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There's nothing clean about dying out in the Black.
The lucky ones have proper suits; they're protected from the elements, or at least 'till I get involved. The unlucky ones get to feel their blood seep out through their skin, gasping at air which won't ever come, feeling their eyeballs boil out from their skulls. Killing out here is an ugly business.

And best of all, I'm up against the worst sort of enemies. "Prep to breach," I mutter into my headset.

His name was Edward. Brown hair going to grey, bit of a paunch, loved to go on about his synthsteaks and the pets he trained. Nice fellow. I pulse the jets and float aside as Edward charges towards me, teeth bared in a killer's grin and staring at me with the wild eyes of a fanatic. I yank the heavy shotgun onto target, but my co-worker-turned-cultist doesn't flinch even as the twinkling laser sight settles onto his visor. I pull the trigger, feeling the dull vibration and heavy kick as the oxygenated powder sparks and fires. Edward's face disappears, his visor shattering into a crystal cloud that reflects the distant sunlight. His body begins to slowly float away, drifting end over end from the push I'd just applied, as I swerve to find my next target.

Nguyen is my next victim. She's not dressed for the party; rather than wearing a heavy space suit, she's clad only in her engineering jumpsuit and regular work clothes. If she feels fear at the certainty of dying out here in the Black, I can't see any in the wild howl distorting her face. Her eyes have doubtlessly already ruptured, exploding outwards from the inexorable pull of vacuum, but all I can see is the occasional chunk of flesh and blood leaking past the eldritch-glowing blindfold over her eyes. She's fast, unencumbered by gear or doubt, and she's on me in a flash. I swing the butt of the shotgun around, slowly pushing her off my chest, and another pulse of the jets gets me the distance I need. Another dull vibration and distant kick, and Nguyen is left flailing. Her hands wave desperately, grasping for something in the void, and my stim-fueled mind can't help but remember her animatedly waving her arms in the cafeteria. She was always a bright spark of enthusiasm, full of interest in the sort of wiring jobs and grav-engine work that'd make my eyes glaze over, and I wonder how much of that old enthusiasm she'd brought to her new profession. I blink the thought away, sight the weapon on center-of-mass, and pull the trigger twice. The second shot goes wide, severing her left hand, and the limb is sent spinning away with the fingers left in a rough "OK" sign.

There's a sudden thump, arcing pain, and the hiss of escaping air. I glance rightwards to see a snarling alien face staring me visor-to-visor. Plopbop-something, they were called; they grew odd plants and spent most of their time in the pool ("I've got a stereotype to live up to, after all" they'd burble). They smile as my blood coats the visor, tongue arcing out from between their teeth, and yank again on the wickedly-curved knife sticking out of my thigh. My armoured suit resists the blade, but the weapon glows and the metal of my suit bubbles under the stress.

It's too close for the long-barreled shotgun. I go for my backup weapon, stick it into Plopbop's gorget, whisper something (what did I try to say? what could I possibly say?), and pull the trigger. A spray of blueish blood, another bulky figure sent spinning, as I rack the slide and fire again. Have to ensure the kill, after all. Plopbop's stereotypes and dreams of omega-weed vanish in a spray of buckshot piercing their chest.

Security Officer Jones was always a bit of a shit, and I can't say I ever really got along with him. He was that classic American: too loud, too opinionated, too sure of himself and the world. He loved these sorts of breaches, loved taking lead with the riot shield and stunbaton. He was held up by a hacked airlock, and the cultists got too close ("I just haveta get close, and it's all over" he'd bragged in the briefing). His telemetry is...his telemetry is...his telemetry is...

I shake my head to clear it, refocusing on the task at hand. Jones and Dasinovich are both down, probably for good. I yank at my combat webbing for a little metal cylinder, reflexively pulling the pin as I stretch out my arm. One flashbang, two 'bangers, and a little tear-gas surprise arc inside the cultists' breached base, one getting blown backwards into the dusk by an errant gust of escaping atmosphere.


The explosions rattle me even in the vacuum, the shockwaves propagating over the distance. My fri- co-worke- the cultists have homicidal fanaticism, but it's still tied to human senses, and without protection the powerful explosions of light and sound horribly disorient them. The remaining cultists inside the base drift apart, mewling in pain, and I move in for the kill.

The first threat inside is a stranger; some new arrival I haven't yet learned to know, thank Christ. The buckshot makes quick work of him, two racks of the slide ensuring the kill, as I draw my laser sidearm and sight on the next target. She was the Chef; I can still see the glint of knife-metal at her waist as I cave in her skull. The Security 'borg makes short work of the last, blood painting its metal chassis as its stunbaton slams relentlessly through spacesuit and cultist armour.

They were living beings, full of hopes and dreams and aspirations. They had fears, hatreds, good and bad sides both. They were friends, and there's no worse enemy than a friend. I put those living, breathing hopes and dreams to rest with gas and gun, bullets and jetpack and better preparation for fighting out in the Black.

Officers Jones and Dasinovich get priority, so my former friends' bodies continue to cool as I handle my fellow redshirts. I do my best to make the sight less obscene, closing eyes and mouths and covering what I can of the drifting gore. It's hours longer to track down all the bodies, my spacepod's scanners tracking the faint infrared returns as my former co-workers' bodies return to absolute zero.

Some days I hate my job.


-Security Pod Pilot David MacTavish

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This is amazing.

You really know how to tell a story interesting, and it really just draws you in once start reading

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