Learning The Ropes


If you happen to have played the game "Rage" then just imagine the setting as such. Imagine this as an awesome post-apocalypse sort of thing. 

---

  "Rise and shine, kid." 
I heard the voice repeat this a couple times before I felt a hard punch in the arm. I sat up instantly.
 
"Ow! What was that fo- for .." The man who looked back at me was not someone I knew. He had short, finely trimmed greying hair and a thick face with a lot of scars.  He stared at me, then took a step back. He was expecting me to get up. 

I slowly slid my feet onto the cold floor. I was wearing a hospital gown. So this place was a hospital..?
 The walls looked rather worn. The ceiling was low. The only light was that of a dangling bulb here and there, and it was pretty dark anyway. I couldn't even see to the other side of the room. 

"Get a move on. I've been assigned to show you around." He grunted, fishing a cigarette from out of his pocket. 

"You don't sound so excited," I muttered. 

"Why should I be excited to show you pups around? I could be out there shooting those damn Lizards!" He hefted a large gun in his hands and laughed. I looked away meekly. 

"Okay. Well then, who are you? And what are the lizards you're talking about?" 
 The man sighed, lit his cigarette, and once he had visibly relaxed he spoke. 

"My name is Sergeant Wilson, and you, at the moment, are Unknown. But for now, I'm going to call you Pup. As for the lizards.. you'll find out soon enough."

 How could I have forgotten my name? It also didn't help that the ominous message about the "lizards" made me uncomfortable.  
  The Sergeant leaned over and picked up something from beside the bed I had been asleep on. 
"There you go, Pup. Get dressed and meet me out here once you're finished. We have work to do." He pushed a pile of folded clothes into my hands and wandered off, leaving a trail of cigarette smoke behind him.

Once I had dressed in a simple black tee, camouflage pants and boots, I looked at myself in a tall mirror. I had medium-length caramel-colored hair that waved over my forehead handsomely. My eyes were a gentle green, and my face was angular. My skin was a rather pale white. My body was skinny - a sort of sickly skinny, actually. I looked half starved. Kind of pathetic for a guy, really..

"You done yet?!" Wilson yelled from somewhere outside. 

"Yeah!" I called back.

"What was that?" He returned, sounding annoyed. 

"I said yeah!" I tried to find my way out of the room. I walked through the doorway, around a corner, and bumped into the sergeant. "Oh, I'm-"

"You will adress anyone you meet here as 'sir or ma'am, got it?" He growled, his eyes boring into mine. I nodded fervently. 

He then led me further into this mysterious compound. It was very dimly lit, and I could only see a little detail. The place was shabby and worse-for-wear: but definitely sturdy. It was almost like everything had been built from scraps. The walls, the ceiling, even the floor. Papers and pieces of trash were crammed into corners, even a few laying about on the floor. The whole place smelled like smoke and filth. I didn't like it. 

We finally reached a large room, where there were some other people. A small shaft of natural light came down in a beam from the far corner. But otherwise, there still wasn't much light. There were a few tables and makeshift chairs at the other side. A bar with a counter was just in front of us. 

"Heeey, Wilson! Is this the new guy?" The person tending the bar waved. The sergeant grinned and removed the cigarette from his mouth.

"Yep, that's him." 
 The guy looked me over. "He'll need some work," Wilson admitted. "But they let him come here for a reason." The man smiled and nodded in agreement. He seemed nicer than Wilson. 

A couple of the people who were there glanced at my entrance but didn't say anything. What was this place? And why was I here? I was awfully confused, and Wilson wasn't helping in the slightest. As I was about to speak,  Wilson whistled and snapped for a guy's attention and he came over. "Snake-eye, this is Pup. Introduce him a bit, won't you?" 

Snake-eye extended his hand, and I shook it. His eye interested me (just the one, the other was concealed by an eyepatch). It was a startling blue. His pupil seemed a little thinner than usual. It gave a sort of reptilian feeling. 
  "Hey! How're you feeling? You just got out of the Medic Area. I heard about you when you first got here. Did you know you were asleep for five days? They thought you wouldn't wake up. But I did." 
 He smiled proudly at me. 
 
"Oh. No, I didn't.. uh.. sir. I'm still not very clear on this whole thing.." I returned his smile, sheepishly. He looked as though it were the most shocking thing he'd ever heard. 

"Nah, you don't need to call me sir! Anyways then, Pup, I officially and formally welcome you to the Sub!" 

Just the "Sub"? As if he could read my mind, Snake-eye quickly added, "..there's more, but I forgot. We just call it the Sub. Now, why you're here.. 

"From what I know, humanity as we knew it was pretty much destroyed by the escape of military-brand weaponized mutants. They were like bacteria - two turned to four, four to eight. They were infectious.
 Now, the last few remaining humans that were judged helpful to humanity were frozen in cryogenic chambers until the right time. You and I, and everyone here was one of them. They found you last, and here you are!" He announced this grandly. 

That sounded like something straight from an action movie. I had no recollection of this ever happening. Of course, I had literally no memory of anything. But if this was true, then maybe I'd completely lost the life I had before. I took a little time to adjust.
 Snake-eye looked at me, waiting for me to reply to his story. 

 "Oh. I see." I even sounded crushed. Snake-eye looked sympathetically at me.

"Why don't I show you around? Come on." 
He took me by the shoulder and guided me to the tables, pointing out the people and explaining them in whispers. First he showed me a pretty thin girl who was leaning against the bar counter, talking casually with the bartender.

 "That's Night Bird. She used to be a messenger before we discovered her talent with a knife. She's chill all the time, man. She can lie, cheat, and force her way out of any situation. Watch out," Snake-eye smirked at his words.

 I just watched her. She had long, straight, smooth black hair. Her skin was light brown, and her features reminded me of someone of Native American descent. She was young, maybe my age, and gorgorus. She was slim, also like me, yet muscled. Her butt was easily defined from the pants she was wearing. I couldn't help but notice. She turned around and looked me in the eye. I swear my heart stopped for a second before she rolled her eyes and paid attention to her drink.

An amused Snake-eye guided me onwards, past the shaft of light, and into a doorway. This new room was brighter than the Medic Area. Yellow buttons blinked in a corner. Red dots blipped softly on a digitalized map. Weird computers lined the walkway. The whole room was a strange azure color.

"Charlie, check it out. The new guy woke up!" Snake-eye announced to the general area. I looked around awkwardly, expecting someone to come forward. Someone tapped the back of my knee. I turned, startled, to see a short little man staring up at me.

"Hello there! I'm Charlie, nice to meet ya!" He spoke. I shook his hand. Charlie was as tall as my waist. He had bandages on his fingers and burn marks on his arms. A mess of dark hair was on his head, but the hair on his eyebrows was slightly singed. "Welcome to the Lab, er.."
 
"Pup. Pup, this is Charlie. He's our pyrotechnics engineer." Snake-eye said. Well that was fairly obvious.

"I apologize, but I'd best be off! I have new incendiary mice to experiment with!" Charlie gave a unnecesarily formal bow and disappeared into the machinery. 

"Why does everyone else have a nickname except him?" I asked.  It seemed to me like they all had animalistic ones too. Including me.

 "Oh, he does. We just don't call him that in front of him, or he might be offended," Snake-eye answered simply. "Usually we get nicknames from an ...interesting experience or trait you have. Trust me, you won't be called 'Pup' forever. I used to be Bigfoot." He rolled his eyes comically then winked.

"Yeah, I guess we'll see. Maybe we should get back with the others," I suggested. Snake-eye shrugged and we headed back to the cafeteria area.

Once we'd arrived and Snake-eye had ordered us both a few shots of alcohol (which was the first I've ever had) and a sandwich, a couple terrified shouts rang out from somewhere else in the Sub. The few people by the bar quieted.

"Lizards reported by sector 002, sir." A man in a clean uniform said matter-of-factly. 

Sergeant Wilson flicked his cigarette away and growled "When?"

"Three minutes ago. No casualties yet, but they need assistance," the man replied.

"I want all teams by 002. Snake-eye, make sure Charlie preps the missiles. ALL TEAMS means you too, Pup!" Wilson roared.

My friend winced sympathetically to me and sprinted over to the Lab. The others quickly divided into groups of three or four, grabbed their weapons and ran for the nearest door. I could now hear the sounds of gunfire. I looked around, trying to find a weapon I could use.

Wilson marched up to me and I cringed mentally. Instead of yelling some more, he shoved something into my hands. It was definitely a sort of rifle.

"Uh.. Thank you, sir!" I said cautiously. The sergeant nodded once.

"Watch yourself out there Pup. No wait. I can't trust you with that yet. Kitty, get over here!" Wilson beckoned a woman over with his hand. I sighed inwardly.

She walked up to my, eyeing me over with sharp blue eyes.    Her blonde hair was tied into a messy bun. She looked about ten years older than me, and a lot more wise. However, her most distinguishing feature was what she was wearing. It looked almost like metal, but by the way it shifted when she moved it was like leather. It only wrapped around her shoulders and just under her breasts. The armor she wore as pants covered everything down to her boots. Too bad.. I'd have liked to see those thighs. 

"Kitty, mind watching Pup out there? This is his first fight, wouldn't want him to get an injury." While Wilson's words meant good, his voice was irritatingly sarcastic.

Kitty didn't respond directly to the question. "Look, Pup, if your little brain even tries to think about me in that way again, I'll beat you with that weapon you're not even holding correctly," she snapped in a heavy Russian accent. 
She stormed off while I, slightly horrified, tried to fix my hold of the gun. How did she know...?
 

Wilson snickered. "No, Kitty can't read minds, in case you were wondering. She's just good like that." 
 I mumbled, which made him laugh even more.

"HURRY UP!" Kitty called, and it didn't take me long to follow her. 

----

The lights in the Sub had turned red and a distant beeping told me that the situation had already turned critical. Kitty and I made our way through the endless hallways of Sub. The farther we got, the more it looked trashier and messy. It was darker, too.

"We are almost to the entrance gate," Kitty told me flatly. "If something happens and you are separated from me, use this. Try to find each other's location. Got it?" She handed me a smal, thin  square. It had a little screen on it and a red button next to it. I pressed the button and something in her pocket beeped.

I nodded silently. Soon enough we reached the point where gunfire made my ears ring and the occasional loud snarl made me flinch.  Then everything went silent for a moment. Kitty froze, and put a finger to her lips to signal for me to be quiet. She looked around. When we had our backs turned, something shifted in the corner. When she shone a light on it I almost dropped my gun right then and there.

It was pretty big; large enough to swallow an entire dog easily. It had hideous brown and green scales all across a thin, sort serpentine body. It had four main legs and a few more, smaller, deformed legs curled against its sides. It's head was larger than the body so it drooped slightly. But when the light shone in its four eyes it made a raspy hissing sound and bared yellow teeth at us. Blood dripped from its mouth as it did so.

Kitty, seemingly unaffected, carefully aimed at its head. The first shot deflected off of its teeth as it wailed, possibly for help. Kitty cursed as it used its hind legs to rise up, intending to slip through a hole in the top of the hallway. My brain finally clicked. I raised my gun and pulled the trigger. The very first shot went right through its throat, through its brain and didn't exit. 

The creature, presumably a 'Lizard', collapsed and lay still.

".. Good shot." Kitty said hesitantly. I smiled, still a bit shocked. "That one was already injured. It must have crawled over here to die. Let's find the others."

I sort of felt bad for killing the Lizard. It obviously wasn't a normal animal - hence the extra limbs - and it seemed mutated, somehow. Maybe that had something to do with the reason the Sub had been established.

"I hope you're making the connections already," Kitty said quietly. I blinked. Well damn, she must be a mind reader. 

"Yeah, I suppose so," I answered. She grunted. 

"Right, well, we have arrived. Right through this door is hell. Ready yourself."

I braced myself for dead bodies, blood, desperate cries of sweaty, blood-covered men and women and those hellish monsters swarming around the Sub.

And when the doors opened to a blindigly bright desert,  I knew I hadn't prepared myself enough.

 The first sight I saw was a Lizard ravenously devouring the intestines of another man. He was splayed spread-eagle. His spin was between the beast's jaws. I froze up while Kitty shot its forehead. "MOVE, PUP!" She shouted, leaping into the battle.

I followed behind, trying to ...


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