"Do you regret coming out here?" Jennifer asked.
"Yes," he replied almost immediately. "If and when I get out of this, I'm going back home. To Oregon. And never leaving. The galaxy fucking sucks."
"That it does," Jennifer murmured.
"What about you? Why'd you come out here?"
"Kind of the same reason you did. I was born on an outer colony world called Rise. Nice place, peaceful. I signed up with SI when I was eighteen and stayed on until I was twenty three. Then I got bored. I wanted more. I wanted to see what was out there. I signed up with corporate security, started drifting..." She paused as something growled up ahead, from around the next bend. She and Mark both raised their weapons.
They rounded the corner carefully and spied a single zombie shuffling about. It didn't look like it was moving too fast and seemed a bit more decayed than the others. Jennifer put it out of her misery with a shot that blasted through its right eye and exploded out the back of its head. It dropped like its strings had been cut in one fell swoop. They paused and waited, and were rewarded for their patience, as another two zombies shuffled slowly out and were met with their daily recommended dose of lead. No more came.
"So," she said as they kept walking and ensured they were once again alone, "I drifted for quite awhile. It made me happy. If I wanted to go visit a beach resort town, I'd find a job working security there. If I wanted to see what mining life on an asteroid was like, I'd work security there. Corporate security is always in high demand, cause they're always expanding. And that's how I ended up here. More luck of the draw than anything else."
"Do you regret it?" Mark asked.
Jennifer thought about it as they came to their second location. "I don't know yet," she replied, clearing and then entering the room that housed the controls for the auxiliary comms array. "I guess I need to see how it turns out."
"You don't regret all this crap that's happened?"
"Well, yeah. I mean, I regret all the suffering and death that's happened but I had no hand in it. I could do nothing to prevent it. If I could somehow stop it all from happening I would. But I can't. It's done. All I can do is react to it. And if I survive it, I'll come out the other side stronger because of it. And stronger is usually better," Jennifer replied.
"Huh," was all Mark seemed to have to say to that.
He set to work with the next part of the job. Minutes ticked by in the quietude. Jennifer scanned the room, an edge of paranoia in her gaze. Megan had been fine one minute, infected the next. Hardly a second had gone by between those two states of being. Then she was dead. Two dead, now, out of their group. Possibly three, though she had a hard time believing Frost was dead, even after all they had seen so far onboard the Cimmerian.
"Done," Mark said.
"Great, what's next?" Jennifer asked as he packed up his tools.
"Engineering again. There's a power relay that was damaged in all the fighting, I imagine. It provides power to the auxiliary comms array. We need to turn it on."
"Let's get going, then."
* * *
Mark was feeling a bit better, a bit less dazed, like he was walking through clouds, now that he was back with Jennifer. He hadn't realized how much he missed her until he was back in her presence again and the majority of his mind was no longer taken up by absolute terror or numb disbelief. It was stupid but he kept finding his eyes drawn to her. She was extremely attractive. Not just physically, she was that, to be sure, but everything about her. Her calm confidence, her sureness, there was something about that feature in her that was drawing his attention like iron filings to a magnet. If he was being fair to himself, it had been too long since his last girlfriend.
YOU ARE READING
Necropolis 4: TerminalHorror
The eleventh novel in The Shadow Wars. Two people have just awoken aboard a deep space research vessel. The Cimmerian. Mark Collins and Jennifer North, a technician and security guard respectively, have absolutely no idea why they were apparently ca...