Approx. 2000 words
All Rights Reserved
Copyright 2015 SJ
written by SJ
Falconer’s two Planetary Guard platoons and Baker’s Space Marine squad landed on Moreau Island under an almost constant downpour of rain. The island was basically tropical, and even though it was a tropical island far in the future in comparison to Old Earth, it still rained quite often. However, there was no really dense foliage, and any trees were dwarfs in comparison to what they would be. The most prominent tree type looked sort of like a miniature palm tree only with much fewer leaves, sometimes just one large one at the top, which hung down making the tree look lopsided.
As they advanced inland, it was obvious very little of the foliage had survived, just a burned out wasteland. Falconer’s numerous bombing attacks had done their job, turning any and all Tyranid life into blackened lumps, Sergeant Baker’s bio-scanner confirming what his eyes told him: everything was dead.
Falconer and his headquarter's team had landed last, Zargos’ Ratling squad and Lieutenant LaFong being part of that group. After about an hour, the all clear was given to move inland, even though they hadn’t accounted for the Ravener group that had attacked the survey team. One of Falconer’s consultants, a Tyranid biologist, Specialist Sheldon, suggested that the Raveners had been reconstituted back into the Hive structure. Also, even though the Space Marines were ready for them, they were glad there weren’t any Ripper swarms.
The Tyranids had taken up and occupied almost half of the small island. By the time it was searched, Lana had taken her leave from the Ratling squad and had joined up with the Space Marines and was talking to Sergeant Baker, a stout, heavy, black man, who was a firm but well-liked squad leader.
The Sergeant was glad to see Lana, remembering her back when she was a sergeant. “Well, I guess I can’t call you ‘Little Sarge’ anymore.” He paused, then added, “sir.”
She sighed, not expecting him to treat her like an officer, something he had already assumed. He eventually had to ask, joking, “hey, I heard you killed a couple Lictors single handed.”
“That’s a gross exaggeration and fabrication.” She joked. “I had nothing to do with their deaths and deny everything.”
He laughed. “You just found them that way, huh?”
She shrugged, not having a punch line for her joke.
Then the Sergeant got a call.
“Baker, this is Captain Falconer. One of our satellites picked up a small Tyranid bio-sign on the other side of the island. There’s an old abandoned house over there. No one’s lived there in decades. Can you guys check it out?”
“Yes, sir.” Baker answered formally. “We’re on our way.” He spoke to his squad of eight Marines, who were spread out in teams of two, telling them to close ranks and meet with him.
The Captain continued, less formally. “Hey, is LaFong over there with you?”
“Yes, she is.”
“I’m sending two of my men over there to meet up with you at the house.” He paused like he was speaking to someone, then continued. “Sergeant Zargos said she might come over there also. Falconer out.”
“What wrong...you and this Sergeant don’t get along.” Baker assumed.
“It’s not that.” She sighed again. “She considers us friends, and as such, she keeps offering me one or more of her, men.”
“She’s the sergeant in charge of these four guys, a Ratling sniper squad.” Lana starting acting a little shy. “And, you know, they...”
“Fraternize.” He smiled and almost laughed. “I understand. You’re not interested--”
She frowned and sighed a third time, joking, “yeah...I’m always turned on at the sight and smell of burnt and rotting Tyranid bio-matter.”
He laughed. “Yeah...I see your point. Not the time and place.” He smiled. “And she doesn’t know you like we know you...our shy, little, demure--”
“Alright, that’s enough. Let’s get going, Sergeant...that Tyranid bio-sign’s not getting any younger.”
Falconer described the house as a place where a family once lived a very long time ago, a place very isolated away from all the other colonists. Eventually, one by one, they moved back to be with other people...all except one of them, who stayed until passing away from old age. It hasn’t been occupied since.
The building was made of stone blocks, and decades ago, probably was very sturdy. Now, it was falling apart, crumbling, overrun by vegetation. Lana and Baker stood looking at it, their scanners telling them that the Tyranid bio-sign was inside.
The doors to the house were obviously too small for a man in a battle suit to get through...at least, not without tearing apart part of the door. With a few well placed kicks, two of Baker’s Marines quickly made the front door wider, causing part of the roof to collapse. However, the ruckus did more than scare a few nearby birds.
The first Marine to enter made a yell, then came back out with a Ripper attached to his arm, announcing the obvious, “we got Rippers!”
Unless a Ripper bit a battle suit in just the right spot, it would take some time to gnaw its way through a battle suit. Soon the second Marine had a Ripper attached to his battle suit, also. But, the two Marines worked together, each one getting out their combat knives, killing the attached creatures quickly. A third Ripper came out, but was shot by Baker with his shotgun. He then ordered his two Marines with flamers to burn the house.
If there were anymore Rippers inside the building, they were consumed completely by plasma flames. The house itself was quickly turned into a pile of rocky ashes. As soon as the smoke had cleared, two of Falconer’s Guardsmen showed up, one armed with a flamer. The second Guardsmen was a Master Sergeant, armed with a novapistol. He smiled. “Well, I was about to say, Captain Falconer said he wants us to flame this place. I guess we’re a little late.” Then he saw the dead Rippers. “Where did those come from?”
Lana was already searching though the house, looking around, then at her scanner.
Baker pointed at the house and answered the Guardsman’s question, joking, “they came out when we came a knocking.”
The Master Sergeant immediately began making a call to Falconer, asking for the Tyranid biologist. “Captain, is Specialist Sheldon there with you?”
“Yeah...what’s up.” Falconer answered.
“The Space Marines say they got attacked by some Rippers over here.”
In the background, there was a voice, the biologist. “No, no, that can’t be. The Hive is dead. They’d be dormant.”
“You’re way over by that house, right?” Falconer wanted to make sure.
“Yes. They attacked when we began making noise damaging the house.” Baker spoke up. “If there were anymore inside, they’re ash, now.”
“Yeah...they flamed the house.” The Master Sergeant confirmed.
The biologist sighed. “Well, I guess the Rippers could’ve just been responding instinctively.”
“That Tyranid bio-sign is still here.” LaFong stood inside the remains of the house, pointing at something on the ground. “There’s some stairs over here, going down. The bio-sign is down there.”
Baker and one of the flamer-armed Marines stepped over quickly, aiming their weapons at the opening. The two Guardsmen came over also.
“We can throw some frags down there then flame it from up here?” Baker asked.
“The house must’ve had a cellar.” Falconer mused, then answered, “yeah, go ahead--”
“Wait!” That was the biologist.
At the same time, Lana said the same thing, then asked, making it a question for Specialist Sheldon, “do you have any idea why there would be some kind of Tyranid life form down in this cellar? And, I don’t think it’s more Rippers. They’d be moving around. I’m not picking up any movement.”
“They would’ve attacked you by now, anyway.” Sheldon agreed. “Can one of you go down and take a look...get a good solid scan.”
“Sheldon.” Falconer cautioned. “If there’s a hostile Tyranid creature down there, someone could be killed...unless one of Baker’s Marines can do it.”
“No.” The Space Marine Sergeant replied. “The opening’s too small.”
“I’ll go down.” Lana volunteered. “I have a Tau force shield. And I have the only scanner here that can record all the bio-data you guys need.”
“We’ll go with you.” The Master Sergeant spoke up, referring to himself and his partner with the flamer.
Lana led the way down the stairs, the Guardsmen with the flamer behind her, the Master Sergeant next, the two men happy to see her using a periscope to look around the corner of the stairs. After a few seconds, she walked inside the small cellar and began looking around while she scanned, reporting what she was seeing for the biologist. “There’s bio-matter on the floor and walls...it looks like some kind of small hatchery...and in one corner, maybe a spore pool...I don’t know. I’m sending you some pictures.”
Once Specialist Sheldon had received the pictures, he stared at them intently...obviously finding it hard to believe. “That shouldn’t be there. That thing you said was a spore pool, it looks to me like a used evolutionary sack.” He sighed. “It’s hard for me to believe all that was used just to produce a few Rippers...and so FAR away from the Hive.” He sighed again, wrapping up. “Take a few more pictures, finish up your scans, and we’ll try to analyze it later.”
“Once your done, flame the cellar.” Falconer looked at the biologist for confirmation.
“Yeah...go ahead and burn it.”
“Afterwards, we’ll give the area another sweep, then head on back?” Baker wanted to make sure.
“Okay...see you then.” Falconer concluded.
The island invasion had taken place early in the morning using Falconer’s spaceship. By late afternoon, everyone was back at Moreau Base having a nice lunch.
After dodging Zargos’ offer of a ménage à trois with two of her men, Lana met with Falconer at one of the lunch tables. She had been thinking about something ever since she had investigated the house on Moreau Island, and had to finally ask, “did Cocker ever go to investigate that first Lictor lair?”
The Captain thought a second, then answered. “Oh, yeah. He left in his airsled almost as soon as you guys got back. He’s probably been over there and done by now.” He analyzed Lana’s concerned expression. “Why...what’s wrong?”
“Well, I was just thinking about that house where we found those Rippers.” Her concerned look didn’t go away. “It was like they were guarding what was down in that cellar. Cocker said it was unusual for a Lictor to have a lair inside a building.” She sighed. “Maybe it was guarding something there also. And...”
Falconer suddenly got Lana’s gist. “If Cocker finds Rippers there--then!” He quickly made contact with the Base’s communications room. “I want you guys to contact Cocker, ASAP. He should be way over to the north past that Mobile Mine.”
They both waited...
Eventually, someone at communications room said they couldn’t reach him, adding in the fact his phone was dead. Finally, Falconer slapped his hand on the table. “DAMN! He better not have gotten himself killed. He should’ve waited until someone could go with him.” He looked at Lana, then at Sergeant Baker, then back at Lana. “Can you guys go over there and help us look for him?”
Specialist Sheldon was sitting nearby. “I need to go with you. If there’s something there, I want to see it first hand.”
After LaFong and Baker had agreed, Falconer ordered his spaceship to get ready.