Modern/Delta Green - The Beginning of the End (COMPLETED) - Page 18
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    PX Poker Night: Part 4 – The NCO Club

    Hammer opened the door to a room full of people. It was startling to see so many people in one place – it had been that long since any more than three of them were together.

    They were all there: Lynn Carter, the hot chick. Laura Dunsany, the pissy administrative assistant. Brian Lundy, the not-too-bright groundskeeper. Robert Bach, the former special agent. Clark Smith, who still had his tattoos from his gang days. O’Shea, Campbell, and Long were there too. They were all seated around the table, a deck of cards out, cigarettes and ashtrays smoldering. And over it all lorded Sprague.

    Major Louis Sprague was a large man in his forties. He had dishwater pale blue eyes and blond feathered hair that gave him an appearance not unlike that of an eagle. It was marred only by the green visor he wore in his role of dealer of the poker game. A cigar dangled from his bloodless lips.

    Long nodded at Hammer. O’Shea flashed a grin at Guppy. And Campbell just stood off to the side, arms crossed.

    Sprague’s predator gaze focused on Caprice as he entered the room. “You. Why weren’t you at your post?”

    Caprice’s expression of resignation meant he knew exactly where this was going. “I took a walk.”

    “You took a walk?”

    Caprice shrugged. “If you haven’t noticed, it’s pretty boring around here.”

    “Boring, huh?” Sprague laughed. “You hear that? He said this place is boring!”

    Nobody laughed except Lundy, who was too stupid to know not to.

    Sprague stood up. “Now you listen to me, @$$wipe. I’m the king here and this is my kingdom. And you’re not a prince, or a knight, or even a serf. You’re a god damned peasant, and you live or die in this place by my good graces. Right now you’re teetering on a knife’s edge, so I suggest you choose carefully what you say next or I’ll bounce your ass out of here so hard your momma will feel it.”

    “That’s a very nice speech,” said Caprice, “but don’t you think—“

    “That’s it.” Sprague tossed a key to Campbell. “Take this joker back to the unused dormitories and lock his dumb ass in there until I decide what to do with him.”

    Campbell cracked his knuckles. “With pleasure.” Campbell walked over to Caprice and grabbed his shoulder.

    Sprague turned to the others. “This is what happens when you disobey orders. Say goodbye to your career.” He addressed Campbell again. “If he resists, punch him in the face.”

    “Please,” said Campbell with a menacing grin. “Resist.”

    Caprice sighed. “I’m the lucky one. I don’t have to spend it with Major Douchebag.”

    “Get him out of here,” snarled Sprague.

    Campbell marched him out. The door slammed shut behind him.

    “Where was I?” Sprague started dealing cards. “Oh yeah. The van parked in the graveyard is to be avoided. Don’t interfere with the visiting staff’s operations. You’re all confined to the base until the visiting staff has left.” He dealt a full hand to the two spots with empty stools. “So take a seat boys and ante up. We’re going to be here for awhile.”

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    PX Poker Night: Part 5 – Unused Dormitories

    Campbell half-shoved Caprice most of the way to the dormitories.

    “Don’t have a brig, huh?”

    “Do you ever shut up?” snarled Campbell.

    “Don’t you find it a little odd that there’s a van we’re not supposed to interfere with on base here? I thought all we did was service planes.”

    “Unlike you, I follow orders,” said Campbell. “And I plan to get out of here.”

    “When is that exactly?” asked Caprice. But he didn’t get an answered.

    Campbell unlocked the door. “Get in.”

    Caprice peered into the darkness. Campbell planted one foot on his back and kicked him in.

    The door slammed behind him. There was the jangle of the padlocked chain around the door handle as Campbell locked it. The door didn’t actually lock from the outside.

    There was only a peephole as Caprice’s window to the outside world. It was clear it wasn’t meant to be used for incarcerating prisoners.

    Caprice could get out if he wanted to. The windows weren’t barred. The only obstacle was Campbell and his M-16.

    “You notice anything weird about that van?” he asked through the thin door.

    Campbell sighed but didn’t say anything.

    “Why were they all wearing motorcycle helmets? That’s not standard issue.”

    “Like you know anything about standard issue,” said Campbell. “You’re not an officer either.”

    “Yeah, well you’re a pretty poor imitation of an airman so we’re even.”

    Campbell turned suddenly and punched the door. It rattled from the impact. “You know, your face is starting to piss me off.”

    “My face?” asked Caprice. He tried not to laugh. The man couldn’t even see him.

    “You’re really starting to piss me off,” said Campbell. “You think it’s funny? You think you’re better than me?”

    “I uh didn’t say that,” said Caprice. He didn’t like Campbell’s new tone. It had shifted from surly to aggressive. He backed away from the door.

    “I’m gonna come in there and…” Campbell trailed off.

    Caprice stared at the doorknob. Nothing happened.

    After a minute of silence, Caprice asked. “Campbell?”

    He peered through the peephole.

    Campbell was staring at the door. His face was oddly curved through the peephole, twisting his features into a monstrous parody with a long nose. Caprice’s eyes were bulging. His mouth hung open in mid-speech.

    “Campbell? Buddy? You okay?”

    Campbell didn’t respond.

    “Anybody?” shouted Caprice. “I think Campbell had a stroke or something.”

    A long trail of glistening drool spilled over the edge of Campbell’s lip.

    Caprice pulled open the door as far as it would open, enough so that he could push his face through the door. “Hey. Campbell?” whispered Caprice through the opening. “You feeling all right?”

    Campbell didn’t respond. He was frozen in mid-rage like a mime, one finger pointed at the door, as if he would jab his finger right through Caprice’s skull. His pupils had shrunken to dots.

    “Campbell?”

    Nothing.

    “I don’t want to do this to you dude, but I figure if this won’t wake you up nothing will.” Caprice took a deep breath. Then he reached down into his toes and the back of his throat, gargled up a wad of phlegm, and with perfect precision, hocked a yellowish glob of spit.

    It hurled over and over through the air. Caprice watched it tumble in slow-motion.

    The gob of spit and phlegm struck Campbell in the cheek. It slowly slid down the side of his cheek and joined the trail of spittle down his chin.

    “…kick your ass!” screamed Campbell. His body jerked into action.

    “Welcome back,” said Caprice.

    Campbell reached up, touching his cheek. A string of spit and phlegm stretched from his finger to his face. Campbell’s face turned red.

    “You spat on me, you son of a bitch?”

    “Now wait a minute…”

    He unholstered the M-16 from his shoulder. “I’ll F**#$%G KILL YOU!”

    Caprice dove down from the door. The machinegun fire peppered the door, the M-16 rattling with all the rage that was bottled up in Campbell. It was so loud that all Caprice could do was cover his ears and scream.

    The door shuddered as if pounded on by a thousand fists. Caprice couldn’t believe it was still standing—the door dangled from the frame by the lock alone.

    The machinegun fire went on and on. Caprice kept screaming. He emptied the entire clip.

    Finally, silence. Gunfire still echoed in Caprice’s ears; he could feel the vibration in his chest.

    Caprice crawled to his knees. Beyond the door was silence once more.

    The door’s wood was splintered so much that he could see through it. The dark shadow of Campbell was there. One arm was lifted, as if he was holding his head.

    Caprice slowly reached for the doorknob.

    He peered through the holes. Campbell had something pointed at his head.

    “Campbell?” he whispered.

    A single pistol shot rang out.

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    PX Poker Night: Part 6 – Was That a Gunshot?

    Hammer looked up from his cards. He thought he heard something.

    Guppy was still staring intently as his own hand, struggling to figure out the game. Long exchanged glances with Hammer.

    Long won the hand. “Piss break, chief?” he asked.

    Sprague took his cigar out of his mouth. “Make it fast.”

    Long nodded, but the nod was more in the direction of Hammer. They both got up.

    In the rest room, Long tapped his hand on the urinal.

    Tap-tap-tap.

    “You okay?” asked Hammer, next to him.

    Tap-tap-tap.

    “Yeah, I’m fine.”

    “You seem a little tense.” Hammer zipped up and washed his hands. “Something weird’s going on. Did you hear that gunshot?”

    “You heard it too?” Long zipped up and walked over to the other sink. He tapped his foot as he washed his hands.

    Tap-tap-tap.

    Hammer didn’t bother to point it out. “I think we should check it out. How long do you think we have?”

    “A few minutes, tops,” said Long. “I’ve got your back. Let’s go.”

    “Thanks man.” Hammer slid out of the men’s restroom, looked both ways, and then made his way to the door. Sprague, involved in trying to teach Guppy the nuances of poker, didn’t notice.

    Hammer jogged his way across the field. He skidded to a stop as he saw Campbell lying in a pool of his own blood.

    “Hot Pants? You in there?”

    Long picked up the M-16, eyes glazed. “I don’t like this.”

    There was a low moan from behind the door. Hammer kicked it open and the door gave easily, lock and all.

    At first he thought Caprice was dead. But then he realized that he was on the ground, clutching his head.

    Long reloaded the M-16 with a spare clip off of Campbell’s body.

    Hammer got down on one knee. “You hurt?”

    “The sound…” groaned Caprice, rolling around. “You can’t hear it?”

    Hammer helped him to his feet. “What sound? What the hell happened?”

    Caprice tried to clear the cobwebs, blinking. “I…I’m not sure. Campbell went nuts. Then there was a gunshot…”

    Hammer nodded. “He shot himself in the head.”

    “Jesus…” Caprice looked down, gingerly stepped around Campbell’s corpse. “What the hell?”

    “I don’t know.” Hammer patted the pistol snug in his waistband. “But I think it has to do with--”

    “IT’S IN THE VAN!” shrieked Long at the top of his lungs. He was charging towards the van, firing wildly.

    “Stand down, sir!” shouted one of the men through an amplifier in his helmet, weapon raised.

    “THEY’RE TREATING US LIKE RATS!” shouted Long. He didn’t slow his stride.

    “Open fire!”

    Both guard let loose, with their M-16s. Long crumbled with another piteous shriek.

    Hammer took Campbell’s pistol and tossed it to Caprice. “Let’s get the others and get the hell out of here.”

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    PX Poker Night: Part 7 – Things Fall Apart

    Sprague looked up from his cards. His gaze fell on Caprice as Hammer led him into the room.

    “What the hell is he doing here?”

    The others all looked up.

    “Campbell and Long are dead, sir,” said Hammer. “I found Caprice on the floor.”

    “On the floor?” asked Sprague. “That’s nice. He was incarcerated so I think he should stay there.”

    “Sir, maybe you didn’t hear him,” interjected Smith. He got up from the card table, his posture menacing. “He just said that two of our men are dead.”

    “I heard what he said,” snarled Sprague. “And it’ll be handled.”

    “I think this has something to do with the van,” said Guppy.

    Sprague placed his cigar in a nearby ashtray. “That’s exactly my point. There are professionals on site who are going to deal with this.”

    “The guards at the van shot Long dead,” interjected Hammer.

    “Then he got too close. Now it’s unfortunate about Campbell—“

    “Unfortunate?” asked Smith. “He’s dead, for Christ’s sake!”

    “And as far as I’m concerned we may be staring at his killer,” said Sprague. “Hammer, I want you to handcuff Creed to the chair.”

    “Sir, if you’d just listen—“ began Hammer.

    Sprague reached down and came up with a pistol pointed at Hammer’s head. “I said,” Sprague repeated slowly, “handcuff him.” He cocked the pistol. “I am NOT going to ask you AGAIN soldier!”

    In a flash, Hammer’s Beretta was out aimed at Sprague. “Put the pistol down.”

    “Where the hell did you get that?” shouted Sprague.

    “Everybody calm down,” said Guppy.

    Smith slowly edged around the side of the table towards Sprague…

    The lights flickered. For a split-second Sprague looked away.

    There was the blinding flash of two pistols firing in rapid succession. When the lights came back on, Sprague was on the ground, gasping and writhing, blood pumping from a wound in his shoulder. Hammer was still standing, his gun barrel smoking.

    Smith was slumped over the table, face down, blood spreading all over the cards.

    “All right, I’m taking charge.” Hammer’s pistol brooked no argument. “Dunsany, try to bind the Major’s wounds with whatever we’ve got in here. Hot Pants, search the Major’s quarters, see if you can find those papers he received from the men in the van. Guppy, get us into the armory.” He looked around. “I need someone who’s good with a rifle.”

    Bach stepped forward. He was a tall, well-built man with small patches of grey speckling his full head of brown hair. “I’m your man.”

    “Good.” Hammer picked up Sprague’s Beretta and tossed it to Bach.

    “I thought you said you needed a rifleman?”

    “I do; that’ll help you get one.” He nodded at O’Shea. “I need a driver. You up for it?”

    O’Shea brightened. “Hell yeah! What you need me to drive?”

    “A snow plow.”

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    PX Poker Night: Part 8 – The Snow Plow

    Guppy, Caprice, Long, Hammer, and O’Shea met at the snowplow.

    Several hangers had been turned into parking garages for the base’s vehicles. O’Shea was in the idling two-and-a-half-ton three-axle truck with a snowplow mounted on the front.

    “No luck on the weapons,” said Guppy. “I got through the first two locks, but the third is a combination. I could break into it if I had my tools, but we don’t have the time.”

    “Did you find anything in Sprague’s room that might suggest a combination?” Hammer asked Caprice.

    Caprice shook his head. “Nope. But I did find a stack of papers talking about a SONNET device. Something about all non-MOONDUST personnel deemed expendable.”

    “S$%t,” cursed O’Shea. “You think they mean us?”

    “You could say that.” Caprice handed O’Shea a color print out with his photo on it. “They’ve got profiles on all twelve of us.”

    “Whatever this SONNET thing is, it’s got to be in that van,” said Hammer. “O’Shea? On my mark, you ram the van. Keep the plow up and in front of the windshield for as long as you can.”

    “Right.” O’Shea revved the engine.

    “Bach, Long had the only M-16. So you’re going to have to get it off his dead body. It’s about forty yards out from the van. Think you can get to it?”

    Bach’s expression was grim. “If O’Shea can provide enough of a distraction, maybe. What about you guys?”

    “We’re going to loop around back and come at them from the other side. Hopefully, one of us will make it.”

    “This is a s&!++y plan,” said Bach.

    “It’s the best we’ve got,” said Hammer. He drew his Glock. “On my mark. Ready? Go!”

    The truck squealed into action, peeling out with the huge plow blade at the forefront. Running behind it for a few yards, Hammer, Caprice, Guppy, and Bach ran at a full-out clip behind it.

    Gunfire started peppering the plow. Hammer, Caprice, and Guppy peeled off to the left. Bach peeled off to the right, sprinting towards Long’s body.

    They fired their pistols blindly, but the guards didn’t flinch.

    Bach made it to Long’s body. He dove to the ground and came up with the M-16.

    “I don’t believe it,” panted Caprice. “This is actually going to…”

    Gunfire continued to pepper the truck with the snowplow. Suddenly, O’Shea jerked the wheel, turning the truck so hard that it nearly tipped over.

    Bach inserted a clip into the M-16 and lifted it to his shoulder.

    “BACH!” shouted Hammer. “LOOK OUT!”

    Bach was so intent on firing at the van that he didn’t have time to react. The plow blade ripped his torso upwards, snapping organs and tendons. Bach let out a brief shriek before his lungs fell out of his rib cage. The truck thump-thumped over his legs.

    “Jesus!” shouted Caprice.

    “Hot Pants, give me your gun!” Hammer pointed at the plow. “Get that thing moving!”

    Caprice tossed his pistol to Hammer. Then he and Guppy sprinted to the idling truck.

    Hammer fired a series of well-placed shots at the van, still advancing. This time the shots were on target enough to give the guards pause. They took cover around the side of the van, returning burst fire.

    Caprice made it to the plow. O’Shea was dead; his sudden turn had exposed him to machinegun fire.

    Caprice was in the middle of reaching for the door handle when he fell to the ground, clutching his eyes.

    “What is wrong?” asked Guppy.

    “The lights! Can’t you see them? Ahhh!”

    Guppy opened the door and rolled O’Shea’s body out. Then he dragged Caprice to his feet and shoved him into the truck.

    Machinegun fire echoed beyond the truck’s plow. Hammer was keeping the guards busy, but even a crack shot like him couldn’t keep them occupied for long.

    Guppy clambered into the truck. “Hold on tight,” he shouted.

    Guppy released the clutch and slammed his foot on the gas pedal.

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    PX Poker Night: Part 9 – The Van

    Hammer kept firing and running.

    The guards weren’t concerned about precision. They sprayed the area with weapons fire whenever they thought they could get a shot. It was all Hammer could to do keep their heads down.

    What the hell was taking Caprice and Guppy so long?

    Then he was at the van. It reverberated with an odd humming sound.

    “Delta team, this is SONNET,” came a man’s voice from inside the van. “Situation critical. Backup requested.”

    Hammer threw open the door to the back of the van and hopped inside, yanking it closed behind him. He surprised two other men in bulky helmets similar to the guards, sans armor. Their attire gave the distinct impression of humanoid insects.

    A large electronic device filled the back half of the van. Visible through a small glass window in a safe-like door of the device was a glowing piece of crystal. A chemically powered crystal slowly ticked digital time.

    The men drew their own pistols.

    Before anyone could say anything, a horrible whine and electrical sizzle racked the van. Something brilliantly blue and white floated overhead, obliterating all shadows. Energy arced between the men’s helmets and the surfaced of the van, their bodies twitching and jerking. Red and white gushes of fluid spilled out from beneath their helmets.

    There was another sizzle and pop from outside. Through the bulletproof windows, Hammer could see that the lights in the base went out, plunging the place into darkness except for the glow of the ship hovering overhead.

    Then the crystal craft suddenly plummeted, sporadically glowing, falling among the mothballed aircraft on the north end of the base. It hit the grounded aircraft with a series of reverberating booms.

    The crystal in the device pulsed brightly once, then faded into a dull glow. It was completely dark, except for the glow from the crystal.

    It took a moment for Hammer to realize he was still alive and the two scientists were dead. One man was slumped over the wheel in front, also dead. Their helmets slowly rolled off their sagging necks – there was nothing but bloody fluid where their heads had been.

    He caught sight of a well-marked mechanical lever labeled “emergency shutdown.” Hammer pulled the lever.

    The crystal slowly dropped into a lead-lined safe at the bottom of the device. The pulsing stopped.

    Hammer cocked his head. Something was roaring towards the van....

    Then the snowplow hit.

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    PX Poker Night: Part 10 – First Contact

    The crystalline ship lay among the wreckage of the aircraft on the north side of the base, about a half-mile from the barracks and NCO club.

    Guppy hopped out of the truck. Caprice stumbled out of the door on the passenger’s side.

    The van was flipped on its side. Headless bodies were littered around it.

    Guppy and Caprice picked up the discarded M-16s. “Hammer?” asked Caprice.

    The doors to the van swung open and Hammer crawled out.

    “You okay?” asked Guppy.

    “I was until you hit me with the snowplow,” muttered Hammer.

    “Good job on the guards,” said Caprice. “What did you do, explode them with your mind?”

    Hammer shook his head. “Wasn’t me.”

    “Then what did this?” asked Guppy.

    Hammer’s gaze was unfocused, staring past him. He slowly rose one finger to point. “Them, I think.”

    Two beings walked away from the crash site. They stood at four feet tall with Grey skin. Their bodies were elongated and lacking in muscular definition. Their legs were shorter and jointed differently than a human, giving them an awkward gait. Their arms were raised in an exaggerated gesture of surrender: arms up, far away from each other. Their hands had three digits and a thumb on each hand. They had a bulbous, hairless head supported by a thin neck, which was dominated by large, black lidless eyes. They had small flat noses, small mouths and small ears.

    A glowing ball followed behind them. The apparent leader held a piece of crystal atop its head, balancing it carefully and replacing it when it fell to the ground.

    Guppy screamed and cowered behind the van.

    “What the hell…?” asked Caprice in surprise. He looked back and forth from Guppy to the Greys.

    The leader said in a deep voice with no nasal quality to it at all, “Us require assistance, our dog are injured, and must be freed before it ceases. Us are weak, and the door are beyond our capacities. Us require assistance.”

    The crystal fell off the leader’s head. It struggled to pick it back up.

    “You’re afraid of these things?” asked Hammer in disbelief.

    “You don’t understand!” shouted Guppy, concealed behind the van. “You don’t know what they did to me!”

    “You guys bring pets with you?” asked Caprice skeptically.

    “Dog are injured. Will cease soon. Us require assistance.” The Grey leader restored the crystal to its head.

    “Yeah, we get it,” said Hammer. “We need help with a crystal in the van. We think it’s the same device that crashed your ship.”

    “Us will help after assistance.”

    “I get it. Fine, I’ll go.” Hammer checked the ammunition in both pistols. He took a few more clips from the headless bodies around the van. “You coming?”

    Caprice glanced backwards at the van. Guppy remained silent, still hiding.

    “I think we’ll stay out here,” said Caprice.

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    PX Poker Night: Part 11 – The Ship

    The ship was a thirty-foot diameter saucer, twelve feet from top to bottom. The entire exterior is made of a dull-like material that looks like lead. Three curved triangular windows protrude from the front of the craft. Although it seemed to have crashed, the surface was unmarked. The runway was pitted from the impact. The craft glowed dimply and surrounding the hull was debris from the inside of the ship, including three badly burned Grey bodies.

    Hammer stepped up to the ship. “I don’t suppose there’s a door here anywhere…”

    A single entry ramp opened from the bottom center of the craft. The craft rose slightly to allow the small steps to lower. Mist spilled out of the entrance, glowing with a yellow light.

    Inside was a low-ceiling interior made of a soft red-brown adobe-like material. It was carefully and ergonomically shaped. The ceilings were gracefully arched and the corridors serpentine and smooth. The floors were made of a shiny black material which was covered in tiny green and purple writing. Every square foot of the ceiling was covered in tiny sigils.

    The Greys entered behind Hammer. The tunnel interior seemed much larger than the exterior of the craft would allow. It was littered with strange objects.

    The tunnels beyond branched in three different directions. A smashed Grey body lay in the center tunnel, its arms broken at both the forearms and shoulders. The Greys walked ahead of Hammer, ushering him on.

    The room was spherical and all the surfaces seemed to be made of clay. A very large chunk had peeled off in a thick strip and pinned a small hideous creature to the ground.

    “What the…” Hammer leaned closer to take a look at the “dog.”

    It was approximately six feet long, not much bigger than a human being, and was built somewhat like a crab, composed of sponge-like material covered in irregularly-spaced bits of chitinous exoskeleton. The part that appeared to be the head changed colors as Hammer watched, from red to blue and back again. It had no offensive-looking teeth or claws.

    “This is your dog?”

    The Greys started moving the rubble, although it was no more effective than children digging with their bare hands. Hammer started hefting some of the pieces off when Guppy ran in, panting.

    “Guppy?”

    “Hammer!” shouted Guppy, eyes wild.

    “What’s going on?”

    “It’s back!” shouted Guppy. His eyes were practically bulging, panting from the exertion. “It’s back!”

    “What’s back? It’s got to be pretty bad for you to be in here…” Hammer gestured around him.

    Guppy was careful to not look around. “I…uh…”

    “What is it?” said Hammer, lifting another piece of rubble and tossing it aside.

    “The thing…at the Kalms’ house…”

    “The dimensional shambler?”

    Guppy nodded. “It’s back!”

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    PX Poker Night: Part 12 – Good Dog

    Guppy and Hammer worked together to lift the last piece of rubble off of the crab-like thing. It made a buzzing squeal noise that sounded like a bad recording of a dog’s whimper.

    “There,” said Hammer. “Your dog is free. Now we need your help with—“

    The lights went out.

    Cold tiny fingers clawed at his arms. Hammer blindly swung outward, knocking one of the Greys down with ease.

    Guppy made a low moan of terror.

    The ball of light, which dimmed along with the lights in the ship, suddenly illuminated, blinding them. It zipped out of the room.

    Hammer swung blindly with one pistol in his hand. The “dog” was gone, along with the light. The Greys were lifeless on the ground, having fallen where they stood. And Guppy pointed a shaking pistol at him.

    “Guppy, what is wrong with you?”

    “They’ll never take me!” screamed Guppy. He squeezed the trigger.

    Hammer spun as the bullet punched a hole through his shoulder. He hit the ground hard.

    Guppy kept firing. He was shooting bullets in the heads of the Greys. Their spongy heads jerked with every pistol shot.

    Hammer lifted his pistol and took careful aim.

    Guppy looked in shock as his pistol was shot out of his hand. He turned to look at Hammer, eyes brimming with tears.

    Hammer didn’t give him a chance to react. He slammed into Guppy with a flying tackle. Despite the pain, he was still stronger than Guppy. He shifted the smaller Indian man into a headlock and held him there.

    Guppy gasped and wheezed, clawing at Hammer’s face. Eventually, his struggling ceased.

    Caprice was at the entryway. “What the hell are you two doing in here?”

    “Long story,” said Hammer. “Help me with Guppy.”

    They helped Guppy to his feet.

    “There’s something big and ugly outside,” said Caprice. “It keeps fading in and out. I heard some people screaming…I think it got to the staff in the NCO Club.”

    “We have to get to the truck,” said Hammer. “And then we have to get the hell out of here.”

    Caprice pointed at the bloodless grey bodies. “What about them?”

    “Leave them. We can call in a team to clean it up later. If there’s anything left of them worth cleaning up.”

    They made their way to the ship’s exit. The van and truck were still there, with one exception.

    “What happened to the bodies?” asked Hammer as they half-carried, half-dragged Guppy to the truck.

    “That dimensional whatever was eating them,” he said. “Picks the bodies up and disappears with them.”

    They threw Guppy into the back of the truck. Then Hammer got into the driver’s side.

    Caprice opened the door on the passenger’s side just in time to see a ghostly claw slash through the truck’s steering wheel, shredding Hammer’s chest and tearing the door off in the same motion. He hit the ground ten feet away, unconscious.

    “S#!T!” shouted Caprice, hopping backwards from the truck.

    Slowly, the thing unfurled itself in the center of the truck’s engine. Its hide hung loosely upon its frame, and its rugose, dead-eyed rudiment of a head swayed drunkenly from side to side. Its forepaws were extended, with talons spread wide, and its whole body was taut with murderous malignity despite its utter lack of facial description. It reached for Guppy’s inert form.

    In the distance, Caprice could hear a heavy thumping in the air, but he ignored it. He had been suffering from hallucinations ever since the SONNET machine was turned on.

    “Hey!” shouted Caprice. “Over here!”

    The thing ignored him, reaching through the cab of the truck for Guppy’s head.

    Caprice raised his pistol with both hands and took aim. He squeezed off two shots at the thing’s head. It went right through it.

    “Hey! Over here!”

    The shambler turned around, its dead eyes focusing on him. Then it slowly sank into the truck.

    Caprice finally pinpointed the source of the sound. It was an AH-65 helicopter.

    “Not so tough…” began Caprice when he felt the thing’s unnatural presence prick his skin.

    “Down!” shouted the pilot through the chopper’s amplified speakers.

    Caprice ducked down as the chaingun let loose metal hellfire on the shambler behind him.

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    PX Poker Night: Conclusion

    The agents were flown out to Offut Air Force base in Omaha, where they received excellent medical care.

    Caprice was the only one not drugged up. When Sprague walked into the room, he wished he was.

    Major Sprague was in full military dress. “Surprised to see me?” he asked with a deadly smirk.

    Caprice didn’t say anything.

    “That’s what I thought. Yeah, I’m part of Majestic-12 too. Longer than you’ve been in the club, that’s for sure. We think that the Greys fled because Agent Guppy here was carrying alien weapons technology in direct violation of the Accord—“

    “Fled? We weren’t carrying any weapons! You took them away from us, remember?”

    Sprague waved him off. “We were all affected by the SONNET testing. Who’s to say what happened? From here on out, its regulation arms only.”

    “Wait…Majestic-12 tested that weapon on us?”

    “We were an unfortunate casualty,” said Sprague. “The base was an area where Greys are active. Majestic-12 had to test the SONNET weapon as a safeguard if the Greys ever break the Accord.“

    “What’s the Accord?”

    “Don’t worry about it. All you need to know is that the mission was a resounding success. Going forward, there will be none of these hocus-pocus missions dealing with supernatural bull$#!t. You’re still a part of CIFA and it’s time you started acting like it and defending this great nation.”

    “What happened to the other personnel?”

    “Besides you three?” Sprague looked around. “There are no other personnel. Never were.”

    “You’re a real @$$hole, you know that?”

    “That may be, but you’re going to learn to love me.”

    “Oh yeah?” snarled Caprice. “Why’s that?”

    “Because I’m your new case officer.”

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