“OPEN FIRE!” Yamamoto yelled.
Shaking off their hesitation, the team laid down a storm of steel, tearing into the creature. Tan raised his carbine to his shoulder, switched to full auto and held down the trigger, walking rounds up and across the closest abomination. At this range he couldn’t possibly miss.
Rounds tore into the creature, digging out divots of oily matter and geysers of pale fluid.
Whatever it was, it could bleed.
It could die.
Abruptly the horror deliquesced, dissolving into a puddle of dark evaporating goo.
And two more undulated forth, taking its place.
“DIE!” Tan screamed.
He walked his fire from left to right, hosing them down. Growths and polyps burst open. Lights winked out.
An arm lashed out with blinding speed.
He ducked and covered.
The limb licked out above him, barely missing his head, and retracted. He popped up, raised his carbine—
“WHAT THE FUCK?!”
Half of it was… gone. Just, gone. The barrel, the forend, it had simply vanished.
A soul-deep chill sank into the knuckles of his left hand, as though kissed by the embodiment of cosmic cold.
Without thinking, he released his carbine and drew his pistol. One of the abominations, then the other, keeled over. Huge mouths opened in its body, issuing terrible keening cries.
In a human voice.
He didn’t dare to think of the implications. He simply aimed at the closest pistol and worked it over, stitching a line of lead up its amorphous bulk. He saw no head, no brain, nothing to aim at except the expanse of limitless darkness reflected in its body.
The thing screamed, this time in a human voice, and melted into the floor. He turned to the next threat—
Which was gushing towards him.
Cursing and crying, he jumped back, pistol barking away. The thing advanced inexorably, flowing into and through the door—
No, not quite. It was passing through the walls, like water flowing through a sieve.
Racing through the maze of servers, he made his way to the other exit. He looked back and saw that terrible mass flowing towards him, flowing *through *the server racks, dissolving and destroying everything it touched, arms outstretched for a fatal embrace. He blasted it once, twice—
And reached the door.
He burst out into the roof access hall. Crossed the corridor, entered the Hierophant’s home. Ran across the living room. Looked behind.
And there it was, relentlessly charging him, melting a hole through the door and wall, arms flying—
He leapt aside.
A tendril sank into the floor, missing his face and foot by fractions of an inch.
“BLUE BLUE BLUE!” he yelled. “COMING OUT!”
He flung the door open and rushed out. Arms brushed past him, slamming into the floor. He stumbled into the midst of operators. Ngo caught him, holding him fast. Turning around, he saw the limbs punch clean through the floor, erasing everything they touched.
“Tango inside the living room!” he shouted. “Take it out!”
And, through the open doorway, the black thing surged into view.
The Black Watch reoriented on the threat and opened up. Tan’s hands flowed through a reload, ejecting the empty magazine, slamming in a new one, thumbing the slide release, bringing up the pistol to bear, sights on black mass, finger to trigger.
He fired and fired and fired and fired and fired and suddenly there was nothing in his sights.
Lowering the weapon, he scanned.
Smoking black mounds clogged the hallway. Spewing thick clouds of smoke, they faded to white and white to nothingness. The walls and ceiling and floor became solid again. But everything in the abominations’ path—shell casings, furniture, potted plants, bodies, blood—had been devoured so completely there was nothing left. In the space of heartbeats, the hall was completely and totally empty. As if nothing had happened here at all.
“What in the name of all that is holy was that?” Connor asked.
“The thing!” Ngo whispered. “The thing from the Void! It—it eats everything! Plants, rock, people, everything! And it turns them into—into that!”
She gripped herself, rocking back and forth.
“Right,” Tan declared. “We are getting the fuck out of here.”
She snapped upright.
“No! You can’t! Not yet!”
“Can you feel it?”
It was a titanic bulk leaning hard against the fabric of the world. Its psychic pressure radiated from everywhere and nowhere at once. Blackness crept at the edges of his sight, a blackness filled with icy, inscrutable stars. Lines of force and tension ran through his skin and into his brain, building a picture of the monstrosity lurking at the edges of reality.
It was huge. Unimaginably huge.
But it was also the tiniest fragment of something far larger.
“We. Have. To. Go,” Tan whispered.
“No!” Ngo said. “It’s coming! It’s passing through the veil into this world! We have to stop it before it eats everything!”
“How the fuck do you fight a cosmic horror like this?!” Connor shouted.
At the cross dangling from his chest.
“You’ve got to be shitting me,” Tan muttered.
“You neutralized the QRF’s Void powers!” Ngo said. “You can do something about the Void!”
Yamamoto took his cross in his bloodstained hands, staring at it.
“Boss? It’s your call,” Fox said.
He closed his eyes. Sighed.
Lifted the cross to his lips.
And opened his eyes.
“The Void has power over space-time,” Yamamoto said. “If it gets out, if it reaches the roof, it can destroy us when we fly out. We have to go in.”
“Ya Allah,” Karim whispered.
“Who’s coming with me?”
“I am,” Karim said. “You need backup.”
“Me too,” Connor said.
“We’re all going,” Tan said.
Yamamoto nodded. “Good. Once more into the breach.”
Taking up their weapons, they entered the ritual hall.
If action, adventure and horror in equal measure are right up your alley, check out my latest novel Dungeon Samurai Vol. 1: Kamikaze!
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