Creul Steel

Cadav is a broken world. Suffering after more than a hundred thousand of years after a massive mass extinction event that left barely any trace of the people that once lived there. Now, after the events have stabilised the world face's new problems. Malevolent monsters called Malific that inhabit the world, rising conflicts between The Six Queendoms of the world, animals that had evolved to live side by side with the killing machines that are the Malific Beasts. Team Steel is a lone black ops team in a world full of problems, and the fight is only just beginning.

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1. Chapter 1: Landing

 

“In our world, where every day we needed to fight to survive, where every month is a struggle to find resources, where every year is a battle to maintain loyalty and kinship among the people, we learned one rule: Men are expendable.” -Inscription of Stavakin History

 

Stark sat silently with his back to the window as the carrier plane sped past just fifty feet above the ocean. Beneath him the surface of the Gistled Sea raced by, the two suns of Cadav reflecting off the small waves that still carried bits of the ice flows from the water several hours North. It was still three hours until they reached their destination, so Stark decided to pass the time by giving another look over the files on the two men assigned to his team, the same ones sitting a distance from Stark and each other in the open compartment of the carrier plane.

Name: Tecaelis Clearcut

Age: 20 yrs

Sex: Male

Craft: Fourth generation telekinetic*

Rank: Specialist 3rd class (Corporal) Mechanic

Ambrosis ration: Low

*Telekinesis manifests with light purple glow

Stark glanced up from the file at the soldier sitting a distance. He was young, had an energetic air about him. He had a thin frame, the kind that would make finding the right size of clothing difficult had it not been for the mass of muscle he likely had gained from his training. As such the grey and white uniform of the Girnought army hung loosely off his arms but hugged his chest and shoulders. He kept his face well shaven, making him seem younger than he was. His blonde hair was a bit longer than most soldiers would have, making him stand out slightly. On his lap was some complex machine matrix with several layers of basic circuitry layer on top of each other, each separated by a thin clear material Stark couldn’t identify. Something Stark expected he would get to see in action when their ship landed on the coast of The Grey Red Plains.

Stark skimmed some of the other information before moving on to the next file.

Name: Lucas Black

Age: 28 yrs

Sex: Male

Craft: First generation sound manipulator*

Rank: Specialist 2nd class (Sergeant) Sniper

Ambrosis ration: None

*Can absorb sound and store the energy to later release as light

Lucas was the complete opposite of Tecaelis if there was one. A half-consumed cigarette dangled from his mouth as he absently stared out the window. He had a rough beard cut close to his face and similar black hair cut high and tight. He had deep creases etched into his face by years of concentrated effort on his part. Stark knew him, most had at least heard of him as the best shot in all of Girnought, maybe all of Cadav. Stark noted a pair of revolvers strapped to each hip, each one with an extendable blade and rotatable handle to become large daggers should the situation call for it. Lucas also had a black three shot burst submachine gun strapped across his back that looked brand new even though his file suggested that he hadn’t gotten it repaired or traded in the last four years. Finally was his sniper rifle resting in his lap, a strap letting it hang over his shoulders. It was one techweapons Malific Control Units, or MCUs, could request after a month of service. Stark silently approved, an experienced MCU would be an amazing benefit for this mission.

A techweapon was a special weapon designed to have more than one form or component to it. In Lucas’ case, the sniper rifle’s barrel retracted into the body of the gun and the brace collapsed for the gun to enter and easy carry mode. However, Stark severely doubted that was the only thing the techweapon could do.

Stark also noticed that Lucas’ other guns were modified to use the same ammo as his sniper rifle.

Finally, there was Senior Command Sergeant Stark Iron himself. He once considered himself a handsome man, six years ago. He supposed his wife had too, but then again most did. He was born with silvery hair and bright red eyes, an extremely abnormal trait to have. He got from his mother who was also one of the Cruel. The Cruel of course being people with the unnatural features, including a birthmark that resembled more of a tattoo on their left eye. The mark was pitch black and looked like a stylised version of the treble symbol. The term ‘Cruel’ came from old legends and myths Stark recalled being told as a child. Old tales of Cruel being able to avoid being detected by the Malific before slaughtering the unsuspecting creatures.

The red and grey features of the Cruel were not Stark’s only feature though. His had a strong, muscular build and stood near six feet tall from his Girnought heritage. He also had a strong jaw line similarly. But he was thirty-five now and counting. His face worn and set into a permanent determined frown after years of service. Stark idly noted to himself that he only had a year of conscription left. He could barely even remember leaving home almost eighteen years ago.

The ship suddenly made a wide banking turn, throwing Stark and Lucas against their seats and nearly dumping Tecaelis out on the floor. Stark immediately reach up and pressed a button on a metal box mounted on the wall.

“Status,” Stark ordered.

“Had to swing the back end around,” The pilot's voice filled the cabin. “We have some Malific on the ground were going to need you to deal with.” Stark nodded silently and grabbed his weapons, a basic spear in one hand and an assault rifle in the other.

“Clearcut, I want you on this,” Stark told him. Tecaelis smiled and put his project away in his pack before pulling out a metal canister about the size of soda can. He opened it up and poured metal shavings into his hand. A moment later his magic flowed through his fingertips and surrounded it in a light purple glow. The metal shavings floated out of his hands like it was made of water and began to surround his hand in a ring of white metal. The shaving grounded against each other, causing more metal to break apart until the entire ring was white powder. Tecaelis then emptied the rest of the container and used the powder to break down the remaining metal shavings in seconds. Once done Tecaelis started giving the powder experimental twirls with just the slightest movement of his fingers. Satisfied with the telekinetic blade he fashioned he looked to Stark and said,

“Ready when you are.” Stark nodded again and walked toward the back of the plane. He found the lever that controlled the door and gave it a pull. The hatch that made up the entire back of the ship slowly opened and revealed the view of The Grey Red Plains before them, not to mention what was likely Tecaelis’ first face to face encounter with the Malific Beasts.

The Malific Beasts. The malevolent creatures that inhabited the bleak world of Cadav. No one knew what they were, only that they didn’t have souls and hated humanity. They existed everywhere. Each continent, every island. Every ocean, every lake, river and stream. The sky as well. And if they ever made it off the planet, Stark wouldn’t be surprised to find them on all of Cadav’s four moons.

The ones in front of them were fairly common to all the lands on Cadav. The Gylgi. Fearsome beasts that resemble bipedal wolves, but only barely. In truth, the Malific rarely resembled another animal all that closely at all. These creatures were completely white and had coarse white fur all over their bodies. They stood about eight feet tall on their wolf like legs and sniffed the air with a long a narrow snout. One of them opened it’s mouth slightly and growled at the plane, flashing its crimson teeth at the three of them.

The Gylgi had incredibly thin waists and oversized chests to make them seem completely disproportionate and off balanced. Their heads looked like skulls the way skin hugged bone. Only the bright, soulless, solid yellow eyes showed that the creatures were in fact still alive. Each Gylgi and a pair of antenna-like tendrils flowing out of the top of their head stretching about four feet back. The tendrils didn’t obey gravity and instead moved as if they were string being dragged through water.

Suddenly a shaft of metal speared through one of them, going straight through its skull before it curved around and sliced clean through two more. Stark watched carefully as Tecaelis manipulated the mass of metal with small movements in his fingers. The slight twitch of his middle finger could completely redirect his blade as he told it to do so, and it moved twice as fast.

Within a minute Tecaelis had butchered all twenty-seven Gylgi on the ground. Their bodies immediately began to break down into piles of white and red mush.

“That good boss?” Tecaelis asked him.

“Yes,” Stark nodded. “Everyone saddle up. Black, scout ahead. Clearcut, you're with me.” Stark took a few short steps without waiting for and answer and walked right out the back end of the plane, shortlt followed by Lucas and Tecaelis. Stark’s magic took the brunt of his fall and flickered with a distinct silver glow. Lucas and Tecaelis did similar with a black and purple glow, respectively. The plane immediately noticed all three of them were on the ground and the hatch closed before the plane began speeding away, back over the sea away it came. Leave the three of them behind on foreign soil.

The Grey Red Plains was uncreatively named. The soil was a deep grey to it and tall red grass grew several feet out the ground. Not a tree to be seen for miles, only a sea of the red grass before them and the ice cold ocean behind them.

Lucas immediately activated his techweapon, making his sniper extend outward into its full form. He didn’t even glance back at Stark before running forward through the sea of grass, his magic passively speeding him up as he ran.

“How long is the trip?” Tecaelis asked.

“It’ll take two days to reach the bluffs, then a day once we get into Bostrial’s Wraith Tunnel. After that, we can cause a Malific attack to cover our escape route.” Stark paused. “And of course, if we’re caught Girnought has never heard of us and our records are burned.” Tecaelis rolled his eyes.

“I know, I was briefed on the assignment too.” Stark nodded and turned to look forward. He had been briefed, but not entirely. Only what he needed to know, something Stark would have to remedy later. He set that aside in his mind for the moment. Then they started walking.

Magic came from a person’s soul, which manifested within the body and flowed throughout it. Part of the effect was that it made people stronger, lighter, and otherwise better. Stark and Tecaelis used this effect, in combination with their training, to jog for several hours without becoming tired.

Every now and then they would pass Malific corpses breaking down in that unnatural way they do. Lucas’ work. Stark hadn’t heard any shots which must have meant Lucas was at least a little skilled with his sound manipulation magic. It was odd, most first generation users were neither skilled nor comparatively powerful when it came to their Craft. Tecaelis had three proceeding generations of telekinetics in his family, which shone through with his fine control of powder metal within his own bubble. Stark noted this and kept moving.

The issue with Malific was they had an unnatural sixth sense for conflict, no matter who it is between. So killing a Gylgi only brought more, and killing them meant attracting larger, more powerful Malific. It was an exponential growth that rarely ended well. And Stark was watching it happen to his team.

First, he noticed entire herds of Gylgi dead on the ground, then much larger Malific started joining the fight. Questlings, Malific with snake like heads and necks with lion like bodies, began joining the piles of bodies Lucas was leaving behind. Then larger beasts began joining the trail, some of them so fresh they must have barely missed Lucas before he had finished up.

Because of that it didn’t take long for them to catch up to him completely, finding him completely surrounded by various Malific. Tecaelis took a step forward and reached for his powder, but Stark raised his hand and stopped.

“I want to watch this.” he said simply. Tecaelis gave him a strange look but didn’t say anything.

Lucas was surrounded by Gylgi on all sides, but they weren’t storming him like the creatures normally do. They hung back while the Onikuma and three Questlings attempted to rip him apart. The Onikuma was a massive beast that resembled the preserved drawings of bears from before The Break. It ran on four legs but stood on its back feet whenever it was in a fight. It had the characteristic white fur and yellow eyes, but its crimson claws and teeth were matched by bright red armour covering its stomach and back. No one knew exactly what made the red armour was made of, but it was tougher yet more brittle than steel. It was the only part of a Malific that could be preserved it one acted fast enough. But strong enough to block bullets and deflect blades, Stark was interested how Lucas would deal with it.

Lucas had both revolvers out, they had a black and white themes with pearl handles to them. Stark smiled tiredly at that. Lucas had better equipment than him and he was leading the team.

A Questling suddenly snapped forward, it’s snake mouth stealing forward and biting at the air while its powerful body pushed forward. Lucas leaped through the air and flipped over the Malific and landed with his full body weight right onto the Questling back. Its legs buckled right before Lucas fired a bullet into the back of its head. The head exploded and Lucas had to duck as a Gylgi suddenly slashed at him with its claws. Lucas pressed the barrel of a revolver into the armpit of the Malific and fired a powerful shot that ripped through its shoulder before Lucas spun around and buried a revolver dagger into the back of its neck and carving upward and killing it.

The moment the Gylgi was down the Onikuma charged forward with a massive roar only the Onikuma possessed. Lucas paused for a moment and raised each revolver to point directly at the Onikuma as it barreled toward him. Lucas waited until the last second before firing and dodging out of the way. The Onikuma immediately stumbled and slammed face first into the ground, churning up dirt as its face scraped against the ground.

With the Onikuma briefly out of action the other two Questlings decided to attack Lucas at that moment. Lucas spun a revolver in his hand and changed a revolver to a knife. He slammed the butt of one revolver into a Questlings jaw and stabbed his knife into the base of its neck before hauling the knife upward, cutting from the neck to the jaw. In the same motion Lucas turned and fired a single bullet into the Questling beast's face, the impact blowing a hole completely through the creature’s left eye.

With the Questlings gone the Gylgi rushed him all at once. Lucas barely paused before unloading his revolver out on them, six shots from one seven from the other. Each bullet found the skull of a Gylgi and the creatures fell to the ground, leaving two left which Lucas quickly dispatched with his knifes.

Lucas reloaded his revolvers with a deliberate casual slowness to himself. The Onikuma was stumbling to its feet, its snout sniffing the air. Stark quickly spotted why Lucas was moving slowly, the shots he fired before blinded the Malific and also fired out the back end of its skull. If the Malific abided normal biology it would have been dead, but it was still very much alive. Only now it was blinded.

Lucas snapped the freshly loaded chamber back into place and holstered each one. The Onikuma stumbled blindly closer and closer to Lucas, using its sense of smell to guide it. Lucas lifted his sniper rifle while it was in its full form and pointed it loosely with one hand before firing. The bullet caused the beast’s head to exploded in a fountain of gore before the beast collapsed to the ground. Lucas lowered his rifle and took out a flask to take a sip.

“We should get moving before more come.” He stated gruffly. Stark look up at the sky. Sun Zeta had already settled over the horizon, leaving sun Prime alone for a few hours in the sky. Stark looked back at his men, each of them looking at him with differently looks on their faces.

Lucas was experienced, done missions like this several times over and met countless different commanders in that time. He was likely getting a feel for Stark, not too easy considering Stark made a point of not saying more than he needed to.

Tecaelis was new this particular kind of mission and Stark found it unlikely he had ever been in the field outside of the Girnought home country. Maybe he had been deployed into the Frozen Isles if he was lucky.

“There are some ruins an hour and a half from this location. We’ll head there and camp for the night. Once we have set up I’ll give you the full brief of the mission.” Girnought policy. As of this moment, only Stark knew the full details of the mission. “Lucas, see if you can find animals in the area to eat.” Lucas nodded and started running toward the direction Stark had indicated. Tecaelis and Stark began jogging similarly. The real mission would begin tomorrow.

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