Chapter 13: Countermeasures

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Greg watched his failure sputter and die down the corridor.

He'd finally escaped the scientist's dormitories and found the corridor that led to the power plant after telling Enzo that he'd handle the meltdown situation. He hoped he could. If not, well, he supposed it wouldn't really matter to either of them. The corridor that led into the power plant was also blocked by an angry green patch of plant life. Unfortunately, it looked thicker than before. Greg had backtracked, found another maintenance bay and tried a repeat performance with the explosion and the fire, but it hadn't worked.

The plant life had burned, but not all the way through. In fact, it seemed to be regrowing practically before his eyes. So how to get around it? This was the only way into the power plant. Greg stared at the growth for a bit longer, before he noticed something set high into the right wall, towards the ceiling.

A ventilation grate.

He sighed. Sure, why not? Everything else was going super shitty today, why not crawl into a ventilation duct that was probably compromised and full of things that wanted to kill him? At least he had his armor. Greg sighed and moved over to the vent. He reached up, hit the release and grabbed the edge of the opening as the grate moved aside. He hauled himself up into the narrow opening, barely able to fit himself inside.

Sure enough, up ahead, he spied thin green tendrils. They weren't blocking the way, but they could be a problem. Maybe thirty feet farther on, he saw another grate. Uncomfortably, he was reminded of Dis, being alone in that underground warehouse, crawling through the vents. It was the first time he'd encountered the infected spiders. Greg shuddered at the memory, glad that it was all behind him. Though it wasn't as if his life had been a breeze ever since then. Dis made him think of Kyra. He tried to put the thought aside as he crawled through the vent, but it wouldn't be ignored. He missed her painfully, wished she hadn't gone.

Greg could remember reading books and watching movies, knew that at the end of every story that had romance (and come on, didn't they all seem to have a romance subplot?), the correct thing to happen was that the couple ended up together. That was how it was supposed to be. And yet...he couldn't shake the feeling that how things had turned out between him and Kyra was correct. It was what should have happened, because she was right, they would have never worked out in the long run. Or probably even in the short run.

But if it was the right choice, then why did it hurt so fucking much?

Why didn't his brain simply understand that the appropriate choice had been made and get the fuck over itself? Why did it have to make him so fucking miserable every time he remembered that Kyra was gone forever from his life?

Something abruptly shifted in the vents with him. Greg hesitated, thrown out of his miserable contemplation. His eyes probed ahead, looking for that vent opening. It was perhaps ten feet farther on. He began crawling faster, but the tendrils were coming alive around him. One of them began to slide sluggishly around his right wrist, another around his helmet, partially blocking out his vision. Greg brought his wrist up as much as he could, trying to break the tendril's hold, but it was surprisingly tough. He could feel more of them wrapping around his legs, his arms, his torso. He began to wonder if he'd made a horrible mistake.

The vent opening was a mere three feet away, but it had become obvious that he wasn't going to make it there. It was like swimming through tar. A plan formed and flickered through his head. It was a stupid, rash plan that might kill him, and that's what made it exciting. It was time to see if the suit was really up-to-snuff or they were just bullshitting about what it could stand up to. While he still had enough mobility to do so, Greg reached down and grabbed one of the grenades he'd packed. He pulled the pin...

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