Scrounging up materials from all of their equipment and breaking back into the complex, you and the group manage to rig up a transmitter that can reach Sniper. You have to wait days in order to get the moon in alignment to speak with her in the faint hope that she’ll be able to make the shot and take down some of the arch demons guarding the way.
Ranger has foot tapped her way to writing her name in the metal plating of the ops room floor and the rest of the team is showing signs of strain. The waiting is killing them, but if Sniper can help like she did against Zozhar then it will be all worth it.
Solider beckons you over to sit with him near to the makeshift fire he’s constructed out on a balcony. He’s cooking up some of the demon rations, which has done a pretty good job of turning Ranger’s stomach inside out although she’d never admit to the discomfort.
“So how did you get mixed up in all of this stuff?” he asks you, putting a small tubed-shaped sausage onto a plate for you. “Guessing Ranger found you first. Probably why she’s so protective of you, finders keepers hur-hur-hur.”
You tell him about Ranger popping out of your computer, the initial escape from your house, and realizing that you left your parents in the clutches of the demons. It hadn’t hit you until you had a chance to sit down and actually think about what’s been happening.
It all seems so surreal knowing that the Earth is being taken over by demonic forces and that it could be the fault of a video game you had been playing just a few days earlier. Ranger had been your character for only a short while, but now she was a living, breathing person trying to protect you.
The thought brings tears to your eyes thinking about how much the people around you have had to sacrifice in order to keep you alive. You also feel a bit selfish just wanting to go home and wanting to just get rid of your responsibilities as a the chosen one.
“We’re all chosen in our world to fulfill a destiny,” Soldier says. “We’re given power, immense strength, immortality, and beautiful bodies.” He flexes his muscles and raises an eyebrow with a laugh. “But there are downsides too,” he says. “I never had a childhood except for the instructions I was given during bootcamp, I can’t really call these guys my friends because we’ve only even fought together, and I don’t know what will happen when we prevail against the forces of evil. Do we continue to exist when the credits roll?”
Soldier looks up toward the night sky.
“Sniper is probably the most unlucky one of us,” Soldier says. “I bet you’ll probably never see what she looks like or even hear from her over the course of the battle here. Does she even really exist? I sure hope she does.”
Soldier spoons out a little more food onto your plate and shows you a few funny videos he’s found online.
Time passes and Tech manages to get into contact with Sniper. She agrees that in the next hour she’ll make her first strikes against the enemy and that will be your chance to strike for the surface. She warns you that in the time you’ve been down there, Earth has changed.
Her voice is cold and distant as you listen in over the radio.
“The cities are in flame and Warrior is in hiding,” she says. “I fear the worst may still on the way.”
Riding on Bruiser’s back, you settle in on an outcrop overlooking the entry point to the underground. A piercing light descends from the sky and melts through the first arch demon sending its limp body sprawling over the demonic forces guarding the way out.
Ranger fires from her perch atop the outcrop as Bruiser and Solider make their way toward the exist. Tech grabs your arm and carries you toward the exit as you struggle to keep up. Ranger dashes past and grabs you.
“Keep your head down,” she says as she cuts a squad of demons. One demon reaches out claws at the ready for her, but you draw your laser blaster and send the monster flying.
Climbing your way up the face of the entry, another light pierces the sky and lances down at the second arch demon. It burns away the connective tissue that holds its arms in place sending a great wave of blackened blood over the battle field below.
Your companions are fast climbers and help you up by tossing you around to one another.
Soldier breaks to the surface first, Bruiser next, Ranger, and then Tech followed by you. The fissure closes behind you, but as you look out upon the Earth you can see just how much has changed. There are no trees, cities have been leveled, and the humanity has been enslaved.
“Ready to see those credits roll,” Soldier says placing his beefy hand on your shoulder. “We’ve been through worse and this is only the start.”
— Page 23 —