This article is part of the That Insidious Beast series.





** Detecting movement in the ship. Somewhere in the hull, but the signature is bouncing all around. It's loud...a loud banging. Now it's a shriek of claws or talons on metal. I can see sparks in the darkness.** Wait, what was that? Breathing. I hear breathing. Really fast, like an animal panting. Nothing on motion or echo.** FIRING! I can't- Ahh he's getting close. Getting closer! Firing! I can't turn fast enough's definitely an Unfolder. I can see its face on the IR and... FIRING! The fucking thing is almost on top of me!** Reactor is alive! I've got power to the neck actuators. Signal at 40%, picture is fuzzy but it's coming in. She's on her side in some sort of maintenance room. The tactical sensors are down but I can, I can see something moving in the darkness. It's...** Keep it together here, people! I'm rolling in with the drone. Three, stay with me. Stay with me. Call it in. My guns are hot.
** I'm aborting. I just stirred up a hornet's nest in there and I am bugging the fuck out before they come for me. Eaters, I think. Big, feral ones. Country eaters, not those city ones that run in the huge packs.** I can hear the shooting outside. Hang tight, Tillman. I'm trying to get to a window to engage your hostile. i can hear it now. Even over your gun, it's screaming. No, it's laughing.** It's right fucking on top of me! I need some support! God damn it! Heat warning on my gun! 50 meters! Control, please, bring down the fire!** I don't think it has noticed me yet. It's... there are electrical discharges flowing out of it, striking all conducting surfaces. Has anyone seen anything like that before? Is it an Unfolder? I'll try to reroute power to the hydraulics and limbs. If I can bring my guns online I will smoke that thing.** All units, you are weapons free. This whole thing just turned into a soup sandwich. Engage at will, but check your fire. We're all spread out over this shithole.
** Ohhh shit! Here they come. Three, four, five...nine of them. Nine of the sons of bitches. They're holding, they look like they're holding...leg actuator failure! What in the fuck is going on!? Control, I am immobilized. I need immediate support. These things are big and right on top of me!** My targeting computer isn't giving me a lock. I'm switching to manual. I''s getting too close, Tillman! If I fire from this range it's just as likely to hit you!** Jensen, shoot now! Jensen, it's inside my gun range! Shoot now or-** Actuators coming online. Come on baby, come on. You can do it.** Shit. I think I missed him. Did I hit him, Three? Three, did you see if I hit him? Three? I'm rolling in for another run, Three.
** My legs are all caught up nets? These weren't here a second ago. Ah shit, I just lost radar and echo sounding. They're throwing rocks at me. What the hell is going on with these things? Eaters aren't supposed to act like this.** That thing just cut Jensen in half. It sees me. Shit, it sees me. I'm going to try to blast through the wall on the other side, jump down from the second floor. It's the only way. I can hear that damn thing laughing.NO SIGNAL** Oh no, it sees me. It's coming for me with the-** Shit, I've lost Tillman. Jensen, Pulaski, abort. Get back to the tower. Donahue, if you can get yours moving get out of there. I'll provide what cover I can from the drone and...I just lost the drone. The drone signal is gone. How is this happening?
** They're tearing me apart here! Fuck! Control! Control! I'm losing arm function! They're prying open my armor! I'm losing signal. I'm losing-** I can see more of them coming. Across the frozen river. I can hear them laughing. Control, do you copy? They're coming for me. My evac path is cut off. I'm only going to have one shot at this. If I can critical my reactor I can take a few of them with me. I need to open the shielding. Okay...It's baking my circuits. Here they come, sir. Almost here...almost here...NO SIGNAL** There are no angels in range to help. Repeat, you are on your own. All I can do is watch.
** Eat this you-** ...
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