Chapter 21: The Hard Choice

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They were going to kill Erebus.

Drake was looking forward to it.

After returning to the primary doors and getting them open the hard way, he and Stacker had slipped through and moved on to the inner sanctum of the facility. Though as far as inner sanctums went, it wasn't all that impressive. It didn't really seem all that different from the rest of the facility. Presently, they were making their way down a curved corridor bathed in a curious yellow light. So far, they hadn't run into any hostiles.

"So what about you?" Stacker asked suddenly.

"What?" Drake replied.

"You asked me why I'm here, why are you here? How'd a merc get involved with a top secret government operation?"

"Oh...I suppose that's fair enough. I used to have a partner. We grew up together, spent pretty much our entire lives together, became mercs together. Last year, we got involved in a shady deal with a corporation that led us to a research facility overrun with alien monsters. We barely managed to get out but in doing so earned the ire of a rogue government black ops group. Turns out pretty much everyone else you've met so far also earned their ire separately. Hawkins found us, asked us to help him take them down, as he'd been assigned the job. When we survived, Anomalous Ops was formed from the ashes of that former branch. They asked me to stay, said I had a unique talent to survive crazy-ass situations," he replied.

"Who's your partner? Have I met him?" Stacker replied.

"No," Drake said quietly. "His name was Trent. He died in the course taking down the rogue operation."

"Oh...I'm sorry."

"Yeah, me too. I've been getting along since then. I kind of...lost my mind after he died. He had been with me since...practically the beginning. I mean, when I say we did pretty much everything together, it wasn't an exaggeration. I don't think we had been apart for more than a week at most since we were sixteen. When he died, it was like...I was maimed. I stuck with Anomalous Ops because I didn't really have anywhere else to go and there was nothing else I really wanted to do anymore. But as I've gotten better, I've really come to see the value of what we're doing. So I decided to make this my life's work," he explained.

Stacker began to say something but he fell silent as they both passed through a junction and turned a corner, then came to a dead halt as they saw something waiting for them. It stood with perfect stillness, glowering at them with burning red eyes. The thing that Drake had, in his mind, named the hunter-killer.

The unstoppable, eight foot behemoth killing machine.

It began walking towards them.

"Oh fuck!" Stacker cried.

Drake had to concur. Both men opened fire as they backed up, but the bullets simply bounced off, pinging as they ricocheted off the walls.

"Fall back!" Drake snapped as he emptied his magazine. He about-faced and started running his ass off with Stacker in tow. With shaky hands he ejected the spent magazine and slapped a fresh one in. What the hell were they going to do? Last time they'd just run but as he looked over his shoulder, he saw the fucking thing was moving faster now and it was on their ass. They couldn't run and he was running low on ammo as it was. No grenades, no explosives, nothing but his rifle, pistol, and a dwindling reserve of bullets.

Maybe there was something they could use in the environment.

"Start opening doors!" Drake yelled.

"What?!"

"We don't have the means to kill this thing on our own. Time for some good old fashioned, straight-up random bullshit good luck," Drake replied.

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