The Last Precursor is an HFY-exclusive web-serial which focuses on the exploits of the last living human amidst a galaxy of unknown aliens. With his species all but extinct and now only known as the ancient Precursors, how will Admiral José Rodriguez survive in this hostile universe? Make sure to read the earlier chapters first if you missed them! Do you like the story? Subscribe to HFY bot and get notified when I post new parts! Previous Part Part 001
Lele and Megla gather up the other Kessu and slowly begin walking toward the cave's exit. Since they don't know help is on the way, the only thought on their minds is to press the advantage and try to escape as quickly as possible. Behind Megla, the younger Kessu work together to carry Felabi's badly injured body, while Baaru stays close by and meows anxiously.
Megla walks behind Lele, holding her fists up in what she hopes is a threatening manner. Lele raises her light-orb device over her head and activates it every ten or so seconds, hoping to blast apart any Shades daring enough to draw near. However, thanks to the Shades leaving them alone, everyone progresses without impediment.
"Kyargh!" Megla moans. "Brat. You broke apart my weapon. Now I don't have anything to fight with!"
"Your gun wouldn't do anything to those shadow-monsters anyway," Lele retorts. "It's better if I use this tool."
After Lele discharges another orb of light, the group continues forward. When they leave their little cave, all of the Kessu gasp. Outside, massive, torn-up piles of meat and bone lay in the exterior hallways of the caves. Not only orcs and goblins, but even the gigantic Hellhound lay in thick, viscous pools of blood.
Little Lele's childish nature takes over for a moment as she recoils in horror. "Eeee! W-what are these things?! They're scary-looking!"
Megla frowns. "I do not know. I've never seen these monsters before. They're... hideous. Stay close. If any of them are still alive, I'll have to fight them with my fists."
The kitten's fur stands on end. "Th-these monsters... they probably aren't weak to light! If so, then my gadget won't hurt them at all!"
"Then let's hope we don't run into any," Megla says, her expression turning ugly. "These little ones don't look like much. I could probably take out half a dozen of them by myself... but the big ones look much stronger. Oh! What's that over there?"
The yellow-scaled Kraktol points forward, toward a metal object laying on the ground. The moment she gestures toward it, her face turns grim, as well as Lele's.
"Oh no..." Lele whispers. "B-Big Baldy's gun..."
"Why would he leave his weapon behind?" Megla asks, her voice tinged with worry. "Don't tell me... he..."
"Big Baldy is fine! He must be!" Lele yells. "He's super strong!"
"But he's only one warrior," Megla says, shaking her head. "Not even the Thülvik could fight an army of such horrible, fiendish monsters alone. And the shadow-monsters, they came after us, too. Why would the Admiral let them past?"
Megla doesn't continue her train of thought. Her stomach churns painfully as she tries to steady her nerves. A fear unlike any she's ever felt before wells up in her chest; the worry of losing someone she cares about.
The Kraktol quickly walks over and grabs the Admiral's gun. After checking its battery, her expression becomes even more solemn. "...It has fifty percent of its power remaining."
"Oh, that's good," Lele says absentmindedly. "At least now we'll have a weapon!"
Baaru and Ruuki, Lele's grandmother and father, look each other in the eyes. Their gazes hold deep meaning. The Great Precursor wouldn't drop his weapon intentionally if it were still usable. He might discard it if it ran out of power, but that would be the only plausible reason.
Even for the primitive Kessu, they know that no warrior worth his salt would ever cast aside his sword or spear, not unless it became unusable. For the Terran to leave his behind, their minds can only assume the worst.
However, with their kitten leading the party, none of the older Kessu say anything. They simply lower their eyes and shake their heads. They don't have the heart to shatter the poor girl's hope.
After a moment of inspecting the gun to ensure it works, Megla leads the Kessu around the monster corpses. They practically cling to the walls, trying to give the dead beasts as wide of a berth as possible. For the Kessu, the reason is religious in nature, as they believe the dead souls of the monsters might attack them if they draw their ire. For Megla, it's more a matter of practicality, since there might be enemy survivors capable of lashing out and injuring one of the Kessu.
Before long, they leave the monsters behind and breathe a small sigh of relief. Lele continues firing her light-orbs into the air, but not once do any Shades show their faces. Clearly, they intend to give the party plenty of space.
At least for now.
As the survivors walk, they suddenly hear a distant noise, like the sound of a terrifying, gigantic monster storming through the cavern system. All of the Kessu freeze and start hissing in a panic. Megla raises her rifle and aims into the distance, where half a mile ahead, the cave rounds a bend. Among the many side-paths, Megla sticks to the one she remembers best. Unfortunately, the terrifying beast's footsteps approach from her intended path!
"Ah, damn," Megla curses. "Don't tell me it's one of those giant shadow-mutts. I don't even know how the Admiral killed one on his own, let alone how I'd manage!"
She glances backward, wondering for a moment if everyone should retreat the direction they came. Maybe they can hide in the cave they left behind. But if they do, they will not last long without ample provisions.
Lele's voice grabs Megla's attention. "Meow! What's that? Light?"
Megla returns her gaze to the front of the pack. She blinks in surprise when she sees a fierce brightness approaching from that bend in the path.
Already, the monster's terrifying footsteps have become louder than ever. Its approach reminds Megla of the charge of a two-headed Stonebull, one of the monsters on the Kraktol's homeworld.
As Megla's nerves tighten, Lele reaches into her coat pocket and pulls out the PDA from earlier. On its screen, a series of words appear, along with a diagram of some strange machine.
Lele's eyes light up with excitement. She raises her head to look into the distance, where a tremendous, bipedal automaton rounds the bend and slows to a stop, its intensely bright lights bombarding Megla and the Kessu, making them recoil and flinch.
"Augh! What is that thing?!" Megla cries. "I can't even look at it!"
Lele holds her paws up in front of her eyes. "It's not an enemy! It's a Titan, one of Big Baldy's robots! Red-Lady is inside it!"
Right after Lele speaks, the six-meter-tall Titan turns off almost all of its lights, except for two front-running ones, allowing the Kessu to finally make out the hardened exosteel comprising its outer shell. Two extremely frightening cannons rest atop each of its shoulders, while its silver-colored armor makes it stand out from the darkness. A single red 'eye' on its head looks toward Megla.
"Sister?" Soren says, her voice projecting from inside the automated suit. "You're okay? I thought the Shades were about to attack you."
Megla smiles. "Kyargh! Soren! You won't believe it, but this little furball saved our butts! She made a tool that scared away those stupid shadow-monsters!"
While Megla laughs, Soren falls silent. It takes a few seconds for the scholarly Kraktol to speak again. "...So you were okay. I rushed here for no reason. And the Admiral... he..."
Soren's voice ripples with regret, a fact that doesn't escape Megla's notice. "Sister? What's wrong? Did you find the Admiral? Is he okay?!"
The younger sister balls her hands into fists and strikes her thighs, as if trying to punish herself.
"He's behind me!"
Soren turns to the side and gestures behind herself, where a hovering stasis device floats silently, the Admiral's lifeless body contained within.
"Admiral? Admiral!" Megla cries.
Baaru, Lele, Ruuki, and Megla all run over to Admiral José Rodriguez's dying figure. He lays, unmoving, his skin far more pale and corpse-like than ten minutes before, making Soren's heart ache with guilt.
"I shouldn't have come here!" Soren says. "I should have gone back to the ship first, like Umi said! I... the Admiral... he's going to die because of me!"
Megla quickly looks at her sister. "Don't say that! Don't! The Admiral... he'll be fine! You just need to get him back to the ship, ASAP! Go. We'll be fine. We'll make it!"
Lele points toward a small display panel on the side of the Admiral's stasis stretcher. "Big Baldy is still alive! See? His numbers are going up and down!"
"Yes," Soren mumbles, "But they won't last long. If I have to lead all of you out of here, he'll almost certainly..."
Before the Kraktol can continue speaking, a Synthmind voice speaks in her cockpit. Soren falls silent and listens for a moment before nodding.
"That... that could work! Everyone, Umi had me bring along a bunch of supplies. They're magnetically attached to this robotic frame. I... I'll go back to the ship on my own. You can take these weapons and tools... protect yourselves and make your way to the surface!
Without waiting for a response, Soren deactivates the magnetic attachment modules stuck to the Titan's exosteel frame. Fifteen different items fall to the ground, landing with loud clangs
when they hit the hardened rocky floor.
"Lele," Soren says, "Umi will transmit details regarding these devices to your PDA. Distribute them as you see fit. You're in charge!"
"I am?" Lele asks.
"She is?!" Megla cries. "She's just a little furball-"
"I don't have time to argue," Soren says, cutting her sister off. "Lele is the only technology expert on your team. You all will have to work together. I'll take Admiral Rodriguez back to the ship. If we're lucky, I can still save him!"
Sensing the seriousness of the situation, Megla only nods. "Yes, good. Alright, sister. You go, then. We will survive! I'm not going to let a bunch of monsters wipe us out!"
"That's the spirit."
Soren nods hurriedly, then turns around and starts running away, causing her exoframe's feet to leave half-foot-deep craters in the ground behind her. She reactivates her array of forward-facing lights and drags the Admiral's hovering stasis stretcher behind her. Within moments, she disappears around the bend, leaving Megla and the others behind to fend for themselves.
After her sister leaves, Megla and the others walk over to the dropped items. Despite her cursory resistance to a little kitten leading the makeshift spelunkers, Megla quickly realizes she doesn't care. Her heart forms countless knots as she frets over whether or not the Admiral will live or die.
Lele starts rifling through the items. She glances at her PDA from time to time as Umi transmits information regarding each item. "Hmm. Let's see. Kinetic Disperser... this looks like it's for blocking projectiles. Long Range Tactical Scanner... useful for mapping these caves. Oooh, a Deployable Energy Shield! Maybe we could just put this down and stay inside it until Red-Lady comes back!"
Lele mutters to herself for several minutes as she finishes cataloging all fifteen items. While she works, Megla keeps activating the light-orb device to ensure no Shades will sneak up on the party. Eventually, Lele turns to the others. "Here grandma, this is for you! And daddy, this one's yours! Look, there's even a Nanite Field Injector for Felabi!"
Baaru takes hold of a strange-looking metal cube, one that's about a foot in diameter. She watches as Lele walks over to Felabi and presses a syringe to his arm, injecting nanites into him to help heal his body. "I... I don't know what this strange box does. Never mind that! Will my precious baby be okay? Will Felabi be alright?"
The older Kessu walks over to Lele's side and trills anxiously, but Lele waves her paw nonchalantly. "No problem! Uncle Felabi's just fine, grandma! As long as we all stick together, we'll definitely make it out of here!"
Ruuki strokes his daughter's fur. "Mraaw! You really make your father proud, sweetheart. Don't try to do everything by yourself, though. You're still a kitten, after all."
"Hmph. Maybe, but I'm super mature for my age!" Lele protests. "Don't underestimate me!"
While the group continues passing the items around to the adults and younger members, a pair of Shades watches from the distance, peeping out from a corner whenever the light-orbs flash.
"Damned kitten. She hurt Master Yama," The first Shade hisses.
The second Shade, one with an avaricious look on her face, replies with a hate-filled tone. "Hehehe! That kitten thinks she's clever, but Master Yama has lived for countless ages. He's encountered trillions of fleshbags in his life. Once he recovers from his injuries, he's sure to come up with a plan for capturing her. After she falls in his hands, she'll regret hurting him for the rest of her miserable existence!"
The first Shade frowns. "All this effort just for one little girl and an ugly crocodile. Don't you think it would be better if Master Yama took the men, too? He could turn them into Shadow-Walkers, at the least. A few disposable minions would at least make up for some of our losses."
"He can't," The second Shade replies. "Ever since the humans wounded our Master, he lost his ability to 'turn' males into thralls. Only females will meet his needs."
The first Shade expresses her skepticism. "Really? Were his soul injuries that severe?"
"Yes. Master Yama never quite recovered to the height of his former power. If Emperor Belial were still alive, he could have forced her to heal him. Sadly, she died countless eras ago."
"Oh well," the first Shade sighs. "In the end, Master Yama survived the extinction of his species. And so, it is he who had the last laugh. The angels, Titans, humans, and all the other demons died, but thanks to our Master, the demons will eventually make a comeback."
"Hehehe... such is karma. The last demon versus the last human, and the human lost. Our Master is truly all-powerful."
Both Shades chuckle amongst each other, then flit away, leaving to deliver news about the Kessu's fortunate encounter. Now that their targets have equipped themselves with formidable weaponry, capturing them will prove far more difficult.
But to these Shades, nothing is more important than giving their Master the toys he desires...
....................................... Aboard the Bloodbearer.
Soren, having taken only twenty minutes to return to her drop-pod and another ten to blast through the mountain and fly back to the ship, anxiously delivers Admiral Rodriguez's body to the Bloodbearer's medical bay. She hands the Admiral off to the holographic crew inside, then steps out, allowing them to immediately begin the medical scanning and imaging process.
After she exits the medical bay, Umi speaks overhead. "Officer Mudrose. Your companions are currently engaged in a fierce battle on the planet's surface. Now that you have delivered the Admiral to the medical bay, there is nothing more for you to do here. I will attempt to restore the Admiral's condition. In the meantime, you should return to Tarus II to rescue the others.
Soren wrings her claws together. The plexiglass frosts over, hiding everything within the Medical Bay as she stares from the outside. "But... but the Admiral! Is he still alive? Will he be okay?!"
Several seconds pass before Umi replies.
"Admiral José Rodriguez. His current condition is... I do not believe that informing you will lead to anything but a decline in your mental well-being.
"I don't care about that!" Soren shouts. "Just tell me! Will the Admiral survive?!"
Never in all her life has Soren felt such deep, complicated emotions. For her entire existence, she's always acted as a calm, logically-minded person, someone with absolute focus and commitment to her work. In the past, even if it were her sister who had suffered such severe injuries, the red-scaled Kraktol would never allow her baser instincts to flare up.
However, for some reason, her icy barrier cracks under the thought of losing the Admiral. Not even she can fully deduce the reason why.
"I apologize, Officer Mudrose,
" Umi says, her monotone voice making Soren feel as if she's arrived at the abyss of despair. "Admiral Rodriguez suffered extreme mental damage as a result of unleashing one of Ramma's forbidden combat abilities. His brain has hemorrhaged several ounces of blood and cerebrospinal fluid. Additionally, fourteen percent of his grey matter has decomposed. I may potentially be able to save his life... but it is unlikely he will act in the same way as he did before.
Soren's breath catches in her throat. "What... what do you mean?"
"I apologize. I am unable to elaborate. At this point, I can only offer wild speculation. Admiral Rodriguez's cerebral injuries are almost entirely due to unleashing Ramma's power... but it is also Ramma's power that may save him. Based upon the classified information I've managed to retain, the side-effects of this operation will be extremely severe.
Soren's claws tremble, and her whole body loses a great deal of strength. She sinks to her knees and leans against the window, breathing hard. "He... his... injuries... he..."
"Officer Mudrose. Please attempt to restrain your emotions. We still do not know the results of the operation. I will require several days to complete this operation. In the meantime, only you have the capability of returning to the planet to assist Officer Brighteye in surviving the enemy attack. There is nothing more you can do to assist the Admiral now, but your sister's survival is still unclear.
Soren nods slowly. She forcibly steadies her breathing, then shakily rises to her feet. "My sister... my sister, Megla. Yes. Yes! I have to help her. Can't... can't let her die, too!"
With her mind numb from grief, Soren stumbles toward the Titan Launch Bay, where she will once again drop to the planet below.
As she leaves, Umi turns her internal sensors toward the Admiral. A half-dozen holographic personnel get to work performing surgery on him. Laser scalpels cut into various parts of his body, guided by the Synthmind's orders.
" Umi says to herself. "I did not anticipate the Admiral might fail his mission. It seems that without Private Azaram at the Admiral's side, his combat prowess and strategical planning capabilities have declined substantially. Indeed, Terrans who form teams are often more adept at completing missions than those who do not. And if their companions should perish, the survivors usually become far less effective at solo-work than they were originally.
Umi's coldly gazes at the Admiral without a hint of emotion.
"In the end... humans are truly a fragile species.
" Next Part
....................................... Author Note: If you enjoy what you've just read, please consider subscribing to my Patreon! I am very poor and presently jobless due to Coronavirus, so every dollar helps. You get access to Cryopod artwork, and plenty of other exclusive posts, with more to come soon. Also consider reading The Cryopod to Hell, the primary story in the Cryoverse! Both stories are part of the Cryoverse, so they're deeply interlinked. You don't wanna miss them! Thank you!