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heir_of_isildur0
December 26th, 2012, 02:36 PM
Here's where the story of Mark and the others really starts to split up. Its been a little difficult to go back and forth because I'll start to feel myself leaning toward one story over the other. I've heard of writers completely finishing separate stories before working on others in the same book but I don't think its something I could do confidently...I'm really hoping people on this site are actually reading these because my last post didn't get any comments :\ Let me know what ya like, don't like, if something should have gone a different way or whatever. I'm open to everything.
Chapter One (http://www.writingforums.com/fantasy-sci-fi-horror/135203-zynthos-chapter-1-a.html)
Chapter Two (http://www.writingforums.com/fantasy-sci-fi-horror/135222-zynthos-chapter-2-a.html)
Chapter Three (http://www.writingforums.com/fantasy-sci-fi-horror/135261-zynthos-chapter-3-a.html)


Chapter Four



FIVE MINUTES LATER Chuckles and Victoria found themselves nearing the base’s control tower. It dwarfed the buildings nearby, jutting upward to what Chuckles considered an uncomfortable height. He grimaced as he peered up. The body of a soldier was hanging out of a window, held by what looked to be his entrails, but as they got closer Chuckles noticed it was bloody rope.

“Just another firm reminder of why I like to stay on the ground,” he said indicating the body.

Victoria glanced at it and raised an eyebrow, “You know when you get on a ship that you can go thousands of miles above ground right?” He just shrugged.

“Those are the times I just go to my bunk and sleep it out. Better you guys drive it and when you need me to fix something I’ll do it. Other than that I’m not a big fan of heights.”

Victoria glanced at him, smirking. “Well looks like you’re going to have to get over that huh bucko?” she said before entering the bottom level of the tower. Chuckles heaved a heavy sigh. He didn’t like where this was going.

He followed her into the main lobby and up a set of side stairs. They didn’t want to try the elevator because it would have made too much noise. After climbing twenty three stories, Victoria finally stopped and turned back toward Chuckles, her finger on her lips. She leaned up against the door in front of them and pressed her ear against it. She closed her eyes and listened. As she did so Chuckles studied her face for a moment. He considered her pretty, but would never tell her so because she seemed the type that would pound him if he did.

He stopped looking just before she opened her eyes and nodded. In one swift motion she pulled the door open and he went through first. He checked the corners first, noting any side passages in the immediate vicinity. Victoria closed the door behind them. She pointed ahead of them toward a metal door. “That’s the main control room. You figure out a way in and I’ll cover you,” she said.

Chuckles gave her a thumbs up, to which she just rolled her eyes and turned away from him. Hmm, I guess she doesn’t think I’m cool…He walked up to the metal door and examined it. Standard blast doors…should be opened up with a…he spotted a number pad a foot to the right on the wall. It had been hidden by some strange moss that was covering the wall. He pulled the vegetation off and went to work on the number pad.

Victoria used this dead time to examine the rest of the floor they were on. No infected in sight. After a time she wandered back to Chuckles, who seemed to be talking to himself.

“Yep…no…yes…darn…this should be…ah wrong again dude…” she heard him say. She rolled her eyes and got back to watching for any signs of trouble. Moments later he leaned back and asked,

“Hey Xander red or blue?”

“Um…’ she said, thinking. ‘Red”.

He smiled and replied, “Green it is then.” He bent back over the number pad and she heard the snipping of scissors followed by the sound of the metal door opening. Chuckles stood up and put his hands on his hips. He was smiling fiercely now, apparently pleased with what he just did. She ignored him and strode into the control room, leaving him to frown at her back and get his stuff together.

The room was completely dark. She scanned the wall to her right and found a switch and threw it. A low humming sounded, and she could hear fans circling in the computers in front of her. A view screen as large as the room turned on. She set her rifle down and ordered Chuckles to get the door closed and keep a sharp lookout. Moving her hands over the view screen she tapped buttons and dials, bringing up what she wanted to see. She switched to a camera where she believed Ripper was. That asshole is still there! I’ll deal with him later. She made a quick run through of the cameras closest to the tower, noting any infected nearby and deciding it wasn’t enough for them to be worried about. As she cycled through the different views she spotted Herc. He was making his way toward the tower. She took a second to zoom in. He was only wearing pants, his boots, and had a rocket launcher slung about his soldier. . His pants were torn but other than that he seemed okay. She sighed in relief.

She pulled off her comlink and plugged it into a nearby port for the view screen. Using the towers’ antennae she was able to boost the signal. “Herc,’ she said, her voice reverberating in the room. ‘Head to the tower and I’ll send Chuckles down to you….by the way how did you survive? And where is your shirt?”

She could see him grin as he looked up to the camera. “Well that big guy started spitting what looked to be green acid. It got on my shirt. As to surviving…let’s just say that he wasn’t the only beast fighting,’ he replied, his face taking on a grim look. ‘So how many zombies are in between me and you guys?” he asked, his face returning back to normal.

“Two,’ she replied, scanning the immediate area. ‘But if you take the road south in front of you and double back west you should be here in less than five minutes with the infected none the wiser.” Herc nodded and strode forward out of camera shot. Victoria turned back toward Chuckles and told him to meet Herc on the bottom floor. She waited until she couldn’t hear his footfalls to resume her search of the base for the other team.

She found them leaving the hanger in the H-143. Yes! They made it! “Howdy boys!’’ she said through the microphone quickly, scaring them while they joked about something. Captain Grubaugh regained his composure and flipped a switch.

“That you Xander?” he asked.

“Yes sir.”

“Um…why are you in the control tower? Where’s Ripper?” he replied.

Oh great here it comes. “Ripper is back with the rest of Alpha, minus Herc, Chuckles and I".

“You mind telling me what you three are up to away from Alpha?”

Victoria heard some footsteps behind her. She glanced back and saw that Herc and Chuckles had entered the room. “Sir we were with Alpha but the attack ended. Ripper told us to just sit tight instead of securing the compound like you said. We left him to continue the mission. By securing the control tower we can now effectively secure the area with ease.” She breathed a silent prayer as the captain considered for a moment.

“Well done Xander. This isn’t the first time Ripper’s laid down on a mission. When we get back to the Quarem we’ll have a little intervention for him. But until then,’ he continued, ‘you’re in charge down there. Relay this order to him and have his team secure the rest of the compound. We are going to continue to space.”

As he said the last bit her nostrils began to flare. “Sir aren’t we supposed to accompany you on the ship? This changes my mission completely!”

Grubaugh gave the camera a stern look, Zynthos at his side looked uncomfortable. She was now bordering on the same line Ripper was, and she wished she hadn’t said what she had. “This mission completely changed the minute YOUR Imagecrafter spotted the infected had taken over,’ he replied. She could hear the anger and annoyance rising in his voice. ‘You will stay where you are and coordinate the other team to secure the area until we get back. Do you understand?”

Victoria nodded, “Yes sir.”

“Good. Run the diagnostics real quick for us. I’m going to check on everyone before we leave. Over and out.”




Mark felt bad for Victoria. He knew how badly she wanted to go into space, how badly they all wanted to go. For the recruits it was all they could think of, and the other two would just see more infected this mission. Mark marveled anew that he was going into space. Space! No wounded earth to mourn over. No Quarem. No infected. He glanced over at the captain who was getting up to leave.

“Sir I think I’ll use the restroom before we leave…just in case,” he said. He had heard of recruit soldiers accidentally wetting themselves on ascent into space on their first mission. Captain Grubaugh just smiled and nodded. Mark followed him out of the bridge to an intersection. The captain went left, he right. Neither had noticed on the bridge that a red light was blinking on their view screen.

*****

The red light blinking did not escape those in the control tower at the moment. Chuckles noticed it first. “Dude,’ he said pointing,’ what’s that?”

Victoria looked over, noticing the light that had not been there seconds before. It was on the diagnostics check she was running for the H-143. The viral scan of the ship failed. Her eyes went wide as she accessed the failed program. The tapped it and brought the schematics up for the ship, her fingers flying over the screen with exercised precision and swiftness. Housing areas three through six had been compromised. She brought up the camera for the bridge and found no one was there. Where had Mark gone? She accessed the video logs for the vessel and rewound a minute. The captain goes left…toward the housing areas! And Mark…right to the bathroom. She looked back at the other two and breathed deeply.

“Please don’t judge me for this guys,” she said as she accessed the camera for the bathroom.

*****

“Zynthos,” came a whisper out of the intercom in the bathroom. Mark nearly jumped out of his pants. There he was standing in a stall doing his business when he heard the call. He heard it again and flipped the switch for his microphone.

“Kinda busy here what do you want?” he asked as he exited the stall. He went over to the water faucet and began washing his hands.

“You might want to switch over to your headset right now. They could hear us talking,” said the voice again. It was louder this time, and sounded a lot like…

“Victoria!’ he yelled, switching to his headset,’ seriously I’m trying to use the bathroom what are you-“

“There are infected on the ship!” she interjected, “Housing areas three through six have been compromised. You need to find the captain and get off the ship NOW. I’ll do what I can from here to be your eyes around corners but that’s pretty much all I can do.”

Mark saw in the mirror that the color had drained from his face. He had left his rifle in the housing area on his way to the bridge and all he had was a pistol. He suddenly found it difficult to breathe. Okay. Infected are here on the ship. Should be a piece of cake right? You got past those zombies in the cafeteria…but then they were not in close, confined quarters…Mark looked at the bathroom around him, his vision swirling. He closed his eyes and started his chant. After a minute he opened his eyes. He looked up at the camera and pulled out his pistol, checking the magazine and slamming it back in with familiarity.

“Just tell me where to go,” he said with a grim look on his face.

*****

As Victoria watched Mark gather himself, she was impressed at how fast he was able to come to terms with what happened. An incident happened and he adapted to the situation, ready to face it. This was a different Mark that she saw, a side of him she guessed few had seen. He did get top scores in two categories…When he looked up at her it seemed that he was staring right through her. It made her uncomfortable, so she averted her eyes. She heard him acknowledge her and she prepared herself for what he had to face.

She brought up the next couple hallways next to the restroom up on the view screen. They were deserted, giving the ship a sort of haunted look. She fought down a shiver as she told Mark to head left and then right as soon as he exited the restroom. This brought him back past the bridge. As he came up to the entryway he peered in quickly, unsure. She told him there was nobody in there. He nodded and continued down the hallway. Victoria brought up the next set of hallways and saw that an infected was tearing into a soldier who lay lifeless on the floor.

She relayed the information to Mark. He glanced around the corner, noting where the zombie was. She saw him put his pistol back in his belt. “What are you doing?’ she asked, ‘You need a weapon to take that thing!”

He just looked at the camera, an ardent resolve poured outward, enveloping her with a sense of danger. What was with this way he looked around? It was as if he had turned wild. He pressed one finger to his lips and crept around the corner.

Victoria felt Chuckles and Herc behind her, their breathing becoming short with anticipation. “Gees,’ Chuckles said quietly,’ he has gone nuts. There’s no way he’s going to be able to-“He was cut short by the action on the screen. Somehow Mark had snuck up on the zombie and eradicated it without a sound. He stood there a second, as if waiting to see if he had been heard.

Victoria rewound the video log, curious to see what she had missed when she glanced at Chuckles. She saw Mark fly forward out of the shadows, jump to his right and launch himself off the wall. He slammed his right fist into the infected’s neck and used his other hand to direct the top of the zombie’s head toward his fist. She heard the neck snap under the pressure.

She heard Chuckles whistle. “That guy is a pro,’ he said, ‘I’ve been on a bunch of missions, and I have never seen anyone do something like that. You sure he’s new?”

She and Herc both made a face at him. “We are new.” She replied, glaring at him. Suddenly she heard a tapping from the speakers. Mark was waiting on her for more directions. She told him that two more zombies lay around the bend. Both were standing over fallen soldiers. So that accounts for everyone but Mark and the captain…where was he? She and the other two with her watched as Mark removed the zombies with similar ease.

He continued to leave her speechless. She couldn’t believe that that same guy who she had used for a human shield in training was taking out zombies like they were trees. The way he did it, effortlessly and without mercy scared her. If he could handle a situation like this then there was no telling what he could do out in open ground. She pictured him taking out one of the huge beasts and then glancing over at her with the same intense eyes. A pang of jealousy stirred within her. Why couldn’t it be her taking out zombies like she was the ultimate soldier? It wasn’t fair.

She heard the tapping again and apologized. She shook her head and cleared her mind. On the screen Mark just looked from side to side and shrugged at he glanced up at the camera. Victoria told him to hold on a second while she searched for the captain, which didn’t take long. She found him sitting back in his seat. Is he breathing? She tapped him on the screen and brought up a status diagnostic. He was alive, but his breathing was ragged. Zooming in on the screen she saw that his coloring was a little off, and his eyes wandered. His left hand was covering his right shoulder. Victoria’s eyes widened as she realized that Captain Grubaugh had been bit and was now turning.

“Ah shit!’ she said exasperatedly, ‘The captain got bit. I need to get hold of Zynthos before he…” as she said this she saw Mark impatiently head onto the bridge of the ship.

*****

I’m through waiting for her to tell me where to go. Mark stepped into the room, noting a trail of blood leading to Captain Grubaugh’s chair. As he neared it the chair swung toward him. The captain nodded at him and motioned toward his arm.

“One of ‘em got me …’ he said, ‘I don’t have much time left. This mission has completely gone down the drain if you know what I mean.”

Mark stepped forward. “Sir may I take a look?” he asked.

“You won’t be able to help Zynthos,’ he shook his head. ‘There’s no coming back from this. Best thing to do right now is take your sidearm there and…” he pressed his finger between his eyebrows and made a gun firing sound. A pained look spread across his face as he glanced back at his wound again.

This was all starting to be a little too much for Mark. The zombies on board were one thing, he found it was easy to put your mind some other place while your instincts took over. But this…the captain was asking of him something that he didn’t think he could escape from. Why did it have to be him in this situation? Surely Victoria could have done better. She was known as the Ice
Queen (to everyone but her). As Mark’s mind raced, the captain stumbled forward out of his seat.

He grimaced as he fell to the floor, his teeth emitting a grinding sound. The bite had begun to seep from the venom of the cut. He was about to change. Mark took a step backward. “Captain?” he tried as the man’s body slumped still. It was time. Mark knew what was coming next. He had seen it in numerous simulations and real footage. He tried to steady his breathing, waiting for the pounce. He then heard the ragged breath coming from the thing that was once Captain Grubaugh. It lurched off the floor, staggering as it came to its feet. Shoot! You have to do it now!

Shoot! Sho-! The zombie sprang forward with a snarl, it jaws opening wide. Mark stood frozen. This was his captain, the man who had taught him everything he knew.

*****

In the tower Victoria saw the zombie lunge forward. It missed as Zynthos skirted left, its hands scraping the wall as it turned back around.

“Shoot damnit!” Victoria howled into the microphone. Zynthos cautiously moved his hand toward his pistol. The zombie held back a second, seeming to be interested in what he was doing. It careened its head to the side, examining. Its eyes reached the pistol and it saw what Zynthos was going for. The zombie growled and came again at him. It barreled into Zynthos and they disappeared off camera. She slammed her fingers into the view screen, desperate for a better view. Before she could find one she heard a gunshot and saw the zombie fly back onto the bridge and hit the front control panel. Red and green lights started flashing, and the ship pitched upward. Captain Grubaugh didn’t get up.

Victoria’s fingers scrambled as she tried to determine what had been hit so she could remotely cancel any operation. Zynthos stepped forward on camera. She stopped cancelling and zoomed in.

“Zynthos!’ she cried out, ‘you okay?” He walked to the camera and held out his arm with a defeated look on his face. The captain had bit him.

Victoria found it hard to speak as an overwhelming sadness enveloped her. She cleared her throat quickly and tried again, ‘I…I’m so sorry Mark…”

He just glanced up at the camera and waved off her comment. He moved toward the chair the captain had been sitting in when the H-143 took off from its hovering spot. Zynthos was thrown to the floor as the vessel shot toward space. Victoria watched him crawl back toward the seat and climb into it. He pulled the captain’s body off the control panel and put on a headset.

“Okay…’ he said, ‘Tell me where the nearest zombie nest is.”

“No.” she replied. She couldn’t let him do this. It was stupid. It was suicide. But the one word she couldn’t negate from her mind was the word heroic. For someone like him to have gone through so much on his first mission and still be willing to take out more hostiles was unbelievable.

“Okay first I need you to tell me how to stop this thing from jumping. It looks like it’s on a course for…well I have no idea. The readout is cracked,” he continued, ignoring her. To stop it from jumping would require a serious hack, one that took several minutes on a good day.

A sudden firing of a gun startled her. She turned back toward Chuckles and Herc questioningly, seeing they were no longer behind her but in the corridor behind. She could hear the moans of the infected through the racket. “Herc!’ she shouted, “Get back in here and I’ll seal the door!’ He just nodded and kept firing. ‘Get in here NOW,” she yelled again. Why are they waiting?

Sharp breaths sounded in her headset, “They are waiting for you to stop the jump. Forget it, just let me go. Save them.”

Victoria turned back to the view screen. “That’s ridiculous Mark. They are doing okay!” she replied through her microphone.

“How many are they facing right now?” he asked.

She turned back toward where the other two were holding back wave after wave, determination and sweat glistening their faces. “A lot…’she said in despair, ‘they just keep coming. I don’t know what to do!”

“Victoria,’ he replied calmly, ‘you know what to do. Its three soldiers lives against one infected soldier’s life. I’m dead already and…I’d rather nobody saw me when I…change.”

Victoria saw him looking at the camera. His eyes were already turning black. She swallowed as if trying to clear a lump in her throat. She thought she was prepared for anything. She had been trained to be prepared. But something about this situation was bringing her to an edge she would have not thought possible. She looked back at Chuckles and Herc, then at Mark on the view screen.

“I’m sorry,” she said as her voice gave way to the sorrow she was feeling.

She heard him chuckle. “Buck up soldier. No crying,’ he said looking up at the camera again. ‘Don’t worry I won’t tell anyone.’ His face hardened suddenly, ‘It is time. Their ammo should be almost out by now. Seal the door.”

Victoria nodded. She stiffened her resolve and yelled back at the other two. “Okay he’s safe! Get back now and I’ll get the door!”

Both soldiers quickly jumped back inside the room and she sealed it. She went back over to the view screen and checked the H-143 tracker. The ship had just left Earth’s orbit and was now entering its hyperjump. Mark strapped himself into the chair, preparing for the speed. Hopefully he’ll last the jump and we can see where it goes. We should be able to contact him shortly afterward. Hopefully…


*****

Ah this sucks. Mark couldn’t feel his arm anymore as he sat in the cockpit of the H-143. The transition into hyperspace had sent a lurch through his stomach, causing him to vomit all over his uniform. He lost track of time until he caught a blue light blinking through his blurred vision. Raising his eyes from the floor he saw on the view screen that the ship was about to exit hyperspace. He prepared himself for the exit transition, a sure guarantee that he would probably throw up again. In normal conditions he wouldn’t have been fazed, but he was losing blood fast.

His ears popped as the ship exited hyperspace. The vessel seemed to have stopped, although it was still moving very fast. Mark’s retching was interrupted by the familiar sound of static on his headset. “That sounds bad,” said the voice on the other end.

He wiped his mouth and looked up at the camera, “Not as bad as the entry. How long has it been?”

“About twenty minutes. Wherever you jumped…it’s pretty far away,” her voice sounded awkward to him, almost surprised.

Mark felt surprised too. After all that time he still had not changed into a monster. Usually it was within ten minutes at most that a victim would fall prey to the call of raw flesh and satisfy their hunger by feasting on others. He knew that the change hadn’t stopped. He still felt like he had just woken up on a bad hangover, his body cold and clammy, not to mention he still couldn’t feel one arm.

He used his good arm to help raise his head to the view screen. Maybe if he could see where he was using constellations it would tell them the coordinates of the random jump. There was nothing in sight. All he saw was complete darkness. “Uh…’ he said, ‘I don’t see any stars.”

A voice other than Victoria’s sounded through the headset, “Dude you’re in space. It’s kind of known for how many stars and galaxies you can see. Maybe if you-”, he was cut off mid-sentence.

Mark could hear a sort of rustling and then Victoria clearing her throat.

“What our friend Chuckles is trying to say is that it isn’t possible for there to be no stars,’ she said maliciously emphasizing the name Chuckles. ‘Try a 360 degree readout and tell me what it says.”

Mark took a second to think about which screen to access and which button to push. He slid his good arm out from underneath his head, suddenly feeling a fresh wave of nausea. He shut his eyes against the dizziness. His eyelids felt crusty and wet. He used his finger to wipe his right eyelid. He doubled over as immense pain flooded from his skin. He opened his left eye and saw that there was blood dripping from his hand. His infection was causing his body to deteriorate.

“Mark you okay?” Victoria asked.

“I don’t know what’s worse,’ he managed to say, ‘having my body fall apart while I’m still conscious or after I turn into a zombie.”

He thought he heard a snicker that he knew didn’t come from Victoria. “Okay well just concentrate on getting that readout for me alright?” she asked.

He nodded and resumed using the view screen to navigate through the menus. Scanning options 5...page 6…Booyah. 360 readout of current area. Mark tapped the screen and quickly brought back his arm to rest his head on. He felt his body give a sigh of relief. It’s kind of weird that just holding my head up is keeping me conscious. He had barely thought this when he heard a beep from the view screen. The scan was done.

“Mark,’ Victoria said, ‘the results say there is a planet behind you, but you’re right there aren’t any stars from your viewpoint. There is one on the other side of the planet though. Swing the ship around and take a look.”

A moan escaped Mark’s lips. “Can’t you just dial in and do it? It’s hard to move around feeling like this.”

“Oh yeah! No problem sir, just give me YOUR COORDINATES SO I CAN REMOTE DIAL IN!” she replied sharply.

“Right,” he replied realizing that he wasn’t thinking straight. He set his head against the back of the chair and used his hand once more to navigate the control panel. Okay…ship manual controls…turn 180 degrees. He was glad he was able to remember that at least. After he tapped the control he wasn’t sure if the ship was responding. Then he remembered that without stars
it was difficult to navigate, so he just sat there and waited for the planet to come into view.

As the planet slid into view from the left Mark sat there stunned. He didn’t say anything for a few moments, and then heard Victoria on his headset. He shook his head as he gawked at what he was seeing. He could tell that she was annoyed because she kept asking about the planet.

He turned to the camera and laughed, “It’s green! The planet is green! And there are oceans too!”










Can't wait to post the next chapter, that's when things start to get crazy! lol

Ariel
December 26th, 2012, 07:30 PM
I've been reading though truth be told it's more because I WANT this to be good. There's something here that keeps bringing me back and I think it's the action sequences. I think you should cut the other chapters and start with this one. It tells us everything we need to know (apart from character description) and gives me the feeling like these characters know and actually care for one another--at least as friends. This one chapter does everything your other three just couldn't.