Phalanx Chapter 11: Death to Nermal

Nexan Outpost #12

Metropolis Outskirts

Nexa 2-12-2608

"Before you guys go crazy with the guns, I want volt pikes and ballistic shields on everyone. We'll be fighting in close quarters and I don't want any collateral damage." Broderick stated, shooting Damien a blistering glare.

Damien re-racked the shotgun moodily; Kyle and Rhea followed suit, both of whom were packing similar methods of overkill. They were finally dealing with Nermal; unfortunately, Broderick had made it quite clear that this operation would be anything but simple. Quite frankly, Chris would have been content to just kickback and watch Damien go nuts with his shotgun.

All the same, Chris unracked a volt pike. He stared at the weapon critically, it had been a long time since he had used one of these and he really wasn't too stoked to be using one again. The volt pike worked off the same principle as a volt slug, it penetrates a target and fries its nervous system. Though it sounded good in theory, they had bargain bin pikes with exposed wiring, silver plated tips, and peeling rubber insulation. Not to mention that the outdated version was heavy as a barbell...

He grabbed an equally heavy ballistic shield and clipped on his favorite volt rifle.

"Hey, have you noticed that we're missing a good six or seven powder crates?" Leon asked randomly, pulling down a shield of his own.

"You think Broderick made another bomb?" Chris asked, not missing a beat.

"Without a doubt, why else would we be flying below the radar today?" Leon asked, clipping the shield onto his gauntlet.

"Because we kicked an epic amount of ass yesterday, and bought ourselves an awol day." Kyle interjected, attaching a clip-on bayonet to the butt of his pike.

"No, it had to be a bomb. We're missing several kegs of tritonal too." Leon jabbed blatantly, cutting off any further outlets of input for Kyle.

"Don't forget the land mines, I emptied out quite a few of those as well." Broderick butted in, effectively materializing out of nowhere.

Both Chris and Leon flinched at the sound of his voice, much to Kyle's amusement.

Broderick wordlessly pulled down a pike and a shield and left them to their awkward silence.

"He totally owned you; like a boss." Kyle snickered crudely, jovially whacking Leon's shoulder.

"Drop dead Kyle." Leon replied, not so jovially swatting Kyle in the back of the head.

It didn't take them long to equip themselves, not even minutes later they were following Broderick and Damien to the elevator. Chris made a mental note to stay clear of Damien, who had a 0.60 caliber rifle clipped to his black.

"Does everyone know their part?" Broderick asked unnecessarily, tapping the elevator button.

"Dude, if you engraved it any deeper into our brains we'd be coughing up gray matter." Kyle stated bluntly, effectively speaking for all them.

Chris couldn't help but grin, Kyle summed up Broderick's previous briefing perfectly. It was amazing how Broderick could take something as simple as icing a monster and twist it into a half an hour long lecture on proper implementation of juggernaut tactics and safety protocol.

Choosing not to respond, Broderick jabbed the elevator button a second time. Possibly feeling pressured, the elevator doors swung open in their usual rickety fashion accompanied by a disconcerting ding. They all piled into the small carriage and with another press of a button they dropped down to the bottom floor.

As they trekked through the rec room, Chris wondered what the bathroom would look like after retaining a war monster for a week and a half. He could easily imagine a post apocalyptic bathroom scene: shattered urinals, sinks torn from the walls, water damage, and peeling linoleum. All the same, it was better than dealing with gender protocol.

"Okay, so who wants ta' place bets on the current state of the men's room?" Kyle asked randomly, capitalizing on the situation.

"If anyone's willing to bet against me, twenty bucks it looks like Kyle's room." Rhea chimed, capitalizing on her lack of civility.

"You don't get make to make profit off of our bathroom, you're not a dude." Kyle countered coolly, turning to Chris. "How 'bout you, Rash?"

"Sure, thirty bucks it looks like Kyle's room." Chris said, somewhat miffed.

"Thirty bucks from me too, although I'm not getting my hopes up." Leon followed up.

"Naw, I'll take you both you both on; thirty bucks it looks better than my room." Kyle said, probably just to irritate Rhea more than anything else.

Easiest thirty bucks I've earned in a long time. Chris thought confidently, watching Rhea bicker with Kyle.

The quarrel rapidly dissolved as they neared the men's bathroom. The silence that ensued wasn't anything less than unnerving. They were only a few yards away from the door and Nermal hadn't made a sound..

"Alright, Chris, Leon, Rhea; you three hang back for now. Be prepared to run in as soon as Damien and I break our way through. Kyle, get the door." Broderick delegated.

Kyle skittishly ran up to door, planting himself flat against the adjacent wall. With Kyle in position, Broderick cautiously extended his volt pike and held it out in front of the door.

He proceeded to rap his pike on the tile, making sure to keep the spear head visible through Nermal's peep hole. Surely enough, the tip of Nermal's muzzle pressed up against the torn grate.

"Get ready..." Broderick warned, keeping the predator preoccupied.

Broderick jerked his volt pike back as Nermal's tongue fired from the opening, missing his weapon by inches and ramming into the wall. Both Broderick and Damien jumped over the tendril and slid up to the other side of the door just as Nermal's tongue retracted.

"Kyle now!" Broderick shouted, throwing up his shield.

Kyle swung open the door and Damien and Broderick both swung in. Without a moment's hesitation Chris charged in after them with Rhea and Leon in tow; yet no sooner had they taken their first steps were Broderick and Damien expelled from the bathroom. Kyle ducked behind the door as Nermal ran out after them, trampling the two soldiers beneath him.

Oh crap...

Chris had forgotten just how fearsome Nermal was. The bear sized reptillainesque monster sported a jet black scaly hide, massive hooked talons, and serrated teeth too large to fit within the confines of its giant maw, which appeared to take up two thirds of its head.

Chris cringed as Nermal unleashed an ear drum shattering shriek, his pupils spasming wildly. Chris threw up his shield defensively as the monster turned and charged at them. Nermal cleared the distance between the two of them in a fraction of second, effortlessly plowing through Chris and Leon and cannoning straight into Rhea. Chris landed hard on his back, his shield arm completely numb.

He heard a series of thundering impacts from afar as Nermal hailed blow after blow on Rhea's rapidly crumpling shield. Shaking off the shock, Chris rolled back onto his feet and retrieved his pike.

Where the hell are Broderick and Damien?

There was little time to wait for back up; Nermal had Rhea pinned down beneath her shield with one massive claw, the other punching dent after dent into the polyethylene barrier. Chris recklessly charged straight toward Nermal's exposed back, channeling his weight and momentum behind his pike.

Nermal shifted to the side, letting Chris' pike soar right past his head. In a lightning move Nermal jerked the pike clean out his hands, shattering the shaft in his crushing bite. Not wasting any energy, Chris toppled clean into the monster. Yet in a similar fashion to his pike, Chris was swept aside mid blow with an effortless flick of Nermal's tail.

Chris' flight path was interrupted by a reinforced steel plated wall, leaving him thoroughly jarred. Nermal wasn't left with any breathing time though as he was engulfed in a hail of gunfire. Nermal shrieked in pain as he was peppered with shells. Taking one last swipe at Rhea, the monster turned and bolted down the hall on all fours.

Initial shock subsiding, Chris jerkily rolled onto his stomach and pushed himself back up to his feet. Leon, Broderick, and Damien where not far back, each of them toting their secondary armaments.

Chris grimaced and turned to Rhea, who was struggling to push herself onto her knees. The Kevlar covering her arms and shoulders was shredded and bloody, her left arm hanging at her side awkwardly.

"Are you alright?" Chris asked, pulling her up on her feet by her "good" arm.

"Never felt better." She responded through gritted teeth. Choosing to ignore the sarcasm, Chris redirected his attention to her limp arm; judging by what was left of her shield he wouldn't of been surprised if it was fractured.

"Hey, are you two okay?" Broderick shouted, running up to them.

Rhea chose not respond, although Chris had already assumed that.

"I'm fine, there's something wrong with Rhea's arm though." He said.

Chris could hear Broderick swearing under his breath as he reached them; they really couldn't afford to be dealing with all of these injuries.

"Alright, brace yourself." Broderick said, taking her hand. Rhea cringed as Broderick ran his hand up her arm, feeling for any fractures. He stopped at the shoulder and without warning, swung her arm out to its side. Rhea unleashed a stream of obscenities that made Broderick seem like a saint. Ignoring her, Broderick pressed down on her shoulder with his free hand.

"You're fine, you're shoulder's just dislocated." Broderick said, sounding relieved. After a few moments he lowered Rhea's arm.

"Leon, stay back and tend to Rhea. Damien, swap guns with Kyle. He's hanging back too so they'll have at least one person with a heavy armament." Broderick ordered.

Damien grudgingly traded his high caliber rifle for Kyle's diminutive sub machine gun. Kyle, who seemed happy to be excused from the fray had no objections. This didn't sit well with Chris though. Nermal had no problem taking on the six of them; dealing with Nermal was going to be a nightmare with their numbers halved.

Yet Broderick was already moving, Damien not far behind him. Irate, Chris picked up Rhea's discarded pike and followed them. She wasn't going to be using it anytime soon anyway...

As they ran down the winding hallway, Chris noted the lack of blood trail. Nermal had to have at least taken several bullets to the broadside of its back and there was no evidence that they had wounded him at all.

Evidence, apparently decided to be an ass today and skip scene entirely, since the rec. room was just as clean as the hallway.

"Alright, you two secure the area, I'm gonna chance a run to the armory and see I can get my hands on something with a little more kick since we're not fighting in close quarters anymore." Broderick said, casually walking over to the elevator.

Surely enough, he made it there without being jumped and with a press of a button cut their chances of survival by a third. Chris and Damien stood at the entrance, lacking both a plan of action and adequate weapons.

"So, now what?" Chris asked uncertainly.

"We really don't have a large area to cover, considerin' how big Nermal is. You stay and keep watch, and go I'll go flush 'im out." Damien said, putting it simply.

That was more than fine with Chris, who really wasn't in the mood to go poking around in a cavernous room for a blood thirsty war monster.

And so Damien awkwardly made his way around the rec room. There really weren't a lot of potential hiding places for Nermal. Maybe he could fit behind a sofa, a wall unit, or the elevator chute...

The first item on Chris' mental list was dashed as Damien checked behind the pair of mismatched couches in front of the television. He checked around the hidden part of the wall units, and even around the long table. After a few more minutes of fruitless searching, Damien turned to the elevator.

"I guess we know where Nermal's hidin' then. Get ready to fire." Damien said, walking over to the shaft.

Chris propped his pike against the wall and pulled out his preloaded rifle; taking a down Nermal should be as simple as a head shot. He curled his finger around the trigger as Damien cautiously walked around the side of the elevator.

Chris' whole body involuntarily tensed as Damien disappeared around corner of the free standing elevator shaft.

"Well, do you see anything?" Chris called out.

"Hold on a sec." Damien hollered back.

Chris shook his head; if Nermal was hiding back there Damien would have seen him by now. He couldn't have escaped through the front doors, which were the only doors in the outpost that opened inward. He had to be in here somewhere... unless...

Cringing, Chris slowly raised his eyes to the ceiling. Of course...

Nermal was right above him, just like the twisted freak from before. Defying all logic, the half ton monster was perched on the ceiling like a fly, leaving no marks in scrap metal. Chris' whole body seized up as Nermal dropped from the ceiling with a crippling shriek.

Chris threw his shield up over his head instinctively. A wave of pain lanced down his spine as Nermal slammed into the shield. Chris' knees began to buckle as Nermal's weight began to take its toll and for a split second him and Nermal were face to blasting through his veins, Chris swung his shield outward, catapulting Nermal across the room and clean into the long table.

Nermal plowed clear through the table and benches with a heavy crash. No sooner had Nermal hit the floor did Damien swing around from the other side of the elevator shaft.

"You're dead Nermal!" Damien shouted, tossing aside his pike.

He whipped Kyle's machine gun from his back and open fired with trained precision. Waves of bullets peppered Nermal's thick hide, but it was to no avail. Unperturbed, Nermal hoisted the overturned long table over its head and turned to Damien.

Taking advantage of the distraction, Chris lined up Nermal's head in the reticle of his rifle. Just when he had set up a perfect shot Nermal jerked back violently, dissapearing from the crosshair. Before Chris could figure out what was happening he was blasted off his feet by a massive force. He flew through the air for a good second or so before slamming into the ground, driven down by the weight of the steel table.

An odd tingling sensation traveled down Chris' spine and radiated through his body and he became completely numb. Through his blurred vision he could see nothing but a dull expanse of grey, at this point Chris made a mental note to just stay down and out.

Not wasting any time, Nermal dropped down onto all fours and bolted toward Damien, who dove for his volt pike. A scene worthy of a slow motion replay, Damien slid clean under the pouncing Nermal and grabbed his pike mid jump. Damien rolled back onto his feet with his pike held out in front of him. Nermal swung around and took a staggering swipe toward the soldier's head, Damien ducked the blow and thrusted his pike toward Nermal's throat. Equally nimble, Nermal swerved aside, the pike only grazing the tip of his shoulder.

Holding their ground, the two behemoths traded blows in front of the elevator. Meanwhile, Chris slowly worked his way out from under the heavy long table. The pain was setting in fast and so far he had only slid the table off his helm. At least he had a clear view of the fight, but that wouldn't save him if Nermal won. Throwing thrust after thrust, Damien gradually drove Nermal back against the elevator. Refusing to be flanked, Nermal swatted Damien's pike out of his hand, sending it spiralling right toward Chris where it clattered off the broad side of the table.

Making due, Damien bludgeoned Nermal in the side of the head with with shield. The monster's head whipped back in the opposite direction as Damien nailed him with another hook. Damien's flurry was cut short as Nermal batted him aside with a heavy arm. Chris pried at the table with a renewed vigor as Nermal pinned Damien to the ground, pulling his left arm free. As he did, he noticed the volt pike lying only a few inches away from him. Just as things seemed like they couldn't get any more hectic, an awkward ding! pierced through the air as the elevator doors swung open. Broderick bolted from the elevator and jumped onto Nermal's back, fastening his arms around the monster's neck. Nermal staggered backward prying at Broderick arms, allowing Damien to get back onto his feet.

"Damien, heads up!" Chris hollered, grabbing the pike with his free arm. Taking a moment to prepare himself, Chris hurled the volt pike across the room. Damien swung around just in time to lung for the weapon which looked like it was going to fall a few feet short. Nevertheless, Damien caught the pike by the end of the shaft and in one fluid motion he swung around and drove the pike deep into Nermal's exposed stomach.

Nermal shrieked as a lethal surge of electricty charged through the silver plated spear head and radiated through his body. The monster tore away at the pike, leaving Broderick free to readjust his grip around the Nermal's neck. Just as Nermal managed to shatter the pike Broderick wrapped an arm around his muzzle and with a sickening series of snaps twisted his neck a full one hundred-sixty degrees. The war monster promptly went limp and slumped to ground.

Broderick stepped back from Nermal, who was completely still.

"Is he dead?" Damien asked, prodding Nermal with the remainder of his pike.

"Dead or paralyzed, either way he's not a threat anymore," Broderick muttered, not looking up from his kill. "Toss him outside of the gates, I need to drag the howitzer back up to the armory."

"You brought down howitzer? Don'tcha think that's just a little bit overkill?"

"Overkill? Don't know the meaning of the term."

Hey, wazzap peoples?! Long time no see; due to my painfully erratic posting time, I have taken the liberty of going ahead and completing multiple chapters before showing my face again (so you can expect weekly updates). Phalanx is pretty far along, although you dudes have another 20 chapters to go before you see the end. Anyway, if you have made it this far... you own the internet. Thanks for sticking around this far, every review cuases my face to sickeningly contort with unnerving happiness. It looks somewhat like this:


Cheers! Reviews are returned, so feel free (did I say free? I meant morally OBLIGATED) to hop on in and click the magical button. :D