Chapter 05: The Silence

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The door opened.

Trent peered cautiously within, playing his muzzle-mounted flashlight across the interior of the room beyond. There was light inside, though it was dim. He found himself looking at what appeared to be a fairly standard lobby. A semi-circle desk of wood and steel dominated the center of the room. As though in orbit around it, couches, chairs, and small end tables were pressed up against the walls along the front half of the room.

"Empty," Trent murmured.

He could see nothing in the thin light. He moved in, Drake behind him, the others slowly shuffling in. Trent moved up and around the desk, peered over it into the enclosed space where the receptionist would sit. He spied a rolling swivel chair, knocked over. A shelf ran the interior of the desk, hidden beneath its top.

He spied a few infopads, a couple of throwaway cups, a computer. Everything was powered down. He picked up one of the infopads.

Sergio cleared his throat. "If you stick your nose where it doesn't belong, Mister Stone, you'll often find that it gets cut off."

Trent glanced up. The others had gathered in the lobby. Trevor was closing the door behind them. Sergio and Sharpe stood in the center, staring directly at him. Sharpe's black lens eyes seemed to be locked onto his own eyes, boring into them. Trent replaced the infopad, fighting the urge to shoulder his weapon and plug the pair a few times.

He brought the level of his exterior speakers online so he could hear the environment around him. Someone or something was obviously in there with them, or they wouldn't need the guns. Unless this was a false alarm. So far, he hadn't seen anything to give him any kind of clue as to what might have really gone down.

Of course, they were only just inside the lobby.

Who knew how bad it might get?

"All right," Sergio said, looking around. "Trevor, get on that console, figure out where we are. Obviously power is going to be an issue. Assess the situation. Everyone else, make sure this room remains secure."

Trent came around from behind the desk and moved with Drake over to one of the two entrances into the room besides the primary one.

"This is bullshit," Trent said, not caring if Sergio heard him.

"Yep," Drake replied.

Trevor righted the chair, sat down and set to work. Seconds passed, then minutes. The only sounds that filled the lobby were the soft hum of power and the occasional noise of someone shifting. Trent frowned, staring around the lobby. The door he was guarding looked solid and secure. He didn't quite turn his back to it, not trusting anything in the facility at the moment. The lobby was cast in gloomy shadows, setting off his combat instincts without actually telling him anything. He strained his ears against the silence, filtering out the small sounds, listening for anything, any small hint, that might tip him off to the true nature of the facility.

For a long moment, there was nothing. He heard the hum of power, the nearly inaudible clacking of Trevor's fingers on a keyboard, the subtle sounds of the others shifting, breathing, murmuring occasionally.

Then he heard something new.

Beneath or perhaps behind it all, he thought he could hear a slow, steady, incredibly deep thumping sound. Trent's frown intensified and he pushed his exterior speakers to their maximum capacity, zeroing his senses in on the thudding. It was familiar, extremely familiar, and then he had it. He realized he couldn't figure it out at first because the answer was so glaringly obvious. It was a sound everyone heard in the subtle background of their own lives.

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