The rain poured down and lightning flashed across the blackened sky. It was not night, but the darkened clouds did all their best to block the fierce clouds. And Chase felt just as bad as the weather looked.
Joseph Chase was a little worse off than your average twenty-three year old. He seems to have run into a series of bad patches in his life after the hurricane nine years ago.
From the stories he was told, hurricane Nova had ripped through the island taking more than just a few homes. He was a lucky one, or so he’d been told. His parents and his sister were all killed while asleep in their own home. Chase was also home, but his life was spared. He was only severely hit on his head; a hit which had cost his entire childhood memories.
His sorrows were two-fold. He had always ask the question of why he was not taken along with his family and, on more than a few occasions, slunk into depression after asking the question of why he did not even had a chance to keep his memory, and thus the memories of his parents and sister, alive.
Chase spent the first few months after the death of his parents in a hospital, after which he had been transferred to an orphanage. He had no immediate family and his parents had named no one as his guardian in their will.
Throughout this time, the only person that had continued to talk to Chase about events that happened before and during the hurricane was his best childhood friend, Andrew.
According the Andrew, the two of them were together on the night of the hurricane, and were riding home, when suddenly the hurricane hit the island. Chase’s house was already being blown away, and he had run into it when Andrew decided to ride back home, trying to call for help. It was probably then, when Chase entered his home, that he hit his head.
At the age of eighteen, Chase left the orphanage. He came into his inheritance, and used a considerable amount of the money on his university tuition. There was where he met Natalie, the sweetest girl he had ever seen. It took a while, but in the third year of university, Chase finally won over Natalie’s heart.
By age twenty, his parents savings were getting severely low and by twenty-two, just as he graduated from the university (somewhere near the top of the class) he was completely broke. He had rented an apartment in the city and was continuously seeking a job, but all he got stuck with were cheap-paying part-times.
Natalie had done much better. She had graduated at the top of the class, and was immediately offered a high ranking job at one of the most prestigious research companies on the island, Zenon Research Institute.
Since he believed that he could sink no lower, Chase had requested, on more than one occasion, for his girlfriend to inquire about jobs at the prestigious institute, but there were none available.
An entire year went by, and Chase still could not find any jobs. The mode of thinking seemed to be experience; though Chase always wondered about how persons such as himself would gain any kind of experience without people giving him the chance to.
Then there was a call. It was Natalie. Apparently, some job had opened up at the institute, and Natalie had spoken to her supervisors. She had set up an interview with the higher research officials for Chase.
This was the day of the interview, and it had already gone. The officials thought that Chase did not have the extra initiative that they need to see in their researchers. Chase continued to walk out, in the pouring rain, of the compound of the institute.
He walked pass guards after guards, as he exited the secure facility. As he passed the last guard, leaving the compound, a hand was placed on his shoulder. He turned around to see a well suited man wearing an earpiece, and carrying an umbrella; shading himself.
“May I have a word with you?” The man asked.
At first, Chase thought that he was being reconsidered for the job. Then he realised that this person was not attached to the research department, but rather to security. He then thought that he had probably, accidentally, broken some company protocol.
“I’m sorry.” Chase said, thinking back the events of the morning. “But did I do something?”
“I am General Knox. It has come to my... our attention that you did not receive the job you were hoping for.”
It was not a question, just a simple statement, but Chase felt compelled to answer.
“That’s right.” He said.
“Well it so happened that the security department of this firm is in dire need of guards.” General Knox reported. “Would you be interested?”
Chase thought for a while. He had been studying chemistry for four years and was always hoping for a job doing research in the field of study he loved. But he was more desperately in need of money.
The General mistook Chase’s hesitancy as a sign of doubt, and so he quickly added, “Of course you’ll be paid more than what you would have earned as a researcher.”
Chase became wide-eyed. “B-b-but, I’m not trained to be a guard. I have no idea of how to hold a gun or do any of the things guards are expected to do.” He stammered.
The General spoke into his earpiece. Chase was unsure of what he said. Words such as “training” and “perfect” were inaudibly heard and Chase was beginning to think that he had blown a perfect opportunity at a great job.
“Of course,” the General began saying, this time out loud and to Chase, “We will provide your training. So, do you accept?”
Chase didn’t have to think, he immediately accepted without hesitance.
“Excellent.” General Knox said; no hint of emotions in his voice. “We will contact you with further information.”
The General turned and left in the direction of the building and Chase exited the compound. By now, he was totally soaked from the pouring rain, though his feelings were no longer as dreadful as the day seemed.
It took a while before Chase got back to his apartment. But after he was dry and able to think properly, he remembered that he had never given his number to the General, and became worried whether he would ever receive any calls.
A week had passed, then two, and still he received no calls. He had taken to doing his irregular part-times and made frequent calls to his girlfriend to find out whether she knew anything about the job offer; and of course, she didn’t.
Then the call came. The General himself had informed Chase that training would be beginning at the start of the next week.
But there were certain protocols that the job required that puzzled Chase. For example, all the trainees were asked to take all their belongings and reside in residences provided by the company during the duration of their training and the time they would spend serving the company. As much as this puzzled Chase, he simply decided that the salary for the job was worth all the hassle.
During the training, Chase realised that a majority, if not all, of the trainees were persons like himself; they had no real life and no family. He supposed that this was only because such persons were the ones who never got any fixed jobs.
The training itself was rigorous, but not as demanding as Chase thought it would be; especially with the high salary output of the job. The group was taught basic military manoeuvres along with basic weapons usage.
What caught Chase’s attention, however, was the continuous mention of the phrase “project alpha,” which seemed to jolt his memory a bit, though he could not remember from where he had first heard it.
After a long week, his training came to an abrupt end.
“He has broken through, we’re preparing to engage.” The voice over the communications radio said.
It was only the eight day after his training was completed, and Chase found himself in an unforeseen episode.
“What the hell is this thing?” Another voice said. There were machine guns firing from outside the building and screams were heard echoing down the compound, nullified by the gun fire. The alarm within the building was sounding, but no one was paying attention to it.
Chase was part of the third ring of defence. That meant that he was located on the ground floor of the research complex.
“We’re loosing men!” The voice over the radio said again.
“What’s happening out there?” One of Chase’s colleagues asked him.
“I’m not sure.” Was his response.
The radio went static and was then cut off. “First ring compromised!” A female computerized voice said.
“Second ring preparing to engage!” A new voice said over the radio. “Fire!”
The gun fire was closer and louder now, as were the screams.
“Can someone please tell me what we’re dealing with here?” The voice said again. “He’s too strong, too fast. What is he, a robot?”
Chase looked around at his colleagues; he sensed fear in them, as he did in himself. Each ring of defence contained nineteen guards along with their major, which meant that more than twenty of his friends that trained together with him were already dead.
“We can’t stop him! There’s too few of us left.” The voice said, then went static.
A few seconds later, the outside became quiet of all gun firing and the female computerized voice spoke again. “Second ring compromised!”
The silence was a sentence worse than the death itself. It took a few seconds, a few seconds that seemed more than a lifetime, before there was a banging on the steel front door of the complex.
“Preparing to engage!” The major leading the second ring shouted across the hall, over the sirens.
Twenty guns clicked ready. Chase sensed the fear and anxiety. Forty of his colleagues were already dead.
The thing broke through, and guns opened fire, over the inaudible command by the major. Smoke filled the poorly ventilated room and soon the fire alarms went off, sending water pouring down. This worsened Chase’s vision, and all he could think of doing was keeping his finger down on the trigger.
For the first couple of minutes, he never saw what the thing was. All he was aware of were the sounds of gun fire and the screams of his colleagues. Then he got a glimpse of it as it flashed in front of him, his hails of bullets doing nothing to stop it.
The gun fire became less as did the screams.
“Is there anyone left out there?” His major asked through the radio.
“I am!” Chase answered, and waited for other replies, but none came.
Then there was another sound and the radio went static and then silent. His major was dead and he was the only one left alive in this level of security.
From what Chase understood, the building was being protected by nine levels, before the high profiled research areas, and he was sure that the remaining six levels would have more success than the first three. But the immediate attention was on self-survival.
Currently, the only sound that was heard was the fall of water on the floor and the sound of the alarm in the building. The female voice had not announced the compromise of the third level as yet, which meant that they knew that he was still alive.
His vision was limited, and he could not use his hearing to help. After a while, he simply opened fire in all directions around him, until his gun was completely empty of bullets, with the hope of hitting the invader; though he was almost certain that he had done so before and the bullets simply bounced off of him.
Someone on the higher floors had shut down the sprinklers and the smoke was being clear away, but slowly. It was then that Chase saw the invader. It was a man, or a man-like monster. It was built of all metal that seemed to be impenetrable to bullets. The invader itself was faster than the average bullets.
The invader carried no weapons, and Chase was beginning to wonder how he had managed to kill all those guards. Then he realised that the invader attacked with only his hands as it came towards Chase.
Chase reacted, either on instinct for survival or on skills, and dodged the fast moving invader. As he did so, he examined the suit of armour. It was made of metal plates with regular joints. The invader came at him again. This time, Chase examined the armour for any defects or weaknesses as he dodged it again. He found one, under the neck.
The invader came again, this time Chase reactions were more a manifestation of his skills as he rolled and picked up a gun he hoped was loaded and dodged and shot the invader multiple times under the neck. The invader fell somewhere behind him, dead.
“Enemy neutralized!” The computerized voice said, and Chase fell to the ground from weariness and sorrow for his dead colleagues.