Chapter 03: Rising Tension

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Jennifer knew she was right. They continued their search, moving over to the infirmary and the living quarters. The living quarters, which consisted of ten small bedrooms, a cafeteria, and a rec room, were pretty much untouched. The infirmary, however, was wrecked. The medical cabinets had been ripped open, supplies were strewn about everywhere. Even the cold storage unit for holding spare blood had been opened and emptied.

Why?

There was something else in the infirmary. At first, she thought she was simply looking at more pools of blood on the white-tiled floor. But she quickly realized that that wasn't accurate. They were too regular, too precise...footprints. But the feet in question had to be enormous. She pointed it out to Genevieve as they finished their search.

"What do you make of that?" she murmured.

"Almost worries me as much as this," Genevieve replied. She'd been crouched behind an examination table, but now she stood up, holding a severed hand. For a split second, Jennifer had a flashback to the severed hand she'd found in the machine shop on Ash, near the end of their campaign, when they'd been frantically searching for bolt guns. It had still been moving, its own entity, still horribly alive.

"There's other pieces of flesh around," Genevieve said, dropping the hand. "And I noticed that a lot of the heavier tech is missing."

Jennifer nodded, slowly looking around, surveying the destruction. "So...something is taking machine parts, and blood apparently..."

"Possibly even people. It would explain the lack of bodies."

"Yes...whatever it is, we've got to stop it. Let's keep up the examination. There must be some clues around here somewhere. Maybe it's nothing but...well, normally when there's any kind of excavation going on and something weird shows up, the two are connected."

"There does seem to be a correlation," Genevieve replied.

They left the infirmary, stepping back out into the sunlight. Jennifer eyed the glinting pieces of metal strewn across the courtyard in a new light, working things out. What could it be? They moved on, continuing their search. They checked out the power station, finding most of the major components forcibly ripped out. Raw wires spat blue-white sparks periodically. The auxiliary generator had been left intact.

Once they'd finished checking out all the other structures, they moved over to the command building, a single structure that housed comms and security. Behind it, about eighty feet away, was a huge opening in the cliff sheer, a recessed hole that led into a darkened cavern. Something about it sent waves of apprehension through Jennifer. They approached the front entrance to the building, but when they tried to open it, they ran into a problem.

"Locked?" Jennifer asked.

"No...something's gone wrong with the mechanism that opens the door," she replied.

"Hit the manual release."

Genevieve searched the door's frame over, found the manual release, to be used in emergencies, and hit it. Nothing happened. The door remained closed. She hit it again, then sighed softly. "I'll need to reroute power," she said.

"I'll watch your back," Jennifer replied.

They moved along the front of the building, turned a corner and came to a junction fusebox perched on the wall near the back of the structure. While Genevieve opened it up and set to work, Jennifer watched her back, scanning the area around them. She now had a better view of that ominous cave. The sunlight didn't penetrate very far, only showing around ten feet of what was inside before petering out. Almost as though it was afraid of what was within.

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