Approx. 1900 words
All Rights Reserved
Copyright 2015 SJ
written by SJ
Sheldon stood with the others at the edge of the stairs and began repeating what he had been saying all along, this time almost ranting, that what was happening here was impossible according to everything he knew about Tyranids. He couldn’t understand it. No one that has ever studied Tyranids had ever heard of this level of parasitic infestation, let alone anything like a Terran-Tyranid hybrid.
But, then he remembered, angry with himself for not thinking of it sooner. He stood with the others in front of the stairs and began shouting, “when they killed the survey team, they took our genes!” He cussed. “DAMN IT...the Tyranids stole our genes...of course...that’s how they are doing all this. They’re using our own genetics against us. They’re genestealers--they’re genestealers.”
The gloomy darkness of the lower section of the Mine gave evidence that something bad was down there. However, all of them quickly compensated by switching to night optics, Falconer being showed how, Sheldon being given a spare set. Lana and her team went down the right side of the stairs, Baker, with his team, down the left side.
The stairs led down to a twenty-meter square room. There was a large set of double doors on the left, three doors on the opposite wall in front of them, which led to the Mine’s power plant, and on right, there where three more doors, these leading to the various mining control rooms. On the right, near the center door, were two bodies. The Marines with shotguns stood guard while Sheldon and Lana checkout them out.
The two bodies, both male, had deep slash marks on their head, neck, and shoulders, wounds made by rending claws, but claws that were still underdeveloped by normal Tyranid standards. There was lots on Terran blood on the floor, plus some of the bio-material. One of the men still gripped a heavy tool in one hand, and there was another one laying on the floor nearby, making it obvious these men had tried to fight back.
From here, the Marines cautiously checked out the control rooms, then the power plant area...but, found no one.
There was also one door to the left and right behind the main stairs. These lead to the engines that controlled the boring chamber below them; they were found empty, also. In the center of the room was a large elevator that could be used to obtain access to the boring chamber itself; but, it was up and locked, showing no sign that it had been used recently.
The two large double doors on the left led to a ten-meter wide hallway, which led to the ore storage rooms at both ends of the Mine, left and right. Lana took the left side, Baker the right...then they moved out quickly and faced their respective directions, ready to fire.
On Lana’s side, the hallway was clear, leading all the way down to the elevator room which was next to the far wall in the right corner. On Baker’s side, the hallway was clear also, but at the end, in the left corner of the storage room, they could plainly see a Terran-Tyranid hybrid standing in front of what looked like, three large hatchery pods.
As soon as Baker announced his findings, he and his three shotgun-armed Marines advanced; his flamer Marine and Falconer were on the right side of the line, advancing with them. Sheldon stayed behind, analyzing his scanner. Lana and her team held their ground, defending, just in case Baker needed back up.
The hallway went down about twenty meters, which led into the large ore storage room. Several boxes of ore could be seen about ten meters to the right of the hatchery.
As soon as the Marines reached the end of the hallway, two bipedal Tyranid creatures came around the corner and jumped the Marines, Baker and another Marine getting off a shot but missing. At the same time, the hybrid creature began helping another bipedal Tyranid get out from the center hatchery pod, a large one that looked like it had four arms, the other two pods moving around, like they were getting ready to hatch. That’s when Falconer order the hatchery burned, the Marine stepping forward immediately and letting loose a long, blue, stream of plasma flame incinerating the hatchery and the creatures, who thrashed around only slightly before laying still.
However, Baker and his three Marines were still in melee with the two Tyranid creatures, each of them with four arms, the top pair of arms with long talons. Pieces of battle suit armor was torn off as they struggled. Baker and another Marine was able to kick one the creatures off and away, then shoot it with their shotguns. The last one was eventually hacked apart with their Marine combat knives, but not before two Marines were wounded.
Afterwards, Sheldon stepped forward, saying, “why did you have to burn the hatchery? I wanted to get a scan--”
He suddenly became quiet when Falconer gave him a sharp look.
“Sergeant, what’s going on?” Lana had to ask, “Do you need help?”
“Two of those Genestealers came around the corner at the end of the hallway.” Baker reported. “I’ve got two wounded over here. They’re going to live, but they’re both impaired.”
“Genestealers?” Lana wondered.
“The ones that attack us weren’t like those hybrids. They were big and had four arms. Mean as hell.”
“We flamed the hatchery.” The Captain reported.
“Hatchery?” Lana, again, was curious.
“They had some kind of hatchery over here.” Falconer answered, trying to explain. “Sheldon seems to think that it was formed out of one or more of the hybrids. Myself and Sheldon are coming over to join up with your group.” He sighed. “If possible, Sheldon wants you to not flame the next hatchery...at least, not until he can get a good scan of it.”
“I’m falling back to the double doors.” Baker announced the actions of his team. “We’re going to defend there until you finish your sweep.” He chuckled seriously. “Watch your corners.”
Lana chuckled back. “Will do. All we see on this side is the elevator room.” When she and her squad rounded the corner into the storage room, all they could see were boxes of ore, stacked almost to the ceiling taking up most of the center space. That left a ten meter wide aisle way between the wall on the left, and the boxes of ore on the right, which meant there where two corners to watch out for at the end.
With the three Marines carrying shotguns on the left, and the Marine with the flamer on the right, she made her way almost to the other side of the storage area, coming about fifteen meters short of the hallway, a corner she couldn’t see around. The view of the right corner of the storage area was blocked by boxes, but she could tell there was something there.
She told the Marines to stop and wait as she examined the corner to the left, remembering what had happened to Baker. Then she stepped forward and asked one of the Marines for a frag grenade. On the far side of the wall nearest to the hallway, there was a ore-box mover, a kind of high-tech forklift. She set the frag then aimed, taking her time, like an expert dark thrower, then threw. Everyone watched as the grenade bounced off the side of the ore-mover, then hit the wall at just the right angle to bounce it into the hallway on the left. Two seconds later it exploded, sending a Genestealer tumbling out into the open from its ambush position. When it tried to get up, the Marines shot it to pieces.
A second afterwards, from behind all of them, three shots rang out, Falconer’s bolt pistol. They all watched as a another Genestealer fell down from the top of the ore boxes; it twitched, then laid still, the Captain still pointing his bolt pistol at it, Sheldon coming up behind him.
Falconer then joined the Marines and looked at LaFong. “Hey, nice throw with that grenade.”
She smiled and returned, “thanks for the back up.”
Once they had made sure the hallway was completely clear, they all lined up and faced the second hatchery. And like the first one, there were three pods and one hybrid guard. However, none of the pods seemed ready to give birth. When the hybrid advanced on the Marines, Lana shot it through the head with one of her 9.1s. Sheldon was now able to get a complete scan of the hatchery. Afterwards, it was burned.
Carefully and comprehensively, the Mobile Mine was searched for anymore presence of Genestealers or survivors; however, none were found. Baker’s two wounded Marines were taken to medical, where Chelsey administered some first aid until Falconer’s medics arrived.
Concerning the wounded Marines, Sheldon had to mention that the Genestealers that had attacked them were not fully grown, in fact, quite immature from what they would’ve been after, at least, twenty-four hours. None of them had any real biomorphs, something they all could’ve had given enough time, something they all should be cautioned about should they meet this type of Tyranid again.
At first the Captain was hoping they had put an end to the Genestealer problem. But, after an investigation of the crew of the Mine, they found two things: three of the crew were unaccounted for...and that wasn’t counting Cocker himself, who’s body had not been found. Also, of the vehicles that were supposed to be present at the Mine, three of them were missing, as was Cocker’s airseld. Eventually, they learned that one of the three missing vehicles was taken by someone that left before Cocker had reached the Mine; but, that still left two speeders and Cocker’s airsled, any of which could be carrying Terran-Tyranid hybrids.
Eventually, Baker’s Space Marines and Lieutenant LaFong were transported back to Zion, where the General’s Yacht was there waiting for them. As they boarded, Lana received an update from Falconer, what he considered, good news:
“We found Cocker and his airseld out in the middle of nowhere. He was dead; apparently, according to Sheldon, he thinks these Hybrids only have a very short life span. If the other missing speeders had Hybrids, and we don’t encounter them in a few days, then it’s possible this Genestealer problem might be over with. However, if it not, I think we can handle it locally. Again...I want to thank all of you for your help.” He smiled, joking, “if you don’t mind me saying so, I hope we don’t have to see each other again for a long time.”
As for the Tyranids on Thanatos-5, as time passed, they remained strangely silent and benign.