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“You wanna be scared?” the major asked, walking along the wall of concrete, pock marked and bitten with time and war. Bullet holes the size of fists, the crumbling grey matter lay strewn all around with a line of his troops knelt in front, their eyes closed, deep in the middle of their litany before the storm of battle was about to start.
“You wanna fear? You wanna have something to run from? Isn’t that the reason you apes signed up? Isn’t that the reason you’re all here?” He shook his head and stopped walking along the line, stood for a moment to look at them and take them in.
His HUD dialled up their readouts, their pulse slowed to an intermittent thump, their EKG almost flatlining as they entered their hypnotic state that prepared them for what was about to come.
The black terror, their new enemy, something unlike anything humanity had ever experienced before and something that required radical efforts, new techniques and ancient ones combined. Something that could help stop them from being paralysed with fear when it came down from the sky, when it emerged from the sea or terraferma. When it materialised before their very eyes with the absolute and unnegotiable intent of killing every single last one of them.
“You’ll be scared,” he said as he started walking again. “You’ll have plenty to fear, you’ll have all the time in the world to meet a level of pure dread you’d never thought possible, but soldiers, brothers and sisters! We’ll help prepare you.”
Stopping and clenching his teeth, he hated what he had to say, but knew he had to say it. Their ultimate challenge was that, whether or not the solider lived or died after they had experienced it, after that black terror had made itself visible, they were never the same again. There was something intrinsic about it, something primordial that reached down into their very souls with dark, cold hands and ripped out a part of them that could never be the same, would never be the same.
Now it was beginning to be a question of numbers. Sure, the terror had its own weaknesses, it wasn’t invulnerable to harm, their weapons worked and took chunks out of it, and there had even been some reports of terrible, unforgiving sounds coming out of it that some even described as it hurting, but ultimately it was winning.
If you sent a million men and women up against one manifestation, maybe half would come back, and none out of that half could ever do anything more useful than pack ammunition ever again. Dead or impotent, that was the choice, and they were running out of new minds quickly.
“You wanna be scared?” he whispered as they opened their eyes, their hypnotic routine, their warrior’s litany, their soldiers prayer over and complete.
“Not today, sir!” they all roared in unison, his squad ready to face the black terror, gigantic and paralysing in all its width. They were ready, but he knew what was going to happen to them.
“You will be,” he replied.
Building inspiration: UNKNOWN
Musical inspiration: Rival Consoles - Ghosting