Chapter 01: Awake

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Beep...beep...beep.

At first, the slow, persistent beeping sound was all that filled her entire world. The universe was nothing more than darkness, distant pain, and that sound. It was a familiar sound, intimately familiar, and yet, despite this, she could not place it.

Beep...beep...beep.

What was that? It was so important. Something seemed to shift, somehow, somewhere, and she became aware of a thin gray light, impossibly distant and dim. More things came to her. Her name: Jennifer North. Her heartbeat. Her skin and something brushing against it. A soft fabric. Pain, in her head and...lower, midway down her back. Her spine. It hurt, a pulsing pain. The light flared and Jennifer opened her eyes.

Beep...beep...beep.

It came to her then, suddenly, as everything shifted and her brain started working again. Overhead, she saw tiles. Flat, gray-white tiles and a light strip set to its lowest setting. It still seemed bright. She felt groggy, disoriented, dislocated from the world around her. What the hell had happened? It was obvious that something had gone wrong. The sound...it was a heart-rate monitor. It was moving a little faster now, the beeps closer together.

She tried to focus, to gather her thoughts, but it was difficult. She was having to think through an incoherent haze. Jennifer made herself sit up. It was painful and strenuous, but she managed it. Now she had a clearer view of the world around her. As she suspected, she was in some kind of infirmary. She was alone...

Distantly, something made a thud.

Or was she?

There were no other bodies on the examination tables. It clearly wasn't a very large medical bay. She took it in slowly: medical cabinets, glass-fronted doors hinting at the myriad supplies and tools held within, chrome-topped counters along the walls, broken occasionally by sinks. Vents in the ceiling, three doors in the walls. No mess, everything very trim and neat. Waking up this way gave her an uncomfortable flashback to the way she'd awoken aboard the Cimmerian. That thought sparked yet more thoughts.

It had been about two weeks since Greg and Drake and Eve had offered her a job. She, the lone survivor of the Cimmerian, a deep-space research vessel that had been compromised by the remnants of a rogue government black ops organization. It had been overrun by undead horrors and it was an honest miracle that she'd survived intact.

Well, physically intact. She was still having nightmares and she expected she would be for quite some time.

After getting checked out by their doctors, she'd gotten the all-clear and had officially been allowed to join Anomalous Operations. It was a dream come true. She'd settled into her new life aboard their ship, the Dauntless, and had been asking for a mission since.

Well...it hadn't taken all that long to get one.

Hawkins had called her to his office and given her the option to do a solo mission. It was supposed to be simple, probably what they called a milk run, which, she had learned meant that the mission would likely turn out to be a dud. A group of miners had uncovered something on an asteroid, what may be Cyr tech, though they seemed convinced that it wasn't Cyr in nature, that it was something else entirely.

Since that basically fell under Anomalous Ops territory, they needed someone. Apparently, everyone else was busy and Hawkins was impressed enough with her record and her performance with the Necro Virus outbreak that he was willing to get her a shot at a solo mission. She'd arrived shortly after all but a skeleton crew had been evacuated from the asteroid-based facility. The mine itself had been closed off.

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