Chapter 05: Darker Days

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Mark stared at the screen before him, frowning in concentration, studying the information that he'd called up. Things were actually continuing to go fairly smoothly so far. He wondered how long that would last. The terminal he'd discovered not far from the stairwell that had deposited him down onto the engineering deck showed him exactly what he was looking for: everything wrong with the engines. And everything else that had gone wrong down here. There were about a hundred different little and big problems.

Right now, he was narrowing it down to what he could fix by himself that would save the engines from shutting the hell down and killing them all. After a few more minutes of navigating the seemingly endless menus and sub-menus, he finally had what he was looking for. There were three repairs he needed to make to prevent total engine failure. It would definitely be a bit of a patch job and not at all meant for a long-term solution, but it would give them at least a day or so to figure out what to do from there. He hoped.

Quickly memorizing the route from here to the first repair job, then to the next one and the final one, Mark activated his radio.

"Frost, this is Mark Collins, are you on the engineering deck yet?"

He paused, waited, heard nothing. Frowning even deeper, Mark checked over his earpiece comms unit, ensuring that it was still functional, then tried his message once more. Still nothing. Dead silence mocked him.

He sighed and called the others. "Jennifer, I can't get in touch with Frost."

"I'm busy right now," Jennifer replied, sounding a bit terse. "Talk to Ishi."

"Okay..." Mark replied, wondering what was happening up there. He called Ishi. "Hideo, can you help me?" he asked.

"Yes, Mark. What is the problem?" he asked, enormously polite, though Mark could hear a bit of fear leaking through.

"I can't get ahold of Frost. Do you know where he is?"

"Hmm...no. Hold on." A pause. Mark looked around the short corridor he was in. At least there were only two ways to go, ahead or back. Both ways remained clear and the lighting was decent here, no flickering, no dimming. Good in the sense that he could see, bad in the sense that he could see all the gruesome aftermath of the conflict that must have boiled through the Cimmerian. He tried to imagine all the bloodshed and carnage and couldn't.

"I can't seem to locate him," Ishi replied. "I can't get in touch with him, either. By now, he should be down there in engineering with you, but he could have run into any number of troubles on the way down. How are you progressing?"

"I know where the damage is and what repairs I need to make. I can make them," Mark replied.

"Well, unfortunately, I'm afraid I must suggest moving on without him for the moment. We don't exactly have a lot of time."

Yeah, Mark thought, a little bitterly, easy for you to say, tucked away up in that infirmary. He suppressed the thought. It wasn't Hideo's fault Frost wasn't here and it wasn't his fault, presumably, that they were in this situation. And he had a point.

"Okay, I'll get right on it."

"Thank you, Mark."

He signed off, checked over the holographic map once more, then set out. No way to do it but to do it. As his dad used to sometimes say: the only way out was through. The first location he had to hit on his trek to save the engines, (and thus the ship), wasn't all that far away. Just a few corridors over, actually.

Mark walked to the end of the corridor he was in and paused, first looking left, then right, finding nothing and no one awaiting him, and made a left-hand turn. He tried to keep his mind clear, but it was difficult, it seemed that thoughts kept trying to worm their way inside. He could feel the fear of the zombies, the fear of the unknown, the thoughts of how he was going to make the repairs, the layout of the vessel, his terror at the fact that another one of those invisible fuckers could be creeping up on him right this very second...

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