her periscope to examine the hallway, then waved the Marines forward past her.
The hallway was eight meters wide and about forty meters long, where it turned right. The three Marines carrying shotguns led the way, finding the hallway completely clear, no one there. On the left, along the hallway were three windows spaced out along the way. On the right, fifteen meters down, there were double doors to a storage room; they found the doors locked..
Twenty five meters down, on the right, was a door to the medical section. Lana’s team was almost there when she got a call from Falconer. “Everything’s clear on our side. The back door to the kitchen is locked.
“Yeah, our side is clear also--” Lana reported, then interrupted herself. “I just found some weird goop on the floor.”
“Analyze it and send me the results.” That was Sheldon, who then told everyone to hold up until he got the results.
Lana’s scanner was already set up to analyze DNA, so it didn’t take very long.
However, even though it was what he expected, he was still surprised. “Tyranid AND Terran DNA...in the SAME bio-material. I don’t know what’s going on here, but it’s TOTALLY unprecedented as far as Tyranids are concerned.”
Falconer began sounding like a lead detective trying to solve a mystery. “Our first order of business is to find out what happened here.” He sighed. “We need to find Cocker. He has to be the key to what happened. LaFong, we’re moving forward to the end of the hallway.”
“I’m going to send three Marines forward,” LaFong responded with her plan. “I’m taking one of them with me into medical.” Corporal Maly was the current team leader and ordered Private Cole to go with her, who led the way, having to turn sideways to fit through the door, followed by Lana. But, it didn’t matter, no one was there.
However, the room itself was a mess, like numerous struggles had taken place, with a fair amount of blood and the same brownish-orange bio-material she found in the hallway on the floor and walls. There were three beds on the right side, and in the far left corner was the doctor’s quarters.
“We just reached the end of the hallway.” Falconer reported. “It looks like there’s a body at the other end of the lobby, on your side. We see your Marines.”
Corporal Maly pointed at the body, then waved to Falconer and the other Marines. Falconer’s group then began checking the offices located on the left side of the lobby. On the right, Maly could see the mess hall and recreation area. One of the tables still had two food trays with, what looked like, partially eaten breakfasts. The kitchen area, with vending machines, was empty,
Lana had a theory from what she had seen so far. “Falconer, it looks like there was some kind of struggle here in medical. It’s possible Cocker was sick and came here, first--”
“Then he turned on the staff when they tried to help him.” Falconer liked the theory. “Why don’t you guys go check the showers and bathrooms, then check--”
Lana then heard a rapping on the door to the doctor’s quarters. She was ready to draw one of her pistols when she heard a faint, female, voice. “Hello...is anyone normal out there?”
“Yes...we’re Space Marines.” Lana moved closer to the door. “Are you able to open the door?”
“Okay...but, I still don’t feel to well.” A young woman wearing a surgical mask opened the door, then jumped seeing the battle-suited Marine behind Lana. She stepped back inside the room and sat down on the bed. “I’ve been in here for days.” Her eyes had dark circles under them. “Do you have any water? I ran out.”
Private Cole, like all Marines, had an extra bottle and handed it to Lana, who handed it to the woman. She removed her mask and began drinking thirstily...but, then replaced the mask afterwards, trying to explain, “that man who came in here several days ago,” she almost broke down and cried, “he opened his mouth and this stuff came out. It started making people sick--”
“I’m I hearing a survivor over there?” The Captain sounded excited and thrilled. Before Lana could answer, he continued, addressing the survivor, “ma’am, this is Captain Falconer. What’s your name?”
“My name is Chelsey Farmer.” She almost started to cry, the realization that she had been finally rescued, setting in. “Is this really, Captain Falconer?”
“Yes, ma’am it is. We’re here to rescue you.” His voice became pleasant. “Do you know of any other survivors?”
“No. After that horrible man came in and started attacking the doctor, I hid inside this room.”
“We need to get her a mask. There are still spores here.” That was Sheldon.
“She’s wearing a surgical mask.” Lana informed.
“Good.” Falconer complimented. “Good going, Chelsey.”
“Spores?” The woman seemed to want to know. “Did that man spew spores?”
“Chelsey...that woman over there with you is Lieutenant LaFong.” Falconer continued speaking to the woman. “She’s a Space Marine--”
“Yes, I know. There’s another one over here in a battle suit.” The woman felt relieved. “This is the first time I’ve ever seen one this close.”
“Yes.” The Captain was happy she felt better. “We have a whole squad of them here. We’re here to rescue everyone. What I want you do to is talk to LaFong, tell her everything that happened...as much as you can remember. Can you do that for me?”
“Thank you, Chelsey. LaFong, we’re just about ready to go into the Lead Supervisors Office. Give me a report if you turn up anything more.”
Lana smiled, then asked Chelsey, “can you tell me what happened from the beginning?”
“Well, I’m Doctor Kaviani’s nurse. Several days ago, this man came in.” She pointed at the same door Lana had entered, then frowned. “But, he looked like a monster...or like he was turning into one. Then he opened his mouth and stuff came out, dust...you said it was spores. It made everyone sick and weak. He had these little creatures...they looked like big, fat, tongues. He stuck one on the doctor’s face. Ronald was here also; he stuck one on him also. That’s when I ran inside the room and locked the door. I’m sorry...I was SO afraid...I didn’t know what to do.”
“Do you know what happened after that?” Lana asked.
“I expected them to bust the door down, to come and get me.” The nurse thought for a couple seconds. “But, nothing happened. Everything was quiet for a long time. Then those spores started coming in through the air-conditioning vents.” She pointed at her face. “I found this mask and put it on...but, I still got a little sick. Eventually, it sounded like they left.” She sighed. “I’ve been afraid to leave this room every since. I don’t know what’s happened to anyone in the rest of the Mine. My phone won’t work.”
“Falconer, did you hear?” Lana asked.
“Yes. Chelsey, you did a good job. What I want you do to now is to go to the top of the Mine. Wait there. I have some medics coming in.”
“I don’t know.” The woman became frightened. “I don’t want to be alone up there. And I’m awfully weak. I’m really hungry.”
“That’s fine, Chelsey.” Falconer compromised. “Why don’t you stay were you are. Once we clear the Mine, we’ll try to get you some food.”
Lana left the room and told her to lock the door until they came back. She then followed Private Cole into the shower/bathroom section of the Mine. Maly with his two Marines was told to check out the mess hall and rec room.
Falconer had another report. “LaFong, we just found the Lead Supervisor over here dead. He was torn up pretty bad--”
“By some kind of claws, or talons.” Sheldon sighed with frustration. “To tell you the truth, I was expecting to find Rippers here, like at that house on the island. But, the Supervisor has injuries that could've only been caused by a much larger Tyranid creature.”
“He had his laspistol out.” Falconer continued. “So, he must’ve tried to defend himself, but I don’t think he got off a shot. We’re on our way to the last office.”
“We’ve cleared the showers, and have just entered the bathrooms,” Lana reported...then stopped to check her scanner; finding something, she began walking toward the far right side of the room where there was a storage area with two doors. “I’m getting a solid Terran life sign. There’s someone inside here.”
Lana found a woman curled up inside the storage closet, laying on a pile of blankets. After a quick examination, she was found to be unconscious, her lips dry, dehydrated, but still alive. At this point, Lana did the only thing she could do, telling Private Cole to pick the woman up and take her to Chelsey, who was a nurse. After getting her to open the door, the unconscious woman was handed over to Chelsey, who began treating her, eventually hooking up an IV.
Soon Lana and Private Cole had returned to the bathrooms, clearing the area, then heading into the barracks. As before, Private Cole went first. As soon as he entered, a shot was fired from across the room, chipping his battle suit and knocking him back a little.
Lana was behind the battle suit, but stepped back as she shouted, “stop firing...we’re Space Marines.”
There was a voice that repeated the ‘stop firing’ command from the same place as the shot was fired.
Two men had built themselves a small barricade in the corner of the far right side of the room using beds and tables. They stood up to greet the two Space Marines. One of the men had a large, smoking, automatic pistol. Neither of the men looked very well, pale and sallow. After the man with the pistol said he was sorry, they both sat down on the beds they had behind the barricade.
The man without the pistol spoke. “Finally...someone’s got here.”
Lana walked up and asked, “are you guys able to tell me what happened?”
They looked at her and sighed, both of them tired...
“LaFong, did you just find another survivor?” Falconer was pleased.
“Yes.” Lana was happy to report. “Actually, we found three. There was one woman in the bathroom storage closet unconscious; we turned her over to the nurse. I found two guys in the barracks...one of them took a shot at us. But, no one was hurt.”
“Gentlemen, this is Captain Falconer. How are you doing today?” He chuckled at little, trying relieve tension.
“We’ve been better.” The man with the gun answered, then gave a beleaguered chuckle of his own.
“We found your Lead Supervisor dead in his office.” Falconer felt he should fill the men in on what was happening. “The control room was empty.”
“We haven't heard from anyone else since our phones went dead.” The armed man mentioned, then proceeded to tell his story. “It was early in the morning and I had just gotten out of bed, when I saw Ronald acting very strange. He attacked Mike and Tran and stuck some kind of thing on their faces, then led them out of the room.” He stopped to catch his breath. “When Ronald came back, he came for me. I’m sorry...I had to shoot him.”
“He’s dead?” The Captain wanted to make sure.
“Yeah. He’s still lying over here.” The man sighed. “Two of those fat slug-like things crawled out of him. I shot those too.”
Private Cole stood next to the dead body, pointing.
The man continued to speak, trying to apologize. “I’m sorry, sir. I would’ve tried to go rescue others...but, I was just--SO TIRED...”
“That’s okay, son.” Falconer spoke frankly. “You’ve been infected by Mycetic spores. You did fine. I’m proud of you. What did you shoot Ronald with?”
“I had this collectors .458 auto-mag.”
The Captain chuckled. “That’ll do it. Good job. Is there anything else you can tell us?
“No, sir. I’m here with Patrick.”
Patrick spoke up and explained. “I was on the toilet when all this started. I hid inside the stall, then came in here and joined up with Dale.” He smiled and almost laughed. “Captain Falconer...you came all this way to rescue us, huh? Thanks.”
“Don’t thank me, son. Thank those Marines. I brought a whole squad of them.” Captain Falconer was one of the most notable names on the planet, a leader everyone knew about and liked. “If you two guys think you’re up to it, I’d like you to go to medical and help out Chelsey. She’s over there by herself. If you’ve got any food on you, she could sure use some.”
The two men were happy to comply. “Yes, sir. We’ve got some extra food and water with us. We’ll go over right away.”
Lana and Private Cole escorted the men to medical then headed out to the mess hall, where they joined up with Maly and the other Marines. Baker and his Marines had gone inside the kitchen and found two more survivors, cooks, who, because they had been steaming vegetables at the time, weren’t as affected by the spores. After they had been brought some surgical masks, they took some food with them to medical, a place they all decided to stay until Falconer’s medics arrived.
The two teams then began regrouping in front of the stairs as Sheldon examined the dead body...eventually coming to the conclusion that this man had been infected and was becoming a Terran-Tyranid hybrid. But, he was an old man, and it quickly became obvious he had died of a heart attack while the change was taking place, his heart unable to take the strain.
However, the survivors and the dead only accounted for only eight of the twenty three workers at the Mine; that meant there were fifteen more people left unaccounted for, not counting Cocker. And any or all of those could be Terran-Tyranid hybrids. With the main floor of the Mine clear, they all prepared themselves to go into the lower part of the Mine, knowing their work was only half finished.