Stories From – Risk of Rain
That sound, so familiar. It starts as an infrequent, even random, tip-tip-tap. The pace picks up; the rhythm hastens to the point of near deafening white noise. Rain. I come to, body aching, mind jarred, nerves beyond shaken. As I stand up, wreckage beneath me, my feet squish in the barren purple marsh, in which I find myself. I realize my memories are fuzzy at best. I remember being on a space transport, a loud explosion, alarms, then…nothing. Even my name escapes me. I do however recall quite clearly how to use this small arsenal of guns strapped to my envirosuit. Instinctively grabbing my sidearm, it’s feels second nature to check the sights, ammo clip, and verify sight alignment. With everything in the wreckage being soaked in water after burning via entry into this planet, scavenging for supplies is beyond pointless. As I walk away from the remains, the hiss of the downpour on hot metal begins to subside. I make it a hundred paces before I feel compelled to find…a vision flashes in my mind…a doorway? No, a teleporter, a portal! I feel queasy as I recollect my senses. I need to find a way off this planet. I can do this. I feel as though I’ve been through worse scenarios, how I’m so assured, that’s anyone’s guess.
Suddenly, I hear a worryingly loud, low frequency sound, the kind you can feel in your chest. Almost too late do I notice myself being surrounded by things of which my mind has trouble comprehending. Occam’s razor doesn’t have a say in this situation, as I can’t define a simple explanation as to why hulking purple bipedal lizards are quickly lumbering my way. I react, emptying my sidearm in each creature, of which there are no less than six. Crawls flailing, teeth gnashing, I dodge a few fatal blows. I make an effort to grab and load the blast-shot slugloader, firing the slow but effective weapon, taking out three of the creatures in one fell swoop, the tradeoff being some deep cuts to my suit and limbs. Three of these horrific monstrosities remain, two coming head on, one from behind. I sling the slugloader back over my shoulder, the strap catches and halts with a heavy jerk. Then, as if trained for this specific moment, I manifest two mini-assault sprayers; they unfold mechanically from sliding panels located on the arms of my suit. Turning such that these creatures were to my left and right, I unload until both clips are empty. As providence would have it, the clips housed just enough ammunition to guarantee my survival. Standing there before this bleeding mass of reptilian skin, as the rain began to dilute and carry blood from the corpses into the drenched soil, I could feel my fight was anything but over.
Barely able to take a moment’s breath, the ground beneath me shifts, stretches, and rises. I fall back, hardly catching myself, jumping out of the way as a solid piece of soil forms into a fist, crashing down where I fell. As if to imitate an undead from a storybook, this thing pulls itself from the ground, taking full form in doing so. It’s physique manifests as that of a monumental, cycloptic, red-eyed golem of dirt, rock, and what little bits of grass this planet seems to produce. Towering before me, the behemoth spreads his arms wide, pausing for a split second before slamming his oversized hands together, causing an absurdly powerful shockwave to blast forth. I start to lose consciousness after being thrown back, as if thrown by an explosion, snapping to, just in time to roll out from under the beast as it slammed down a raised leg unto the spot where I writhe in pain. It takes every ounce of adrenaline, and every sinew working in harmony to muster the ensuing fight. After scrambling and dodging for minutes on end, taking opportune shots senselessly, my body slowly failing me, it ends with a perfectly placed bullet to his red beaming eye. His structure freezes in place and as his eye slowly dims, his exterior crumbles away to a sullen mound. I know that if I sit still, my wounds will get the better of me. I need to keep moving.
Not long afterward, about the time that the site of my previous encounter fades from view in the path behind me, I notice a twinkling in the slate grey of the perpetual twilight above. I determine it is drifting closer. This twinkling dances closer and closer, obviously with increasing speed. Too late am I to notice the danger it poses before it jolts directly for me, darting, swimming through the air, propelling itself with it’s jellied, bag-like body, lacy tentacles hanging yards behind it. Its body passes just by me, too quickly to react. With tentacles draped, scraping across my suit, gently sliding against my skin, I feel what I can only describe as being electrocuted and set aflame simultaneously. It takes every last bit of willpower I have to raise my sidearm and blast the sky swimmer out of the air as it quickly turns, heading back for seconds. It dies with a screech, and due to the velocity at which it flew, plopped to the ground, smearing into a jellied glowing white puddle.
I can’t keep this up. I’m barely able to move, not quite lucid. Regardless, I stumble on, knowing what I seek is near, knowing my way off this planet is finally within my reach. And…there it is, the thing of my vision, the odd obelisk with crooked twin poles jutting upward from each end. I feel drawn to touch it, as I do the construct hums to life, and the entire planet around me reveals what has surrounded me this whole time, the largest damn sky-jelly I never wished to see. Speedily glancing at the portal’s console, it becomes very evident, that this ancient ruined device demands the blood of this gigantic sky drifter to function. Be it by science or some bygone celestial ritual, I needed this thing dead. A deafening, painful screech the creature projected as I made this recollection was too perfectly timed to be a mere coincidence. I nearly blackout in a fury of self regulated gun ballet, coming to slightly at the flash of every bullet. The pain becomes nuanced, a symbiosis of fear and elation carry me through to the end. Before I know it, I find myself standing in front of a giant pulpy, jelly mass. The teleporter buzzes to life as the last light of life fades from the enormous creature. I take a deep breathe and step through…
I made it. I’m here. Am I safe? Observing my surroundings as my vision adjusts, I realize I am anything but free of danger. I may or may not even be on the same planet, quite possibly just in another location. My newfound sixth sense is yet again compelling me to find another teleporter. Viewing the peripheries of my sight, I notice more than just a wide jagged expanse of my new locale, I see creatures, hundreds, possibly thousands, flooding in from the rocky landscape, from every corner of this world that my eyes can perceive. Both creatures now familiar, and some even I objectively fail to describe rush my way. I should lie here and die, knowing they are coming for me, no chance of survival. But I won’t. I can’t. My mind coaxes me ever onward. I feel something cold and wet bleed through the tears in my suit. I look up slowly, acknowledging that here too the sky is grey, the risk of rain now a promise, just as before. For the first time, I welcome it. In the end, the rain washes away all, only for the cycle to begin anew.