Dust caught in silver beams and the darkness between them...
...the feeling of stone blocks all around, layered and shifting...
He felt something crushing his head from all sides. And the rest of his body was freezing, the kind of cold where you no longer shiver but simply... cease to be. He tried to breathe, but his chest wouldn't lift. He pictured his lungs, deflated and sagging, soon to turn as grey as that dust.
But then the world started moving as the beams of light twitched, like the legs of an insect on its back.
The pressure around his head loosened and a block of darkness was peeled away. The cold of stone was replaced by the cold of hostile air.
The ISAF gunner opened his eyes, blue against grimy skin and shrinking as the flashlight glared. Something warm came against his chest... a hand, and the next thing he knew he was being pulled between the stone. His bones screamed in agony as he was wrenched upright, and as the flashlight moved away he blinked at the face of his rescuer.
Sergeant Spears looked just as battered as he was. The man's uniform was torn, leaving his chest exposed and showing the tattoo of a giant wheel with a crimson eye in the centre. Some of it was smeared with blood from cuts around his ribs, but otherwise Spears seemed as fit as ever.
"Are you hurt?" The drill-sergeant's voice carried its usual soft but forceful tone. And Marvin's own voice came out in a hoarse groan.
"Head... somethin'.. somethin's crushin' my...uuugh!"
Spears's lip curled in a smile and he clonked Marvin on the helmet with his flashlight. "That thing saved your life, soldier." He started to pull the gunner to his feet.
Marvin looked around as dust and rubble cascaded from his body. "Where the hell are we, Sarge?" He swayed, putting his hand against the wall of the cramped, pitch-black space in which they found themselves.
"Some kind of cavern." Spears pressed a pistol into Marvin's hand and moved past him. "We're not in Scrap Iron City anymore."
"No shit... Sarge" Marvin adjusted his helmet and searched his pockets for a cigar. Then he turned and followed Spears and the flashlight. The cavern was little more than fifteen feet across, roughly circular, and as Spears got to the other end he ran his hand over a strange protrusion of stone, smoother and straighter than the rest.
"What the fuck is tha...oh..."
Marvin's eyes widened as Spears stepped back and shone the flashlight over the legs of the Elder Spider. There were three of them in total, embedded in the wall and curling around the floor and ceiling of the cave.
"I think..." Spears scratched his stubble as his piercing grey eyes observed the severed legs. "We were teleported."
"The Spider..." Spears shone his flaslight over the strangely spherical shape of the cavern. "It triggered it's own summoning orb."
"You mean that glowin' thing the Noob fucks came outta?"
"And it sent us and three of its own legs... to wherever we are now."
"Oh fuck..." Marvin's dabbed at the sweat around his eyes as Spears carried on talking.
"We teleported into solid rock. But there must be something between the legs - something that created a space for us."
"Fuck man... fuck!" Marvin gasped, "Where the hell... what are we...?"
"Keep your shit together, soldier." Spears turned and checked his pistol, shooting Marvin a glare.
"I'm claustrophic, Sarge! What the fuck are we gonna...!"
"You're gonna check your kit, that's what." Spears's voice seemed to undercut the gunner's panic, but he had barely ended when another sound ventured out through the rocks underfoot.
Spears shone his flaslight around, his pistol gripped in the other hand. But Marvin's reaction was altogether different. The gunner threw off his helmet and dove to the ground. "JAKE!" He started digging at the rocks with his bare hands, his claustrophia forgetten as he burrowed for his friend. Spears brought the flaslight over, picking out the strands of dusty ginger hair that gave away Jake's location.
The ISAF engineer was somewhere beneath the rocks, down where one of the Elder legs had embedded. Spears planted the flashlight and joined Marvin in throwing aside the rubble, working as fast as he could to clear a space. They couldn't tell his exact location, only follow the sounds of his moaning.
But one thing was clear....
... Jake was hurt.
[SUMMARY: After attacking an Elder in its summoning form, three soldiers from the siege of Dystopia find themselves in an unknown, alien place.]