Chapter 03: True Terror

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All of Jennifer's theories went right out the window as she turned the corner and found herself staring at a pair of walking horrors.

They were people...or they once had been. A man and a woman. The man wore civilians clothing: a t-shirt and jeans. The woman was a member of the security force. Jennifer recognized her. She was dark-skinned, tall, thin, but she was wicked fast with a gun and during the occasional times they'd sparred at the onboard gym she'd given Jennifer a real run for her money. Her name was Leah and she was a very competent individual with an easy laugh. Normally she was so composed, so...together. Now she was a vision of pure horror.

Her skin had paled noticeably and midnight black veins ran just beneath the surface. Her eyes had filled with a similar darkness, like pools of sludge. Her black jumpsuit was shredded in several places, and liberally splashed with dark splotches of blood. Her right hand was missing. Judging by the ragged ends of flesh, it looked like someone had torn it off. It was still dripping blood, in fact, but it wasn't regular blood.

It was black, like a thick, syrupy oil.

All of these cosmetic changes registered in a heartbeat, but what really had Jennifer worried was the fact that both of their jaws now seemed somehow larger, bulkier, and sported a nest of razor sharp, pointed teeth that looked as though they had one goal in mind: the rending of flesh. Similarly, their hands were somewhat bigger and their fingers now ended in claws that looked like they had a comparable goal to them.

All at once, both of these inhuman creatures took notice of Jennifer. They both let out sounds that almost seemed like triumph, as if malignantly joyful at the prospect of having sighted fresh flesh to feast on. Never in her life had Jennifer wanted a sidearm more than at that moment. All she had, however, was her wrench and her screwdriver. Leah and the other guy both started coming for her at once, their arms raised, Leah's stump dripping black blood across the deckplates. Jennifer took a step backwards involuntary, then raised the wrench.

There was no time to reason out why this had happened or what even was happening. There were two hostiles directly in front of her and they clearly intended to do her harm. What's worse, they looked...diseased.

She couldn't let them touch her.

Jennifer took a step forward, knowing she had to do this just right, she'd only get one great first shot at it. She raised the wrench high over her head and brought it down in a tight, fast arc, slamming into Leah's skull with all of her might. There was a horrible, gut-wrenching crack as the force of the blow split her cranium and released a spray of black gore. The Leah creature let out an earsplitting shriek and collapsed to the floor.

It didn't move.

One down, one to go.

Unfortunately, that other one was fast, faster than it should have been. As Jennifer was turning to face it, the male creature made a leap for her, nearly grabbing her arm. She heard a loud clack as its teeth came together in a chomping motion mere inches from her flesh. It quickly corrected its stance and came for her again. Jennifer brought her booted foot up, planted it firmly against the thing's chest and shoved hard.

The inhuman beast flew backwards, slamming into a nearby wall, but not falling.

Jennifer's earpiece crackled to life. "Jennifer...Jennifer, I need help." It was Mark.

She hit the respond button absently. "A little busy right now!" she replied as the monster righted itself and loosed a roar. It began running for her.

She sidestepped and brought the wrench around in another tight arc as the thing stumbled past her. The tool connected with the back of its head and that was it: lights out. It stopped stumbling and instead hit the floor with a solid thump. Jennifer stood there for a long moment, staring at the creature, her eyes slowly drifting between the two corpses she'd just produced. She realized she was breathing heavily, close to hyperventilating, actually. She took a deep breath, to try and calm herself, but that just made her gag.

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