Jan 7, 2020 - Explore Zee's board "Game" on Pinterest. Nicki has been with SB for three years, and their spark is long gone. Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000 is a 2020 sci-fi/action film vanity project starring John Travolta and Barry Pepper.
The Last Precursor is an HFY-exclusive web-serial which focuses on the exploits of the last living human amidst a galaxy of unknown aliens. With his species all but extinct and now only known as the ancient Precursors, how will Admiral José Rodriguez survive in this hostile universe? Make sure to read the earlier chapters first if you missed them! Do you like the story? Subscribe to HFY bot and get notified when I post new parts! Previous Part Part 001
The party of five rescuers descends into the depths of the mountain. José leads the way, his nine-foot-tall body towering above all the others around him. Megla falls into stride on his right, while Baaru and Ruuki walk on his left, with Lele sandwiched between them.
The darkness of the cave swallows them within minutes, making the previously blinding brightness of the outside fade like a distant memory. Before the gloom can completely shroud their forms, a most peculiar sight unfolds. José's skin rapidly begins to shimmer and shine, turning his whole body into a 200-watt lightbulb. Megla winces as she looks at the Admiral in shock.
"W-what? Is this magic?"
José gently smiles. "No. I have countless nanites swimming within my body. I had a small portion of them alter my biochemical properties to temporarily turn me into a light in the dark. It's nothing special. Any sufficiently advanced species could accomplish this, it just requires one to think of the method."
The Admiral and his first officer Kraktol both hold large, 1.5-feet long energy rifles close to their chests. Megla clutches hers tightly, as if she's afraid of dropping it in a moment of surprise, while José casually points the barrel of his at the ground. He exercises good trigger discipline by keeping his fingers away from the gun's trigger, but says nothing when Megla nervously does the opposite.
Megla swallows heavily. "You Terrans are... strange."
Admiral Rodriguez flicks his eyes around the caverns, observing the jagged, uneven surfaces as they walk. Razor-sharp rocks stick out of the ground, threatening to trip anyone unobservant enough to miss their existence, yet not a single member of his party stumbles even the slightest. They walk both quickly and cautiously, evading the natural traps as they proceed.
"And you're awfully jumpy," José replies. "You took out those Xonbils with ease, yet now you look like you're about to wet yourself."
Megla's yellow scales flush orange with embarrassment. "I... I'm a little bit afraid of the dark."
Guiltily, she looks up at José, only to scowl when she observes his suppressed smile. "...You! Don't laugh! It's humiliating! I-I can't help being a little nervous!"
"Haha, it's not that," José chuckles, as he looks away. His eyes shift color and become deep blue as he allows the nanites in his body to pierce the dense gloom ahead. "It's just, I had a buddy in the military... more of a blood-brother, really. Nicholai Azaram. Great guy, and my best friend. We worked together on countless missions. We crossed dimensions, traveled through time, toppled star nations... you name it."
The Admiral continues. "Nicholai was a monster. A peerless genius in the art of combat. Compared to him, I'm not even worth mentioning in the same breath. But... haha... well, he also started getting trigger-happy when he stepped into the dark. Funniest thing ever."
Slowly, José's smile fades. A deep look of sadness takes its place, as his eyes become distant. "My best friend. Can't ever see him again. His body disintegrated right in front of me. Never even got to say goodbye."
Startled, Megla observes the look of deep melancholy on José's face for a few moments without replying.
She turns her head forward and stares into the darkness. "I'm sorry, Admiral. That must have been hard on you."
"Yes. An understatement, to say the least," José says, his expression returning to its usual stoicness. "I'd have cut my own heart out if it meant I could save my brother. I loved him more than I loved myself."
Megla's throat turns dry. "I... ah, why don't you tell me more about Nicholai? I'd like to know more about this person who was so important to you."
Half-expecting José to turn down her request due to the pain in his heart, Megla shakes her head inwardly. She knows with only a glance that the bond between José and Nicholai must have been ten times, if not ten thousand times deeper than between her and Soren.
However, José surprises her. After a minute of contemplation, he opens his mouth.
"Nicky and I weren't just close. We shared everything. He knew all my insecurities. All my weaknesses. In turn, I knew everything about him. He was a giant, more than a foot taller than me. Even among Terrans, he was not someone you could fight without losing a part of your life."
José glances at Megla meaningfully. "When I defeated the Gate Troll, do you remember what I said?"
She nods. "You said Private Azaram came up with the method to defeat it. The... the special technique."
The Kraktol's expression turns ghastly as she remembers the horrifying sight of José plunging his arm elbow-deep inside the monster's anal cavities. Her scales shudder as she looks away, trying desperately to contain her stomach.
However, José doesn't tease her. He simply nods and sighs. "Yes. I also said that, compared to other Terrans, especially Ramma's Chosen, I was only a bit above average. But Nicky... haha."
The Admiral's pupils dilate slightly. "Nicky-boy wasn't like me. He was a god of war. His strength sundered mountains. His willpower could split the seas. There wasn't a woman he couldn't bed, nor would he turn them down. His charisma... his charm. Everything about that man was a thousand times better than me."
"Were you jealous of his talent?" Megla asks.
"No. Not even a little. He wasn't just my brother, but my idol. I looked up to him more than Ramma or the God Emperor himself."
The Kessu walk beside José in silence. None of them say a word, and instead choose to listen in on José's conversation with Megla. They gaze up at their savior, feeling a deep sense of remorse emanating from his soul.
"What did he look like?" Megla asks. She subconsciously relaxes her grip on her weapon, as she tries to picture Nicholai's appearance in her mind. "You're the only Terran I've seen, so..."
"I can create a holo-projection when we return," José says, his voice shaking slightly. "But... I don't know if I could bear to look at him standing before me. Not even if he's only a projection."
"You don't need to go that far," Megla hurriedly replies. "Just a general description. I know he was bigger than you. What else?"
Nodding, José gestures toward the Kessu on his left. "In this galaxy, the various species often have very distinct appearances. Differently colored fur, scales, body builds... and so on. Humans weren't quite like that. The most obvious thing you would notice if you placed me next to Nick, aside from his height, was his skin color."
"He had pitch-black skin," José says. "Like the color of obsidian. His expression was always relaxed and casual. He'd laugh at any joke and make the person telling it feel like they were the center of the universe. He had a... a big, pointy chin. Full head of black hair, thicker than mine."
The Admiral frowns. "Thin lips. Um... his nose was a big bigger than mine, too. His eyes were bottomless, as if he could read your mind with a single look. However, he wasn't perfect. Nick had plenty of flaws."
"Well, that's a relief," Megla says, forcing a smile. "I'm having trouble thinking of a being more impressive than you. It's difficult to imagine you Terrans as anything but sky-shattering monsters."
José pauses. He looks at Megla meaningfully. "When I fought Orgon aboard the Dragon's Breath... he stated that he was the strongest Kraktol among the fleet. Was he telling the truth?"
Caught off-guard by José's question, Megla stumbles over a rock in her path and quickly turns to look at him. "Orgon? Uh, yes? Why do you ask?"
"Don't be alarmed. It's just a question," José laughs. "You see... one of the reasons Terrans eventually conquered the galaxy was due to how we organized our militaries. If you were to follow our example... the Kraktol empire would expand at lightspeed and quickly become capable of stomping other sentients into the mud."
The Admiral says such words with incredible confidence, making Megla instinctively believe him. "Really? What do you mean? What made your military so scary, then?"
"The Kraktol follow a standard organizational structure, one my people formerly used," José explains. "Your best warriors rise through the ranks and become battlefield commanders. Terrans followed the same path, up until the moment we faced the deadliest enemy of our existence... the Volgrim. I know you don't think much of your smarts, Megla, but think for a moment and tell me... doesn't this sort of organizational structure have a deep, inherent flaw?"
Megla barely takes a second to react. "Y-yes. How strange, Admiral. How very strange... I've had such a thought many times before."
José blinks, then turns to Megla with a deep look in his eyes. "I underestimated you. Go on, then. Describe the flaw for me."
"Well..." Megla replies, suddenly feeling awkward beneath José's gaze. "...I've always thought it was odd that, with enemies on all sides, we would take our best combatants off the battlefield and put them into leadership positions. This robs our military of its mightiest soldiers. In theory, it's a good idea to reward those who accomplish the most incredible feats, but if it means losing a talented sniper, soldier, or frontliner... the cost seems incredibly steep."
"You're exactly right," José says, slowly nodding. "Terrans used to do the same thing. However, once we faced the Volgrim, we realized we needed super-soldiers, bred for combat, to take the frontlines."
He continues. "I'm well over 7,000 years old, assuming you exclude my time spent in stasis. I've accomplished countless feats on behalf of my military. Likewise, the same was true of my blood-brother, Nicky-boy. However, not once were we offered or did we desire to obtain the positions of monarchs and rulers. Instead, Terran soldiers fought until their combat capabilities reached a plateau. Once they started seeing a decline, they would step down and assume the roles of military leaders. This way, not only did we keep the most prime, fearsome, unstoppable warriors on the battlefield, but our commanders would also end up as seasoned, grizzled veterans."
"We would become peerless in the art of war," He adds. "Every soldier respected and trusted their commanders... because in the end, we knew that not only did they know more than us, but they had done what we did for many times longer. It created an unshakable bedrock of trust and stability among our militaries, one which eventually shook the heavens and allowed us to step over the bodies of our mightiest enemies."
José reaches over and squeezes Megla's shoulder. "If you want to become stronger... make a change within yourself. Don't strive to advance your political career, nor your prestige in the eyes of others. Focus entirely on your self-advancement. In time, you will become unrivaled beneath the heavens... just like my brother once was."
Megla nods. "I'll do that."
The Terran retracts his hand, then slows to a stop. In front of his eyes, a holographic map hovers in midair, created by the nanites inside his body. The caves up ahead shimmer and shine, as easy for him to see as if there were a sun blazing in the underground confines.
However, the holographic map hisses and sputters, making him narrow his eyes.
] Umi says, at exactly that moment. [You are about to reach the limits of my scanning capabilities. There are countless micrograms of Trifrancium scattered in the upcoming region. Until this point, I have managed to guide you around the predatory creatures lurking within those caves. However, I am unable to detect any additional life forms, or to map out the path ahead. You will be on your own. Proceed with caution.
José's head bobs imperceptibly. [Noted. Are you able to get a transporter lock through the interference?]
[Negative. In the event of a catastrophe, I will bombard the mountain from orbit and attempt to teleport you before the caves collapse. However, I will only be able to rescue ten people at most if that happens. Additionally, the odds of successfully obtaining a transporter lock will be statistically insignificant.
It takes José a few moments of thinking before he replies.
[Alright. I won't underestimate this world. Tarus II used to be home to countless horrific life-forms. It's unlikely the monsters that once lurked in this world's jungles would devolve into timid little rabbits after 100,000,000 years. More likely, they've only grown fiercer. Since I don't know what's up ahead, I will proceed with the utmost caution.]
Admiral Rodriguez reaches into his pocket, pulls out a small, circular object, and slaps it against Megla's chest. The Kraktol female, paying more attention to the sounds in the darkness ahead than her Admiral, nearly jumps out of her skin in fright.
"Gah! W-what in the Thülvik's name are you doing?! You scared the daylights out of me! Don't just suddenly grab me like that!"
With a quiet laugh, José replies, "Haha, sorry. I wasn't trying to startle you. Didn't you notice the present I gave you, just now?"
Megla lowers her long, crocodilian snout, only to spot the palm-sized circular object adhering to the scales on her chest.
"...The heck is this?"
"In the era I came from, it was nothing special," José says, his tone bland. "But in this era... well, it's probably capable of turning you into an invincible god. The Terrans called it a Survival Suit. Press that big red button in the middle and see what happens."
A skeptical look washes across Megla's face, but she doesn't protest. Not once has José shown her the slightest hostility, nor has he ever treated her with contempt or disrespect. Toward him, an intensely deep trust has already appeared within the depths of her heart.
However, she still won't admit that to anyone. "Pft. Survival Suit. Let's check it out, then." Tap.
Megla's claw presses the red button on the object's center. Instantly, bursts of electricity explode from its borders, making her pupils shrink to slits. Before she can react, the electrical energy blasts around her body, enveloping her in a dazzling light. Within three seconds, the energy dissipates, forming a faint, transparent force-field that practically adheres to her skin.
"What... what sorcery is this?!" Megla gasps. "It's like I'm... like I'm wearing stretchy glass... or something!"
"Hahaha!" José guffaws, clearly amused by her crude description. "I guess you could call it that! Check this out."
The Admiral bends over, grabs a small rock off the floor and turns toward a nearby wall. His smile vanishes, and an intense look appears in his eyes. He coils his arm back, compresses a massive amount of strength into his arm, and flings the rock at the wall. BOOM!!
The rock strikes with such power and ferocity that a three-meter crater appears in the wall, spraying debris in every direction. The two adult Kessu shriek with fright, while their fur stands on end.
Little Lele, however, jumps excitedly. "Wowie! Wowowow! Big Baldy is awesome! He's so strong!"
Megla stares in disbelief. "That... uh... can I do that too?"
"No, don't be silly," José says indifferently. "You just stand right where you are."
When José bends over and grabs another rock off the ground, Megla's scales turn a ghastly grey. "W-wait, Admiral... I get the point! It's a protective barrier, right? Haha! That's great! You don't n-need to show me-"
"Stand right there," José orders, as he walks twenty paces away. "Don't move."
The Kraktol's scales turn from grey to pure white as all of her blood drains away. "You destroyed that wall! Admiral, please, i-it's not that I don't trust you! I'm sure this suit is really strong, b-but-"
Even with Megla's knees trembling like leaves in the wind, José merely turns to face her, a look of smug satisfaction on his face. "Calm down. This won't hurt a bit."
"Please! Admiral! I don't want to die! Not like this!"
Seeing that José isn't about to back down, Megla swallows her terror and holds up her arms to protect her chest and face. She lowers her head and closes her eyes, praying for a swift death. The Kraktol shivers in fear, completely unable to believe that the Admiral's awesome strength won't turn this silly little 'Survival Suit' into shreds.
José once again winds up, coils his arm back, and takes aim.
"Oh no!" José yells. "I think the suit turned off!"
Megla screams in terror. "It did?!"
She raises her head and opens her eyes, only to see José smiling.
The moment after he speaks, José hurls the rock with all his strength. It flings from his arm at half the speed of sound and detonates against Megla's exposed chest like a cannonball. BOOM!!
The sound, like a shotgun to the face, jars Megla's senses. She opens her mouth to scream, only to pause.
Not only is the Survival Suit protecting her completely intact, but the impact of José's ferocious throw doesn't even nudge her back an inch.
Completely shocked and in disbelief, Megla begins to slap her shielded body, marveling at how her claws can't even touch her scales unless she moves them slowly and deliberately.
José, clearly not surprised, saunters over and nods. "Survival Suits are special devices made for exploration and combat. Not only do they possess illuminative properties similar to the nanites within my skin, but they also can shield you from the most gruesome and grievous of wounds. I wanted to give one to you and your sister, but for now, this is the only one I've managed to reconstruct."
Megla apes the specific word back at José.
"You built this for me?"
"Haha, of course," José replies. "You're my precious First Officer! I have to protect you, don't I? It's not as if I'll need a device like that any time soon. As long as you have a Survival Suit, I'll rest assured nothing can happen to you down here."
Feeling sincerely touched, Megla lowers her head. "I'm sorry, Admiral. I should have trusted you. But... why didn't you explain how this Survival Suit functioned? You scared me half to death!"
Shrugging, José laughs. "Because I thought it would be funny."
Megla lightly socks José's arm, but her punch doesn't have any anger in it.
"Jeez. Thanks, okay? I do appreciate your little 'present.'"
Waving his hands, José strides back to his spot between Megla and the Kessu.
"No need to rest on ceremony. I'll give the next one I make to Soren," José says, waving her words away. "If it weren't for us needing to travel into such a dangerous location, I'd have probably given it to her first. After all, you're much stronger than her."
"Is that why you told my sister to stay aboard the Bloodbearer?"
The party of five continues walking, while José shakes his head. "Not entirely. I had other reasons."
Megla's question goes unanswered. José smiles mysteriously and shakes his head. "Who can know?"
From the Terran's feet, Lele shouts. "Hey! Big Baldy! I want a Super Suit too! It's my birthday soon, so you've gotta make me one too, okay?!"
"Oh, your birthday?" José asks, clearly surprised. "You'll be turning three, then?"
"Not three! Seven! Seven years old!"
José nods. "I see. You'll be turning six years old."
"Seven! I said seven! Didn't you hear me?!"
The Terran's light teasing makes Lele start to fume, but he merely shakes his head.
"Haha. Children are almost as fun to mess with as you, Megla."
The Kraktol scowls. "There you go, teasing me again."
Several minutes pass.
As they descend further into the mountain, José's party laughs a lot less. Everyone, including Lele, falls silent.
The Admiral's expression turns solemn as he gazes around the caverns. Even without Umi's mapping capabilities, his nanite-imbued vision allows him to see into the deepest, darkest crevasses.
"How very strange..." The Admiral mutters.
"Is something wrong?" Megla asks.
José pauses for a breath.
"It's more that... so far, our progress has been extremely easy. You heard Umi's report. She detected 122,000 creatures underneath this mountain. Before, she cautiously guided us away from their movements, down countless winding paths, yet even after she stopped assisting me... not one predator has so much as looked at us."
The Admiral's next words turn Megla's blood to ice.
"It's too quiet. I believe something is stalking us. An intelligent monster..."
José turns his head backward and glances back down the path they came. Nothing moves or reveals itself, yet his eyes narrow even further.
"Megla. Your Thulvik, she's lived a long time, hasn't she?"
"Huh? Yes. Well over ten thousand years. Maybe even twenty thousand. Why do you ask?"
Megla's tone carries a hint of uneasiness in addition to curiosity.
José slows to a stop. He turns to look behind the party, but still, nothing appears in his vision.
"In this universe, there are creatures ten thousand times more monstrous than the mightiest Terran, let alone me. I've even killed a few of them. Not by myself, of course."
"To you, living ten or twenty thousand years probably seems unfathomable. Yet I know there are things that will never die of old age. Some of them stagnate in their development, while others continue to grow for as long as they live."
"I don't know what's following us. I can't sense anything at all. That, alone, is enough to frighten me."
Several tense seconds pass. The Kessu begin to tremble as their god-like protector squints and looks into the darkness with all his might.
Yet still, nothing appears.
"Curious. Very curious..."
Megla lowers her voice. "Admiral. Are we in danger?"
"I don't know," He replies, his voice wavering slightly. "Possibly. The fact 'it' hasn't attacked us could indicate many things. It might fear us. After all, there's nothing scarier than the unknown. It might only be curious. It may simply wish to observe us for a while before retracting its gaze."
"...All I have to go on is a warning in the back of my head."
José smiles as he turns to Megla.
"When you've lived as long as me... when you've fought like hell to survive, as I have... you get a sense for these things. And sometimes, 'these things' get a sense for me, too."
"What does that
mean?" Megla asks. "You're starting to worry me."
"Good. Stay on your toes. I have a feeling that, before long, I'm going to need to count on you. I'm only one man, Megla. I can't be everywhere at once."
The grave expression on José's face, mixed with his emotionless smile, makes the Kraktol writhe uncomfortably.
"I won't let you down, Admiral."
Both of them stay silent for a moment before continuing.
As they walk, in the darkness far behind them, a shadowy creature slowly melts away from one of the walls and slithers behind a large boulder.
Despite being no larger than a toddler, its body gives off a malevolent aura.
"...Terran. It said the word 'Terran.' We heard it properly, yes? Not possible. The Terrans died. All of them. Not one left. Where could he come from?"
The creature mutters to itself, its words instantly fading into a magical barrier surrounding its body.
"This is our home. Ours! Not his. Stinky Terran. Filthy human. What does he think he's doing here? Has he come to take our toys? He can't. They're ours. Ours! Worthless remnant creature."
The shapeless creature expands in size, growing to match the height of a full-grown adult. It peeps out from behind the boulder, it's pitch-black eyes piercing the darkness.
"Kss. Too bright. Too much light. Hate the light... we hate it! We have to kill it. Kill! No light in our home. No, none at all... kss..."
The creature glances to its side, where it spots a small, four-legged animal with thick fangs protruding from its maw. The animal meets the shadowy monster's gaze and immediately freezes in place, looking at the shadow in horror.
"You! We told the others to stay away! Do you think you're better than us?! Impetuous worm! This is our home, not yours! Begone!"
The shadow materializes a ghastly five-fingered 'hand'. With an angry waving motion, it gestures toward the small, carnivorous predator. An instant later, the animal's eyes roll up into its head, and its body fades away, turning to ashes within the darkness.
"Kss. They're ours
only. Our food! Kss. Stinky little fart-for-brains! That's what you get for not listening. Kehehe..."
The shadow continues following after its prey, slinking around within the darkness at a leisurely pace.
"It's been so long since we tasted human flesh... or a human soul... kss..." Next Part
....................................... Author Note: If you enjoy what you've just read, please consider subscribing to my Patreon! I am very poor and presently jobless due to Coronavirus, so every dollar helps. You get access to Cryopod artwork, and plenty of other exclusive posts, with more to come soon. Also consider reading The Cryopod to Hell, the primary story in the Cryoverse! I'll be returning to TCTH for the next week or two after this TLP part. Both stories are part of the Cryoverse, so they're deeply interlinked. You don't wanna miss them! Thank you!