“They used to tell stories. About monsters, but not your every day bigfoot-type monsters. No, these were not from this world, maybe even this universe. However, they came uprising from a normal pond. Nobody expected it, nobody saw it coming. But can you blame them? Some say that those who were chosen to fight them could never return to their normal lives again, if they ever made it back alive. Forever scarred. Mentally insane. First to ascend was a bear-sized humanoid, covered in razor-sharp spines. Virtually bulletproof and took no notice of the returning fire from the doomed men. The damned thing walked straight through the enclosure. 3 meters of solid concrete. Took the life of 23 well-trained men.”
“What happened to it?”
“They bombed the s**t out of it. Finally neutralized with napalm.”
“Why don’t they send an investigation squad through the pond? A submarine, maybe? If this was a real problem, there would probably be more fuss around it.”
“They did, two years ago, under the name of R.L Iron. Melnik Haus, do you recognize that name?”
“Yea, he got promoted few years back. Never seen him since.”
“Ever wonder why?”
“I’d assume he got deployed in a different region. Maybe K.I.A”
“That’s exactly what they want you to think. Nobody from the so-called “promotion” ever came back. You’d think at least some of them would survive if it was a normal deployment. Wallance?”
“Confirmed K.I.A. In Serbia, why?”
“No, he was part of the investigation squad. There are no documents of him ever going to Serbia. No planes, trains, convoys, no nothing. Zero.”
Jasper looked up from his dirty boots and met his fellow soldiers eyes, shining in the slim light of the campfire. He didn’t know what to believe. A breeze hit his face from the cold winter night.
“And how, exactly, are you so sure of this? I mean, it might just be another campfire rumor. A horror story to keep us on edge.”
“No, Jasper, you don’t get it. This is for real. There is proof. Of the Chaos Insurgency, of the pond, of the monsters and the lives lost fighting those. They just don’t want us to know. We are too vulnerable, they think we will let the word out. It would spread like a disease and before you know the whole world knows about it. You know why that’s a problem? The same reason the government wouldn’t tell us about aliens. Or why NASA wouldn’t tell if an astroid were about to hit.”
“Chaos,” Jasper whispered.
“Exactly. And nobody would want that, right?”
“So, to combat this, they only choose highly trustworthy soldiers. I don’t know what they base that decision on, however I do know that Melnik was one of our best medics, which is why he was chosen.”
“Top of his class. Broke nearly all Navy Seal records – sharpshooting, free diving, terrain running. All of it. Seems weird he’d just go K.I.A on a random deployment, doesn’t it?”
Jasper looked down again, disappearing into his own thoughts, trying to put together the pieces of the puzzle. He didn’t believe in the supernatural, however with every word Axl spoke, the more it made sense. He had overheard some recruits talking about the matter back at base, but they were instantly quieted by a commanding officer.
Axl took a deep breath before continuing.
“There is said to be a perimeter around the lake, Watch Station Epsilon-38. Watchtowers, bunch of specially trained soldiers from the Chaos Insurgency, highly advanced weaponry. S**t is straight out of a sci-fi movie. If I didn’t know better, I’d think someone just read too many H.P Lovecraft novels.”
Jasper looked up to his mate once again, with visible doubt in his facial expression. Axl, obviously taking notice of this, nodded back to him, in a confirming way. Their eye contact broke as Jasper gazed out over the snow-covered forrest. The moonlight assisted in lighting up the surroundings and made the snow glimmer in the dark, almost like stars in the night sky. Axl sat covered in a big camouflaged jacket, warming his hands the best he could in the small fire pit. They were alone in the northern parts of Canada. Snow covered the whole country this time of the year, but they were stationed at the worst place. Constant snowfall, barely any daylight and cold as Dante’s Hell.
Axl leaned back on the log he was sitting on, which they had cut down themselves earlier that day.
“Y’know, Jasper, you’re a good soldier, almost on par with Wallance. Maybe they will come for you next?”
“Shut up,” Jasper muttered. “Even if it is real, then why the hell would I accept it?”
“Well, it’s not like they tell you what’s going to happen. My guess is that if you bail after receiving the info… Well…”
Axl proceeded to drag his finger over his throat.
“You’re stupid. They don’t want the information to spread, it’s that easy.”
“You are a good soldier too, Axl. Would you accept it?”
“Let me see… Fighting aliens? Check. I will most definitely die? Check. I get out of this hellhole? Check. I don’t see anything negative about it, why would I decline?”
Axl looked at Jasper and laughed. He has always had a weird sense of humor. He wasn’t suicidal, as far as everyone was concerned, however he joked about it almost daily. Some say you joke about your insecurities, so maybe he was. 35, living alone in a small apartment in California, working his a*s off at a minimum wage job he hated. That’s probably why he signed up for the military. He never gets visited by friends nor family, and hates when you bring it up.
The two soldiers had nothing more to talk about, and spent the night sleeping in 2 hour shifts until the morning came. One man always on the radio, which stayed silent, buzzing the whole night. It was a horrible buzzing, like when a bee zooms past your ear in the summer, except the bee has ADHD and is stuck inside of your ear.
Morning came, and the sun slowly rose to warm up the outpost. For the first few morning hours it stayed behind the trees, teasing them with its sunlight, until it finally reached the tree crowns and provided additional warmth to the working soldiers.
The daily chores were the same; wake up, make breakfast, maintenance for their firearms, keep the fire alive, collect dry wood, all while remaining radio contact. They were stationed here without additional info; all they were told to do was to survive. They are seals, however, and this might just be another practice.
“This damned thing just keeps buzzing. It’s been radio silent for 7 days, Jasper. 7 days. I’m surprised we even have any food left.”
“Yea, we might just start eating each others soon unless we get additional orders. This is madness. I’m tired of eating the same old conserved food.”
“And the bunny traps haven’t yielded anything yet. Are there even bunnies in Canada?”
“If there are any, they obviously aren’t here.”
Jasper was cleaning the pipe of his M4A1 Carbine, sitting on a cut down log.
“Why are you even cleaning that still? We haven’t used them since Afghan.”
“Exactly, Axl, that’s why I’m cleaning it. See, that’s why I’m a better soldier than you, and why they’ll never promote you to the Chaos Insurgency. Go fetch your rifle, I’ll show you.”
Axl complied and took of the headset to the radio. He gave Jasper an angry look as he headed away to their makeshift house – mostly put together using sticks, moss, leafves, and frozen snow.
Sitting on the other side of the fire pit, Jasper could still hear the faint buzzing of the radio headset. It was a new radio they had never worked with before, and it only had a single channel. Whoever talked on the other side, if they did, could only be picked up by that specific radio. It was specially encrypted as well, for top-secret messages. Why they were given this, they didn’t ask. Although now they started to regret that.
Under the constant buzzing, Jasper suddenly thought he heard a faint male voice. He stopped rubbing the inside of the pipe and listened; had he finally lost his mind or did someone really just speak?
“Axl!” he shouted as he leaned his rifle against a tree and bolted towards the headset, stumbling and almost falling into the fire pit. He picked up the headset, took off his furry hat and put on the headset.
“This is Alpha AcJ, come.”
“Alpha AcJ, I hear you come.”
“F**k,” Jasper put the radio down but kept the headset.
“What’d I miss?” Axl said, walking from their shelter with a protein bar in his mouth.
“I swear to god I could hear someone speaking.”
“It was probably just the wind, Jasper. Y’know, spending too much time alone in the woods, especially this far north, can really-”
Axl was interrupted by the male voice.
“Alpha AcJ, do you copy?” the voice came from the headset, same voice as before.
“This is Alpha AcJ, we copy,” Jasper tried hiding the excitement in his voice, however failed miserably. This was the first voice he had heard in a week that wasn’t Axl’s constant whining.
“Alpha AcJ, you have new orders. Tell me your coordinates and a helicopter will be on it’s way. You two are being re-deployed. They need you more somewhere else. Over.”
“Sir, our coordinates are…” he gave his latitude and longitude coordinates, “Where are we going? Over.”
“No time to explain. Someone might monitor this line. They will explain on the helicopter. Over and out, soldier.”
The radio went back to its buzzing, and the two soldiers sat in silence in a mixture of confusion and happiness; happiness because they are finally leaving this hell, but confused because of the conversation they just had. A mission so secret they weren’t allowed to take it over the radio? What is that about?
Axl finally broke the silence and spoke up.
“What just happened?”
“Does it matter? We’re getting re-deployed. Time to get our s**t together. Get your weapon and keep the fire alive, we don’t know how long this might take.”
“Well, he did say it was urgent. However it is the military we’re talking about so they’ll probably keep us waiting a while.”
The the two seals were getting ready and collecting their stuff. Darkness had started to slowly creep in as the few hours of daylight was coming to an end, and along with it came the usual unbearable cold. Jasper got bored of the constant silence and finally broke it.
“Remember you told me about the humanoid that broke Epsilon-38? Were there anymore breaches?”
“Oh, so now you’re interested huh? Well, there were more than a few of them. Monsters are constantly ascending the pond its surrounding. Since discovery of the lake, 18 monsters have been discovered. Possibly more, however this is all we know. Not only have humanoid creatures ascended, there was once a perfectly metallic, black sphere that slowly levitated up from the pool. When it came up, it didn’t move. It just levitated in place, right above the pool of water. Task Force was told to hold fire until it showed signs of hostility. However, a geiger counter in base started showing dangerous amounts of radiation, and after a few minutes soldiers started puking, and those stationed close to it collapsed. Red blisters quickly appeared on the men, and once this was discovered they were told to shoot to kill. But as the first bullet struck the next to impenetrable metallic shell, it quickly responded by firing concentrated beams of radiation on its attackers, with a next to 100% accuracy, disabling the men and ultimately killing them. The sphere moved closer to perimeter walls to find its last prays, and after burning through magazines and men, with air support long way coming, one man resorted to throwing away his rifle, picking up a sledgehammer and launching himself at it. With one hit he successfully disabled the drone, which later self-destructed, killing the heroic man and dealing sufficient damage to the surrounding structure. This is only one of many, so you can just imagine what other horrors have ascended from the depth of the lake.
Jasper didn’t know what to say. He just sat there in a mixture of confusion, horror and amazement. He had forgotten about the cold biting his skin, as he was too invested in the stories that were being told. He still didn’t know what to believe. He wanted to believe it, he really did, but this just sounded too surreal to be true. He let out a quick unsure laugh before answering to his story.
“Holy f*****g s**t. Theres no way this is real, is it? I mean, how do you even know all of this?”
“I told you already, Jasper, it is real. You can’t station a few hundred men around this thing, in the middle of Canada, without the word coming around to us fellow soldiers.”
“They must’ve made some research surrounding the sphere. How was it levitating?”
“F**k if I know, Axl shrugged. This is all I know, and all thats important coming from our point of view. We’re no researchers, we don’t have to get involved in the how’s and why’s. If we ever get deployed, we’re the ones killing the monsters, not worrying about how they exist.”
“Christ dude, you’re talking like you know we’re going there. Is there something you need to tell me?”
Axl looked his mate in the eyes, but looked away quickly. He starred blankly to the fire, debating with himself wether to tell him or not.”
“Axl! You’re making me nervous. If you know something more than I do, you need to tell me.”
“It’s probably nothing, don’t worry about it dude.”
“Key word ”probably”. Then there’s a chance there is something. What have you heard?”
“F**k, man. Okay. I heard something back at base. They mentioned our names. I was out taking a piss when I heard some of the commanders talking. I couldn’t pick up exactly what it was about, however I heard our names. And now we’re here, in the middle of northern f****n’ Canada, where Epsilon-38 is also located. Coincidence?”
“S**t, so that’s what the call was about? A secret mission? So secret we can’t talk about it on air? However much I don’t want it to, it makes sense.”
Jaspers pulse started increasing and both men got equally stressed out. Even Axl, who had told these stories, didn’t want it so be true.
“Goddamnit. No, theres no way, Axl said, obviously worried. I mean, I makes f****n’ sense, right? But… It’s nothing more that campfire stories! You said it yourself!”
“Chill out dude, it is nothing more than campfire stories. You’re just making yourself worried.”
At this point, the darkness had for the eight time consumed their outpost, however there was no light from the moon nor the surrounding stars. It was a cloudy night, which meant it was also a bit warmer.
In the midst of the darkness and the arguing of the two seals, a light was appearing in the distance, growing closer every second.
“It’s probably just a lie made up by the Russians anyway,” Jasper continued.
“But what if it isn’t! What if,” Axl took notice of the single star in the sky. “Hey wait, do you see that too?”
“See what?” Jasper was confused.
“The light? It sounds like… a helicopter! It’s the damn helicopter! Come on, get your s**t and put out the fire. Is there anywhere to land here?”
“Let’s see, trees… trees… trees… Nah, not here. Let’s se where it lands and head over there.”
Jasper stood up after Axl and grabbed his military duffle bag. Axl already had is on and was headed towards the light and the sounds from its rotors, which was easy to hear in the quiet night. “S**t, where’s my weapons case?” Jasper said.
“I got it, don’t worry. Let’s go!”
“Take it easy, it’s still a few hundred meters away. No need to hurry.”
“It’s not moving anymore! I think it’s descending, let’s go!”
After shoving snow over the burning sticks and putting out the fire, they quickly started heading towards the light in the sky. It was still a few hundred meters away, however it seemed to be landing. The sound of the rotors got muffled by the surrounding trees as it came closer and closer to the ground, but could still be heard in the dead silence of the night. Stumbling through knee-deep snow and overgrown trees, the two men made it slowly but surely to the apparent landing spot of the heli. It had landed by now, but the rotors were still slapping the wind and stirring the powdered snow into a thick mist. They could finally spot the black outlines of the vehicle between the thick trees, and hurried to get there, Axl in the lead with Jasper soon after, struggling to keep up with Axl’s pace. Even though he was carrying both weapon cases and his own duffle bag, he was somehow able to put a good 10 meters between them.
The misty snow was still covering the air surrounding the heli, however they could still se the outlines of it. The landing spot wasn’t perfect, but better than having to climb up a ladder while being airbourne. It had landed in the only place where no trees seemed to grow, possibly because there were rocks underneath the snow.
Jasper saw Axl disappear into the heli, and he soon followed after. He put up one arm to cover his eyes from the flying debris, mostly made up of leaves and branches, and pushed towards the wind of the twin rotors. He finally made it to the metal bird, and took the hand reaching out for him. It pulled him up, into the chopper, but he could still not see much. It swiftly took off, and he could finally see who had picked them up.
He was seated on a chair on the wall, and quickly swept the surroundings with his eyes. Normal US chopper, nothing short of the usual. 4 men, including Axl and himself. 6 including the pilots.
The other men were carrying helmets covering their whole face, so there was no way he could recognize them. There was no point in speaking to them either, since the sound of the rotors made it almost impossible to hear anything. Axl was seated next to him, but they couldn’t speak either. They exchanged looks, and Axl tried saying something. Reading his lips, Jasper thought he said ”What the f**k”, which sounds like something he would say.
They were finally put on a headset each, which muted the heli and made communication easier.
“How are you two?” one of the soldiers said. Neither of them recognized his deep male voice. He wasn’t ”militairy formal”, so neither were they.
“Cold as f**k. Yo, what’s going on? Where are we going?” Axl was fast to answer.
“Take it easy, you’re gonna find out sooner or later.”
Although he had his face covered, you could almost see him smirking. It was the other guy speaking now. He had a much more uplifting voice, which almost made it sound like everything he said was mocking them. Jasper continued;
“Well this trip might take a while, so it really wont hurt telling us. We’ve literally been in the forrest for 8 days, so if someone could speak a bit that’d be great.”
“Yes, and you did a very good job. We’ve been watching you two. Listening. And judging by your ”monster stories” it would seem that you have a pretty good idea about whats going on.”
Jasper and Axl looked at each others, and quickly looked back to the two soldiers. Jasper noticed a glimpse of white on one of the men’s bulletproof vest. Black on white, it read: ”Chaos Insurgency”
End of Part 1