Albus slowly blinked his eyes open. His head hurt, a lot. It took him a long while before he could move, not because he was paralyzed, but because of the pain coursing through his body, which had roughly the same effect. He had landed on something hard – it felt like steel – which he guessed belonged to the elevator that had once traveled up and down the shaft he and the others occupied now.
The groans of four other voices told him the others were alive. He sat up, looking around, but he couldn’t see anything in the blackness this far below.
“Everyone alright?” he asked.
“Sh! Not so loud!” whispered Cheng. “They’re still up there!”
He heard Nero, Aurus, Red, and Cheng scuffling around, clattering some as they picked up their weapons. Albus remained still, remembering where he was. They were in a facility in the middle of the desert, and a horde of monsters had attacked them, causing them to fall in the elevator shaft during their defense. Naturally the monsters were still up there, waiting for them to come back up, or for some scout to confirm all their deaths.
There was a clicking sound from above, like some large insect snapping its mandibles in the beginning of a warning. It was cut short by a gunshot, and it fell with a clatter onto the elevator. There were malevolent screams from above.
“Quick, in here!” called Red from somewhere to Albus’s left. He crawled along the top of the elevator, until he felt Red’s hand grip his arm.
“You feeling alright?” Red asked him. More gunfire.
“Yeah, I’m fine. It’s just so dark.”
“Um…” Red helped him though the emergency panel into the elevator. A moment later, two more pairs of feet joined him. The noises of the monsters deafened, but not by much. More shots.
They forced their way through the door, which they closed after them. The monsters were muffled, but they were still coming.
“Wow,” said Cheng.
“What is it?” asked Albus. “Do you see something?”
“Yeah, we’re in some kind of hangar. I see a whole lot of somethings.”
“Then why is everything bla…” it suddenly dawned on him. He, Albus, was blind.
Violet and Adrina sat on the floor of the sealed vault, arms around each other for comfort. Giovani sat nearby, staring with them at the vault door, from which loud bangs and crashes emanated as the monsters outside attempted to get in. But these noises were sporadic and half-hearted; Giovvani suspected that the monsters had tried to get in before, and had failed that time. Eventually, they stopped, the monsters having resigned themselves to waiting out their prey.
Well, waiting them out would work. They had no food in here, no water. Giovani even worried if they had air enough for them to be concerned with their lack of food and water.
Agitated, Giovani stood up, scouring the room again for a way out. Nothing. If they were going to get out, they were going to have to rely on their friends, trapped somewhere outside of the vault.
Cheng grinned, surveyed the wreckage around her. The ruined remains of dozens of tanks, humvees, choppers, and jets lay scattered around the hangar, either in the place the facility creators had intended, or else tossed around by the more expressive of the monsters that had previously attacked this place.
“Cheng!” called Nero. “Is there anything we can use here?”
“Does a necroid eat brains? Yeah!” she replied.
“Right! Cheng, take Red and look for any weapons you can find. Aurus, you and I will hold off the monsters here. We’ve got a good choke with this elevator.”
Cheng looked behind her toward the elevator. Albus sat on the ground, eyes open, but seeing nothing. Nero and Aurus faced the elevator, guns at the ready for anything that came after them. They could still hear the muffled cries of the monsters descending through the shaft.
Red pulled her away, and they raced further into the hangar, searching the destroyed vehicles. Unfortunately, all of their damage seemed to be concentrated around their weapons systems. Cheng frowned. She had never seen destruction by monsters so careful, so systematic, that it was almost premeditated.
Behind them, the monsters had reached the bottom of the shaft. They heard the gunfire of Nero and Aurus keeping the monsters at bay, but they knew now they only had a limited time. They needed to find something fast.
They stopped. There, before them, was a huge, steel door, blemished by burns and what appeared to be gunfire, but undented, whole.
“Let’s try behind there,” said Cheng, racing toward the door.
At the base stood a small panel, just enough to fit one’s thumb on it. Cheng had seen enough sci-fi to know what it was for.
“Welcome, Cheng Yue,” said a feminine voice. The door slowly slid open.
Cheng quickly overcame her astonishment that the computer knew her name, and gaped at the sight behind the door.
There, in undiminished, unblemished, glory, stood a large tank. It was obviously some kind of prototype, owing to the non-existent paint job, but that didn’t stop Cheng from nearly squealing in delight, despite their situation.
“Can you drive this?” Red asked as they raced toward the tank.
“I think so. I’ve played a couple good tank sims. Oo! Check over there while I try starting her up.” She pointed toward a series of containers along the wall.
Cheng climbed up and dropped herself inside, quickly establishing the chair that belonged to the pilot. The keys lay on the seat, which she put in the ignition. The engine revved to life, and Cheng grinned broadly.
“Now, this should be forward,” she said, working the controls. The tank moved forward. “Left. Right. Good.”
Red appeared at the entrance. “You should see all the weapons they have in these,” he said, handing down one of the containers.
“Nice. Now, take the turret.”
Together, they rolled out into the hangar. Cheng had a screen in front of her that displayed what was ahead of them, and steered them toward the elevator, where Nero and Aurus were busy fending off the smaller monsters that could fit through.
“Ready?” Cheng asked.
“Yep. Just let me decide between laser or machine gun.”
“What? That’s not even a debate! Definitely laser.”
A moment later, a red beam shot out from the cannon, hitting a monster crawling out of the elevator. It screamed for a moment, then fell silent.
Cheng climbed out of the tank. “Nero, Aurus, Albus! Get over here!”
The three raced to the tank, Aurus helping Albus along. A moment later, they were all inside.
“Red, keep that laser on the elevator. Cheng, the hangar door is that way. He pointed in the direction away from the elevator.
“They have to have some way to get all these vehicles out, right?”
Giovani and Violet stood, the latter still holding Adrina. There were screams from outside, a mixture of anger, pain, and…fear? A moment later the sounds were gone, replaced by the sound of the combination. The door opened.
There stood Nero, a huge tank behind him that had crushed half the building on its way in. The charred remains of a dozen monsters lay around them.
“Come on,” he said. “We’re getting out of here.”