End Times

Creature Zero

The Gadget

gadget_00.jpg

The Call

The world changed in 2486. From atop the Citadel, TimeWatch watched the world change.

The city was a staging ground for the military, hustling to keep up with a population of creatures contained on the other side of a hundred foot cement wall. The entire North American Southwest was lost centuries earlier, along with Mexico. An infestation of sword-toothed chitinous mutants were on the other side, and finally their population had grown to such and extent that no wall, and no show of force, could keep their legions at bay.

“That wall never existed ten minutes ago,” said their handler, a young Indian woman dressed in white.

The team was dispatched. They fired up their autochrons and fell backward through the time stream.

July 1945: Tularosa, NM

The investigation had taken more time than anticipated. Each jump through time brought more horrors to the fore, and each time they had to deal with the creatures unleashed on innocent populations. Each jump had the potential to rip open the veil and unleash untold horrors from the great beyond.

Creature Zero, the first one of these monstrosities to cross the veil and begin the infestation, was traced to Tularosa, NM in 1945. The world came into focus around the team as time caught up to them, or did they catch up to time? It was difficult to tell.

Men, women, and children were running around scared and screaming. The ten foot beast was gnawing on a corpse in the middle of the street when an old sheriff with a beer gut opened fire. The creature roared and looked up from its meal.

Murdoch pulled the butt of the rifle snugly to his shoulder. They were prepared, having faced several of these things in the past few days. His first shot grazed the beast. He cursed under his breath.

Their android companion, Model 3417, moved out of the alley and behind a parked car. She opened fire with a small firearm. It chirped, and a blue bolt of energy blasted a hole in its carapace.

The beast was atop a car, and knocked the sheriff into the window of the local diner.

“Doctor, bring him this way,” said Mattix as he revved up the chainsaw he’d found so effective the day before.

Doctor Hirsch’s eyes lit with a devil’s light as he repeated an incantation to read the creature’s thoughts. They never responded well to this, but this was the only way to save the sheriff’s life.

The creature cocked its head in their direction. It was a blur as it charged down the street at them, knocking parked cars aside like plastic toys. Mattix stepped into the mad charge and cut into the creature’s hamstring with his chainsaw. In a lethal exchange, he brought the chainsaw into the thing’s chest but the blades were deflected aside by the thing’s breastplate.

The rest of the team opened fire again, and Mattix barely leapt out of the way as it tried biting him. The bite came with such force that it shattered the manhole at Mattix’s feet, its maw stuck in the metal tube.

Black tendrils of nanites reached out from Model 3417’s arms, and connected its power supply to that of the chainsaw. The sudden boost was enough that Mattrix was able to decapitate it in front of the entire town.

“Dadgum,” cursed the sheriff, stroking his magnificent moustache. “Ain’t that the ugliest cow I ever seen?”

“Cow, nothing,” said Murdoch, searching his brain for a better, more convincing story, “It’s a mutated dog. Or Rhinoceros.”

“Rhino, more like,” said the sheriff, perplexed.

Bystanders were looking over the decapitated beast. Doctor Hirsch was urging them away as he examined it. Up the street, the slain must be infected with eggs. It appeared that this creature had recently discharged its egg sacs.

“It stinks,” said a kid in disgust. Another whispered, “Do you think those scientists we saw made these? Those government types?”

“Yea,” said Murdoch to the crowd. “And government types will want to eradicate anyone who knows about their experiments. Sheriff, everyone, its best to keep your mouths shut if you value the lives of your families. We’ll take care of this thing so nobody knows about it.”

As they prepped the bodies, and disposed of them, Mattix and Model 3417 tracked the destruction to the edge of town. Its tracks trailed off into the endless desert.

If they were going to find the rift it came from, and close it, they were going to have to follow these tracks all of the way, and who knew how many more were out there in the New Mexican desert?

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