Chapter 05: Excavation Site

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Awake again.

The pain had receded, though it still lurked in the shadows of her mind. Genevieve groaned, a low, pitiful sound that she immediately hated. It had been a long time since she'd felt weak and she'd made a promise to herself years and years ago that she would never feel that way again. Opening her eyes, she found herself staring at a blank wall, worn slightly by age. She was surprised she wasn't dead. Slowly, she sat up, her face coming up sticky with fresh blood from the deckplates. With caution, she rose to her feet, waiting for a fresh wave of pain to assault her. It never came. Still the headache hid in the background, as though waiting.

Blinking her eyes a few times to get focused, Genevieve turned and faced the airlock. As she began to raise her foot with the full intention of continuing her journey, the pain surged forward and took up residence in her mind once more. It seemed to fill her cranium with flaming barbed wire, biting into every nerve ending in her skull. Crying out, she stumbled away from the airlock, back the way she had come...

And the pain receded once more.

Genevieve bit her lip, an idea coming to her, fighting not to vomit from pain. Once she got her body back under control, she turned back towards the airlock and took a step towards it. The pain surged back, though not quite as powerfully as before. She turned back, away from the airlock and took a step back into the facility. The pain lessened. Okay, she was beginning to see an obvious pattern here and the pieces began to fall into place.

Genevieve began walking back into the facility.

The thing down in the mines, whatever it was, it couldn't move. And its reach must not extend that far beyond the asteroid. It needed sustenance that could be drawn from human beings. Whatever that sustenance was, it required live people. Which it couldn't get for itself. Which meant that it had to have someone bring its food to it. Obviously it operated on a basis of long periods of inactivity, possibly entering some kind of hibernation. Ross had been coming back here every six months. Genevieve was the last person left alive on the installation. It needed her to bring it more people, more food, or it would starve.

Like it or not, they were stuck with each other.

But, Genevieve wondered as she began making her way back to the mines, how in the hell had it survived for as long as it had? Obviously it had been here for a very long time. Either intentionally or by accident. Perhaps this was its prison. But people hadn't been here for a long while. She had no way of knowing, no one did, but she had the idea this thing had been here for centuries, possibly even longer than that.

So how had it stayed alive?

Maybe it didn't need people to stay alive, maybe it just wanted them.

That raised another question. The attack on her every time she tried to leave reeked of desperation, as though, if she were to escape, it would completely lose its power over her...which implied that Ross hadn't been under its control each time he left. It must have offered him something in return. What could that have possibly been?

As soon as she thought about the question, a word, a concept, appeared very strongly in her mind: IMMORTALITY. The ability to live forever. Genevieve stopped in her tracks for a moment. Was it possible? Was it possible that this thing, this creature, possessed that ability? Genevieve realized that it wasn't just an answer, but an offer. She considered it until she came to the airlock-style entryway that led down into the mines.

It didn't really matter.

Even if the creature did somehow possess the ability to grant her everlasting immortality, she wouldn't want it, because she knew that everybody died. And even if they could somehow find a way around that...they shouldn't.

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