There was the research site.
It was like a shining beacon of perfection amid a hellish malevolent storm. Eric felt an overwhelming wave of hope and joy as he spied the ripped up chainlink fence that served as the perimeter of the research site.
"We're almost there," he said.
Drake just grunted something in response. He was walking without support now, but it seemed like he was constantly biting back sounds of pain. It seemed like a God-given blessing that they hadn't run into anything after that armored...thing. Not that he believed in God. As they started the final approach to their destination, he glanced at Parker. She was stony and silent, had been since Drake had gotten ripped open.
He found himself wondering if you had to be critically injured to be driven insane, or if maybe it was something that just happened if you spent long enough on this fucked up planet. Both seemed possible, especially considering he wasn't feeling all that sane himself. Seeing Autumn...that had hit something dark and deep, something he'd been burying over the past few weeks. It had struck a painful, malignant chord that was still resonating within him. It was making his thoughts slippery and now it felt like he was walking around in a daze.
His attention kept drifting. Not a good thing in a combat zone, especially one like this. They hit the edge of the research site. The awful green gravel went right up to concrete edge. The fence itself was a solidly built thing, ten feet tall and topped with razorwire. Despite this, huge gashes had been forcibly ripped open along the length of the fence. It was through one of these gashes that Eric let himself in. He held it open for Drake, who was having a hard enough time just walking. Parker brought up the rear, coming in after him.
"Now what?" Drake grunted through gritted teeth.
"Now we find a way in," Eric replied. "I wonder how close the others are."
"I'll try them on my radio," Parker replied. "This is Parker to Bishop, do you copy?"
"Affirmative, I'm here. We're at the base, where are you?"
"We're at the base as well, just got past the perimeter fence."
"We must be at opposite sides. You head left, we'll head right. Meet at the front."
"On the way. Out."
They began making their way along the concrete pathway between the edge of the site and the boundary of the fence. It didn't seem like a particularly big building, just a two-story, long, rectangular structure of steel and glass that stood out in stark contrast to the madness around it and the black and red skies above it. It was obvious that the base had been ground zero. Several of the windows were broken out and the exterior walls were dented, smeared with blood, and peppered with bullet holes. Eric was just grateful they were still alone.
They reached the edge of the building and came around to the front of it. Greg and Jennifer were there, looking horrible, covered in blood, their armor battered. But still alive, still whole. They met in the middle, in front of a great pair of double doors.
"What happened?" Greg asked, noticing Drake's pained demeanor.
"Got gutted," Drake replied curtly. "Let's get a move on. Hurts like fuck."
"God, uh...Eric, you're the tech here," Greg said.
"On it," Eric replied, looking at the door. He approached it and hit the open button, going for the most obvious solution. No luck. Of course not. Sighing, he knelt and grabbed his toolkit, glad he still had it on him.
"Watch my back," he said, and set to work.
* * *
Greg was seriously beginning to worry.
YOU ARE READING
The thirteenth novel in The Shadow Wars. At the edge of explored space sits a desert world known only as Ash. It supports a minuscule population of miserable soldiers, technicians, and scientists. Why are they here? A year ago, a deep space governme...