Awakening

NA: Here... I present to you, a small gift.

Krystal's mind was a frenzied, directionless flurry of firing neurons fueled by an emergency dump of pure adrenaline that suppressed any notion to stand and fight. This was not a situation for heroics or valorous acts of courage, her brain instead deemed it necessary to drop anything that did not pertain to survival, operating in these tense, fear addled seconds, by pure reactionary thought.

So when a highly stressed and even more motivated vulpine blasted past her with an uncharacteristic yelp, she felt her own legs renew their assault upon the floor as she struggled to pass Fox in their unspoken competition to not be the last one to lag behind, and therefore be that much closer to that which gave chase.

There was little show of comradery in their race for survival, less one counted the fact neither attempted to sabotage their opponent with an underhanded trick. Ahead of them, they could scarcely see the backs of Miyu and Falco, the feline pulling farthest ahead of the retreating party. Even in her mania Krystal was not surprised to see the lynx outperforming all of them. The female was, even for a cat, at the peak of physical fitness, a direct and currently enviable result of her distinguished military record.

Another bellowed and incoherent exclamation of rage from behind her, reminded the vixen that now was not the time to ponder. The increased volume of their pursuer was cause for concern.

Whatever it was, it was gaining on them.

She could almost feel the hot breath of the beast upon the nape of her neck, the sour scent of sulfur and the coppery tang of blood lingering in her nostrils with each bated inhalation. The smell brought a flutter of familiar emotions, the tattered remnants of an old memory too ancient and riddled by the cracks in her mostly forgotten youth to remember. It however, was sufficient enough to keep her running long after her legs lost feeling.

She didn't know for how long they sprinted in their aimless fright, it could have been seconds, or even hours. Time was a hard concept to rationalize while they ran in preservation of their continued existence. Yet for whatever length they did spend in a blind panic, the scenery around them had changed.

The claustrophobic hallways they had been scurrying through, gave way to a sprawling atrium of the like found in performance halls or recreational cruises. Hundreds must have passed through here on their circadian day-to-days, before the mysterious calamity had befallen this facility. The corridor they had passed through moments ago let them off on the second floor, with two sets of stairs leading down to the bottom, a fifteen foot plunge otherwise.

The only thought to cross Krystal's mind, was that it was too far a jump to make safely.

"Come on! let's get the fuck out of here!"

Miyu's yowling voice cut sharply through the haze of Krystal's thoughts, and the vixen snapped her head towards the feline standing at another passageway across from them, motioning with a wild paw for the rest of the team to make their way to her.

Krystal didn't know where that would take them, but it had to be a damned sight better than here.

The cerulean vixen followed after Fox, trudging through gore and viscera as she hurried to put distance between herself and whatever it was that gave chase. There was blood… everywhere, it coated entire hallways and pooled in the shallow recesses of the floor, and yet still no bodies, no sign of those whose blood now painted the halls. Even as she ran, as she struggled in vain to cope with this horror, the cerinian could not fully believe what was happening. It was all so… surreal, a waking nightmare she knew she could not escape no matter how hard she tried to wake up. No. This was all very real. The scent alone was enough to cement that realization, and curdle her stomach, but she still she kept running, ignoring the horror in the understanding that to stop for even a moment to take it all in would mean her gruesome death. And Krystal had zero intention of dying down in this underground slaughterhouse.

Firmly placing her foot down, she catapulted herself into a dead sprint to the open mouth of the corridor up ahead, driven by the prospect of even temporary safety, her legs numbed by tireless flight. But her traction wasn't stable. The ridges of her boots' treads were gummed with coagulating blood and ribbons of flesh. And with her stance improperly balanced in her hysterics, she plunged forwards head over heels.

Her helmet clipped to her waist, the vixen's muzzle smashed painfully into the ground with a sickening crack, before she could even throw her arms up to numb the fall. Now sent sprawling across the decking, her elbows collided painfully into the unforgiving metal of the facility's floor. Yet the ground was slick with blood that now appeared to be everywhere in this hellish landscape, and she skidded until she crashed into Fox, who had been just ahead of her.

Unaware of her fall, the vulpine had still been running, and so she caught the heel of his boot as it crashed into her chin with enough force to slam her jaws shut and rattle the teeth in her skull.

Reeling from the blow and the inertia of her stumble, the female fox was launched backwards with a cry of shock as she slid across the ground… and down the staircase.

Her vision suddenly cartwheeled as she plummeted violently down the steps, and she found it impossible to remain oriented as she toppled wildly. Head, arms, legs, head, arms, her limp appendages careened into the steps, guardrail, and even bounced off each other as she thundered down the stairway with a staccato of sharp yelps.

On the last rung she felt her left leg wedge itself in the gap between steps. The vixen let out an exclamation of helpless dread moments before she heard, more than felt, the harsh wrenching of her ankle popping out of its socket as she slammed full body into the bottom floor.

Her ensuing howl of pain was loud enough to ring even her own ears.

"Krystal!" Fox's alarmed voice buzzed disharmoniously in her ears, both as a faintly garbled transmission from the helmet clipped to her waist, and the shout she heard from the top of the staircase.

Suppressing the stomach-churning desire to vomit, the female fox hissed bitterly as she hesitantly, and very carefully, extracted her limp foot from the bottom two rungs. She tried to set the injury there in that moment, but the nauseatingly painful failure of her efforts, the saccharine odor of gutted viscera, and wild tumble dredged up her queasiness and she turned her head to the side to empty her stomach on the floor beside her.

"Krystal if you can hear me… holy fuck GO, RUN! Just get the hell out of there!" Fox screamed at her from above, and the vixen listened in apprehensive shock as several blaster rifles filled her ears with the harsh buzz of flying lasers, met with an answering roar that shook the foundations of her resolve. Yet the sounds of combat slowly faded as the rest of the team no doubt ran for their lives, pursued by the lumbering footsteps of that monstrosity as it howled its rage into the oppressive atmosphere. Yet it seemed as if the spirits still watched over her even in this damned place. The creature did not seem to realize, or care, that she had been separated from her group.

Petrified with indecisiveness, and tenderly rubbing out the pain in her swollen ankle, the vixen lay upon the ground, unable to determine what she would do. Her mind ran wild with pain and confusion, unable to believe what was transpiring despite all she had witnessed. What exactly were they dealing with here? They were under attack by... whatever creature that was, and now she was separated and hampered by her vicious plunge down the staircase.

A hateful reverberation of senseless rage echoed from above, and that proved to be all the motivation she needed to, at the very least, come to the decision that she could not stay where she was. Hurriedly crawling to a nearby table in the small foyer, she used it to boost herself back to her feet. Though she struggled to stay upright, and the pain of her left leg was still very much present, it would suit her better than scrambling about the floor.

The vixen knew that whatever it was that chased after her friends, could very well much still find her. And there was no telling what other horrors might be lurking within the dark halls of the facility. She had to get moving, put some distance between herself and it. Krystal thought on Fox and the others being pursued by that creature as she studied her possible choices, but did not dwell long upon that, knowing she had her own problems to deal with. There were three doors, center, left, and right. And a small navigation station at the center of the atrium that she shambled over to read, wincing at each throbbing step she struggled to take.

Reading the board, she brought her thoughts back to that thing.

Spirits what was that? It couldn't be cornerian, the very thought was laughable. And that was definitely no machine. She had felt its mindless rage and murderous desires. And yet as she wondered at how such a monster could exist, the thought of it was not entirely unfamiliar. She could not place the reason, but it reminded her of… something, some part of her past beyond her recollection.

Krystal shook her muzzle, banishing such unnecessary thoughts knowing this was neither the time nor the place for such idle musing. She didn't have the luxury to speculate. Her friends were in danger, but she was arguably, in the most danger. She was alone, and judging from recent events, they were likely the only ones left alive in this place that were not unholy abominations.

She was not safe here.

As if to reaffirm her assertion, the vixen heard sound emanate from her left, a faint, guttural invocation of an unknown, foul language emanating from behind the access bulkhead. Every joint in her body locked in place, and she shuddered as she listened to the profane sermon whispering softly through the steel.

She had no idea what was behind that door, and she had no desire to find out.

Her choices narrowed to an even fifty-fifty, and being reaffirmed of her understanding that she could not stay put, she once again looked to the information plinth with newfound expediency. She could either try her luck in engineering, or risk delving into the laboratories. Recalling the journey through the suffocating, pitch black and narrow halls of the labyrinthine maintenance corridors, she did not feel like taking the chance that she might encounter more of the same in engineering.

With the laboratories, there was a chance she might find something that could give an explanation for what was happening here, not to speak of what she might find down there. Nevertheless her choices were limited, and it was more about picking the one least likely to get her killed.

A resigned sigh slipped through her bruised and puffy lips as the vixen hobbled inelegantly over to the door in front of her, nursing her inflamed ankle and desperately trying to harden her determination. Bracing against the wall beside the bulkhead, she shifted her grip on her blaster and, after a short prayer to the spirits, she keyed the panel next to her.

The massive steel apparatus juddered on well-oiled machineries as it split into two halves, one receding into the ceiling and the other lowering into the ground to disappear into a hollowed niche. Waiting until the noise had receded, she peered around the corner, heart thudding fearfully in her chest as she expected to find some new horror awaiting her.

Yet it seemed as if the spirits heeded her prayers, the hall as empty and lifeless as any other she had traveled through before. With the threat of attack momentarily abated, she shuffled into motion as quietly as she could on her one good leg.

A loud noise caused her to flinch and a pall of dread washed over her as she feared that the creature had returned for her. Yet before she could devolve into a wild panic, she flung her head back to see the bulkhead lumbering closed, sealing her to her current course of action. The vixen exhaled in relief, an uneasy laugh easing out of her as the female fox's dangerously rattled nerves settled.

"Just gotta keep moving." Krystal whispered to herself, yet even her own voice seemed too loud in the dead silence of the desolate corridor, and would probably prove to be the last words she would speak for quite some time.


Fox tried to feel concern for Krystal, to worry about his absent crew member, but it was hard to focus on anything other than survival as he ran in a pell-mell, full tilt, all or nothing scramble to avoid the sword-like claws of the massive monstrosity that charged after him.

The vulpine yelped as he saw the green flash of light in his periphery, what he learned as the only warning to throw himself out of the way of the ensuing comet of deathly viridian fire that screamed over his head with the crackle of ionic energy.

"Falco!" He barked as he rolled underneath the avian who had just enough warning to jump out of the way.

Before the monster could capitalize on the vulpine's weakness, it reared back in pain as half a dozen blaster bolts burned angry, smoldering tracks into the dark red hide of its torso, only a small taste of the firepower they had already levied against it to little affect. It was as if the creature's skin was impervious to energy weapons.

"Get up Mccloud!' Miyu hissed as she slammed a fresh power pack into her blaster and fired another barrage at the lumbering colossus. "No time to be lying about." She added with a strained chuckle.

Fox wasted little time contemplating on the feline's apparently undaunted witticism as he instead scrambled back to his feet and rushed to meet her and Falco at the end of the corridor. The thing behind him would not wait.

Recovered from its surprise, the monster charged after him with a howl of frustration that drowned out all else in the vulpine's hearing as it echoed through the cavernous corridor.

But he would live to see, at least, the next few minutes.

Sliding across the threshold at the last second, Miyu smashed the emergency lockdown switch and the bulkhead slammed shut with a resounding clang, sealing the giant demonic abomination on the other side of several feet of reinforced steel.

"That won't hold it for long." Falco warned as he took a moment to catch his breath.

"Yeah… I know." Fox sighed as he leaned forwards and braced his paws on his knees, wheezing and panting. The damned thing was relentless, and had been hounding them for what seemed like hours. This was the third security door they had passed through. None of its predecessors had forestalled the… demon's advance for more than a few minutes, enough time for them to put some distance between them and allow the disheveled group to maintain some sort of heading.

He just hoped they'd find their destination before they ran out of doors.

Fox was not a religious individual, he never went to church and his occasional prayers were spoken only in times of great duress, now being a very prominent example. In that way he was about as hypocritical as most anyone else that had ever been born and would likely be born.

Yet, as he thought of the beast that hunted them - sickly green eyes that smoldered with unnatural light, and a set of curved horns sprouting from its massive skull, bound in hide as red as blood and swathed in a miasma of choking sulfur - he found himself wondering if he had been wrong in his initial dismissal.

That thing was no natural creation. It did not, should not, exist anywhere but in superstitious folklore appropriate for terrifying the fanatically devout. Nevertheless there it was, an abomination of brimstone and hellfire, almost as if it had been resurrected straight from holy text and given new, insidious life.

"Let's keep moving." The vulpine whispered softly, ignoring, to the best of his ability, the tantrum of frenzied fists smashing into the bulkhead behind him. It was loud, and considering the implications, unsurprisingly anxiety inducing. Shouldering his blaster and standing tall, if not proud, once more. He spoke. "We can't stay here. We have to keep pressing on to find the main security station. If anything, that's what Krystal will try to do."

At that Miyu looked stricken, as if recalling with great guilt that they had lost a member of their team. Yet her muzzle stiffened as she nodded. Lost, but no dead, not yet. Though they did not know her location, they could still see her vital signs from her suit's biometrics. "Right, well we better get along before big, red, and angry smashes its way through that divider."

"I'd like to state something for the record." Falco turned his gaze outwards, a slight grimace besmirching his soured beak. "And I'd like to make sure, that in the event we actually survive this shit, it be filed and delivered straight to the General himself."

Fox raised a brow, the only signal he would give for the avian to continue as he forced his sore legs into motion.

"Titania fucking sucks."


The elevator doors opened silently, a blue muzzle peering out from within to gauge the survivability of stepping outside. Once confident that death would be, most likely, not instantaneous, the azure vixen slipped out, rifle propped firmly on a forearm in what she hoped would not be a futile means of self-defense.

Her ears twitched and trembled, the triangular appendages hyper sensitive to the slightest noise, the clatter of a faraway door, the patter of footsteps, anything that might give her preemptive warning to run or hide. Alone, and unable to move quickly, she knew that her best chance of remaining alive, was to be unseen and unheard.

Recalling everything she had ever been taught by Fox and Miyu in the art of silent moving, the vixen traversed the blood soaked halls and deserted corridors with halfway proficient skill, delving ever deeper into the research labs. This was the third floor she had combed through; most of the rooms were empty, as if they had only recently been installed. She did her best to look for clues in her search, for anything that would give some sort of explanation for all this, yet she had not checked every room, or indeed every hallway.

Sometimes she had thought she heard movement, or felt the faintest tinge of animosity at the periphery of her unique sensory abilities. And as she had looked to halls, as dark as the blackest night and consumed by sinister shadow, she decided better than to investigate further than her initial examination. For whatever reason power did not flow through some of the systems, and she had no intent to explore the locations where it was absent completely.

Her pace was as quick and quiet as possible on her one good leg, the vixen limping across seemingly endless corridors connected to a myriad of rooms filled with peculiar contraptions. Had she been a scientist, she might have been able to make head or tail of the unusual machines and odd devices. Yet all the same she marveled at the sheer complexity of this underground warren. She speculated at how long it must have taken to excavate a cavern of this magnitude.

With that wonder on her mind, she encountered another branching passageway similar to all previous but for the fact it was guarded by a particularly large door nearly double the size of any she had seen before. The massive bulkhead itself was plastered in bold white italics, denoting the subsection it guarded.

DIVISION A

PROJECT LAZARUS

Or at least, it would have prevented access to the high security labs if not for the gaping hole torn into it. As it was now, anyone could walk inside, three abreast. The vixen had an idea as to what could be responsible for that.

Weighing her options once more, she eventually slipped in through the breach with a silent shake of her head. Not like she had many choices left for her. Retracing her steps seemed like the less than desirable route. The female fox activated the holographic interface on her wrist and took another look at the map. She could hardly make out her position in the expansive network of tunnels, but by her best estimation this would at the least keep her somewhat orientated on her objective.

If she could make it through to the end of this division, she could reach another intersection that just might connect her to the other half of the administrative block. That was of course, barring any unforeseen complications. With her luck so far, she had doubts she would even reach the next passageway.

The vixen looked to her blaster as she traversed the dead silence of the empty labs, once more trying to take comfort in its presence. Yet against the manner of creature that had pursed and separated their team, she had misgivings over its effectiveness. What good would such a weapon do against such a monstrous hulk of flesh and hate?

Against all odds and previous experience she happened across the first juncture unmolested, fairly surprised, she glanced down both paths. Her left and her right were essentially identical but for the different signs. As she read the plaques she felt as if the answer should have been simple, yet nothing about this mission so far seemed so. She looked to the panel labeled Specimen Containment, engendering thoughts of the unusual creature that had attacked them. It was perhaps best to not explore what else could be down there. And yet Artifact Observation seemed just as ominous, though how exactly she could not say.

Why would one only observe an object?

More than that, the use of the singular form of artifact seemed unusual.

She knew from the few times she visited museums on one of Fox's many 'workplace field trips' as he so fondly called their mandatory excursions, that they had entire wings filled with the odd bit of ceramics or ancient native tools. The idea that a research facility would dedicate an entire section to a single relic somewhat puzzled her.

All the same she took off down the left after a moment of deliberation. She could deduce with near confident certainty that an artifact would be far less hazardous to her wellbeing than the chance of running into a 'specimen' of whatever madness these scientist worked on down here.

In the minutes that followed it seemed as if she had made the right choice.

Despite that the sign seemed to indicate otherwise, she saw various antiquities scattered about the open rooms and observation windows she passed in her somewhat aimless travels. Strange works of wrought stone, etched in ancient runes beyond her understanding that glowed with antediluvian energies. She knew not the origins of such extraordinary relics. But since she turned down this corridor she had begun to doubt that this facility had been built to function as advertised.

There had been more than just military research brewing beneath Titania's surface. The gallery of mystic paraphernalia in these halls seemed more at home in the occult, and not in a realm of science and uplifted thought. The informational kiosk at the entrance hinted to some very strange avenues of study. She knew not what it had meant by dimensional exploration, but she could assume that whatever that entailed might have been responsible for that creature, and thus everything else that had gone wrong down here.

Her pondering reminding her of present circumstance, the vixen continued down the hall, deciding to crack the mystery when she was not currently stranded, lost, and alone in a facility crawling with monstrous creatures and other unknown horrors. Her first priority was to regroup with her team. With any luck the others were still making their way towards the central security station. For whatever reason, both communications and navigation from her suit was nonresponsive. She considered the possibility that something might be jamming or otherwise interfering with her equipment's operation.

If she had to hope for the best of the worst, she would prefer it be the latter. The thought of something actively attempting to hinder her efforts to navigate the facility and contact her team, was a thought she could have done without having. She had enough of a problem with the mindless monster that had attacked. The last thing she needed was to learn that either it was smart, or that there was something else incredibly dangerous down here.

The vixen exited another research room after a fruitless effort to find something that might give answer to what was happening down here, what was one of the many terminal laden offices scattered about the laboratory level. Darkness was a constant for her, and slowly the lack of lighting had ceased to be a source of discomfort for her. The animalistic part of her mind took comfort in the low light level that would help keep her hidden from whatever predatory force might be lurking in wait.

Her movements were slow and premeditated, each step planned and her arms kept close to her sides to prevent them from knocking into anything that might generate untoward noise, anything to minimize her sound index, something Fox and Miyu had vaguely explained to her during her training for the team.

She glanced down the hall to her right, eyes straining to discern any sign of something hiding inside the shadows. The female fox was aware that she might not be the only one using the darkness to her advantage. Yet when she could not see or hear any would be monster clinging to the obscurity of the unlit hall, she quickly, albeit silently, traversed the corridor, scanning rooms as she passed for anything to catch her interest.

At the end she peaked around the bend, quickly noticing the faint orange glow emanating from a doorway halfway down the next hallway. It had been easily noticed, the light near blinding to eyes long having adjusted to the constant state of gloom.

Fingers tightened around the grip of her blaster as she stepped into the corridor, following the nearest wall until she stopped just outside the room that had made her curious. A quick look inside revealed a small antechamber connected to a room deeper within. The source of light that drew her in had been a computer sitting at a desktop, the harsh light from the monitor reflecting of the smooth steel behind the counter.

Krystal stepped inside and closed the door behind her, approaching the desk in hopes of learning anything that might at least offer something she could use. At this point she would have been happy to find anything really.

But when she walked around to the terminal, she was forced to revise that attitude.

The vixen felt bile rise as she took an instinctive step back from the corpse slumped on the ground in front of a swivel chair, blaster pistol clutched in a deathly grip. This was the first body she had come across, and all the more jarring for it. Clamping down on her revulsion, she crouched beside the body, hoping to discern cause of death.

The answer became quite apparent within seconds, self-inflicted blaster wound to the lower jaw. The fur around the point of entry had been burned, and it was clear that the shot had punched through her upper palette and out through the top of her head, grisly, but clean and quick at the least.

Krystal sighed heavily.

So… it was suicide then.

She supposed she shouldn't be all that surprised considering. She still had no idea had happened down here, but the cafeteria had been enough of an indication that it had been beyond horrific. And some people, when in such situations, decided that if they could not control everything, they could at least control one thing.

Thanking the spirits that blaster injuries self-cauterized, the vixen quietly moved the corpse to the wall behind the desk, propping it gently against the steel as she took another look at the unfortunate female. A pair of lifeless blue eyes started at her, almost accusingly.

She did not wait to close them.

Hoping to shift her thoughts away from the dreariness of her current predicament, Krystal sat at the desk and drew herself up to the terminal. Thankfully the poor girl had left her terminal unlocked before… taking matters into her own hands. Obviously that had not been a concern of hers at the time. Burying such dark thoughts, the vixen was quick to navigate the workstation, searching for anything that might help explain what had happened here.

It was made clear quickly however, that the previous user had been rather important to whatever work had went on in this lab. Her mail was full of messages sent between her fellow scientists, and all the notes she received from her peers had been labeled Dear Doctor Dervant.

She skimmed through the e-mails, mostly just requests for supplies or complaints about fellow researches, usual things. Closing the unhelpful application, she turned her study to the files stored on the terminal's hard drive, each individually named and categorized with the preciseness only a practiced researcher could bother with. There were some with project titles, undoubtedly containing content relating to whatever it was they were doing down here, but she didn't think she'd have the time to read through and decipher hundreds of pages of scientific jargon. She was after all very much still in danger.

But there was a folder that did interest her, and she was quick to move the mouse and double click on the dossier, a small grin of success briefly crawling across her muzzle.

Doctor Dervant seemed like she had kept an audio journal, one that she must have updated quite often given the sheer quantity of dated notes. Unwilling to waste time, she opened the oldest and began to listen.

4-7-4260

I've just finished settling in, and I can't say I'm not excited. Director Hayden walked me through the facility… the boss himself! It was a little… disconcerting at first. The stories about him were true, and I am embarrassed to admit I may have acted a little inappropriate, but it was impossible not to stare! Nevertheless he seems to have the right attitude, the kind needed for what we're doing down here. And the size of this place! It's huge! I don't know where the Director acquired the funding for all of this, but I won't complain. The tech down here is years ahead of any other firm I've worked for.

No one really knows a lot about the UAC, they kind a just showed up on the radar a few years ago, and the field they're (or we're I suppose) working on is a little… unorthodox to say the least. But they're far more qualified then I thought they'd be. I don't really care though. The benefits were too good to pass up! Well I'll log off for now, still gotta finish unpacking.

Most of the rest of the entries were similarly spoken, and Krystal was somewhat frustrated at the ambiguity and she browsed through a large portion of them with a quickness born of impatience. She didn't have time to linger, and this was her best chance at gaining what little information there was to be gathered.

A sigh passing through her, she clicked on the next entry, nearly halfway down the list.

9-14-4260

They found it! They actually found it! I'll be sure to congratulate Ned when next I see him. But wow they really did, I still can't believe it. It's been months since the guys in artifact observation translated the tablet, and most of us were beginning to think it was hopeless, but yesterday changed all that. Three months of digging and they finally found it… the sarcophagus. I'm told that this is the biggest find in eight years! The Director was immensely pleased when he learned about it, gave everyone the day off and a nice fat bonus to boot!

I knew this job was a good idea.

Even then this just confirms everything we had already hypothesized. It's just… the stories from the tablets, the hieroglyphics, the artifacts, all of the information we gathered and combed through was genuine. It is just really good to be vindicated. For a while I was starting to think we were just chasing legends. But no, it's true!

I'm gonna see if Bryce wants to spend our free day together. He's an alright guy, a little timid but I might be able to make it work.

Krystal felt a smile try and surface at the lighthearted tone, but she buried, made it as dead as the girl behind her. This wasn't a teen girl's diary, this was the journal of a poor woman who had killed herself rather than face whatever horror happened down here.

She clicked on the next entry.

1-18-4261

Sorry if it's been awhile… just been so busy lately with the new project. Director Hayden has poured considerable backing and resources into LAZARUS. He's dedicated an entire floor of the research labs to it now. And while it's a pain in the ass, I am just as excited as he is. Even though it's only been a week since we cracked the sarcophagus open, we've made significant progress in the restoration effort. My questions far outweigh the answers as of late. I mean how can something like that even… I just don't understand. But then again I suppose that's why we are studying it in the first place. The possible advancements in medical technology are incalculable. But of course Hayden's sponsors are more interested in that damned suit of armor we took off that… I don't even know what to call it at this point.

Bryce says to stop worrying about it, nothing I can do he says. I suppose I'll just listen to him. He's smarter than I give him credit.

1-25-4261

Things are getting a little tense down here. Some of the staff has been acting unusual, more standoffish, easier to aggravate. No one's seen Clark in days, not since he stormed off after his fight with Verna. No one even knows how it started in the first place. They were just sitting at a table, discussing how to reverse engineer the armor, when suddenly they were at each other's throats. I don't even think they understood why. Security's been more proactive lately as well, now someone can't walk ten steps without walking into a guard. They're different too, more professional. And they've taken to carrying rifles about on shift, and yet no one's said anything about that. I guess we all kind just feel… safer like that.

But often I have to ask myself.

What are they protecting us from?

1-26-4261

There was an… accident in the lab over across from ours. Details are scare, and no one from that section has been talking about what actually happened. But everyone already knows the bottom line.

Someone died.

The Director said there would be a funeral held next week, and that we were all invited to attend. I just don't know. Honestly…. I'm scared. I don't know what's happening around here anymore, or why everyone else is content on ignoring the situation. The scientists are tense, the workers are tense, even the guards walk around as if their commanders were breathing down their necks. But no one says anything. We all just keep plodding along like this place isn't going to hell in a handbasket. I want to leave, but Bryce doesn't want to. He's too attached to the project. And I can't… I won't leave him alone here. But that won't mean I'll stop trying to convince him to leave. We can go elsewhere, work for other firms. The pay won't be as good, and the benefits will probably suck, but it has to be better than this place right now. Besides I think I'm getting a little tired of this job. I have a headache, it's been persistent for the past few days and none of the meds I've been given seem to work.

I'm a little tired, I'll probably call it early tonight.

Krystal's tenseness in her gut was near a physical sensation at this point, and her stomach felt tight and knotted as she grew further and further involved in her listening. She could only imagine what the other female had been going through, the uncertainty and fear at something beyond her understanding.

She could hear it.

It was probably kinda like how the vixen felt right now she imagined.

It was with paws that trembled that she clicked on the last journal entry, noticing immediately the hurried and frantic tone with visceral apprehension.

2-5-4261

Bryce… he… oh gods... he... he was right there, standing right next to me, and then the next… gods the screaming. I ran. I'm such a fucking coward I just ran and left him there. But what else could I do, that thing… that thing was just… tearing into him like some kinda fucking raw steak. I don't know what that was, but that definitely wasn't Ned, at least not anymore.

The stories… we should listened to the fucking stories! If so much of what we learned had been fact, then why didn't we believe them?

Corporate greed that's why.

Gods I can hear the blaster fire outside the room, the guards, those brave people, they're trying to buy everyone time, to save as many as they can. But I know there's no point. Hayden… that bastard, he locked down the entire facility not seconds after the breach event. I didn't even now such a thing was possible. I mean how could it be? Just what the hell had we unleashed?

The… noise has stopped, and I can hear… I can hear something out in the hall. I… I don't want to go out like Bryce… gods I'm such a fucking coward.

If anyone ever reads this, don't make the same mistakes that we did. Some legends are better off as just that.

Krystal flinched at the sound of a blaster shot as it echoed eerily through the empty room, a soft click moments later indicating that the audio entry had concluded.

The vixen felt nothing. She sat in the chair, mind numb as she tried to comprehend everything she had just heard, and clamp down on her rising fear. Fear would not help her, not right now. Now she needed to be rational. She needed to think.

Things had gone wrong here, that was already apparent, but now she at least had a decent idea as to the cause. Whatever they were working on down here had brought something from… somewhere.

And perhaps, just maybe, they could find a way to send it back.


DOOM (2016) OST - Ultraviolence

The sour taint of sulfur… the coppery scent of blood spilled long ago, and the lingering malodor of decay, these were the smells he awakened to, ever present concepts that were the vanguard of his existence. And as his eyed opened, beholden by the twisted, malformed shapes of the corrupted as they mewled and snarled like wounded beasts, he exhaled heavily, a great and cumbersome weight brought once more upon his shoulders with the full burden of the ages.

With slow deliberation, he removed himself from the eternally warm surface of the hell stone sarcophagus, indifferent to his nude physique, except in recognition that his arms and armor, sanctified in the blood of the damned, forged for a singular purpose, had been taken from him.

He gave no care to the modern machinery and steel walls composing the interior and exterior of the chamber of his awakening. Such concepts as his environment or placement in the realm was inconsequential, and of no importance to him. The where's and when's of his pilgrimage had ceased to be of any relevance throughout the ages, all that mattered, all that would ever matter, was the why.

At that notion he felt the flicker, the re-ignition of the stuttering pilot light buried deep within his very being.

And then there was the heat.

Calm rationalism receded, consumed by the blazing inferno that was ignited as tattered memories resurfaced. And in that moment of comprehension his hate made a violent resurgence. The fire rushing in his veins was an intoxicant, soothing his thoughts even as he felt the rage overtake him. And as it continued to rise and bubble inside him, by the grace of his own sacrosanctity, an outlet was provided.

The contorted and horribly disfigured forms of the possessed were recognizable even in his reddening haze, as the lowest footsoldiers of the legions of hell, worth less than the distorted and sloughing flesh they were molded from. They were numerous, filling the space of the room with their distended bodies, armed with gnarled claws and obscenely overgrown dentition altered by the surging hell energies within.

They were also, as it so happened to be, in his way.

Impatience saw their end brought forth with swift triviality. Against their ilk he had no need for a weapon greater than his own two hands, and whatever limbs they could provide him. He burst skulls, tore chest cavities, and ruptured organs, until he alone remained standing, his nude body drenched in crimson fluid. He could still feel the heat of their spilled veins upon his skin, and his fingernails were dirtied by filaments of torn flesh.

The sensation was… novel, reminding him of a time before the wretch's gift, before everything became so clinical and detached, when the pain was still fresh and raw upon his mind, and he still had enjoyed his duty.

Time, in its infinite eons, had changed him.

He left the room, in far worse condition than it had been when he awoke, and went off in search for the tools of his trade, skulking through the barren, blood soaked halls of yet another species that had strayed too far, and would now pay the price for their hubris. And he had no intention of wasting time.

For there was still much left to do… so many more demons to slay.

And he would not relent from his task.

Not until it is done.