The Last Precursor is an HFY-exclusive web-serial which focuses on the exploits of the last living human amidst a galaxy of unknown aliens. With his species all but extinct and now only known as the ancient Precursors, how will Admiral José Rodriguez survive in this hostile universe? Make sure to read the earlier chapters first if you missed them! Do you like the story? Subscribe to HFY bot and get notified when I post new parts! Previous Part Part 001
Salt and Pepper zip through the underground catacombs toward the source of the 'bomb' detonation they detected moments before. Due to the pitch-blackness surrounding them, these two Shades move at unbelievable speeds, crossing five miles of total darkness in the blink of an eye. They stop a few hundred feet away from a tremendous pile of collapsed rubble and pause to examine the scene.
The cave roof appears sunken in, as if something had crashed through the entire mountain down to these lower levels, more than half a mile below sea level. Where there should be a hole leading to the surface, the mountain has instead collapsed in on itself, blockading the roof with tens of thousands of tons of solidly packed dirt and stone. A cloud of dust hangs in the air, recently stirred up by whatever strange object forced its way into the underground caverns. The two Shades creep a little closer, their expressions turning to bewilderment. Before them, a giant metal cylinder sits embedded several feet in the ground, with only a couple of feet of its upper portion sticking out of the cave floor. A vibrating noise hums in the air, as if a beast were slumbering within the planet's bowels.
"What the devil is that?" Pepper asks. "Did it fall from the sky?"
"Don't be ridiculous," Salt retorts. "How could anything dig through the mountain so quickly? We would have noticed within seconds! The explosion was nearly instantaneous! I bet that tricky human somehow planted this weird... this weird thing
"But... but we watched him the whole time," Pepper says skeptically, her confusion only increasing further. "How could we have missed something that big?"
"Dunno. Master says the fleshbags are tricky. We have to watch out for them. They nearly wiped out our entire species, after all."
"Mmm. True that. Hey, do you hear something?"
Suddenly and without warning, the circular metal object's 'lid' erupts outward, blasting off the cylinder's top. It flies backward, strikes the ceiling, and embeds half a foot into the stone roof, vibrating for a moment afterward.
Then, a gigantic, unthinkably huge metal 'hand' emerges from the canister. Both Shades go on the alert, gazing with wide-eyed fascination, and a tinge of horror, as a metal 'monster' begins to climb out of its metallic embryo.
Salt shrinks back, her eyes wide with shock, as the bipedal machine escapes its containment unit, revealing a shiny, silver body hidden within the darkness. Thanks to her incredible vision and perception, she can easily see every inch of its thick, powerful frame. Two gigantic railgun cannons rest upon the metal monster's shoulders. Its gauntlets appear powerful enough to effortlessly crush stone into dust, while its single glowing-red eye focuses on them, a tiny laser observing their movements. Having never seen such a terrifying giant, Salt can only begin to imagine what sort of terrifying beast must have spawned this behemoth.
"That thing must be six meters tall!" Pepper gasps. "What is it?!"
"M-Master... I think he mentioned these once..." Salt whispers. "It's... it's a human weapon. A killing machine!"
At that moment, one hundred and fifty front-facing lights activate on the robot's body, blasting out tens of thousands of lumens worth of solar energy. The entire cavern system for a mile behind the Shades becomes as bright as if a star had ignited within the underground depths.
"IT BURNS! NOOOOO!!!"
Salt and Pepper scream in horror, their voices echoing into the distance with the volume of a thousand melting witches. Both Shades mindlessly leap backward, their bodies decomposing at terrifying rates. Unable to withstand the horrific bombardment of light upon their shadowy forms, they retreat as fast as possible, but only make it five steps before their bodies explode into smoke. A second later, they reform and fall to the ground, their limbs continuously melting due to the corrosive solar energy ripping them apart at the atomic level.
Thrice, the Shades explode, reform, and fall to the floor.
After the third time, they release high-pitched shrieks, their dying screams mirroring the agony within their souls. Then, they disappear for the rest of eternity, consumed by the all-encompassing light engulfing them.
Soren Mudrose, Chief Tactical Officer aboard the Bloodbearer, merely stands and watches for a moment as the Shades perish. Their deaths happen within the span of several seconds, giving her just enough time to witness their fall.
"Do not become complacent, Officer Mudrose,
" The synthmind, Umi, says. "Due to the imminent threat to the Admiral's life, you have not been able to properly learn to control the Titan-class Battlesuit. For now, I will initiate Automated Assault Mode. Your task is to guide the Battlesuit to the Admiral's location. Leave the combat to me.
"I understand," Soren says, taking a deep breath. "I'm not much for fighting... so I'll go with that. Let's move!"
Like an Olympic swimmer diving into a pool, Soren charges forward, her movement inside the giant, clunky, and seemingly unwieldy Titan-class Battlesuit quickly becoming smoother every second. Boom-boom-boom!
The ten-ton Battlesuit smashes its feet against the floor as she stomps forward, rapidly increasing her running speed from five miles per hour to more than thirty.
" Umi says, her computerized voice speaking within the Battlesuit's cockpit. "You must move with haste. The Admiral's vital signs have ceased, but his body has begun to move. I suspect the demonic entities intend to capture him and drag him further into their underground lair. You must bring him back in as little time as possible.
"I understand!" Soren answers. "Don't worry. I will not let the Admiral down!"
Despite running at insane speeds far beyond what her body could ever pull off, compared to the Shades within the world of darkness, Soren's movement is as slow as a turtle's. She travels toward the Admiral's blinking vital signs, which appear as a red dot superimposed over the Titan's holographic imaging interface.
"Seven hundred meters to the Admiral's current location,
" Umi says. "I am detecting multiple Giant-class demonic entities, as well as several hundred Hunter-class enemies. Threat rating: 0.01.
"Giant-class entities?" Soren repeats. "Like Trolls? The ones I fought in the simulation?"
"Affirmative. However, you have nothing to worry about. Inside a Titan-class Battlesuit, it is all but impossible for biological entities to injure you. Only Duke and Emperor-class demons will pose a threat, and only if they catch you off-guard. Should a Battlesuit utilize Automated Assault Mode, it will only perform with a 5% combat efficiency when compared to the control of a seasoned and veteran pilot. This loss of efficiency is unavoidable, but it will still prove more than adequate for dealing with low-level demonic entities.
... Not far away, at Admiral Rodriguez's body.
A dozen Shades linger near the fallen Terran, having been told to stay behind with the human, just in case anything happens. All of them grumble and moan, complaining as loudly as possible about their bad luck.
"I wanted to watch Master break and train that little hussy. Now I'm stuck here, babysitting a dead man."
"Maybe we should mess with the orcs. That's always good for a laugh!"
"Oh, shut up, Prankster. Only babies like that stuff."
Several of the Shades argue among each other as they trail behind a pair of orcs. The two monsters hold the human by his arms and legs to roughly carry him through the underground catacombs. José hangs limp in their grasp, his entire body unmoving and unable to sense the world around him. Countless nanites swim throughout his bloodstream, their movements slowing more and more every minute due to his unmoving hearts.
Without a doubt, the Terran has perished.
Unfortunately, none of the monsters or Shades recognize this simple fact. They continue traveling deeper into the underground levels, dragging the Terran's corpse along to some awful, distant torture chamber.
As they do, a few of the goblins at the front perk their pointy ears up. They swivel their heads toward a main passage up ahead, where a faint trickle of light begins to slowly expand and brighten that particular exit. In the distance, a sound greets their ears. Boom, boom, boom, boom.
The sound of something heavy smashing the ground at regular intervals makes them hesitate.
The lead goblin frowns. "What that noise?"
"Dunno," his nearest companion replies. "It sound really angry though!"
One of the Shades flickers toward the front. Her expression darkens. "I can't sense Salt and Pepper! Where did they go? Ah! Don't tell me... don't tell me they died?!"
A second Shade jumps in alarm. "No way! How can that be? Those two are always so cautious!"
Within seconds, the distant light becomes brighter than ever. The unmistakable sounds of titanic footsteps makes all of the Shades turn to one another in a panic. Not knowing what the hell is coming, the duly appointed leader barks an order. "Y-you, orcs! Gobbys! Take the trolls and find out what's making all that noise. Hurry!"
The four remaining thirty-foot-tall trolls stare dully as their miniature companions zip between their legs and follow the head Shade's orders. By the time the Trolls start moving, the light up ahead has become astoundingly bright, while the heavy footsteps grow ever more frightening and oppressive.
All at once, a metal giant rounds the corner, its 150 unthinkably bright headlamps blasting down the corridors. The Shades scream in pain and retreat as quickly as possible, while the charging goblins and orcs screech to a halt and shield their eyes. Despite how the light doesn't injure their bodies like it does the Shades, it's still bright enough to blind them and destroy their retinas.
"Aaargh! Big sun underground! Where come from?!"
The oncoming robotic warrior doesn't slow down. Soren Mudrose charges at full speed like a stampeding bull. She smashes through the frontlines, stomping anyone in her path into patches of bloody mulch, while swinging the Battlesuit's arms from side to side. Each swing shatters spines, crushes skulls, and sends the helpless orcs and goblins flying, their comparatively tiny bodies about as threatening to the Titan-class Battlesuit as a toothpick to a T-Rex.
The Trolls, still lagging behind the orcs and goblins, don't suffer nearly as badly. Perhaps thanks to their tiny pea-brains, they somehow ignore the pain in their eyes to charge at Soren's oncoming form. They raise their fists high and swing down, intending to crush the Battlesuit into spare parts. Given how its size is only 2/3rd's the height of the Trolls, their victory seems inevitable.
However, before the Trolls can land their crushing blows, the two automated railguns mounted atop the Titan's shoulders swivel toward the fleshy giants. Thoomph! Thoomph!
With two simultaneous shots, a power unlike anything seen in the galactic community for one hundred millions years blasts out of the turrets' barrels. The two nearest Trolls detonate like bombs as two miniature shells rip through their bodies at 5% the speed of light. Their ribs explode backward in horrific showers of gore, splattering their companions behind them. The railgun shell tears into the mountainside and causes a localized earthquake, sending shockwaves in all directions. The deafening concussive blasts blow out the eardrums of the remaining two Trolls, making them stumble in pain while howling soundlessly.
By the time the two remaining Trolls manage to open their eyes, all they see is a stupendously blinding light flying at their faces. Soren raises two fists and smashes the Trolls' skulls, killing them before they have a chance to react.
Within ten seconds of her arrival, Soren murders every monster in the area, leaving lakes of blood and gore in her wake.
"Haah... haaah...." Soren gasps, her adrenaline pumping like crazy. "Did... did I do that?! This suit is incredible!"
"Now is not the time for self-congratulations!
" Umi says, her tone authoritative. "The Admiral's body rests only seventy meters from your position. Fetch him as quickly as possible and return to the shuttle.
Soren nods. She starts to walk toward the Admiral's 'blip,' only to pause. "Wait, what about Megla? I have to rescue my sister and the Kessu too!"
" Umi replies. "Admiral Rodriguez is your top priority. You must bring the last Terran to the Bloodbearer at once. He is the last of his species. If he perishes, there will be no others. However, there are still countless Kraktol and Kessu elsewhere in the galaxy.
Soren continues walking toward the Admiral, but her ecstasy from killing all of the monsters disappears, replaced instead with a mixture of horror and outrage. "How could you say that?! Megla is my sister! I will not leave her behind, synthmind!"
"You will follow my orders,
" Umi replies. The synthmind's tone becomes noticeably colder than before. "The Admiral's survival is my top priority. The sooner you bring him back-
"I'll bring the Admiral back as soon as possible!" Soren shouts, fury building in her chest. "But I will also rescue my sister and the Kessu first! Don't you dare try to stop me!"
"Officer Mudrose. Your conduct is unbecoming-
"Shut up!" Soren shouts, her voice becoming increasingly venomous. She slows to a stop beside the Admiral's unmoving body and grits her teeth. "Not another damned word! If you think I don't know how critical the Admiral's condition is, you've got another thing coming! Now, how can I bring him along with me safely? I'm liable to crush him to death if I'm not careful."
Umi falls silent for several seconds, as if calculating a response. When she does reply, her tone is noticeably more curt than before.
"Before you entered the Titan-class Battlesuit, you also obtained numerous auxiliary attachments. One of those is the Temporary Medical Stasis Device. The TMSD will envelop the Admiral in a protective force-field. Place him inside and it will temporarily preserve his vitals as they are now. However, this effect will only last for thirty minutes.
One of the magnetically attached devices on Soren's Battlesuit glows with a golden hue thanks to her HUD. She grabs the circular object, activates it with a command, and places it on the Admiral's chest. A faint blue film rapidly envelops the Terran's body, sealing him in its protective embrace. Moments later, he levitates into the air, and an invisible 'chain' of energy connects him to the Battlesuit's torso.
" Umi says, "I must demand that you return to the Bloodbearer at once. The Admiral's life is incomparably valuable. If he perishes, it will mean the extinction of his entire species.
"...You think I don't know that? If I could, I would! No matter what, I'm not going to leave my sister down here! End of discussion."
Soren starts stomping in the direction of Megla and the Kessu, following the general direction of their vital signs. As she does, Umi beeps with disappointment.
"Originally, I calculated that you would be an officer who prioritized logic over petty emotions.
"I never expected myself to act this way either," Soren retorts. "But now that I've made the choice, I'll never regret it. Logic is irrelevant once my family's safety is at stake!"
"...In that regard, I suppose Admiral Rodriguez would commend you. By all accounts, were your roles switched, I am 100% certain he would make the same choice.
Soren snorts. "Good. That's the nicest thing you've said all day."
....................................... A few miles away, inside the tucked-away Kessu cave.
Megla hovers over little Lele's shoulder, wringing her claws together. "Come on, hurry up! What's taking you so long?"
Lele, still disassembling Megla's rifle into a new device, releases a long meow of annoyance. "Mraaaaw! Every time you ask, you slow me down, scale-face! Just be quiet and let me focus, jeez!"
The yellow-scaled Kraktol flicks her eyes around the room. Already, her eyes seem to be playing tricks on her, as the flickering shadows appear to slowly move around, bit by bit. Like pitch-black lava lamps, dozens of 'shadow globs' slowly float across the ceiling, making Megla feel extremely uneasy. I swear to the galaxies, it feels like a bunch of creepy monsters are looking at me! Are those the Shades that little furball mentioned? Augh! If this brat is trying to prank me, I'll shave her fur and dunk her in a bath!
Megla listens intently, but no matter how she strains, she doesn't hear the sounds of combat outside. Her nerves tighten more and more every second. Is the Admiral okay? Maybe he escaped! Yeah. He'll leave and come back with a... with a rescue thingy! Yeah! He wouldn't just leave us here, would he? Oh, gosh, I hope he didn't lose the battle! He has to be okay, he just has to!
"Kyargh! Hurry up, fuzz-brain!" Megla hisses. "I have a terrible feeling something bad is about to happen!"
Hardly have the words left Megla's mouth, before a shudder goes down her spine. She whirls around and screams in a shrill, terror-stricken voice. "Eeeeyaaah!!!"
Behind her, on the wall, a gigantic face comprised entirely of shadow smiles at her, its creepy and sinister expression revealing nothing but delight in her squeamishness.
"Ehehehe!" The face cackles. "Listen to that delightful scream! You seem to be afraid of little old 'us,' you pretty little reptile. What's the matter? Do we scare you?
The face increases in size, swallowing up the entire sidewall. Megla loses her footing and falls to the ground, panic pulsing through her veins. The Kessu behind her appear to be even worse condition, with all of the children having fainted from terror, and Baaru simply unable to move. The Matriarch's legs tremble and shake, while her knees knock together.
"Sh-shadow monster! Mreeooww!! Hiss!"
All of Baaru's fur stands on end. She hunches down low and raises her claws as if to attack, but it only takes one look at her expression to see she wants nothing more than to flee.
Even Lele's father, Ruuki, barely manages to hold it together. His teeth click together as he trembles and chatters nervously. "Maaoww! I do not like this! No, no, not one bit!"
As the Shade, Yama, indulges in his twisted fear fetish, his expression sours slightly. In between all of the frightened and screaming Kessu and Megla, one creature remains completely impassive to his presence. Little Lele continues to tinker away with her Hypo-spanner, slowly building what looks like a radio antenna with a tripod base. The barrel of Megla's old rifle points straight up in the air, and the whole thing only stands about one and a half feet tall.
Yama frowns. "Hmm. Why is this child not cowering in fear? What a brave little girl! Perhaps she has not yet noticed our majesty and splendor!"
Lele raises her head for a moment. She glances behind herself at the horrifying face on the wall. After staring at it for a moment, she returns to what she was doing, her expression not changing in the slightest. Her reaction appears about as startled or impressed as if a leaf had blown past her face.
The Emperor of Shadows begins to feel annoyed. He doesn't draw any nearer, due to Megla's glowing force-field, but he skirts around the battlefield, his gigantic head continuing to swallow up the walls. "You there! Little girl! Did your parents not teach you to look at your elders when they talked to you?!" Bzzt, brrt.
Lele continues to quietly work on her little science project. "Sorry, can't. I'm busy right now."
"B-busy?!" Yama sputters. Countless other Shades materialize on the walls around him, their expressions unsightly. "How dare you ignore us?! We have ruled this underground world for countless years! We have tortured and defiled countless females, making them scream in terror before succumbing to our power!"
Rather than intimidating and scaring Lele, the Shade Emperor's words have the opposite effect. She glances at his shadow for a moment and snorts. "Oh, geez. What a dumb, poopy-looking shadow! Look at the big, scary guy, picking on little girls and women. You're just a stupid, weak little bully. You're not scary at all!"
Lele's words make the other Kessu jump in alarm. Ruuki quickly drops down and presses his paw against her mouth. "What are you saying?! This shadow is about to kill us all! Didn't you hear what he did to the other Kessu?! We're in dire straits, sweet child of mine!"
"Hahaha, well spoken!" Yama cackles. "You should
be afraid, large male! We are going to tie your females down, violate them endlessly, make them beg for death, and then convert them to our harem! As for the males, we will flay the skin off their bones and feed their blood to our wargs! Your pain has only just begun!!"
Lele rolls her eyes. She pulls her father's paw off her mouth. "You don't scare me. If you were a real man, you'd wait one minute and fifteen seconds for me to finish my Discombobulating Tickle Poker. Too bad you're even more of a scaredy-cat than my daddy."
"What?! You insolent little brat! How dare you insult this Emperor's majesty! Do you think we are afraid of a tiny little baby like you?!"
"I dunno. Are you?"
Even as Lele talks, she continues to screw and weld pieces into place, slowly finishing her assembly of whatever device she happens to be working on. Megla's fear subsides somewhat, and a thought forms in the back of her mind as she notices how the conversation has shifted. The furball is oddly confident. Could it be? Does she really have some means to hurt or kill these Shades?
A flash of light appears in the Kraktol's eyes. She stands up a little taller and presses her fists against her waist.
"Kyargh! Well said, little furball! Hahaha! How could I be so blind? It's no wonder this shadow-blob taunts us from a distance! He's too scared
of us to let you finish your infamous Tickle Poker! Even the weakest males of the Kraktol wouldn't be afraid of a few tiny little cats and women! This so-called 'Emperor' is truly nothing in my eyes!"
The Shadow Emperor glowers at Megla with the rage of a thousand charging bulls.
"Shut your mouth, woman! Soon, we'll have you screaming and begging for mercy!"
"Sure, sure," Megla says, slowly building back her confidence. "I'm not denying you can and you will. But does it matter? If all you can do is bully the weak, then you aren't worth a drop of my spit. My Admiral is a thousand times the man you will ever be!"
At these words, the Shadow Emperor's unsightly expression shifts dramatically. Once again, his confidence comes roaring back, along with a sinister grin. "Hehehe. Your Admiral, hm? Haven't you noticed yet, worthless woman? We have defeated him! He's all but dead now, a meat puppet in our claws! We defeated that fleshbag, and now we have come for you! Tremble and despair, for no matter how you taunt this Emperor, you cannot leave here as anything but our helpless pet!"
Megla's expression sinks. Indeed, Yama's words have the intended effect, making her heartbeat slow to a stop.
"W-what? You... you beat the Admiral?! No! That's not possible! The Admiral... he's invincible! You can't possibly...!"
"Hehehe, we can, and we have! This Emperor crushed the fleshbag with relative ease. He killed a few minor members of our harem, but it matters not! Now that he has fallen, nobody can save you! Nobody!!"
As Yama brags, Lele's paws move with ruthless efficiency. She slides the last bolt into place on her 'Discombobulating Tickle Device' and nods with satisfaction.
"Okay, done! You can die now!"
Without hesitation, Lele jumps to her feet while ignoring the Emperor's cackling. She lifts the odd antenna-shaped device over her head and presses a button on its underside, causing it to vibrate and build up power. Click, whirrrrrrrr...
Yama stops laughing. The Shade Emperor immediately looks at the device in Lele's hands with confusion. "Hm? Die? Wahaha! Does this silly baby think she can tickle us to death?! This Emperor has heard many jokes in our life, but none have been as funny as this!"
"It's not a tickling device, you dummy," Lele says, her voice cold. "It's a weapon. And you let me
At that moment, a faint ball of light appears atop the antenna. Fwip!
The light-orb instantly fires upward and slams against the ceiling. FWEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!
A high-pitched noise erupts underground, like a thousand banshees uttering their dying screams. At the same time, the luminous orb detonates, bathing the cave with an astonishingly bright light, one which mirrors the beginning of creation.
Yama, the haughty Emperor of Shadows, screams in agony as the scorching brightness bathes him for 1.34 seconds, irradiating not only him, but all of the Shades present with the lethal cosmic rays. They instantly lose their formlessness, explode into smoke, and reform a moment later as biped-shaped creatures of varying species, landing on the floor to crawl around and scream in pain.
"Aaaargh! You little BITCH!! This Emperor will kill you!!"
Yama screams incoherently, only managing to put his body together after a few more seconds.
Meanwhile, other than the sudden brightness forcing Megla and the Kessu to quickly cover their eyes, they don't suffer any harm at all. The Kraktol quickly swivels to face the enemies around her, looking at them with astonishment.
"What?! Furball, you did this?!"
"Mhm," Lele answers, shrugging nonchalantly. "No biggie. Oh hey, shadow-bully! Here's another." Click, whirrrrrrrr...
The antenna rapidly builds up energy for another ball of light, making the Shadow Emperor become livid. He recoils in horror and flees to the furthest point in the room, but in his heart of hearts, he knows he cannot hide from that all-encompassing light.
"No, please! Aahhh! Have mercy! The light burns us! We do not like it, not one bit!"
"Too bad!" Lele laughs. "Like my Aunt Lorrie always says... if someone's gonna hurt me or my daddy, I have to hurt them first! Now die, please!"
The orb atop the antenna fires once again. It instantly strikes the roof and detonates into another light-blast of god-like intensity.
Yama screams once again, along with all the other members of his harem. This time, when the light recedes, two of his Shades explode into smoke and don't reappear. The rest flee the room as quickly as they can, skirting around the edges to avoid Megla's glowing Survival Suit.
Yama joins them in his flight, his last panicked words being, "Y-you'll regret this, little girl! You'll regret this!!"
A moment later, the cave falls silent.
Lele glances at Megla.
"Okay! We can leave now. Let's go find Big Baldy!"
"Alright. You got me. You're not bad, kid."
"Thanks!" Next Part
....................................... Author Note: If you enjoy what you've just read, please consider subscribing to my Patreon! I am very poor and presently jobless due to Coronavirus, so every dollar helps. You get access to Cryopod artwork, and plenty of other exclusive posts, with more to come soon. Also consider reading The Cryopod to Hell, the primary story in the Cryoverse! I'll be returning to TCTH for the next week or two after this TLP part. Both stories are part of the Cryoverse, so they're deeply interlinked. You don't wanna miss them! Thank you!