The accident at the Large Hadron Collider at the CERN complex called him back to duty. Every communication from inside was cut off and the last thing seen before the recording stopped was a flash of energy.
Stone was to head the team going in to rescue the scientists trapped and get them ready for first aid help.
The warped doors were opened and the dozen entered darkness, the only vision was from their night goggles. The first thing they saw was blood, lots of it, splashed on walls, floor, ceiling.
No bodies though.
Then the creatures attacked from out of the black. Panther-like monsters the size of tigers, but with eight legs and razor-sharp barbs on their tails.
It was one of those barbs that saved Stone’s life. As the screaming and gunfire started, a tail of a creature leaping over his head caught him along the temple. When he came to, everyone else was dead and he started thinking about how he was going to get out.
Scooping up a weapon loaded with grenades, which was another good move, he started out, only to run into a humanoid like thing with porcupine-like quills over it’s body. the grenades Stone fired didn’t hurt it, but the force drove it back into a vacuum chamber sufficient to allow him to lock it away, just before he was overwhelmed by a sense of terror as it looked out the window at him.
After several weeks of answering questions and getting medical treatment, Stone was awaiting the results of the hearing that he was sure would exonerate him.
In stepped a man he hadn’t seen in five years: his old commander from Iraq: Darius Trent, who greeted him with a job offer. The card he handed him had a stylized three-headed dog and thre words in latin: deny, defend, destroy.
Politely declining, Stone went into the hearing prepared to continue his career as a Ranger.
It was the shortest discharge in history.
Cashiered out for medical reasons, he was off the base with the clothes on his back in just a couple of hours. His personal effects would be shipped to him later.
When he called Trent to accept the job, he learned what it was all about.
THE CERBERUS PROTOCOL had been started by Truman after papers were found indicating the Nazis had been funding occult experiments during WWII that had opened a rift into an alternate universe. The eight-legged panthers had been mentioned, as well as other creatures. But Stone was the only one who had seen the humanoid beings.
No longer under government control, but with the President’s blessing, funded by private sources, there was a base in Maine and Stone was the first member of HELLSTALKER ONE, the team that would guard the gates of Hell, combating these creatures as a rift opened and closing it with a device developed by Cerberus’ science division.
Of course, Stone would have to recruit his team.
From the list, he got three: Ulf Schwarzwalder, the German, Alena Beresovky, Russian, and Colin “Jock” MacIvers, Scottish. All were, or had been, special forces trained in their countries. All were wary of each other and all three were wary of Stone.
Of course that’s not all the action in this one. the tale is a nice set-up for the series to come. I look forward to future entries.