Chapter 04: Return

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When she finished giving the report to Hawkins, she'd said her goodbyes for now and killed the screen. Simply talking with another human being had done wonders for her psychological status. The fact that he cared about her health and was sending a team out only helped more. But she still had some time left, so Jennifer took the opportunity to relax. Standing up on unsteady legs, she made her way back from the cockpit into the seating and cargo area. All at once, as she stared at the cargo compartment that held the supplies the late Winston had hastily packed, she realized she was starving and very thirsty.

Trying to put the thought of the nameless horror that had stalked her out of her head, Jennifer moved over to the cargo container and opened it up. Digging around in it, she at first grabbed a bottle of water, opened it and drank deeply. It was warm but she didn't care at this point. She downed about three quarters of it, then made herself stop. She set the bottle aside and then rooted around in it some more, finally coming up with a can of Vex Classic, a bag of potato chips, and a can of what claimed to be powdered roast beef and mashed potatoes, just add water!

She added some water and made herself eat it. It tasted vaguely like beef. The chips helped and the Vex helped a lot more. She was a big addict to the stuff, one of her very few self-admitted vices. As she ate, she calmed down and her mind began to function more rationally again. She realized a very unhappy truth that was slowly creeping up on her, an unfortunate reality of the near future: she would have to go back.

She couldn't imagine Genevieve and her team letting her stay behind. If she really, really begged for it, well, yeah, she supposed they would, but she could probably kiss her new career goodbye. No, she needed to deal with this, which meant she needed to be able to come up with some kind of plan. Because they were going to take on this creature or die trying. Probably die, everyone else had so far. But Genevieve was coming.

Jennifer knew Genevieve probably the best of all of them so far. It was odd, the others said she hardly talked with them, and although Genevieve did seem like the quiet type, she often spoke with Jennifer at length, sometimes for hours. It had started out with talking shop, about the job, about past jobs, about training. Genevieve was a wealth of interesting stories: she used to be an assassin for the government and although she couldn't really give her specific details, she did have very interesting fact-free stories she liked to tell.

If there was someone she felt she could rely on, and someone she wanted to rely on her, it was Genevieve.

So, she would go back. For many reasons, she would go back.

And she would face this thing.

But that meant that she needed to come up with some kind of plan. Unfortunately, so far, she'd just drawn a big, fat blank. A total nothing. All her time on that living hell she was now orbiting had been spent either confused, terrified, or simply trying to get out of there. Now that she really had a moment to think, she realized that she was stumped. She had no idea how to deal with this thing. Shooting it didn't work as far as she could tell, and that's how most people dealt with things that were trying to kill them. Maybe blowing it up? Burning it?

She didn't even know what Genevieve's team had access to, what they might be bringing. With a sigh, Jennifer grabbed another can of evaporated food, this one claiming to be a chicken dinner, and set to thinking about it.

She wanted to have something to offer by the time the others arrived.

* * *

Genevieve's ship, one of the Viper class speedships that the Dauntless came equipped with, arrived a little over forty five minutes later.

Jennifer was sitting in the cockpit, dozing unintentionally, when she heard a chime come in over the comms network. She jerked awake in her chair, looking around, half-dreaming that she was back on the installation.

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