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Phantasy Star Zero

Chapter 7: Servants Of Darkness

SC 337.03 / EY 1875 / BW 211

Two years passed. By now technique use was well known and accepted amongst the colonists, but few could use them effectively. Several colonists were arrested and a couple killed by brash attempts at destructive technique use, but other than the scattered isolated incidents, life proceeded as normal. The original colony module was completely disassembled now, and in its place was the new Capitol building of Camineet, which housed the office of Administrator Stephen Ossale. He was currently reading a data scan of a curious petition; apparently there was a movement starting amongst the colonists who wanted to cut themselves off from the Federated Terran Alliance, becoming an independent government. They also wanted to adopt the "Meseta" as the standard unit of currency, and the “Space Century” as the standard unit of time measurement, as the Musk Cats claimed that was what the other races of Algo used. Stephen considered this and signed the petition into law. It was understandable, after all they were here because of the mistakes of their forebears. Or their forebears to come, he reminded himself. It was only 1875 on Earth. Idly he wondered if he had turned the colony ship and went back to earth, probably ending up in the 1600s or something, what would have happened… He chuckled at the thought of colonists armed with beam rifles engaging English musketeers or some such archaic force….

His idle daydreams were interrupted by a familiar chime. “Yes secretary, go ahead,” he spoke, leaning back in his comfortable desk chair. The well-known female voice that answered him did not have its usual candor.

“Sir! There’s been an attack!”

“What!!” Ossale leapt out of his seat, “don’t tell me it’s the Musk Cats, please d-”

She cut him off, forgivable considering the circumstances,” No, not them. Something else! Hostile…things have attacked outlying settlements! There’s thousands of them! The Cats are helping but there’s just too many!” Her voice was nearly a panic.

“Call up the militia. I’ll be down to open the weapon lockers now!” Quickly he ran from the room, taking an expedient private elevator down to the armory located in the basement. Several militiamen were already there in titanium body armor, and Greg, Melissa and Shea were also present and suited up. All they needed now were their big guns…

Stephen opened the locker in the same manner as before and everyone grabbed a beam rifle, except for Greg, who opted for the plasma cannon.

“Do you know how to use that thing?” Shea hastily asked.

“Yes, and I have the perfect idea for it.” His confident tone ended further questioning.

More and more militiamen arrived and grabbed weapons. When the beam rifles ran out, the confiscated slug throwers were handed out with copious amounts of ammunition.

Stephen began heading up the steps outside, mentally readying a technique that would transport him and several others to the battlefield. The Militia officers were also proficient in the Ryuka technique, and had been given their rank based as much on that fact as anything else.

“Stephen, wait!” It was Shea. He turned to look into her beautiful eyes once more. Gone were the days of his wandering eyes. He was a changed man.

“You can’t go, you’re the Administrator!” She pleaded, “What would happen if-”

He cut her off, “If I can’t fight and die for my people and planet, then I don’t deserve to lead.” He had actually thought out that particular statement before, mentally preparing it over and over, back when war with the Musk Cats was a very real threat.

Satisfied with the resulting lack of further protest, he quickly used the Ryuka technique, and after the now familiar jolt, landed exactly where he wanted to. Vaguely he was aware of the rest of his force, except for Greg. He wanted to look through the assembled troops to see if maybe he hitched a ride with a militia officer, but the clamor of battle caught his attention.

Screams. Explosions. Fire. Growling, roaring, hissing and the sound of handgun fire from peace forcers already trying stave back the monstrous horde melded into a great and overwhelming cacophony.

“Engage the enemy!” Was the only thing to be said, as Stephen shouldered his rifle and searched for a target. His secretary was right. There were thousands of them.

There were giant bugs, like grotesque houseflies, flitting about, occasionally diving to spear a hapless colonist or soldier with its razor sharp beak. Things that looked like giant scorpions charged, claws snapping in anticipation of slaughter. Gigantic worms burst from the soil, open mouths filled with lamprey-like teeth. Even stranger creatures followed, each trying to out-jostle its neighbor as if to see who could kill the most colonists the fastest.

High pitched whines of beam rifles mixed with the deep bursts of automatic weapon fire. Surviving colonists ran to get clear of the firing, although Stephen noticed their numbers were few.

Bloodied bodies of both humans and Musk Cats littered the ground, some torn to shreds, others partially intact. The multitude of creatures advanced without regard for injury or fallen comrades.

Ossale fired his beam rifle repeatedly, vaporizing a giant fly and half decapitating a scorpion creature. He just kept firing, the whine of his beam rifle keeping him calm. With a withering hail of fire, the marauding enemies slowed, some stumbling over their own dead, which began forming in macabre piles oozing blood black as midnight. Another fly creature darted at him, but before he could bring his own weapon to bear the enemy extended its bloodied beak, and then suddenly fell out of the sky, its body broken and crushed. Stephen glanced to see the Militia Captain with the machine gun give him a hasty thumbs-up. He quickly returned the gesture and went back to destroying these abominations.

After a few minutes, the monsters had slowed down, and some even began to retreat. Out of nowhere Musk Cats leapt upon the isolated monsters, ripping them limb from limb.

Breathing a sigh of relief, Stephen and the others watched as the creatures slowly backed away from the outer settlement.

“Concentrate fire on the retreating monsters!“ He checked the charge of his beam rifle. Almost empty. He ejected the spend energy cartridge and slapped in a new one. Several others did the same.

With his heart pounding, Stephen sat down upon the grass, now slick with a mix of human, musk cat and monster blood. Before he could gather his breath, however, came a shriek trumpeting sound that froze them all. Of course the monsters were not finished… they were waiting for backup. And this was one hell of a reinforcement!

A giant elephant-like creature, bigger than any he had seen on Terra, thundered forward, wicked tusks raised for a charge. Several of the men lost their nerve and fled or Ryuka’d out of harm’s way. Cowards, thought Stephen. It’s just a flesh and blood creature. His beam rifle spat waves of light to take it out.

He fired once, twice. Others joined him. The elephant monster wasn’t even fazed. Red eyes full of hate and madness, the injured creature bore down squarely on Stephen. He was frozen with sudden fear of this giant monster. It didn’t occur to him to keep shooting. It did occur to escape, but the sight of the huge, mutated creature kept him rooted to the spot. If this was his day to die, than oh we-

A huge burst of green energy erupted to the right of him The blast hit the giant creature squarely in the face, and Stephen watched in horror mixed with fascination as the creature’s face melted away from its giant skull. With a sickening gurgle the great beast went to its knees and collapsed, dark blood oozing from its eye sockets.

“Is it over?” Melissa gasped, her arm around the shoulder of a militiaman for support.

“I think so,” Stephen replied, breathing heavily. The surviving creatures had indeed disappeared.

“Greg!” Shea called out in greeting, “you showed up just in time!”

Stephen turned to see Gregory Young on the back of a hover loader, and sure enough the plasma cannon had been hastily welded onto the vehicle’s roof. He stood behind the illegal energy weapon, hands grasped around the weapon’s firing mechanism. The hover loader’s pilot saluted Ossale and stopped the vehicle.

“Greg, oh that was magnific…”Shea’s pleased voice trailed off as she approached the loader and examined the crude method of attaching the weapon, “What the hell is this? The power couplings aren’t even…” Her voice became razor sharp with alarming expediency.

“But…,” began Greg in protest, “There wasn’t any time….”

Stephen just shook his head, smiling, as his Chief Engineer berated his Chief Science Officer for his hasty work. Plasma weapons were banned by the Terran Federated Alliance due to the extraordinary amount of pain they caused the victim, and the potential for extreme collateral damage. Whoever managed to obtain and then sneak that thing on board the colony ship had been clever and devious indeed.

Stephen turned to see if there was anyone that he could help, now that the battle was over. Medics had Ryuka’d in and were already tending to the wounded, some with techniques, others with technology. The Musk Cats had already removed their dead, and healed their injured. Firemen had the blazing structures under control, and it seemed that all was well. However, the victory felt hollow to Stephen, as he slowly picked his way through the dead colonists…. One of them a mere toddler, sliced nearly in half. He fought back the bile rising in his throat. The stench of blood and spilled organs was almost more than he could bear.

However, now was not the time for weakness. There were questions that had to be answered. Now.

“Kalewm? Kalewm!” he called out, hands cupped around his mouth.

“I’m right here, Administrator,” came the terse reply.

Stephen spun around, and didn’t know whether to hug the Musk Cat Desan or strangle him. Not that we could’ve done either.

“Kalewm! What the hell were those things? Gregory tells me we have ninety-six percent of the major local life forms already catalogued, but we’ve never seen anything like this! They must have killed several hundred people!”

“They took a toll on us too,” Kalewm replied sadly, “and actually attacked one of our dwellings before yours. Otherwise we would have been here earlier to assist you more than we did,” he paused, fixing his eyes upon Ossale’s in a way that told Stephen that something was definitely wrong.

“These are aberrations of local organisms,” continued Kalewm, “mutated by the influence of the remnants of Dark Force.”

“I thought that thing was supposed to be contained!” Stephen yelled in frustration, “And that we were going to deal with it before it could start all of this again!”

“Apparently, it has gathered strength, and we have a theory as to how,” continued the Musk Cat,” tell me, has there been a rise in crime, corruption, or anything of that nature in Camineet?”

“No….not that I…wait!” There was an unexplained jailbreak several weeks ago where several of the imprisoned colonists that used destructive techniques indiscriminately simply vanished, despite being locked behind force fields guaranteed to keep the from escaping with a Hinas technique or something similar. He mentioned this to Kalewm with a note of shame in his voice.

“It wasn’t your fault,” Kalewm put a paw upon the man’s knee,” Dark Force feeds off anger, jealousy and hatred, and magnified those feelings in the colonists of yours most susceptible to its influence. Then it allowed their escape and drew these criminals to him.”

“What… what did it do with them..?” he was almost afraid to ask.

“Absorbed them, most likely. With their negative energy added to its own, this remnant of Dark Force is rapidly growing more powerful. It has almost enough to escape its prison. It warped these poor creatures and directed them to attack your colony.”

“Well, at least we won the day,” Stephen breathed a little easier. Maybe this “Dark Force” wasn’t so powerful after all…

“Actually, it won,” Kalewm stated patiently, “the fear, sorrow, anger, and other negative emotions caused by the attack are nourishing it further even as we speak. The goal was not to destroy the colony. It would wipe out Camineet eventually, of course, but its goal now is just to regain strength. It will continue to grow stronger until either it is defeated, or in five hundred years when a full Dark Force again comes to Algo, merge together to create an unstoppable entity of darkness…” Kalewm mewed quietly, his normally erect ears almost flat against the back of his head. His eyes shone with both sadness and determination.

“Then does that mean…”

“Yes. Gather your fighting men. Now is the time we end this.”

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