Feast Of Skin 2: Universal Plague

Earth: 2199

The planet is blackened with death and destruction, explosions from nuclear weapons can be seen from space. Shockwaves dart across the planet as the Earth finally breaks apart from within. A beam of light slices out from the core of the planet, within seconds hundreds more break out of the planet's surface. The planet itself breaks up and chunks float away slowly.

Several thousand spacecraft watch as the planet is destroyed. After a few hours they embark away from the Sol System and into hyperspace.

"Ah shit…so that's it then. We finally destroyed the Earth and now we are moving on, like a virus trying to find a new host…its despicable." Aragorn stated as he looked at the viewscreen from the Captain's chair on the bridge. He got up and walked towards the crewman at the ship's helm.

"Set coordinates for Alpha Centauri…our new home awaits."

The crewman looked up sadly at the Captain, "Aye, aye Sir. Setting coordinates for Hesta in the Alpha Centauri system."

The Captain sat back in his seat and looked at the small data pad on the arm of the chair, it showed the details of the fleet as they all warped away. He sighed as he tapped the screen. An image popped up of the Sentinel, the ship that he was in command of. The display showed some key areas where the ship had been damaged in battle but the bots were already repairing everything.

Captain Aragorn Juntai was a middle-aged man with short, black hair and blue eyes. He had a rugged type of face with a feint scar running down his right cheek from a battle long ago. He was well built, 6' 2" and was quite attractive.

"Sir, the Drago fleet are moving out too…they set coordinates for Alpha Centauri also."

The Captain stood up and clenched his fist, "Kaaaaahhhnnn! Damn him, he has destroyed Earth…is there no stopping his evil?"

"We are getting a transmission." Said the crewman.

An image of a tall man with grey skin and long black hair replaced the image of the destroyed world and the fleet. He looked at the Captain with cold black eyes.

"Aragorn, my nemesis…you have survived I see. Woe is the day that you actually die because then everything else in this universe will seem so trivial."

Aragorn smirked, "Cut the crap Kahn, you have won the war. Take the Drago fleet and get the hell out of the Galaxy before we wipe you from it."

Kahn laughed, "Such brave words from the man in charge of an army without a home. What happens when you run out of ships to fight me with? What then? I will have won at last, defeated you and free to go and conquer other worlds. Your fleet means nothing to me…but you, you are a worthy foe and I will dedicate my life to having the ultimate battle to the death with you."

Aragorn sighed, "Cut the damned viewscreen."

The image of Kahn was gone and replaced by a streaming star field. The crews were fatigued but they continued working at the different places on the bridge which kept the ship going.

A crewman at Sensors turned to the Captain; "We have two Akula-Class starships heading straight for us Captain."

Aragorn was barely in his seat when he got up again, "Red alert, all hands to battle stations…raise shields and ready the lasers, pulsers and bio cannons. Target the underside of the nearest ship and when you have a lock…fire."

"Aye, aye captain." The crewman above at the weapons station tapped on his console, targetting the fast moving starship. He pressed the red flashing panel and on the viewscreen, several multi-coloured blasts shot towards the approaching vessel and slammed hard into its hull. Explosions burst from underneath the main engines of the vessel and soon the whole ship erupted into a ball of fire and debris.

"Nice shooting Lieutenant…" the Captain complimented.

The second ship avoided the wreckage of the first and fired a stream of white-hot energy at the Sentinel, which hit the shields. The ship shuddered.

"Sir, shields are down to fifty six percent…returning fire."

Three torpedoes were launched from beneath the Sentinel and screamed towards the enemy vessel. The first torpedo mearly exploded against the blue shield of the vessel, the second rammed into the shield and disabled it, while the third made it to the ships hull and ripped the ship in half. The explosion lit up the bridge in yellow and slowly died down.

The Captain sat back down and looked at the small monitor on his seat, the rest of the Drago armada had entered hyperspace, along with Khan's ship.

"Resume course to Alpha Centauri…maximum acceleration."

The Sentinel turned sharp and immediately warped into hyperspace.

After two days of travelling, the remnants of the Earth Fleet arrived at the Alpha Centauri system. The twin sun's greeted them with an amazing purple misted colour, which floated through space. The system consisted of six planets, Erato, Deucalion, Hesta, Ballistus, Callopia and Virgia. During the ten year Sol system war, the Earth Alliance sent an array of terra forming ships into the Alpha Centauri system. They managed to turn Hesta into a Class-M planet, capable of being a home for humans if the worst happened. The planet was now ripe for colonisation and the five moons in orbit around it were already being mined for rich ore.

On Hesta itself, a large community of terraformers had set up a makeshift city called New Unity, which basically just consisted of houses and some small shops.

"Send a communiqué to New Unity…tell them that we have arrived." Captain Aragorn said as he rested in his chair. The communications officer sent the message and within a minute they had received a hail.

"Sir, Kintar Salev is hailing us."

The Captain straightened up in his seat, "On screen."

The large viewer which showed Hesta morphed into the image of a man in his early fifties with silver hair, he had a cigar in his mouth.

"Captain Aragorn, we heard what happened and have made preparations…we knew this day would come."

Aragorn frowned, "It was inevitable…the Drago had made an alliance with the Mekons, we were outgunned. Now all we have to worry about is the survival of the human race…we will begin landing people in about two hours time."

"Affirmative Captain…that'll give us enough time to check something out."

Aragorn scratched his scar, "What is it?"

"Dunno Cap'n, we just had some sort of shooting star about five hours ago and it crashed into the nearby ravine. We are sending down a crew to see what it is now."

Aragorn nodded, "Very well…Sentinel out." The screen flicked back to the image of the planet.

"Ensign, scan the planet for the base and then scan the ravine near it for any strange anomalies."

"Aye, aye sir." The ensign tapped on his console, using the ships external scanners to get readings from the planet.

The Captain got up off his seat and walked over to the communications officer, "Lockley, open hails to the fleet and tell them to prepare for landing. We need to get the wounded and sick on planet."

The ensign who was scanning, turned in his seat, "Sir, the sensors can't identify what is in the ravine. It looks like a spacecraft of some sort."

Aragorn stroked his chin, "Very well." He tapped the comm badge on his chest, "Captain to Security teams Four and Five…prepare to beam down to the planet. There is something I want you to check out."

"Affirmative Sir, prepping for departure immediately." Came the reply.

The two security teams consisting of five men each raced into the prep room and got into their battle armour. They then each got a Mark-5 Pulse Rifle with grenade launcher and then proceeded towards the transport room. The Transporter Chief watched as the first team walked onto the platform, he tapped the console and a whine was heard as the team dematerialised. The second team did the same and was transported to the coordinates.

Sergeant Gore was in command of both teams. He was a rugged; battle hardened man who had seen thousands of battles in his lifetime. He looked around at his men while chewing a cigar. The two teams had beamed down to the side of the ravine. About a mile below, was a huge black spacecraft, which was rammed into the side of the ravine. Smoke billowed out of the side of the craft and several small fires had broken out.

"Alright boys, our mission is simple. Check out this ship; bring any survivors back to the Sentinel. Any questions? Good…lets go to work." The Sergeant said as he swung his rifle over his shoulder and opened the small console on his wrist. He tapped a few buttons and two boosters emerged from the back of the battle armour. The rest of the men did the same and soon there was a loud scream of turbines as they took to the air and descended into the ravine. As they flew through the air, they left trails of exhaust.

The men landed a few metres away from the crashed ship and turned off their booster packs. They readied their rifles and waited for their Sergeants command.

"Enable battle helmets and turn on motion sensors." The Sergeant tapped a button of the wrist controls and the bio helmet emerged automatically from his suit and perfectly wrapped around his head. A headlamp emerged from the forehead on the helmet.

He moved quickly towards an opening on the craft and noticed that it had already been blasted open. He waved his hand back to the men and beckoned them forward.

"Looks like somebody beat us here…it must be the team from New Unity. Shit…keep your eyes open and make sure you don't go hitting our own, affirmative?" The men acknowledged.

Gore moved stealthily inside, lighting up the darkness with the headlamp. The inside of the ship resembled any cargo ship that humans had assembled. Nothing seemed out of place. He moved further inside, keeping his eyes open for anything. The motion sensors were keeping a constant alert radius in case anything moved. The rest of the team moved in behind him.

"Ok there are some rooms here…break off into two man teams and keep an open link with the rest of us. Keep frosty people."

The team broke up and entered several rooms that dotted the hallway. Gore moved on down the hallway followed by Private Hicks. Their motion sensors constantly blipping, then a ping. Gore stopped and looked at Hicks.

"We got movement, several metres down that way…weapons are hot."

Hicks nodded and took the safety off the pulse rifle. The moved slowly down the hallway, getting closer to the target. Gore pressed himself against the wall and peered slowly around a corner. He saw a man dressed in a grey uniform running towards them. Gore stepped out and grabbed the man.

"Who are you? Identify yourself." Gore stated. The man was sweating and he seemed dishevelled. He was panting wildly and stared at Gore with his eyes wide open in terror.

"My…t-t-team…w-w-wiped out…m-m-must get out of here!" The man pushed Gore out of the way and ran down the hallway. Hicks raised the rifle upwards and shot the crazy man in the back of the head. The round from the pulse rifle opened the man's head like a ripe melon.

"Nice shooting Hicks." He talked into the communicator; "All teams…give me a status report."

"This is Killjoy, nothing to report."

"Markett here, everything clear."

"Sir, this is Lee…we seemed to have lost contact with Paulson and we found something else."

The Sergeant took in a deep breath, "What is it Lee?"

"Well it's a big containment area…and there is a huge motherfucking hole in it. There is a sign near it saying, "Abandon hope all ye who disturb the Scourge." Wonder what it means?"

The Sergeant looked to Hicks and moved past him, running down to where Lee was and going into the containment area. He saw the sign himself and the destroyed storage area.

"Fuck…this is bad. I want everyone out now, Paulson and his man is gone. Everyone else get out now."

"Sir?" Lee was confused, "What is it sir?"

The Sergeant looked around him and readied his rifle, "Something I thought I was never going to see again…move!" Screams could be heard echoing through the halls.

The landing parties were already arriving on the surface just outside the city walls of New Unity. Hundreds of shuttles were gliding through the atmosphere and filled the skies. Once they landed, people poured out of the crafts and were taken to huge buildings where they were given fresh food and clothes. The sick and wounded were taken to the hospitals that were created by materials beamed down from the fleet.

Captain Aragorn beamed down to New Unity and checked out the city for himself. Kintar Salev met him and they both walked towards the nearest tavern.

"This is a fine city you created Mr. Salev. It is very impressive."

Salev sipped from his glass and shook his head, "The people I work with created this city, I merely oversee everything to make sure it was being done. But thank you…we just wish that this day never came."

Aragorn sighed, "I know…but it has so we have to cope with it. Everything is going like clockwork so we won't have to worry much. Let's just hope the enemy doesn't attack us."

Salev put his hand to his ear as he was getting a transmission through the silver earpiece in his left ear.

"Yes…yes…ok I understand, I'll be there immediately."

Aragorn looked at Salev's face and seen that it was worrying, "What's wrong?"

"We just had several soldiers from your ship arrive at the city."

Aragorn got up off the seat, "Several? What happened?"

"They said we gotta see it to believe it…only three men came back. One is laying on his death bed."

Aragorn and Salev arrived at the hospital where Sergeant Gore, Private Lee and Private Hicks were located. The two men walked into the white room where Gore was covered in black and crimson blood; a doctor was attending him to while Lee was smoking a cigarette.

Aragorn walked towards Gore and looked at him, "What happened Sergeant?"

Gore looked up at the Captain with a grim look on his face, "Sir, my men were wiped out…we barely got back alive. Hicks is dead too."

"No, Private Hicks is in quarantine…he is undergoing tests."

Gore shook his head; "I just brought in Hicks so the scientists could find out a way to kill that thing attached to his face."

Aragorn hadn't seen Hicks yet, "Sergeant…what were those things you seen in the ship?"

"They're called by many names across the galaxy Sir. Some call them the Black, the Darkness, the Scourge…whatever you call them, they are still the top of the food chain. I had seen them years ago on a planet light years away from all this. I was fighting with the 38th Division who was on the planet hunting down some rebels for the Empire, which rules that system. We tracked the rebels to an underground maze of caves. One hundred men entered, and only five escaped alive and untouched."

Aragorn took in a slow breath, "What the hell are these things?"

Gore shook his head slowly, "Your guess is as good as mine…all I know is that they attach themselves to a host and start draining you of blood. Once they're on you, they can control your mind. Their numbers are in the billions…well from what I seen on that planet. I heard stories that they had hit other planets but I didn't realise they had moved so fast across the galaxy."

Suddenly screams could be heard from the containment room nearby. Aragorn, Gore and the others rushed towards the room to see what was going on.

Inside the room, the nurse in charge was backed up against the wall in fear. Behind the electrical blue containment field was Hicks. He was standing upright and staring at Aragorn. Attached to the side of his head was a black pulsating creature, its tentacles were wrapped around Hick's neck. Small black veins had stretched inside Hick's face and his eyes had turned black.

"Let me out of here…" Hicks said in a dull voice.

Aragorn looked to Gore and the others, "What the hell?"

"Aragorn…do not ask them what is wrong…they do not realise that we are trying to achieve Utopia for everyone. Let me go and I will go back to the others in peace, without any trouble."

Gore looked at Hicks and growled, "You stinking shit fuck, you think your going to get out of here alive? Over my dead body…"

Hicks smirked and suddenly looked to the ceiling, "Nevermind…" He sat back down on the bed and closed his eyes.

"What the hell is he doing?" Aragorn asked, not actually wanting an answer as he knew no one had the answer.

Gore had disappeared from the room but came back in a minute later followed by a security officer wanting his weapon back. Gore fired the pulse rifle at the containment field generator, dropping it. Then he pointed the weapon at Hicks. He pressed the trigger, unleashing at least twenty rounds into Hicks and the creature attached to his face.

Gore walked out of the room, dropping the rifle to the ground. Aragorn walked out and back into the infirmary. He sat down on one of the beds and scratched the scar on his face. Suddenly another scream was heard and Aragorn jumped off the bed, running down the hall. Some security men were panicking in the halls. Aragorn grabbed them, "What the fuck is going on?" They didn't answer.

He ran outside to see everywhere was in chaos, while others just watched the horizon. His vision caught the horizon itself and seen that a black cloud was rising and covering the sky.

"What the fuck?" he muttered slowly to himself. Gore grabbed him by the shoulder.

"Sir we have to beam up now! They are coming!"

Aragorn tapped the comm badge; "Two to beam up immediately…and order everyone to get into shuttles!" The Captain and Gore dematerialised.

When they arrived onboard, the Captain immediately went towards the turbo lift and took it to the bridge. He saw that everything was already at red alert and he sat in his chair.

"Ensign, try to get as many shuttles as you can into the Sentinel, but scan them beforehand…we don't want any of those bugs taking a ride in a shuttle."

On the planet, everyone was rushing for the shuttles as thousands of bugs descended upon them. They had no chance as the humans dropped one by one. The soldiers continuously fired into the air but it was no use, they weren't taking enough out. Shuttles took off from the planet and tried quickly to rise but the bugs clogged the intakes and destroyed some of the shuttles. One or two managed to get through the thick black cloud of bugs and get out of the atmosphere.

The shuttles raced towards the fleet in hopes that they would be safe.

Aragorn sat and watched as shuttles were making their way towards the fleet. The Sentinel was receiving messages asking for assistance.

"Ignore them until the scans are complete…we can't afford something getting onboard."

The ensign scanned the nearest shuttle, "Sir, everything's clear with the first shuttle…opening the shuttle bay doors now."

The Captain squirmed in his seat, something was wrong but he didn't know what.

"Prepare laser banks to fire on planet, I want the place glassed before we go back down there."

"Sir! The Drago fleet are entering the system!"

Aragorn got up off his chair, "No…not now. Prepare the fleet for a full scale battle, if we are going to go out then we are going to go out with a…what the?"

The Captain was looking up at the turbolift as the doors opened. Several bugs flew through the doors and attacked the nearest officers and one flew straight towards the Captain. He never even got a chance to scream.

The shuttles continued towards the fleet. Sensors couldn't scan the bugs so they got to the ships easily. It was all over in a matter of hours.

Kahn was on the darkened bridge of the Executor, his capital ship. He looked at his communications officer, "Open frequencies to the Sentinel."

"Frequencies open Sir."

The main viewscreen showed a darkened bridge, the Captain could be seen in the background. The bridge seemed to be wrecked from battle.

Kahn smirked and got up off his black leather seat, "Captain Aragorn…what a pleasure to see your fleet in chaos. Perfect timing to finish you off don't you think?"

The sound was crackling from the Sentinel, "Kahn…you won…we surren…"

"Sorry Captain? I didn't quite catch that…" He said smugly.

"We…surrender."

Kahn clasped his hands together, "Well I can't say I would have loved to fight you in one last epic battle but we have a galaxy to take over and I'm afraid we are on a time limit…so if you will, we will be boarding you now. Good day."

The viewscreen cut and Kahn sat back down in his chair. He laughed silently to himself and then let it out into one long maniacal laughter.

Aragorn stared blankly at the screen in front of him, the black creature attached to the side of his face draining his bodily fluids slowly. He smiled slightly, in the back of his mind he knew that all may be lost but at least Kahn would be the next victim of this Scourge. The crew carried out their duties around him, all acting like zombies.

The ship shuddered slightly as boarding craft punctured the Sentinel's hull. Several enemy soldiers beamed onto the bridge, pointing their weapons at the Sentinel's crew. The lead soldier dropped his weapon and looked in terror at the things attached to them.

"What the…?"