• Nobles of Null is a forum based roleplay site where sci-fi and magic collide. Here, Earth remains fractured and divided despite humanity reaching out to the stars. Worse still, the trans-human slaves of one major power have escaped, only to establish their own Empire, seething with resentment at abuses of the past. Even the discovery of aliens, though medieval in development, has failed to rally these squabbling children of Earth together with its far darker implications. Worse still, is the discovery of the impossible - magic. Practiced by the alien locals, nearly depleted and therefore rare, its reality warping abilities remains abstract and distant to the general populace. All the while, unseen in the darkness of space, forces from without threaten to press in. For those with eyes opened by insight, it is clear that an era is about to end, and that a new age will dawn.

Chapter 1: Vital Signs Unwelcome


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Grönskande System
Colony planet Eos
March 4, 2321
4:55 PM Local Time.

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For all of the chest-beating arrogance that the Gronskande's political oligarchies displayed towards the GDW, it could hardly be said that they were as independent as the near-constant gestures towards independence seemed. The system was a treasure trove of mineral rich worlds and the avenue to true independence was to be through economic growth. The reality of preparing them for settlement and constructing facilities to mine their rich resources was another matter altogether. The massive exodus that had settled these worlds had far from turned them into a bustling series of metropolises and kept the GDW far closer to Grönskande's operations than anyone was comfortable openly admitting.

To the GDW troopers peering out of a dropship's viewing ports, how they wished that belligernece hadn't costed them the one thing that could have prevented the devastation laid out before them. Shining under the late mid-day sun was annihilation laid bare for all to see, the sights of so many political ads and television commercials rendered not as industrial glory but a cruel mockery of former aspirations and would-be glories. The magnificent javelin-like central communication tower with bulbous pods lined up its immense length was scourged and charred, withered like some great piece of piscine bone upon which some rotted torn-open fruit had been impaled as if by a rough skewer. An audience of vehicular husks led away from its structure down the streets, slouching ruins of storefronts and habitation blocks spilling outwards onto the road with the half-flattened messiness of crushed produce. Whatever had decimated so many of these structures treated the blocky, brutalist government buildings and military garrisons with no less respect. The former appeared to have had an enormous chunk of one its tower-like structures shorn off along with most of the roof and the upper floors underneath - as if some large aircraft had flown a little too closely.

The long almost claw-like trails on the adjacent structures and the road almost looked like trenches. Someone swore under their breath, tapping on the reinforced glass of the port, their visor zooming in around the grim sights; human bodies cloven in two or impaled on metal signs near the gigantic slashes on structures and streets. Looking further, blackened masses far less distinct and bodily coherent were littered near blockades of makeshift vehicles and concrete barricades. A few tanks and armoured vehicles lay smoking near these forms and the weapons still clutched in lifeless, withered hands. Opposite of them no signs of their opponents were seen, only crisp-burnt trees and vehicles torn clean open by some vicious firepower, partially collapsed after who knew how long the brutal firefights beneath had gone on.

Some kind of hell had come to Eos. The Soyuz were ruled out; they had no reason to attack the colonies given that they had been pushing for an entryway into whatever markets they possessed. Daqin? But this was very far out for them; what reason did they have to brutalize what was an up and coming colony? Some sort of civil conflict? While the Gronskandians presented a united front against the Gemeinschaft, it was not a secret that the sluggish progress of their promised lands had meant their once vital unity was fraying at the seams. Enough to annihilate one of the core colonies that was meant to be a centrepiece of their planned economic upturn?

The questions remained as the dropships descended to their individual landing spots. Soldiers fast-roping onto the central government building, rushing out onto the streets by the withered remains of the central com tower, sweeping through the hab-zones, and advancing unto the mining facilities near the outskirts of the town - they scattered to cover as much ground as possible as drones hovered in the skies above. They were keeping a close watch on whatever was left of the city and the quiet, verdant green and craggy rock formations it stood as an industrial oasis against.

There remained the possibility that the SSM would be sending military forces of its own. They too would have likely noticed the same time the GDW had when Eos had gone quiet. If that was so, then they had no doubt become aware of the ruin it had become. As they walked through hallways and streets long since devoid of any life, their leaders right now were attempting to coordinate on this venture. Eos was important not just to Groskande but both rival powers and it was in their joint interest to ensure something could be salvaged. The mission was initially to investigate but now it was a race to try and find any survivors and signs of whatever it is that had caused such scouring destruction upon a near hapless colony.

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For lieutenant Jurgen Olbrich, every overturned hover-APC and jammed automatic double door was a threat ready to be made good on; cover for the still unseen threat, a firing port to snipe at his squad, or a hidden explosive waiting to set off of its proxy charge. He wished he wasn't as tall for once at seven and a half feet; he was too larger of a target even partially crouched and partially minimizing his profile. The LMG in his arms felt maybe a pound too heavy as if he couldn't sweep it fast enough for the blink of a second he knew he could zero it in on the centre of mass and shred a target to bits. Nobody needed to know that the quiet giant who lead them was strong but not necessarily always confident; confidence was something you took in small recommended doses until the want outgrew the need and you didn't see the next ambush in the plain light of day.

Cybernetic fingers gripped the handle of the weapon; a reminder of the price of cocksure arrogance and its real world cost. His squad had been assigned to sweep the streets by the tower and he was already hating the way the looming husk of a structure screamed sniper nest. Granted, the structure was being watched not only by its own deployment of drones but ground support capable craft hidden within the lower areas of the atmosphere. It felt like the world's most devastating Mexican standoff just waiting to happen but given the risk, a few of the flying disc-like robots were busy sneaking into its many new entrances to scan for survivors-

Or whatever it is that can tear up a cement road and the surrounding buildings like a hoe going through farm soil.

Moving through the streets was troublesome. Vehicles lay scattered haphazardly, doors still open and some with charred remains staring ghoulishly at wheels and windshields. Sometimes there were no bodies but smears of a now blackish red against the ground and small, dried giblets along the dirt. Sometimes the ground seemed to be cracked with small yet deep holes, like some powerful claws had been digging into it repeatedly. Piles of debris, some sliding over from the ruined structured spilling over the sidwalks, forced them to occasionally hike ove the loose tiles and shattered architecture. Sometimes, he saw a tuft of hair or a hand sticking through. He wondered if those ones had been luckier than those splattered on the street or trapped in the cars.

It wasn't long before he sharply paused, taking a crouch as his weapon swept around the streets, the windows, the roofs. Something had caught his eye and he motioned with his steel hand to the rest of the squad: fan out, defensive positions, watch any avenues of fire and approach, investigating.

He had amost missed it among the numbing ambience of the fresh ruins and the steady crackle of still burning fires. It was innocuous enough as little more than footprints faded away by the winds and whatever tumultuous activity they had ushered along. These weren't old footprints though. There was blood, reddish rather than the black of the gore-tinted stains and the imprints in the gravel and debris were fresh. His eyes followed - a crushed metal can still matching up with the rest of the steps, a door with the dust around its push-handles irregularly removed.

A building that relative to the rest of the city was intact. What was it exactly? A neon sign lay slaunted and hanging on barely by a few joints but the words were tattered by the prior devastation. The windows were covered in patchy, grey dust but he could make out some computers inside and a reception desk. Some sort of office space; probably as good a hideout in the wake of armageddon as any bunker.

The private com channel crackled open and his worn, quiet voice spoke.

"Inform command we have possible signs of survivors and ping them our location. Preliminary scan then we enter, sweep it floor by floor. On me."

The towering soldier didn't seem so large now when he got into action, crouching down to half his normal height and his heavy weapon lowered in preparation for his advance into the room. His visor seemed to go opaque for a few seconds and faint lights glowed behind the bluish green as a variety of complex vision modes peered through glass and plasteel - the room appeared intact to his sight, no signs of concealed traps, unusual heat signatures or odd movement.

His hand raised momentarily, balled into a fist, and he nodded. It was go time. Survivor or attacker? He hoped he would only encounter the former.
 
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space_person

New member
Corporal Rafael Romero followed Lieutenant Olbrich's lead. He crept silently towards the office, breaths coming through light and careful. This was the most brutal scene Rafael had witnessed since enlisting in the CSC by far, and only a few events of his life before that came close to what was in front of him now, but Rafael remained steady. Somewhere deep inside his mind hoped to find a crowd of bloodied and dirty survivors staring back at them when they entered the building, but on the surface he was in robot mode. Listen, watch, follow orders, and keep the squad alive. Anything more or less than that was saved for later.
 
The door creaked then crackled, hinges scraping against the pressure of Jurgen's cybernetic arm. Swingin open, the squad swept into the reception area, barrels pointed and dilligently searching for the slightest signs of movement. Even with the personnel tracker on his HUD, Jurgen nonetheless counted every set of steps of his ten person squad as his vision darted - over a desk barrel sweeping across the floor, towards a ventilation shaft on the ceiling, to the door on the far side of the room down the corridor. It was the same practice as from a thousand or so room clearing drills completed with the machine precision of people whose lives depended on it more than it did in an augmented reality training complex.

Nothing greeted them save for the crackling buzz of an automated text-to-voice system; unintelligible crackle-gibberish. He was tempted to toss one of the old line-phones he saw striaght up into the brown ceiling mounted box, probably scavenged from one of the older hauler craft that had helped set up the colony. One set of stairs to the left of the room, hallway to the right as previously noted. Jurgen's visor opaqed again as the rest of the squad began to spread out amongst the room, searching for any more signs of human presence.

The iron-handed lieutenant turned to the rest of his squad, his finger pointing rapidly at each one as a notifications popped up on their HUD's - either of two colour-coded diamonds. One yellow, one blue, and a matching visual marker showing where they were headed, divided the squad two teams of five. The private coms line buzzed awake as Jurgen spoke.

"Romero, lead blue and head down the hallway. Yellow is with me, we head upstairs. Any survivors we bring them here to the reception area and alert command for extraction. Anything you don't recognize that could be hostile, alert us over coms but if it's between someone getting the first shot off at you or a civilian, shoot to protect. We've got probably one wounded - hostile or civ, hard to tell at this point. If anything goes south we regroup immediately."

He nodded off as the yellow team began to assemble at the stairs, preparing for a methodical creep into potentiall hostile territory. The hallway over on the right side of the room flickered, one of the neon lights hanging faintly by a wire buzzing with crackly static as the PA system continued its incomprehensible noise. There didn't seem to be any footprints on the soft carpet floor and whatever stained the handle with blood, no signs of which seemed to manifest through the room strangely enough - had they even entered the building or simply left? The door at the far end was a sliding double-door, its green activation light faint and both ends of it not fully shut. A faint light peeked through but there was no telling if it had simply been jarred open from the trauma that had visited the settleemnt or merely opened - there were no signs of blood on the manual handles either.
 
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space_person

New member
Rafael gave a slight nod to the lieutenant and began to lead the blue team down the dim hallway, keeping his steps silent and even. He noted the light at the end and tensed his muscles subconsciously. Someone was in there. Or something. If whoever inside this building was a hostile, even if they were human, they were only human in name. Only a thing could do what was displayed out on those streets. Rafael had seen his fill of inhumane acts, but this was...different.

Carefully approaching the door, he braced near the wall, trying to peer into the open crack to get a visual into the room.
 
Pressing up against the walls with eyes and weapons peeled towards the tiny split, the five personnel team watched it closely as if the door itself might turn on them any minute. For Rafael the vision through the tiny slit was far from ideal, forcing him or anyone else to shift side to side if they wanted to see anything more than a thin strip of the already poorly lit room. It was a sickly yellow light that could be heard buzzing, flickering every few seconds to give glimpses of what appeared to have once been a break one.

Whatever had transpired of course had forcefully redecorated much of it; the hallway cut off a few metres down with a few doors on either wall either crushed inwards or leaning against the wall adjacent to them. Dust hovered about plankton like and captured the faint glow from above before the cut-off into the actual room - a series of glass partitions at the far end had been shattered and the workdesks behind them ravaged into unrecognizable messes of burnt paper, smoking computers, and knocked over cabinets. Some couches could be seen off to the left of these rooms, some of which had been torn open and their white stuffing sprouting out and likely adding to the musty, particle filled air. A faint smell of melted wires was present and something wet, putrid, and accompanied by a faint dripping joined it.

More notable was why the door seemed to be jammed. What at first seemed like a thin fragment of some faded grey material upon the floor, holding both doors ajar and preventing them from closing. It was mistakable for maybe a slightly whiter though still grime-stained stone but there was more weight and volume to it from a preliminary scan, rough and somewhat crusty almost like some sort of greatly hardened bread or rock-like bark. If his eyes swept along the floor, faint outlines of steps taken through the dust and the bits of ceiling tiles could be seen, leading around the corner and to the left of the shattered glass partitions.

Another oddity that presented itself were the scratch marks on the wall. It wasn't just damage from whatever force had rendered this structure derelict but a trail that ran across both, uninterrupted save for a few holes and scrapes but these tracks, if they could be called such, were fresh and they were more importantly, consistent in their marking.

"If it wasn't for the human skewers we saw on the flyby, I would have thought this was an earthquake. Bet it's those daqin on some hunting trip, animals, just animals. We moving in, sir?"

The voice came out of a suit, not over the coms - private first class Jorg Wagner, wall adjacent from Rafael, carefully putting a hand to one of the manual handles. It didn't seem he'd noticed what was stopping the doors and was giving a light pull with one hand, bracing his carbine against his shoulder with another. A few very light, amost unnotable squeaks were heard as its gears began to complain warningly from his actions.
 
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space_person

New member
"Stop." Rafael quickly but smoothly held out a warning hand.
"There's something on the other side," he said, pointing to the strange rock-like formation holding the door open. "We have to take this carefully. From what I can see, there's high probability of a hostile inside. So unless you want to alert whatever did that skewering to our location, follow my lead, private." Rafael's voice was quiet yet firm, with no hint of anger.
 

Acewing13

GM
Wiki Moderator
"Fire in the hole!" a Russian voice yelled from outside, which just preceded an explosion that exposed the other room to the outside. Gunfire then followed, blowing whatever chance Rafael's squad had at getting a sneak peek at whatever was in the other room.
 
"My bad sir, figured we needed a little more room to... wait wha-" Jorgen immediately paused... did he just hear what he thought he did?

The room they were observing promptly appeared to explode in a flash of flame, fragments, and blast-force intensity. Rebar, metal, floor tiles, a chunk of the ceiling; a conical burst of debris and flaming junk shredded apart a corner of the wall at the end of the hall and sent a few chairs skittering across the floor. The door rattled, the green light on its outside flickering already tormented by who knew what kind of abuse it had seen.

"Romero report in! What the hell is going on, casualties, hostiles, civilians? Hold on I'm sending in... wait... oh god dammit, unproffessionally sloppy arsed pieces of-" Jurgen's voice rattled over the coms, crackling with electricity that just happened to coincidentally blur the rest of whatever he'd said. The rest of his squad could be heard shouting angrily and a weapon of some sort cocked menacingly. Something abrasive and harsh was muttered nigh inaudible, followed by the what sounded like angry stomping from upstairs.

Soon, another voice began to buzz over the coms - mission command, high up in their vessel above the atmosphere.

"Command here, the Soyuz Sotsialisticheskikh Mirov military detachment has arrived. We've agreed to shared IFF and HUD-networking - you should be getting the notification to accept. This is a joint mission as agreed by the governments of both. Please coordinate with squads on the ground that should be meeting up promptly."

A series of groans and murmurs spread throughout the squad. So that explained the heavy accent before the blast. The squad seemed... displeased to say the least. "Fucking Stalinist maniacs," "Next time, it won't be furniture they shred," "Let'em know they can volunteer to leaad from the front."

Of course, one them had to be a bit more vocal than the others. Roughly pulling the door open, Jorgen raised his visor and yelled.

"Hey asshats, are you trying to give away our position and get us all murdered by whatever's going around playing human shish-kebab!? Fucking amateurs, just throw in a few incendiaries next time just to be safe huh?"
 

Acewing13

GM
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"Sorry about the closeness of the explosion, comrades," one of the Russians said, his brown and grey beard poking out from under his helmet. "Should have asked for the IFF codes earlier. But that is a great idea with the incendiaries. Do you have any?"
 

space_person

New member
Rafael stood dumbfounded as Jurgen's voice crackled over the coms.

"Joder," he swore under his breath before answering. "It's the Russians, sir. They just blew up the room we were about to secure."

He glanced behind at his team to make sure none of them were hurt before turning back around and sighing deeply. He cautiously stepped into the now-decimated room and approached the Russian who spoke. Rafael wanted to give him an earful about how he could've blown up his buddies or any civilians inside, but he held his tongue.

"You're the detachment from the SSM I assume?"
 

Acewing13

GM
Wiki Moderator
"Da, comrade," the Russian replied, sketching a lazy salute. "Sergeant Vladimir Sakharov, at your service. I'm the liason for our forces, at the moment, since I speak the best English. What's you're name, soldier?"
 
"Hey, if you wanna get charged at a tribunal for war criminals be my guest. PFC Jorg Wagner will gladly testify against you." Jorg took a moment to flip the bird at Vladimir as he stepped into the room, waving his hand to disperse the thick smoke. There was no telling what kind of evidence had been destroyed in the careless entry... and what had been alerted to their presence.

At the same time, it could hardly be said that the effects of the blast had been all negative. As blue team entered the room, the other three soldiers began to turn their attention towards multiple cracks upon the floor. The rest of the room was trashed; multiple walls blown out and revealing shattered rooms rendered to ruin and the bone-like rebar jutting out of the blast-scourged structure of the walls. Yet these cracks rather than simply being ruins seemed to indicate another compartment to the structure.

A cautious foot pushed a stapler that had been tossed aside through one of the holes, letting it fall and land with a distant clatter. The soldier who did so knelt down, his visor opaqueing as its on-board scanning systems peered into the dark - roughly a 12 foot drop down.

He motioned for the others, SSM and GDW, to come closer but maintain a distance.

"I dropped something down there and it hit the floor pretty fast. Took a scan and it seems like a short drop. I think there's another room underneath but I don't see any doors or features that look like they might lead to a basement. Might be some kind of hidden chamber. Let Jurgen know; anyone here got a drone or something, an optic cable? Could be someone down there."

One of the other troopers leaned a little closer, flicking on a headlight as she cautiously peered into hole. He leaned just a little closer, face nearing the cracks between the withered tiles. Was there something more down there? Her rifle gently placed against the floor, she focused on whatever it is her visual enhancement modules could identify...

She recoiled back and cursed under her breath, grabbing her rifle and swinging its barrel to face the under-floor, panting audibly.

"Movement, couldn't make out what exactly, but something ran across the floor down there. I don't think it was a rat or a spare maintenance drone. Corporal, do we head down?"
 
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space_person

New member
"Da, comrade," the Russian replied, sketching a lazy salute. "Sergeant Vladimir Sakharov, at your service. I'm the liason for our forces, at the moment, since I speak the best English. What's you're name, soldier?"
"Corporal Rafael Romero, field medic under Lieutenant Olbrich's squad." He turned back towards Private Wagner as he went off on the Russian team in front of them. "Wagner, cool it. Whatever the consequences of that explosion are, we'll find out in a minute. So let's treat the Russians as our allies for now so we can all deal with this shit together."

Romero walked over to the soldier who had dropped something down the hole and nodded as he spoke. He turned on the comms and sent out a message, "Lieutenant, the explosion revealed a hidden structure underneath the building. About a 12 foot drop." He paused as he watched the other soldier flinch and call out movement underneath them. "Also, sounds like there's movement down there," he added.
 

Acewing13

GM
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Vladimir chuckled at Jorg's comment, before hearing the reports of movement. "Do Germans have tribunals for killing non-humans?" he asked as he walked up to the hole, rifle up as he looked down himself. "We'll need light either way," he said, taking a flare out of his pack, lighting it and dropping it down the hole, before re-aiming his rifle.
 
"Hold tight as we're finishing our sweep of the upper floor. No signs of hostiles or civilians but someone had accessed the still intact computers a few hours ago. We don't know for what; there were a few security camera records but they were corrupted. I'll inform command and we'll sweep the underground. We'll split some of our men with the Soviets to watch the perimeter while we enter the structure."

Yellow team re-entered, their reactions to the Soviets hidden behind the visors of their armour. There were more important things to deal with such as wherever the hell those footsteps they saw outside had lead. Jurgen paused for a second, noting the similarly towering Vladimir and PFC Jorg's stress levels on his bioreadings spiking beyond the elevated levels for the rest of the squad. He didn't need to ask, motioning for everyone gathered to spread around the cracked area.

"We appreciate the coordination of your government with our own but we're going to have to split both our forces here. Anthony, Andre, Samuel, Madeline, stay here and watch over the building. The rest of us are heading in. You..." He motioned to Vladimir - he exuded something between importance and voltaile danger. He was going on a limb and supposing he was the head honcho. "Vladimir was it? I'd like to request you have a few of your men keep watch when both our squads head down if you don't mind."

In the meantime, it was time to actually make an opening. With the augmented strength provided by their armour, it wouldn't be hard to simply pull apart the already half-broken floorboards. Cracking wood and material filled the air with dust as the team kept a steady advanced away from the area of weakening floor. It wasn't long before there was a roughly 10 foot diameter hole of hungry blackness where there was once a carpeted break room floor, a small portal to the unlit chambers beneath.

Jurgen motioned to Rafael and Vladimir as he neared the hole, watching it carefully as if any moment whatever spectre Anna had seen would leap up to drag any of them into the unknown. Jurgen's headlight activated and he motioned for the others to assemble as he dropped down, landing with a heavy thud. The white glare of his light swept the room, long barrel of the SAW silhouetted against it. He raised his hand and motioned for the others to follow suite.

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The exact nature of the room they found themselves in was difficult to discern initially. It was sparse, roomy, and clearly went on far past beyond the walls of the building. A few pipes partially bent either from poor maintenance or the earlier catastrophe were seen overhead along with empty cardobard boxes scattered along the walls, open and empty save for a few leftover screws and maintenance documents. Normally he might use the low-light amplification settings but in these cramped quarters, the flash from the muzzle would be far worse. Sound dampening had been activated on his helmet's auditory ports; a machine gun going off in these quarters would be hell for everyone who heard it.

"It went that way," A targeting laser ran across the floor dipping as it suddenly ran down a few stairs as it travelled down the length of the underground chamber. Additional lights activating from the rest of the joint squad revealed a large room, far more high tech than the building's exterior would have implied.

What at first seemed to be tables were illuminated further by concentrated light and appeared to be more of long metallic white slabs, stained with various splotchy green and brown colours. He could see hanging lights overhead and behind them, the transparent green glass of some sort of storage compartments. Various tools were left on piles on another of the wide slabs and behind it, boxes with biohazard symbols marked across them. What looked like chunks of rock were broken over one of the slabs and he could see the silhouette of a few more in the storage.

Jurgen took a moment to pause, his visor darkening as he attempted to scan the room for any signs of movement or life. They were now on what what appeared to be a catwalk overlooking another one and what appeared to be some sort of testing facility; for what exactly wasn't significant. He motioned for the other GDW squad members to begin moving down the stairs, marking a travel a path through HUD overlay graphics as his machine gun swept left and right, waiting for the slightest reason to shoot.

"Sweep the room, look for any signs of conflict or any other activity. Identify any targets before shooting as we may have civilians hidden. The stones seem inert, not getting any strange readings" He instructed as he and another soldier maintained an overwatch position.
 
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Acewing13

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Vladimir nodded and spoke to the other Russians, pointing at the various high grounds. He soon followed the rest of the squad down below, jumping down and keeping an eye on the team's rear, sweeping his rifle to keep them from being snuck up on. "So, are we supposed to be quiet, because there's probably creepy crawly aliens or announce our presence to get civilians out?" he asked, annoyed that he had to ask for permission to be loud.
 

space_person

New member
Rafael kept his head forward, scanning for anything that moved. He felt like they were being watched, but with eyes in all directions, there was nothing they could do but keep moving and wait.
"Keep quiet," he muttered to Vladimir. "I have a feeling that any civilians would've revealed themselves by now. But if not, like Olbrich said," He adjusted the rifle slightly in his hands. "Identify before shooting. If you need to."
 
"Just let the guns do the talking if some ten eyed freak shows up." Anna hissed, hoping the Russian would find that satisfactory. Were all soldiers from the Union so unproffessional? She wondered if that same gusto would remain when whatever true atrocities or monstrosities would finally reveal themselves.

Thankfully, the voice of Rafael silenced any other would be wisecracking and let the uncomfortable ambience of the test site seep in. Ambience might have been a stretch; the distant thrum and hum of half-alive electronics was barely audible to count as that and the steady, measured pace of careful steps instead replaced it. Multiple flashlights swept over the scattered tools and the shattered stones sitting upon the slabs. The shape bordered on egg-like in spite of being split open; something conical and almost faded white embedded within the crumbled, almost moldered stone of some sort of mining resource.

Jorg couldn't help but pause to stare and one could almost feel him narrowing his eyebrows behind the blue of his visor. His rifle slung across his back as a pistol was drawn in one hand and another seized some sort of metallic grasper-prod, its pronged ends sooted black. Slowly they neared with a curiousity like a very careful crab, attempting to seize onto a part that almost looked like crumbled soil.

Meanwhile, Anna paused as she examined a stack of boxes near the transparent glass containers. What caught her eye was another minor detail that in the larger picture was more suspect. All the boxes were locked, most were stacked, but this one stood in the shadow of a larger pile with its lock marked a warm green for open as opposed to the intense pinkish red glow of a secured box.

Immediately, she gestured to Vladimir, then to the box, raising a hand to make a gripping motion.

Open it up, she motioned to the Soviet as her open palm turned to a pointed finger and she rested her face against the side of the rifle as the squad spread out for multiple anlges of fire, we'll keep you covered.
 

Acewing13

GM
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Sure, stick my hand in the questionable box, Vladimir thought, clipping his rifle to his harness. Pulling his pistol out with his right hand, he leaned down, putting his left on the box's handle. After checking to see that everyone else was aiming at the box, he whispered, "Three, Two, One," then pulled the box open and back up out of the firing line as fast as he could, aiming his pistol and firing if something that wasn't human moved.
 
A metallic creak of hinging joints sounded out as the judgement of a squad's worth of rifle-mounted flashlights shone onto the bent figure within. Hunched over with matted hair covering its face, withered hands clutching knees tight to their chest, the near withered form was still against the light, the blinding white and yellow almost hiding the darkened, sooty tone of their tautly wound skin.

Were they dead, unconscious, or frozen in fear?

"Sir, this is a joint GDW-SSM operation, we're here to get you out. Please raise your arms slowly and exit the crate. We have medical personnel and extraction for you and anyone else. If you please..." It was Anna who spoke, lowering her rifle slightly and taking a few steps back. She couldn't tell if they was moving or not; maybe she thought she saw movement of their lips, the slightest shift of their fingers, a slight dip in the shoulders - it was a sign of human presence here and there didn't seem to be any wounds at least, not from an initial glance. "Sir, we may be required to physically extract you from the crate."

Around that moment, a light crackle was heard. Jurgen's machine gun swung away from the civilian and the surrounding crates to the table on his overwatch position on the catwalk. A flash of electricity sparked and Jorg cursed as the tips of his pronged rod glowed a temporary pinkish red. The tool dropped and clattered and both his hands gripped the sidearm, pointing it at the stone. Bio-readings visible on the joint-squad's shared network showed that his heart rate had abruptly spiked. A faint glow was visible along with some sort of electronics; loose material had fallen off to join the debris on the table and some sort of almost circuitboard like, starkly geometric shape emerged from the uneven rock.

Skittering sounds - scratching against a metal surface. A GDW squaddie glanced away from the crate as something smacked against the glass of the container. A silhouetted shape of innumerable long and slender-fang shaped limbs and spindly joints, thrashing wildly as a ball of desperate, frenetic fear, too chaotic in its attempts to escape to make out exactly what it was, recoiling the second the lights shone for too long against its mottled, splotchy body.

That's when it rushed back into the chamber, away from the window of the containment cage. A chute-mouth was visible in the began and it began trying to push itself through, back into wherever it was inserted from.

"Heat signature! On... on the old man. Crap, are you seeing this?" Another squad member added over the coms - the centre of the hunched fellow's body had a very pronounced reddish glow when viewed through infra-red, as if they had been immensely sweaty or holding some heated metals against themselves. "Wait, what? No it's fluctuating, moving, there's something on him! Shit, do we have a nonlethal?"
 
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