"On the way," Allan replied.
He and Callie made their way through all the gear and equipment.
"I'm still curious as to what the hell happened here...do you guys really think it's some kind of...monster?" Callie asked.
"After what I've seen? Yeah, I'd put money on it. I mean, you're in Spec Ops, you must've run into something weird from time to time, right?" Allan replied.
"Well, no, not really. I mean, occasionally alien wildlife, but nothing like a...monster. But I know Hawkins. He doesn't bullshit. He doesn't joke. And he obviously took what all of you said in there at face value, so I should, too. But, I mean, zombies? Mutants? That thing in black armor you fought? It just sounds so...impossible."
"It does, but it wasn't. I fought him...it. And that was a monster if there ever was one. A monster that could think..."
He trailed off as they reached the lift. It was a circular platform enclosed in steel and glass, held over a broad shaft that plunged straight down into the earth. Allan and Callie crossed a small bridge that led to the lift in the center, where Enzo and Colin were already waiting. As soon as they were aboard, Enzo hit the down button.
With a jerk, the lift started, descending into the ground. Only a few seconds passed before their radios came to life.
"This is Greg Bishop. We've found a ship with FTL capabilities and are heading up to the moon now to deal with those defenses. Also, be careful, whatever the hell we're dealing with is absurdly violent and doesn't give a shit about armor."
"You're telling me. We've got a bloodbath over here," Stone replied after a moment. "But we haven't got eyes on whatever is doing it yet."
"Same here," Enzo replied. Allan wondered if the merc had seen more blood or bodies than he had while searching for the elevator.
"Where are you guys at right now with your missions?" Bishop asked.
"Trying to get power restored, presently," Stone replied.
"Just heading down the main elevator shaft into the excavation site," Enzo said.
"Yep, you too," Stone replied.
Enzo muttered something in response. Allan began to check his gear, making sure it was all still ready for action.
The lift continued to descend.
* * *
Enzo dropped to one knee, rifle shouldered, as the lift came to a halt. He heard the others shifting behind him, covering all angles, all the windows, or at least as many as they could. It looked like it was all for naught, though, as the view through the windows was that of rock and dirt. The only physical entryway was through the front door. It opened up to reveal a brilliantly lit expanse of rock tunnel that stretched away from them and curved out of sight.
"Looks clear," Enzo said, standing up and marching out of the lift. The others followed silently. He began making his way down the tunnel.
He wasn't sure how to feel about being so far underground. The lift had taken them down at least half a mile. It wasn't so long ago that he'd been buried underground, fighting for his life against assholes and mutants. As he progressed down the tunnel, Enzo found his thoughts drifting back to his experiences and previous thoughts.
Enzo still liked to think of himself as a good person. He'd done a lot of questionable things, the majority of them done in the name of finding some way to end his pain, but some of the thoughts he'd had on Syberia about doing the right thing, rescuing those people...it made him think that he was still a fundamentally good person.
Two things were making him question that assessment now.
The first was Eve. The galaxy was, by and large, a sexually liberated place. It was fairly easy to get laid, between paying for it or just hitting up a club of some kind. Maybe it was just the kind of crowd he normally ran with, or maybe it was a lucky streak, but Enzo was having a hard time remembering the last time he'd been outright told no. It was strange, and he didn't like the way being turned down stuck in his mind like a poison needle, the way it made him angry, unreasonably so, whenever he thought about it.
The second thing was the pain. If he'd been in more pain, would he have bothered going the extra mile to try and save those people? It had turned out bad, in the end, with Eve saving his ass, but he'd been willing to do it. To even go after that damned Alpha and put it down. But if his pain had been worse, more persistent, like it had been for the past day or so, would he have just taken the ship and left, damn the consequences?
Enzo didn't like that he couldn't easily answer 'no'.
The tunnel came to an end. He shoved the thoughts away uncomfortably, letting himself focus on the task at hand. Get into the dig site, find the doctor, or the artifact, or both, and then get the hell off this miserable hellhole.
The tunnel opened up into a cavern. A pair of prefabricated structures occupied most of the area, one on either side, and another opening lay directly ahead. Enzo realized this must be some kind of outpost, a resting station or supply area, before the site itself. The place was a wreck. It looked like there'd been some kind of fire along one of the structures and the other was partially collapsed. A handful of bodies occupied the area.
"Damn," Colin muttered. "This isn't looking too good."
"Check the left one, I'll take the right," Enzo replied.
He set off towards the right prefab before anyone could respond. From the sounds of their footsteps, it sounded like he was going there alone. Fine. His prefab was the one that was partially collapsed. It looked like just a two-room deal, nothing fancy. He hustled up the small stairwell that led up to the slightly elevated building and stepped inside through the forced-open door, gun at ready, glad for the light.
What remained of the structure was a mess. It looked like this might have been a security center. The bank of monitors rigged to the far wall were all dead and blank and, in some cases, coated in blood. A pair of chairs were knocked over and bent out of shape. A desk had a huge dent in the middle of it, like someone had brought their arm down hard on it, (an arm inside of power armor). The two bodies in the room had been mangled thoroughly.
Enzo quickly checked what remained of the next room, and found nothing of interest in it. However, among the remains in the first room, he saw something strange and interesting. It was a very long-barreled, thick, black rifle. Letting his own rifle hang by its sling, Enzo knelt and retrieved the curious weapon. It was, surprisingly, not anywhere near as heavy as it looked. Next to it, he spied a pair of small, black rectangles.
He picked them both up, studied them, then slipped them into his ammo pouch, as they were about the size of an average rifle magazine. He studied the weapon for a moment, but couldn't find hardly anything save for its smooth surface. It reminded him of the strange weapon he'd found back on Syberia, though while that one had been a flat rectangle, this one was more rounded and a bit bulkier. He slipped his finger around the trigger, tempted to try it out, then thought better of it. At least not inside a small structure.
Stepping back out, Enzo saw that the others were returning from their own investigation. They all had rifles now, at least.
"We found a stockpile of guns and ammo, they were all packing armor-piercers," Gray was saying, holding up his rifle. "So we took the stock, since it's a step up from what we were packing. We thought you might want to as well."
Enzo turned, aimed for a wall and fired his new weapon. A burst of brilliant blue light flared and a bolt of what seemed to be pure energy shot out. It hit the rock wall and blew a decent crater directly into it.
Enzo grinned. "I think I'll stick with this," he replied.
YOU ARE READING
The seventh novel in The Shadow Wars. In an isolated region of space, four survivors of brutal conflicts meet and are once again forced to fight for their lives... On the pleasure planet known as Mezzanine, a pair of mercenaries on the run from the...