Chapter 12: Decay & Dementia

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"I wish I had access to some medical equipment," Parker said.

Drake was startled out of a strange state that he hadn't even realized he'd been slipping slowly into, a kind of fugue as he trudged through the rain of blood. They were, according to his heads up display, almost to where the research site was supposed to be.

"What?" he replied incredulously. His mind was beginning to feel...weird. Detached. Dislocated from the world around him. It was difficult to focus, difficult to hold onto his thoughts. "Why?" he asked, glancing at Parker.

She was a little ahead of him and to the left, a figure in black powered combat armor turned red, coated utterly in runs of blood.

"I want to analyze this blood," she replied. "Who's is it? Where is it coming from? Is it human? Is it actually blood?"

"It sure looks like blood," Eric replied morosely. He'd hardly said anything ever since they'd been attacked by the bone creature.

"It might not be," Parker murmured. "I just wish I could study it."

Drake wasn't sure how to reply to that. He wondered if she was crazy...it seemed like a crazy response to the situation. Or maybe she was the sanest of them all? She didn't seem very disturbed by what was happening around them...maybe this was just how she dealt with this insane shit. He felt like he was starting to crack up. He'd had to fight off the urge to start giggling more than once on the walk over here.

Abruptly, the blood rain cut off. As it cleared and his visor made its latest pass, (it was the only thing giving him any kind of visibility), he found himself staring down into a huge crater filled with...with something, structures of some kind?

"Drake, can you hear me?" Greg's voice suddenly filled his ears, though it sounded faint and partially distorted.

"Yeah...I got you. What's your status?" Drake replied. He didn't like the way his voice sounded. It seemed just as distant and disconsolate.

"We're at the rim of the crater the research base apparently rests in. We lost Keron and our vehicle. There's some kind of maze..."

"I know. I see it. We're at the crater too...we must be at another side," Drake replied, he began hunting for them, looking out across the crater. With his zoom function, he spied a pair of bloody figures standing almost perfectly across from them. He glanced down at the maze Greg had referred to, not wanting to look at it because there was something ugly and unnerving about it, and he saw, through an odd haze, the research site in the center. As he kept looking around, that's when his gaze fell on something immediately and powerfully familiar.

A dark silhouette stood in the nearest entrance to the maze, a silhouette he had seen a million times across the span of his bloody, miserable life.

It was Trent.

"I see you," Greg said. "How are you holding up?"

He blinked and it was gone. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly, shaking his head. Hold it together, he told himself

"We're still alive."

"I figured."

"And sane." He wondered if he was lying.

"Good. We've got to get through this...maze, and, uh, reach the research site at the center. From there we can figure out what the fuck to do next," Greg replied.

"Yeah...yeah, okay. We'll, uh, meet you there," Drake said, trying to get himself back under control. He sounded worse than before.

"You okay, Drake?"

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