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A Cheap Trick

classifications: Science-Fiction / Humourous / Action

You'll never guess. =)

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I stalk forward through the narrow passageway, every footfall wary, every nerve on edge. Can't afford to let them hear me. They could be anywhere.

This deep into Hadek Base, it's the silence that gets you. The place is still as a cemetery. That doesn't mean there's no one around; heck no. The Hadek are bloody silent bastards, right up till the moment they open fire and blow you to atoms. I can't stop imagining that a Hadek is creeping up right behind me, ready to do just that the moment I turn around and see... I try to force the thought out of my head, with little success.

There's a doorway in the wall ahead. I edge up to it, back against the iron wall, straining my ears for any sound from beyond. I hear nothing, but that's no reassurance. So I crane my neck and steal a split-second look over the edge of the opening.

Movement! Shit. I won't survive another shootout, not by myself. But it's a small room beyond, perfect for a scurrybomb... A cheap trick, but this is war. I pull out my last one, set it down, push the actuator - and hold my breath. The scurrybomb's a marvellous thing, seeking out movement, any movement; great for collectively maiming a roomful of enemy, but if you so much as chew gum while still in its line-of-sight, well, been nice knowing you.

I stand frozen still, watching as the diabolical device circles in a widening spiral, and then, catching sight of the Hadek, rolls swiftly through the doorway. And I breathe again.

Half a second later, I hear the scurrybomb go off. With a malicious laugh I dart into the room, firing like mad. The two Hadek guards, wounded and disoriented by the blast, have barely begun to react by the time my bullets rip through their armour. And I'm grinning like a maniac, adrenaline coursing through my veins, chaingun going off like a firehose, they'll be dead in seconds...

But they're not. One Hadek falls immediately - bomb must've got right under the sucker - but the second jumps and rolls as I turn to him, evading my fire for a split second - enough time to ready his weapon!

Fuck, what was I thinking?

I panic towards the exit, bolting back for cover, because shit shit shit this plan is going totally wrong. And I'm halfway there when the Hadek's plasmagun begins to fire. Silent blue streaks whip through the air. I dodge madly, faking left and right, returning fire blindly behind my back. Still feels so bloody crazy that the only sounds I hear are mine.

But, lucky bastard that I am, none of his shots hit me while I'm running. Not until I'm almost round the corner, jumping to the side to put a wall between me and him - then a plasma bolt hits my right calf.

And it BURNS! I grab my right leg in reflex, I lose my balance, I fall on my side wincing in pain. The sting fades quickly - but with pain like that, it's never quick enough. It drives in the fact that I have no advantage of surprise anymore. At least I'm behind the wall now, but the Hadek will be coming for me, any moment. I'll never even hear him coming. I get up and back away from the doorway in dread.

It's anyone's fight now - who lands the first shot, wins. The other's dead. Simple. Goddammit. I wish I had a scurrybomb. There's only one way I have half a chance without one...

And the Hadek bursts sidelong through the doorway. Instantly I jump parallel, on trained reflex. Plasmagun fires. Ions tear an incandescent razor's-edge through the air; miss me by an inch. I pull the trigger, hold it down. Round after round pierces Hadek flesh. Sickly yellow blood goes everywhere. Die scumbag die!

The Hadek has been motionless on the floor for two seconds before I let go of the trigger.

I lower the chaingun. Breathing heavily. Ecstatic.

Triumph isn't half of what I feel. How do I explain it? It's more than the exhilaration of victory. It's killing them before they can kill you. It is the Ecstasy of Survival.

It's not long I can let myself enjoy it, but it's the only thing that keeps me going. That, and the knowledge that I'm a dead man if I try to go back. Sneaking out of enemy base is twice as dangerous as sneaking in.

I force myself back to alertness. And I hear the silence again, the deathly soundlessness of Hadek Base. My breath, heavy as it is, is magnified in the silence; I can almost hear it echo down the corridors. I hate this place.

Chaingun at the ready, I walk cautiously back into the room I had fled from less than a minute ago. It bears the scars of battle all over. The walls and floor are riddled with bullet-holes and ion-blasts. The floor is blackened in the spot of the scurrybomb's explosion. The first Hadek lies lifeless right next to it. (Good for him, I think sardonically.) In all, a pretty nasty sight.

So what now? Nothing but to go forward. There's just one other doorway to the room, opposite where I entered. Guarded by a metal door: a huge metal door, that looks like nothing subnuclear would even make a dent in it. There's a panel on the wall beside it. I walk up to it, allowing myself a wry smile, and punch in access codes.

Presently the massive door pulls humbly aside. It reveals a corridor that takes a blind turn to the left a short way down. I walk in.

Something beeps.

And the corridor explodes! The force hits me like a ten-ton truck. Even through my armour I feel the heat and the shock tear me apart as I'm thrown back across the room. My back hits the wall - pain shoots up my spine - and I crumple to the floor. One thing flashes across my mind: Motion Sensor. Shit!

I steel myself against the pain and try to get up. But my legs don't work. The chaingun lies on the floor just beyond my reach. I have nothing, and I can't move. I'm dead.

I reach behind my neck to end this--

But wait. A Hadek emerges through the smoke in the corridor. He is more heavily built than the others, with war colours denoting a powerful rank in the heirarchy. The gun he carries, I notice, is of a very strange shape: I've never seen anything like it before. He advances towards me, the gun's aim never far from my head, nimble footsteps failing to make any sound on the hard floor. So I wait. I'm curious.

Right in front of me, he stops, and looks me up and down. I stare back. Makes no difference what I do now, anyway. He pauses for a second.

Then his trigger finger slowly pulls back...

Water in my face! I splutter, blinded by the jet, instinctively raising my hands to shield my eyes... And before I know what's happening, I feel my undies being pulled up from the back, and a sharp pain up my arse-- WhatthefuckEeyow! Desperately, I hit the back of my neck, and hit it again and again--

It registers on the third try, and the pain and the water and everything else dissipate instantly. Reality returns with nauseating suddenness: for a second I don't know where my limbs are. Then I see the cluttered room around me, and my hands on the arms of my uncomfortable chair - just the way they were when I jacked in - and I regain my bearings.

My friend the mod designer lies sprawled on the bed, mouthing lyrics from the song plugged into his head. He looks towards me, grinning.

"The hell was that?!" I demand.

"Eighth grade," he says simply, as if that explains everything. "You gave me a wedgie," he adds.

What kind of excuse is that? "I never did!"

"You must have, otherwise why would I do such a thing?" He grins wider.


I'm going to get him back for this.

I guessed !

Wanderer (March 5th, 2003, 4:26 pm)

Hehe, felt pretty game-like from the start (cruise did something similar in uncommon symmetry btw). Still a very entertaining read :)

I guessed !

drd (March 23rd, 2003, 5:02 pm)

I likes the subtlety of ending such seriousness with a wedgey! ;)

It did kinda sound like a first person commentary on a UT03 game to me too! Good writing tho, with a cool twist and nice humor.

ZzPzora (April 11th, 2003, 6:15 am)

bwahahaha~! Very nice, flowing writing, and I love the ending. ;DDD

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