Dragon Scales

Chapter 0: Void ~Garandou~

"Warning, Facility Breached. Warning, Facility Breached. All Personnel on Red Alert, All Personnel on Red Alert."

An alarm, like the declaration of war, repeated the warning over and over again. The sounds echoed and amplified, resonating within the brightly lit hallways that one minute ago had been dead silent. Footsteps, dozens of them, created a repetition of clutter that did not drown out the blaring alarm.

Footsoldiers – men wearing black armored uniforms of neo-steel polyfiber, donned in high-tech sensory headgear with HUD display, geared with a mixture of P90 submachine guns and M-16 carbines, marched in an organized fashion of four columns from their barracks. Only a minute earlier, they had been playing poker, drinking beer, checking bets on E-bay, and resting in the bunks. The time it took them to fully equip themselves indicated their speed and skill, as they were paid to do only one thing: gun down the bastards that dare to threaten the integrity of this important facility.

Spreading out into different squads, Alpha squadron took the lead down sector ten, where the breach had originated from. The men all knew their protocols by heart, yet never before did internal breach ever occur inside this facility, extending to 1 kilometer beneath the ground. They were anxious, and hoped that their rigorous training had prepared them for the possible threats within the facility itself.

No one told them what was in sector ten. No one told them what was in store within that dark chamber with its titanium-alloy gates pried open.

"Captain, I've got a bio-reading fifty yards ahead." One of the team members had done a scan of the area, where night-vision goggles were a must. Thankfully, all of the men's visors had that capability, giving them sight almost as bright as day.

"Just one? Got any data feedback on it?" The captain of Alpha squad asked.

"Not much. It's a small life form, humanoid. The higher-ups have yet to radio back actions regarding sector 10 breach. Shall we wait for further orders?" Came the reply.

"Hmm… make contact of any team nearby, have them come as backup. You two, scout ahead. You have my permission to fire at will at any hostiles." Giving out the orders with a whisper over the intercom, the captain motioned for the rest of his men to follow as the two scouts dashed forward.

After what felt like a few minutes' careful walk, with weapons raised and bodies crouched, Alpha team had shortened the distance by thirty yards when one of the scouts radioed in.

"We found the target; it's just a frightened girl hugging the corner, nothing more." As they were informed of the finding, several men relaxed, just by a muscle.

"Hey, miss, are you alright? Can you stand up?" One of the scouts asked the girl sitting on the ground. She couldn't be older than his sister, who just finished university recently. Strangely enough, the girl wore what appeared to be a hospital gown, and beneath those she appeared malnourished and thin.

When she looked up, the scouts honestly thought she was crying because she was frightened. They were mesmerized by the pools of her eyes, and failed to realize how she was able to see them in the dark without fear of the intensity of flashlights, or question why she was there in a supposedly sealed chamber of all places.

"Yes, I think so…" She responded in a soft voice, wiping her eyes with one hand and taking the scout's hand.

As he pulled her up, the scout happened to notice a plastic tag wrapped around her wrist.

"Subject… ID number 1011, sector 10, biohazard level 10?" He said out loud in surprise.

The girl looked at him with emotionless eyes, as if she expected them to discover the inevitable and had already dropped the meaningless facade. She felt a little sad her plan did not work, and quickly reminded herself that there was never a plan to begin with. Exhaling lightly, the girl focused on the hand she was holding, and felt the reawakening of her power.

At the same time, the scout felt an odd sensation, as if his whole body had been soaked into a steamy sauna, His face burnt as sweat and steam built up within his facemask. Could it be that after years of not seeing the opposite sex, he was more attracted to the girl than he should be? A second later, his body felt even hotter, as if his blood was boiling, and was stunned when he saw through the visor that the temperature reading was well above one hundred degrees Celsius and rising fast. If he were not so distracted, the soldier would have noticed the tiny spark of light marking the beginning of the end.

"Oh my god, man, you are on fire!" The scout beside him screamed out not a moment too soon.

Red flames had erupted all over the scout's body, whose hand had been clutching the girl's, except it was melting away, skin, flesh, and bone. He never got a chance to wonder what was happening to him, as he could only scream and scream until those flames burnt through his core, turning him and his equipment into charred corpse right before the other scout's very eyes.

"Y-you… did this?" Shocked, but did not forget his years of training, the surviving scout took off the safety of his gun and aimed it at the girl.

"And what if I did?" The girl smiled; her hand waved a little as if to brush the black ashes from her fingers.

"You monster!" Staring in disbelief at the girl's cold, ruthless confession, the scout screamed through his helmet and brought his pistol forward, unlocking its safety.

However, he could no longer pull the trigger, for the light and heat were so intense he was all but blinded in its presence. The world he saw through the visor was so bright, it was almost as if the sun itself had existed within the chamber, annihilating all traces of darkness. For a moment, the radiance blinded him, but that was all the girl needed for a soft touch of the man's body and complete the ritual. The last thing that man saw was his visor reading 800 degrees Celsius; his scream lasted for two seconds.

"Don't just stare like idiots! Fire at will!" When the girl heard that voice, she looked up from the second corpse, and realized that the rest of Alpha team had surrounded her. With their rifles trained at her, they wasted no time opening fire.

However, to their complete shock, the bullets made impact, but only tiny trickles of blood ran down her body, and while they managed to pierce her one-piece clothing similar to that of a ward patient, the girl still stood there, as if the bullets had struck her but did nothing more than cutting her body in various places. In reality, the heat she generated around her body was astounding, creating a furnace hot enough to suck away all the oxygen within the area, and at the same time acting as a shield that generated the same effect as the Earth's atmosphere, thus preventing the bullets from effectively wounding her body.

In a single flash of achromatic light, the entire chamber erupted into an inferno. First, they were red and orange flames, but eventually, everything turned white, sealing the helpless team within the fiery cage.

"Fuck, we can't get out!" One of the men cursed in despair.

"A-Argh! We are all going to die!" The one right next to him panicked, and turned around, his rifle flung about carelessly. He attempted to escape by diving across the ring of white fire but it was for naught. The man never made it, for his whole body caught on fire only one yard away from the white flames, colliding onto the ground in a sickening crunch as his corpse collapsed into embers and ash. The surviving men stared in shock, and turned around to look at the fiery demon in utter fear.

"Fuck it, just stop that monster!" The captain screamed, his lungs aching from the lack of oxygen and the intensity of the scorching heat. He emptied out his cartridges like the rest of his forsaken team into his target, but she was no longer there.

"Do you really think that mere bullets will help you?" The girl said softly, appearing right in the middle of the ranks of men.

The girl was covered in streaks of blood from hundreds of bullet wounds, yet her slender body did not falter from those injuries, or looked any less enchanting. Her emerald eyes reflected a radiance that would outmatch even the real jewel's shine; her long, argent hair danced in rhythm with the flickering flames; her face was covered in streaks of her own blood, yet her entire being radiated an aura of pure white light danced about her body, enveloping her in the shape of incinerating plumes. When she looked at them with a haunting smile, it was as if they felt like the gaze from a fiery angel of judgment, inspiring awe and fear in the hearts of the paralyzed men. No, it was more like coming face to face with a mythical existence, like the immortal bird engulfed in flames of purgatory.

For just a second, they couldn't take their eyes off her; for just a second, they couldn't close their slackened jaws; for just a second, they couldn't train their weapons on her. A second was long enough. Each and every men around the girl burst into pillars of inferno; white flames consuming their body until nothing but ashes remained.

"You are the monsters, for creating me."

With a tiny sigh beneath the emotionless undertone, the girl ran through the flames toward the exit, completely unaffected by the white inferno that had engulfed the room. In the midst of the scorching air, a white plastic tag danced for a moment before it too disintegrated. The last visible message on it had been: "Nexus Project, Virus Specimen APV Strain 13 Version B".