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Piercing the Darkness
This short story was released alongside with S7: Infernum
A-Z Space Industries, one of the competing corporations, has been gathering information on Tenshi Corp. The intel has been gathered using less than flattering means. Harvesting data from corpses stolen from Soranus-13 Complex, and kidnapping workers from the Tenshi Tower.
It has become known that the gateways lead to the underworld, by many religions and mythologies it is consistent with Hell. However, not much more is known. No one knew how big it is, and what dangers lie behind the veil.
Only a few days after Halloween A-Z Space Industries managed to construct and stabilize a portal to Hell. The first successful test managed to hold the rift open for 42 minutes. It was held open to test the stability and longevity of the gateway. After that, an expedition has been prepared, consisting of one Cutie and a crawler drone, to collect data of the surroundings.
The expedition was planned to last 20 minutes. At the 21 minute mark, since the explorer went through the gateway, he fell back in through the rift pale and barely breathing, and the drone he pushed back through was damaged. The data was recovered without any signs of damage or corruption, but it yielded no concrete information. The footage was completely black, and the only sounds that were audible were a very quiet ruble and then a growl, followed by a scream of the explorer. That was around the 18th minute of the expedition. The Cutie ran back towards the gateway right after the scream was heard. The only thing that was understood from the footage is that it is not a safe place to explore.
The second expedition was prepared within the next 24 hours. It consisted of 10 armed augmented specialist Cuties, 2 guardian robots, and several collection drones for samples and data recording. The plan was to open the gateway and allow the expedition to go through to another dimension, then close it for 2 hours. After those 2 hours, the portal would be opened again so that the expedition could get back to Cutieland and bring whatever they can in terms of data and samples. The additional objective was to set up a landing base for the following expeditions.
When the portal opened for the second time, only 3 survivors came back through, all wounded, and one was mangled so much that he was dragged back in, barely breathing, all thanks to the combat stimulants that made the user wired up to survive the excessive amount of damage to the body. 2 drones were also brought back in, they were absolutely destroyed, and only parts of the data could be recovered by specialists of A-Z Space Industries.
All of the survivors reported the same story to the researchers. As the expedition entered the unknown territory and the gateway closed behind them, they have started to set up a perimeter. They’ve installed powerful lamps from the equipment brought in with them, to light the surrounding area, then started to investigate the location. It looked like they’d got into some sort of a temple or a crypt, with very tall walls, they said that they couldn’t see the ceiling, no matter how high they tried to place the lamps. The temple looked to be enormous like it has been built for giants. There was no air movement inside either as if it has been sealed off completely. The air they’ve analyzed had a high amount of sulfur in it, amongst many other strange things. The quick carbon dating analysis stated that particles in the air are at least several thousand years old. Looked like whatever it has been built for, it was meant to stay there forever.
After an hour of exploration of closer areas, the lights began to dim, even though they shouldn’t have. They haven’t been breaking or experiencing any technical issues, they just dimmed out, as the darkness was consuming the light they’ve been emitting. The Darkness started to move in on the expedition, fast and loud. As the drones were ahead of the expedition, investigating the surrounding area, they were the early warning system, letting the Cuties know things are going sideways, and fast. The drones flew back at them with such force, that the drones shattered to bits and pieces. Then, a blood-curdling scream has erupted from the darkness. The group opened fire at the Dark figure that was approaching them with unbelievable speed. It ripped the first 2 Guardian Robots to shreds in seconds. Then proceed to rip the Cuties apart, and it looked like it was badly wounded from the fire that the Cuties unleashed at the creature. But as soon as it got to the first Cutie and ripped it apart, it started to feed on the poor soul’s bloody mess, and the creature’s wounds rapidly healed up. As soon as it was done with the remains of the first victim, it looked back at the retreating group, let out another scream, and gave chase. The only source of light were the muzzle flares let out by the fire the Cuties were laying down. They’ve heard their colleagues blood gurgling screams in the dark, followed by stronger and stronger screams of the dark creature that was hunting them. The grenades and weapon fire hurt the creature, giving the team more time before snatching its next meal. The last 6 remaining Cuties split up into 2 groups, and at one point group, Alpha let group Bravo know, that they are not going to make it, 1 of them was dragged away and the remaining 2 Cuties are going in to give them as much time as possible to get to the gateway. The monstrosity was screeching from pain and maniacal bloodlust, accompanied by the repeated shots of weaponry, and explosions of grenades. Comms were open for group Alpha, and the last words uttered in the heat of battle were “YOU WILL EAT THIS AND YOU WILL LIKE IT! YOU DAMNED HELLSPAWN!” followed by a huge explosion. It sounded like the last Cutie standing pulled all the pins on the grenades before the monstrosity caught up and grabbed it to consume it. The horrifying screams of team Alpha and bone-chilling screeches of the nightmare were somewhat far. It seems that Bravo should have a chance to get into the gateway if they hold it off. Right before the rift ripped open, the monster grabbed one of the Cuties, that was cooking a grenade right in its paw. With a battle cry “SPECIAL DELIVERY!” the Cutie jumped at the horror of the darkness. The explosion heavily wounded the monster and the Cutie was thrown back at the 2 remaining explorers, barely breathing. “IT’S OPEN, LET’S GO” one of them screamed. They grabbed the wounded comrade and pulled him into the portal.
The third expedition was sent in right after the debrief, heavily equipped and ordered to bring in the thing that attacked the second expedition at all cost. The portal was open for 30 minutes when the robots dragged in the bloody mess with wings, horrible claws. Only 2 of 15 troops returned back from the fight. The soldiers have run out of ammo trying to shred the monster to a pulp, so 4 out of 6 remaining Cuties jumped at the monster activating all of their grenades, which dealt enough damage to it, and the horror fell breathless to the ground and the last 2 Cuties with the help of the robots tied it down with steel industrial cables and dragged it into the gateway.
The rest of the needed samples and data was brought in during the following hours.
Rummaging through recon data from Tenshi Corp, it became known that it is possible to create some sort of serum from the underworld creature blood, which can be injected into Cuties to create super soldiers of some sort. The research focus shifted in the direction of creating this serum, to enhance their soldiers for further exploration into the depths of Hell. No more data was analyzed to clearly understand the extent of knowledge that Tenshi Corp has on the serum, A-Z Space Industries started to develop experimental serums from the blood collected from the defeated monster. Within the first few days, the experiments made on rats have been showing amazing results. The serum accelerated their cell regeneration, restructured their muscle tissue. DV-1 was cleared for tests on Cutie subjects within days from defeating the hell monster.
Thanks to the crippling structure of the corporation, finding volunteers were easy within the ranks of the staff, and as additional test subjects, multiple Cuties were grabbed from the streets.
A total of 6 Cuties were in the first test group and have been injected with the test serum DV-1 and monitored for 24 hours in the lab. All of the test group Cuties have performed amazingly well, the subject's speed, strength, hearing, reflexes, and metabolism have been performing at peak levels. But they required a lot more food to fuel the metabolism speed. The Cuties were constantly hungry, burning through the energy of consumed food as if in minutes. After the first 24 hours, the subjects were deemed stable and let go to sleep off the remaining DV-1 effects in the living quarters of the complex.
During the night, these 6 Cuties became unbearably hungry, for flesh and blood. They’ve started to attack cohabitants and turn them into walking husks that obeyed their command. Before sunlight, the DV-1 test subjects returned to the lab. And even though they’ve looked sickly pale and much scarier than before the test, the security still let them through, giving it no mind. As the corrupted 6 walked back into the lab, they unsheathed their fangs, and claws, jumping on everyone they’ve encountered, sucking them dry of their blood, and making them one of their servant husks. The security took notice halfway through the massacre and locked down the building, but it was far too late to stop what was happening next.
Several Cuties were rounded up by the corrupted 6 near the lifeless body that was dragged in from Hell. They’ve cut open the captives and bathed the lifeless corpse of the monster in their blood. As soon as the blood touched the monster, its wounds have started to heal up at a rapid speed. It woke up and all of the minions felt the awakening of their master. All of the corrupted bowed before him, as he popped the cables open and got up from the mortician table, where its body was drained for the last few days. This beast was Ichoridan. The one who defied gods and feasted on titan flesh. He was no longer condemned in the forgotten prison that he was placed into by the Old Gods.
Ichoridan and his firstborn were going through the building, creating him a new army, enslaving and converting Cuties as they’ve moved through floors.
Some of the Cuties that became converted into firstborn have started to gauge out their eyes, as they’ve realized they have some sort of strange augmentations done to them. Ichoridan suddenly knew that those firstborn were spies of Ultec Robotics. He didn’t know what sort of people are those, but he knew that they were no allies.
Ultec Robotics were horrified with what they’d seen from the recordings and mobilized their robotic armed forces.