Chapter 08: Detour

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"Damn." Cage tossed aside his rifle after inspecting it.

"You really broke it, huh?" Greg glanced over from his crouched position. The Dark Ops troops had been loaded down with guns and ammo.

"Yes. I was beginning to like it." Cage crossed the data vault, knelt by a corpse he'd helped produce and retrieved its rifle and a small stack of ammo.

"Can we hurry it up?" Billings asked.

"Hell yes," Campbell whispered, retrieving a rifle.

"Be lucky I don't take that from you." Greg walked up beside him.

"Be lucky you don't try," Campbell replied.

A gunshot snapped through the air, the bullet avoiding Campbell's left ear by mere centimeters. Cage lowered his rifle.

"I don't miss twice."

Campbell's mouth worked as though he were trying to speak, but the words couldn't seem to find his throat.

Greg tried to play the diplomat once more. "Let's wrap it up."

The survivors finished collecting weapons, ammo, and gear from the handful of corpses they'd made. Greg found it difficult to get the image of Starck killing herself from his mind. The knife had cleaved into her eye as if it had been jelly...he shuddered and shook his head. Herding everyone into the network room, where Powell had retreated already, Greg took one more look around the vault to satisfy himself that they were still alone and secured the door behind him. He turned and looked around the brightly lit network room.

It appeared to be an advanced security center, much larger than a regular one. Screens of varying sizes dominated two of the walls. Powell sat before the largest one, typing away at a keyboard, lost in his work.

Greg glanced around at the others. "So, a few things to talk about I guess. We've got guns and I think we've found all the survivors we're going to that won't shoot us in the head at the first opportunity."

"Yes. All the other prisoners are dead," Powell confirmed.

"Wonderful. So, that shortens our list of shit to do at least. One outstanding issue I think we need to discuss is armor. Specifically, that body armor Dark Ops is so fond of. Having those would do a hell of a lot to protect us."

"Hell yeah, they would. They're powered, make you stronger, faster, have their own data suite and a head's up display..." Campbell sounded wistful.

"There's a catch, isn't there? There always is," Cage murmured.

"Yeah. There is. They're all DNA encoded. I mean, not like, one suit to one guy, but if you aren't in the DNA databank, well, then, you aren't using that armor. I mean, I suppose you could put it on, but it wouldn't power up, and then you'd just be seventy pounds heavier." He shrugged.

"So then we get in the databanks," Greg said. "Would that be easy? Where would we even go to do that?"

"I think we have more pressing concerns." Powell interrupted their conversation. They all turned to look at him. He still stared at the screen. They gathered around him.

"Which are?" Kyra asked.

"Dark Ops are losing to the Undead. Whatever you really fucked this ship over, Greg. The only thing keeping them from blowing it all to hell is the fact that you're onboard. They still need you, for whatever reason. I think our end goal here needs to be escaping the system. There's no other alternative. That means we need a ship, preferably a small, maneuverable one, with an FTL drive. Or we're dead."

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