The land was lush and beautiful, pastures of grass reaching beyond eye’s sight, and with shades of green not known to existence. The wind blew through the fields creating ripples on the furried green planet. Peppered in were trees, big, strong, flourishing trees. Trees that were fruitful, so many different fruit: orange ones, pink ones, red ones, yellow ones, purple ones, the rainbow bestowed to an assortment of juicy, delicious, plump, nutritious snacks. There were creatures, oh so many creatures. The two-tailed howling aviary monkeys ruled the trees with organized chaos. The giant oxadillos roamed the plains and grazed as a passersby while being watched from afar by the vicious catergators. There are far more than can be named in such a short time. There was a natural sense of order among these wild animals.
But this is what was, you see, there was a day when all of this came to an end. The day the Brood broke out; spread amongst the inhabitants of Scandium. Now, you’re asking what the Brood is. Well they are a parasite, a parasite that can take and corrupt any living creature. In their wake were burning, ugly pastures pushed to the horizon. The wind spreading the flames that were consuming the grass and trees that could not run. Rotting fruit, brown, lay awaiting their hot demise. Carcusses spread across the terramorphic expanse, both infected and not. The wildlife was either infected or dead, never fleeing the onslaught, rather embracing it.
I suppose I should start from the beginning, when the Brood were only a part of stories to tell children to keep them in line. On Scandium, among the trees, in the fields, there was a small fort, Fort Strong Bull, to be exact. A tight knit community, very friendly and loving to all who passed through. They were a simple people: hunters, farmers, guards. Hunters and guards were one in the same; shifts were given for the different jobs.
On this particular day, Cassaden, the most skilled hunter, took a group of teens out to learn how to take down a long-horned ram toad. Dresden awaited eagerly behind Cassaden to learn the technique needed to wield the laser pike. As Dresden peered with a stone gaze, Hellina leaned against a boulder that sat, scattered as other of its likeness, sighing, making her displeasure unknown. Bassianus and Echo both were bragging who could take down a Ram Toad on the first time the best. Verona sat attentively next to Dresden, wanting his attention. Lastly, Luna was just sitting, admiring the beautiful landscape.
“Now, wait for the beast to lunge at you, then move around it to make a striking blow,” instructed Cassaden. “Dresden, you’re up first, don’t be the bad example,” handing a laser pike to the youth.
“Alright Cassaden, I won’t!” replied Dresden, as he walked into the clearing where there was an irritable looking male ram toad. He approached it, holding a long metallic staff, Dresden struck the ground. Upon this action, a red glowing light seemed to grow from the end of the staff, it took the shape of a spear head. It looked as if it were pulsing with light and energy. The youth took a defensive stance and made an aggressive grunt to get the beast’s attention. As the creature turned, Dresden took a deep breath watching the toad’s movement. The animal let out a battle cry and jumped head first at the boy. Dresden ducked swiftly to the side, gutting the beast without getting so much as a drop of blood on him. He looked back at Cassaden for an expression of approval, and was met with the very thing he wanted.
The same process went for Verona and Hellina, only a bit messier. Then there was Bassianus and Echo’s little situation.
“Alright, one of you go get that alpha,” Cassaden ordered.
“Got it!” called out both the boys in unison. In surprise, both youths looked at each other than ran into the clearing, tumbling over each other.
“Pull it together, I don’t wanna save your sorry butts!” Cassaden warned. Upon the words, Echo nodded at Bassianus. As if practiced, the youths synchronized in step and speed at the hulking, fearsome creature with the pikes ahead of them. The alpha ram toad lunged at them with a blood curdling roar that had a high pitched harmonic screech. Echo jumped over the monster and plunged his weapon into its head as Bassianus dug his pike into the overbearing creature’s rib cage. The alpha long-horned ram toad came down with a scandiumquaking thud. With a fist bump and smirks, Echo and Bassianus took their places among the group.
Luna took a step forward and did the same as Dresden, taking a stance after unsheathing her blade. As another ram toad came to the trap, a primal look came over Luna, something that surprised the others. As the beast lunged, Luna did not move. Cassaden started to move in case he needed to kill this thing himself. But what shocked them all was that Luna brought the pike down on the ram toad’s head without being forced from her stance.
There lay six carcasses in the opening before the group of youth and their leader. Yeah, the group of youth.
“Well youngins, there was a purpose behind all of this, you all just fed the Fort,” Cassaden said, pointing to a bag, “there are bags and ropes in that inside of that pack, tie the food up and lets take it back home.” And so, the teens did as they were told and began packing up.
Walking back, they had to walk through a desert valley, where it is usually barren, except for the reptilic gorillas. But this day there was a giant oxadillo just standing idle among the rocks. Cassaden motioned the crew to slow movement as he moved a bit closer. This was a big score, if he could kill this and bring it back for food supply. Upon closing the gap between the beast and himself, Cassaden noticed that the oxadillo looked misshapen and spiny. Bones protruded its skin, looking like spikes of armor. Thick saliva dripped from its mouth, the skin looked as if it were putty, pus oozing out of from where the bones had emerged. On its back was a rather big hump, something was moving under the oxadillo’s skin. The bulge rippled as the oxadillo wheezed.
“No..” said Cassaden as childhood stories that his parents told him flashed through his head. The words of the folk lore echoed in his head, voices of little kids singing the words:
‘When the evil within stabs out of the flesh,
when the skin dances,
when there is no catching of breath.
the Brood will seize the diversity,
making all into one.’
“Run, get away from here! Go back to the Fort and warn the people of the Brood!” Cassaden yelled, also gaining the attention of the atrocity. The now adulterated oxadillo darted towards the instructor, pinning him between the monster’s head and a stone wall.
What the youths witnessed horrified them, striking fear into their hearts. Dresden, leading the group, ran over with weapons drawn to see the monster had Cassaden’s pike in its forehead. The oxadillo collapsed, leaving Cassaden to fall to the ground, lifeless. They stood there in utter shock and disbelief. They sat there as they took in the scene before them: this giant deformed oxadillo lying dead in front of their now dead teacher, blood advancing in all directions. The crimson battered scene was too much for Luna, she ducked behind a rock to puke. Then Dresden spoke,
“W-we gotta go,” Dresden stuttered, “get back to the Fort. Tell everyone Cassaden is,” he couldn’t finish the statement.
“Dead” interjected Hellina, “He is dead.” At this she walked up closer with a bemused expression on her face, an expression that slightly frightened the others.
Forty minutes of silent travel later, they arrived to the gates of Fort Strong Bull. Recognized, the guards opened the great doors with welcome. But questions were soon aroused,
“Where’s Cassaden?” said the blacksmith.
“Weren’t you out to hunt? Where’s the kill?” inquired the chef.
“Has something happened?” worried an elder.
All was answered, all was confessed, all was spilled out and sorted. The townspeople discussed, argued and mulled over the information that was given to them. Doubt was a common denominator: doubt that Cassaden could truly have been killed by a fairly passive creature, doubt that a childhood bedtime story would actually be prophecy, and doubt that they might have to wage war on this evil force. All was being considered, but little did they know the enemy had advanced on them, and crossed the no-man’s land.
You see, the Brood is not some evil spirit, no! That’s all the Old Ones could explain it with. The Brood is a parasite that has a telepathic connection to one master mind. The Gravemind: A cosmic evil, an ancient evil. Now, where was I.
All that was heard from the inner township were screeches, bangs, and screams that could make any person run for fear, just from sounds! Upon hearing this, the six grabbed their pikes and awaited the siege that was to come.
“We can’t just sit here, we all know what’s happening out there!” Dresden exclaimed.
“And do what Dresden? Die? Stop acting so impulsive and neighborly! We need to get out of here and escape to the sea!” Hellina smacked him in the face with these words. Echo and Bassianus both stood with looks of grim determination, they were ready to leave their life behind. They knew that at this moment this ‘Brood’ was tearing it all apart each moment they waited to make their moves.
“Well I think we should all just realize that whatever is out there is no longer family, nor friend,” Verona stated as she looked out the window at the massacre. “They are all changing,” she paused. “Looking more like that how that oxadillo did.” Remembering the gruesome sight from before, “Bones are ripping out of their skin, they look and are acting primal.”
Dresden stood and thought this all over shortly with an unblinking stare..
“Dresden, you look like a statue,” Verona pointed out.
“Get what you need now, weapons and supplies, we leave in 10 minutes. Luna, are you going to be okay?” She looked at him, obviously shaken. With a bewildered look in her eyes, she spoke:
“Just fine, let’s get the hell out of here.”
Bassianus stood to the left and Echo to the right of the door that led to the outside, where chaos reigned, momentarily. Ready to head out and make a break for their new life. Dresden counted down, with stone-like features on his face.
“Three” seconds until they took a stand.
“Two” heartbeats away from doom or glory.
“One” last chance to turn back and accept death.
They kicked down the door, letting out a crazed laugh, despite it being unlocked and all. I think they just wanted to feel like bad boys. The youths ran out and dashed to the gates, cutting down familiar faces, that weren’t so family-like anymore.
Successfully making it to the clearing, past Cassaden and his killer. What they saw was nothing short of nightmarish, the Brood had reached the plains. Everything was twisted and contorted from what they were, evil was waiting where peace once flourished. The youths fought off waves of abominations until their laser pikes broke. It was then that Dresden handed out old, metal weapons. “Take these, looks like you point this end at them and pull this little trigger. And pull this part back each time you,” pausing and looking the device with a confused glare. “Uhh, shoot it?”
Echo and Bassianus were handed similar two handed mechanisms that had inscribed on the side “Gnasher Shotgun.” Verona was handed a smaller one handed mechanism that had inscribed on the bottom “Magnum Pistol.” Luna was given a two handed mechanism that had what seemed to be a telescope mounted on it. Hellina snatched two daggers from Dresden and walked off.
Luna looked down the scope and put the crosshairs on a spiky, ferocious monster’s head and shot. Its head exploded and metallic, crimson liquid splattered everywhere. Luna let out a demented laugh that scared the rest of the group. Bassianus and Echo seemed to have picked up the skills needed quickly, as there were many dead infected oxadillos lying in their wake. Dresden had a mechanism that shot repeatedly and quickly. They all mowed down the monsters, whether by shooting or slicing.
After what seemed like a millennium, the teens reached the sea. Each of them were bloodied, they found found a small boat. One that held all of them. As they got in, one after another, Dresden started to untie the rope that held the floating vehicle in place.
“Hurry, get in Dresden!” worried Verona.
“No, I’ll, uhh, I’ll slow them,” Dresden replied with a low tone.
Simultaneously Echo and Bassianus yelled, “Are you crazy? You won’t last long!”
“I’ll last long enough for you to reach the other side of this water and warn the people and help them prepare for the coming hell. How long do you think it will take them to conquer the sea? They can already fly! The Brood will not stop until everything on this planet is one.” On cue, there was a roar that shook the dock. Dresden kicked the boat away from the dock, Echo and Bassianus found oars and began to row, respecting Dresden’s choice. His sacrifice. As they rowed off, they watched as Dresden went weapon to weapon, putting one atrocity down after another. He set fire to the dock, he got down to just his own fists, and even then he was dropping them like pesky bugs. The infested picked him up, but he did not stop. He picked a dagger out of the back of the infested monster and began to fight back and took down more.
“How long did it take you to make that up?” snorted a neighborhood kid.
“But I didn’t make it up!” retorted the elderly fellow.
“You expect that to fool anyone, Bassianus?”
Just then, there was an explosion that shook the city. Bassianus and the youth both ran from the spot they were at on the sidewalk only to see a disturbing image. There stood not to far off was a figure. Bones protruded its skin, pus dripped from where the bones were, breathing heavy. It just stood there as other creatures that shared the figures bony, oozy appearance ran amok amongst the city of Scaldrin. Though the figure’s skin was moving and crawling, it stood there. As if sculpted from stone.