Beside Skulker, Olivia let out a snarl and dug her claws into the partially bent door. The hell are you doing? he thought. The thick metal door half groaned as she tore it back inch by inch. A series of short, high pitched whines rang out from the other side, proceeding a flurry of barely visible lasers. The ruined elevator shaft behind them shimmered with heat for a brief moment.
“The hell?” barked Gears, gaze fixed on Olivia. That door was half of what was between us and a face full of death laser.
Olivia ignored them, raising an arm to shield her face from the incoming fire and charged forward. More high pitched tones pierced the air. Skulker grimaced beneath his mask and locked eyes with his brother for a moment. We gotta back her up now. As Gears hefted his shotgun, Skulker twisted around the remaining half of the door and teleported after her. He ducked his head as another telltale whine rang out. Olivia let out a roar of pain, her charge unbroken.
Bank after bank of what looked like advanced computer servers filled the room they thundered into. One of the thieves they’d been tracking, the white man in a cheap dark suit, held a smooth, grey patterned gun like a rifle. Olivia rammed into his partner, the black man, and drove him straight into one of the severs, leaving a sizable dent in the metal. The white man swiveled to aim at Skulker as he ran up behind her.
As the telltale whine rose up again, Skulker raised his own pistol and teleported, squeezing the trigger three times from five feet away. The first and last shots sparked off of the server behind the man, but the second struck the man in the shoulder. Without a flinch, the man fired. Heat flashed past Skulker’s ears, bringing with it the acrid smell of his singed hair. Behind him, Gears’ shotgun fired off in the enclosed space, filling Skulker’s ears with piercing ringing.
Before Skulker could fire again, the man lunged forward, driving the butt of his rifle into Skulker’s chest. He twisted with the blow, dropping his pistol to take the brunt of a follow up hit aimed at his head with his forearm. His maimed hand clutched his lower ribcage where the rifle had connected and his lungs struggled to replace the air that had been forced out of them.
A short teleport got him out of the range of the man’s blows. Strong fucker. Skulker pulled out a switchblade from his belt with his good hand. He twisted around to face his opponent. The man recovered from a third strike that hit only empty air. Very little blood seeped from the bullet hole in his shoulder, and no panic or anger showed on his now expressionless face as he took aim at Skulker.
He teleported to the man’s side instead of directly in front of him. The man’s shot went wide. Skulker slashed at his face, leaving a shallow gouge on his cheek. He followed up with a stab towards the underside of the man’s throat. The knife jabbed into flesh.
A ghost of a smile flickered on the man’s long face as his fingers wrapped around the knife jutting out of his palm. Skulker tore it out before the unfazed man could grab it. The man sucker punched him, rifle clattering to the floor. His other hand wrapped around Skulker’s shoulder. Before he knew it, Skulker lay on the ground, the man looming over him with fist raised.
Skulker slashed his knife into the man’s knee. Rather than collapsing from pain and severed tendons, he drove a kick towards Skulker’s gut with his other leg. The fuck? A bizarre, guttural roar, nothing a human or Olivia could make, filled the room. Double fuck. What? Skulker curled up and blocked his gut as best he could with his elbows, the man’s kick sending a painful jolt down them.
Skulker rolled away, the man shuffling to keep up on a bad leg. He climbed to his feet, another kick from the man landing on his hip. Before the man could follow that up, Skulker teleported forward and stabbed into the man’s stomach. His knife punched right through the dark suit. He pulled back and stabbed him again, and again, and again. Die, die, die. Soundlessly, the man stopped struggling, his sightless eyes staring at the ceiling.
Very little blood seeped from the half-dozen wounds Skulker had inflicted on the man. Another guttural roar echoed through the room, snapping him back to reality. He spun around to find Olivia wrestling with a scaly, four armed creature nearly her own height. Fucking… is that a Siberian? It kept one of its arms twisted around Oliva’s right wing, yanking her from side to side every time Gears tried to shoot it. She thrashed, failing to dislodge its hold. In response, the Siberian twisted her wing further, prompting a low hiss of pain.
Enough of that. Skulker teleported forward, ducking under Olivia’s flailing wing and running his knife along the length of one of the arms. Unlike the spooky man, the Siberian actually recoiled, enough for Olivia to pull another foot of her wing free before it tightened its grip once again. Skulker smiled, right before a punch from the Siberian’s non-injured arm caught him square in the chest.
As he struggled to regain his breath for the second time that night, Olivia managed to twist her arm around and drive her claws into the Siberian. Gears had moved to its other flank, shotgun at the ready. The Siberian let out another howl as Olivia wrenched her wing free. She brought her second hand to bear, slashing down on its head. With a noticeable crack, its neck jerked around at an awkward angle. It slumped to the floor.
Gears pumped three more shotgun rounds into its chest for good measure. “Please tell me it’s dead,” he said after the echoes died down.
Skulker staggered forward and nudged a splayed arm of the Siberian with the toe of his boot. “I think so,” he said, lungs burning with the simple act of talking. It’d better be. Bastard can throw a punch. “Where’s the second guy?”
“Over there,” said Gears with a jerk of the head. Near where Olivia had driven him into one of the computer servers, the second thief lay with a massive hole in his chest, courtesy of Gears.
Skulker chuckled, which his bruised and battered ribs made him immediately regret. “That takes care of that.”
“Yeah. I’ll take a look for that hard drive,” said Gears, pointing to Skulker, then Olivia. She leaned her back against a wall, nearly doubled over. Shit.
He teleported over to her. “You alright?”
“I’m fine,” she said after a moment. He could practically feel the wince in her voice.
“Lemme see,” he said, nudging her upright.
Through the holes burned into her shirt, Skulker spotted red and blistering skin. Damn. She doesn’t usually feel heat.
“Looks like second degree burns. Not much we can do ‘til we get a first aid kit. We’ll need to clean an’ bandage those soon as we can.”
“OK,” she managed. “They hurt.”
Skulker joined her in leaning against the wall. “Why’d you charge in there?” he asked. We could’ve just shot ‘em or thrown a grenade or somethin’. Would’ve been hell of a lot safer.”
“They were shooting at you two,” she mumbled, eyes fixed on the floor.
“Don’t worry about us. I don’t plan on eatin’ a bullet any time soon.”
“Yeah, well neither did Chris,” she shot back, voice cracking.
Skulker sighed. “Hey, you ain’t the only one who lost him. An’ we sure as hell don’t wanna lose you, OK? Keep that in mind. You ain’t invincible.”
“I found it,” called out Gears.
Skulker patted Olivia on the shoulder. “Come on, let’s see what the hell’s goin’ on.”
They followed Gears’ voice to behind a set of servers. They found the hard drive hooked up to a series of wires. I got no clue what the hell this is. Gears ripped the hard drive free.
“They got a Siberian here. There’s no way in hell this thing stayed secured.”
“So homicidal aliens have got a brain meltin’ ray,” said Skulker, sounding far calmer than he felt.
“Why couldn’t they have made it on their own, though?” wondered Gears aloud. “They really need Sarah’s thing for this?”
“If they did have this China an’ Russia would be gone by now. Wipin’ out two giant countries worth of people wouldn’t exactly go unnoticed,” said Skulker. Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted Olivia tilting her head, brow furrowed. “Question?”
“Yeah,” she said, pausing for a moment. “So that thing back there is a Siberian, right?”
Skulker checked the large scaly creature, making sure it hadn’t moved. “Yep. Only ever seen ‘em in Cold War documentaries or somethin’. Haven’t seen ‘em in the news in forever.”
“It’s an alien. What is it doing here?”
“They crash landed in Russia sometime in the sixties,” replied Gears.
No, not Earth, right here. “Why this one is outside of Siberia, I dunno,” added Skulker.
“So they don’t like us?”
“No. Hate us, actually. They fucked up their home world with nukes, an’ survivors just happened to land on ours. They nearly wiped everyone out, except Russia broke out some nukes, so they backed down, cuz they didn’t want to wind up with another nuclear hell planet. Them an’ China have been fightin’ low key ever since.”
Olivia pointed back to where the two thieves lay. “Then who are they?”
“Excellent question. I dunno.” Skulker teleported over to the black man that Gears had shot. He knelt down and rifled through the man’s pockets. Other than a set of car keys, he found nothing. A metallic glint caught his eye. “Jesus.”
“What is it?” asked Gears as he and Olivia joined him.
Skulker pointed to the man’s shredded chest, eyes looking anywhere else. “There’s some wires an’ shit in there.” I didn’t wanna have to look at a bunch of shot up organs today.
Olivia shuddered. Gers said, “So I’m gettin’ the feelin’ these guys ain’t what they seem. An’ is it just me, or is there no blood in ‘em?”
Skulker glanced back at the body. “Yeah, noticed that when I was fightin’ the other guy. He bled a little bit, then it stopped super quick.” He drummed the three fingers of his left hand against his leg. Why do we always find the worst shit in the world?
“These guys ain’t fully human. I dunno what they are, but they ain’t human. We need more info.”
Skulker nodded as he stood. “Yeah, let’s check this place. How much time you think we got?”
“Well, I picked the lock out front. No one passin’ by is gonna call the cops. But they might have some sorta silent alarm.”
“Alright, we’ve wasted enough time talkin’. Let’s do this fast.”
They split up, each searching a portion of the underground base. Gears returned to the desks he’d found, freeing the hard drive and slipping it into his back pocket. Some screens built into the wall flickered to life, displaying a series of bold, squiggly characters Skulker didn’t recognize. The rows and rows of servers were dead silent.
Skulker teleported along the perimeter of the room, searching for any sort of closet or storage cabinet. He stumbled across another room, with a thick sheet of memory foam large enough for the Siberian. Why aren’t there any sheets? Aliens, whatever.
He teleported over to a highly relined chair wedged deep beneath a wide shelf desk. What do we have here. He brushed aside some papers covered in more alien writing until something familiar caught his eye. Tax forms for some place? Rent payments? The fuck?
“Got an address here,” he called out to the others.
Claws scratched at the concrete floor as Olivia approached, Gears’ heavy boot steps following soon after. Skulker held out the paper. “Recognize it? I don’t”
They both shook their heads. Gears pulled out his phone and said, “I got no signal down here.”
“Nose tellin’ you anythin’?” Skulker asked Olivia. She shook her head once again.
“Then let’s get back up top, see what we got.”
They climbed out of the elevator shaft and slipped out of the back door of the gym Olivia had torn down. Damn, she really hates doors. They stopped once they reached the truck, parked behind several closed or abandoned buildings and away from prying eyes. Gears pulled out his phone and typed in the address. His brow furrowed after a moment. That ain’t right. “Repeat that?” he called out. Skulker repeated the address. “We got a weird problem then.”
“What is it?” asked Olivia.
“That’s a local news station.”
Skulker threw up his hands, paper fluttering in the air. “What the fuck?”