Leonard 'Bones' McCoy stood on the transporter pad, alongside Spock and a small security team as they waited for the Captain, who was currently speaking to Scotty at the transporter control panel. Growling slightly, Leonard glanced at Spock and the security team, he hated using the transporter as it reminded him too much of the Ark...
... And the Ark was linked to some memories Leonard would rather not like to be reminded of every other day… What happened at Olduvai was something he hoped would never be repeated.
John 'Reaper' Grimm, as he had once been known as, a long time ago, had tried so hard to forget that life and the horrors that had come with it. He had covered his tracks the best he could. Kept the truth about his DNA a secret.
As much as the world had changed since that fatefully mission, he knew the moment Starfleet or any other organisation found out about his altered DNA, he'd be their new lab rat or worse. His worst fear was that someone who was willing to try and replicate C-24 would find out about him and replicate his DNA.
That wouldn’t end well…
Mars had proven that all those years ago. And it would only be a thousand times worse if it happened now, where the population of an average planet was a hundred thousand times higher than that of Mars.
It’d be a massacre.
It’d be the being of the apocalypse that movie seemed so fond of telling stories about.
After all, Marcus had been proof of the length some would go to ensure war. A war they would win and a war that would leave no survivors on the opposing side. Leonard had destroyed all records and samples he had collected of Khan’s blood and he only wished he had more time to study it.
It was possible Khan had been genetically modified using C-24 or something similar.
Leonard snapped out of his musing as the Captain's laugh echoed around the transporter room and he watched as Jim slapped Scotty's shoulder lightly before moving over to the transporter pad and standing beside him.
"Cheer up, Bones." Jim grinned. "It'll be over before you know it."
Leonard rolled his eyes, not sure whether his best friend was talking about the transporter or the mission they were about to embark on.
It was common knowledge that Leonard hadn't wanted anything to do with this mission. He was more than content to stay on the ship and prepare for the endless possibilities of how the mission could and would go wrong.
It was a simple mission really, a man by the name of John Gill, a cultural observer, had many years ago travelled to a planet called Ekos, in the M-43 Alpha system. All the Enterprise had to do was find him and return him to the closest starbase. From there he would be sent back to Earth as soon as was humanly possible.
The planet had been primitive and warlike when it had first been discovered. But when the Federation vessel that had been sent to pick up John from the planet a few months ago, had been shot at with a rocket with a thermonuclear warhead, Starfleet had concluded that John Gill had intervened with the natural development of the native culture and people… Not that Starfleet had wanted to believe it at first.
It was a technology far too advanced for the planet's inhabitants to have developed it by themselves, so the only logical conclusion was John had interfered with the natural development of the culture. John Gill had taught at Starfleet Academy for many years and all who were taught by him had been left in awe.
He was well known and well respected. He was a living legend among those who served in Starfleet and many looked up to him as a role model. He knew Starfleet's regulations like the back of his hand, yet he broke the Prime Directive.
Leonard also knew for a fact Jim respected the man. Jim had been over the moon when he found out John Gill would be teaching one of his classes in the first year, a class Jim had aced just like all his other classes. Leonard couldn't help but wonder what Jim would do if they had to return John to the ship by force.
It was hard to see someone you idolised, turn into something you could never have dreamed of… Even in the pits of hell.
"Energise," Jim commanded.
The moment they materialised on the planet's surface, Leonard knew something was wrong. The hair on the back on his neck stood on end and he could almost feel the gaze of something or someone watching them like their gaze was burning into him.
"Phasers on standby," Jim ordered, having gotten the same feeling as Leonard had.
The area around them seemed completely empty and bare.
They were surrounded by rocky hills and piles of rubble. Scattered among the hillsides around them, were what appeared to be tunnel entrances, framed by wooden posts. Glancing at the ground around them, Leonard frowned at the twin metal tracks that twisted their way through the rocky landscape.
It reminded him of an old Earth mining district, used in the age of steam trains and horse-drawn carts, which he had learnt about in school as a boy. And thanks to the fact both his parents were archaeologists and had made sure he knew almost everything about the Earth’s past.
"According to our present location," Spock spoke up, pulling out his tricorder. "The village Mr. Gill was sent to observe is two miles east of here."
Jim snorted, "I think it's fair to say it's not going to be there, Spock. After all, we should be in the middle of a forest right now, not a nineteenth-century styled mining district!"
For a moment Leonard was surprised that Jim knew what century style the mining district came from, but then he remembered Jim was a genius, which he had proved countless times at the academy and on almost every mission they had since.
Catching a flash of reflected light out the corner of his eye, Leonard turned and stared at one of the hills.
"Get down!" Jim yelled from behind him.
Before Leonard has a chance to even blink, he was knocked to the ground by Jim, who was yelling something in his ear. But Leonard didn't hear him, he was too fixated on the cut on Jim's hand which has just healed itself in a matter of seconds.
"BONES!" Jim yelled in his ears, bringing Leonard back to reality and the sounds of gunfire and bullets ricocheting off the ground around them.
"What?" Leonard answered unintelligently, still trying to come to terms with what he'd just seen.
"Are you hurt?" Jim questioned.
Leonard only just held back a snort. It had been a long time since he had truly felt pain. His body healed itself so fast, often the pain didn't even have time to register before it was gone… His body healed just as fast as he'd seen Jim's hand heal only moments before.
"Your hand-" Leonard began to speak.
"Not now, Bones," Jim answered. "Whatever injuries I have, you can treat later, but we need to find cover now. We've already lost two people! If we stay here we're going to lose even more."
Jim quickly got to his feet and crouched down in one swift movement, scanning the area around them as he did so. Moving just as quickly, Leonard crouched down beside Jim and looked around too. Spock and the rest of the security team that weren't dead were hiding behind a pile of large rocks and boulders. Even from where he was sheltering beside Jim, Leonard could tell most of them had injuries, he could smell their blood.
He and Jim were currently protected by a small ridge, but it wouldn't offer them shelter for long. Whoever or whatever were shooting at them, were moving and getting closer and closer by the second.
"Cover?!" Leonard exclaimed. "Where the hell are we going to find cover here?! We're in the middle of a god damn quarry!"
"You think I don't know that Bones?!" Jim demanded, still scanning the area. "We're sitting ducks! If we don't move, if we don't try and get away from here, we're all going to die!"
"Where can we go, Jim?" Leonard snapped back. "The moment we move, we're going to give away our positions."
"What, so we should just sit here and wait for them to get even closer-" Jim stopped speaking as he ducked down out the way of a ricocheting bullet. "If they get any closer, the little cover we currently have is going to be useless!"
Before Leonard had a chance to reply, Spock's yell stopped him.
"Captain," Spock yelled across from where he and a security officer were hiding. "I have managed to bypass some of the interference disrupting the communicators. An emergency signal has been sent to the ship."
"Very good, Mr Spock," Jim yelled back, a smile gracing his face briefly. "Prepare to be beamed up."
"Yes, sir," The voices of those still alive answered.
But it didn't take long for Jim and Leonard to work out something was wrong.
As the rest of the team were beamed up, all they could do was watch. Jim pulled his communicator from his pocket and stared at the bullet lodged in the middle of it. Glancing down, Leonard saw his own communicator lying broken on the ground, where it must have fallen when Jim pushed him to the ground and out of the way of the bullets.
"You have got to be kidding me," Leonard heard Jim curse before his world goes black.
Leonard groaned as he forced his eyes open, glancing down at his side he saw a bullet hole and dried blood staining his medical Starfleet issue shirt. He didn't even bother to see if there's an injury, because he knows there wasn't going to be one. Shifting Leonard pulled at the chains securing his wrists behind his back, but they won't break.
"It's no use," Jim's voice sounded from somewhere on his left. "I've already tried breaking them. The chains are reinforced."
Leonard glanced around and stared at Jim for a moment in shock before anger quickly took its place. Jim sat with his head resting back against the wall behind him. His golden shirt was covered in blood. From where Leonard was sitting he couldn't see any of Jim's injuries, but he swore he'd kill whoever did this to his best friend. The only person who Leonard had ever truly let get close to him after what had happened all those years ago on Mars and the death of his twin sister a handful of years later.
"Don't worry," Jim carried on speaking as he moved his head and looked at Leonard. "I'm not hurt… Well not anymore."
"What do you mean?" Leonard demanded, trying to see Jim's head to see if he'd suffered a head injury, which could be causing his delusions.
"I know you saw it," Jim answered. "When I pushed you out of the way of that bullet. You saw my hand heal."
Leonard thinks for a moment then it all comes rushing back. Jim pushing him to the ground. Jim's hand healing just as fast as his own C-24 enhanced body healed.
"I've been lying to you Bones… I've been lying to everyone for a long time." Jim muttered before Leonard had a chance to answer. "But you have to understand, I didn't have much of a choice… If anyone ever found out. Well… It happened once before and the results were catastrophic."
"What are you talking about, Jim?" Leonard asks, trying to push down a sense of hope which was quickly filling him. Could it be possible? Could Jim be like him?
Jim laughed slightly but there was no humour in it.
"You're going to think I'm mad when I tell you this… I've been meaning to tell you ever since Khan, but I never found the right moment."
Jim paused for a second and took a deep breath, Leonard watched him closely whilst waiting for him to continue.
“My real name isn’t James Tiberius Kirk,” Jim began. “My birth name is Tiberius Phobos Deimos. My family and friends just used to call me Ty though. And before you point it out, I’m named after the moons of Mars or more accurately they’re named after me.”
Leonard shot Jim a disbelieving look.
“What?” Jim questioned, getting defensive. “There was no way I was going to let them name the moons of my home planet something stupid like K53Alpha or whatever stupid names it was they came up with!”
Leonard just raised an eyebrow. “And here I thought your ego couldn’t get any bigger.”
“Shut up, Bones!” Jim glared at Leonard. “As I was saying, I wasn’t born in space, either. I was born on Mars, one thousand, two hundred and one point seven five human years ago, give or take a few months. By Martian standards, I’m not even a quarter of the way through my life yet. I was born at a colony known as Tarsus IV, it was the largest colony on Mars, home to eight thousand Martian’s.”
Jim paused for a moment. “There were five colonies. Tarsus I, Tarsus II, Tarsus III, Tarsus IV and Tarsus V. As I said Tarsus IV was the largest with eight thousand, then it was Tarsus III which was home to just over six thousand, then Tarsus V which had a population of five thousand. Tarsus I and II both had a population of four thousand each. We had a small population overall, but then my species lives far longer than you would think possible.
“That’s another thing I lied about.” Jim sighed. “I’m not human. I’m a Martian. We share a lot of traits with humans… If you didn’t look at our DNA you’d think we were human. I doubt I need to explain how humans have twenty-three pairs of chromosomes in their DNA, you’re a doctor, after all, Bones. Well I, as a Martian have twenty-four pairs. And that twenty-fourth chromosome you could say makes me superhuman, immortal even.”
Leonard nodded, a small smile playing at his lips. Jim was like him, only he was born with, not injected with C-24.
“So like I was saying, Mars had five colonies and I lived in the fourth and that’s where it started.” Jim paused for a moment. “There was a man who lived down the street from me, his name was Kodos. He was a bit strange and everyone left him alone. One of my friends used to joke he was a mad scientist and completely batshit crazy. And the truth was, he was. I mean he had to be crazy to do what he did…
“Nobody knows for sure how he did it, but he created some sort of signal which mutated a certain gene in our DNA. It was a gene linked to violence… Everyone has the capability to be violent and do terrible things, but not everyone has that gene. Tarsus IV had a population of eight thousand and four thousand of that population had that gene.
“When the gene mutates, it changes you.” Jim rested his head back against the wall once more. “Four thousand people changed in to bloodthirsty monsters in a matter of hours. They killed everything they crossed paths with. They didn’t kill for food or survival, they killed for pleasure and for sport. They killed because they could and they didn’t stop.
“They weren’t Martian’s anymore, they were monsters. You couldn’t reason with them. They killed and they destroyed everything and they wouldn’t stop. They didn’t care whether you were male or female or an adult or a child… they even killed babies, new-borns. Everything with a heartbeat, they killed. The only way to stop them was to kill them and that was easier said than done.”
“Ty!” A woman's voice yelled. “You’re going to be late for school.”
“I’m coming, mother.” Ty yelled back, as he grabbed his school bag off the floor and run out his room. He jumped down the stairs and dodged around his older brother and raced towards the front door where his mother was waiting.
His mother smiled at him and reached forward and tried to flatten his blond hair which was sticking up at odd angles, but it stubbornly refused to lie flat.
“You have hair just like your fathers.” She muttered fondly.
Ty smiled at his mother, “When’s father coming home, mother?”
“Soon,” His mother answered. “He’ll be home in time for the holidays, he promised.”
Ty nodded, “Oh, mother, there’s a new combat teaching assistant at school, he’s really good. You should have seen him fight our teacher! I’ve never seen anyone fight like that before!”
Ty’s mother laughed, as they head towards the hover car parked outside the house, “He must be good, if he could fight your teacher, that old man really knows his stuff.”
“He’s definitely the best teacher.” Ty grinned, as he got in the front passenger seat. “Didn’t he teach you and father?”
“He did,” Ty’s mother answered. “And he was a fantastic teacher… Although I’ll admit he was a little on the aggressive side at times.”
Ty nodded and moved to switch on the radio. As the chronometer hit the hour the morning news report started, Ty glanced out the window watching the houses as they sped past them and people on their way to work.
As usually the news wasn’t reporting anything of major importance. There had been a couple of thefts and a few disturbances during the previous night in the local area and a minor traffic collision on the outskirts of the colony, again nothing too serious.
As the weather report started, Ty glanced skywards. It looked pretty clear, but a storm had been forecast to appear later that day, blowing in from the east with an area of low pressure. Heavy rain and strong winds were to be expected. A yellow flood alert had been given for the opposite side of the colony, which had been built on lower lying land and sometimes flooded during heavy rain.
“Doesn’t sound too good,” Ty’s mother muttered, as she pulled up outside the school.
“It’s only rain, mother,” Ty answered.
“I know, sweetie,” Ty’s mother answered. “But rain was the last thing I wanted today.”
“It could be worse,” Ty pointed out.
“It could,” Ty’s mother reached across in her seat and kissed his forehead. “Have a good day at school and try not to get into any more fights.”
“It’s always a good day, if my friends are in,” Ty answers. “And I’ll try, but Shinn annoys me.”
Ty’s mother smiled slightly, “I’ll pick you up at four. Comm me if there’s a change of plans.”
“Yes, mother,” Ty answered, rolling his eyes as he got out the hover car and shut the door.
“Ty!” A voice exclaimed and a blonde headed blur crashed into him.
“Lenore!” Ty answered with the same enthusiasm.
Lenore let go of him and stepped back, “You’ll never believe what I heard.”
“Well, I won’t know unless you tell me,” Ty answered, when it became clear Lenore wasn’t going to say anymore.
“I tell you when we get to class,” Lenore answered glancing round. “Trust me, you’re going to want to hear about this!”
“Well then,” Ty grinned. “Let’s get to class.”
It was the last class before lunch and Ty was sitting beside Lenore at their usual table when the sounds of gunfire seemed to echo through the building from outside. There was a moments silence as everyone in the room froze. More gunfire sounded from outside, followed by a scream which didn’t sound Martian.
“Everyone stay where you are!” The teacher yelled, as a wave of unease swept through the class.
There was more gunfire and the sounds of someone screaming. Only this time the scream sounded Martian, unlike the previous scream. Ty and Lenore glanced at each other and suddenly there was silence once more. It was an eerie type of silence which seemed to hang in the air around them.
“Attention all staff and students,” The intercom suddenly burst to life breaking through the silent air. “Due to a number of students falling ill with an unknown illness, the school is now closed. Please make your way to the nearest exit and any students or staff feeling ill, please report to the gym for transportation to the Cole Medical Facility. If any students begin to feel ill once they have returned home, please inform a parent are guardian right away. Good day.”
As soon as the announcement was finished everyone got to their feet and packed away their things. To many, an unknown illness spreading around the colony would cause panic, but to the inhabitants of Mars it was something they were prepared for, just like for fire drills and earthquake alarms.
Due to the Martian DNA, illness was uncommon and when Martians became ill, they recovered within a couple of days. Sometimes Martians didn’t even know that had gotten ill, their bodies recovered so quickly. It was the same with cuts and bruises, their bodies healed almost instantly.
But every once in a while an illness would come along which the Martian body couldn’t get rid of or recover from. A year or two before Ty had been born, was when the last illness like that had swept through the colony, it killed nearly two hundred people before the cure was found. Of course this may not be like that, it might simply be an illness which took slightly longer to overcome.
“I don’t like this,” Lenore muttered, as the two of them left the classroom together. “It just doesn’t feel right.”
“What do you mean?” Ty asked.
Lenore shook her head, “I… I don’t feel so good, Ty.”
“What’s wrong?” Ty asked.
“My skin, it feels like theirs something crawling under it,” Lenore answered.
“Maybe you should go to the gym, Lenore,” Ty answered. “Maybe you’ve got the illness.”
Lenore nodded, “Walk with me.”
“Of course,” Ty replied. “The chances are you’ve passed it on to me anyway.”
Lenore gave him a weak smile, “Sorry, Ty.”
“If I die because you have, I’m coming back to haunt you,” Ty threatened in a joking manner.
“Everyone knows there are no such things as ghosts,” Lenore answered. “So I’m not too worried.”
Ty snorted, “I’ll find a way.”
“And the sad thing is, I believe you,” Lenore teased, grinning at Ty.
When the two of them reached the gym, they found the doors were shut and blue medical tap covered the entrances.
“Well that’s useful,” Ty muttered. “They tell you to go to the gym and the gym is sealed off. I wonder what genius came up with that!”
“Ty!” Lenore suddenly gasped, doubling over.
“Lenore!” Ty exclaimed grabbing her shoulder.
Suddenly Lenore dropped to the floor and Ty took a step back as Lenore's body began to shake and change. Ty had never before seen anything like it. Her skin began to change colour and her body began to deform and lose it humanoid appearances.
“Lenore?” Ty questioned warily, taking another step back.
The mutant that had once been known as Lenore, let out a growl and got to its feet and turned towards Ty, who cursed and turned and run as fast as he could. The mutant didn’t even hesitate before chasing after him.
Ty didn’t stop running.
He ran through the streets, all around him the colony was falling into complete chaos. Martian’s were mutating in the street, while others who had yet to fully mutate looked like zombies, with blood dripping from their mouths and flesh stuck in their teeth.
Ty had no idea whether Lenore or the monster Lenore had turned into was still following him and he didn’t dare stop to see if it was.
He nearly hadn’t made it out of the school alive, he could still feel the sting of the mutant’s claws as they ripped through his back cutting to the bone and making him feel dizzy from the blood loss as he body hurried to heal itself as he carried on running.
Screams echoed around him and mixed with the roars of the mutants, as they hunted down those fleeing like animals. Ty ducked down behind a hover car and held his breath as a mutant run past chasing after a Martian woman, who was clutching her baby to her chest in an attempt to keep it from harm.
And all Ty could do was keeping praying that this was some sort of nightmare he was stuck in and at any moment his alarm was going to go off and wake him and everything would be back to normal and none of this would have been real, but he knew it was real. He’d watched one of his closest friends turn into a monster and then nearly been killed by that same monster.
There was no way this wasn’t real.
Glancing around, the street appeared clear, so Ty carried on running. He was going home, it was the only place he’d feel safe, even if the mutants had the strength to burst through walls... Home had always been his safe haven, but he knew nothing could truly keep him safe from this real life nightmare... And maybe, just maybe, his mother and brother would be home, sent home early due to the ‘illness’.
He couldn’t die without saying goodbye to his mother and tell her he loved her one last time. The same with his older brother. He knew he’d never see his father again. His father would be returning the colony soon and if he wasn’t killed by a mutant, Ty knew he, his brother and his mother would probably be dead by then. How could anyone survive this?
Finally reaching his street, Ty stumbled to a halt.
There in the middle of the street was Kodos, with his arms spread wide and a look of pure glee on his face, as he laughed at the destruction around him. And Ty couldn’t look away as a mutant spotted him and charged at him. In a state of complete horror, Ty watched as Kodos turned to face the mutant.
“My beautiful pet,” Kodos cooed. “I’ve created pure perfection!”
But the mutant didn’t stop, Kodos seemed to realise he was next on the menu and a look of fear replaced the look of glee on his face and Ty face took on a ghostly complexion as he watched the mutant tear Kodos to pieces.
Kodos’ screamed echoed in his ears as the mutant turned and run after something unseen further up the street. Before Ty even realised what he was doing, he found himself standing in a pool of blood in front of Kodos’ remains. Ty could feel his stomach turning and turned to the side, just in time to empty his stomach contents all over the floor.
Kodos had created these monster if what he said was to be believed and his own creations had destroyed him. It would have been poetic, if it wasn’t for the fact his creations had all but killed the entire colony and who knew, these mutants might even make it to the other colonies.
And unknown to Ty, mutants were already on their way to the other colonies. Crossing the Martian terrain, which resembled the Australian outback on Earth. Killing every living thing they crossed paths with and turning anything compatible into mutants too. Kodos was about to become responsible for the near extinction of the Martian race.
Ty run up the path to his home and placed his palm on the scanner, after a second it flickered green and the door to his home slid open. He rushed through the door, slamming his hand down on the controls and breathing a sigh of relief as the door shut behind him and the lock clicked.
Glancing around, he almost shivered at how eerily silent the house was. Goosebumps appeared on his arms and Ty glanced round with a feeling of unease. Slowly he began to make his way through the house, trying to make as little noise as possible.
He’d rather come face to face with a mutant than see his mother or brother or both in the same state he’d just seen Kodos.
Suddenly a hand grabbed his shoulder and Ty was spun around and pulled into the chest of his older brother.
“Oh thank the higher power,” Ty’s older brother gasped. “You’re alive! I thought you were dead, little brother! Don’t ever scare me and mother like that ever again!”
Ty wrapped his arms around his brother’s waist and shut his eyes. A second pair of arms wrapped around them and Ty recognised his mother’s sent. His family were still alive. He could feel the tears in his eyes and after a second he realised his mother was crying too, as she held him and his older brother.
Ty shut his eyes and simply enjoyed the sounds of his families heartbeats, until finally their mother released them and stepped back, she stared at the two of them for a second and wiped the tears from her eyes.
“Right the two of you go upstairs and pack,” Their mother ordered them. “Take only what you need, not what you want. We need to get out of the colony if we’re going to survive this. If we stay here it’s only a matter of time before we get found and killed.”
Both Ty and his older brother nodded, before hurrying upstairs to pack.
Ty was halfway through packing when he heard a thump come from his brother’s room.
“You okay, big brother?” Ty called.
There was no reply.
Slowly Ty set down his bag and made his way to his older brother’s room. Raising a hand, he slowly pushed the door to the room open. His brother was standing with his back facing him and he was perfectly still. Reaching out with one hand, Ty lightly knocked on the door which he had just pushed open.
For a moment his brother didn’t do anything, then he slowly began to turn around. Ty stumbled back at the sight of his brother. Blood was pouring down his face from his eyes, nose, mouth and even his ears were bleeding. His eyes were misted over with a milky white colour and his skin had taken on a deathly shade of pale.
Suddenly Ty’s brother leapt at him and Ty only just recovered quickly enough to pull the bedroom door shut and steady himself against the opposite wall as his brother crashed into the door, like he was trying to smash through it using his body.
With a sense of growing dread, Ty slowly turned to face the stairs. What if his mother had turned too? She must have heard the noise by now, so why hadn’t she come upstairs to see what was going on? Suddenly there were slow and heavy footsteps on the stairs, whatever it was, it was not his mother!
Running back into his room, Ty quickly grabbed his half packed bag and dived under his bed. It wasn’t the best hiding place, but he had nowhere else to go. The heavy footsteps continued up the stairs and onto the landing and Ty quickly covered his mouth with his hand as a giant mutant walked past his open bedroom door, dragging the bloodied dead body of his mother in its wake.
Jim kept his eyes shut as he tried to push back the wave of emotion that was threatening to overcome him. He had tried so hard to forget about what had happened on Mars and how Kodos had all but destroyed the Martian race.
“I watched one of my closest friends mutate into a monster,” Jim mutters. “Then she tried to kill me. I escaped, but only just. I watched her change from a beautiful young woman to a creature that doesn’t even belong in the deepest pits of hell… I just can’t get it out of my head. She was so kind and caring, how was it even possible she had the gene?”
Leonard could only watch as his best friend had a minor-breakdown right across from him.
“After I escaped, I just carried on running and I didn’t stop,” Jim continued as he recovered enough to carry on. “I saw mutants attack and kill people. I heard the screams and the roars. The pleading for help and the desperation for survival. It wasn’t until I reached my street I stopped.
“Kodos was just standing there… I’ve never known someone look so happy.” Jim shook his head. “I watched as he got torn apart by a mutant and I stood in his still warm blood, as I tried to comprehend what had just happened and what I had just heard.
“At the time I didn’t know about the signal Kodos had used to mutate the gene, but he stood in the middle of that street and proclaimed he had created them. How can somebody do that? Why would somebody do that? I’ve spent years thinking about it and I still can’t come up with an answer that even begins to cover it.
“He created monsters and he turned perfectly nice ordinary people into mutants and zombies… Because that’s what those who didn’t fully mutate were, flesh eating zombies. Slow and clumsy at first, but strong, fast and deadly quiet when they were hunting their next meal. They could rip you limb from limb in a matter of seconds if they got close enough.
“That’s what my brother turned into,” Jim explained. “A flesh eating zombie. Well least that’s what I think he turned into, I didn’t really hang around to find out. I just hid under my bed and waited for it to end. All I could do was watch as a mutant which had gotten into the house, dragged my mother’s body past my bedroom door, leaving a trail of blood in its wake and pray that it wouldn’t be me next.
“And by some miracle, I wasn’t. I hid under that bed for hours, not daring to move a single muscle or even breathe half the time, just in case the mutant heard me and I’d be next on the list to die. It wasn’t until the following morning that I actually moved. It was late afternoon when the storm hit. Rain and wind. Never in all my life had I been so glad for such a storm.
“The wind drowned out the screams and the rain washed away the blood. The following day all that remained were empty streets and destroyed buildings. When people talk about the apocalypse, that’s what I picture in my head. It was a complete ghost town. Even the mutants had disappeared, no doubt in search of the other colonies and new Martians to prey upon.
“At some point during the night I must have fallen asleep, but when I woke up light was streaming through the windows and that was when I finally plucked up the courage to go outside and found the colony in that state. It was eerie, but I don’t think I could have survived if there had still been mutants around.”
“That following morning when I left my home... I can’t even begin to describe what it felt like walking through the streets of that colony,” Jim shut his eyes. “The place was just empty. There was no movement. No life… Nothing. It was a ghost town. And as I walked I tried to convince myself that it was all just a dream and that any moment I’d wake up, but that hadn’t worked before and no matter how much I wanted to believe it… It just wasn’t true and I knew it.
“I spent weeks searching the colony. I went from house to house, looking for anyone else who had survived like I had. By the time I had successfully searched the entire colony, I had found eight others,” Jim paused as he shook his head. “Nine out of eight thousand survived. Nine! Only nine! Out of eight thousand! I still can’t believe there was only nine of us that survived! Nine Martians were all that was left of our colony!
“Kodos destroyed us and it didn’t stop there. In the time it took me to find the other survivors, the mutants had made their way to the other colonies. The streets ran red with rivers of blood. It’s a sight I’ll never forget... The nine of us left Tarsus IV not long after, there was nothing left there… Maybe if we had stayed we could have lasted a month or two using what remained, but the colony was ruined.
“The short battle with the mutants had left the colony without power. My guess was the mutants had forced their way into the main control centre for the colony and the resulting fight had done some serious damage, damage we had no way of repairing.”
Jim shifted where he was sitting and looked across at Leonard.
“Every single colony had been wiped out! The mutants had destroyed everything! There was nothing left alive! Well, we believed there was nothing left alive, after a month or so of moving from place to place to avoid to the mutants and endless fleeing every time a mutant caught our sent, we were found by another group of survivors. They nicknamed us the ‘Tarsus Nine’.
“At first I couldn’t stand the name. It was a constant reminder that we were the only survivors of our colony, but eventually, I grew to like the name. They hadn’t given it to us because we were the only survivors from our colony, they had given it to us because they had found other groups, larger than ours, slaughtered…
“… You see the nine of us that survived, we weren’t adults. We were children. The oldest amongst us was Hoshi Sato and she was only eighteen. On Mars, you’re not an adult until you’re twenty-one. That also means you can’t leave home until your twenty-one,” Jim snorted slightly. “Humans always seem so eager to leave home, yet on Mars, leaving home wasn’t a big deal. Of course, the majority of Martian’s left home by twenty-five, if you left much later than that, then there were some problems that could occur, but that’s not important now.”
“Why’s it not important, Jim?” Leonard asks, curiosity getting the better of him.
Jim smiled slightly, “Because, at the age of twenty-eight, you choose a mate. Martian’s mate for life. You have one partner and you are bonded to them for the rest of your life. If one mate dies, the other never find another mate, it also been recorded that when one mate dies, the other dies within weeks of it happening, the bond is that strong in some cases… I have never mated, I mean yeah, I’ve had sex, quite a lot in fact, but I’ve never mated. But anyway as I said, that’s not important.”
Ty walked through the colony streets, his body tense and ready to bolt at a moment’s notice. Behind him were a group of eight others. Hoshi Sato was the oldest at eighteen and Malakai being the youngest of the group at three and a half years of age. It had taken Ty weeks to find them all, searching each and every house, one by one, until every single building had been checked.
So far Ty and the other had yet to find any bodies, which was a good thing in some respects but bad in others. He knew for himself, it would have been too soon after seeing Kodos get ripped to pieces and his mother’s dead body, to be exposed to more death and dead bodies. As for the others, he couldn’t speak for them as he didn’t know what they had seen before he found them and he wasn’t about to pressure them into telling him.
If they wanted to talk about it, he’d let them do it in their own time when they were good and ready.
But no bodies also meant that the mutants had most likely eaten them… He had been forced to listen to the mutant which killed his mother, devour her flesh in the hallway as he hid under his bed. The crunching of bones and the sound of flesh and muscle being torn apart was something he was never going to forget… He could still hear the sound echoing in his ears and it haunted his dreams most nights.
He was simply thankful he hadn’t been forced to watch the mutant eat his mother, the sounds had been bad enough.
It had been almost three weeks since half the colony had mutated and now most of the colony lay in ruins. The mutants had torn through buildings looking for victims and many who hadn’t mutated had battled against those who had turned and the evidence left behind from those fights showed that the mutants had won.
It had been a massacre.
There were blood stains everywhere in the areas untouched by the storm.
The streets were mostly clean, as the rain had been washed away most of the blood and the blood which could be found was from those who had been killed after the storm had passed. But inside the buildings were a different story. Blood stained the floors and walls. It wasn’t a pretty sight and all Ty could keep telling himself was it could have been so much worse than just blood.
In a day or two’s time the nine of them would leave Tarsus IV and head for Tarsus V, which was the closest colony to them, in hopes of finding other survivors and if Tarsus V was empty, they’d move on to the next colony. And if the next colony was empty too, they’d just keep going until they found others or were killed themselves.
After all, they wouldn’t be able to outrun the mutants forever.
Hoshi quickly moved forward and joined Ty at the head of the group, “We should find a place to stop for the night, Ty.”
“As soon as we leave this district, we’ll find a place to stop,” Ty nodded.
“We have enough supplies now to leave here tomorrow,” Hoshi pointed out, as they carried on walking. “We could be at Tarsus V by the end of Phobos’ Luna cycle.”
Ty shook his head, “We leave as already planned, Hoshi… There’s something I have to do before we leave, it’ll only take a day or two maximum.”
“What’s so important that’s you risk staying here for, instead of leaving for potential safety?” Hoshi asked, curiously.
“There’s nothing safe about Tarsus V, Hoshi,” Ty answered. “If you want to be safe, you’re best of staying here. All the mutants have left this place, there’s no guarantee they’ve left Tarsus V. Nor do we know for sure that there are other survivors.”
“But there is hope,” Hoshi pointed out.
“Yeah,” Ty agreed. “There’s always hope.”
“So… What exactly are we looking for, Ty?” Xavier asked as he and Ty looked around an empty house.
“I’ll know it when I find it.” Ty answered.
“Why this house?” Xavier questioned. “I mean it’s obviously not your old home. Who does it even belong to?”
“Someone called Kodos.” Ty replied, picking up an old looking notebook and flicking through it.
“Never heard of him,” Xavier answered. “How’d you know him? And why is he so important?”
“He lived down the road from me,” Ty explained. “And I didn’t know him that well. As for how important he is, check this out.”
Xavier walked over to where Ty stood holding up the notebook he had been flicking through as he spoke. Ty quickly handed it to him and Xavier turned to the first page. After a couple of moments Xavier looked up in alarm.
“Kodos did this?!” Xavier exclaimed. “He’s even explained how he did it! This was what you were looking for, wasn’t it?”
“I thought that was obvious.” Ty answered.
Xavier rolled his eyes, “How did you know?”
“Remember the person I told you I saw get ripped to pieces?” Ty asked.
“That was Kodos.” Xavier guessed correctly.
Ty nodded, “He said he created them. I needed proof… I mean everyone used to say he was mad, but that didn’t mean it was true. I wanted it not to be true.”
Xavier carried on turning the pages of the notebook, “And according to this, it going to get a whole lot worse. According to this, those mutants, or ‘Imps’ as Kodos has named them, are only the first of a whole list of monsters he’s created.”
Ty shook his head in disbelief, “We need to get out of here. If the mutants have gone it’s only a matter of time before something else takes their place.”
Xavier quickly handed the notebook back to Ty and began walking towards the door, “Why do you think he did it?”
Ty quickly put the notebook in the backpack he had slung over one shoulder and quickly followed Xavier out the door.
“I don’t know,” Ty replied. “People said he was mad, but how mad do you have to be to almost destroy your own race?”
Xavier just shook his head, unable to answer that question and not even sure Ty wanted an answer.
Ty almost stopped walking as a thought flashed through his mind, “Maybe he wasn’t mad.”
“What?” Xavier asked.
Ty quickly pulled the notebook from his backpack and flicked through the book to a page he had only seen for the briefest of seconds.
On the pages was a single drawing, which was spread across the two pages. It looked like a giant crack, filled with raging fires and dark shapes. It also seemed to have strange force field of energy around it, similar in appearance to heat waves on a warm day.
“What does that look like to you?” Ty asked, holding out the book for Xavier to look at.
“An interdimensional doorway,” Xavier answered.
Xavier and Ty sat back to back as the two of them took the first watch of the night, each of them carried a weapon which they had found whilst they had been searching Tarsus IV for supplies. They were currently half way between the Tarsus IV colony and Tarsus V colony, but they still had some tough terrain to cross before the made it there.
It was going to be a hard journey, especially for the younger members of the group.
Ty stared up at the night sky, from where he had been using a torch to read Kodos' notebook. Hundreds of stars lit up the night sky, it was a truly beautiful view and one that Ty didn’t get to see often.
The light from the colony blocked out most of the stars at night, so his father used to take him camping far from the colony, deep in the wilderness, to see the stars like they were now. Ty blinked back tears, his father was most likely dead, just like the rest of his family. He’d never get to see his family again, all because one Martian went off the deep end and decided to create monsters, which wouldn’t look out of place it hell, was a brilliant idea.
Back to back with him, Xavier was absent-mindedly drawing patterns in the dirt. Xavier had watched his little brother get killed by the mutants Kodos had named imps, every time he shut his eyes he could still see the scene play out before him.
He, his little brother and their father had been outside the colony when Kodos had done whatever it was that caused some Martian’s to mutate into monsters. And they hadn’t returned to the colony until after the first Martian had turned into one of the said monsters.
They had been returning from a visit to Tarsus II and they had only been home a couple of hours when his mother had suddenly complained she hadn’t been feeling well and had gone to the doctors.
No more than half an hour after that, his older brother and sister who had both been just about to leave, had mutated… It had been horrible to watch. It was unlike anything Xavier had ever seen before.
His brother had been on his way to college and his sister had been leaving to meet up with her mate. Her mate was twenty-three, as where she was only twenty-two. His father had killed the two of them, but he had been injured in the process and had told Xavier to take his little brother and run.
And run he had, but he just hadn’t been fast enough.
They had made it two streets from their house when an imp came out of nowhere. It had grabbed his brother, who had screamed with such fear Xavier had almost felt it as his own. Then the imp had torn his brother apart.
There had been so much blood.
If Xavier hadn’t been in such a state of shock he would have thrown up. After his little brother had been killed Xavier had just stood frozen to the spot. He just couldn’t comprehend what had just happened, he had only moved when the creature shot something at him. After that Xavier hadn’t waited around for it to try again, he had just run.
He had somehow managed to outrun it after that. And he wasn’t scared to admit he’d found a hiding place soon after he'd escaped it and hadn’t dared move until he heard Ty and the other survivors he had already found, searching for more survivors amongst the colony which was now a ghost town.
By the time Ty had found him the mutants were gone, no doubt on their way to the other colonies, in search of their next meals. They had found a couple of other survivors after that and by the time the whole colony had been searched there had only been nine of them in total… So many people were dead.
“What else have you found in Kodos’ notebook?” Xavier asked suddenly breaking the silence.
Ty glanced over his shoulder, “Not much. From what I can work out, Kodos was out in the wilderness on the far side of the planet. He was exploring some old research facility and by the sounds of it, it was the old research facility… And that’s where he found the interdimensional doorway.”
“The old research facility?” Xavier questioned. “I thought that place was destroyed hundreds of years ago!”
Ty shook his head, “It was sealed off and abandoned, but never destroyed… It’s only a rumour, but I once heard that our species never evolved to have twenty-four chromosomes. We used to have twenty-three. The facility that Kodos was exploring when he found the interdimensional doorway was where, if you believe the rumour, the twenty-fourth chromosome was created.”
Xavier turned and looked at Ty, “That couldn’t possibly be true… We’d know if we created the twenty-fourth chromosome. How could we not? It’s vital to our survival on this planet! If we had created it, we’d know about it.”
“It’s only a rumour,” Ty pointed out. “But think about it. If the twenty-fourth chromosome was created by us hundreds, if not thousands of years ago… Maybe even in the last age! And that data is still at the old facility and Kodos found it, he would have had all the information he needed to be able to turn us into Imps!”
“But how? How did he do it?” Xavier asked. “How did he make perfectly normal people turn into monsters?”
“I don’t know,” Ty answered. “But I’m planning on finding out.”
Hoshi was scouting ahead of the rest of group, as she was the best at moving fast and quietly across the rocky terrain. They had been less than a day away from Tarsus V when Xavier had found tracks which could have only belong to an Imp aka a mutated Martian. To make matters worse the tracks looked fresh and alarmingly so.
It had been decided that they should have a scout, someone who could go ahead of the group and keep watch for mutants, as it was unlikely they’d be approached from behind. The imp’s were going to be coming from the colony, as that was where there was most likely going to be food in the form of un-mutated Martian’s.
Ty hadn’t wanted Hoshi to go alone, but as she had pointed out she was the one who could move the fastest while creating the least noise and any loud noises would be a death sentence if there were Imps within hearing range.
Well, they didn’t know for sure if an imp would hear them, as none of them knew how good the imp’s were at hearing, Kodos hadn’t written much about that aspects of the monsters. But if they were anything like the non-mutated Martian’s, it was going to be good.
Finding a sheltered area but with a good vantage point, Hoshi settled down and turned her attention to the colony which was visible on the horizon. Her gaze quickly swept over the terrain between where she was sitting and the colony, looking for any sign of movement. A flicker of reflected light caught her attention and she quickly pulled the pair of binoculars from her belt.
The lenses of the binoculars were tinted, meaning they wouldn’t reflect the light and give away her position. Ty had been the one to pick them out when they had been gathering supplies back at Taurus IV, just as he had chosen most of the equipment they had. He had explained that his father used to take him camping and that reflected light from a binoculars lenses scared away the animals he’d been using them to see. And it also gave away your position, if used in a combat situation.
It took her a couple of seconds to locate where the flash of reflected light had come from and once she had, she couldn’t help but wish she hadn’t.
It was a crashed hover car.
The shattered windscreen had been the source of the reflected light and it was covered in dried blood. Shattered blood covered glass covered the ground in front of the hovercar, along with rotting Martian remains.
Hoshi quickly lowed the binoculars and tried not to gag as her stomach turned and bile burned up her oesophagus. A movement out the corner of her eye suddenly caught her attention and she quickly turned towards it. Moving slowly across the land not half a mile from where she was sitting was an imp.
Hoshi gulped and kept as still as she could. She had a weapon, but Ty had warned her not to use it unless she had no other choice. The noise of the weapon would attract anything within a mile radius, especially out in the open where the noise would travel more easily.
As she watched, the imp turned and made its way towards the colony and it was only then she noticed it was dragging a body behind it. Hoshi bit down hard on her tongue and watched it until it was out of sight.
A hand suddenly landed on her shoulder and Hoshi screamed. A second hand covered her mouth, cutting off and muffling her scream.
“Shh!” A voice hissed in her ear. “It’s me. It’s Ty.”
Hoshi turned and looked at Ty as he uncovered her mouth.
“You scared me half to death!” She accused.
“Sorry,” Ty muttered, glancing around. “I called you, but you didn’t hear me. I thought something might have been wrong.”
“I saw a mutant,” Hoshi blurted out. “It had a body. It reminded me of… Of… I must have zoned out. I’m sorry.”
Ty squeezed Hoshi shoulder, “It’s alright. Let’s get moving and from now on, we all stay together. I think it’ll be safer that way.”
Zina and Ty knelt behind a boulder less than five meters from the outskirts of Tarsus V. Not far behind them the others were hidden and ready to join them as soon as they gave the all clear. The sun was beginning to set and it’d be dark within a couple of hours. They needed to find a safe and secure location to spend the night.
They’d have to wait until the following morning until they began to search for any other possible survivors.
Zina suddenly grabbed Ty’s hand and pointed to something just past one of the buildings and it took Ty a couple of moments to notice what she was pointing at. Hidden in the shadows of the building was an imp, if Ty hadn’t known better he could have sworn it was watching them, but if it had seen them it would have attacked straight away.
Without warning the imp moved.
It climbed up the side of the building, much like a spider would and vanished out of sight over the roof of the building. Ty and Zina shared a look before turning their attention back to the colony. Imp’s being able to climb up walls as if it was as easy as breathing, wasn’t good news.
Ty singled for Zina to stay where she was, glancing around one last time before getting up from his hiding place. Moving fast Ty quietly ran across to the closest building and pressed himself up against the wall, hidden in the shadows. Keeping his breathing as even as could, Ty looked around preying he hadn’t been spotted.
When nothing jumped out on him, Ty sighed with relief. He quickly signalled Zina to join him and she quickly did so. The two of them jumped as a sound echoed from a nearby alleyway and Ty quickly drew the knife he had with him. Zina gripped Ty’s arm as an imp appeared from the shadows of the alleyway.
The two of them kept as still as they could as the imp paused and sniffed the air, it suddenly turned in their direction and began to move towards them. An unearthly scream sounded from deeper in the colony and the imp turned towards it, before running off in the direction it had sounded from.
Zina and Ty both sighed matching sighs of relief and Zina shut her eyes and rested her head back against the wall they had their backs to. Ty ducked his head slightly and tried to calm his racing heart.
That had been too close for comfort.
He had survived Tarsus IV, so why was this so scary?
“Let’s move,” Ty whispered once he was sure he could move without shaking. “The sooner we start, the sooner we’ll finish.”
Zina nodded, “Right.”
Blaise was halfway through the second watch of the night, when a sudden noise from the floor below him almost made him drop his weapon in fright. It had taken Ty and Zina little over an hour to find the building they were currently hiding in, as it had taken longer them longer than original planned to find a safe place to shelter for the night.
The colony had been crawling with mutants or Imps as Ty and Xavier had taken to calling them. They could appear out the shadows and they moved fast. Hoshi had been convinced Ty and Zina had been killed. Ever since she had scouted ahead of the group, she had been more jumpy and twitchy than she had been before.
Blaise could only guess she had seen something whilst scouting, as she refused to speak about it. And he wasn’t about to press her for answers. This was scary enough as it was, he didn’t need to add more things to the list of things he had nightmares about.
And then Ty and Zina had returned.
Blaise was ashamed to admit that entering the colony and creeping though the streets to the building Ty and Zina had found was one of the scariest things Blaise had ever done. In many ways it was far scarier than hiding from the mutants back at Tarsus IV.
Hoshi had been visible shaking as they walked, scanning the shadows around the wildly and keeping a tight grip on her gun. It had been in that moment, Blaise decided he definitely never wanted to know what Hoshi had seen. If she showed that much fear, it must have been truly bad.
By the time they had reached the building, even Xavier had been jumping at the slightest of sounds and he was one of the braver members of the group. It seemed Ty was the only one keeping his cool, but even he was tenser than usual. Every movement in the shadows around them had suddenly became a potential threat.
Zina had taken first watch and Blaise had only volunteered to take second in Ty’s place, because his mind was too on edge and no matter how hard he tried he just couldn’t get to sleep. And now he was living to regret that decision.
When the noise sounds again Blaise slowly moves across to where Ty was sleeping. Ty would know what to do, out of all them Ty seemed to be the one who knew the most about what was going and how to survive. He had become their leader, the one they all turned to in a crisis, even though he wasn’t the oldest member of their group.
“Ty?” Blaise whispered urgently, shaking Ty’s shoulder. “Ty, wake up! There’s something downstairs!”
Ty had decided the second floor of the three storey building was the best place to hide. They’d have a place to run if something came from the floor above them and the same if something came from the floor below them, the fire escape was only metres from where they were resting.
“Ty!” Blaise hissed. “Wake up!”
Ty eyes blinked open and he looked up at Blaise, the noises sounded from downstairs again and Ty bolted upright, almost head-butting Blaise as he did so. Ty reached for his weapon and turned to Blaise.
“Why isn’t Zina on watch?” He asked.
Blaise glanced over at where Zina lay asleep. “You were asleep, I wasn’t. So I offered to take your watch.”
Ty nodded and quietly got to his feet. “Well seeing as you’re awake, let’s go.”
“What?!” Blaise hissed as loud as he dared. “We need to get out of here!”
“No,” Ty answered. “We need to see what’s downstairs.”
“Why?” Blaise demanded.
“Because what if it’s nothing?” Ty reasoned. “What if it’s just someone’s pet or another survivor? Or just the wind making something rattle? Why risk moving and being caught out there in the dark, when we could still be perfectly safe here?”
“Fine.” Blaise answered. “But what if it isn’t nothing? What if it’s a mutant?”
“Then we come back up here, get the others and move.” Ty replied.
“But what if it sees us?” Blaise shivered slightly.
Ty smiled grimly. “Then we run like hell and hope it doesn’t catch us… Or we kill it.”
Xavier almost screamed when Ty shook him awake. Once he had got his racing heart back under control, he glared at Ty.
“Yo-” Xavier began, only to have Ty slam a hand over his mouth.
“Shh!” Ty hissed close to his ear. “There’s something downstairs.”
As if on que another sound echoed from the floor below. Xavier reached up and pulled Ty’s hand away from his mouth. He glanced towards the entrance of the room and saw Blaise standing there looking out into the hallway.
“I need you to keep watch,” Ty began to explain. “Me and Blaise are going to go check it out what’s making the noise. If you hear anything coming this way that doesn’t sound like us and we haven’t returned, you wake the others and you get out of here.”
“What about you and Blaise?” Xavier asked. “How will you find us?”
“We’ll find you,” Ty promised. “But that might not even happen.”
Ty gets his feet only for Xavier to grab his arm halfway.
“Stay safe.” Xavier ordered.
Ty smiled slightly. “We’ll be fine.”
Xavier nodded and let go of Ty’s arm. Ty quickly made his way over to the door where Blaise was waiting. Blaise looked at Ty, fear was visible in his eyes and for a moment Ty considered whether Blaise should stay in Xavier place. But if Blaise was truly that scared, he’d probably panic at the first noise and that wouldn’t end well.
Ty knew Xavier was capable of keeping a level head.
Ty looked past the door and into the hallway, it appeared clear.
“Right, let’s go.” Ty whispered, stepping out into the hallway.
After a moment’s hesitation, Blaise followed him. Ty noticed Blaise’s hands were visibly shaking and again Ty wondered if this was the right thing to be doing. Ty shook his head slightly, if they were all going to survive this, they were going to have to get used to it and sooner was better than later.
Slowly they made their way down the steps at the end of the hallway, Ty raised his hand to signal Blaise to stop. A shadow had pasted the open doorway in the halfway below them, it moved slowly and looked Martian in shape, but hairs on the back of his neck told Ty that it most likely wasn’t.
Once the shadow was completely out of sight, Ty carried on moving and once he had reached the bottom of the stairs, he signalled for Blaise to join him. Once Blaise was beside him, he signalled to Blaise to stay where he was while he crept forward and stopped with his back to the wall beside the doorway the shadow had passed.
Out the corner of his eye he saw Blaise pale and then he saw it.
At the far end of the corridor was an Imp. It clearly hadn’t spotted them yet, but Ty couldn’t move for if he did the movement would definitely catch the Imp’s attention and that definitely wouldn’t end well.
Ty shut his eyes for a second and breathed deeply, his heart was racing and he was beginning to sweat.
Opening his eyes he looked back at where Blaise had been standing, only to find he had gone. No doubt he had gone back up the stairs and who could blame him, there was no point in both of them dying because sooner or later that Imp was going to spot him and he’d he next on the menu.
Ty hardly dared breathe as he pushed himself as flat to the wall as he could. The Imp ahead of him turned and sniffed the air and Ty held his breath as it turned in his direction. It let out a shrieking roar and charged towards him.
Moving on instinct alone, Ty dived sideways and through the doorway the shadow had passed and slamming the semi destroyed door shut behind him, before backing away from it slowly as the Imp outside slammed into it with enough force to buckle the metal.
And so he found himself in a kitchen, larger than he had ever seen before. The once spotless stainless steal surfaces were stained in blood and the tiled floor was no longer the pearly white it had once been, as it too was stained in blood.
A growl to Ty’s left alerted him to the fact the room was already occupied. Turning in the direction of the growl, Ty found himself faced with what he had come to know as a Zombie. Ty stared at it wide eyed as it growled at him again and twisted its head from side to side in a way no normal Martian should have been able to.
With a final growl at him, it lunging at him with its teeth bared. Ty stumbled back with a yell. But as the Zombie Martian made it halfway towards him, the door to the room was ripped open as the metal was torn apart like paper.
Ty ducked down behind one of the many kitchen counters as the Imp tore the Zombie to pieces, having collided with upon entering the room. Ty quickly covered his mouth with his hand, as the Imp landed on the counter above him, to cut off his scream of fear.
He had nowhere to run and nowhere to hide.
Tears rolled down from his eyes, as his bit down on his tongue as the Imp above him moved, turning its head from one direction to the other. It was looking for him and it wouldn’t be long until it found him. Least it couldn’t sniff him out this time, as the scent of blood was heavy in the air thanks to the Zombie the Imp had just torn to pieces moments before.
But the smell was making Ty’s stomach roll unpleasantly.
Looking round desperately, Ty searched for a way to get himself out of the situation he was in alive. If he run for it, he’d have to risk going out into the colony streets, as he couldn’t lead the imp back to the others. He knew he could out run one Imp, but as soon as he was out there, every Imp and Zombie in the colony would know about in a matter of moments.
Which left him with only one other option: Kill the Imp.
The only usable weapon Ty had on him was a knife as a gun would make too much noise, which meant he’d have to get close to the Imp in order to kill it. If he moved now maybe he could kill it before it realised what was happening, as it was right above him.
But in his heart of hearts Ty knew that would never work. His knife wouldn’t be able to cut deep enough to wound the imp fatally and if he didn’t kill the Imp in one strike, he’d be the only causality.
He was well and truly done for.
“Blaise?” Xavier questioned, when Blaise stumbled back into the room as white as a sheet. “Where’s Ty?”
“M-mutant,” Blaise stuttered in reply.
“Where?” Xavier demanded, tightening the grip on his weapon.
“Downstairs,” Blaise answered. “Ty-Ty couldn’t get away.”
“Is Ty still alive?” Xavier asked nervously.
He didn’t know what they’d do if they lost Ty. Because Ty was their leader and the glue holding their group together. He was the one who kept them calm, even when he himself was petrified and wanted to do nothing more than run away and hide.
Without Ty they’d be lost.
They’d be dead too.
“Blaise. Is Ty still alive?” Xavier asked again, when Blaise didn’t answer.
Blaise just stared at Xavier, as his shoulders began to shake.
“Is. Ty. Still. Alive?” Xavier hissed slowly and sharply.
Blaise nodded slowly.
“Y-yes.” He stuttered. “When I l-last s-saw him, he was a-alive.”
“Right,” Xavier muttered, picking up all the weapons he could find that wouldn’t make a noise that would attract other mutants when used. “Stay here and don’t make a sound. If you hear something that isn’t me and Ty returning, wake the others and hide. Do not, I repeat, do not go outside unless you have no other choice. Am I clear?”
“That isn’t good enough,” Xavier hissed. “The lives of everyone in this room are relying on your ability to do what I told you! Am I clear, Blaise?”
“Y-yes!” Blaise stuttered out.
“Good.” Xavier nodded, getting to his feet.
He stared at Blaise for a moment.
He was taking a risk leaving Blaise on his own.
Maybe he should wake Zina, or one of the others. There was a chance Blaise would panic and that would doom them all. But if Blaise was going to survive this, he’d need to find his nerve, which had been Ty’s aim when he had taken Blaise with him or that’s the reason Xavier believed Ty had done it.
If they were going to survive this they needed to be able to stand their ground and not run away screaming at the slightest sound or slightest of dangers. None of them would survive if they acted like that and none of them would survive on their own. They needed to work as a team, which meant everyone needed to play their part and pull their weight.
Because when it came to the crunch, they were all they had to rely on. They only had each other to watch their backs. It was like a chain, strong and unbreakable if every link was strong. But a chain was only as strong as its weakest link and they couldn’t afford to have even the slightest of weaknesses.
Weakness meant death here.
Turning Xavier made his way out of the room and in to the hallway, keeping his footsteps as silent as he could. There was a very good chance Xavier was going to have to kill the Imp if it hadn’t moved on. And his only chance of killing the Imp was to get as close as possible and strike before the Imp even knew he was there.
Then it would be a fact of whether Xavier found Ty alive and quite possibly injured or whether he just found the ripped up flesh and pool of blood that would be his remains.
Xavier reached the bottom of the stairs, he almost stumbled at the sight which greeted him. Across the hallway was an open doorway, but it hadn’t open by choice. The frame of the door was buckled and the door itself looked like it had been torn apart. The metal which had once made up the door lay scattered around the floor in razor sharp pieces.
But that wasn’t what had caused Xavier to stumble.
Beyond the door, the floor was covered in liquid, which glittering in the low light. Xavier could smell it was blood and if the smell hadn’t told him what the liquid was, the body pieces which lay around the floor would have. The body pieces were torn apart in such a way, Xavier couldn’t tell if it was Ty or not.
He really hoped it wasn’t Ty.
Taking a deep breath, Xavier began moving once more and as he stepped down the last couple of steps he could see the Imp through the doorway. It was stood on one of the counters which filled the room, looking around and sniffing the air with its back to the doorway. It seemed to be looking for something.
Maybe, just maybe, Ty was still alive.
But the blood and remains near the door were fresh. So it was most likely that the Imp was just looking for its next meal. And Xavier wasn’t about to let himself or the others be that meal, as he slowly moved forward and silently picked up on of the metal shards which lay on the flop from where the door had been destroyed.
He’d have a much better chance of killing the Imp with the piece of metal than the weapons he had bought with him. The shard of metal was longer, he could probably force it straight through the Imps body, which would do far more damage than the shorter weapons he had on him.
He was going to kill the Imp if it was the last thing he ever did.
A grin slowly made its way onto Xavier face, he’d take great pleasure in killing the monster before him. After all it had killed Ty and countless others. It didn’t deserve to live, even if it had once been Martian just like himself. He was going to kill it in honour of Ty and all the other Martians it had killed. And once it was dead, he and the others would have one less mutant to worry about.
But Xavier had seen what was in ‘Kodos’ handbook of monsters’ as Ty had taken to calling it recently. If what had been in the book had also been created, Imps and the zombie like creatures that they had crossed paths with, would be the least of their worries and with Ty no longer among the living, their chances of survival were now even lower.
Bracing himself, Xavier gripped the piece of metal in his hands, ignoring the way it cut into his palms as he readied himself to attack the Imp. He was going to stake the metal straight through the Imp’s heart. There was no way the monster would be able to survive something like that. Nothing would be able to survive it, not even the strongest of Martian in history!
Taking a deep breath, Xavier lunged forward, driving the spike of metal straight through the Imps flesh and then through its heart and clean out the other side of its body. The Imp howled and Xavier let go of the metal as he stumbled backwards, watching as the Imps blood oozed out of the wound around the piece of metal and run down it’s back.
The Imp let out one finally howl, before an odd squelching noise filled the air and its body went still before falling sideways and crashing to the ground.
Ty gripped the handle of his blade and listened carefully to the movements of the Imp above him. There was no doubt it was looking for him. He could hear it sniffing at the air and letting out growls as it failed to find his scent, as it had been masked by the previously killed Zombie. If it hadn’t been for that Zombie…
Ty shook his head to clear it and listened once more, only to nearly jump from his hiding place in fright as the Imp above him let out a howl. Never before had Ty heard an Imp make a noise quiet like it and he had no idea what had caused it to make such a sound.
As much as he tried to, he couldn’t hear anything other than the howling of the Imp above him. The howling had even blocked out the beating of his own heart, which had been hammering so loudly, Ty had been worried the Imp would hear it.
And then Ty felt something wet hit his hair and run done his face in drops and it smelt like blood.
Without a second of hesitation, Ty jumped to his feet and spun round to face the Imp, before driving the blade of his knife straight through the Imp’s right eye, causing it to howl once more as the blade cut through it and into its brain.
The knife only stopped moving forward once it hit the back of the Imp’s skull. Ty then pulled his blade clean of the Imp with a sickening squelching sound and watched as the body of the Imp feel sideways to the ground with a thump.
It was only then Ty allowed himself to look closely at the Imp. He couldn’t help but be slightly impressed by what he saw. Someone had driven a spike of metal straight though Imps chest, no doubt going through its heart the process. The aim had been dead on and the metal had cut straight through the Imp like it had been made of paper. Ty couldn’t believe the Imp hadn’t died straight away.
An injury like that would have killed any normal Martian…
… Which could only mean one thing:
Mutated Martians were stronger than non-mutated Martians.
“Ty!” A shocked voice exclaimed, breaking him out of his thoughts.
Ty glanced up quickly to find Xavier standing across from him with a mixture of shock, joy and relief on his face.
“You’re alive!” Xavier grinned. “I can’t believe it! You’re alive!”
Ty frowned slightly, before realising that Xavier must have thought the Zombie’s remains by the door must have been his. Ty smiled and quickly walked round to Xavier and pulled him into an embrace.
“Yeah, I’m alive.” Ty muttered. “Did you really think one Imp would be able to kill me that easily?”
Xavier laughed slightly. “You’re right. What was I thinking?”
“Beats me.” Ty answered moving back and quickly checking Xavier over.
Xavier almost rolled his eyes. “I’m fine. It should be me checking you for injuries! You’re the one who nearly made it onto the Imps menu!”
Before Ty had a chance to answer, a shriek filled the air and it certainly didn’t sound like it belonged amongst the living.
“What the hell was that?!” Xavier whispered.
“If I had to guess,” Ty answered, keeping his voice just as low. “I’d say it was a ‘Lost Soul’. Kodos wrote their screams and shrieks could wake the dead.”
The haunting screams and shrieks of the Lost Souls echoed and bounced off the walls and buildings as Ty and Xavier made their way back to the room they had taken refuge in for the night. Unsurprisingly all the others were awake and huddled together fearfully, as the screams and shrieks disturb the once silent night air.
Blaise looked incredibly pale and a cold sweat of fear covered him and made his skin glisten in low light of the room. He was visibly shaking and every time a scream or shriek sounded he jumped or flinched and bite down hard on his lip to stop himself from crying out in fear. He looked ready to run, but the fear was keeping him rooted to the spot as the screams and shrieks were sounding from every direction.
Ty moved into the room quickly and hurried over to where he had left his pack. He quickly pulled the pack open and began digging through it. Finally finding what he looking for, Ty pulled a pair of night vision binoculars free from his pack. He quickly got to his feet from he’d been kneeling and walked towards the door.
Xavier grabbed Ty’s arm, stopping him from going any further.
“Where are you going?” Xavier hissed.
“The roof,” Ty answered. “We need to know how many of them there are out there.”
“Are you insane?!” Xavier demanded. “You were nearly killed downstairs and now you’re off to risk your life again, just to see how many there are!”
“I wasn’t nearly killed,” Ty replied, glaring at Xavier knowing that the others were listening to them.
Xavier snorted without humour. “And just how long do you think you would have lasted before that Imp found you, huh? It took the two us to kill that thing and now you want to go out on the roof to see how many of those Lost Souls there are! If they even are Lost Souls, that is!”
“We need to know what we’re up against, Xavier,” Ty pulled his arm free. “We need to be prepared in case they find us. And you’re right, I don’t know if they’re Lost Souls for sure, which means at the moment we’re surrounded by a countless amount of monsters and we have no idea what they are!”
Xavier shook his head. “We’re safe here, Ty. Why risk it?”
“Because we might not be safe here, Zay,” Ty answered. “From what Kodos has written, we’re far from safe right now! There are creatures in that book, which Kodos claimed could pass through solid walls! We have to know, because we have to be prepared… If we’re not, we won’t survive much longer.”
“Fine,” Xavier replied. “But I’m coming with you.”
It was then Ty’s turn to shake his head. “No, I need you to stay here and look after the others.”
“You can’t go alone, Ty,” Xavier argued.
“He won’t be going alone,” Johan cut in from where he was sitting beside Zina. “I’ll go with Ty.”
Ty turned towards Johan and meet his determined gaze. There was fear in his eyes, but his determination to face his fears and play his part as a member of their small group made Ty believe taking Johan with him wouldn’t be a decision he’d regret.
They all needed to face their fears sooner or later, or otherwise they wouldn’t survive.
“Grab a weapon,” Ty advised him. “And whatever you do, don’t lose it.”
Johan followed Ty as closely as he could, as Ty lead the way up to the roof of the building. He copied every move Ty made and even mimicked Ty’s posture and breathing pattern. To Johan, Ty was a hero no doubt about it. If he could even be slightly more like Ty, he knew he’d have a far better chance of survival than if he just acted like himself.
Ty was brave, Johan wasn’t.
If it hadn’t been for Ty, Johan doubted he’d be alive right now. He’d been so scared when Ty had first found him, he hadn’t wanted to leave his hiding place and if it hadn’t have been for Ty he wouldn’t have. He would have stayed hidden there until he was too weak to move and he would have died eventually.
Ty had saved his life and he didn’t even realise he had.
Even after Ty had found him and coaxed him from his hiding place, Johan had been a nervous wreck. He’d been shaking and trembling, sobbing and frightened. He’d been so scared. Every time he’d attempted to eat, his nervousness had meant his stomach couldn’t keep the food down for long and it had been Ty who had sat with him and comforted him by rubbing his back as he had thrown up.
It had been Ty who set out his bed roll besides Johan’s each night. It had been Ty who comforted him after his nightmares and hugged him and told him everything was going to be okay. It was Ty who sung him lullabies at night, when the fear and nightmares kept him awake. Ty had become his rock. The person he relied on to keep him safe, even when the horrors were inside his own head.
It was something Johan had worked out pretty quickly, Ty always looked out for others before himself. And Johan knew Ty must have suffered and seen things just like he had, just like they all had. It had been unavoidable. So if Ty could be brave and face this nightmare head on, so could he. So could all of them.
Keeping close to Ty as he pushed open the door to the roof, two of them stepped out on to the roof and for a single moment the night was completely silent, before a bone chilling shriek echoed through the still air making Johan jump and Ty flinch at the closeness of it. The two of them could almost feel the sound vibrating through them, it was so loud.
A pale oranges light danced across the walls of the building around them, causing vast shadows and weird shapes. The screams and shrieks continued to disturb the night around them as they ducked down behind the low wall which surrounded the flat roof. Another scream from almost directly below them sounded and almost made Ty drop the night vision binoculars he was holding as the noise made his ears ring.
The twenty-fourth chromosome hadn’t only made the Martian race superhuman strength and agility wise, it had also improved all their senses.
Their vision was sharper, they could see far better in the dark than humans could and could see far more colours too. They could see clearly across larger distances. Even their short range sight was better than humans.
Their sense of taste was much sharper, they could taste wider spectrum than humans could. It made eating foods with incredibly strong tastes almost painful, but something they learnt to deal with over time.
Their sense of smell was far better too, they could track smells and scents much like many of Earth’s native predators could. And on days when the weather was on their side, they could track scents for miles across the open tundra.
Even their sense of touch was better.
But that also meant their ability to hear was far better too. They could hear the beating of the heart in those around them as well as their own heart beats, although the sound often faded into background noise over time. So such a loud scream in such a close proximity was almost painfully loud.
Ty was almost surprised the sound hadn’t burst his eardrums it had been so piercing.
Ty and Xavier walked at the head of the group as they walked through the colony. Ty and Johan hadn’t been able to get a clear visual on what Ty thought were Lost Souls the night before. They moved to fast past the building and the night vision binoculars couldn’t see them clearly, they simply showed up as bright orbs of light, almost blindingly so.
From what Ty and Johan had been able to see in brief glimpses as the monsters flew past, they appeared to be flying orbs of what could only be described as fire.
Burning hot orbs of fire.
Ty was now sure they were Lost Souls, no other monster Kodos had described could have appeared like that through the night vision binoculars. No other monster screamed and shrieked like that either… But whether their screams could truly wake the dead was yet to be shown.
Their description also included fire. Kodos had described them as flying balls of red hot fire if seen from a distance, up close they looked far more horrifying though.
The colony they were walking through was eerily silent and still. It was making the group jumpy and even Ty was having a hard time keeping himself calm. The colony was a ghost town and it was putting them all on edge.
The early morning sun was casting long shadows across the ground and hiding entire sides of buildings deep in the shadows, concealing whatever may be hiding there from view. It was the perfect hiding spot for Imps.
The silence and stillness of the colony was also sending the group’s senses into overdrive as their natural survival instincts took over. Even the slightest of movements and quietest of sounds was enough to have their flight or fight response kicking in. The feeling that they were being watched only heightened that response.
But whatever was watching them, if they were indeed being watched, hadn’t made a move yet.
Ty suddenly sniffed the air as the hint of a scent caught his attention. It smelt like a fellow Martian, but it was too weak to know for sure. Beside him Xavier also sniffed the air, having caught wind of the same scent as Ty had. He turned in a small circle trying to work out which direction the scent was coming from.
“It’s coming from down there,” Xavier finally concluded, pointing down on of the streets leading of the main street they were currently walking down.
Ty looked in the direction Xavier was pointing. The street looked no different to the one they were currently walking down, nor did it show any signs that Imps had been there recently. It was a hard choice to make in many ways, if they tried to track this scent down, they could walk straight into a very dangerous situation if an Imp had also caught wind of the scent.
Or they could carry one walking and possibly be safe, as all the Imps within smelling range of the scent would be following it. But then it was possible they could turn the next corner and find themselves faced with an army of Imps. They were a group of nine, their scent would be far stronger than a single Martian.
“We need to find something to mask our scents with,” Ty spoke up suddenly.
Xavier nodded. “But with what?”
“We could use Absconde’s berries,” Hoshi suggested.
“Where would we get those from?” Xavier asked.
“Most shops sell them,” Hoshi pointed out. “And it takes the berries months to lose their scent after being picked. We should still be able to use them.”
Ty nodded. “We passed a shop a couple of blocks back… Right here’s what we’re going to do. Hoshi you take the others and head back to the shop, find as many of these berries as you can. While you and the others are doing that, me and Xavier are going to see if we can track down this scent.”
“We can’t split up now!” Zina protested.
“We don’t have much of a choice,” Ty argued. “If we all go back, the Martian who could possibly be giving off that scent, might be killed. The sooner we find them the better their chance of survival is, but at the same time we can’t risk the safety of our entire group on what could already be a lost cause. And we need those berries, at the moment our scents could be acting as a homing beckon for every Imp in a mile radius!”
Ty and Xavier quickly and quietly made their way along the silent and deserted streets, following the scent of what they hoped was a fellow Martian survivor. There were decomposing bodies in the streets and blood stains everywhere they looked.
Everywhere they looked there was nothing but death and destruction.
Their luck had finally run out.
So far they had been lucky, they had avoided most of what they were now surrounded by. There were so many bodies and the smell of death in the air was so strong in was making their eyes water. But even over the stench of death, they could still make out the scent of a fellow Martian. It was slowly getting stronger, they couldn’t be far from them now.
The two of them kept moving, working together silently in such a way that they each had the other’s back and their entire surroundings in complete view between the two of them at all times. Each had worked out a place to hide should an Imp appear and each had planned an escape route if hiding wasn’t an option.
Finally they reached a building.
The main door looked as if it had been beaten down by force and through the broken door was where the scent was coming from. Through the main door, they could see a light filled lobby and almost pitch black, shadow filled corridors and a body lay on the floor in the middle of the lobby, half visible in the light, whilst the other half was concealed in the shadows.
It wasn’t a fresh kill, this Martian had been dead for at least four days or possibly more.
“I’ll check the entrance,” Ty muttered. “You keep watch. I’ll signal once I know it’s clear.”
Xavier nodded, “If I see anything I’ll whistle twice. If something is coming our way and we need to run, I’ll whistle once.”
And so Xavier took up a lookout position in the shadows by the main doorway to the building, whilst Ty made his way into the lobby and the darkened corridors beyond it.
He stepped over the body and pulled out his torch and switched it on and shone it down the corridors one at a time. The beam of light lit up the corridors, illuminating the dust particles which drifted through the still air, but other than that the corridors were empty.
Lowering his torch, Ty raised a hand to his mouth and mimicked a bird call to let Xavier know the entrance was clear. A few seconds later Xavier was standing at his side, sniffing the air to work out where the scent was coming from. He nodded towards a corridor a little to their left and Ty inclined his head in agreement.
The corridor was eerily silent as the made their way down it. Their footsteps, as quite as they were, still seemed to echo around them as if it were the loudest noise in the world. Ty suddenly held up his hand signalling Xavier to stop as the faintest of sounds reached his ears. Xavier paused and glanced round.
Ty listened carefully.
He could have sworn he had heard something.
Then he heard it again.
It sounded like a women crying, but there was an undercurrent to the cry which didn’t feel right to Ty. There was a hint of something in that cry which was so familiar, but he couldn’t place where from.
Ty glanced at Xavier who had heard it to, but Xavier didn’t show any sign that he thought something was wrong, he just looked in the direction the crying was coming from with a look of determination on his face.
With a node the two of them carried on walking.
Finally they reach a closed door and the crying was coming from the other side. Ty hit one of the buttons on the wall and the door slid open to reveal a women sitting in a chair in front of a control station, her head resting on her arms as she cried.
“Ma’am,” Xavier called out quietly.
The women’s head snapped up and she turned towards them.
“Help me, please!” She cried moving towards them, before turning away.
“Ma’am?” Xavier asked.
She turned back round to face them.
“Help me…” She pleaded.
The two of them could only watch in horror as the women’s face seemed to shrivel up and blood began pouring out of her nose, eyes, mouth and ears. Then her skin turned black, like it was a piece of burnt wood, before her entire face caught fire, leaving nothing but a burning skull atop her neck and shoulders.
Suddenly the skull let out a shriek and flew straight towards them. Xavier drew his gun and fired three shots, which blasted the skull to pieces.
“What was that?” Xavier gasped out.
“A Lost Soul,” Ty answered.
Hoshi, Zina and Johan made their way towards the shop they were hoping to find some Absconde berries in, whilst the other remained hidden not too far away. The shop they were approaching was a wild food shop and had sold a wide range berries and nuts which were native to the planet and could be found out in the wilderness.
They had already checked two shops, but neither had anything of use.
Hoshi moved towards the main door first which were shattered in places and covered with dried blood. Suddenly the doors open and an automatic voice over started, welcoming her and wishing her a pleasant shopping experience.
The voice over might not have seemed loud before this nightmare started, but now the automatic voice seemed to echo through the street around them.
Taking deep breathes in an attempt to calm herself down, Hoshi stood perfectly still and listened for a couple of minutes to see if the sound had attracted any unwanted attention. But the colony remained perfectly still and silent and Hoshi let out a breath.
Moving forward, Hoshi waved Johan and Zina to follow her and the three of them made their way into the shop. It was only when the automatic doors slid shut behind them that Hoshi realised it may have been a good idea to jam the doors open in case the doors gave the same message when they left.
“Johan and Zina,” Hoshi whispered. “Take the left side. I’ll take the right, we’ll meet in the middle.”
Johan and Zina nodded and they split up.
Hoshi walked down the aisles, searching the shelves for the berries they needed when suddenly the automatic voice over sounded again. Moving as quickly and quietly as she could, Hoshi made her way to the end of the aisle she was in. She peered round the end shelves and quickly pushed herself back against the shelves as she saw what had just entered the shop.
A group of five Zombies now stood inside the entrance to the shop.
Their cloths were torn and covered in blood and dirt. The scent of rotting flash reached Hoshi’s nose and she almost gagged. Dried blood covered the lower halves of the Zombies faces and pieces of decomposing flash was caught in their teeth. Their skin had a grey tinge to it and was peeling off their faces in places.
Hoshi quietly made her towards the back of the stop, reaching the end of the aisle she turned in the direction she had sent Johan and Zina in. She ducked from behind aisle to aisle as quickly as she could, preying that the Zombies didn’t hear or see her. Finally she reached where Zina and Johan were hidden and by the looks of it, they had found the berries and by the smell of it too.
Zina’s eye widened as she saw Hoshi and she quickly held out a hand full of berries. Hoshi quickly took them and wiped them over her face, hands and cloths. No sooner had she done so a shadow passed the top of the aisle they were hidden in. The three of them watched frozen to the spot as a Zombie began moving towards them at a fast pace.
It drew level with them, stared at them and sniffed the air.
The Zombie growled and Zina bite down hard on her lip to stop herself from crying out. Then the Zombie carried on moving past them deeper into the shop. Hoshi let out the breath she had been holding and nodded to Zina and Johan. Moving as fast as they dared the two of them began to make their way towards the entrance of the shop, only to find their way blocked by three Zombies.
Glancing round, Hoshi grabbed a can off the shelf next to them and threw the can as far as she could, it bounced off the far wall and crashed across the floor before rolling to a halt somewhere near the back of the shop.
The noise caught the attention of two of the Zombies blocking their way, they quickly moved towards the direction the noise had come from, but one Zombie remained.
“We’re going to have to go round it,” Hoshi whispered. “Once we get outside, run!”
A strange noise reached Ty’s ears and he turned and looked at the body of the Martian women. Her head was reconstructing itself, bone and flesh alike were reforming. From beside him Xavier noticed his expression and turned to look at the body.
“How..?” Xavier asked.
“I don’t know,” Ty answered. “But we need to get out of here right now.”
“Right,” Xavier answers. “Let’s go.”
The two of them quickly leave the room with their weapons at the ready.
The sound of Xavier shooting the Lost Soul would have attracted the attention of any Imp or other monster in the area. The hallway was completely clear, but a sound from the upper floors of the building told them they’d be having the company of Imp’s very soon.
Sensing a movement behind them, Ty spun on his heels and stared at the creature behind them.
It was the women.
Her teeth were like needles and blood dripped from her mouth. Her eyes were glowing red and orange, like the flames of a Lost Soul.
Xavier grabbed hold of Ty arm suddenly and pulled him down to the ground, just in time as an Imp jumped over them and collided with creature behind them. Both Ty and Xavier get to their feet and run.
The Imp let out and howl and chased after them. Reaching the lobby, the two of them stumble to a halt at the sight of the Zombies just outside the entrance.
“We’re trapped,” Xavier exclaimed.
Ty quickly looked round and noticed a shattered window off to their left.
“Over there,” Ty pointed. “Quickly!”
The two of them quickly ran towards it, just as the Imp burst out of the hallway behind them.
The shrieking noise the Imp let out made Ty’s ears ring. He glanced over his shoulder just in time to see the Imp scramble backwards into the shadows and darkness of the hallway they had just come from.
It appeared Imp’s didn’t like sunlight.
Knocking the shattered glass away the two of them jumped through the window, landing in the street on the other side and by some miracle failing to catch the attention of the Zombies near the entrance to the building.
A crash behind them reminded them of the fact the Imp hadn’t been the only thing chasing them.
“Run!” Ty orders and Xavier didn’t need to be told twice.
Ty walked along a deserted street. The colony around him was silent and still. The street was empty just like every other street he had walked down. There was nothing. The colony was completely empty, all that remained were the shells of decaying building, stained a rusty brown by the sandstorm which swept through the colony every week or so.
There were no bodies.
No monsters of any kind.
Ty was alone. He was the only one left. He couldn't remember what had happened, but he knew the others were gone. They were dead, just like everyone else. He was the last of his kind and he was trapped on a dying planet with no hope of ever escaping it… With no hope of ever seeing another living soul for the rest of his life.
He'd die here.
Alone and forgotten.
It'd only take a couple of days for the sand whipped up by the storms to cover his body, when he does eventually fall and pass from the world. No one would ever find him, because there was no one left to find him.
He wouldn't even have a gravestone to mark his finally resting place.
He just kept walking, until at long last he came to the edge of the colony and stopped. Before him, for a far as the eye could see, were thousands of gravestones. A shocking contrast to the rusty brown sand they stood in.
So many graves, so many lost souls.
And Ty kept on walking, passing the gravestones with names unreadable, having been washed away by the sandstorms. So many, just like him, were already forgotten. Part of a race doomed to destruction by the actions of one of their own. So many killed by the monsters their neighbours had mutated into.
It had been a planet wide genocide.
He just kept walking.
In the distance another sandstorm was forming and Ty paid it little attention. He couldn't out run it and he had nowhere left to hide. There wasn't a single place left on Mars where the sand hadn't reached. Not a single building could offer him shelter from the harshness of the sand storms and no matter where he walked, he couldn't not escape it.
Around him the sand was beginning to shift and move, but he hardly noticed as he kept walking.
In the distance, the furthest gravestones had already been consumed by the storm but Ty didn't turn and run, he just kept walking. As he passed a gravestone, a skeleton hand broke through the sandy surface.
It was only then Ty stopped.
All around him, the dead were rising.
Ty woke with a start and looked round. Hoshi was on watch and all the other were still asleep. Ty shut his eyes for a second and took a deep breath. He'd just had the weirdest dream. He opened his eyes and slowly got to his feet and stretched. There was no way he was going to get back to sleep now. He nodded to Hoshi as moved across the room and sat down beside her.
"Ty," She greeted.
"Hoshi," Ty answered.
"Nightmare?" She questioned.
"Yeah," Ty answered, rubbing a hand over his face.
"Want talk about it?" Hoshi asked.
"Nope," Ty replied with a shake of his head. "I just want to forget it."
Hoshi nodded in understanding. She knew exactly how Ty felt, all of them had been suffering from night terrors.
"Status?" Ty asked after a moment of silence.
"Relaxed," Hoshi answered. "I haven't seen or heard anything. Nothing has been seen or heard all night in fact."
Ty nodded and got to his feet and moved over to the window and picked up the night vision binoculars and looked out across the colony.
"Not even a Lost Soul?" Ty questioned.
"No," Hoshi replied. "Nothing. It's strange, we haven't encountered anything for days now."
"Tell me about it," Ty muttered. "Not that I'm complaining, but it's kind of unnerving. Everything been so quiet and we haven't encountered or seen anything… It makes me wonder why. Are they planning something? Have they caught scent of other survivors and decided they're easier to catch… Or have they left for a different reason?"
"What other reason could there be?" Hoshi asked.
"What if they know something's coming?" Ty turned to look at her. "What if they know something's about to happen and they've all left to escape it?"
"What would they fear, Ty?" Hoshi asked. "What would they run from? Those monsters have destroyed everything! They fear nothing! We have weapons and yet they still come after us!"
"I don't know," Ty answered, with a shake of his head. "Maybe there's something in Kodos' book which will give us the answer."
Ty quickly hurried across the room away from the window and as a result missed the creature heading towards the colony in the distance. He quickly knelt beside his bag and began looking for Kodos' note book.
"It could be one of two things," Ty said as he stood beside Hoshi, the following morning as they waited for the others to pack up their stuff. "It's either a Hell Knight or a Pinky Demon. According to Kodos' notes, they are the only to creatures which will attack the others. The will literally attack anything as long as it moves."
Hoshi glanced at him, "It doesn't by any chance tell is how to kill them, does it?"
Ty shook his head.
"If only it was that easy," Ty sighs. "They do have a couple of weakness though. The Hell Knight's have very sensitive eye sight, if you can get them out in the open and into the light, they're basically blinds… But in the dark, they are the apex predator. As for the Pinky Demons, they're slower moving then the imps, so we'll be able to outrun them easier…"
"But?" Hoshi questioned, sensing there was more to it than that.
"They are impossible to hide from," Ty replied. "Their sense of smell is far stronger than any of the other creatures. Not matter what we use to cover our scent with, it won't work, they'll still be able to smell us. And nothing can stop them, they can smash their way through anything. Stone, metal, anything! If a Pinky Demon picks up our scent, we'll never be able to shake it off and no matter where we hide it will find us and it'll be able to get to us."
Hoshi gulped, Ty was sure she was about to say something, but was stopped by Johan joining them. Ty glanced at Johan, who was glancing round nervously and his grip on his pack strap was so tight the skim over his knuckles had gone white.
"Johan," Ty greeted quietly, trying not to startle him.
"We need to go," Johan said, turning to stare at Ty. "Can't you feel it?"
"Feel what?" Ty asked.
"Death," Johan answered, shuddering slightly. "Death is coming."
Hoshi and Ty glance at each other, when a scream sounded from behind them. It was Malakai who had screamed and it didn't take Ty long to track down the source of Malakai's fear. Crawling down the far wall was a large creature with six legs.
"Move!" Ty yelled drawing his weapon and firing at the creature. "Get out of here! Run!"
He killed the creature but more of them were appearing by the second. Soon the entire far wall was covered in the creatures. Slowly Ty backed up, still firing at the creatures and killing as any as he could. He reached the door the others had already left through and slammed the door shut as he exited the room.
He turned and run down the hallway after the others, when a noise from above him caught his attention. He looked up to see hundreds of the creatures descending down the walls of the stairwell from the upper-floors.
"Move faster!" Ty yelled ahead to the others. "Run!"
They made it out into the street and Ty looked back to see more of the creatures crawling down the side of the building.
"Keep going!" Ty yelled.
And the group ran as fast as they could, but every direction they turned there seemed to be more the creatures lying in wait for them. Until finally they group found themselves cornered, with the six legged creatures closing in from every direction.
They weren't going to get out of this alive.
When suddenly a figure dropped down in front of them from the roof of the building they were pressed up against and shot flames at the approaching creatures using a flamethrower like Ty had only ever seen in holo-videos, burning many of them and causing the ones who escaped the flames to flee.
The figure turned to face them and removed the scarf which had been covering his face. Ty couldn't believe it… It was another survivor. The man stared at them, his pale skin a strong contrast to his jet black hair and dark eyes. Ty cleared his throat and stared at the man nervously as he looked the small group over.
"Who are you?" Ty finally asked.
"My name is Khan."
"Hold your damn horses, for one God damn second!" McCoy cut Jim off. "You're telling me that Khan, the guy who tried to take out half of San Francisco with the ship he helped create, is the same Khan who rescued you on Mars."
"Yeah," Jim answers, with a single nod.
McCoy stares at him like he's grown a second head.
"Yeah," McCoy repeats. "That's all you've got to say."
"What else do you want me to say, Bones?" Jim demands. "It the truth! Khan saved my life…. If he hadn't saved me that day, I wouldn't be here now."
"But he's so…" McCoy trailed off.
"Evil?" Jim guessed. "Sinister? Unpleasant? Despicable? Uncaring?"
"Yeah," McCoy nods.
Jim snorts and shook his head.
"He never used to be like that," Jim sighs. "He changed… He believed himself to be superior to humans. Truth be told we are, but that doesn't mean we should act like it… Once upon a time the Martians were no different to humans, but our race was dying. Mars isn't like Earth, the conditions on Mars are harsh and unforgiving. And we were weak, so we created the twenty-fourth chromosome to make us stronger. That's is the only reason Martians are superior to Humans, but Khan, he didn't seem to understand that…"
"What happened, Jim?" McCoy asked.
"He wanted power," Jim answers. "He wanted to be worshipped. He wanted the humans to kiss the ground he walked on… He wanted to rule the world, literally… But we'll get to that later. After Khan rescued us, we went with him. There were other survivors, we weren't the only one to survive… I can't really explain what that felt like. Having been on our own for so long and to suddenly find out we weren't alone…"
Jim paused as he took a deep breath.
"There were three thousand, seven hundred and twenty-six of us in total… I couldn't believe it. I was so sure it was a dream and that I was going to wake up at any moment and it'd just be the nine of us once more, forging to survive and trying to out run anything we couldn't fight. For the first few weeks we were there, it almost felt like we were finally safe. But that illusion was shattered pretty quickly…"
Ty still couldn't believe his eyes are Khan gave him and his small group through the small colony the other survivors had built. The colony was nothing special, to be honest it was nothing more than a large campsite, surrounded by a large fence with multiple watch towers. But the place was full of life, unlike the streets and buildings Ty and his group had explored and hid in.
It was so overwhelming to be surrounded by other Martians again. There was hope for the survival of their race. There wasn't just nine of them left, there were thousands of them! As they continued to walk, a babies' cry sounded through the air and Ty turned and watched as a Martian father tended to his child.
Ty smiled. This was better than he could have ever hopped for. Khan continued to point thongs out to them and they were greeted by other survivors, who seemed just as shocked as they were, to see other survivors. Ty had heard others comment on how young they all were and how many couldn't believe they had survived so long on their own.
Finally they reached a tent and stopped. Khan turned and stared at the group before him and Ty stared back, unsure of why they had suddenly stopped. Moments later the entrance of the tent was pulled back and middle aged women stepped out of the tent. Ty glanced at her, there was something about her that was familiar, but he couldn't place what it was.
"Hello," She greeted them. "My name is Solveig."
Ty nor his small group answered, they simply waited for her to continue.
"I'm in charge of the records here," She explained. "As new arrivals, you'll need to fill out your details and they will be compared to the data files were covered from the colonies. If you have any surviving family members, you shall be reunited with them."
She held out a PADD and Ty took a step forward and took it from her.
"We won't have any," Ty told her.
"Excuse me?" Solveig asked.
"We won't have any surviving family members," Ty answered.
"You might," Solveig replied. "Other survivors were found from your colony."
"I doubt it," Ty shook his head. "We're from Tarsus IV."
Both Khan and Solveig froze at the name. Everyone knew Tarsus IV was where the outbreak had started. They hadn't believed for a second that anyone would have survived from that colony, let alone underage Martians.
"You're from Tarsus IV?" Solveig gasped.
"Yeah," Ty said, glancing up from the PADD he was filling in.
Khan and Solveig shared a glance, both completely shocked.
Screaming. That was what had woken Ty up. He quickly sat up and looked round the tent he and the others were in. More screams sounded and it was then Ty realised that the screams weren't one of his small group having a nightmare… The screams they were coming from outside. Around him, the others were waking, their sleep being disturbed by the screaming.
Quickly Ty got to his feet and headed towards the entrance to their tent and pulled back the flap. A flash lit up the early morning sky and Ty stumbled backwards as rubble and debris came raining down… They were under attack! Martians were running and yelling, carrying weapons and covered in blood. Ty quickly turned around and faced his small.
"Get your weapons!" Ty ordered.
They didn't need to be told twice. In less than a minute they were ready. Ty nodded to them as Hoshi joined Ty at the head of the group. They quickly got into formation, ensuring that the youngest were in the middle and protected, as held their weapons at the ready. It'd been little over a month since Khan had found them and this was the first time anything like this had happened.
Suddenly the side of their tent is ripped apart and they faced with a gigantic imp, which lets out an ear-splitting roar and charges towards them. Ty took aim and the dead body of the imp came to rest at their feet. Through the shredded material of the tent, Ty stared at the imps and other creatures, some of which he hadn't seen before, tearing through the camp.
"Come on," Ty instructed the others. "We need to get out of here."
Progress was slow getting across the camp, when so many imps and other nightmarish creatures were running wild, killing and destroying everything in sight. This time they couldn't hide and wait for the imps to move on… There was nowhere to hide. This wasn't a colony made of stone and metal, it was a campsite, made of cloth and material.
Playing dead wasn't an option either.
But they made. They survived and made it out in piece. They may have been covered in blood, but those injuries had already healed and they had killed anything which crossed their path as they fled. They were alive and as Ty looked over his small group, he knew that was all that mattered. He'd do whatever it took to keep them alive, just like he had been doing before they'd been found by Khan.
He'd give his life to keep them safe.
"Ty!" Hoshi suddenly grabbed Ty's arm. "Something's following us!"
Ty froze and looked round. In the distance a shadow was moving across the landscape towards them and whatever it was, it was too large to be a normal Martian.
"What is that thing?" Xavier demanded.
"I don't know," Ty answered honestly, it was too far away to be able to match it to a description from Kodos handbook. "But we can't let it catch us, whatever it may be. We need to keep moving."
And they did. They moved as quickly and as quietly as they could. They moved across the sandy terrain, towards a rocky incline, which led to the base of some mountains. Going through the mountains was a risk. There were some many caves and hollows were imps and other creatures could be waiting to jumps out and strike, but it also offered them plenty of hiding places, so it was a risk Ty was willing to take.
As they ventured into the foothills of the mountains, Hoshi looked back. The large creature which had been heading in their direction was getting closer and closer. It'd catch up with them in a matter of hours. Hoshi looked round to find Ty watching it too. There gaze met and Hoshi didn't like the look in Ty's eyes, it sent a shiver down her spine.
Ty was planning something and whatever it was, she and the others weren't going to like it.
"Climb," Ty ordered, as the others moved ahead of him.
They were stood at the bottom of a cliff and the only way they could go was up. The younger members were having trouble with the climb, while the older members found it slightly easier, but none of them were particularly good climbers. Ty glanced over his shoulder. Whatever it was that was following them, it was getting closer.
"Come on!" Ty exclaimed. "We need to move faster!"
Ty waited until the others had climbed a far distance up, before he started climbing. He out of the entire group had the most experience climbing and if something went wrong and one of them fell… Ty didn't want to think about that, because of one of them fell their chances of survival wouldn't be very high.
The fall wouldn't kill them, but whatever was following them would.
As Ty neared the halfway point of the climb. He paused and looked back. For the first time the creature was close enough that he could see it clearly. Ty gulped he knew what it was, he recognised it from the handbook… It was one of the deadliest creatures Kodos had written about and the picture Kodos had drawn matched it perfectly.
It was a Pinky Demon.
But it was moving much faster than Kodos had described. Ty quickly began climbing once more, above him Hoshi had already reached the top and was helping the younger members of their group. Ty glanced back one last time… It would no doubt catch them before nightfall if it could climb the cliff like they had.
Finally Ty reached the top and he and Hoshi shared a look, before they began moving once more. They would have run but the rocky terrain was unstable under foot and moving too fast threatened to cause a rock slide. Their footsteps seemed to echo loudly in the mountains around them and Ty winced at the sounds.
"Head deeper into the mountains," Ty called forward to where Hoshi was leading the group. "We might be able to lose it."
But Ty knew they wouldn't be able to.
It was a Pinky Demon, it was tracking them by smell not sight.
Ty had no choice, he was going to have to try and trick the creature in to following him and him alone. If he could lead it off in the wrong direction and stay ahead of it, by the time it caught up with him and killed him, Hoshi and the others would be far away and their scents swept away by the wind.
It wasn't a great plan, but it was the only one he had.
Up ahead Hoshi had already began to lead their small group deeper into the mountains, along a narrow mountain path and it wasn't long before the path slit in two. This was Ty's chance. This was where he could lead the Pinky Demon in another direction and away from his group. He could keep them safe.
And so Ty stopped walking and watched as they disappeared along the path, before turning his attention to the path they had just walked along and waited for the Pinky Demon to appear. He held his weapon at the ready, because he wasn't going down without a fight.
Ty fired his weapon and watched as the force of the impact sent the creature stumbling backwards, but it didn't take it long to recover and charge towards Ty, who fired and again and watched as blood the colour of a midnight sky erupted from the wound, but still the creature did stop and Ty was forced to turn and run.
Oh, right, Pinky Demons were almost impossible to kill.
Running, Ty didn't even bother to look over his shoulder to see how close behind him the creature was. He didn't want to know. He just kept running, leading the creature in the opposite direction to which the others had gone. If he could only lead the creature a couple of miles it'd be enough… By the time the Pinky Demon tracked down the others, they would be many miles away and their scents would have been washed away by the storm that was being to form on the horizon.
Suddenly Ty was sent forward, flying through the air as a strong force collided with his back, sensing pain shorting through his body. He crashed to the ground and quickly rolled on to his back and grabbed his weapon. He fired three shots at the creature towering over him, causing it to howl in pain and distracting it long enough to get to his feet and run once more.
He gasped as he run, trying to blink the tears from his eyes as he did so. It hurt so much. His skin felt like it was on fire, as it slowly stitched itself back together. Ty suddenly stumbled and lost his balance, which resulted in him tumbling down a steep incline and landing with a sickening crack on the rocky ground far below.
Letting out a groan, Ty lay their stunned for a moment and watched the Pinky Demon stare down at him from above. It let out an enraged roar before leaping from the top of the incline. Ty eyes widened and he rolled out of the way just in time, as the creature landed where he'd previously been lying.
Scrambling to his feet, Ty took off running once more. Most of his injuries had already healed, but that didn't stop the bone deep ache which filled his entire body. To make matters worse the fall had reopened the slowly healing wounds on his back and the pain was causing dark spots to dance before his eyes.
But he couldn't stop running.
He had to lead the creature ad far away as he could, before it finally caught and he just couldn't get away. He was going to die, that much he knew. He just had to make his death worth something. And if he could, he drag the Pinky Demon down with him. Without warning he was thrown forward again and his head cracked as it made impact with a stone.
Slowly Ty rolled on to his back, trying to blink through the daze he found himself in. Only to have blood and a looming black shadow fill his vision. The looming shadow suddenly lunged forward and Ty didn't have the strength or coordination to move out of the way of the strike sent his way. The pain almost caused his to blackout, as the creatures claws tore into his chest and throat.
Ty gurgled as his own blood got stuck in his throat and his eyes widened in fear as he stared up at the monstrous creature above him. He was going to die here. That creature was going to rip him to pieces… But at least he could die knowing, his sacrifice was worth something. He saved his little group. They'd gotten away. They were safe and would live to see another day. So dying here, was only a small price to pay. He shut his eyes and waited for the killing strike.
Ty was running. He couldn't see where he was going, as the sand storm which raged around him blocked out everything. He knew he was being followed, he could sense the dead following him. He knew they were dead, he'd seen the decompressing figures before the storm had hit and he had no intention of being caught by them.
But there had been so many graves. Even now as he ran through the sand storm, shadowy graves loomed out of the flying sand every now and again as he drew to close to them in his half blind run, in a desperate attempt to escape. There were so many graves and why wouldn't there be? Everyone was dead.
He was the only one left.
He kept running and finally he found the sand storm growing weaker and weaker, until he was clear of the storm completely. He glanced over his shoulder, but none of the dead had followed him out of the storm. He glanced round, trying to work out where he was. But none of his surroundings looked familiar.
This was a part of Mars he'd never travelled to before.
A flickering light in the distance caught his attention and he turned towards it. But how was that possible? He was the only one left alive on the planet, so where had the light come from? Was it possible he wasn't the only one left?
Looking back at the storm one last time Ty began walking towards the flickering light. It didn't take him long to reach the source of the light. The light was attached to a door leading underground and there was a small keypad attached to it, but whatever was written on the keys, Ty couldn't understand it. It was like it was written in another language…
But there was only once language spoken on Mars.
He looked round, not far from the door was a massive crater… Almost like a mining site. Ty looked down at the ground and nudged the dirt with his boot. Why would anyone mine here? The ground was useless and tough, but at the same time crumbled to dust, it was so dry. There was nothing useful here, even if you drug for miles, there'd be nothing of use.
Glancing back at the sand storm in the distance, Ty eyes widened as he noticed the dead had began to emerge from the storm and he quickly turned his attention to the door in front of him and more importantly the keypad. Ty knew it must have some type of code that needed to be typed in order for the door to open, but Ty had no idea what the symbols on the keypad meant.
Suddenly the blinking red light above the keypad went out and was replaced by a green light a second later and the door slowly opened. Ty didn't hesitate, he stepped through the open door and onto the stairs below it, pulling the door shut behind him.
The first thing Ty became aware of as he caught his way out of the darkness of unconsciousness was the warmth from a burning fire on his face. Slowly he blinked his eyes open against the orange light and black dots danced in front of his eyes. With a groan, Ty rolled onto his back. His whole body ached, it felt like he had tumbled down the side of a mountain only to land on a bed of solid stone.
Ty suddenly bolted upright as the memories of what happened hit him.
"Easy," A voice said from across the fire. "I was nearly too late to save you."
Ty looked round wildly, only to calm down slightly as he caught sight of the women sitting on the other side of the fire.
It was Solveig.
"Solveig," Ty nodded to her.
She nodded slightly in return, before glancing towards the mouth of the cave they were in.
"I could not find your friends," She said. "When I came upon the beast, it had almost killed you. It took your injuries many hours to heal. There were times during the night when I thought I had been too late."
"How long?" Ty asked.
"Two thirds of a day since I found you," Solveig answered.
Ty nodded and moved to get up, only to almost fall over as he legs gave out as he tried to stand.
"You need rest," Solveig scolded him. "You are not yet fully recovered."
"I can't," Ty shook his head. "I have to find the others…"
"And I will help you find them once you have recovered," Solveig promised. "But you will be no use to them dead. In your current state you will not make it far and will be easy pickings for other beasts who pick up your scent. You must regain your strength."
"What happened to the beast?" Ty asked.
"I killed it," Solveig told him. "It was much harder to kill than anything I have ever faced before. I was forced to cut it into pieces."
Ty stared at Solveig in horror.
"Do not worry," Solveig smiled. "It is dead now and it'll be staying that way."
"Are you sure?" Ty asked, glancing round nervously like he was expecting it to jump out on him any second.
"Yes," Solveig nodded. "I burnt it. The last of its hide is burning now."
Ty stared at the fire and then looked at Solveig.
"Won't the scent attract others?" Ty asked.
"I've killed everything that has come close," Solveig reassures him. "And I will continue to do so."
"Have you seen any others?" Ty asked. "How many survived?"
"I do not know," Solveig answered.
Solveig was walking slightly ahead of Ty as they tried to pick up a trail left by the others, whom Ty had nearly lost his life saving. So far they had found nothing. It had taken two days for Ty to recover fully, so they had a lot of ground to catch up. And all Ty could do was hope that the others hadn't been killed. That he hadn't saved them from one death, only to send them straight into another.
Suddenly Solveig stopped walking and crouched down, signalling for Ty to do the same. Crawling forward, Ty stopped shoulder to shoulder with Solveig. He scanned the open area before them, but nothing caught his eye. The desert ground was completely still. There was nothing moving and no sign that anything had passed through the area recently.
"What is it?" Ty whispered.
"Be quiet," Solveig hissed.
She pointed to something in the distance and Ty followed her direction, but he couldn't see anything.
"I don't see anything," Ty told her.
Solveig glanced at Ty and raised an eyebrow, before she turned her attention to whatever it was she could see that Ty could not.
"Stay here," Solveig ordered.
Ty watched as Solveig moved forward heading in the direction of whatever it was she had seen. He glanced around every now and again, to make sure nothing caught him off guard. Everything was unnaturally still and quiet. Taking a deep breath through his nose, JT tried to pick up on any scents which lingered in the area, but again there was nothing.
Suddenly a hand clamped itself over Ty's mouth and he was pulled backwards.
"Shh," A voice whispered in his ear. "It's Khan."
The hand let him go and Ty spun round to find himself face to face with Khan. Khan glanced past Ty and caught sight of Solveig in the distance. He nodded to himself and then turned his attention back to Ty.
"Where are your friends?" Khan asked.
"I don't know," Ty answered. "Solveig is helping me find them."
Khan nodded, "Then you will find them. There is no better tracker and hunter than Solveig. She keeps her skills hidden, but there is no one better."
"She saved my life," Ty turned to watch Solveig, who had become a spot in the distance.
Khan looked around and drew a knife. He held it loosely in one hand and pulled Ty behind him with the other. Ty looked round, but he couldn't see anything. Khan suddenly turned and threw his knife. It sailed through the air and Ty watched as it seemed to embed itself in thin air. A couple of moments later an imp like creature Ty had never seen before slowly came into view. There hadn't been anything like it in Kodos' handbook either.
"What was that?" Ty demanded, once Khan had killed the imp like creature.
"We don't know," Khan answered, wiping the creature's blood from his knife.
"How?" Ty asked. "How was it invisible?"
"Camouflage," Khan explained. "They can manipulate their bodies' chemistry in such a way they are able to blend into any background without being seen."
"You saw it," Ty pointed out.
"I have been hunting them," Khan replied. "I have learnt how to see them even when they are camouflaged."
"Teach me," Ty demanded. "I need to know how to see them. I can track and kill other creature, but an enemy I cannot see…"
"Solveig will teach you," Khan nodded towards her, as she returned.
Ty turned and watched Solveig approach. She was covered in blood and her weapon, which looked like a sword but had a smooth curved edge on one side and a flat jagged edge on the other, glistened in the sunlight, blood splattered along its edges.
"Khan," Solveig greeted Khan as she drew level with them.
"Solveig," Khan replied with a slight nod.
"Any other survivors?" Solveig asked, moving forward and resting a hand on Ty's shoulder as she watched Khan closely.
Khan shook his head, "I escaped the attack alone. You and Ty are the first I have come across. Any others who escaped will head for the northern plains. That was what was agreed should an attack ever take place."
Solveig nodded, "We will head that way once we have accomplished what we need to do here. Ty and his group were never made aware of the agreement."
Khan stared at Solveig for a moment before he turned away.
"I will head west along the mountains," Khan said. "But in three days I will head north. If I have no found them in that time, then they are lost."
"No," Ty shook his head. "We survived for months on our own before you found us. They are not dead!"
Khan glanced at Ty, "Then we will find them… But you do not come from this part of Mars, Ty. The monsters here are slightly different to what you have faced in the colonies you have been to. The monsters have evolved. They are learning how to hunt, how to become better predators. They are becoming harder to kill and harder to track. Some we cannot see until they attack, while others can hide their scents."
Ty stared straight at Khan.
"You underestimate them," Ty almost growled. "They are alive."
“We walked for days after that,” Jim explained, staring down at his hands, still twirling the coin he held. “Eventually it was Solveig who found their trail. When we finally caught up with them, they had hidden themselves deep within a cave system and set up any traps they could with the resources they could spare. Some were quite impressive, I have to admit.
“Solveig and I trekked far below the surface and eventually we found them in a cavern with its own water source. Xavier was on watch when we found them and Solveig appearing beside him startled him so badly, he shot at Solveig. She simply ducked out the way and I was still behind her and the shot went over both our heads, but the noise… It echoed and the cave system just seemed to amplify the sound.
“It was all hands on deck, so to speak, after that,” Jim smiled slightly. “We all knew that the sound of that shot was going to attract everything from miles round. It didn’t take long to pack up and get the hell out of there, but we weren’t quick enough. Luckily it was only imps we encountered, they were easy enough to kill. Unfortunately, Itzel was injured before we managed to kill them all. Itzel was the second youngest after Malakai… The injury was deep, it healed in no time. But her screams… They haunted my dreams for weeks after-”
Suddenly the doors to the cell they were in was thrown open and both Jim’s and McCoy’s attention snapped to the new arrivals. Several guards stood in the doorway surrounding a woman dressed in a uniform consisting of a long black coat, similar to the coat Khan had been wearing when they’d first encountered him face to face… Well not the first time Jim had encountered him, just the rest of crew of the Enterprise.
“Captain Kirk,” The woman greeted Jim, ignoring McCoy completely. “It’s a… Pleasure, to make your acquaintance.”
“I’d say likewise,” Jim replied. “But that’d be a lie.”
The woman laughed and gestured to the guards around her, they quickly moved forward and Jim eyed them warily as they approached him. One of the guards broke away from the group and approached McCoy. The guard raised their weapon and levelled it at McCoy’s head.
“Just a little incentive to stop you from escaping,” The woman told him. “I know all about you Captain Kirk, you have quite the reputation as an escape artist.”
“And how do you know about me, Ms…?” Jim asked.
“John Gill is most talkative, when given the right motivation,” The woman answered. “As for who I am, Captain… Let’s just say, I’m an interested party.”
“Interested in what?” Jim questioned, glancing at McCoy as the guards unlocked his chains from the wall.
McCoy watched as Jim let the guards lead him to the centre of the cell, where they forced him to his knees and connected the chains to the floor. All the while, Jim kept his gaze fixed on the woman standing in the doorway, staring at her with an odd look in his eyes. The woman just continued to smile at Jim, her eyes holding a sadistic glint.
“I know you,” Jim said, frowning slightly.
“Indeed you do, Captain,” The woman smiled. “But you can ponder that another time. Right now, you have information I need. I’m I correct in thinking you won’t give it to me willingly?”
Jim narrowed his eyes slightly and glanced at the guards surrounding him.
“Demands,” Jim finally answered. “What do you want to know?”
Without warning one of the guards punched Jim, causing his head to snap to the side and blood to drip from his cheek and nose. Jim turned his attention back to the guard who had punched him, before spitting out a mouthful of blood, standing the guards uniform. The guard let out an enraged shout and lunged at Jim.
“Enough!” The woman yelled, but the guard didn’t stop.
When the other guards finally managed to pull the enraged guard off Jim, Jim’s face was covered in blood, but there wasn’t a single cut or any sign of injury. McCoy glared at Jim as he sat up and laughed, before turning to the side and spitting out another mouthful of blood. Jim turned his gaze to McCoy and saw the glare being sent in his direction.
“Don’t worry, Bones,” Jim sent a bloody grin at McCoy. “Whatever they do to me, doesn’t hurt for long.”
It seemed like hours before the guards realised they weren’t going to get any of the information they wanted from Jim. By the time they left, the hard floor was covered in blood, but Jim didn’t have a single scratch on him, although you wouldn’t have been able to tell due to his blood covered skin and stained and torn cloths.
“You said you knew her,” McCoy said after a moment, when it became clear Jim wasn’t going to break the silence they’d fallen into after the departure of the guards.
“I’ve seen her somewhere before,” Jim answered, glancing at McCoy. “I can’t remember where or when, but I have definitely seen her face before.”
“How is that possible?” McCoy asked. “John Gill was the first person to make contact with this planet and he was sent here to simply observe and Starfleet been monitoring this planet since it was discovered, they’d have known of any outside influences.”
“I don’t know, Bones,” Jim replied, moving his arms into a more comfortable position and making the chains rattle as he did so.
The two of them fell into another silence and Jim shut his eyes and tried to remember where he’d seen the man face before, where he knew him from… But he just couldn’t remember. A Martians memory was different to a humans and was able to remember much more over a much longer period of time and Jim had been alive for a long time by human terms, so he could be forgiven for forgetting the odd detail.
For all he knew the woman could have been as insignificant as a face he had passed when traveling on a shuttle or someone he’d walked past on a street… But the woman had admitted they knew each other, so it had to be more than that. Suddenly Jim’s head snapped up, as a distant memory pushed itself to the front of his mind.
“Khan,” Jim said out loud.
“Khan?” McCoy asked.
Jim nodded, “That woman…”
“Wasn’t Khan,” McCoy finished, peering at Jim closely… Maybe he’d been hit on the head harder than it appeared.
“I know that, Bones!” Jim exclaimed. “I’m not an idiot.”
“Could have fooled me,” McCoy muttered.
Jim sent a glare in McCoy’s direction, before turning his attention to the door to their cell.
“That woman, her name is Sarina Kaur,” Jim told McCoy. “Or that was her name when I first encountered her.”
“Doctor Sarina Kaur, the woman in charge of the Chrysalis Project?” McCoy questioned. “The Project that created the Augments?”
“There’s no such thing as the Augments, Bones,” Jim sighed. “They never succeeded in creating genetically engineered superhuman’s. The Augments were just Martians using a rumour to hide their true identities. Khan believed himself a king amongst human-kind, to be worshipped and treated like a god… But there were experiments, but they weren’t done by Doctor Sarina Kaur and the Chrysalis Project. The experiments were done by the Martians on Human… Khan wanted to see if it was possible to attach the twenty-fourth chromosome to the human’s twenty-three. Doctor Sarina Kaur was injected with Khan’s blood, it was more like a transfusion, and it worked.”
“She has twenty-four chromosomes?” McCoy stared at Jim.
Jim nodded, “Khan’s blood slowly infected the rest of her cells with the twenty-fourth chromosome. She’s the first of many who were turned by Khan and the other Martians, they were trying to rebuild the Martians race… And it was only took a matter of weeks for them to realise they had to select humans without a certain gene to stop those they were changing turning into mutants. Then the first group took control and then another, billions of people were enslaved…
“I tried to save as many as I could… I killed my own kind, Bones! I tried to stop them, but millions of people died at the hands of those tyrants. Why couldn’t they understand? Why couldn’t they see? We were just like humans, we originally had twenty-three chromosomes. The twenty-fourth chromosome was synthetic, created by Martian scientists after a plague nearly wiped out our enter race! So many people died, Bones, I couldn’t save them,” Jim bowed his head, as tears rolled down his cheeks.
The way so many had been killed, at the hands of his kind, had been brutal to put it nicely. He seen so much and even now he couldn’t decide which was more horrifying, watching his kind be killed by mutants or his kind killing others in way nobody deserved to die, when they refused to bow down and worship someone who considered themselves superior. The executions and the massacres… It had seemed like an endless bloodbath at the time.
“It wasn’t your fault, Jim,” McCoy said, wishing he could reach out and comfort Jim.
Jim just shook his head.
“After Solveig and I found the others, we travelled to the Northern plains,” Jim said, changing the subject.
A look of surprise passed over Khan’s face as Solveig, Ty and the rest of Tarsus Nine arrived at the new camp. It seemed Ty was correct, they had indeed survived just like Ty had said they would. He had to admit he was impressed that the small group of children could survive for so long and through so much on their own. He raised an eyebrow slightly as he noticed Solveig place a protective hand on Ty’s shoulder, upon seeing Khan’s gaze fixed on him.
Ty glanced up at Solveig as he felt a hand land on his shoulder and saw that her attention was fixed on something across from them. He followed her gaze and found Khan standing there. He nodded to Ty when their eyes met, before walking off deeper into thru camp which had been set up. Solveig squeezed Ty’s shoulder as she tracked Khan’s movements.
“I want you to promise me something, Ty,” She said.
“What?” Ty asked, looking back at Solveig.
“Trust your instincts,” Solveig answered. “And do not follow orders blindly.”
Ty frowned at Solveig, “Is this about Khan?”
“Just promise me, Ty,” Solveig replied.
“I promise,” Ty nodded.
Solveig squeezed Ty’s shoulder again, before dropping her hand from his shoulder. Ty glanced at Solveig and she smiled at him, before looking round.
“Come,” Solveig said. “We need to find a place to rest.”
Ty and the rest of the Tarsus Nine followed Solveig through the camp, which was noticeably smaller than the first camp they’d arrived at with Khan and Ty couldn’t bring himself to ask how many hadn’t survived the attack.
“Ty,” Hoshi suddenly said from Ty’s left.
“Hoshi,” Ty replied. “What is it?”
“Xavier,” Hoshi answered.
“What about him?” Ty asked, glancing over his shoulder and seeing Xavier at the back of their small group, out of earshot.
“He’s capable of mutating” Hoshi told him.
Ty almost stopped walking, but Hoshi gripped his arm and almost dragged him along to keep them out of Xavier’s hearing range.
“You’re sure?” Ty questioned.
“I’m certain,” Hoshi nodded. “When we were attacked by the imps, one of them shot something at him… I over heard survivors from the other colonies talking, the imps shot their tongues at those capable of mutating and the tongues burrowed into their necks, infecting them and causing them to mutate.”
Ty looked back at Xavier.
“Then we’ll just have to make sure that doesn’t happen,” Ty stated.
“We should tell someone, Ty,” Hoshi said.
“We’ve survived this long without it happening, Hoshi,” Ty replied. “He won’t mutate unless he’s infected. There must be others here, who have escaped without being infected.”
Hoshi looked back at Xavier this time.
“If he mutates…” Hoshi began. “I… I couldn’t kill him.”
“Hoshi,” Ty said seriously. “If he becomes infected and he mutates, I will kill him. He’s the closest thing I have to family, you all are. But if he mutates, he won’t be Xavier anymore… I won’t let him harm any of you, he wouldn’t want us to let him live, if he it meant he’d kill those mindless monsters... Monsters he’s lost his entire family to.”
Ty stumbled backwards, as Solveig’s kick made contact with his side. He was only just quick enough to raise his training weapon, to block the strike aimed at his chest and before he even had time to process Solveig’s next move, he was lying flat on his back staring up at the sky. Panting, he forced himself to sit up. He watched as Solveig twirled her weapon and smiled down at him, pride shining in her eyes even though Ty had lost yet another fight to her.
“You have improved greatly,” Solveig told him, offering him a hand, which Ty gladly took.
“I lost,” Ty pointed out, still trying to catch his breath once Solveig had pulled him to his feet.
“I am old enough to be your mother,” Solveig replied. “You are thirteen. I’ve been training and fighting longer than you’ve been alive.”
Ty just nodded and Solveig offered him a bottle of water, which he gladly took. Solveig smiled at him, before reaching forward and ruffing his sweat drenched hair. Ty’s gaze snapped to her, but Solveig had turned away and was walking towards the edge of their training area.
“That was impressive,” A voice said. “Even I can’t hold my own against Solveig for that long.”
“Hey, Hoshi,” Ty greeted, turning and smiling at her.
Hoshi grinned at him, before gesturing for him to follow her. Following after Hoshi, Ty discovered much to his surprise they were leaving the camp and the slight safety it offered. They had been living on the Northern plains for many months now and they’d yet to be discovered, thanks to the scent posts which had been set up around the camp, to disguise their scents and keep them hidden from the creatures with a sharper sense of smell.
They’d been walking for a good few minutes and Ty looked down at the ground as they walked. The sand shifted under his feet and moved in the wind, it was mesmerizing. But he quickly switched his attention to the area around, looking for any movement. They had left the safety of the camp and anything nearby would be would be able to pick up their scent… But Hoshi wouldn’t have left the camp without good reason.
Eventually Hoshi stopped walking and Ty glanced at her upon seeing they had stopped at the top of a ridge.
“Hoshi…” Ty muttered.
“Just watch,” Hoshi nodded towards the sky on the horizon.
The sun was setting, filling the sky with a peaceful blue glow.
“When I was younger,” Hoshi began talking. “I used to sit on the roof of my house and watch the sun set. I used to count the stars as they appeared, until I lost count or my mother called be inside. Sometimes my father would sit with me and tell tales of faraway planets and the adventures we’d have there… We’d make up languages that they would to speak.”
Ty reached out and squeezed Hoshi’s shoulder.
“This is the first time in a long time, it’s been safe enough to watch the sunset,” Hoshi carried on talking. “Since the day it began, we’ve been running, fighting, surviving… There was no time to stop and admire the beauty of the setting sun. I find myself missing the small things, things I took for granted, now I have the chance to slow down and realise what I’m missing.”
“A part of me still wishes that this is all just an elaborate joke,” Hoshi shut her eyes as tears rolled down her cheeks and her shoulders began to shake. “And at any moment, someone’s going to turn around and yell ‘Surprise! We fooled you!’ and my family will be there waiting for me… We’ll all laugh and tell stories about this over family dinners for years to come. But I watched-”
Hoshi was suddenly cut off as the two of them were grabbed from behind.
“There is a reason no one is allowed to leave the camp, unless given permission,” Khan’s voice hissed in their ears. “I could have quite easily been a mutant and you’d both be in serious trouble.”
“We’re capable of looking after ourselves,” Ty answered, struggling to free himself from Khan’s grip.
“You are not just endangering yourselves, but the entire camp,” Khan continued, ignoring Ty’s struggles. “Until you can learn that your actions have consequences, you’ll both be under guard.”
He was stood at the bottom of a small flight of steps. One the other side of the door above him, he could hear the dead clawing at it, trying to find a way inside. Looking up at the door, Ty thanked whatever higher power had unlocked the door for him and had now sealed it, saving him from the dead which roamed outside… Or had he been saved?
He turned his attention to the darkened hallway he found himself standing in. He had a choice, walk down the hallway and see where it led, or turn around and walk back up the steps and try and open the door and face the dead on the other side. There was no guarantee the place he no found himself in was any safer than the outside.
The keypad had been covered in strange symbols… Symbols he didn’t know. But that was impossible, only one language was spoken on Mars and he’d never come across any sort of code that had looked like that…
So what was this place?
Examine the walls of the hallway, they appeared Martian in design, but it was like something completely different had inhabited it… Like a house built in a certain style at a certain time, but the décor being from a completely different era. The walls were covered by a grid of metal, unlike anything Ty had seen before and the wiring was thick and… Un-Martian.
Taking a cautious step forward, Ty began to make his way along the hallway, his footsteps echoing oddly in his ears as he walked. It didn’t take him to long to reach the end of the hallway and to a room with a table at its centre and its walls covered in weapons and tools. Stepping into the room, Ty noticed the table was covered in bones, rocks and tools.
Stopping next to the table, he picked up a skull, which was most definitely Martian and very, very old. He looked round the room at the tools which lined the walls, before looking back down at the skull in his hand… Had, whoever this place belonged to, been digging for the bones? But why? Every Martian knew their history, history which dated back to the formation of their planet… So why would anyone dig it up?
Unless they weren’t Martian...
Ty frowned and set the skull down. Who would come to Mars? Their closest neighbour with intelligent life was Earth… And Earth was many centuries away from the technology needed to travel to another planet… They hadn’t even created a mode of transport which didn’t require horses and what many would consider slave labour yet.
Stepping away from the table, Ty continued walking and he soon found himself in another hallway and a coppery scent filled the air. He scrunched his nose up at the smell, but he continued walking. He finally reached another room, only to find the room was already inhabited…
A dead, decapitated body lay on the floor before him.
Ty woke with a start and sat bolt upright, breathing heavily. He’d had another dream and just like the last one, it had filled with a sense of dread and fear. He shut his eyes and tried to calm his breathing. He seemed to have inherited his father’s gift of dreaming… All Martians dreamt when they slept, but his father had dreamt of the past.
So was he dreaming about the future?
Ty opened his eyes and run a hand through his hair. Many Martians had gifts, some stronger than others. The most powerful Martian in Tarsus IV had been an old lady, who could summon the souls of the dead and wield them like a weapon if she so wished to. Glancing at the entrance to the tent he was in, Ty could see a Martian standing guard, just like Khan had told them there would be.
He needed to run, to burn of some of the restless energy which gripped him, but he doubted his guard would be too happy with that and there was only so many laps of the camp Ty could run before he yearned to run further, across the sand and into the wilderness. So with a sigh, he lay back down and started up at the tent roof above him, it was going to be a long night.
Ty shifted uneasily from foot to foot as he and his small group waited for Solveig. A few weeks ago, a small group of Martians, led by Khan, had left the camp and travelled to Tarsus II. In the days and weeks that followed more and more Martians left the camp and travelled to Tarsus II, to join Khan and the group that had left with him.
He knew Khan and his group had worked tirelessly to track down and kill every mutant within the colony walls, before setting up scent markers around the edge of the colony just like they had done with the camp, which wasn’t even a camp anymore. Everything had been taken down, packed away and taken to Tarsus II. Ty and his group, along with Solveig and a few others were the last to leave and travel to Tarsus II… And Ty was nervous.
This would be the first time he’d set foot within a colony since he and the others had been rescued by Khan.
It had felt safe in the camp. There were no tall buildings and shadow filled alley ways for mutants to hide in. Every direction he looked, he could see for miles and there had been few places a mutant to hide. If a mutant had approached the camp, it would have been spotted long before it became a threat… But in the colonies, it was easy for them to be taken by surprise. Ty and the others had been caught unaware more than once.
It just didn’t feel safe.
“Ty,” A quiet voice said from beside him.
“What is it, Itzel?” Ty asked softly, turning to the girl who was stood beside him.
“Why do we have to leave?” She asked. “It’s safe here.”
Ty sighed and knelt down beside her, adjusting the pack on his back as he did so.
“We’re running out of supplies,” Ty answered. “The trip to the colonies and back is taking too long and every time someone leaves, they run the risk of something following them back, even with the scent blockers. It’s easier to move to where the supplies are.”
“But it’s not safer, is it?” Itzel questioned.
“Khan said it is safe,” Ty replied.
Itzel nodded and Ty smiled at her, before getting back to his feet and taking her by the hand. Alongside them, Hoshi was carrying Malakai while Xavier was standing with a hand resting on Alize’s shoulder and Johan and Blaise were stood next to Solveig.
“Where’s Zina?” Ty suddenly asked, realising she wasn’t with them.
Hoshi looked round, everything had been packed away leaving nothing but empty landscape in its wake.
“Zina?” Hoshi called out, desperation and worry clear in her tone.
They could afford to stay here for much longer. The scent blockers which had surrounded their camp had been taken down, leaving their scents free to travel on the wind. Anything down wind of them would easily be able to pick up their scents and follow it all the way to its source…
“Zina?” Ty called out.
“Ty!” Zina’s voice suddenly called out. “Help me!”
Ty looked round, but there was no one in sight.
“Zina?” Ty called again, moving away from the group trying to locate where Zina’s voice was coming from. “Where are you?”
“Down here,” She answered.
“Down wher-” Ty began to ask, only to be cut off as the ground beneath his feet gave way.
He landed with a sickening crutch and he let out a hiss of pain, as he but his tongue to stop himself from crying out. Further down the tunnel from where he had landed, Zina was standing under another hole, one she had clearly fallen through just like Ty had.
“Ty!” She called out rushing over to him and grabbing hold of his arm and pulling him to his feet.
Only as Ty tried to put pressure on his injured leg, it sent another wave of pain straight up his body. Looking down answered why. His rough landing had snapped the bone in his leg a couple of inches above his ankle, which wouldn’t usually be a problem as his body healed almost instantly… Only while the brake was clean, it was also protruding.
Ty had seen a lot of gory sights, far too many… He’d seen fellow Martians being ripped apart. He’d seen the lifeless body of his mother being dragged away and the crunching of bones as bodies were feed upon. He had seen the devastation left in the wake of the imps and other monstrous creatures and he had killed, felt blood hitting his face from the arterial spray and washed the grim remains from his person…
But seeing his own bone sticking out of his leg, blood oozing as his body tried to heal the wound around the protruding bone, was enough to make his stomach turn. His wound wouldn’t heal until the bone was forced back into its rightful place, a process which would be just as painful as the break itself.
“Ty,” Zina suddenly whispered, panic making her voice shrill. “There’s something down here.”
Chapter 16: Chapter Sixteen
Ty couldn't help but let out a scream as Solveig grasped ankle and pulled sharply. The noise of his bone going back into its correct position was enough to make him gag and by the time he opened his eyes and looked down at where the injury had been, the wound had already healed itself. Ty let out a groan and Solveig gave his leg a reassuring pat.
"You're lucky," Solveig told him. "It was a clean break."
"I don't feel lucky," Ty muttered.
Solveig let out a laugh and got to her feet. Slowly Ty forced himself to his feet alongside her, hesitant to put any pressure on his recently healed leg. It was foolish he knew, the bone had healed the moment it had been put back into place… But the pain of the injury made him wary of doing so. A scratching noise made him turn his head to the side and he looked back at the hole Solveig had pulled him and Zina out of.
"We need to get moving," Solveig said also looking towards the hole. "The ground is weak and whatever is lurking below the surface may be able to break through."
Ty didn't answer. Whatever was down had moved to attack him and Zina, only to divert its course and vanish back into the shadows of the tunnel. The shadowy figure had been heading straight for them, so what had caused it to divert its course so suddenly?
"Ty!" Hoshi's voice called, cutting off Ty's train of thought.
Ty looked up to see the group had begun moving and he'd been so lost in his thoughts, he'd slowed to a stop and fallen behind without realising. Jogging, Ty quickly caught up with Hoshi, who smiled at him. Ty returned the smile and shrugged one shoulder slightly. Hoshi rolled her eyes.
"What was down there?" Hoshi asked.
"I don't know," Ty answered. "And whatever it was… From what I could see of it, it's not like anything we've encountered before."
"Why didn't it attack you?" Hoshi questioned. "You were trapped down there and you were injured, it must have been able to smell your blood."
"One of them tried to, I think," Ty replied. "But it diverted its course at the last moment… I just don't know why."
"Ty! Hoshi!" Solveig called from the front of the group. "Keep up!"
Ty looked forwards and quickly noticed both he and Hoshi had begun to fall behind the group, having slowed as they were talking.
"Our apologies, Solveig," Hoshi apologised, as she and Ty quickly caught up with the rest of their group.
"Make sure it doesn't happen again," She told them. "You must keep up. You cannot afford to be stranded out here alone and we cannot afford to still be out here after dark looking for you."
"We understand," Hoshi answered.
"It won't happen again," Ty agreed.
Ty looked around as a sense of unease filled him. The remaining survivors had set up the new camp in the ruins of Tarsus II. The sun was beginning to set and the ruined buildings were casting long and oddly shaped shadows along the ground. Every instinct Ty had was warning him not to stay here, to run and get as far away from the ruins of this colony as possible.
Tarsus II promised nothing but death.
But it seemed Ty was the only one getting this feeling, everyone else here seemed perfectly calm and even the other members of the Tarsus Nine seemed happier here. However, Ty just couldn't shake the feeling of unease and it was putting him on edge. Every movement around him had him reaching for his weapon and every unexpected noise had him ready to leap into action and defend his group.
Something bad was going to happen here, he just knew it.
Maybe what had happened down in those tunnels had shaken him up more than he had originally thought. Or maybe it was the fear of the unknown, which had him so on edge. He didn't know what those creatures were and he didn't know why their attack had suddenly diverted the way it had… Maybe everything around him was screaming danger because he had discovered something new and unknown. He'd never seen those creatures before, so he had no idea how to kill them or outrun them and that was scary, because if he couldn't kill them or outrun them, how was he going to keep the rest of the Nine safe?
He knew they were part of a larger community now. That they had adults to protect them, adults who had more strength and knowledge than they did. Who were capable of moving faster and reacting quicker to threats. The adults around them had survived just like they had, faced the same monsters they had… Yet, the nine of them had survived on their own for so long, thinking they were the only survivors. They had learnt to rely on each other and protect each other.
Ty sighed. Maybe he just hadn't gotten used to that fact… They no longer had to look out for each other in such a way. There was an entire community around them now. They were just kids, whose childhoods had been stolen from them. They weren't adults… And yet, they'd all seen horrors that would have shaken the toughest of Martians to the core. They had seen things so terrifying many would have given up a long time ago.
But they were still standing.
They were still alive.
They were still here.
They had survived the worst of it, all without the help of a signal adult.
Finally, the small group arrived at the small complex they had been assigned a floor in. Ty looked up at the building the top floor was in a state of complete disrepair and a number of the windows had been shattered and broken, parts of the building's walls had fallen away or been knocked in and Ty wondered whether the damage was from attacks or sandstorms.
How many had died here? How many had escaped? Were any of their fellow survivors from this colony? Ty wondered as they entered the complex. How safe was it to stay at the colony? The monsters which hunted them and tried to kill them could be lurking anywhere… So which was safer? The ruins of the colonies or the wilderness of Mars?
"What are you doing, Ty?" Blaise asked.
Ty looked up from where he was sat on a window seat, overlooking Tarsus II, flicking through Kodos' Handbook of Monsters. Ty let out a sigh and rested his head back against the wall behind him.
"Trying and failing to find answers," Ty answered. "Those creatures down in the tunnels… They're not in the handbook."
"They're not?" Blaise questioned in surprise.
Ty shook his head and shut his eyes as he let out another sigh.
"I have no idea what they are, Blaise," Ty said. "And I don't know why they didn't attack? We were easy pickings down there… It doesn't make sense. There's something I'm missing. There's something that caused them to stop, but I have no idea what it is. The answer must be right in front of me, but I can't see it."
Ty suddenly sat up straight.
"That's it!" Ty exclaimed.
"What's it?" Blaise asked.
"Why they didn't attack us," Ty explained. "They moved in the dark, they never stepped into the light. That's why they didn't attack, they can't expose themselves to light."
"The sun's almost set," Blaise pointed out.
Ty jumped down from the window seat and rushed towards the door.
"We have to warn Solveig," Ty said. "She'll know what to do."
"Will she believe us?" Blaise asked. "Will any of them believe us? You've seen the way Khan acts, he wouldn't believe us. He's seen more than us and believes that to mean he knows more than us."
"Solveig will listen to us," Ty promised. "She'll deal with Khan."
"And if Khan won't listen to her either?" Blaise caught hold of Ty's arm. "What will we do then, Ty?"
"What we've always done," Ty answered. "Fight to survive."
Blaise nodded and let go of Ty's arm.
"I'll warn the others," He said.
"Make sure they're ready, Blaise," Ty called after him as Blaise left the room.
Blaise looked over his shoulder and nodded. Ty looked down at Kodos' Handbook of Monsters he still held in his hands… What did it mean? Those creatures weren't in the book and Ty had never heard anything like them mentioned before. So what were they and where did they come from? Why hadn't Kodos known about them? He'd known about everything else they had come across so far, so why not these too?
The only warning they received was a shrieking cry from the darkness around Tarsus II.
“Hoshi!” Ty called out as he ushered Johan down a hallway.
“Over here,” Hoshi called back.
Ty hurried towards the room Hoshi’s voice had come from and entered, pushing Johan ahead of him as a shadow was cast across the floor at the end of the hallway. Ty ducked into the room and silently shut the door behind him. Screams and shrieks sounded from outside and Ty quickly double checked that all nine of them were safely in the room.
“What do we do?” Xavier whispered.
“Stay here,” Ty answered. “We’ll be safe here.”
“Are you sure?” Blaise asked.
Ty nodded, “The lights outside have no effect on them… It’s sunlight they don’t like. This room used to be an indoor greenhouse. The lights in here are artificial sunlight. As long as we’re under these lights, they won’t be able to touch us.”
“What about everyone else?” Hoshi questioned.
“I… There’s nothing we can do, Hoshi,” Ty shut his eyes and tried to push down the guilt he was feeling. “If we set foot outside this room, we’ll be in danger. I don’t know what those things are, but I know one thing about them: they are fast. Far faster than anything else we have faced. We can’t outrun them and we can’t fight them. We have no way of contacting anyone else… We can’t… There’s nothing we can do, Hoshi.”
As much as Ty hated to admit it, it was the truth. There was nothing they could do. These creatures were fast and not something any of them could fight and hope to win… Leaving the room they were in would mean certain death. Ty had told Solveig what he knew and she’d gone off to inform Khan, but she hadn’t returned, then the shriek had sounded and Ty knew the moment they entered the colony. It hadn’t taken him long to work out they were only affected by sunlight after that.
Hoshi bowed her head and shut her eyes.
“I’m so sorry, Hoshi,” Ty muttered, his voice breaking slightly as he spoke. “I wish we could do something, but there’s nothing we can do.”
“I know,” She whispered.
Ty looked towards the door… His fellow Martians were dying out there, but what could he do? He had no way to contact anyone out there and stepping outside the room to try and tell someone wasn’t an option. The colony outside was in chaos, there was no way to spread the message and get everyone to safety…
Covering his ears, Ty shut his eyes and tried not to let the tears welling up in his eyes fall as screams sounded around them. It was like that first day all over again. There was nothing he could do but sit here, hiding and wait for it to be over. He wished more than anything, he could do something… People were dying and he could do nothing to stop it.
Ty must have fallen asleep at some point during the night because he was woken by Xavier shaking his shoulder. Ty blinked a couple of times as he sat up and looked around. The nine of them were still safe, nothing had gotten into the room during the time he’d been asleep.
“The sun has just risen,” Xavier informed him.
Ty nodded as he got to his feet. Zina and Johan were still asleep but everyone else was awake. Hoshi looked like she hadn’t slept a wink. She met Ty’s gaze before looking away quickly and guilt filled Ty. He knew he’d been right, there was nothing they could have done the night before…
Maybe if he had worked it out quicker…
Maybe if once he’d worked out he had found Solveig quicker…
Maybe he should have left the safety of their hiding place…
If he had left their hiding place, if any of them had left their hiding place, they would have been killed… But maybe it would have been worth it, because maybe, just maybe, Ty could have warned others and lives would have been saved. What was his life worth compared to others? Others who knew how to survive and would have a better chance of rebuilding the colony. Compare that to the life of a kid, who had survived through what appeared to be more luck than judgement? Ty’s life was hardly worth anything in comparison…
“You did the right thing, Ty,” Xavier said, catching sight of Ty expression. “We did the right thing by staying here.”
“Did I?” Ty asked. “Lives could have been saved…”
“Do you know that?” Xavier challenged. “Do you know that for certain? You could have stepped foot outside those doors and been killed straight away. Let’s say you did find others and told them about this place, you have no guarantee they would have made here. We’re alive. You’re alive. Be thankful for that. Others have no doubt died, but you can’t save everyone, Ty. No matter how hard you try, people are going to die. Take a look outside. Look at the ruins. Look at how many survivors there are. Think about how many of us mutated on that first day. Think about all the monsters we’ve faced…
“We’re outnumbered by the things that what to kill us, by at least a hundred to one most likely more. There isn’t going to be an end to this, Ty. We’re never going to win this fight. All we can do is survive and hope for the best. I know that’s not an easy fate to accept, but it’s the truth. How do you see this ending, Ty? Did you see a future where all of this was over and we began to rebuild society? Where we picked up the pieces and began to rebuild?”
Ty shook his head.
“I don’t know, Xavier…” Ty answered. “Each day has been a battle for survival, I guess I’ve never really thought about it.”
“How do you think this is going to end, Ty?” Xavier asked.
“In blood and death,” Ty replied. “Either in ours or there’s.”
“I guess what I’m trying to say is, this is life or death, Ty,” Xavier sighed. “Every decision you make, it’s life or death… Whose lives are you going to put first? The other survivors who we didn’t even know existed until they found us or the lives of the people you’re survived this far with?”
Ty looked at Xavier but didn’t answer.
“Because that’s how it works, Ty,” Xavier carried on speaking. “There is no happy ending here. You’re going to have to make decisions, hard ones, where you’re going to have to choose who lives and who dies. There is no other way.”
“Since when am I the leader?” Ty asked.
“We’ve always followed you, Ty,” Xavier answered. “And we’ll continue to follow you until the end.”
“Good,” Ty smiled. “Because I don’t believe in no-win situations.”
“As much as I hated to admit it, Xavier was right,” Jim sighed. “Mars was a lost cause… There was no way to retake the planet. I guess I’d never really thought about up until that point. I’d been so focused on keeping the others alive, I hadn’t really thought of anything beyond that. About what came after…”
Silence filled the cell for a moment.
“I didn’t believe in no-win situations, I still don’t… Because I survived it, I made it,” Jim shut his eyes as tears run down his face. “And I wasn’t the only one. Khan and those who chose to follow him… Some of the Nine went with him. I can’t blame them. The Martian race survived, even if our numbers are so few.”
“What happened to the rest of the Nine?” Leonard couldn’t help but ask.
“They died,” Jim answered simply.
Leonard stared at Jim and Jim let out a sigh as he opened his eyes.
“Six of us made it off that planet,” Jim said. “Five are still alive today. I haven’t seen the others, not since they left with Khan. Even when Khan and his crew were being moved, I didn’t go and look. It’s a part of my past, I wish didn’t exist… I failed in some many ways. I did so many things wrong. A lot of people died… Like Xavier said, I had to make choices and I did. They weren’t always the right ones… Some of the others, they blamed me, sided with Khan because of it.”
Jim paused and took a deep breath.
“I tried my best, Bones, I only ever tried my best,” Jim shut his eyes again. “It just wasn’t good enough. It was never good enough. It will never be good enough. History seems to keep repeating itself. How many more people are going to die? How many more of my crew are going to die? Khan crashed a ship into the city… That was my fault. I should have listened. I should have known better. A lot of people died.”
“You saved Earth, Jim,” Leonard pointed out.
“But I didn’t save Vulcan,” Jim argued. “I’m not the son of George Kirk, I was alive and living on the opposite side of the Federation to Earth when that Romulan ship first appeared… I could have tracked it down and destroyed it. But I didn’t, it disappeared and I did nothing, I was foolish enough to believe it was the Romulans testing the waters. Testing the Federation. It wasn’t my place to interfere… And look how that turned out.”
“It wasn’t your fault, Jim,” Leonard said forcefully.
“Wasn’t it?” Jim asked. “I could have stopped it. I had the power to stop it, but I didn’t.”
“You had no way of knowing what would happen,” Leonard argued.
“I’ve lived long enough that I should have known better, Bones.”
“Once I was sure it was safe, I went out into the colony to see if anyone else had survived the night,” Jim carried on talking. “About half the other survivors had. Khan and Solveig were among them. It was then Khan decided it was time to move again… Only we wouldn’t be moving to another colony or setting up a new camp in the wilderness. We were moving to Deimos, the mining moon.”
Jim paused for a moment and shook his head.
“That was the reason we had travelled to Tarsus II. Tarsus II had a portal to Deimos. Khan had brought us all there with the intention of travelling to Deimos, it the hope that the outbreak on the planet hadn’t reached the moons. Both the moons were inhabited by Martians and small colonies had existed there.
“So once everyone who had survived the night had been found, we headed towards the portal. The portal was still active when we reached and it took almost two-thirds of the day to get everyone through it. Khan had been right in his belief that the outbreak hadn’t reached the moons and it turned out people from Tarsus II and Tarsus I had evacuated to the moons as soon as news of what was happening reached them…
“I should have been happy. There we were safe and surrounded by fellow Martians, almost to colonies worth of Martians! It was great news, better news than any of us could ever have hoped for!... But I was angry. I couldn’t even look at the Martians from Tarsus I and Tarsus II. I know looking back I should have been happy, but… Why did they get to survive? Why did they get to escape? Why did the majority of their colonies get to flee to safety? When Tarsus III, Tarsus IV and Tarsus V all fell and got wiped out?
“Why didn’t they help us? Any of us? Khan and the others were proof that Martians had survived, so why didn’t they help us? How many Martians died between the outbreak and us finally reaching that portal? How many Martians could have been saved, if they had simply helped us? Needless lives had been lost because they didn’t help us. I couldn’t let go of my anger, so many Martians were dead and there they all were, hiding on the moons and pretending everything was okay.
“Well, it wasn’t!” Jim exclaimed. “They stood by and did nothing, while we died down there on that cursed planet! Because they could have helped us. They had weapons, far more powerful than the weapons we’d been able to scavenge, weapons those creatures wouldn’t have stood a chance against. They didn’t just have the portals, they had ships two. They could have helped evacuate colonies that didn’t have the portals to the moons, but they didn’t.”
Jim shook his head again.
“So many things were done wrong, so many bad decisions were made,” Jim let out a sigh. “I know they were scared and fear can make you do things you never thought you’d be capable of doing… But… I just couldn’t… I just… I understand now, why they didn’t help, but a bigger part of me will always hold it against them that they didn’t. I couldn’t, still can’t forgive them.”
Leonard watched Jim. He could understand why Jim felt the way he did, but he couldn’t even begin to imagine how it must have felt, discovering that the opportunity to help had been there and no one had taken it. He couldn’t help but wonder, just like Jim, how many Martian lives could have been saved as a result. If they had helped, would it have worked out differently to how it had? But from the way Jim spoke, Leonard formed the conclusion Mars and its people would have been a lost cause no matter what could have been done differently.
Ty walked through the main base of Deimos. It wasn’t like any of the buildings back on Mars. The design was completely different and it intrigued Ty. The moon was used for mining and when Ty looked out the windows, the mining landscape reached well beyond the horizon. Before the Martians from Tarsus II had arrived on the moon, the main base had been all that had stood on the planet, besides the mining structures, but now there were four sectors besides the main base, which housed the Martians.
However, Ty, the rest of the nine and the other survivors had been housed in the main base and Ty didn’t mind in the slightest. He didn’t even want to look at the Martians from Tarsus II. Khan had suggested that the nine be placed with families from Tarsus II, to try and regain a sense of normality and to settle into family life once more. Solveig had shot that idea down straight away, claiming unless a family was willing to take in all nine of them, they would remain with her. It wouldn’t help any of them if they were split up in such a way, they had learnt to rely on each other for safety and parting them from each other would take away that sense of safety.
Surprisingly, Khan had listened to her.
Ty sighed as he turned down another hallway. Everything was different now. They were safer than they had been in a long time… But Ty didn’t like it. He didn’t miss the feeling of being on edge all the time, just waiting for the next monster to track them down and attack them. He didn’t miss having to take a watch at night and always sleeping with a weapon close to hand…
It was just…
This wasn’t Mars.
This wasn’t where he’d been born.
This wasn’t his home.
It felt different, it didn’t feel right. Solveig had explained the gravity was different and his body would adjust to it in time. The air was different two. But Ty knew that wasn’t what was bothering him. He wouldn’t return to the surface of Mars unless he had no other choice, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t miss it.
He stopped and looked out one of the windows and it offered him a view and of the mining landscape and beyond that… Mars. Ty shut his eyes and took a deep breath. It was like the planet was taunting him.
“Ty?” A voice called and he looked over his shoulder to see someone he didn’t know approaching him.
He recognised the uniform as that of the mining staff and he relaxed slightly as he nodded.
“Solveig is looking for you,” The Martian told him.
Ty nodded again and looked out the window once more. The Martian stopped beside him and looked out the window too.
“Before I got the job here,” The Martian began speaking. “I lived in Tarsus III… My parents… My sisters…”
Silence engulfed them as they stared at Mars.
Ty grunted as he landed on his back for the sixth time. Solveig stood over him and nodded.
“You are getting better,” She told him, as she offered him and hand.
Ty took the offered hand and let Solveig pull him to his feet.
“I don’t feel like I am,” Ty muttered.
“You are making progress,” Solveig said. “You have only just begun training in this form of combat, it will take time to learn and master it.”
Ty nodded, “I understand.”
Solveig smiled before turning towards the door.
“One of your friends is waiting for you,” She informed Ty.
Ty turned towards the door and frowned. Solveig let out a sigh and rested a hand on Ty’s shoulder.
“We’ve been here for three months now, Ty,” Solveig said. “You must let go of the grudge you have against those from Tarsus II. You cannot blame your friends for wanting to explore and entering the sectors.”
Ty glanced at Solveig before shrugging off her hand and walking towards the door. It opened and Ty stepped out into the hallway to find Xavier waiting for him.
“Xavier…” Ty trailed off.
“Ty,” Xavier answered, slightly nervously.
“What do you want?” Ty asked.
“I found something in sector four,” Xavier replied. “I think… I think it’s an interdimensional doorway.”
“Show me,” Ty demanded, as his mind filled with all the dangers it could mean for the moon.
Xavier nodded and quickly lead the way through the network of hallways and walkways that led to sector four. It didn’t take them long to reach an empty storage room. Xavier hesitated in front of the door and it was only then Ty realised that Xavier wasn’t carrying a weapon. Ty rolled his eyes and drew a knife and opened the door. Stepping into the room, Ty’s eyes widened as he stared at the interdimensional doorway. Xavier looked over his shoulder and Ty readied his knife as dark shadowy figures moved on the other side to them.
“Ty,” Xavier hissed out. “What do we do.”
“Find someone,” Ty answered not taking his eyes off the interdimensional doorway. “Now!”
Xavier quickly left the room, in search of someone who could help them. Ty kept his gaze fixed on the doorway before, watching the dark figures moving on the other side. This was what Kodos had seen and this was what had inspired him. Ty took a step back as the doorway began to shimmer around the edges and Ty breathed a sigh of relief as the doorway closed.
"What are we going to do, Ty?" Hoshi demanded from where she was sat on Ty's bed. "Xavier told me what happened, about what you found?"
"There's not much I can do, Hoshi," Ty replied. "The doorway closed and Khan won't believe our word alone."
Hoshi let out a sigh and looked towards the doorway, there was a look of fear in her eyes and her body was tense.
"If one of those creatures get through…" She muttered trailing off.
Ty nodded and pulled out a knife, he held it out to Hoshi.
"We need to be prepared for it," Ty told her.
"How did you get this?" Hoshi asked, turning the knife over and examining it. "Khan confiscated our weapons."
"What?!" Ty demanded. "When?"
"Just after we got here," Hoshi answered, looking at Ty.
Ty frowned, "He didn't take mine or even ask about mine."
Hoshi smiled slightly, but there was a slight look of wariness and pity in her eyes but she didn't say anything and Ty didn't ask, because he knew he wouldn't like her answer. Khan had reasons for everything he did and Ty didn't want to know what his reasons for doing this were… Because Ty was certain it didn't bode well for him.
"How do we prepare for this?" Hoshi finally asked. "All the sectors are connected and the moon outside has no atmosphere. We've trapped in here, Ty."
"When the doorway opens again, we need to be ready to take the portal to the second moon," Ty said. "That is the only way we're going to make it out of here alive."
Hoshi nodded, "What about our weapons?"
"Get Xavier," Ty answered after a moment. "He's capable of breaking into anything. Wherever Khan has stored your weapons, he'll be able to get them. I'll make sure the others are ready."
Hoshi nodded and got to her feet.
"And Hoshi," Ty called after her as she was about to step out the door. "We need to remain close at all times, in groups of threes at the minimum. None of us can afford to be on our own. When you hear the screams, head straight for the portal. Don't wait for the rest of us, take however is with you and get to the portal. The rest of us will follow."
Hoshi nodded again and left the room. Ty let out a sigh, were they ever going to be safe? It seemed no matter where they went or how far they run or where they hid, it always followed them, it always caught up with them… This was never going to end, not until they were all dead.
Walking along a narrow walkway, Ty tried not to jump at every little sound. The lights flickered overhead and he glanced behind, sure that he was being followed. But the narrow walkway was empty behind him and there were no places where anything could hide. As he continued walking, he almost slipped and once he had regained his balance and looked down at the floor, he found it covered in blood.
The entire place smelt of blood, so Ty hadn't noticed.
Being careful not to slip again, Ty continued on his way.
Turning a corner, Ty came face to face with two bodies both of which were dressed in white coats covered in dried blood and if the stains were any indication, they had bled out from the neck. Stepping closer Ty noticed both of them had wounds on the side of their necks and he knew they were the wounds which killed them. Much to his horror the blood that was oozing slowly from their necks was black and filled with lumps, yet the blood on their white coats was red.
Taking a step back Ty looked around nervously. Out the corner of his eye he saw one of the bodies twitch and when he turned to look at the once more all he could do was watch as the body began to mutate. This wasn't the first time he'd been this happen, but it didn't make it any less terrifying. Taking another step backwards, Ty turned and run. Loud bangs suddenly echoed through the air and left a ringing in his ears. Ty flinched as the sound continued and the sound of yelling filled the air.
Looking around widely, Ty ducked down a hallway and run, aiming to get as far away from the loud noise as he could. His ears were still ringing and he felt disorientated. The lights above him began to flicker and he suddenly fell forward as he lost his balance. The smell of decaying flesh reached his ears and he looked up to see an imp dragging a body along the hallway ahead of him, it looked right at him but didn't appear to see him.
Scrabbling backwards on his hands and knees, Ty didn't stop moving until his back hit a wall and his there panting as his heart raced in his chest. As he began to hyperventilate he knew he had to calm down but how could he? There were mutants here. He had no idea what was going on or what this place was or how he was here. Nothing made sense. He hadn't found any trace of the others and he knew in his heart they were lost to him, no matter how much he didn't want to believe it.
He shut his eyes and tried to calm his breathing, the ringing in his ears was beginning to fade and the lights above him went out completely and shrouded the hallway in complete darkness. Ty opened his eyes and looked around. The imp was gone. As a matter of fact, there wasn't even a trace of evidence to show it had ever been there. Looking around Ty noticed that everything had seemed to have aged. The walls had traces of rust on them, part of the ceiling had begun to decay and an air vent had fallen from the ceiling and dusted had settled everywhere.
Ty woke with a start and looked around his room. These dreams… He didn't know what to make of them.
"Ty!" Johan suddenly burst into Ty's room. "You need to see this!"
Ty knelt beside the body Johan had discovered. There was a strange wound on the side of the Martians neck and Ty's mind instantly flashes back to dream he had. The bodies he had come across in the dream had wounds similar to this on the necks and they had mutated, there red blood turning black…
Getting to his feet quickly, Ty backed away from the body. He looked around the room as if expecting something to jump out on them at any second. Turning his attention back to the body, Ty pushed Johan behind, as they two of them backed towards the door. Ty didn't dare look away from the dead Martian for a second, too scared of what might happen if he did.
Once they were back in the hallway outside the room, Ty quickly shut and locked the door. Turning to Johan, Ty grabbed his arm and pulled him through the hallway back towards the main building and out of Sector Four.
"What happened to them, Ty?" Johan asked as they moved.
"They've been infected," Ty answered. "They're going to turn into an imp and they're going to try and kill us."
"We need to warn someone, Ty!" Johan exclaimed.
"And who's going to listen to us?!" Ty demanded. "I tried to warn Khan before and he didn't listen."
"But this time it's different, Ty!" Johan waved his hands in the direction they had come from. "There's a dead Martian in there! He has to believe us!"
Ty shook his head, "We need to get out of here as quickly as we can, Johan. It's only a matter of time before more people become infected and this place becomes overrun with monsters that want to kill us!"
"What about everyone else?" Johan demanded. "Are you honestly willing to run and leave them all here to face certain doom with no warning of what's to come? Would you honestly stand by and let them die?"
"It's not my duty to protect them!" Ty snapped. "They can look after themselves! All I worry about is the safety of you and the rest of our group! We have survived so much, I'm not going to let them die now by putting the lives of complete strangers ahead of theirs!"
"So you're willing to put eight lives ahead of thousands?" Johan questioned.
"Yes," Ty answered without hesitation.
"What about the survival of the Martian race?" Johan asked. "We can't abandon them!"
"And how long do you honestly think our race will survive, Johan?" Ty said seriously. "We've been forced from the surface of our own planet! Now we're not even safe here! No matter where we run nowhere is safe. We're just going to keep running and fighting until there's none of us left… We can't beat this. Too much damage has been. Those creatures outnumber us by too much and every day there is less of us and more of them. I don't believe in no-win scenarios and to many, this would appear to be one, but no scenario is unwinnable it just depends on what you consider winning."
"And what's winning to you, Ty?" Johan asked.
"Keeping you and the others alive and getting you all to safety," Ty answered. "Mars is a lost cause. But if I can keep you and the others alive and safe, then I've won."
Ty ran as fast as he could, Johan and Zina were ahead of him as the three of them run towards the portal which would take them to Mars' second moon. Ty didn't know where the others were, all he could hope was they had listened to him and had made it through the portal already. It had been less than two hours since he'd been shown the body and now the entire base was teeming with mutants.
So far, he had killed just under twenty imps and as the sound of screams and weapon fire echoed through the air, Ty wondered how many others were still alive. They turned a corner and Ty felt relief flow through him.
The portal was straight ahead of them.
Seconds later the three of them found themselves in the portal chamber on the second moon. Other survives were already here and as Ty ushered Johan and Zina out the way in case more survives came through the portal he spotted Hoshi and the others.
They had all made it.
"Ty!" Hoshi threw her arms around Ty's neck and pulled him into a hug.
Ty grinned and hugged her back as he looked over the rest of the group.
"We made it out," Ty whispered.
"We did," Hoshi agreed. "It happened so suddenly, I didn't think we'd make it to the portal in time… I've never seen so many in one place before."
Ty nodded and the two of them pulled apart. He looked around the room again as a thought suddenly struck him. The only Martians in the chamber around them were those who had fled here like them… This moon should have had its own colony, so why wasn't there anyone here greeting them or even questioning anyone about what was going on.
"Hoshi…" Ty said slowly. "Where is everyone?"
"What do you mean?" Hoshi asked frowning.
"This moon has its own colony," Ty explained. "Yet the only ones here have fled like us."
Hoshi looked around, "Maybe they're working in the fields?"
Even to her own ears, Hoshi knew how stupid that sounded.
"All of them?" Ty questioned.
"Maybe nobody works in this part of the building," Hoshi suggested, trying to come up with any reason other than they were all dead to explain why no one was here… Because if they were all dead that would mean the mutants had made it here and they had simply fled from one death trap to another.
"Maybe," Ty said as he looked over his shoulder as more survives came through the portal behind them.
The colony was unnervingly silent as Ty and Hoshi explored. They were making their way through the main part of the colony, moving from house to house searching for any signs of life. In the distance, fields stretched all the way to the forest covered mountains on the horizon and the crops which grew there rippled in the breeze. The reason the two of them were out here was that Ty couldn't stomach staying with the other survives in the main building.
After Khan and Solveig had come through the portal, Khan had ordered it to be closed, even though there were still survivors on the other side. Deep down Ty knew it had been the right thing to do, the imps had been closing in on the portal and if one got through, it'd spell the death of the Martian race. Less than half had made it through the portal, with every attack their numbers were rapidly decreasing. So, Ty understood why Khan had ordered it.
That didn't mean he had to like it though.
There had still been Martians alive on the other side of that portal and they'd been abandoned, left to face certain death. Ty shook his head as tears welled up in his eyes, both of anger and sadness. Beside him, Hoshi suddenly tensed and Ty felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end. He glanced around, hand reaching for the knife Solveig had given him before the two of them had left.
"We're being watched," Hoshi whispered.
"Yeah," Ty agreed, glamping around. "By what? I have no idea."
Hoshi scanned the area and caught sight of a shadow disappearing behind a building.
"There!" Hoshi hissed. "I saw something."
Grabbing hold of Hoshi's arm, Ty continued to look around.
"We need to go back," Ty muttered. "We both know something isn't right here. I knew it from the moment I made it through the portal… This colony is dead, Hoshi."
"And if everyone is dead…" Hoshi trailed off.
She didn't need to say it, this colony had been infected. It was the only answer… It might have been possible those from the colony had fled into the mountains. However, if they had, Ty doubted there were still saviours. It also meant they had escaped death on one moon only to find it on the next. It was still unclear what had happened to colonists though. What had killed them and where were the bodies?
"What will we tell them?" Hoshi asked. "There's nothing here. No monsters. No bodies. Not even the evidence of a fight or that anyone had fled."
"That's all the evidence we need," Ty said. "Khan may not have believed us before and he doesn't like me, we both know that. But even he can't deny this, there's something wrong here."
Suddenly what sounded like air escaping from a confined space sounded through the air and the two of them jumped. Looking around the two of them moved to stand back to back.
"Any ideas what that was?" Ty asked nervously.
"I think it's a zombie," Hoshi whispered a slight tremble in her voice.
"A zombie?" Ty repeated.
"Yes," Hoshi said. "It's staring right at us."
Ty looked over his shoulder to find a what appeared to be a zombie standing five metres away from them… Only it didn't look like the zombies they had encountered before. Its skin was an unhealthy grey and had the appearance of skin stretched over bone, almost like a shrunken head. It was staring at them with eyes which seemed like empty sockets of darkness. It opened its mouth and a raspy sound merged from the depths of its chest cavity and out of the shadows, more of them materialised.
"Scream," Ty said.
"What?!" Hoshi hissed.
"On three, scream," Ty explained urgently. "There are too many here for us to fight. There are no bodies, Hoshi, do you honestly think we can win this fight with the weapons we have and the numbers we have against us? The only hope we have is that the others hear us."
"What if they attack?" Hoshi asked.
"Then we fight," Ty stated. "And hope for the best. Ready?"
"As I'll ever be," Hoshi replied.
"One, two, three!"
The doors of the cell were thrown open and both Jim's and McCoy's gaze snapped towards it. Serval guards entered the cell whilst serval more stood outside. Before either of them had a chance to react, the guards moved towards Jim and unlocked his chains. Jim shot a glance at McCoy as he was dragged to his feet and pushed towards the cell door. Jim knew he could take them all easily, but unlike him, McCoy wouldn't heal if he got injured. He couldn't risk doing anything until he had a way to get McCoy to the Enterprise.
He wouldn't let McCoy get caught in the crossfire.
Surrounded by guards Jim was led from the cell block and into a high-class building, which reminded of the castles of Earth many centuries ago. It was easy enough to memorise the route taken, not that Jim had any intention of letting the guards know that. He couldn't help but admire the style of the building, it was modelled after the classics.
"Dare I ask where you're taking me?" Jim asked breaking the silence.
"Shut up," One of the guards snapped, shoving Jim with enough force it sent him to his knees.
Bracing himself on his hands and knees, Jim took a deep breath and pushed down the urge to strike back at the guard who had struck him. He couldn't afford to do anything that would endanger McCoy. He could handle anything the guards threw at him and he'd yet to suffer an injury his body couldn't heal from eventually.
"It was only a question," Jim groaned as he was hauled to his feet.
"You will only speak when spoken to, spy!" Another guard snapped and Jim was pushed again.
"Spy?" Jim questioned. "What are you talking about?"
In hindsight, Jim should have seen the punch coming as he lay on the floor and spat out a mouthful of blood. The inside of his cheek had already healed from where it had split against his teeth at the force of the punch and he highly doubted his cheek would bruise. Suddenly two of the guards grabbed him by the ankles and dragged him. Kicking out, Jim quickly got to his feet only to have the barrel of a gun pressed against the back of his head.
Raising his hands in surrender, Jim let himself be pushed forward by guards again, but the barrel of the gun never left the back of his head. Even if they shot him, he'd survive it. But head injuries were always a problem. It had taken him close to fifty years to regain all his memories last time he'd been shot in the head, so it wasn't an experience he wanted to repeat anytime soon. As they continued to walk, Jim took note of the weapons they carried….
They looked an awful lot like old Earth firearms.
Suddenly, Jim was shoved to the side and into a wall, he only just got his arms up in time to prevent his face smashing into the wall. Around him, the guards saluted a passing officer if Jim had to guess… The uniform they were wearing looked awfully familiar, he couldn't place where he'd seen it before, but every ounce of his body was screaming that it wasn't anything good and his instincts told him it was familiar from his time on Earth. Thinking back to the lecture Jim had been present for by John Gill at the academy, he tried to remember everything he knew about the man.
Other than the fact he was a Federation Historian, Professor and Cultural Observer, Jim didn't know an awful lot about him outside of his work and papers he had published. Where there any periods of time he had focused on more than others? Nothing sprung to mind. He was pulled from his musing however as they arrived in front of a grand looking set of double doors. One of the guards stepped forward and knocked twice and the double door where opened from the inside by two more guards. Jim was pushed forwards into the room and forced into a seat, which he was then tied to, in front of a large desk.
"The spy has been bought as requested," One of the guards said.
Moments later John Gill entered the room, dressed in another familiar uniform. He sat down behind the desk and stared at Jim for a moment.
"Professor Gill," Jim greeted.
One of the guards stepped forward and struck him and Jim tasted blood.
"You will not speak unless spoken to, spy!" The guard yelled.
Jim let out a sigh, this was going to be fun, he just knew it.
"I'll ask you again: Who are you?" John Gill demanded.
"I'm James Kirk," Jim spat out. "Don't you remember me, professor? I attended your lecture at Starfleet Academy. I believe you called me 'one of the greatest minds you'd ever had the honour of teaching'. Pike was very proud."
"You lie!" John slammed his hands down on the desk. "You are a spy, sent by our enemies!"
"The Federation is not your enemy, professor!" Jim argued. "You work for them! Or should I say worked, I doubt they'd approve of you interfering with the natural development of an intelligent society like this!"
"Silence!" John roared. "I've heard enough of your lies! Take him to the chamber, it's time we force the truth out of him."
Jim was dragged from the chair he was sat in and pulled to his feet. He didn't put up a fight and he hadn't failed to notice every guard around him now had their weapons drawn. What exactly had they landed in the middle of here? How much had John interfered with the natural development of the planet? And who do they think he was spying for? And more importantly what was 'the chamber'?
He was sure, however, that whatever it was it was going to involve some form of torture. Actually, he was certain it was going to involve torture.
Suddenly Jim stopped.
If they couldn't get "the truth" or at least the version of the truth they wanted out of him, they'd turn their attention to McCoy…
"Keep moving, spy," One of the guards spat and Jim just reacted.
It took him less than two minutes to know out the guards around him, however, he took several bullets in the process, two had passed straight through him and the wounds had healed… The others, he hadn't been so lucky. His body had healed but with the bullets still in his body. More alarmingly John Gill and the few guards who had been following them down the hallway had seen it all, including the speed at which Jim healed.
"He's been genetically altered," John gasped. "The enemy is creating super soldiers. This is an act of war. We must act before they destroy us!"
One of the guards and John hurried away, whilst the others began firing at him. Jim made quick work of them, before sprinting back towards the cell he'd been taken from. He hoped they hadn't gone after McCoy. He wouldn't be able to live with himself if something had happened to McCoy, which would be a problem seeing as he hadn't found anything that'd kill him yet, maybe he should have just let them torture him and worried about if they'd go after McCoy afterwards.
Skidding to a halt outside the cell, Jim kicked the door open with enough force it forced the door from its hinges and it flew halfway across the cell. Stepping into the cell, Jim hated to think of the sight he presented, with bullet holes in his clothing and bloodstains from the wounds before they healed. His gaze meets McCoy's, who was staring at him wide-eyed.
Jim rushed across to him and grabbed hold of the chains which bound. With a grunt, Jim pulled the chains from the wall and took a step back. He tensed as he heard the sound of running footsteps in the distance and they were definitely coming in their direction.
"We need to get out of here right now," Jim muttered quickly, helping McCoy to his feet. "I get the chains off once we're out of here."
"Jesus Christ, Jim!" McCoy cursed as they ducked into a side room. "You didn't tell me they were God damn Nazis!"
"Nazis?" Jim frowned, leaning back against the door.
"You can't tell me you honestly don't recognise those uniforms," McCoy replied. "We learnt about it in Earth History, remember?"
"Shit," Jim shut his eyes and leant his head back against the door. "I knew the uniforms looked familiar. I remember the first time they came to power on Earth… What has John Gill done to this planet?!"
The sound of running footsteps passed by the door and Jim let out a sigh of relief. Opening his eyes, he looked around the room. It appeared to be some kind of cloakroom or storage room maybe… Pushing himself off the door, Jim stepped further into the room and looked around. Uniforms and coats hung along the walls as well as weapons and basic supplies.
"Hey, Jim," McCoy called from across the room. "Look what I've found."
Jim looked up to find McCoy holding up two phasers and Jim couldn't help but grin. He took a step towards McCoy before doubling over in pain as a sudden pain shot through him.
"Jim!" McCoy exclaimed. "You alright, Kid? Talk to me."
McCoy steadied Jim as he straightened up with a groan.
"They shot me," Jim explained. "Some of the bullets are still in me… I think one of them moved and ruptured something."
"Dear God," McCoy sounded horrified.
Jim let out a laugh.
"I'll be fine, Bones," Jim muttered. "We need to get out of here first, I'll cut the bullets out once we're safe."
"You'll do no such thing!" McCoy exclaimed. "You can't just perform surgery on yourself."
"It's not like its going to kill me, Bones," Jim grinned, making his way over to where McCoy had left the phasers. "Hey, look, your tricorder is here too."
McCoy quickly grabbed it and switched it on before turning and scanning Jim before letting out a series of curses.
"How many times were shot?!" McCoy looked concerned.
"Not enough to kill me it'd seem," Jim smiled.
McCoy shot Jim a glare, "this isn't funny!"
"You're just grumpy," Jim shrugged. "A few bullets aren't going to kill me, Bones. Anyone would think you've completely ignored everything I've told you so far."
"This isn't the time to be a-"
"How would you feel about a game of dress up, Bones?" Jim cut McCoy off, nodding towards the uniforms which hung around the room. "We're not going to get out of here dressed like we are. Which reminds me…"
Jim turned and fired his phaser at the chains which still hung from McCoy. To his credit, McCoy didn't even flinch and the chains dropped to the ground.
"You've got to be kidding me," McCoy growled.
Surprisingly they made it out of the city easily. It seemed as soon as the everyday citizens caught sight of their uniforms, they ducked their heads and got out of their way. Even those who'd been sent to locate and kill the escaped prisoners hadn't looked twice at them. Jim would have been amused by this if it wasn't for the uniform he was wearing. The moment the had made it out of the city and were no longer visible by those who patrolled the city borders, Jim had pulled off his uniform and had never been happier.
They had stolen some supplies and a change of clothes as they made it through the city. Food and water had been Jim's priority, but McCoy had been more concerned about finding medical supplies. Between them, they had enough food and water to last them a few days. Now all they had to do was find shelter and once the heat had died down, try and find a way to contact the Enterprise, which would most likely involve re-entering the city to try and locate a device capable of broadcasting into space.
Suddenly a wave of dizziness hit Jim and he collapsed to his knees with a look of surprise. His body felt weak and drained of energy. His vision blurred and he would have fallen forward if McCoy hadn't grabbed his shoulders with surprising strength or maybe it was just because Jim felt weaker. Jim blinked a few times and tried to focus on the world around him. McCoy was scanning him with a tricorder and whatever results it gave him weren't good if the string of curses he let out were any indication.
"The bullets are poisoning you, kid," McCoy stated. "Your body is breaking them down and the heavy metal the bullets are made from are being released into your bloodstream."
"Huh," Jim acknowledges. "I've had something like that happen before. It'll pass eventually if I don't cut the bullets out. I'll admit, I've never felt this bad before. But I haven't been shot this many times either, so I guess it makes sense."
With a deep breath, Jim pushed himself back up and onto his feet. For a moment he wobbled and McCoy steadied him.
"Once we find somewhere safe to stop, I'll remove the bullets, Jim," McCoy declared.
"That's not necessary," Jim argued.
"I'm your Chief Medical Officer, Captain," McCoy's tone dared Jim to try and argue. "On medical matters I outrank you. And unless you have a medical degree you haven't told me about, I'm the only one qualified to do this."
"Actually-" Jim began but quickly shut his mouth at the glare McCoy gave him.
"That's what I thought," McCoy nodded.
"They don't even have to be removed, Bones," Jim sighed. "They'll be gone in a couple of weeks, a month tops."
"I'm going to pretend you didn't say that," McCoy muttered. "You couldn't possibly have just said something that stupid."
"But it's true!" Jim argued.
"So, what? You just want to suffer?" McCoy crossed his arms over his chest. "You want me, a doctor, to stand by and do nothing as you suffer? You want me, your best friend, to stand here and watch you suffer."
"No, Jim," McCoy shook his head. "I won't watch you suffer. Not like this. I don't care whether you think you deserve it or you just like the pain. It is within my power to fix, so I'm going to fix it."
For anyone wondering why there are suddenly Nazis, the planet they are on is Ekos, which is from the Star Trek: Original Series episode Patterns of Force. In this episode, John Gill is sent to Ekos as an observer but interferes when the society almost destroys itself. He implements a version of Nazi Germany using Nazi ideals minus the genocide and racial beliefs of the Nazis from Earth History. I'm merging the plot line with this story because Jim's retelling of his time on Mars happens after he and McCoy get trapped on Ekos and I don't want the story to be entirely based around Jim's past alone.
"Are you sure about this, Bones?" Jim questioned from where he was lying on an old rickety bed.
They'd found an old abandoned house about ten miles from the city. Half the building had fallen down and it hadn't appeared to have been disturbed by anyone recently, so they would hopefully be safe there for a while. They'd seen no one since they left the city and no one appeared to be following them.
McCoy had arranged the medical supplies he'd collected as they left the city on a small table he'd pulled over to the bed.
"The bullets have to be removed," McCoy replied. "According to the tricorder, this is a version of local anaesthetic."
McCoy held up a small bottle and Jim glanced at it before letting out a laugh.
"My body will burn through it far quicker than a human's would, Bones," Jim returned his gaze to the ceiling. "Don't waste it. Who knows how long we're going to be stuck here for."
"Jim…" McCoy began.
"No," Jim shook his head. "Unless you've got something with the strength to knock out a Klingon, it's not worth using. At best it'll last a few minutes."
"A few minutes is better than nothing," McCoy pointed out. "I'm going to be cutting into you, Jim, I'm going to be forcing the wound to stay open and extracting a bullet. You may heal in seconds, but that won't stop the pain."
"I know, Bones," Jim sighed. "I've cut bullets out before. You don't need to do this. Whatever damage I do to myself, it will heal."
McCoy shook his head, "I'm a doctor."
Jim grinned and shut his eyes.
"If you're sure, Bones," He said.
"I am," McCoy nodded, as he picked up a scalpel. "So, what happened after you and Hoshi screamed for help?"
Jim flinched slightly as a needle was pressed into his skin… He'd been ejected with poisons and in one particularly nasty incident, a flesh-eating bacteria during the Eugenics War, in the past and had come to fear them ever so slightly. Even hypo's caused him unease, not that McCoy would ever eject him with something harmful.
"Khan had sent out a party after us," Jim told him. "When they couldn't find any of the moon's colonists, they looked in the achieve. It turns out, whilst trying to expand the farming area, they discovered an underground lake. There was a bacteria in the water, which hadn't seen the light of day in close to a millennium. One of the explores fell in and became infected after ingesting some of the water, but it wasn't until after they had returned that they started to show systems… That's what the zombies were. Martian infected by the bacteria. It sped through the colony quickly, the bacteria wasn't something our bodies could fight off."
"What happened after that," McCoy asked, pulling the first bullet from Jim.
It was close to the surface and easy to remove. McCoy watched as the wound closed, leaving no trace that Jim had even been shot.
"The infected Martians attacked," Jim replied.
Hoshi looked up as the power suddenly cut out. Across the room from her, Ty was lying on his back on one of the medical beds. They had been quarantined upon their return to the main building as both of them had come in contact with the zombies before they had been rescued. Both were uninjured, but the sleeve of Hoshi's coat had been torn. The two of them were to remain in quarantine until it was clear neither of them had been infected with the bacteria.
"Ty…" Hoshi called out.
Th's eyes snapped open and he sat bolt upright, it was only then Hoshi realised Ty had been asleep.
"Hoshi…" Ty rubbed his eyes. "What is it?"
"The power's gone out," Hoshi answered.
Ty visibly tensed.
"I'm sure it's nothing," Ty said, but he didn't sound very convinced.
Hoshi snorted, "we both know that isn't true."
"Yeah, well, I was trying to be optimistic for a change,' Ty shrugged one shoulder. "Besides those zombies didn't strike me as intelligent enough as to know how to cut the power off."
The power suddenly flickered back on and the two of them shared a look.
"Maybe it was just a power cut," Ty suggested. "I doubt Khan would let anything near this building, especially seeing as they have all that data and footage from when the bacteria was first discovered. They moved fast but lacked intelligence, they are by far the easiest we've come across to deal with."
Hoshi nodded but she wasn't convinced.
Something bad was going to happen, she just knew it.
"I'm going to try and get some sleep," Hoshi said after a moment. "And sorry for waking you earlier."
"Don't worry about it," Ty smiled. "I'll keep watch."
Hoshi smiled as she lay down. It didn't take long for sleep to claim her. Across the room, Ty positioned himself so his back was against the wall and he sat cross-legged on the medical bed. Leaning his head back against the wall, he shut his eyes and breathed deeply, he'd had another one of those dreams and they still made as little sense as when they had first started.
His eyes snapped open as an alarm began ringing. Across the room from him, the alarm on Hoshi medical bed was blaring and Hoshi began to thrash about. Ty quickly scrambled of his own medical bed and took a couple of steps towards her, before freezing at the sight of her now discoloured skin.
"Hoshi…" Ty backed up slowly until his back hit the far wall as Hoshi withered on her bed and a raspy sound escaped from her mouth.
Her form suddenly went still and Ty held his breath.
Jim let out a gasp of pain and it took every ounce of his strength not to move as McCoy tried to get a hold of the bullet lodged in his abdomen. McCoy let out a curse as the bullet evaded his grasp once again. Reaching out, Jim grabbed hold of the bed frame on either side of him and the metal creaked and buckled under his hands.
"Gotcha," McCoy proclaimed triumphantly a few seconds later and Jim breathed a sigh of relief as the pain faded and his wound healed.
"How many more?" Jim asked once the last of the pain had faded.
"That was the last one," McCoy gestured to the small pile of bullets he'd pulled from him.
Jim breathed a sigh of relief.
"You were lucky," McCoy continued. "All but the last one were close enough to the surface that I could get to them before the local anaesthetic wore off."
Jim nodded and sat up slowly, "thanks, Bones."
"No worries, kid," McCoy began to clear away the medical equipment.
Jim watched him for a moment.
"I killed Hoshi," Jim shut his eyes as tears threaten to fall. "I didn't have a choice… I failed her. I should have saved her."
"Jim…" McCoy sighed.
"No!" Jim snapped, shaking his head. "She died and I didn't even try to save her… I could have… I could have restrained her. I didn't have to kill her… I could have found a cure! There were samples in the lab from when the first colonists had been infected. They'd been working on trying to find a cure, but they run out of time… I could have saved her! I could have saved all of them!"
Jim buried his head in his hands as tears began to roll down his cheeks and his shoulders began to shake. McCoy quickly moved to Jim's side and put his arms around Jim and pulled him against his chest.
"I could have saved them!" Jim repeated. "I could have saved them!"
McCoy tightened his grip on Jim as he continued to cry.
"You were just a child, Jim," McCoy said, rubbing Jim's back. "You went through something no one should ever have to experience. Your planet was destroyed, your family were killed and your people were nearly wiped out. You were forced to kill one of your friends… You did what you had to do to survive, Jim."
"You don't understand," Jim shook his head. "I failed them. All of them. Nothing is ever going to change that."
And it made McCoy wonder just who Jim was talking about because he doubted it was about those injected with the bacteria.
Ty sat staring at nothing. He'd killed Hoshi. His mind kept replaying it over and over and over again, reminding him what he had done… Hoshi. He'd killed her. They could have cured her. They were Martians. A race which had created the twenty-fourth chromosome…. They would have found a cure.
They could have saved her.
But he had killed her.
Whenever he shut his eyes, he could see her. He lifeless body lying on the ground, her features tainted by the illness which had infected her… He blanked the room back into focus, desperate to free himself from the images replaying in his mind like an endless loop… He'd been quarantined again, alone this time.
He'd killed Hoshi with his bare hands.
He hadn't been infected before, but now there was a very good chance he was. It was fitting really, he killed Hoshi, he deserved to die like the monster he was. No one had saved Hoshi and no one would save him… He wondered who would kill him. Maybe Khan would kill him? Everyone knew they two didn't get along. Maybe they would just leave him locked in this room until his body wasted away?
But they'd have to kill him, wouldn't they? They couldn't stay on the moon with zombies running around. They'd have to kill every last one of them, to ensure the survivors survived… They couldn't return to the moon they had come from and returning to Mars was out of the question. Everything left alive on the planet they orbited wanted to kill them.
Ty almost laughed.
No matter where they went, everything wanted to kill them.
Every time they thought they were safe…
Ty let out a hysterical laugh and tears began to run down his face.
"Kodos," Ty spat out. "I hope you never find peace. Whatever awaits us after death, I hope you never rest. Your death was too kind. Too painless."
It was harsh, Ty knew. Kodos' death, along with all the other deaths he had witnessed, had haunted his nightmares and still did most nights… But he couldn't help it. It was Kodos who had caused this… If he hadn't mutated half of Tarsus IV, they never would have come here and he never would have been forced to kill Hoshi.
… He never would have met Hoshi.
Maybe he would have, but it was unlikely. If it wasn't for Kodos, he'd be at home right now with his family.
His best friend would be alive.
… His family would be alive…
Tears rolled down his cheeks as he shut his eyes again and he cursed Kodos' name.
Jim eyed snapped open and he sat bolt upright, gasping. Glancing towards the window, he noted it was still dark outside. Moving carefully, Jim climbed out of bed. McCoy was still asleep and Jim didn't want to wake him. It hadn't taken much convincing for McCoy to get them to share the old bed, which Jim had been secretly worried wouldn't hold their combined weight. They had often shared a bed after drunken nights out or when nightmares became too much…
… Jim knew for a fact, McCoy had just as many ghosts as he did.
Which was, in fact, quite impressive. Jim had lived through three world wars, not to mention the other wars which had occurred on Earth during the time he'd called it home… Which to be fair was most of them. So, for McCoy to have the same haunted look in his eyes that Jim saw every time he looked in the mirror, was both worrying and intriguing.
The Federation had been at peace since long before Leonard H. McCoy had been born… He'd never been to war. Sure, the Federation had the occasional disagreement with the Klingons and Romulans, but those had been in the border territories and never anywhere near Earth. Jim had seen McCoy's file. He'd never been in an active warzone, even as a doctor, so why did he hold himself like a soldier?
Starfleet was based a military system, with ranks and uniforms… But they weren't trained to be soldiers. Jim had a soldier, he had many different identities over the years and he'd fought in many different wars, been trained in many different ways and styles… Starfleet was not a military organisation.
So, it begged the question, where had McCoy picked up that habit?
Looking back towards the bed confirmed McCoy was still asleep. Jim had a choice. He could stay here, or he could leave and try and find a way to communicate with the Enterprise, which was hopefully still in orbit above them. He could heal, but McCoy wouldn't. No matter what secrets McCoy hid, he was only human… The bullets, Jim could admit, were a problem. He couldn't afford to be shot again.
Jim had been a soldier during the second world war and he'd also been a spy for the allied forces. He'd infiltrated Nazi territories and stolen Nazi secrets… How hard would it be to play that role again? The very idea or donning a Nazi uniform again, made him feel sick and bought back memories he'd rather leave forgotten. But he had to find a way to get McCoy off the planet at the very least.
He wasn't even going to spy or steal secrets.
He just needed to find a way to contact the Enterprise.
Mind made up, Jim made his way towards the door. However, he paused in the doorway. If he left, he'd be leaving McCoy unprotected… No one had found them yet, but that didn't mean they wouldn't in the future. If he waited until the morning for McCoy to wake up, he knew McCoy would either come with him in case he got shot again or he'd convince Jim to find another way.
Finding another way would use up potential time they didn't have.
Stepping out the doorway, Jim looked back once before disappearing into the wilderness around the abandoned building. He had to do this. He had to keep McCoy safe. It had been a long time since Jim had ever let anyone this close to him, he'd always kept people at arm's length, knowing he'd only have to watch them die or disappear before anyone came suspicious of him. He'd certainly never told anyone about his past before… True, he'd been found out as non-human but that had been during the Eugenics War and the consequences had been a terrible price to play. He'd kept in contained, however, and destroyed all evidence.
"You know, kid," A voice right next to Jim's ear caused him to jump. "It's rude to seek out in the middle of the night."
"Bones!" Jim exclaimed, spinning on his heels and coming face to face with his best friend quite literally. "What are you doing here? Why are you here?"
"Someone had to keep you out of trouble," McCoy raised an eyebrow.
"I'm fine, Bones," Jim automatically replied, rolling his eyes.
McCoy didn't look convinced and Jim studied him for a second. There was a look in McCoy's eyes that he hadn't seen before… It almost made him appear like a different person. Jim shrugged it off, he could ask questions later. He'd told McCoy his secrets, it was only fair he got the same in return.
"How did you find me?" Jim questioned suddenly.
It wasn't like Jim was even on the same side of the city as the old abandoned building they'd found. Jim had snuck through the city, entered the headquarters, found what he hoped was the planet-wide communications building in some documents, exited the headquarters and continued through the city, to where was now. Stood in the treeline across from a high-security building almost on the complete opposite side of the city.
McCoy tensed slightly at the question and Jim would have missed it if he hadn't been watching closely and known McCoy as long as he had.
"Bones…" Jim took a step back.
There was a reason he'd never trusted people.
McCoy was a soldier, most definitely.
He had secrets, no doubt about it.
He just tracked him down, no one should have been able to do that.
… Even if McCoy had the same idea as Jim and found the same documents, he shouldn't have caught up with him this quickly. Jim could see in the dark almost as well as he could in the light of day. Humans can't. McCoy would have had to have waited until the sun had risen. It wasn't even mid-day yet.
McCoy and Jim had roomed together at the academy, been placed together, even though McCoy was Medical and Jim was Command and Engineering…
Jim took another step back.
"Jim?" McCoy questioned, noticing the change in Jim's behaviour.
Jim raised the gun he'd stolen, aiming straight at McCoy's heart.
"Who are you?" Jim demanded.
"Answer me!" Jim cut him off. "You're not who you say you are."
McCoy tensed, and his expression changed. Suddenly, Jim realised confronting McCoy or whatever his true name was, probably wasn't his greatest idea… If McCoy had been sent after him for a reason, that meant someone knew about him and that wasn't a pleasant thought, not after Marcus. Rather than thinking logically, Jim had done what he does best. Rather than keeping his revelation a secret and faking his death on the Enterprise's next mission and disappearing into depths of space, he'd revealed he knew.
Without warning, Jim spun and pulled the trigger.
McCoy couldn't stop himself from flinching as the shot rang out. To there right a body dropped to the ground with a bullet between the eyes. Jim lowered his weapon, cursing under his breath before turning his attention to the building beyond them. Guards who had been guarding the exterior were rushing in their direction, shouting orders which sounded like whispers from such a distance.
"Let's get one thing straight," Jim hissed out, his voice cold. "I don't trust you. I don't care who you are or who you work for. I'll deal with that later. Right now, if either of us wants to make it off this planet, we're going to have to work together. But if you so much as look at me the wrong way, I will kill you."
"Jim-" McCoy began to speak.
"No," Jim cut him off. "I trusted you and that was a mistake. A mistake I'm not going to repeat in the future. I should have known better. But right now, that isn't important."
Without warning Jim turned and walked past McCoy, disappearing into the trees. McCoy quickly followed him as the yells of the guards drew closer. For a moment McCoy thought they were going to head back to the city, but Jim began to veer off to the left. It wasn't long before they were zigzagging through the trees but maintaining a steady to course to the left, cuddling around the building at a safe distance until they were on the opposite side of the building to where Jim had shot the guard who had tried to take them by surprise.
This side of the building appeared unguarded. No doubt the guards had all rushed to where the gunshot had sounded from and were searching for them there. Jim looked around, scanning the trees with a slight frown. McCoy had no idea what he was looking for, but he was certainly looking for something in particular.
"It should be here," Jim muttered to himself.
"What should be here, Jim?" McCoy asked.
Jim gaze snapped to McCoy.
"Don't call me that," Jim snapped. "It's Kirk or Captain. The only reason you're still alive right now, McCoy, if because you are a member of my crew. My duty as Captain is to keep every member of my crew safe. You may not be who you say you are, but you are the Enterprises', Chief Medical Officer. You were sent after me, or maybe you weren't. However, I'm the most likely target considering our history. You have made no move to harm any of the crew and have gone above and beyond to save them time and time again. And that's your only saving grace. To kill you now, would put my crew at needless risk. You are one of the best doctors in Starfleet, even if it is just a cover."
A doctor who had access to him. Jim couldn't help but wonder whether how many people now had copies of his DNA. He'd tried his best to cover his tracks, hacking into databases and changing his results or destroying/replacing samples… If McCoy had been sent to get close to him and he had, that meant he'd known what Jim truly was all along or at least that he was genetically enchanted. Which most likely meant he'd be sending off samples to whoever he worked for in secret.
Maybe, if Jim was lucky, however, McCoy worked for wasn't interested in eugenics… But why else would someone be sent after him, if not for his DNA? He had too many questions and little to no answers. He couldn't worry about that now, though. First, he had to get them off the planet. He could worry about getting answers once he and McCoy were back on the Enterprise. Then, he'd be able to plan for whatever came after… And he had a lot to worry about. For one, McCoy knew whatever metal they made bullets out of on this planet, poisoned and weekend him.
All McCoy could do was watch as Jim searched through the undergrowth. Jim had refused to tell McCoy what it was he was looking for and it pained McCoy to see he had unintentionally shattered the trust Jim had him. To make it worse, McCoy knew he would never have told Jim about his own past. He'd promised himself long ago, he'd never tell anyone for fear the information would fall into the wrong hands.
Which was no doubt what Jim now feared.
Someone had found out about him.
Looking at from Jim's point of view, McCoy could understand why Jim would think that and he vowed to himself as soon as this mess was over McCoy would force the two of them to sit down and he'd explain who he truly was and hopefully it'd be enough to regain Jim's trust…
"McCoy!" Jim's voice snapped McCoy out of his thoughts.
McCoy walked through the trees and found Jim standing over an open hatch, which had been previously hidden in the undergrowth. The tree next to the hatch had a symbol carved into it. That must have been what Jim had been looking for, McCoy mused. It would have been easily overlooked if someone wasn't actively looking for it.
"After you," Jim gestured to the open hatch.
McCoy almost shivered at the coldness of Jim's voice. He was almost tempted to blurt out who he truly was then and there. But they couldn't afford to waste time and it'd be a lengthy discussion, as soon as this was over, he'd tell Jim. Climbing through the hatch and into the tunnel below it, it didn't take McCoy's eyes long to adjust to the near darkness. Jim climbed down behind him, pulling the hatch shut behind them as he did so.
"Keep a hand on one of the walls," Jim said. "Use it to guide you."
Without waiting, Jim began walking at a steady pace. Their footsteps reached through the darkness and McCoy was certain where ever the tunnel lead, they'd be heard. They walked in silence and it unnerved McCoy, Jim was never this quiet or maybe it was just because the silence between them was uncomfortable.
"I wasn't infected," Jim suddenly spoke up. "Even though I'd killed Hoshi, I hadn't become infected. I was released and free to return to the others… I couldn't look any of them in eye. Not after what I had done. We stayed on that moon for five days, that's how long it took to get the power working again. Many who were went out to find the needed parts and tools never returned… Khan decided it was best if we returned to Mars."
McCoy kept quiet, surprised Jim had decided to carry on talking about what happened on Mars.
"Mars was the last place I wanted to be," Jim continued. "But as Khan had pointed out, Mars had more resources… It also had more monsters. The majority of the Martian race had lived on Mars, so that's where most of the mutants were along with everything else we had encountered. Nowhere was safe, Mars though… I can understand why Khan decided it was the best option, that didn't mean I had to like it."
Ty blinked against the sudden the sudden sunlight. It was hard to describe what it felt like to be back on Mars. According to the information the portal had given them, their destination had been an old research station two days from Tarsus I… Only as Ty looked around there was nothing in sight, nothing but open land that was.
Which also meant there were no mutants at least.
Xavier let out a snort beside him, "some research station."
Ty glanced at Xavier and his lips twitched up ever so slightly. He looked around again, there truly was nothing here, not even ruins. How could an entire building disappear? The landscape around them wasn't familiar to Ty, Tarsus I wasn't somewhere he was familiar with or ever been to before. So who knew, he could have been surrounded by notable landmarks to those who knew the area.
"Ty," Solveig called out.
Ty turned and saw Solveig hurrying towards him.
"Johan, Malakai, Xavier, Zina, Blaise, Alize and Itzel," Solveig nodded to herself. "Good. You're all here."
Ty shut his eyes as Hoshi came to mind. A hand landed on his shoulder and Ty glanced at Solveig, however, she was looking at the rest of the group.
"It has been decided once everyone is here, we will travel to Tarsus I," Solveig explained to the small group.
Suddenly there was a screen from behind them and Ty turned expecting a mutant to have found them, but instead, he was greeted by the sight of a series of bodies mangled together. There appeared to be ten in total, blended together to form a puddle of broken bones, flesh, muscle and blood. The sight made Ty's stomach turn and he turned to the side and vomited up bile.
Something had gone wrong with the portal, that much was clear. To make matters worse, they had no way of contacting those on the moon to let them know before any more were transported down. The scent of blood filled the air as a slight breeze picked up and Ty couldn't stop himself from vomiting again. The scent of blood hadn't had this effect on him before.
"Please remain calm," Solveig called out as unease began to spread. "The research station is no longer here and we cannot remain in the open. Tarsus I is two days walk south-east of here, we can shelter in the ruins until another course of action has been decided on. Keep your guard up at all time, nowhere is safe."
Ty shut his eyes and took a deep breath before straightening up. Xavier looked pale and Ty noticed he wasn't the only one who had vomited. He didn't dare look back at the gory remains and he was certain it was a sight he'd remember for the rest of his life. Solveig rubbed his back before gently pushing him forward to follow the rest of the group as they began to make their way towards Tarsus I. He couldn't help but wonder if the portal had glitched or whether everyone who came through the portal from that point on would meet the same gory fate.
By the time they made it to Tarsus I, Ty felt as if he couldn't take another step. The events of the past few days were catching up with him and the sleepless nights weren't helping. The colony itself was gone, which did nothing to raise Ty's spirits. Only a few buildings remained standing, only they didn't have any door which confused Ty, or maybe they did, but they were designed to look like windows? But who was he to question the architectural design of the colony?
A widow, or was it a door? Ty wasn't sure, opened in one of the tallest buildings opened and Khan stepped out. Khan and many others had headed back to Mars before them, to clear and make ready the research station, as it would have done none of them any favours if they'd arrived in a building full of bloodthirsty monsters. But Ty couldn't help but wonder why no one had waited for them? It was the logical option to head to the Tarsus I colony; it would have been helpful for someone to have been waiting there to tell that was where they had gone, however.
As Khan approached them, he looked over their group. He looked at Solveig, and she shook her head slightly. Khan nodded once before scanning the open desert around them; he seemed satisfied with whatever he saw because he turned on his heels and beckoned them to follow him. Taking a second to glance around before began moving, Ty couldn't shrug off the sense of unease which had filled him since they'd returned to Mars…
Khan stood next to the widow/door as one by one they climbed through. It was only once he was inside, Ty realised why it didn't appear to have any doors, and the answer was because it didn't. Another adult Martian stood near the door to a stairwell. This wasn't the ground floor of a building Ty realised it was forty-ninth floor, the rest of the building had been buried by sand. It also explained why there seemed so few buildings and why they seemed to be spaced so far apart. They were the only parts left visible of the tallest buildings.
Once everyone was in, many had already headed down the stairs, Khan pulled the window shut and locked it, before pulling down a shutter and securing it to the floor. Gently, Solveig pushed Ty's shoulders, to get him to move. Entering the stairwell, Ty looked over the handrail and down into the gloominess which seemed unending. A surge of panic flooded through, so many things could be hidden down there in the darkness, unseen and ready to strike.
"It's okay, Ty," Solveig whispered, rubbing his shoulders. "It's safe."
Ty nodded, but he didn't quite believe her. Nowhere was safe on Mars, and it hadn't been for a while now. This safety wouldn't last; it never did. Couldn't they see it? They were fighting a losing battle! Their numbers were decreasing with every attack… They weren't going to survive this. They were outnumbered to greatly. Solveig was right, they'd be safe here, but only for a time. And when they next attack came, which it would because it always had before, they'd be trapped underground with nowhere to run.
"This isn't safety," Ty whispered. "It's a grave."
Either Solveig didn't hear want he'd said, or she didn't acknowledge it. With an impending sense of doom, Ty followed the others down the steps, and as Khan shut the door behind them, blocking out the light of day, Ty couldn't help but feel like Khan had just sealed a coffin.
"Kirk to Enterprise," Jim said into the microphone which he hadn't seen the like of for at least a century. "Kirk to Enterprise."
Static was the only response, and Jim cursed.
"Kirk to Enterprise," Jim tried again.
Still nothing but static.
"We need to boost the signal," Jim muttered, and McCoy wasn't sure whether Jim was talking to himself or him. "This old styled tech, based off Earth tech… It can't be that hard to figure out."
There was a moment of silence as Jim looked over the control panel before them.
"McCoy keep trying to contact them," Jim ordered. "I'm going to have a look around, see if I can find anything to boost the signal."
"Yes, Captain," McCoy nodded.
Jim momentarily paused; the words McCoy had spoken and the tone he'd used catching him off guard. Shaking his head, Jim left the room. McCoy wasn't to be trusted; he couldn't let his guard down, not for a second. Hurrying along the hallway, Jim stepped over the bodies of those been in the base when they'd emerged from the basement.
A part of him felt guilty for killing them, just because they were Nazi didn't mean they should die. There was no justice in death. However, he knew if he hadn't killed them, quick, painless and quiet as he had, they'd have attempted to kill him and probably killed McCoy… Not to mention, it would have alerted everyone outside looking for them, that they were in fact, in the building.
Even as it was, Jim knew it wouldn't be long until they were discovered. Suddenly remembering when humans had first invented the TV, Jim headed for the roof. The number of times he'd had to reposition an aerial to pick up a picture was shocking; he'd given up on TV's for a few decades until they'd gotten more advanced. Running up the stairs two at a time, it didn't take him long to reach the roof.
Staring up at the broadcasting aerial, Jim wasn't entirely sure what to do. Old Earth tech was basic, but also really complicated at the same time. It was simplistic in many ways but vastly different to modern tech. Anything he'd be able to try with modern tech would probably burn this system out or short it out at best. He could try and reposition the aerial, but he'd have no way of knowing if it was making it worse or better.
"Captain!" McCoy's voice called out from below.
Running back down the stairs, Jim made it back to McCoy in record time, who had in Jim's absence managed to make it through to Enterprise.
"Kirk here," Jim said.
"Cap..n," Uhura voice could only just be made out through the static. "W… t..ng ..o …g… a …ock …n …r po…on."
Jim froze as he heard footsteps, and he cursed his luck. They'd finally made contact with the Enterprise!
"Uhura," Jim said. "We've got to move. Our location isn't safe. Tell Spock not to send a security team down to the planet, not even in our general location. We'll find another way to contact you from a safer location. Kirk out."
It had been a few months since they'd gone underground and a lot had changed in that time. Rather than merely living in one building, tunnels had been formed to the other buildings which had made up Tarsus I. And from there they had expanded. Now the remains of Tarsus I had been turned into an underground city, Olduvai. Mutants and other monsters still attacked, but nothing had gotten into the city.
Khan sent out patrols every few days, to kill anything which came close to the area. Raiding parties were also sent out, which went to the other colonies in search of anything useful. Olduvai was developing fast, it had to, but it was far from self-sustaining. It seemed there was finally hope they were safe, and they were rebuilding. Mutants and monster were being killed by the hundreds, and there had been no causalities.
They were still helplessly outnumbered, but the tide was beginning to turn. Every patrol was a step closer to victory and safety… If they could keep surviving in the underground city and they could keep killing mutants and monsters in the numbers they were, maybe, just maybe, in a few years the number of Martians would outnumber the mutants and monsters. And then, it'd reach a point where maybe there's be no mutants or monsters left at all…
Deep down, Ty knew it wasn't a dream they'd never achieve. Maybe they could kill every mutant and monster out there… But the next time an inter-dimensional doorway opened; the planet would be swarming with them again. The only way to stop it ultimately was to prevent the doorways from opening… But how Ty didn't know.
Someone, however, might.
This had all started with the work of Kodos; maybe there was something in his notes which could help. He'd basically had his own research facility, the notebook Ty had in his possession couldn't have been the only one Kodos had ever written in… There was too much incomplete information missing. Too many gaps in it. It had been written by someone who already knew what they were talking about, which hopefully meant they'd be notebooks containing the everything else from when Kodos was first discovering it.
It struck Ty then that Kodos could have been a hero.
If Kodos had just used his discoveries in a different way… He could have been the saviour of the Martian race, not the destroyer of it.
Ty frowned, maybe that's why he did go mad. He'd seen all these monstrous things through the inter-dimensional doorways, unbelievable things. Perhaps he had told people, but no one had believed him. Maybe he drove to deep into his research, trying to prove and gotten lost along the way.
Because Ty could understand that.
Khan seemed adamant to ignore every word that came out of Ty's mouth. Solveig listened to him, but Ty wasn't sure she believed him or not. It did sound crazy, but then Kodos had been crazy. Ty would still kill Kodos in the worst way imaginable if he could time travel. He could even understand how it ended the way it did, though. He could understand Kodos had just gone too far down the rabbit hole… That didn't erase the blood on his hands, though. Nothing ever would.