Chapter 16: Escape Plan

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"Wonderful...do we have to go through here?" Eve asked.

"We might as well. The entrance to the hangar we need to get to is just on the other side of this area," Greg replied.

Steeling himself, he took the first step into the darkened oxygen plant. The walls to either side were lined with large chrome tanks. Behind those tanks, buried in the walls and ceiling, he knew, were the scrubbers that recycled the atmosphere with as much ability and refinement as possible, one of the integral components to making life among the stars possible. Now it had been mutated into a twisted, pulsating nest for undead spider things. As Greg began making for the far exit, which had to be accomplished by navigating a series of technological nodes, he glanced up, thinking he could see dark spots in the webbing.

Spiders.

Were they sleeping? Did spiders sleep?

Whatever they were doing, they weren't yet moving. Which was perfectly fine by Greg. Maybe they could get by without disturbing them. Ahead, something shifted. Greg felt ice flood his stomach. He adjusted his aim as he stepped around another node. His helmet visor cut through the gloom, giving him a decent view of the area. There was nothing to see...but there were also many places to hide. He took another step forward.

A dark blur of movement, scrabbling feet to this left.

Then, an explosion of force and fury as something hit him and knocked him over. He heard Eve scream his name, then an eruption of gunfire. Greg managed to get flipped over, so that he landed on his back. He cried out in pure terror as he stared up at the huge arachnid form positioned over his visor. It had attached to him, he could feel its powerful, many legs gripping his torso and his helmet. Abandoning his rifle for the moment, he reached up and grabbed the body. The contact made his skin crawl, even through the metal of his armor. With a grunt of effort, he shoved the thing off of him as hard as he could.

The spider went flying, landing on its back. Greg shot up into a sitting position, groping for his rifle, but the thing was already righting itself and skittering for him. He instead drew his pistol and pumped half a dozen rounds into the thing. Dark gore splattered the surrounding tech nodes. Greg struggled to his feet, hearing Eve doing battle with more of the things. He saw his rifle a few feet away and quickly snatched it up, holstering his pistol once more. As he brought it up, he caught movement off his peripheral.

Straight up.

Snapping his rifle skywards, Greg opened fire, spraying a huge spider, descending as silent as death, straight towards him. He jumped to the side to avoid its falling corpse. Glancing over, he saw Eve had put down three of the things already, but there were more coming.

"Run!" he shouted. "Go!"

Eve needed no further prompting. Greg put down another spider that was descending from above onto her position as she took off. Then he bolted after her, knowing it made more sense to get the hell out of there than stay and fight. He dodged and raced between large, rectangular nodes of chrome-trimmed technology, feeling his adrenaline surge. He ducked another shrieking figure, then aimed and fired as he ran, spraying the gooey innards of yet another undead spider. He had been so close to getting out of here without seeing them...

Greg hated spiders.

Probably more than most people did, given his experiences.

Suddenly, they were free of the tech nodes. The exit was up ahead, maybe ten meters away. It was just a dead sprint. Behind them, more and more of the horrible things were coming out of their overhead webbing, eager for fresh fluids. For a moment, Greg considered tossing a grenade over his shoulder, he had a few left, but then ultimately he decided against it. They were in the oxygen plant after all.

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