Chapter 16: Electromagnetic

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Rock tunnels and dead bodies.

Allan readjusted the shoulder strap he'd looped over his right shoulder. Having a rifle packing armor-piercers didn't make him feel as good as he'd hoped. It brought up uncomfortable echoes of memories: his time spent on Lindholm, desperately searching for armor-piercing bullets during those first few, hectic hours where he actually thought they'd do the trick. He remembered the utter, abject hopelessness that had haunted him all throughout his trek across that wasteland of a planet, and the grim, stark determination that had gotten him through it...and left little else. It had been like his body was an engine, and needed fuel to burn, and he'd thrown pieces of himself into it: hope, happiness, sanity, his soul...

Had it been worth it, in the end?

He still wasn't sure. Allan told himself that it was, that sacrificing those two million souls to stop an unstoppable army of mad deities that might have ultimately destroyed or enslaved everyone in the galaxy was the right thing to do. And, honestly, when he looked at it objectively, it made sense. Sacrifice two million so that twenty billion might live. Or however many people there were in the galaxy. He wasn't sure anymore.

Hell, the GA probably wasn't sure.

Allan tightened his grip on his rifle as they approached another break in the tunnel. So far, they'd passed through another two chambers like the one they'd first come through and picked up their new arsenal. Both chambers had been equally torn up, full of dead bodies that had been crushed to pulp or ripped to pieces, blood spraying down the rock walls, spent shell casings crunching underfoot. And still no sign of what had done it.

That also reminded him of his time on Lindholm.

They'd gotten a burst of static from what might have been Stone a little while ago, but nobody could make it out and any attempts to get into contact with the others had been met with failure. He'd made a mental note to find some kind of communications module to plug into. Unfortunately, all the structures they'd come across so far had been torn into, equipment ruined, terminals broken. It was beginning to get to him.

Not that it mattered.

He'd finish the job or die trying.

He looked around the latest cavern they'd come to. Another prefabricated structure awaited their inspection. It, like the others, was torn to hell. It looked like someone had taken a giant can opener to it. Allan set off towards it. He noticed Callie following him while Enzo and Colin waited for them in the cavern itself, standing guard while they checked it out. That suited him just fine. Enzo had fallen almost totally silent.

Which was also fine with Allan. He hadn't really taken a liking to the mercenary. The man's temper always seemed to be smoldering, like he was looking for any reason to get angry. Not exactly someone he wanted watching his back.

He and Callie entered the abandoned prefab. It was just a single story with three rooms, two smaller ones in the front, a longer one in the back that ran the length of the whole structure. This one looked to be a combination storage and break room area. Likely these things had been hastily erected as checkpoints while Rogue Ops dug deeper and deeper into the ground, towards whatever it was they were looking for.

Unfortunately, there didn't seem to be anything new waiting for them. More bodies, more broken furniture, more shattered windows.

None of the bodies, so far, were the good doctor they were looking for. At least they hoped so, it was difficult to tell with a decapitated corpse.

"This is getting creepy," Callie murmured.

"Yeah, definitely," Allan replied, staring down at a man with broken limbs and no head. He opened his mouth to say something else but, abruptly, the entire structure shook and something rattled the roof. Something either landing on it or leaping from it. They both turned to the nearest window and saw it was the latter: something landed in the cavern about halfway in between the prefabricated structure and where Enzo and Colin stood.

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