Chapter 09: Endgame

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"We may have lucked out," Marshall said, crossing the room to stand in front of the window.

"What-oh," Laura said.

The others joined him. They stood in a line behind the cracked and frosted window. Outside, on a landing pad not far from the exterior of the base, was a medical jump ship. It seemed to be powered down, an inert, giant metal insect. Overhead, the sky was still that same shade of dead, barely visible through the worsening storm.

"Let's get out there and take a look," Turner said. "The sooner we can get somewhere civilized and report this mess, the better."

"Agreed. But Laura, will you, Andrea, and Turner secure this facility? See if there's anyone left alive, anything we can use?" Marshall asked.

"On it," Laura replied.

"You're with me, bud," Marshall said, looking at Viktor.

They moved to the door and found that there was still power to it. Opening it up, they stepped out and into the immense power of the winds. Gray-white snow blew by his face as Marshall stumbled down the steps and began kicking his way through ankle-deep snow towards the landing pad. The ship was like a beacon of hope, a badly needed one. He felt his spirits lift the closer he came to it. They actually might have a way out.

His hopes fell, however, as he spied an open panel on the side of the vehicle, near the engines. He hesitated, then hurried across the landing pad.

"Don't worry," Viktor said, as they came to stand before the open panel. "It looks like they were just replacing the power cells."

"I just realized...who the fuck's going to fly this thing?" Marshall asked as Viktor moved further up the ship and opened a side door.

"I can do it. I took some piloting lessons last year," Viktor replied, flashing him a grin. He climbed into the ship.

After a moment of looking around into the shifting snowfall, Marshall joined him. He was convinced that there was someone or something out there with them. The interior of the ship was cramped, but serviceable. Viktor was already climbing into the cockpit. It all seemed in good condition. No one had gone on a shooting spree in it, no one had died or been brutally murdered within. There was a brief pause as Viktor settled in and flicked a few switches. At first, nothing happened, then some of the screens and control panels flickered to life.

"Ah ha!" Viktor cried. "Excellent. Okay..." He began scanning the instrumentation panels. Marshall waited impatiently, listening for screams or gunshots.

"I've got some power left, I'm running a diagnostic scan now," Viktor said. A moment passed. "There doesn't seem to be anything actually wrong with the ship so far. I really think we may have found a small pocket of luck here with this ship."

"Here's hoping," Marshall replied.

A few more minutes passed in the cold silence. There was a short beep. A few seconds later, Viktor let out a triumphant laugh. "I was right! We're in business! As far as these diagnostics show, there's nothing wrong the ship. It just needs to have another two power cells slotted in and we'll be in full flying order," he explained.

"Thank God, let's get back to the others."

* * *

Laura looked around the second surgical bay they'd come to. The base was obviously very small, no more than half a dozen rooms besides the main antechamber. They'd cleared out a surgical bay, two cramped communal living quarters and a tiny cafeteria. So far, they'd only encountered a pair of zombies. The surgical bay was empty: a silent testament to what the base had once been. Blood had pooled on the floor and much of the equipment had been smashed. Someone had had a really nasty fight in the room.

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