"You've all been briefed on the objective. Marines are being deployed to handle the walkers, while our troops will be operating armor against the heavier targets."
The commander went on, reiterating emergency protocols and helicopter deployment. I listened intently, instinctively at attention as my years of training had instilled in me. Our squad got the boring job of road block. None of his words truly sunk in, as I had heard them all before every single time our squad was deployed. The only words that truly got my attention were his closing dismissal.
"Codename Zeus is still free roaming. Your orders are to attack on sight. If initial engagement fails, you are to order a strike team in immediately. You fight that fucking thing until your head is torn off. No excuses. Dismissed."
My team and I began to file out, heading toward the UH-60's waiting for us. All of us wore the same uniform. Tactical vests, helmets with goggles attached and gas masks. Over the years we spent in our gear, I don't think any of us would be comfortable without it. We would never have normal lives, no matter how this situation turned out. A voice in my head began to bark orders at me.
"Fuck that, soldier! Your life is the life of Blackwatch! There is no other way of life! Straighten the fuck up and get your ass in that bird!"
I obeyed the voice, (my own voice) layered with authority and the distortion of a gas mask and jogged the short way to the Black Hawk. Any mental health professional would have expressed great concern over this episode, but Blackwatch training seemed to instill this in all of its troops. The army psychologist never showed any concern over this, seeing the Blackwatch seal over my file.
We were all hanging onto the support rails of the helicopter rather than sitting down with safety straps over our bodies. We needed to be ready for everything, including immediate vehicle evacuation. What few marines there were in the helicopters near us were going through the tedious process of buckling up, glancing at us as if we were crazy. One of my fellow Blackwatch troops flipped them off, likely scowling behind his mask. His radio clicked on briefly.
"Ass fucking pussy marines. Can't even handle a little ride in a helicopter without shitting themselves." I turned away from them all, looking toward the city we were attempting to contain. I felt such hatred looking at what this place had become. The red ambience that settled into everything and everyone. And every time I felt that rising hatred at that red, I saw that thing's face and felt even more hatred.
Mercer, Zeus, the Blacklight virus that had run through this city and infected every living thing it came by. It was the incarnate of everything that Blackwatch was supposed to destroy. It was the personification of everything we were trained to hate. Now that it had a name that we could call out, my hatred had become a focused beam of death. I was prepared to kill that monster the moment it was in a five mile vicinity of me.
I was so consumed by hatred I hadn't noticed we were already off the ground. Our team was blocking off a road leading to a rather bad infected zone. All civilians were going to be averted. We had authorization to shoot anyone who even looked at us. In the eyes of our commander, anyone who wasn't already infected was merely a potential infected.
And here at Blackwatch, we exercised our authority at every time possible. Personally, I had fired upon four or five "civilians". My record was considered lacking, taking into perspective the amount of potential infected all of Blackwatch had taken out of commission.
Our ride touched asphalt a little down road to the infected zone. We jumped out and began jogging to our blockade, a few marines looking around dumbly for something to do. Rails had already been set up, men and armament the only things lacking. We took our positions, the frontal layer armed with M4 assault rifles. I and another trooper were armed with M249 machine guns, a little ways away from the first layer of the blockade. The last few members of our team were armed with rocket launchers. Security was tight due to the increase in Zeus' activity.
The two troops armed with M4's had the excitement of directing everyone way from the area, yelling out orders to anyone brave enough to glance at us.
There were plenty of complaints coming in due to our actions, but anything reaching outside of our security net that even mentioned what seemed like Blackwatch was interrupted, destroyed, or killed. All in the name of homeland security.
We were fucking untouchable. I, a mere soldier, had authority that overruled the president's, as long as it involved something similar to the mess we were in now.
Time passed slowly, our vigilant eyes constantly sweeping the area for everything that constituted a threat. So far it seemed as if everyone on this street had just a little bit more intelligence than the rest of the potential infected.
Until I heard the familiar radio click in my headset.
"Back up asshole! I have the right to shoot you." One of my team members had pushed back someone who had walked too close to him. All eyes were on this person, all fingers reaching toward their respected triggers. It didn't look like Zeus, just some jackass walking too close to the blockade.
Apparently he didn't get the message. He recovered from the push and walked directly toward the troop who had shoved him halfway into the street.
"Motherfucker! Did you not here me? I will shoot you!" Other people on the street had either frozen or began running away.
My teammate shoved the man again, his finger already wrapped around the trigger of his rifle. I just wanted him to get it over with and shoot that bastard already. The token marine in his area spoke up.
"Hey man, leave the guy alone."
I could physically feel the rage leave the civilian and turn to the marine.
"Shut the fuck up or you're next! I could kill you and no one at Red Crown would give a shit!"
Despite his bravery, the marine wilted under a supreme authority.
The rage turned its head back toward the intruding pedestrian. None of us expected him to retaliate, although the very fact we were here was to be ready for it. The unassuming man had rammed his fist through my teammate's stomach and out from between his shoulder blades.
"What the… Fuck…" He muttered his last words and fell to the ground as the man pulled his hand back out.
"It's Zeus! Open fire!" I yelled out to the soldiers around me as I began firing in bursts, feeling reassuring the recoil in my shoulder. The marine had turned away and ran from the unveiled monster.
As our bullets made contact with Mercer's body, the creature seemed to melt into a flurry of black and red tendrils. The man's form was replaced with the notorious hooded monstrosity that was Alex Mercer. It seemed to contemplate our presence, looking at us calmly as bullets passed through its body. Its head snapped to attention as a rocket was launched at it. It rolled with practiced fluidity out of the rocket's way and directly into the fleeing marine. The marine was about to eat asphalt when its hand grasped the back of his uniform.
"Holy shit! Shoot him! Fucking shoot him!" The panicked solder flailed, knowing all too well what Zeus did to its victims. I may have done more than my fair share of shit in this world, and I knew I was on the fast track to Hell, but I couldn't imagine having a heart cold enough to do what Zeus was about to do. None of our bullets would stop him from his next act.
Zeus tossed the marine forward slightly, moving forward in a lunge too fast for us to see and impaled the marine on the battering ram that was its fist.
The nameless marine began screaming as his body was broken down by strange tendrils that reached out of Zeus' body. All of his being was converted into the black and red tendrils that seemed to compose Zeus. His screaming continued, even as his mass was pulled into the monster's own, limbs still flailing as they were broken down.
Something deep in me seemed to snap as I heard the screaming continue as the soldier's mass disappeared. He was still fucking alive… Even as his body was torn at the cellular level and absorbed into a walking disease.
The screaming finally ceased as Zeus solidified into "human" form. What ever had snapped within me was still breaking as I felt a surge of fear that I had never experienced before. I squeezed the trigger as hard as possible and began unloading the box mag of my machine gun into whatever Red Crown would call this thing next. To me, it was just another incarnate of the devil.
It turned to me with a look of disgust, clutching at some of the bullet wounds as they healed rapidly. It began its sprint toward me, tendrils enveloping its arms as they weaponized themselves. The panic nearly exploded from me as I attempted to fire more rounds from my taxed machine gun. It didn't take long for it to reach me, knocking the gun out of my hands with its freakishly large talons. I wouldn't have been surprised if the gun itself was cut in half. It grabbed me by the neck with its other set of claws, strangely enough, keeping the blades way from my flesh. I would have been overjoyed knowing my life had been spared the grim fate of being disemboweled by those daggers. I would have been, if I didn't know the reason why it was holding me up off the ground.
"FUCK! GET HIM OFF BEFORE HE FUCKING EATS ME!" I yelled so loud that the mic in my mask was over loaded for a moment.
I could feel every subtle moment as death rushed at me, a fate worse than hell about to jump in front of it. Zeus tossed me in the air slightly, as if I weighed less than five pounds, throwing its right arm behind it as its left arm came toward my body. I felt it before it made contact. Thick blades slicing open my skin, barely missing my organs as the impact caused me to turn in the air. I struggled to see from my horizontal point of view as Zeus' other clawed arm began speeding toward me about to cleave me in half and allow my body to be consumed one cell at a time by a monstrosity colder than anything that Blackwatch could ever dream about spawning.
My vision went black before the multiple blades could finish. I heard an explosion and felt something wet splatter on me briefly. Then everything was extinguished.