"What the fuck happened here?" Mike Thompson asked.
They looked at the naked body of Karl Steer. They'd found him in the middle of the cavern, illuminated by one of the shafts of blue light shining down from the strange crystal formations in the ceiling. He was on his knees and staring up at the lights with an expression of rapture.
He was quite dead.
Thompson prodded him with the butt of his rifle to make sure.
"Is that a smile?" Thompson asked.
Damn creepy, Bill Willets thought. Steer looked like he'd been frozen in an act of prayer. His eyes were turned upwards and a wide grin was carved on his lips. He looked completely at peace, like some kind of Buddhist Zen master.
Steer was a vicious bastard who used to get his jollies from pissing on Iraqi prisoners and wiring them up to the mains.
"I've found Amott," Bench called out.
"Walker is over here."
Six men, scattered throughout a large cavern, all dead, all without a mark on their body and all looking like they'd just glimpsed heaven. Fucked up, Willets thought. The squad was spooked. They stood in pensive silence, lit up by the soft blue glow that bathed the cavern. An underground breeze gusted through the crystal formations and caused them to tinkle with an eerie melody.
"We have found the remains of Squad Alpha, over," Squad Leader Dan Ward spoke into his radio.
"What killed him?" Thompson asked Ken Whale. The other man was on his knees and examining Steer's corpse.
"Not a fucking clue," Whale replied. "There's nothing on his body I can see. I wouldn't be surprised if he suddenly started breathing again." He jabbed a hypodermic into the corpse's arm and withdrew a blood sample. "Maybe the lab boys can make something of it."
Willets stared around the cavern. The glowing crystalline rock formations provided a kind of natural light. Stronger shafts shone down from larger structures in the ceiling like spotlights. Willets scanned the stalagmites and rock formations with a practised eye, making a mental note of the possible hiding places and ambush spots.
Ward finished talking on the radio.
"Control are going to send down a science team to examine the area and retrieve the bodies," he said. "Our orders are to secure the area and await their arrival."
"Fuck!" Thompson said, punching the air in frustration.
It had taken them four hours of travelling through the tunnels to reach this cavern. It would take the other team at least as long to reach here, maybe longer depending on the general fitness of the scientists.
"With all due respect sir, I'm not sure that's a good idea," Whale said. "We don't know what killed these men. There could be a toxin or radiation in the air we're exposing ourselves to right now."
"Those are our orders," Ward said.
Willets wasn't too impressed with their squad leader. He was another in the production line of brash kids straight out of academy, smart but too sure of themselves. He knew the theory, sure, but Willets didn't think Ward had the experience to make the correct decisions if the situation went totally fubar.
In hell-space the situations always ended up going fubar. This new dimension the scientists had discovered was the very definition of fucked up.
"Thompson, Willets, secure the entrance," Ward ordered. "Bench, Ingram, take the left. Whale, you take the right with me. Maintain sight contact at all times. Secure a perimeter around the cavern floor encompassing the bodies of Squad Alpha."
Willets didn't think that was possible. Their team was too small and the terrain too broken. Even the best vantage points would still have too many blind spots, especially in the poor light. He and Thompson took up positions on either side of the entrance into the cavern.
"We should get the fuck out of here," Thompson said.
Willets scanned the floor of the cavern, peering into the shadows for any sign of movement. Right in the centre, where the light was strongest, Steer continued to kneel, frozen in a perpetual pose of worship.
To what, was Willets's thought.
"And I mean right the fuck out of this dimension," Thompson continued. "We don't belong here. We're only here because some old fucks think they can add a couple of extra zeros to their bank balance. It's just like Iraq, only a million times worse."
Movement caught Willets's eye. He tightened his grip on his M16 and then relaxed when he saw it was Ingram.
"At least in Iraq we had an edge," Thompson said. "Here we've got fucking nothing. The things we're fighting aren't even human."
Willets scanned across to the right, watching Whale as he scaled a small rise.
"Command calls it hostile fauna, like it's some kind of dumb animal that's in the way. Fucking bullshit."
Willets switched his attentions to the tunnel entrance. Veins of crystal running through the rock lit up the walls with a dim phosphoresce. He could see down the tunnel maybe forty metres before it turned to the left. A cable ran along the floor. Alpha had rolled it out to both find their way back and relay signals back up to the surface.
"I heard a story from a friend out in G-Division," Thompson started. "His squad ran into some kind of monster. Had the bottom half of a giant spider and the top half of a beautiful girl. She had them all wrapped up in silk before they could do anything and then proceeded to eat them one by one.
"She didn't just eat them, she fucked them first. He hung there and watched as she made each of his squad mates fuck her over and over until they couldn't anymore. Then she bit their head off and moved onto the next. She was about to start on him when backup arrived with flame throwers to drive her off.
"The worst thing, he said, was that the top half, the female half, was the hottest girl he'd ever seen in his life. He said he even jacks off to the memory of her. Can't help himself. How fucked up is that?"
Willets looked back into the cavern, seeing again the frozen form of Steer kneeling in the blue light.
"Fucking fauna. Bullshit. This place is some kind of living nightmare."
Willets looked to the left and right. None of the rest of the squad was in view. He didn't like that at all.
"I got two daughters back home," Thompson said. "I can face dying, even out here, but the thought of something getting back into our world keeps me up at night."
Willets thought he saw movement in the corner of his eye, a flash of something pale rather than the dull tan of their uniforms. When he turned there was nothing there.
Willets gripped his rifle tighter.
"If you ask me we should get the fuck out of here, close the gate and throw away the key," Thompson continued. "There's nothing for us here but madness and death."
Willets was getting steadily more concerned, but then he picked out Whale on the other side of the cavern. The medic flashed him the okay sign and Willets signalled back.
"What do you think?" Thompson asked.
"You talk too much," Willets replied.
"Well ... yeah ... and you smile too much," Thompson retorted.
The corner of Willets's lip twisted upwards. That was about as much of a smile as he permitted himself nowadays.
A cry rang out from the left hand side of the cave. Both soldiers immediately turned to the noise.
Strange, didn't sound like a cry of pain, Willets thought. More like—
"Did that just sound like someone spunking the biggest load ever?" Thompson asked. There was no humour in his voice.
"Watch my back," Willets said.
Thompson nodded, serious now. He raised his rifle and sidestepped into cover behind a rock cluster next to the entrance. He motioned Willets on.
Willets dropped to a crouch and cautiously moved out across the cavern floor. He hoped Ward and Whale were doing the same from the right. He picked his way through the forest of stalagmites, surrounded by the weird blue glow of the crystals littering the cavern. The breeze played a haunting melody above his head.
The cry had stopped. Instead Willets heard low liquid sounds, like water quietly sloshing through a pipe.
A rattle from back near the entrance caused him to spin around sharply. Thompson was no longer covering him. Willets couldn't even see him.
Willets heard a noise behind him. He turned back and found himself looking at a young woman. She hung upside down in front of him.
No, not a girl, something alien. She was naked and her exposed breasts seemed too large in relation to her slender body, like the impossibly perfect images peddled by disreputable plastic surgeons. They held their shape in defiance of gravity as she hung upside down. Her skin betrayed her as truly not human. It was translucent grey in colour and flecked with streaks of white and pink. A long mane of silky white hair cascaded down beneath her.
Her eyes opened, revealing two multi-faceted blue orbs. Her bloodless lips curled up in a hungry smile.
Light splintered and reflected off the glittering facets of her eyes. Willets's gaze was drawn in and trapped within a maze of sapphire mirrors. His gun fell from nerveless fingers. He didn't even hear it clatter against the floor. He stood transfixed like a statue as soft grey coils descended from above and looped around his body.
Willets blinked uncertainly.
What had happened?
He'd been holding his gun and staring at an alien creature that had the face and breasts of a centrefold model. Then her eyes had flashed blue and...
Thick coils of soft flesh were wrapped tightly around his body. They pulsed and undulated as strange liquid processes throbbed beneath the grey, slightly translucent skin. His first thought was he was trapped within the coils of a gigantic serpent, but the creature's skin didn't look like a snake's. There were no scales. Instead the surface was soft and moist, like an amphibian or worm. He wasn't really being constricted either. There was a gentle pressure all around his body, but it was easy enough to draw breath. For now the creature seemed content enough to hold him in place.
Willets was naked. He had no idea where his clothes or equipment were. He looked for his gun and instead saw Steer's kneeling body.
He had to escape this thing.
Willets gritted his teeth, flexed his arms and began to push out against the serpentine body wrapped around him. Willets was a powerful man, his body hard from many years of physical exercise. He grunted and pushed and felt the coils give a little.
Perspiration beaded Willets's forehead and the muscles of his neck stood out like cords as he continued to exert himself. It was hard work. The coils were soft and elastic, but they were also extremely thick and heavy. It was like being buried under a giant, water-filled tube.
Willets's face reddened as he continued to push outwards. If he could only get his arms free.
No! He could feel his arms trembling as the exertion took its toll. Come on. A little more...
Willets growled his frustration as he reached the limits of his strength. He stopped to catch his breath and the coils immediately squeezed back up against him, forcing his arms back to his sides and holding him immobile.
"You won't escape my coils like that."
The voice sounded feminine, seductive even, but there were strange melodies and cadencies woven into the sound. Willets found it disconcerting to hear English spoken in such a voice, doubly so given the voice's sultry tone.
Light hands rested against Willets's temples. He shook them off and resumed his struggles. His first attempt had taken too much out of him though. He could barely move his arms from his sides and no amount of twisting or wriggling would get him free. Exhaustion finally won as he stopped to rest.
"If you're quite finished why don't you relax and enjoy my embrace," the musical voice soothed. "My body is soft and comfortable."
She was correct on that. Willets relaxed and the coils supported his weight. His head rested between two soft pillows. They were the breasts he'd seen earlier he realised. He lay there and tried to get his breath back. The creature caressed his head with light hands.
"Doesn't that feel comfortable?" the girl whispered in his ear. A flickering tongue tickled around his earlobe.
Willets sank deeper into her coils. Her flesh slithered and undulated around him, gently massaging his body. Her skin exuded a subtle, perfumed oil that tickled Willets's nostrils and made him feel strangely aroused. Her body rubbed up against him, pushing his growing erection against his stomach.
"It's okay to feel aroused," the voice whispered lasciviously. "I can fulfil your desires." She gave his body a gentle squeeze.
This was wrong, Willets thought. The girl was an abomination, a demon. She wasn't even human. How could he feel turned on at this?
"I can fuck you."
Willets watched as she raised a blunt tail before him. The end opened out like a worm's mouth to reveal the fleshy slit of a moist orifice. It looked perversely like a woman's pussy, naked and hairless. Fluids dribbled out from between fleshy lips and the cloying aroma of sex assailed Willets's nostrils.
"It will be the most pleasurable fucking you'll ever experience," the alien voice breathed huskily into his ear.
"What did you do to the others?" Willets asked. He could still see Steer's still form kneeling in a blue shaft of light.
"My sisters and I fucked them and then we sucked out their souls. They died in perfect bliss, just as you will."
The coils around his waist parted and the tail burrowed between them. Willets tried to struggle, but her body held him firmly in place. He felt moist lips pushing against the tip of his cock. They parted around his glans and he felt a thrill of pleasure as his cock slid into a warm, well-lubricated channel. It felt like a pussy, but it was the tightest, most tactile pussy he'd ever entered.
"Get the fuck off me!" Willets yelled, trying to shake her off him.