The Nest

The Nest

By Declan Cosson

The land of the planet was a barren red texture with no sign of life. It was cold and chilly. Looking up at the sky, one could see the immense number of stars that coloured space. The moon of the planet was glowing in the night sky. It seemed silent and dark as huge amounts of dust came pouring past. Suddenly lights shone in the distance illuminating the area. These bright lights were the spotlights of a sleek Rover that had an emerald colour and sleek structure. Keeping it afloat were six pairs of hover jets, three on either side. It had the symbol of the Sun etched on its side to indicate that it was a Solaran vehicle. Inside the vehicle was a shiny control room, sick bay and armoury. Turrets were mounted on its sides and they were controlled from the inside of a control room filled with touchscreens which was at the front of the rover. This vehicle was only a basic patrol vehicle. Inside the rover were five men, all of them were strong, clean, beardless and tall. They had curved ears and short tidy haircuts. They wore sleek emerald and amber tunics. Each of the men were at the controls and their driver was observing the surrounding area. Another man was observing the radar which for now was picking up nothing. However the sound waves that were being recorded were starting to get weirder and weirder. The Rover came to a halt. The driver turned around to the leading commander in the vessel. He said 

“That about completes our patrol, Captain Atticus..there is nothing to report.”

“Yes, but those signals we reported from the ship, Siegfried?”

Another man said 

“But there is nothing to report, there may not be lifeforms. We certainly haven’t found a Drakkar presence, sir!”

“Fionn, we have only tipped the surface of the planet. I suggest we go deeper. The more planets we let the Drakkar have, the higher the chance of our eventual demise! Siegfried continue the patrol, the moment we discover Drakkar presence, we notify command!”

Siegfried responded saying 

“Okay sir.”

Siegfried then turned around and focused his eyes on the road ahead as he drove the rover through the rocky landscape of the planet. The Rover continued its journey for a prolonged period as it hovered over the barren land. It seemed impossible that life would settle here on the surface. But the surface of the planet was only the tip of it, the strange signals that had been detected from the orbiting ship above were possible proof that there was a life form of some sort down in this planet. The rover looked so tiny when observed from above. It was a barely noticeable blip on this vast world. Even the orbiting battlecruiser from which the patrol had come from looked small beside the planet. Solaran battlecruisers were enormous vessels that would make the aircraft carriers of the long past 21st century look like toys in size comparison. Eventually after a long journey, the rover passed by a cave. As it passed by the cave, strange disturbing noises were being picked up on the radio. Hearing the noises, the radio operator’s eyes started to widen as he heard them. He looked up at Atticus and said to Atticus 

“Captain? I think you’d better hear this?”

“Put it on speakers Ishmael!”

Ishmael, the radio operator then put the recordings on speakers which allowed the whole crew to listen to the haunting sounds. Whatever were making the sounds, there were many of them and they probably outnumbered the crew. The sounds appeared to be coming from the mouth of the cave. As disturbing as the sounds were, they didn’t kill the curiosity of the crew, especially Atticus. He then said to Ishmael

“Ishmael, inform the battleship Virilieus that we have confirmed the presence of lifeforms! We need to find out if they are Drakkar! Fionn, Marcus with me!”

Fionn and Marcus followed Atticus to the armoury while Siegfried and Ishmael remained in the control room. In the armoury, the men fitted on towering space suits which looked like suits of plate armour. However instead of the helmet, the suit had a semi spherical visor that covered the whole head. Cylindrical shaped oxygen tanks were mounted on the back of the suit and the suit itself was patterned with spotlights to help the men see in the dark. They clasped plasma rifles in their hands and attached to the gauntlets of the suit were energy blades that could be activated at any time. These suits were powered allowing the men to move quicker and fight better in hand to hand.

When they were suited up, they went out of the rover and set their feet upon the planet’s surface. The dust storm came pouring past the team and they shot the hatch of the rover shut so that no dust would pour into the rover. The spotlights on the suits of the men activated, illuminating the path around them. As a result, the men were able to see clearly around them and they could move through the dust storm. Their spiked boots gave them a firm grip on the terrain allowing them to remain stable and balanced as they made their way towards the mouth of the cave. Meanwhile back in the rover, Ishmael then announced over radio

“Virilieus, this is Ishmael! Can you hear us, over?”

“This is the battleship Virilieus, we can hear you loud and clear, state your position! Over?”

“We have recorded strange sounds coming from a cave near our position, Captain Atticus Aqualan is currently exploring the cave. Over?”

“Send the coordinates of your location, over?”

Upon hearing this, Ishmael observed a virtual map of the planet and located the coordinates of the rover’s position on it. Upon doing this, he relayed them to the Virilieus. Once the coordinates were received, the radio responded to Ishmael saying 

“Copy that sir, we will be orbiting your location soon, we will be ready to deliver you support when it is requested, over?”

“I understand, thank you sir! Over!”

On the bridge of the battlecruiser, some of the personnel were talking to each other. One of the crewmen asked his comrade

“So, basically they are exploring a cave because they heard haunting noises right?”

“That’s what I heard over the radio!”

“Oh, dear Mother Earth, Atticus is suicidal with his curiosity, it’s a wonder that he isn’t dead yet!”

“Yeah, well, The sun watches over captain Aqualan well! Besides we all live for 600 years, so when you’ve lived through your first 200 years, even though you are still young, life gets somewhat boring!”

The crewman looked oddly at that remark but he responded 

“Yeah, I guess so.”

Down on the planet, Atticus, Fionn and Marcus were at the mouth of the cave. The cave itself was a dark cold and foreboding place. The pitch dark caves were illuminated by the spotlights on the suits of the three men. They approached cautiously with their rifles at the ready as they went deeper and deeper into the cave. Their rifles also had spotlights to help shine their way through the dismal and unwelcoming cave. Atticus had a scanner out. It started beeping red, the beeping got quicker and quicker. As a result, Atticus raised his hand in the form of a fist so as to signal the men to stop. Marcus asked 

What is it sir?”

“I’m picking up many bio-signatures, none of them are recognisable! We wait and hold our ground!”

The men had arrived at an area where there were two pillars on either side. They started to hear the noises again on their radios so they took cover behind the pillars. Something was approaching them and it was coming fast. Fionn leaned back against a pillar but as he leaned back, he noticed that he was touching off a strange liquid surface. Curious and confused, Fionn backed away from the pillar and turned around. He noticed that the pillar was rather moist so he reached out his hand and swiped it off the pillar. Much to his surprise, he noticed that it was some sort of sticky moist. His eyes widened at the sight of this and he said to Atticus

Sir! This stuff, it is some sort of liquid, we might be in some sort of lair….”

Atticus looked to Fionn but suddenly a barbed tail, similar to that of a scorpion suddenly lashed out and lanced Fionn. Fionn gasped in shock and horror as blood came pouring out of his suit. With his body having effectively been torn through, Fionn collapsed dead as the spotlights on his suit flickered out. Horrified and confused, both Atticus and Marcus fired their plasma rifles in the direction from which the tail had lashed out from. All sorts of screeches emitted from the darkness of the cave as the men came over to Fionn’s dead body. The spotlights on the suits revealed a whole mass of creatures. Their bodies looked like those of Arthropods such as spiders and scorpions. Most of them were five times the size of a car and their backs were a glowing green. Marcus then asked Atticus

Orders, sir?”

“Take Fionn back to the rover! His body needs to be preserved for cremation!! I’ll hold the line for as long as possible!!”

“Yes, sir!”

Marcus had a hefty body so lifting Fionn onto his back was no problem for him. Atticus blazed his plasma rifle at the monsters. The heated plasma cut through approaching monsters as they charged on him. Another one lashed out its tail to jab at Atticus but he dodged its strike. He held out his wrist as a gleaming energy blade emitted from the gauntlet of his suit. He then used the blade to cut slice the barbed tail, effectively neutralizing the monster and causing it to slump back further into the cave. However there were more monsters trying to crawl towards Atticus, he fired at them again but no matter how much he killed, there would dozens more of these insectoid aliens ready to emerge from the nest. Meanwhile Marcus had managed to reach the cave mouth with the dead body of Fionn on his back. The rover was still waiting so he approached it in order to get into the rover. Both Siegfried and Ishmael entered the armoury once Marcus had come in.  They helped him get Fionn’s corpse to the medical bay so that his body could be preserved and zipped up, ready for cremation when they got home to Mars. Meanwhile, Atticus was still down in the cave. As the creatures got closer to him, Atticus brandished both of his energy blades so as to slice as many of the creatures as possible. However when he did this, a tail suddenly lashed out and whipped him, knocking him down and causing him to hit his head of the ground. He then lay there unconscious for a prolonged period.

Some time had passed as Atticus started to wake up. He panted heavily, he could hear all sorts of screeching around him. As he started to wake up, he soon found himself cold and exposed. He opened his eyes and struggled and found that he was in some sort of webbing. Realising that he was in some sort of webbing, he struggled and panicked. He was too scared to scream. Looking up, he could hear a growl as the shadow of a spidery shaped creature crawled over the webbing that he was encased in. He wriggled through the silky and sticky material but now he saw his bare hands. It was soon clear to him that he was naked and that he was in some sort of Cocoon. This was unpleasant news for Atticus as it is clear that he was being prepared for dinner. Atticus was in one of many Cocoons that were being prepared in the nest for consumption. Creatures guarded the nest to make sure no prey escaped their cocoons. At the centre of the nest was an enormous queen with a giant bulbous back and a mantis shaped body. It’s arms were jagged and barbed, capable of flaying flesh of her victims. As he was at the mercy of the Queen, it seemed that Atticus had a dark and dismal future ahead of him. However back on the surface of the planet, the surviving members of the team were in debate. Siegfried said to the others 

But boys! We can’t just leave Atticus here on this planet! He’s our leader, he’d come back for any one of us if we were taken! I don’t see why we wouldn’t do the same!”

Marcus then snapped back by saying 

Siegfried, we cannot afford to go back, there are hordes of them and there are three of us. We go into the hive with guns blazing, we’d be dead men!!”

Hearing this, Ishmael asked 

Why don’t we just call the Virilieus? A million crew work on a Solaran battlecruiser, the marines on the ship can help us retrieve Atticus!”

“Ishmael! I cannot see any captain willing to risk personnel for the sake of one man! Besides, by the time the Virilieus deploys troops, Atticus would probably be consumed!”

Siegfried flared with anger at this response but then suddenly the screeching of the alien horde was being picked up on the radio of the vehicle. All three went pale as a result of this as they knew that a whole horde was coming after them. Immediately they got to their seats in the rover and sped off over the landscape. A swarm of insectoid and arachnid shaped creatures pursued the tiny recon rover as it glided over the surface of the planet. Now they were in no position to retrieve Atticus for now, they were only in a position to survive the onslaught. The men did their best to survive as the rover fought back with it’s weapons, shooting down the approaching creatures. However it was clear that this was not enough for survival. The creatures were starting to catch up with the rover so the three suited up in their armour in preparation for a last stand. As they readied themselves, Siegfried said 

May the sun be our guide as we make our stand this night!”

Just as all seemed lost for the team, an immense shadow loomed overhead the scene. The shadow was enormous but it was sleek. Gigantic heated shots of plasma rained down from above, ripping the horde of monsters to shreds. Countless numbers of spotlights shone upon the area while plasma rounds sliced through the retreating monsters. Up above and high in the sky was the enormous battleship Virilieus which had picked up the signal of the rover and had come to help it escape. Some time later, several drop ships came down onto the surface where the captain of the marines met with Marcus, Siegfried and Ishmael. It seemed that there might be hope for Atticus to get rescued.

Meanwhile down in the nest, Atticus was on his last legs as he lay in the cocoon. He struggled to breath, his mouth and lips felt dry while his throat felt sore. It seemed that his purpose in the cocoon was to die and rot. It took a long time for a Solaran to die of either dehydration or starvation, making the process slower and more painful for him. The shadows of arachnid shaped creatures could be seen above the cocoon. The moment that Atticus made a move would be his last move. Stumbling back, he closed his bright blue eyes. He had no knowledge of what time it was or what was happening on the surface. He lay back, whispering prayers to the goddess to keep his family safe as he felt that he had not long to live. Atticus thought of his old life before the Solaran-Drakkar war when he was an astrologist on Mars. It was there that he lived with his wife and his three children, two sons and a daughter. The youngest son shared his oak coloured hair while his eldest shared orange-red hair with his mother. Their daughter who was the second youngest had crisp golden hair. He thought back on the time when he and his wife looked up at the stars, showing them to the children. Those times were gone now, they had been gone since the reptilian Drakkar had attacked Solaris, he and most of his friends were at war. As a Solaran who had grown up in a time of peace, Atticus was still struggling with the very concept of death itself. Fortunately death would not come this day to Atticus because later on, Marcus, Siegfried and Ishmael led a large expedition of Solaran soldiers down into the depths of the planet. The spotlights on their rifles and suits shone the way through the caverns and the nest. Carrying heavy plasma rifles and cannons, the Legionnaires battled their way through the nest. 

Atticus awoke during the battle where he could hear screams and screeches in the around him and plasma fire. He could then see a humanoid shape in an armoured space suit chop down the creature that was guarding the cocoon. That shape then sliced through the cocoon with his energy blade. Atticus could barely open his eyes as he tried to let out a sigh. Marcus had just cut open his cocoon, setting him free. Seeing that he was on the verge of death, Marcus turned around and called out 

Come Siegfried!! I found him!! Get a medic over here!!”

Two Legionnaires came over. They had a glowing red cross on a bright background etched on their shoulders which made them recognisable as medics. Siegfried also came over. Atticus was then picked up by the medics who placed him on stretchers. One of the medics tried to get water into his mouth as the medic team carried off Atticus away from the battle. They carried him up to the surface so that he could be loaded onto a drop ship. Once Atticus was rescued, the Legionnaires could retreat from the Nest. They headed back to the drop ships so that they could head back to the Virilieus. As a result of the efforts of Solaran medics, Atticus lived another day. But it would be a long time before there would be any peace.