Sheva’s boots clanged against the metal of the catwalk, until she skidded to a halt. Crawling from a torn away section of fencing was one of the Lickers. She shouldered her MP-5 and squeezed the trigger, and it writhed under her fire. She’d had a few missions where she’d fought Lickers before, but this new breed that Tricell had been making was tougher.
Still, they died with enough bullets.
Dropping the spent magazine she slapped a fresh one in. Below her, additional gunfire rang out. Chris was also being swarmed by them. She fired off a few rounds over the railing, nailing one of the creatures. After taking off another’s head with a shotgun blast, Chris threw her a thumbs-up, then waved her on.
They couldn’t delay.
She rushed forward while Chris continued to shoot, crossing to the other side. Modern planks and wire mesh gave way to ancient stonework as she prepared to loop around. The catwalk was essentially a giant horseshoe, from which she could reach the controls for the big suspension bridge across the ravine.
A thick stone wall blocked her and Chris from supporting one another. She rounded the corner skidded to a halt when she saw them. Walls, floors, and ceiling. She pulled the pin off of a grenade and tossed it. One of the lickers pounced as she did, and she managed to dive to the side just in time to avoid its huge claws; emptying her gun into its side before it could round on her again. The hallway in front of her exploded in a cloud of powderized rock.
Something coiled around her ankle, and she fell backwards as her feet were dragged towards the cloud of dust. She fired at the level the thing had to be at, but it kept dragging her until the gun clicked empty. The tentacle had stopped dragging her by then, and offered no resistance when she unwound it from her ankle. She stood up, preparing to swap in a fresh magazine, when something big and red came flying at her from the dust cloud.
Her head hit stone as something pinned her down hard, and it took her too long to realize that she was pinned down underneath the monster, one of its massive forepaw holding her shoulder to the ground. Her left arm was pressed between her stomach and the thing’s underbelly, and she couldn’t extricate it to get at her holstered gun or her knife. She rolled her shoulders, thrashed, clubbed it weakly with her right arm. Her eyes locked on the massive, wide claws it was holding up, preparing to skewer her with. Suddenly it paused, relaxing the limb. It planted it on her other shoulder, making her efforts to escape even harder.
The monster brought its face down very close to hers, and she caught the rancid huffing of its breath, the warm blast of heat at every exhalation. What was it doing? The rough red tongue ran along her face, trailing warm saliva against her skin. She was dimly aware of Chris’s voice over her earpiece asking if her was okay. When she attempted to reply, the tongue shot in her moth, forcing its way down.
Her gurgling prompted louder shouts from Chris. Her already futile struggles weakened as the thing’s tongue blocked her airway; it’s noseless, eyeless partial face pressing against her as she could feel it wriggling its way down her throat.
The lights faded and blurred as something tickled inside of her.
Chris sounded very far away when he shouted.
Her limbs felt so heavy.
She awoke, gasping, coughing, and sputtering with Chris’s shouting and radio interference as accompaniment. An occasional distant gunshot. She couldn’t have been out for too long. Her ears rung and head ached swam as she lifted it, glancing down her body, weight off of it. Blurry eyes showed something wet and red was rustling around between her legs. Something flicked in her low inside her, something dexterous forcing itself inside. Her hands were free, and her left drifted to her hip, to her holstered handgun.
Her hand grasping empty space shocked her back to full wakefulness.
She propped herself up to see the long thin cuts in her skin the licker had made as it cut her pants off of her—the fact it undressed, rather than killed her sent a knot of terror down her spine. It’s head and jagged teeth were centimeters from her crotch, and the thing inside of her, making her twitch with every moment was its tongue. She snapped back to one of the files in the Tricell labs.
Lickers had always been sterile, a dead-end final stage of T-virus mutation. Tricell’s tinkering with the progenitor virus allowed them to breed.
She sat up and kicked away looking feverishly for her gun. She spied it, half-covered by a strip of cloth that used to be her pants, and reached. A massive paw slammed her wrist against the stone floor and held her there. She yelped as the thing climbed over her, pulling its long tongue out of her depths and trailing it up over her shirt. She slammed her mouth shut.
The thing grabbed her thigh in its other paw and wrestled and pried and she kicked and tried to escape. The struggle ended with her right knee pressed to her chest, her left leg was awkwardly and uncomfortably positioned underneath the thing, and it was lining itself up.
Her chest was heaving. This couldn’t be happening. No, it was, denial wasn’t going to change that. She couldn’t escape, but she had to find a way out. She took in a deep breath and braced herself.
The thing was big. Big enough to make her yelp as it forced its way in. Something pulsed inside her as it inched in and in. Chris was shouting over the radio again. Clenching her teeth tightly, she did the best she could to say “I’m still in one piece. I’ll try to …”
When the tongue probed her mouth again, the rough tip ran against teeth and gums and couldn’t venture in any deeper. If it minded not being able to asphyxiate her again, the Licker didn’t show it, grinding its hips against hers, pressing itself against her hard.
Something spread open inside of her.
The thing couldn’t withdraw fully, and she just felt herself stretch as whatever had widened was pulled back. Then it shoved back in. Again and again. The tongue withdrew from her mouth, instead dragging its way up her cheek. She willed her left arm to go limp in the things grasp.
It kept thrusting inside of her, awkwardly splayed open as she was. Eventually, it repositioned it’s arm slightly; leaving her wrist and pinning her shoulder down. She still couldn’t reach the gun, but she might’ve had enough range of motion to…
Her hand and drifted back to her side, blindly groping for her belt—still in one piece, and found her scabbard. She gripped it tight and pulled the knife free slowly and silently; shuddering with each time the monster slammed into her.
She had a weapon, but how would she use it?
She was in no real shape for a knife fight. Could she just stab it to get it off and reach the handgun? Even if she did, would that be enough? In these close quarters?
Something throbbed against her chest, beating almost in time with her heard hammering in her chest. She’d seen it during the few earlier encounters they’d had—the Tricell Lickers had an external heart. Blindly stabbing the thing’s underbelly as it was pressed against her chest was a dumb plan.
But it was the only one she had.
She waited, timing it. Thrust, the entire body pressed heavily into her. Withdraw, it lifted itself off of her a bit. Thrust, withdraw. Each brought a shuddering. She held her breath and slowly waited. Looking down she saw the beating heart. She slowly and gently shifted her weight, trying to free up as much a range of motion in her shoulder as she could.
That wasn’t much, and the creature responded by picking up its pace, driving a repeated stream of moans from her. But it had also lifted its chest up a little more. Her arm drifted up, waiting until it had reached her chest before she started to angle the knife.
The thing screamed as she drove the steel into it’s heart. It reared back when the blade was only a few inches in; giving her the opportunity to sit up and slam the palm of her right hand against the bottom of the blade, driving it home. As screamed and flailed with its clawed arms blindly, she gripped the blade in both hands and twisted. She somehow managed to will her numb legs into cooperation, and she kicked the monster off of her.
The licker fell backwards, continuing to flail blindly, before its limbs curled up against it, like a dead bug's.
She picked herself up, back and hips prostesting as she did, blood streaming from cuts the licker had made in her arms with it's wild flailing. The Licker was dead, and she had a mission to accomplish.
She completed her circuit of the upper level and reached the controls for the drawbridge. It lowered with the whine of machinery, and she regrouped with Chris. He sized her up, jaw dropped. “Sheva, are you…”
“C’mon, Partner, we still have to stop this.” And she took point. There was literally no way he could’ve helped; but she did not want to discuss it with him now. Lickers were potentially infectious, and although she'd received vaccinations, who knew whether they were effective on the exact strain of the T- or Progenitor virus the Tricell versions were made with. But she could compartmentalize. Both the American and African branches of the BSAA had been decimated on this mission, including people she'd considered family. They had a mission. She was quite probably infected. There was still time to complete the mission if she was. The Licker had... the mission was more important than sorting that out.
So she led the way forward.