Chapter 14: Dread

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For a moment, Greg was blinded by fear.

His senses betrayed him and he flailed wildly, grabbing out at nothing. Below him, he saw Campbell battling off a small army of Drones, and then his fellow survivor was gone from sight as Greg flipped end over end.

Above him, the comms array drifted silently away.

As he saw it, a plan flickered through his head and some of his senses returned to him. Despite the explosion that had torn him loose from the hull, he still wasn't moving fast enough to catch up with the array. He grabbed for his rifle, found it gone, tossed loose in all the chaos.

Hoping against hope, Greg reached for his pistol. It was still there. Relief swept through him, but was stifled by fear. He was going to have to take some risks. Unfortunately, this wasn't an Extra Vehicular Activity suit, otherwise it would have some small thrusters built in. This was just a trumped up mining suit.

Greg flipped around again, realizing he wouldn't have to bother with the array now that he had a pistol. As his back faced the hull, he let off a shot, then another, and a third, picking up speed as the force of the gunshots pushed him back, away from space and the free-floating communications array. At least they'd gotten that part of the job done.

A few seconds later, he grunted as he hit the hull. Greg scrambled to his feet as quickly as he could, reattaching his magnetic boots. There was movement ahead of him, and to his right. He raised his pistol, hesitated, glanced around.

Nothing to his left.

He made for an airlock bay a couple of dozen meters to the left.

"Campbell? Can you hear me?"

Nothing. Silence on the helmet-mounted speaker.

"Burne? Are you there?"

Still nothing. Greg felt his guts go cold, but kept pressing for the airlock. Even if he was suddenly alone up here on this plague ship of the cybernetically enhanced, he would much rather be inside than outside.

Drones gave chase. A few took potshots at him, but blowing away the comms array seemed to have momentarily disrupted their abilities. He wondered if it had anything to do with the sudden loss of comms, but doubted it.

Greg reached the airlock. A bullet pinged off the ring of metal that encircled the airlock bay. He hauled himself in and hit the activation button, waiting for the exterior door to open. Spinning, Greg raised his pistol and put down two of the nearest Drones. They detached from the surface and spun away into dead space.

Turning back, Greg saw the door had opened. He got in and all but smashed the close button, eager to be inside. Even if inside was a twisted, dark, broken mess of blood and things that wanted to kill him, or worse, it was still inside. The exterior doors closed and oxygen vented into the bay, filling it slowly. Greg took a moment to relax.

If Campbell and Burne were both dead, he'd have to get the part himself and find a way out. He'd never really learned how to fly, but sitting in the cockpit, staring at the instrumentation panels...it seemed to stir something in him. Maybe he knew how to fly, but it was tied to muscle memory. He might not be able to pull off amazing tricks, but he should at least be able to get himself back down to the moon in one piece.

Maybe.

The inner airlock door opened.

The locker room area beyond was empty. Greg moved out into it, then walked over to one of the benches and sat down heavily. It groaned under his weight, but held. He found it difficult to care. There was too much to do, and he'd done so much already. The full implications of the fact that he might be alone up here really seemed to hit home now that he wasn't directly in harm's way any longer. Fear rippled through him.

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