Death was imminent. The final seconds before his entire existence would be wiped away was like an eternity. His blood was ice in his veins. His heartbeat thundered inside his chest. For one moment that seemed to take a life time, he was a child again. So new to this experience, with fear being the only available response to it. At that moment all his training, his years of experience as a soldier, meant nothing. All there was left to do was wait for the endless moment before his inevitable demise. It would be quick; he would be obliterated in a blink of an eye. No pain. No suffering. No hope.
But for Vincent, this was not the end. He had a mission, one that would decide the fate of all existence. One that was not over until he was killed for certain. And in that moment, Vincent was still alive. He was breathing, and the most important rule he was ever taught was that as long as he was still breathing, the battle was not over.
Thinking at the last possible second, Vincent quickly hit a button on the dashboard of his control panel. This negated energy from his weapons and used it to power his ship's energy based shields. All he needed was for the shields to hold until he got through the planet's atmosphere. They did their best with what little energy his heavily damaged ship had left, protecting him from burning away as he jettisoned down toward the alien world.
But the shield's integrity was constantly being tested by enemy fire Vincent was still taking. Two ships made of a purple metallic substance with no visible windows were in pursuit of him. His death was only a byproduct of their mission, which was to obtain a very important package that he was in possession of. Beams of pure energy sped past Vincent's ship as he performed evasive actions. Soon, an alert flashed on his control panel, warning him that his ship's power was nearly at zero. He frantically tried to salvage more power from the ships other systems, but to no avail. The atmosphere became hotter and hotter as he spiraled down ever faster. The shields were on the brink of shutting down completely.
Luckily, the atmosphere did not only pose a threat to Vincent. The two attacking ships began to fall apart from the speed and friction. They quickly activated their shields but not before whole wings and engine thrusters were blown away from their vessels. Vincent had been counting on that, but still had his imminent crash landing to worry about. All three ships flew down toward the planet's surface. The rocky terrain became larger and clearer as they came closer to impact. Vincent strapped himself into his seat tightly, holding on to whatever he could for dear life as he sped toward blackness. Then, in an instant, the moment was over.
A wave of piercing agony washed over Vincent's body. He could feel the warmth of his own blood run over the side of his face. He began to stir as a throbbing pain in his head interrupted the bliss of unconsciousness. Vincent slowly came back to his senses. His blurred vision cleared as he tried to shake the disorientation from his head. What to do after a crash landing was one of the first things he was taught as a rookie pilot. He went through a mental checklist, step one was to check for survivors and tend to the injured.
He had forgotten for a moment that he was alone on this mission, perhaps due to his head injury. Or wishful thinking. He skipped ahead to step two. He began to search around his seat moving chunks of metal and broken equipment around, until finally he found what he was searching for, a large two handed assault weapon. On the side of it, was a meter that measured the remaining level of power for the weapons ammunition.
Vincent checked it, realizing that there was not much power remaining. It was only good for one shot, and Vincent had no weapons or ammo left. He was under attack for the entire duration of his trip from home, and had virtually no means of defending himself. But he did not falter. One gun with one shot was better than nothing as far as he was concerned, and if all else failed he still had his fists, his feet and his will power.
Now it was time for step three, which was to observe the status of his ship and surroundings. He unbuckled his safety harnesses and pulled a small lever on what was left of his control panel, ejecting the top hatch of his ship. It fell several yards away into the darkness as he stood up in the cockpit with his weapon in hand. Vincent was a tall man, standing at well over six feet tall, with a solid, heavily muscled body.
He looked to be of African American descent, with dark brown skin, a thick scraggly beard and long unkempt locks. Even through these slovenly traits, Vincent's striking silver eyes and handsome masculine facial features were apparent. He wore a form fitting black and grey jump suit, torn and tattered from his previous ordeal.
Vincent jumped down from the cockpit of his ship with his weapon at the ready. He nervously examined the desert world around him, looking into the air as an armada of twinkling stars looked back down at him from the black ocean that was the night sky. He crept around the wreckage of his ship as the freezing air touched his sweat soaked skin. It was nearly pitch black, with nothing but a few flaming pieces of shrapnel from the crash on the rocky ground to light his way. He walked along the crater trail left by his ship, examining the area.
Something caught his attention a few feet away from his wrecked vessel. A green piece of thin metal. Vincent approached it and began to examine it. It did not appear to have come from his ship. Vincent flipped the sheet of metal over with his foot to further examine it, and noticed that there were large white letters on it. Vincent was fluent in many alien languages, but the sheet of metal had been half destroyed, making it difficult for him to decipher what it said. All he could see were symbols that read,
Vincent suddenly heard small rocks move from behind him. He quickly turned around in a prone firing position with his weapon trained on the darkness ahead of him. His heart raced as he scanned the area for any sign of movement. He then saw something approaching from the shadows. A small bipedal creature with a long snout and dark brown fur covering its body. The strange creature sniffed at the ground as it ventured ever closer to Vincent.
He panicked, having never seen a creature like this before, and fired a beam of concentrated energy from his weapon at the creature's feet, frightening it away. Vincent stood up, feeling a bit silly. He had just wasted the last shot he had to scare away a small creature. Probably even an infant creature. He silently scolded himself, as it was obvious that he had not been using his skills as effectively as he should be at this point.
There was no point in going any further. He could not see the ships of his attackers anywhere. There had been no trace of them, which was good news. It was now time for Vincent to initiate the final step of his mental checklist, which was to check the integrity of the package. He turned his attention back to his mangled ship, but was suddenly blinded by an intense light. He quickly ducked behind a nearby boulder with his weapon clenched tightly in his hand, forgetting momentarily that it was useless.
Vincent then slowly peered around the boulder, and saw several large vehicles and dozens of life forms surrounding his heavily damaged ship. The life forms looked almost exactly like Vincent did, aside from proportions and differences in complexion. Vincent did not care how similar these aliens looked to him.
He was far more concerned with the weapons that most of them were carrying. Vincent noted similarities between their weapons and his. The only difference was that they certainly had more ammo than he did. Vincent did not take any chances. He stayed put and watched the life forms carefully as they collected parts of his ship and loaded them onto their vehicles. He noticed that on the back of one of the larger vehicles, were the remains of the two attacking ships that followed him there. The ships were just as mangled as his was, but there was no sign of the pilots. He did not know whether they died in the crash or had been captured by these life forms, and had no intention of finding out.
He had grown more anxious than before when he witnessed the life forms rummaging through the back of his ship. Vincent silently prayed that they would not find his package. Losing it was one thing, but leaving it in the hands of a race ignorant to its power was just as dangerous as losing it to the enemy. Two life forms exited the back of Vincent's ship, each holding opposite ends of a four foot wide metallic crate-like object.
This was what Vincent had been afraid of. The life forms had found his package and had all intentions of taking it with them. Vincent could not allow this. Only he knew the immensity of power that lied within that crate. Only he knew that within it rested the most dangerous weapon in all of existence, and it was now in the hands of potentially dangerous creatures. The life forms loaded their vehicles with the remains of Vincent's ship as well as his package. It was now time for his military training to come into play once again. He waited for the life forms to get back into their large machines and drive way. When the very last vehicle passed by, Vincent quickly and quietly dove underneath it with amazing stealth. The life forms were none the wiser. He held on tightly to the bottom of the vehicle as they drove to their final destination.
The vehicles drove on for what seemed like hours through the desert terrain. Twilight was setting in as the vehicles pulled into a large compound. Each vehicle was unloaded by personnel and the debris from the wreckage was taken into separate buildings. From underneath one of the vehicles, Vincent had watched as his ship was taken away on a rolling platform of some type.
He scanned what little of the area he could see and finally spotted the bottom portion of his package surrounded by the boots of several onlookers as they examined the package closely with enthusiasm in their voices. Vincent remembered how similar their weapons were to his own. Being a weapons specialist, he figured he would be proficient enough with it if he could manage to obtain one. He counted the sets of feet still remaining in the large room and noted that there were at least eleven of them, not all carrying guns. He closed his eyes and mapped out his surroundings mentally, going over his next move carefully, step-by-step before executing.
The life forms continued to examine the box for a possible opening, when suddenly they heard large, heavy footsteps approaching from behind. Vincent had charged at them. They readied their weapons to fire at him, but he managed to get to one of them before they could attack. Vincent tackled him to the ground and punched him repeatedly as he wrestled the weapon away from him. The others stayed in position ready to fire, shouting incoherent commands at him. Before they knew it, Vincent had one of their own men, using him as a shield as he aimed his weapon at them.
They were at a stalemate. An eerie silence fell onto the large room as the life forms gazed fearfully at Vincent, as if they had never seen a creature like him before. He could not figure out why. He looked enough like them to pass for a native of this world. Perhaps it was the outfit he wore, or maybe his striking silver eyes. In any case, Vincent did not plan on killing any of them—they had done nothing wrong to him. He was the intruder, and they had every right to kill him on the spot. Vincent saw a group of scared life forms surrounding the package. He realized that he needed to take this opportunity. He spoke, breaking the cold silence with his deep yet frightened voice which carried throughout the large compound.
"I don't want to hurt you!" he screamed. The life forms looked at him with wide-eyed confusion and anticipation.
"I am Vincent Clayborn, and I mean you no harm" he stated. The life forms continued to watch Vincent intently. They did not command him to drop the weapon or release their comrade, which perplexed him. Never the less, all eyes were on him. He continued.
"That box, it belongs to me. It contains something very valuable, and very powerful." The life forms began to slowly lower their weapons. This gave Vincent some relief. He realized the man he was holding hostage had not been struggling. He loosened his grip around his neck and slightly lowered his weapon as he tried to explain further.
"All I want is that box and I swear no harm will-"Vincent suddenly felt a hot numbing pain in his ribs. He released his hostage and dropped his weapon as life forms surrounded him from behind, shocking him with tazers. Even while being electrocuted by five other life forms at once, it still took several more to wrestle him down to the ground. Vincent struggled as much as he could as he felt more of the life forms piling on top of him. Soon the shocking pain became too much for him, making it impossible to fight them off as his body convulsed and fell numb. Finally, he fell unconscious.
He fell in and out of consciousness as shapeless forms hovered over him. His vision was blurred and his body felt heavy and flaccid. All his senses were half functioning as life forms dressed in white moved his body and readjusted his arms and legs as they pleased. He could hear small metal object knocking against each other and the soft conversations going on between the life forms surrounding him. Vincent knew that he had failed. Being too trusting and compassionate had always been his weakness. He had let his guard down and was now at the mercy of these unfamiliar creatures. He then felt a rubbery material gently rubbing against the side of his head. His eyelids were like led, as he lifted them open. He saw nothing but white around him. White walls, white coats and white lights. He saw life forms using small silver tools to cut open his suit and strap down his limbs tightly. Vincent could just barely make out the head of one of the life forms who was caressing his temples and speaking to him in a calm soothing voice.
"Vincent? Vincent, can you hear me?" The man inquired as he continued to rub Vincent's head. It took all of Vincent's strength just to respond to the man.
"Wha- what have you done to me?" Vincent asked. He could feel his strength leaving him little by little.
"It's okay Vincent. You just had a little episode. But you're fine now" He calmly stated.
"The box." Vincent weakly hissed. "Don't open… The box."
"Why, Vincent? What's inside the box?" The man passively asked. Vincent began to lose consciousness again. The man inquired further in an attempt to keep him awake.
"Vincent, were did you come from? Are you from Earth?" he casually asked.
"Earth?" Vincent groggily repeated. The man rubbed both sides of Vincent's head, as if pleased by his confusion.
"Yes, that's right. This world is called Earth. You were the one flying that ship weren't you? Where did you come from?" The man anxiously asked. Vincent did not answer immediately. He had his mind on the integrity of his package as well as what these creatures may have planned for him.
"Vincent, where did you come from?" The man inquired again, now more anxiously than before. He began to grip Vincent's head gently as he awaited an answer.
"Citadel." Vincent whispered. The man gripped Vincent's head even tighter and leaned his head in closer.
"What? What did you say?" The man demanded. Just then another life form tapped him on the shoulder. "He's too sedated. We should get started." The life form stated. The man nodded and turned his attention back to Vincent.
"Listen, we're going to put you to sleep for a while. That way we can collect some bone and organ samples without you feeling any discomfort. Hopefully it won't kill you. I have many more questions for you, Vincent." He calmly explained.
"Don't," Vincent pleaded as his body grew weaker and weaker. "Don't…. Open." Vincent once again fell into unconsciousness.
A group of life forms dressed in heavy protective clothing examined the alien box as it sat atop a small platform in the center of a dark laboratory. Sparks flew, illuminating the dimly lit room as they prodded it with various tools. Nearby onlookers jotted down notes as they searched for any possible way of opening the container.
Just then, it moved.
The life forms all took a step back and watched the alien container closely, making sure their eyes were not deceiving them. The box then moved a second time. All of the life forms took several steps back as alarm began to build up within them. The box then began to shake violently as if something was trying to escape. The life forms had their backs against the walls watching in terror as the box shook harder and harder, knocking over their electronic tools and equipment.
Just then the hatch of the box burst open, as if dynamite had gone off from inside it. The box became still once again, with every examiner in the room in a state of frozen fear of what they may have unleashed. Out of the destroyed metal box, eight spherical objects floated up into the air. They hovered before everyone, glowing like complacent stars. They lit up the room entirely as they began to glow more intensely.
Suddenly one of orbs shot past the scared huddle of life forms, making them dive out of the way of its path as it burst through the walls. The remaining seven flew upward, smashing through the ceiling and burying the life forms under piles of concrete. The orbs flew up into the sky, high above the compound and above the clouds. They began to separate from each other more and more as they flew up higher and higher until they eventually jettisoned off in all different directions.
Surgical machinery inched ever closer to Vincent's exposed body. Then, without warning, the room that was once a binding white became pitch black filling with smoke and debris as unsuspecting life forms were crushed beneath chunks of wall. Through the blackness the orb, glowing with the gentleness of a night light, hovered silently over Vincent's lifeless body. It slowly began to descend into his chest, sinking inside of him as if it were an intangible spirit. It sank inside of his body like a stone in water, and disappeared within him.
Vincent's eyes suddenly opened wide. The blinding light and power of the orb filled him within. Through his eyes and agape mouth the orb's white hot power drowned the room in light once again. Light began to seep from his pores like sweat. The glowing liquid covered his entire body from the inside out, until he himself shone like a star. His body burned the restraints on his arms and legs like paper in flame, allowing him to levitate up off of the surgical table. With a huge blinding flash, Vincent was suddenly gone.
He awoke feeling lighter than air. He felt the relaxing warmth of the morning sun as he began to gradually regain consciousness. Vincent felt different from before. He felt loose and limber. He could feel strength flowing into every muscle in his body. It was as if a tremendous weight was lifted off of him for the first time in his life. It was an intoxicating sensation.
But his bliss was interrupted by a sudden memory of his last encounter with the life forms. He attempted to jump off of the table, prepared to fight any and all threats with no restraint, but quickly realized he was no longer in the compound. He kicked and thrashed as he tried to orient himself in the body of water he was floating in. Vincent quickly realized that he was in the middle of the ocean. He waded, scanning his surroundings as he tried to figure out how he could have gotten this far away from the desert. About six miles away, he saw land and began to swim as hard as he could toward it. He swam nonstop through the powerful tides with surprising ease.
He made his way to a rocky slope and began to climb up. Vincent had reached land. Warm grass brushed softly against his bare feet as he nervously searched the area. He spotted a large wooden structure a short distance away. It looked empty and had enough space inside for him to hide. He jogged toward it, still soaked and only the torn bottom portion of his suit remaining. He made his way inside the dark structure, observing the inside of it.
It was wide and empty with nothing inside but mounds of hay and lumber. He walked further in, allowing himself to become calm. He sat down behind a mound of soft hay and composed himself. He then felt a warm tingling sensation on the palm of his hand, a sensation that persisted throughout the length of his long swim through the ocean. He decided to give it his attention and saw a dim light coming from underneath his hand. He jumped back, moving his hand away from it in fear of what it may be. He quickly realized that it was actually coming from his palm and began examining it intently. There was a strange marking that glowed with the same intense light as the orb that possessed him. Vincent's eyes grew wide as he realized immediately what had happened to him. The life forms did not heed his warning. The living weapons had been unleashed.
Vincent clenched his fist, embracing the fact that he was still in possession of one of them, an ownership that would last the rest of his life. He would never be the same again, and to him it was a blessing. A reassurance that not only was he still breathing, but more powerful than ever before. His mission was not a failure, and the battle was far from over.
"Good," Vincent thought to himself as he plotted his next move.
A/N We like to listen to music as we write. It gives us inspiration. Music is the heartbeat of life and that's kinda what you do when you write stories. You create a new world with new life. So at the end of every episode we will have a list of songs that gave us inspiration for certain parts of the chapters. Be sure to check them out if you've never heard them before. If you don't already, we suggest you try writing a while listening to the appropriate music. Works for us!
Imagine Dragons; Radioactive (for the entire chapter)
Vincent can now be seen on Deviantart. Be sure to check him out and leave a comment! Check our profile for our Deviantart info.