The Nexus Troopers
- Fire and smoke blossomed all about them.
The Troopers stood shoulder to shoulder in a loose circle, desperately trying to survey the room around them. The complex interior structure confused the scanners and the laser targeters were unable to penetrate the thick smoke. Sergeant McPhail tried in vain to keep the more nervous of his men from wasting Ammunition firing at Phantoms in the murk. Trooper Rabert stepped forward as a shadow took form in the smoke before him. He raised his slugger, switching to automatic, as a great claw suddenly swept from the side. The Trooper was caught full in the chest, his light body armour shredded as easily as cloth. Rabert screamed as he was dragged from his comrades into the darkness. Thirty four men had been cut off from the main assault group and had taken refuge in this part of the spaceship hull. Now only seven survived. McPhail had no name for these creatures. The Nexus had a score of contact reports similar to this, yet the files had been classified. The foe had a name, however, and soon the rumour of the new enemy would spread, and men everywhere would learn to dread the Pteravore. McPhail took stock. The last attack had been the fiercest yet and he had led what was left of his command on a mad dash down the corridors and stairs to this position. Their flight had taken them deeper into the ship. "Kammon, have you established comms within the CHQ.... Kammon?" McPhail looked around, but the young signals trooper was nowhere to be seen. The six remaining warriors looked drawn, and grey-death was written on each of them. Rourk started babbling and stabbing the air with his assault knife. He was cursing the unseen enemy and calling down the vengeance of his homeworld gods. Tearing off his body armour and tunic, he cut two lines across his chest. McPhail could only watch in horror as Rourk evoked the death mark and charged screaming into the fray. There was a momentary sound of battle, the clash of steel on bone, then the sounds abruptly ceased. Rourk staggered back into view, his body torn and tattered. Yet still he held on to his vanquished foe as they both slumped to the ground in their deadly embrace. Now we are five... thought McPhail. The Troopers slowly continued their retreat, cautiously feeling their way along the blackened corridors, desperately trying to find a way out from this living hell. A few moments passed: McPhail found the respite puzzling. "Perhaps we've lost them, maybe they are holding back, Rourk's attack has unnerved them." For the first time in over an hour, McPhail started to feel a little hope rising in his heart. The confidence gained by years of service, started to return and he once more felt in control. From behind came a sharp hiss. McPhail swung round as the unseen bulkhead opened beside him. He pulled hard on the trigger exhilarated by the expectant rhythm of death, the battle song, but his slugger was silent. McPhail swore and frantically reached for his reserve magazine. He looked up, expecting to see his Nemesis and stopped..... FILE CONTINUED IN THE TRIBUNE DATA PROBE.