Chapter 13: Predator & Prey

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They let just over twenty minutes go by before leaving the security of the room they'd locked themselves in.

There had been a great deal of screaming, a lot of gunfire and several explosions that shook dust from the ceiling. Now, all was pretty much silent, except for the occasional staccato burst of distant gunfire that echoed down to them through the ventilation system. Even the alarm had been mercifully cut. Drake led the way, which was fine by Jennifer. He was the one that had that full-body suit of top-tier armor. As they made their way through another grimly-lit utilities tunnel, she mulled over what he had told her.

It wasn't much, but she was very intrigued.

Some kind of top-secret government/military agency that dealt with unique threats. Unique as in inhuman. There were all kinds of stories out there about weird shit. Of course, there was the Cyr, but they were ancient history, long dead even before humanity could make fire. Then there was the wildlife they found on alien worlds. That could get weird and creepy, but ultimately it was just the rough equivalent of finding wildlife on Earth. Scientifically interesting? Sure. But otherwise? No, not really. It wasn't truly out there.

Then there were the stories.

There were always stories.

Jennifer liked to collect those stories. There was one she'd heard about a derelict ship that somehow consumed anyone who showed up to investigate. One about an alien creature unearthed by a mining team on an asteroid that fed on human brains. A story of a crazed old Cyr artificial intelligence that infected human computers and turned their technology against them. It was interesting and she personally found it deeply fascinating. She always suspected that there was some top secret organization that dealt with situations like these. It wasn't a new idea, either. These conspiracy theories could be traced back hundreds of years.

And, very likely, here was an agent of such a branch walking ahead of her. She had a lot of questions, but she also realized that now really wasn't the time. When she was younger, Jennifer had often dreamed of being a member of such an organization. A soldier who investigated paranormal incidents or alien mysteries.

Maybe now was her chance to join them.

If she could survive this nightmare of mutated zombies, she figured that'd be a strong argument for letting her join. And it wasn't as if she didn't have a lengthy history of combat. Jennifer fell out of her thoughts as, overhead, a long, steady thrum of gunfire sounded. A loud roar tore through the air, followed by a series of heavy thuds. Then nothing for a moment, then the sound of heavy footfalls, receding. She wasn't looking forward to going up there. The good news was that, according to the map, they could come up directly into the room they were looking for. It was a data room where all the pertinent information should be stored.

It wouldn't all be so easy, but it was a nice start.

Provided it all worked out the way it was supposed to.

"Here," Drake said, suddenly hooking a left through an open door.

Jennifer followed him into a small repair bay. Among the workbenches, shelves, and lockers, a ladder was tucked into one corner. It led up to an emergency access hatch. Drake slung his rifle, mounted the ladder and began climbing up. He reached the hatch at the top, popped it open and stuck his helmeted head up.

"Shit," he muttered.

"What?" Jennifer asked as he hauled himself up and out.

"Place looks trashed," he replied. "Come on."

Jennifer sighed and quickly climbed up the ladder after holstering her pistol. It was all she had. She hoped to fix that soon. A pistol wouldn't do much against a horde of the undead. She climbed up into the room and saw what Drake was talking about. The place was just off of the main lab and it looked like a slaughterhouse. There were five or six, (maybe more), corpses strewn about the room. The walls, which were largely made up of workstations and mainframes, were now nothing more than a collection of bloodied, dented, sparking metal.

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