Chapter 14: Decisions

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They had found a way up out of the underground.

Unfortunately, they found themselves in the middle of a warzone.

Jennifer squeezed the trigger and put a three-round burst through her target's face, taking him down in a spray of blood that beaded on the chrome wall behind him. She switched targets, shifting the rifle she'd picked up ten minutes ago from a cooling corpse in the underground and put another burst into a second enemy trooper's head, killing him instantly. Beside her, Drake put down another trooper in a dark uniform.

The last man fell and they both waited, but no one else came.

Distantly, something shrieked.

"This is fun," Drake muttered. "No wonder Greg was so messed up for awhile."

"What do you mean?" Jennifer replied.

They resumed their journey through what might have once been an infirmary but had obviously been transformed into an area for experimentation.

"The other guy on my team, he faced these things down before," Drake replied.

"So those are his credentials...what about you and the woman, Eve?"

He offered a short, grim laugh. "I faced down a collection of Cyr experiments. Lizard guys that ate brains, things with holes in their chests that could melt flesh in an instant, a walking collection of swords...it was pretty bad. Eve fought mutant things. Slugs that crawled inside of you and turned you into a monster, kind of like these things," Drake replied.

"I guess these are my credentials then," Jennifer said.

"Yours? You thinking about signing up?"

"Yeah. You think that's a bad idea? Do I have a shot?"

"You survive this, you've got a shot," Drake answered. "My boss...he doesn't really care where you come from, so long as you're loyal and you get the job done."

"Well, that's me."

"Prove it and I'll vouch for you. We could use more help."

Jennifer couldn't help but smile at that. A chance to do some real work in the galaxy? To see something that was actually interesting? All the more reason to get out of here alive. They crossed the length of the bloodied infirmary and moved through the door beyond...only to pause, frozen in place at what they saw.

It was another specimen storage area, the walls made up of racked and stacked steel-and-glass cages, all of them open. Up ahead, pacing the deckplates and chewing on corpses, were things Jennifer hadn't seen before. They looked like dogs, like beefy, bloody dogs with jaws that seemed oversized and stuffed with teeth. There were about eight of them and they were all noticing that fresh meat had appeared.

"You ever seen these before?" Drake asked quietly.

"No, news to me," Jennifer replied, raising her rifle.

Drake did the same. The dogs had all started growling. It was a low, deep, vicious sound that stirred some hidden, primal part of Jennifer. She shouldered her rifle and zeroed her sights on the nearest creature. It was already moving. She squeezed the trigger. The first barrage of bullets shot towards it, two of them narrowly missing, the third glancing off its thick skull. Jennifer cursed, swapped back to single shot, adjusted her aim and fired once more. This one punched a hole through its forehead and dropped the beast. Drake dropped another two in quick succession and then the others scattered.

They approached all at once from different avenues.

Jennifer felt panic begin to set in. These things were dangerous and fast and this was getting out of hand very quickly. She tracked another one with the barrel of her rifle, squeezed the trigger once, twice, three times. They were moving fast now. The first two shots went wild, the third buried itself in the thing's chest, which didn't seem to slow it down all that much. The beast reared back and then launched itself at her. Jennifer let out a small scream of surprise and dropped. The dog-zombie sailed overhead and she could hear its jaws snap shut as it tried to take a bite out of her. She heard Drake grunt and more gunfire, but there was no time to help him. She had two of them coming for her now. Jennifer rolled, aimed and fired.

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