Chapter 10: The Deep

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Keep moving.

It was a survival tactic that Greg had picked up somewhere in the rainy wastelands of Dis. It had stuck with him ever since. Already, he missed the primal comfort the break area offered. Like a little outpost of civilization, staked in the outer reaches of the explored regions beneath Onyx. The warmth, the light, the walls.

Greg made himself forget about the break area. He was forging ahead into new, unknown territory. Undead territory, by the smell of it. Only he hadn't come across anything. Besides the rumbling and the roaring, Greg hadn't encountered even a single corpse since leaving, walking or dead. No zombies, no Stalkers, no Rippers.

On the one hand, it filled him with relief. The bolt gun he held would do the job...probably, but even if it did, he had limited ammo and it wouldn't be as effective as even a pistol. He kept his ears sharp for undead groans, haunting moans, shuffling footsteps, scurrying, anything that might tip the hand of any nearby Undead.

There was nothing.

Nothing but...the smell. The reek of corrupted flesh seemed to permeate through the air, like something that drifted just beneath the surface. It made him gag. Greg tried to focus on his surroundings. He'd made his way through a long, poorly lit tunnel. There seemed to be a work-light only every ten or fifteen meters. Among those, some of them flickered weakly, others were completely dark and dead.

The tunnel was on a slope. He was heading back up, which was good. He needed to get the hell out of this nightmare. Before long, he noticed the light up ahead was better. Not by much, but enough to stir his hopes. He finally crested the top of the tunnel and stopped. The passageway opened up into a truly massive cavern.

At least, he assumed it was. The light was still quite poor. He could just barely make out the far wall, but couldn't tell how high the ceiling was. Every little sound he made echoed away from him into the abyssal darkness.

Greg sighed heavily. He scanned the area for any immediate threat. Nothing shifted in the shadows, he heard no movement. From what little he could see, it was obvious that this was some kind of central mining chamber. The dead hulks of earth-movers and drillers occupied the ground level like great metal corpses.

There was a hint of catwalks and ladders built along the walls, but what little he could see was in poor repair. Something caught his attention, something flaring dimly in the thin light. He made his way towards it, weaving slowly through stacks of crates and the heaps of metal that had been forged into vehicular shapes.

As Greg came around the equipment, he saw what was producing the light: a terminal. It warmed his heart. He quickly crossed the distance between them and fired the thing up, bringing it out of sleep mode. Immediately he could tell that it was running off reserve power. Most of its functions weren't available.

He spent several frustrated minutes attempting to figure out what he could access, and then navigated that. Loading each new page seemed to take forever. Finally, he came to a map of the area and frowned at what he saw.

This was the lowest level of the mines, which explained why everything was so under-developed and empty. The only way up appeared to be the area he was in. However, he decided, he wasn't going anywhere until he got some fucking lights turned on. It might help him directly, it might not, but it was just too creepy down here.

There wasn't much to the area he was in. It was mostly just tunnels and caverns with a few remote outposts, similar to the one he'd found a ways back. There was, however, a generator room somewhere nearby.

Greg wasn't a technician, but he'd picked up a handful of useful tips from Powell and the other techs he'd hung around over the past few weeks. If it wasn't totally gone, he might be able to reactivate the generator they'd installed down here and bring the lights back online. Another thing he'd discovered was that some of the more basic systems, like a generator or a terminal network node or a power junction, weren't too complex.

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