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Title: Flatline Submitted By:D.M.A

The cave was huge. It was hundreds of meters across and about 200 meters wide. The sides were covered with holes, two and an half meters high and two meters wide. The holes looked like worm-holes from a distance. There were hundreds of them. The air was filled with mist and smoke from all the lava pools and seas burried under the ground. The human eye couldn't see the other side of the cave.

Joe was tensing his eyes to see the other side. It was no use. He could see the cave starting to narrow where his sight was cut off by the mist. That would suggest that he could see a bit further than halfway across. The group which Joe was part of consisted of 21 men. Joe hopped down from the cliff he had been balancing on. He joined the others and listened in on their planning.

"Damn it Dyson, you will be found guilty of treason if you refuse."
"Screw you, I'm not going on your insane suicide mission."
"We'll stay close to one of the walls. If we are attacked we are enough men to take down the attackers, we can shoot them easily before they get into range to attack."
"We're talking about lava-yetis here, you know."
"One can easily sidestep their fire if they attack from a distance."
"I'm not discussing this anymore with you, you're crazy. You do whatever, I'm going back."

There was a brief moment of silence. Dyson turned and began walking away the same way they had come a few minutes ago. Hazell left standing speachless. He didn't know what to say anymore. The other men looked from one to the other, some scratching their heads. Some men started walking away one after the other until 11 men were left, Joe included. Joe didn't really care. He was restless and just wanted something to happen. Hazell looked confused for a moment but then seemed to gather himself together.

"Okay, let's get moving, we have a long walk infront of us." Hazell said in an orderly voice.

They had decided to walk close to the south wall, because it seemed to be pestered with less Yeti-caves than the north wall. They kept close to the wall to be out of sight and in the shadows. If they walked in the middle they would be visible to all the, probably hundreds of habitants of the cave.
They went forward at a crawling pace. There were a lot of holes in the ground which had been partly covered by dried lava, dust and moss. One wrong step could send a man falling down tens of meters, if he was unlucky landing in a pool of lava.

Joe was one of the two scouts making way for the rest of the team, testing the ground carefully infront of them. Behind them Hazell and five other men followed, working as flankers. Three men followed about ten meters behind them watching the teams back.

"So Malone, how's your hand healing?" Joe asked the other scout just out of boredom.
"Oh, it's alright, nothing to worry about." Malone answered back while stomping the ground infront of him with his heavy boot.

Malone had been on a scout mission with Joe a couple of week ago. He had lost balance at one point when the ground shifted under him. When falling he had stretched out his arms and one hand had gone right through the ground into a pool of lava. If it wouldn't be for the new regrowth medicines which they were using, Malone would have lost his hand completely. Now the hand had almost regrown. It would take some time before the nervs grew back of course, which meant that he wouldn't feel a thing if he put his hand in boiling water.

Joes thoughts drifted away for a while. He was thinking back to the time before the attack of the Marathon. He had been working in one of the cold-bays, loading things which were sent down planet-side. On one occation when loading a pelican he had seen the security officer. The security officer which had saved the entire ship Marathon. He had heard all sorts of rumors about him, it was impossible to know which were true. Appearantly he was a cyborg. Rumors had it that there were more than one cyborg, but oddly this was the only one which seemed to have really stood up and made a stand against the Pfhor. Joe was perplexed and intrigued by this mysterious warrior. Joe knew that Durandal had brought him here as well, but he had never seen him. He wished that he would one day have the chance to meet him.

Joe thought he felt the ground tremble under his feet and snapped back to attention. He looked over at Malone. Suddenly a crack was formed between Malones feet and light came up through the ground. Joe reacted quickly and took a long leap towards Malone. Malone stretched out one arm towards Joe and grabbed his hand just as the ground gave away under him. Joe had a firm grip around Malones wrist and was almost pulled down with Malone. Malone left hanging down over the edge, lava boiling hot a couple of meters under him.

The crack in the ground grew quickly bigger and one of the flankers lost balance and fell to the ground. In the fall the grenade trigger to his Assault-rifle accidentally went off and sent a grenade straight up in the air. The human rolled over to the side to get away from the grenade, which turned and was on it's way down again. He didn't have time to see where he was rolling and almost rolled over into the crack. He left balancing on the edge for a moment with his arms spread out flapping to gain balance. The crack was still growing though, and the human tipped over and fell down into the lava.
In the same moment the grenade landed and picked up another one of the humans, sending him flying away several meters.
The human which had fallen into the lava came up again with his head over the surface and let out the most horrible scream Joe had ever heard. It was a scream filled with pain and agony. The skin and flesh on his face was burned away and where his eyes should have, been, two large black holes were stearing up at Joe.

Joe pulled Malone up over the edge. Malones boots were oozing with smoke and he quickly pulled them off before they melted into the skin. Joe looked around quickly, new cracks were forming all around them. The human which had been hit by the grenade was still alive, but one leg was a bloody stump with blood projecting out. Two other humans were kneeling over him trying to stop the bleeding. Everyone else looked unharmed, but most were clutched to the ground because of the quakes.

A large piece of the ceiling, three meters in diameter got loose and came tumbling down. One of the two men kneeling over the wounded soldier got away, but the other, as well as the wounded got the entire piece of ceiling over them. The large piece didn't stop there though, but went right through the ground and landed in the lava, sending lava flying up in all directions. Lava was raining down over the rest of the humans.

The other human that had been kneeling over the wounded got drenched in lava and was screaming and furiously rolling around on the ground, while the lava was burning away his flesh. After a while he stopped moving and went slack.

The quakes stopped after a while and everything went silent, except for the lava boiling underneath and some distant quakes. The air around them was filled with smoke and dust and a stomach turning smell of burned human hair and flesh. Joe looked slowly around taking up the view. Malone was lying at his side a bit shaken up but unharmed. Hazell was alive as well as one other of the flankers. All of the three men which had been covering their backs were still alive but some of them were burned in their faces by the lava. One of them had lost most of his hair and his eyebrows had been burned away. They were seven men left.

There was no turning back now. There was a large crack behind them the way they had come which stretched all the way across the cave on the short side. They had no way of getting over the crack. The only thing to do would be to continue towards the old S'pht base and hope that Durandal would be able to teleport them out from there.
Joe got up to his feet and made his way over to Hazell.

"Sir, are you all right?" Joe asked carefully.

Hazell was sitting on a rock staring out over the cave. He didn't react to Joes question. Joe put his hand on Hazells shoulder and rocked him gently. Hazell turned his head and left staring at Joes hand. Joe left Hazell sitting and started walking over to the rest of the men a few meters away.

Because of Joes 'disfunctionŐ he wasn't very affected by seeing the men die.

"Are you guys al..." Joe started asking but was cut off by a roar behind him. He quickly turned around and saw several Yetis running out of a nearby cave some 30 meters away.

Joe quickly estimated them to be 11 fully grown lava Yetis. The quakes had stopped and the Yetis were curious to find out what had caused them, and made their way towards the humans with delight.

Joe quickly drew his pistol and started shooting at the Yetis. He didn't bother yelling to the others to do the same, since they all must have heard the approaching hoard. After a few seconds some of the other men started firing as well, but some were too stunned by fear and took a little longer to react. The leading Yeti got a bullet in the left eye and it's head winced back and the large creature struggled for balance. Joe felt a grenade fly past him and landed at the creatures feet. The explosion ripped away the creatures legs from the knees and down, and the rest of the creature was picked up in the air. The creature right behind it slammed into the leg-less body and seemed to embrace it. The leg-less creature was still alive and clutched it's long nails into the flesh of the other creature, which couldn't see where it was running and suddenly it just seemed to disappear. Lava flew up in all directions from the large crack which the two Yetis sent up when they plummed down into it.

This all looked very amusing to Joe which couldn't help but grin right there in the middle of it. Lava was sprayed out over the Yetis which screamed in pain. Two other Yetis fell down into the crack while eagerly trying to scratch the lava off their skin. Another got pestered with pistol bullets and gave out a loud roar as it's legs collapsed and the creature crashed to the ground. Malone was closest to the Yetis and one of the Yetis took a swing at him with it's large claw-decorated paw. The paw connected with Malones arm which was partly torn to shreds, and Malone was thrown to the ground clutching his arm. The creature was over him and immediately started to thew on him. Malone stuck his hand, which he had burned a few weeks ago into a pot of lava and shoved it into the creatures mouth. The creature stopped with what seemed to be a surpriced look on it's face before it got up and started runnning around wildly roaring and scrathing himself in the mouth with it's claws. The creature slammed into one of the other Yetis and pushed them both down into a crack.

Malone took more lava with his burned hand and got up on shaky legs. He caught a Yeti running by and with all his might shoved his hand up it's butt-crack. The Yeti continued running, but in panic running away in the wrong direction scratching it's arse furiously.

A fire projectile from on of the Yetis flew by and hit on of the humans right between the legs. The human doubled over and fell to the ground. Another grenade impacted with one of the Yetis and tore off it's head. The Yeti ran head-less for a few moments before it's legs collapsed and it fell to the ground. The three Yetis left had by now gotten to where Hazell and the flanker were. Hazell was still just sitting on his rock, watching the Yetis tear the other man to pieces. The three Yetis didn't have time to start tearing at Hazell before they were pestered with bullets by the other men and collapsed to the ground.

Everyone stopped shooting and the cave fell dead-silent. Joe hurried over to Malone. Malone lay there bare-feet and one arm in a bloody stump, and his other hand melted away. His torso had some nasty bites and he was losing blood fast. Joe tore pieces of cloathing and tried to stop the bleeding, but it seemed to be in vain, Malone had already slipped into unconsciousness. After a few minutes his heart stopped beating.

They were more than halfway across the cave now. Hazell had snapped out of his shock and was walking quietly behind Joe. Two men followed a few meters behind. It had taken some time to get Hazell to respond. At first he had just sat on his rock with a sickening smile on his face, with saliva running down from his mouth. Joe had slapped him several times in the face until Hazell had run up and attacked Joe, trying to strangle him. The other two humans had to pull him away from Joe and held him down on the ground until he calmed down. After that he seemed to had grasped reality again, not saying anything, but following the others.

The floor to the cave was still very fragile and Joe had to feel his way carefully, but even so the ground had given away infront of him several times, and he had almost been pulled down a few times. Joe suddenly froze and Hazell bumped into his back before looking up. There was something moving infront of them in the shadows. It was something large, but Joe couldn't see what it was. It breathed heavily and made it's way towards the humans with heavy slow steps, which made the ground vibrate under the humans feet. Joe slowly took out his pistol from it's holster and pointed it in the direction of the thing. The two men at the back levelled their Assault-rifles. Hazell seemed to hesitate, but reluctantly unholstered his gun as well.

The largest Yeti Joe had ever seen stepped out of the shadows. It was about three meters tall. It's skin looked hard and wet, and it had a blue-gray color. The arms and legs looked thick as trees and the monster seemed to weigh half a ton or more. Joe saw it's eyes glint in the deep dark eye-sockets. It had one of it's arms raised, and it came down towards Joe with might. It's large paw connected with Joe's body with a big thud and a cracking sound as several bones broke in Joe's rib-cage.
Joe was picked up in the air like a doll and flew away several meters, and landed in a heap on the cave-floor, rolling round a few time before stopping on his back. He could feel the pain burning everywhere in his body. He tried to move, but he only managed to lift his head to watch the monster slaughter two of the other humans, almost ignoring the bullets from the Assault-rifles. Joe couldn't see Hazell anywhere. The monster stopped attacking the two humans, which by now, was only bloody shreds of meat and bones on the ground. It looked over at Joe and started walking towards him slowly with heavy steps. It grabbed Joe by the leg and lifted him up of the ground holding him infront of it's face. It took Joe's other leg in it's other paw. Joe realised that the monster was going to tear him appart by separating his legs, but he was unable to move and just hung there upside down, waiting for a horrible death.

Suddenly the animal got a surprised expression on it's face and it dropped Joe to the ground. Joe could see Hazell behind the monster with an Assault-rifle stuck almost all the way into the animals behind. Bullets, blood and goo started spraying out of the monsters stomach, while Hazell stood behind the moster, laughing hysterically while pumping the entire magazine into the monsters arse. When it was empty he quickly pulled it out and started backing away from the creature, still laughing with a satisfied expression on his face. The monster turned around, still alive but swaying heavily back and forth.

"Your mom!" Hazell screamed and pulled the grenade trigger. The grenade landed in the monsters mouth with a thud.

The monster jerked it's head down to look with what seemed to be curiousity at it's mouth. The moster exploded from the inside, and was sprayed out over the cave in all directions. Joe lost consciousness. He dreamt that he was laying in a beautiful womans arms while she was gently stroking his cheek.

"Oh Joe, everythings gonna be alright, rest in my arms, everythings okay" she said in a lovely peaceful voice.

The Marine heard the battle and was making his way towards the place. Suddenly there was an explosion and everything went quiet. The Marine started to run.
There were flesh, goo, blood and bones on the ground in a wide circle. In the middle of the circle sat a man. The marine walked up to him and looked down. The man held another man in his arms. The man in his lap was dead, but with a faint smile on his lips. The man sitting on the ground was stroking the other mans cheek while repeating over and over again:

"Oh Joe, everythings gonna be alright, rest in my arms, everythings okay".
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