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This story is No. 4 in the series "Natasha". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: Natasha is back with another strike against the Dark Symmetry

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Comics > The Red Star
Games > Horror
batzulgerFR181621,15235510,89724 Jan 142 Oct 14Yes

Down Below the Solar Hell

Anton Chui moved through the shadows of Akirenko's City Below. High above in the weird light of the Underworld's Sun panels, the Hanging Garden section of the corporate fiefdom's wealthy glistened with wealth and power and occasionally dumped refuse would fall the half mile to Below scattering it's stench among the poor. Anton kept an eye out for such trash dumps. The impacts frequently killed those too unlucky or simply too slow.

Anton was neither, he was a man on a mission for his Daimyo. Agilely dodging through the noisome muck that covered the streets of Below, he reached the building he was seeking and pressing the stolen ring against the lock set swung the massive corroded door open. The walls of the building as well as the door were 4 meters thick. Proof against any attacker when they had been constructed by the ancients. Anton dropped his carryall and began to pull on his armor. Where he was going the unprepared were sure to perish. Making sure his sword was ready in his sheath and his pair of Tambu 4 sub-machine guns were loaded, he headed down the spiraling staircase towards the sound of rushing water far below.

It took him nearly two hours to descend to the catwalk suspended above the giant underground river. Part of the amazing hydro program that had been constructed to maintain life on this previously lifeless world.

Anton moved quickly and quietly across the pierced metal plates. There were things in the water corrupted by the Symmetry which homed on sound. With the absolute darkness down here if it wasn't for the systems in his helmet, he would be fumbling around completely blind.

A side catwalk led off into another tunnel. Checking his map he turned and doubled checked the carvings at the tunnel mouth. Satisfied they matched he unslung his rifle and entered.

The tunnel was smooth and well shaped at the start and for about the first 20 meters, then it became something for twisted and almost flowing looking. There was debris on the floor as well. Decayed organic matter forming a 12 to 15 cm thick mat that oozed and squished when he stepped on it. Anton was thankful that his helmet had a good tight seal. He kept moving forward, His goal was a service lift a mere kilometer down this tunnel. With it he could gain access to one of the water feeds to a section of the Hanging Gardens.

As he moved he kept his eyes open and when he saw curious half meter in diameter holes in the walls he slowed down to a slow cautious walk. The things that made those holes was one of the most ferocious predators of the depths and he had no desire to engage one. Chui turned the gain up on his external mikes and froze when he heard the tell tale rustling behind him. Freezing stock still he switched on his shoulder mounted camera with the tongue switch and slowly panned it back. Revealed, in it's UV illuminator, was a 10 meter long Deadman's Worm. The stone rotting acid glistening from its three paired sets of fangs and it swayed with its head at about the same height above the floor as Anton's.

It obviously hadn't decided whether Anton was food or not. If it had, he would have been attacked already. Deadman's Worms were unbelievably dangerous, but also only about as smart as a lump of sulfur. As long as it wasn't sure he was food, he had a chance.

The major criteria for food status in the Deep were movement or decay scent. Because of the intense bacterial activity this deep, organics began to rot fast. The researchers hadn't begun to classify all the single-celled lifeforms from the ancient period and with Dark Symmetry mutations appearing, the umber of varieties was only increasing. Anton tripped the switch inside his left glove which released a film of anti-fungal on his armor. This had the side effect of making him taste and smell awful to the assorted lifeforms of the Deep. The Worm recoiled as its antenna picked up the stink and it slipped into one of the myriad side holes it had etched out of the stone.

Waiting another few minutes to make sure it didn't change its mind, Anton started to move again. He had almost gone 500 meters when he heard the hunting call of a Bakamono. Switching the selectors on his SMGs to auto he looked for a defensible crack or position in the wall. The call, a guttural roar, sounded again. This time much closer.

Some of the folds in the stone walls could conceal side passages, as Anton well knew. If he went into the passage the beast was would be very unfortunate. He looked at the passage he had just found and was debating entering it, when the decision was made for him, the Bakamono swung down from the ceiling, its tentacles lashing, as tried to grab him. Anton rolled and fired. The incendiary ammunition sparking blue jets of flame from wherever it impacted. The sound was deafening as he held the triggers down until the bolts clicked back, at which point he dropped the guns and drew his sword.

The tunnel was at least four meters tall and the beast was at least two-thirds of that. It's twin heads snapped at the flames licking at its slimy hide. The flames had stung it sure enough, but not enough to incapacitate. It was, Anton thought, the largest one of its kind he had ever seen. It must have massed four tons and its tentacle frill extended back at least 5 meters. The beaks in the two heads were each a meter long and clearly razor sharp. There were rumors that these things kept growing till they died and that there could be ones even larger than this. Anton didn't care about those rumors at the moment. This one was quite large enough to kill him and not leave a trace of his passage. That didn't mean of course that Anton wouldn't make himself the most uncooperative meal ever.

A tendril came sailing cut and was cut deep by the fast moving blade. The Bakamono reeled it in in pain and surprise. One this big must have been used to easy meals, Anton thought. Not food that fights back. He stepped and lunged, cutting deep into its pull-leg. More of the sticky gray liquid the thing used for blood leaked out.

The Bakamono howled and clattered its beaks. At least no other sane creature would come near now. Even the stupidest Deadman's Worm stayed well clear of Bakamonos on the hunt.

It lashed out with a pair of tentacles catching across the shoulder with the force of a couple of battering rams. Anton was knocked sliding down the tunnel. The anti-fungal he had coated his armor with causing smoke to rise from the detritus plowed up by his passage.

The Bakamono limped forward. The pair of massive push-legs compensating for the wounded pull-leg. Anton kipped up and slashed out again, this time completely severing a pair of the reaching tentacles. The Bakamono roared in agony and lunged its entire bulk forward only to be slammed out of the air by a strange looking spear which threw it into the wall.

Anton looked over at the direction the spear came from and saw a tall dark haired woman in dull red armor, a short blonde woman wearing partial Doomtrooper armor and carrying a large red axe, a tall man in green glowing armor with a large rifle, and a short dusky man wearing lighter armor with what looked like some kind of weird shotgun.

"Hi!" the short blonde said in perfect but strangely accented Capital, "Mind if we cut in?"

BtVS Property Mutant Enemy. Red Star Property Chris Gossett. Mutant Chronicles Property Target AG
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