Allan stood before the single exit to the locker bay and hesitated, his finger hovering over the button that would open the door. Several thoughts were running through his head at that moment: his need to find a weapon, wondering what Callie was doing, if anyone else had survived, his experiences back on Lindholm. A random jumble of thoughts. But covering it all like a malaise was fear. It was almost inexplicable, at least to him. His stoicism, born of the atrocities on Lindholm, granted him a new level of fearlessness. In a larger sense, he didn't care nearly as much about his own life as he had once before. He wasn't wholly unafraid to die, but he was much closer to it. On top of that, he still had his bravery, which was only tempered by his recent experiences.
He still had his fear, but the level of apprehension he was currently feeling made him freeze up. He shouldn't be this afraid. Allan took a deep breath and let it out, briefly fogging up his new faceplate. He could do this. He had to do this. Pressing the button, he tightened his grip on the length of pipe and watched the door slide open.
A bit of dim corridor was revealed. After waiting a moment, Allan stepped out and looked first left, then right. The hallway was short, ending in T junctions at either side of him. He was alone. Despite this, Allan hesitated, lingering in the doorway, taking in the aftermath around him. It was immediately and painfully obvious that something had gone wrong on the Stygian. Pausing further, he tried to pay attention to the details afforded to him.
There were two bodies in the corridor with him. One had been pumped full of holes, as though someone had unloaded a full magazine from an assault rifle into the poor bastard. The other had its skull bashed in, and not just once, either, it looked like the assailant had just kept hammering away at the body long past the point of death. Allan approached the first body, the one riddled with holes, and stared at it.
This man was a young crewman, head shaved, facial features ruined by the bullets, the uniform signifying that he'd been a technician. Frowning, Allan briefly followed a separate train of thought as he considered this corpse. What was it that drove these men? What was it that kept them working for Rogue Ops? A lack of knowledge? Money? Fear? Or maybe they just believed that whatever it was they were doing was the correct course of action, ugly though it might be. Not for the first time, Allan wondered just what exactly their endgame was.
He moved over to the other corpse, an older security officer, beefy with muscle, which hadn't apparently meant much. His boots squelched in the blood as Allan shifted. In the two weeks following the rescue of Matheson, Allan had made a point to read up on the mission reports from Arctica, Dis, and Syberia. He wanted to know everything about Rogues Ops, about his enemy. He'd memorized the characteristics of each enemy faced down.
The three bodies he'd encountered so far on the Stygian didn't match up with anything here. Not the decayed, hollow look of the Undead, nor the metal-flesh look of the Augmented, or even the red-vein appearance of the Mutants. The violence was dissimilar from that encountered on the unnamed planet, so he could, (hopefully), safely rule out the cyborgs. Which was good, he did not want to have to fight those creepy things again.
There really wasn't anything physically anomalous about these bodies. So what had gone wrong? Had they just lost it for some reason? Cabin fever? They all attacked each other like stark, raving mad lunatics? Allan winced as he suddenly felt a spike of white-hot pain sear through his skull. At that same moment, he became aware of the fact that his hair and right cheek were both hot and wet. He must have initially been brushing it off as sweat, but now he recognized it for what it was: blood. He was bleeding, a head wound.
Allan stood up and recalled the map he'd memorized. It took a moment, also not good. Along the route, he'd made sure to note important locations: armories, infirmaries, the engine room. There was an infirmary along the way to the bridge. It seemed as though he'd have to pay a visit. Allan turned and began walking down the corridor, his hands aching for a gun of some kind. He made it to the end of the corridor and cautiously peered around the next corner. Nothing but another grim stretch of flickering metal. He waited a moment, then stepped out.
YOU ARE READING
The eighth novel in The Shadow Wars. After the events of Ceaseless and Snowblind, Allan Gray, formerly a member of Security-Investigations, now a Specialist in Special Operations, is having some trouble keeping sane. He experiences sudden tremors, i...