Perhaps there had been a malfunction on board the shuttle, or perhaps a sabotage executed by terrorists.
In any case, he was going to crash.
Torraz braced himself, crouching into a ball as his ship collided with the ground. Internal dampening mechanisms were still functional, or else he would have been vaporized on impact. But, as he thought glumly, getting eaten by packs of large predators was likely to be a good deal more unpleasant than a painless end by vaporization.
But Torraz, hopelessly optimistic, thought that it would be possible to make his way back to the colony before he got eaten by a passing Katrola. And so he exited his damaged, no longer functional ship, finding himself in a large forest: the Silva Magnificens. With a slightly contented sigh, he set off to the south.
Perhaps there had been something in the food.
Kurew Teb lay dying on the ground. He could feel his body changing, his muscles growing, his bones strengthening. Fangs were growing in his head. His senses, growing sharper and more predatory, told him that the other Salsenes in the colony were suffering as he was.
His mind changed. And a voice, a sweet, melodious Voice, spoke to him: "Go onwards, my new children, and deliver this world to the Ad Mortem Cell."
Police officers received calls from all over the colony of people going insane, at first they speculated some sort of tantrum but after one of their officers fell down and began twitching for some minutes to stand up after this only to attack a Salsene civilian. They still did not know what to do, should they inform the Grand Fleet or deal with this on their own? The chief, Koko, dispatched a unit of riot-police to the hospital after he received a call a mob was nearing it.
The police had arrived just in time as the mob had begun attacking paramedics and doctors in front of the hospital as they were trying to aid wounded civilians. Unaware of the real situation they pushed them back rather then shooting at them. One of them, Ogluf Vern, heard one of the civilians he had arrested and thrown into a police vehicle mutter something about 'the Mother leading them'. Out of fear he closed the vehicle and ordered the driver to bring them away, he then resumed to aid his friends.
Meanwhile, a member of the colonial maintenance service called Pelokh Grens, descended into the sewers to investigate a problem with the waste-disposal. He activated his flash-light and made his way towards the site where the problem was occuring, he stopped for a moment and looked at some slime hanging at the walls and ceiling before continuing. A sound echoed through the sewers, Pelokh mistook it for the wind blowing through and neglected it.
Torraz had gone on a straight course to the south for a few hours now, but there was still no evidence that he had made anything remotely related to progress.
Although he had seen nothing larger than a Jackpteryx, he had still bothered to craft a small, probably useless spear in case anything with fangs came after him.
This was probably foolish, but Torraz spent a great deal of his walk remembering the circumstances surrounding his crash. It was unlikely that sabotage or a technical accident were to blame; the remainder of his flight was being controlled by ground operators, who checked their machines so that any sort of error was nigh upon impossible. Unless hostile activities were taking place, such as an alien invasion. This struck him as unlikely, as the Aristotle colonies were usually well-defended by the Salsene Grand Fleet.
Shrugging in uncertainty, Torraz continued onwards, completely unaware that his destination - and probable death- lay very close.
As Pelokh walked through the sewers he had the nervous feeling something was wrong, he had no more contact with the office, or rather, nobody answered anymore. As he went further and further into the sewers the slime he saw earlier was more and more present. He stopped again and began examining it, he poked it with some wood floating past his legs and heard a roar in the distance that startled him. He turned his flashlight in the direction the roar came from but saw nothing. The sound of lapping water was audible from the tunnel on his right, in panic he stood up again and ran towards a wall, he shone his flashlight and saw something jump away from the light.
He knew there was something down here and began to run away in fear, another roar was audible. This time it was much closer and came from behind him, he looked behind him but saw nothing but darkness. The sounds of lapping water echoed through the tunnels, he began to swear as he ran. Eventually he saw a ladder lit by light coming from the surface, he was saved. As he ran towards the ladder he failed to notice the figure crawling on the ceiling, a swift attack stopped him in his tracks as he was lifted from the ground.
Some sort of tail was sticking through his chest, a creature came out of the darkness, it's body was heavily mutilated, mutated to be precise. But it was clear that this was once a Salsene judging from the face. As Pelokh looked at it in fear the creature tore his face apart with it's claws.
Ogluf and all the other officers were unable to keep the mob at bay that kept growing in size. Some officers had reported they saw mutilated people, some of them also began transforming into monsters but ran away. Nobody believed them of course. Eventually they had to give up on the hospital as the mob was too big, Ogluf saw how they pulled friends into the mob, flipped vehicles and tore down the groudn floor of the hospital. Their strength was unimaginable. Without vehicles to escape Ogluf and his fellow officer, Lairo, had to escape on foot of this nightmare.
Torraz soon passed a sign which read "Now entering town limits. Drive safely". There didn't seem to be any need for the sign, however, as every vehicle on the street was crashed, many of them lying on their sides. Torraz swallowed hard, and walked deeper into the town.
The two Salsenes had seen precious little combat before now; the colonists on Aristotle took pride in the fact that there was so little violence on their planet. As a result, not a person in the town had any idea how to defend themselves.
After running for a while, the Salsenes stopped at a smal, empty house.
"We've got to get out of the city! Get backup! I can't take any more of this!" cried of Lairo.
"Good idea," said Ogluf sarcastically, "Finding our way out of this town's gonna be the easiest thing since Reira's birthday..."
This lead to a bitter dispute, fueled by the stress of the day. But after a few minutes of this, they heard a scuffling sound outside.
Opening the door, cautiously and with guns at the ready, they came face to face with an Atrenid.
"Aaah, don't kill me!" Torraz yelled as he saw the guns pointed at him.
"Quick, get in!" Ogluf yelled as he looked around to make sure nobody saw them. Torraz did as he was told and as soon as he got in Lairo blocked the door with a couch.
"What is with all the vehicles out there?" Torraz asked. Ogluf was unable to explain it, the things he had seen were enough to traumatise someone. People being pulled apart, that's something you don't want to remember. Instead he showed a video his helmet had recorded, the quality was poor and the video shook the whole time, but it was clear that there was a slaughter going on in the city.
"What are those things?" Torraz wished to know. Lairo lifted his shoulders, as did Ogluf. The alarm of a vehicle turned on, Lairo looked outside through a window and saw some kind of creature standing on top of a vehicle scouting the area. It looked around and almost noticed Lairo if he hadn't turned himself away in time. When Lairo looked outside again the creature was gone, he saw it flying off in the distance.
"We might have a problem." Lairo said as he saw a mob coming down the streets.
"We're used to this kind of thing, how could this possibly be a problem? Of course we're in trouble!" Ogluf yelled at Lairo, only then he realised that a mob was passing the street and could've heard him. He quickly crouched to avoid being seen by them.
"We have to get out of here. If we stay here we'll be found..." Lairo mentioned.
"But if we leave we'd be found as well..." Ogluf said pointing at some creatures flying in the sky. Lairo couldn't stand it anymore and walked towards the backdoor.
"Lock the door behind me, I'm leaving. I don't wanna be trapped in this place..." He said as he checked his gun. Ogluf didn't want to risk making too much noise so didn't argue with him and instead let him go. They closed the door behind his back and watched him running away. When it seemed he was going to succeed as he began reaching a fence leading to a forrest he looked into the sky and opened fire. One of those flying creatures had spotted him and began attacking him, the gunshots drew the attention of the mob on the street who ran around the house to get to Lairo.
He was quickly overwhelmed, his limbs were being pulled off one by one and the remains of his chest were taken away by a flying beast. Ogluf forgot to hide and was spotted by one of the insane civilians who broke the glass of the backdoor and roared loudly to alarm his fellow insane friends.
Although Torraz had never before seen combat, he reacted quickly enough. He plunged his handmade spear through the civilians heart.
The civilian didn't die as quickly as one might think. It roared, and screeched and came through the window, only dying when Ogluf blew it into a fine spray of blood with his gun.
"Out of the house!" yelled Ogluf, "Out through the front! "
Torraz took off immediately, heading for an old library, but Ogluf stayed minute longer, firing into the crazed crowd storming into the building. He killed several, but as he turned to flee, a clawed hand gripped his ankle and pulled him to the ground. He was dragged back into the horde... he let out a terrified shriek, and was then no more.
Above the planet, in an orbiting starship, a Salsene colonel walked nervously into his commander's office.
"General," he began, "We've lost contact with one of our colonies. The last report merely says there were riots, but satellite scans show the town has been completely pillaged."
"That is strange," replied the commander absently, "send down a squad or so. They'll crush this rebellion."
The colonel turned to leave, but the commander stopped him.
"Colonel... if the squads fail, hit that town with an H-Missile or two. Riots are calmer when bathed in radiation."
"Yes, sir. "
Night began to descend upon the colony, the power plants had been attacked causing all power to drop in the colony. Torraz was hiding in the library, there was no light and he had no weapon. He looked outside and saw a dropship flying overhead, nothing seemed to be following it. Torraz began thinking how he could survive all of this, he needed a weapon, all he could find for the time being was a chair leg. He knew it wouldn't do much but at least it was something.
He headed upstairs and had the nervous feeling he was being watched the whole time, he looked around but saw nobody. As he walked around on the first floor he heard something fall on the third floor, a book perhaps. Whatever it was he knew he wasn't alone in here. He tried to remain as calm and silent as possible, if it was one of these things he would be dead within seconds.
He noticed a red dot coming towards him, it came on his body and went for his head, once it began shining in his eye he saw it was a laser from a gun somebody was pointing to him from the third floor.
"Can you speak?" The man asked.
"What?" Replied Torraz, he heard the man making a reliefed sigh as he lowered his weapon.
"Get up here he said." He said as he crouched to remain unseen for possible creatures. Torraz did as he asked and climbed the stairs to the third floor, once here he saw a small group of survivors. A doctor, 2 police officers (of which he knew one, Xero), a convict, a librarian and 2 civilians. In total they had 3 guns, 2 handguns and an assault rifle.
"Flight tower, this is Sgt. Jiro. Do you copy?" The leader of the Salsene squad asked, nobody replied leaving him no other option than to drop his squad in the city center without approval. As the dropship descended and his squad prepared to leave the ship shadows flickered in the alleys. The doors opened and they left the dropship that flew away almost instantaneously, the squad scouted the area but found nothing aside from much blood and burned out vehicles.
"Sir, this doesn't look normal for a riot. No bodies?" A squadmember reported to Jiro. He had noticed it as well and became suspicious, this place rieked of death.
The squad moved forwards, cautiously at first, but then more boldly as they penetrated deeper into the town. So far, they had found no living creatures; only corpses remained.
Then, as they walked, a clawed hand stuck out of a pipe and gripped a private's leg, and pulled her down into the sewers. Quickly, Jiro lead his men underground in pursuit.
Not a one of them was ever seen again.
Torraz was suspicious of the convict; a large, well-muscled Xodu that claimed to have been imprisoned for tax evasion. Torraz disbelieved him, but he was glad to have such a mighty creature in their group.
In the library, they began to research various types of insanity, looking for an explanation for the things they had seen.
They found nothing of this, but Xero found an old rumor, supposedly a colonist legend, that told of terrifying parasites called the "Ad Mortem Cell". Though not sure that this was what they were dealing with, it was convenient to have a word for these monsters.
They began to fortify the library, barring doors and boarding up windows. They practiced noise disclipline, to avoid detection.
Their plan was to hold out in their little fortress until help arrived; they were convinced that the crisis would not last forever. And they were correct. For hurtling towards their town at a breathtaking speed was a helium missile.
At the Salsense ship's command center...
"Dropship, come in. Do you copy?" A Salsene operator asked as it watched the small vessel near the ship. He informed the Colonel of this who began observing the ship carefully. The General was talking to someone but eventually noticed everyone looking at the dropship that refued to respond.
"What is the problem? Everyone is looking at our dropship." The General asked.
"It seems it refuses to respond Sir." The Colonel informed.
"What? What are you waiting for? Shoot it!" the General yelled as he pointed at the dropship, "Don't let it reach the hangar!". But his order came too late, the dropship was too close and evaded the fire, it crashed into the hangar.
"My children, danger lurks near. A dot in the sky, bringing forth destruction upon us. My winged beasts, go!" A voice echoed through the minds of all monsters on the colony. Some of them were feasting on the remains of the Salsene squad they had killed. A dimensional rift opened for a moment spewing forth a great winged beast that took off headed towards the missile.
"Sir, there's something in the hangar! It's killing us all, send us- Oh no, NOOoooo-......!" A message sounded from the hangar. The entire command center was silent and looked at the General.
"Prepare for evacuation immediatly..." His order sounded.
The Xodu had found a map of the city, both sewers and the surface. The group studied in case anything went wrong. Xero's communicator began to generate some audio, it had pickd up a signal of the Salsense ship in orbit.
"...sites o...ip, ne...acuat...and on...totle..." The message was heavily scrambled and unrecognisable, but Xero was able to pick some words out of it. 'acuat' must have meant evacuate, 'and on' was most likely 'land on' and 'totle' was likely 'Aristotle'. The ground began to shake a bit causing books to fall of their shelves, they looked through a gap in the defences to see what was going on. About 27 dots filled the nightsky, evacuation-pods most likely, they were headed towards the urban areas to avoid the large concentration of these parasites. One by one they crashed on the surface causing piles of dirt and wreckage to fly into the air.
"Watch out!" Xero yelled as he pushed everyone at the side after he spotted a pod heading towards them. It crashed on the library tearing a part of the ceiling with it, Xero was hit on the head and died instantly. The pod had stopped and the group looked at it. The hatch flew into the air and a soldier came crawling out, he began couching and vomiited blood only to be dragged back into the pod afterwards by a pair of claws. His screams notified everyone of his death.
The crouched to keep the parasites from spotting them and they were able to see. A 2 meter tall mutated Salsene came out of the pod. It's chin could open and contained lots of teeth, a second pair of arms were positioned on it's back but did not have hands, it had scythes. It walked towards the houses, more specificly, towards the other crash sites.
"Now this place is open it's no longer safe..." The police officer whispered. The mutated Salsense stopped and turned it's head, after a while it continued it's march to the crash sites. They decided to leave the library and move around the urban residences to see if some of the soldiers survived the crashes, the drop pod near the library contained several rifles and plenty of ammunition for the group. The Xodu was given a shotgun as the blast was no problem for him. As they progressed through the streets they did not encounter any soldier or parasite, when near a drop pod shell casings and blood was everywhere but no more bodies. They knew every pod would be emptied by the parasites but had no other plan.
"Guys, in the sky." The doctor said as he pointed towards the battleship coming down, it did not descend, it was crashing.
"Stupid parasites, now you'll be stuck on this planet for all eternity..." The general said as a parasite teared his chest open. It looked outside and saw the surface coming closer quickly, it ran around not knowing what to do.
The ship crashed against several skyscrapers causing them to collapse and was headed towards the space-port. The group knew how to escape, there should be a vehicle in the space-port that's still operational. They made their way to the space-port without encountering a a living being, the silence was nerve wrecking. As they neared the port they heard gunshot coming from behind them, several groups of soldiers came running out of alleys shooting at the parasites chasing them.
"Civilians up ahead!" One of them yelled, they signalled us to run towards the port, which was our plan. They informed us what we were dealing with and how to get out of here. Once they were inside the space-port they began searching for a vehicle capable of escaping this place. All vehicles were disabled by a team of special operation troops who passed through here but were killed not long after that as they found a corpse of them.
"Now what!?" The Xodu demanded to know. The soldiers looked at the military ship, it did not topple so it's content must still be relative usable. They ran through the lane leaving them in the open for the parasites to see them, they began running towards them but were unable to catch up with the group who made their way into the ship and block the doorway.
"Don't think this makes any difference, there are still parasites in the ship and they will find an opening eventually!" The officer yelled as he signalled his troops to continue. They ran through the ship towards the hangar, having to find a new way once in a while as the floor was destroyed, but after a while they managed to get there.
Of all ships in the hanger only one was still usable, it contained enough place for 10 men, the group combined with the soldiers consisted of 32. The officer ordered his men to give the civilians priority and afterwards they could decide who is allowed to go.
"Sir, why should we fight about who can go? If not all of us can leave then we'd rather stay together..." A Salsene soldier said, they all agreed to this and spread throughout the hangar to welcome the parasites.
"You there, what's your name?" The officer asked pointing at Torraz.
"My name is Torraz..." He answered.
"Make sure you get this thing far enough, you have 10 minutes. A H-missile was fired at this place but was intercepted. It' still in orbit but I can restart the missile to blow this place up. Do you understand?" The officer explained, Torraz nodded and closed the dropship sitting in the pilot seat. As he started the dropship he saw the first parasites attacking the soldiers, he fired some of the dropship's guns to help the soldiers but now the parasites came from the vents and overwhelmed the soldiers within seconds. Torraz flew the dropship out of the hangar and left the ruined city.
As he left the planet's orbit a built-in A.I. informed him of a countdown sequence of the missile, after 10 seconds a blast occured on the surface wiping the city of the planet with all of it's terrors with it. They had escaped succesfully...
"Guys, that Xodu is having breathing problems!" The police officer said.
"No! Get away from him! shoot hi-!" The doctor replied.