Chapter 04: Ataxia

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When Greg came to, he was muttering to himself. Whatever he said seemed important, crucial, even. His eyes flicked open and his muttering stopped. Greg worked his mouth, as though trying to jump-start it.

"No," he mumbled.

Blood coated his mouth and tongue. What had he been saying? After a moment, he decided it was lost. Pushing himself up slowly, Greg worked his mouth and spat a thick wad of coagulated blood and saliva onto the floor. It looked out of place on the smooth, pristine tiling he lay sprawled on. Somewhere distant, an alarm wailed.

"Thomas?" His voice was thick with grogginess.

No answer. Greg massaged his temples as he fully sat up. He surveyed the room. Hanging over him like a monolithic sentinel was what Thomas had called the security network databanks. It pulsed a steady crimson in time with the distant alarm. A confused jumble of memories crowded him as Greg rose unsteadily to his feet.

"Making a habit of this," he mumbled, then had an odd memory of saying something similar not too long ago.

How many times had he been knocked unconscious in the past two weeks? Greg suspected it was far too many for medical comfort. He finished massaging his temples, deciding the headache wasn't going to go away without the help of a few painkillers, and continued studying the piece of equipment before him.

It still stood in stark contrast to the room around it, though now everything had a crimson gloss applied to it. Where was Thomas? Had the plan worked? A jolt of fear ran through him as his memories reached their conclusion, punctuated by Graves's massive fist that had left him in his current predicament. He checked the room, making sure he was truly alone, and then stared at the floor where he'd landed when Graves had punched the fuck out of him. Working his jaw, he was surprised to find it was merely bruised and not broken.

There was more blood on the floor, from where it had leaked out of his mouth, or perhaps from his lip. Greg stared at his own distorted reflection in one of the blank screens, and saw his lower lip had split and was now swollen. He registered the pain in his mouth as having bitten his cheek. Greg coughed, hawked, and spat once more, clearing his mouth of blood. He touched his lip, then winced in pain.

As the suffering in his skull slid into something more manageable, Greg felt control reasserting itself, slaying his confusion. Whatever had happened with Thomas didn't matter right now. For the moment, Greg's primary goal was getting a gun, some gear, and making his way back to the cells to free his friends.

What was the ship like? Hopefully, everything had been thrown into disarray, allowing him to slip through. He remembered the part where the Undead specimens were to be released and felt a shudder of fear ripple down his spine, pooling coldly in his guts. The idea of facing them again wasn't one he relished, especially without proper backup or a weapon of some kind. Greg steeled himself and began to move for the door.

Right as he reached it, he stopped, turned and stared up at the elongated black diamond of intricate, expensive equipment. What was it? It was obviously important, and at least partially tied into the plan he and Thomas had concocted. Greg felt there was more to it, much more, in fact, but what? He supposed it didn't matter anymore.

As Greg slipped out the door after making sure the coast was clear, he found his thoughts turning to Graves. The titan of muscle and digital eyes had promised him death if he somehow managed to escape, which he had.

So why was Greg still drawing breath? A few possibilities presented themselves.

The first being that perhaps Graves had felt like giving him a second chance, that perhaps it wasn't a fair fight. Greg thought it might be possible...but a second, uncomfortable possibility kept presenting itself. That Graves had something even more pressing to attend to, something important enough to leave Greg passed out on the floor and not send anyone to retrieve him. What could that be? The Undead? It was certainly possible, but Greg wasn't sure. Was there something else at play here that he didn't know about?

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