Part 1: A Giant, Flying, Hell Hole
"My name is Victor Bell, and two days ago I was your average technician with a dinner date."
Chapter 1: Better Days Ahead
"You wanna know what sucks worse than routine matinence? Routine matinence in the water processers." Though this was the tenth complaint in under five minutes, Cole was right. The Ishimura's water systems were a massive series of tubes, purifiers, and pumps in the bowels of the ship beneath Hydroponics. Mantinence of this area was a pain. Pipes were always leaking. Pumps failed. Valves were constantly degrading. It was more than Cole or Bell could handle, and hell, Bell wasn't even an engineer, he was a General Technician.
"Darren, the more you complain, the more time this takes, and the less free hours we get", Victor said as he shined his flashlight onto yet another leaky valve. At this rate, free time looked nigh impossible. He scribbled the location of the valve on his data pad, tomorrow's team could deal with it.
Enginner Cole began to take out his micro-welder to seal up another leaky pipe. The bright blue flame illuminated more of the service tunnel. "My oh my, a little snippy are we? Oh, but I know, you just want to get to your 'big date' with Monica from Communications", it was true, Victor did have a date tonight, and it was with Monica from Communications, "Vic, I never imagined a girl that sat behind a computer all day looking at radio chatter could be sexy, but you got quite the catch. Perky blonde, nice ass, legs from here to ya-ya." Cole's lust was obvious. He'd been rejected by every woman in Engineering, and half of the nurses in Med Lab. Victor really wanted him to burn his hand off with that torch, but Cole wasn't that stupid. Even he had to admit Darren was right. Monica Sherman was a perfect woman. It took Bell nearly three months of near constant flirting and conversation just to get this one dinner. He cared for her, and when her name came up on a probable list of candidates to be replaced with new personnel a few weeks back, it nearly killed him. This date was his big night. His time to shine. And nothing, not even Cole's bickering or these damn pipes could ruin his day.
Serene silence filled the corridor for the next few minutes, but, Cole decided he needed to waste more air with another insightful comment. "Hey, Vic, I hear there's this new doctor over in Med Lab. Nicole I think her name is. Rumor is she's in a long distance relationship with some guy on Earth. A girl like that is gonna need some 'attention', if you know what I mean." Cole paused as he moved to another leaking pipe. "How about you, me, Monica, and this Nicole lady get ourselves a private room, get wasted, and play girl swap all night, eh? I have me some Botanica Bubbly hidden in my bunk." Typical Darren Cole, whose idea of a long term relationship was sex that lasted more than two hours, who had more pornography stashed away than most men see in there lives. But that one really pissed off Bell. He flipped through his data pad until he found 'Local Purge', and nearly broke the screen tapping it. In less than 20 seconds, a plume of hot steam came out from Cole's leak and hit him in the face. The burst knocked him off his feet. "What the hell was that?", Cole spit back at Victor.
Victor, not looking back at Cole or even up from his data pad said, "Just a random malfunction, this place is a shit hole after all." Bell could barely hide his satisfaction, he didn't expect that to work, and even if it did, not that well.
Cole picked himself and his welder up from the floor. He inspected his RIG, a Level Two Engineer RIG, the steam didn't seem to do any damage, hell, it might have even cleaned it for him. "I can bust you for that. We may be 'of equal rank', but engineers take priority. Techs are expendable. You're only here because the regular guy, Donelson, was complaining of migrains. One word and you're thrown into a cell for a week. That'll put a hamper on your dinner plans tonight." Cole went back to welding. Though he was an ass, he was right. Technicians were expendable, engineers were not. The Tech Staff was being placed into roles like this because many of the engineering staff were complaining of head aches and migrains.
"Darren, let's just both agree to just work, ok? We have 10 hours of work here to do in less than three, and our fighting isn't helping." Bell tried being the apologetic bigger man now, but all he got in response was a grunt from Cole. Cole's silence was golden, and Victor could finally get some real work done.
An average individual would look at the communications array as an extremely boring, slow place. A section where they put you when they never want to hear from you again. Occupational hell. The workers saw it even worse. The Comms Array was a two room hell. Sure, the zero-g satellite room was fun... for about 5 minutes. Ten hours a day of staring at a screen filtering out radio static and background radiation. Occupational hell. And two of hell's denizens were Pete Fuller and Monica Sherman, two forgotten technicians in a forgotten part of the bridge. Pete Fuller, at 47, was considered the Senior Radio IT guy. Fifteen years of listening to static drained the life from him, but seeing a young twenty-something look over monitors revitalized him some what. But, he felt he should warn her somewhat, "You don't need to do that. The computer does 90% of the work. We're just here to monitor the array, an pretty soon, we won't even have to do that."
Monica look up from her monitor and over at Pete. He was reading another one of those sports magazines, like he did yesterday, and the day before, and everyday before that for the last six months. His laziness astounded her. Twenty years on the Ishimura pay roll, fifteen of them here, and not once had he been promoted. He had become Senior Technician by default, and he didn't even do anything. She had to cover his ass almost every day. "Pete, just get off of your ass for once and come look at this signal I picked up." Monica had picked up this incredibly weak signal a few hours ago, and she had been toying with it ever since.
Pete rolled his eyes and put his magazine down. He wheeled over to his terminal. He pulled up the signal, and after taping on his keyboard and toying with a few nobs, he looked back at Monica, "It's nothing. It might be background radiation, but it's not a transmission." He'd been through this dozens of times. Young people thinking they've found some old military broadcast, or, in the case of the crazier techs, some alien life.
"Put it through an adaptive algorithm and filter out the interference." Monica could easily do this herself, but she wanted to show Pete up, and maybe even get his job if she kept it up. Pete started to tap on his keyboard again, and after putting it through the proper algorithms, still didn't get anything. Pete looked back over at Monica and give her a look of disatisfaction. This little bitch is trying to make me look bad. Not this time. This Monica girl had been doing stuff like this for the past month. So, he decided to do something he hadn't really done in years: actual work.
With the fire in his eyes you only see in a new technicians, Pete began to furiously work on this signal. "That signal, if it is one at all, is incredibly weak, so we're losing most of it in the filter. I'm going to try to give it a bit of a power boost so we can have at least some of it left to work with." Now you didn't think of that part there, did you? Pete's work was done. He looked at his handiwork, but it still wasn't good. Sure, it was cleaned up, but it would be barely audible. "Make yourself useful and amplify it."
Make myself useful? If I hadn't found this you'd still be sitting there with your thumb up your ass. But she did as she was told. Even though he was a dead beat, he was still her boss. "There, it's done." She played it through the speakers, and what came through didn't seem right. In a word, it was primal. Screaming, moaning, agonizing pain came through that pair of speakers. It scared them both.
Pete, with his eyes wide open, his face pale, whispered to Monica, as if what was making that noise could find him, "Wh where is that coming from?"
Pete's voice knocked Monica out of her fearful daze, "Duh uh, I'll go check." Monica went back to her terminal and checked the signal heading. But what came up on her screen wasn't right. It must have been a mistake, a glitch in the tracking program. She checked the data twice, then three times. It wasn't a glitch, but it wasn't right. It wasn't right...
Monica's fear began to sink into Pete. It unsettled him. he had never seen anyone so afraid. "Monica, where did it come from?"
"The mining site?"
"Tell me where it came from god dammit."
"The Colony's living quarters."
The two forgotten techs sitting in the forgotten section of the Ishimura just looked at each other. The fear in both of their faces was obvious. The signal kept on playing, the noise kept on going. The screaming was worse, Pete could hear gunshots and... people dying in the background. It was sick. He was getting sick. Monica looked like she was gonna throw up.
"Maybe we should tell somebody."
After another three hours of working in the highly humid and steamy water processers, both Darren and Victor were wet, misreable and tired of seeing leaky pipes. Cole had gotten so wet he had taken his helmet off and was trying to dry off his short, black hair. Bell had taken off and lost his jacket a few hundred feet back, but he didn't care. It was at least 100 degrees in the tunnels, and Cole and Bell wanted to leave. Cole had sealed up the last leak around the same time Victor had lost his jacket, and they had been looking for a service elevator since. But since pressure was still down in four seperate sections of the Ishimura, they'd be doing this for the next week and a half. Victor didn't like this, especially since he had to work with Darren Cole.
"Vic, even with all of our disagreements we've had over the months that we have known each other, I feel our time down here has made us closer." Cole had a little smart ass smile on his face while he looked over at Victor and said this.
"Cole, our time down here as only made me hate you ever so more." But even though he had said that, Cole was one of the few people Victor could call his friend. He had been on the Ishimura for a year now, but hadn't really gotten to know anyone. Cole had just latched onto him like a leech. It's not that Cole was a terrible person, but he's better in moderation. And they even did things that normal friends did, Cole got Victor occasional sex and booze, and Victor helped Cole pass preformance reviews and drug tests.
"Vic, Vic, Vic. Have you learned nothing? I will never leave you. Hell, to prove it, I was in the top 50 to be replaced a while ago, but I'm still here, walking in these damn tunnels with you. Why I-"
"Why,oh..." Cole looked back to see Victor holding his buzzing data pad and examing the screen. Darren sighed and rolled his eyes and was getting ready to put his helmet back on, "More work?"
"It's a quick five minute fix. It's a pressure problem with junction K, that's right up here." Junction K was actually closer than Victor thought it was. They soon came to the junction, a car sized, plus sign shaped section of piping. Three of the valves were attached to more piping, while a third was there to look inside the junction. "You wan't the honor?"
Cole shrugged and gripped the valve handle and pulled. He grunted as the the valve cracked open, and as a small burst of steam came through. Victor shined his flashlight into the open junction. Now, Victor nor Cole had any clue what could have been messing with the pressure, but what they saw hadn't crossed their minds. It was a wad of what looked like bubbling skin. There were penny sized holes between what they thought were veins. The whole wad was pulsing. Cole turned to Victor, "Is that meat?"
Victor was still puzzled over what that thing was, but he was able to look away long enough to poke around on the data pad. "I'll check where these pipes go. Four different bathrooms, R&D, a subsidary med lab..."
"Where else does it go?"
"...crew deck kitchen."
Cole exhaled , and seemed to let go of all trace apprehension, "It's meat loaf. How many times have they been told not to force full hunks of meat down the drain."
"I don't know Darren, it looks like... I don't know... it grew." Bell was still looking into the pipe at the mass, he even took a picture or two with the data pad.
"That? It probably got melted by some scrubbing chemicals, and the pulsing is some stuck under the surface. It's not an alien, and it's not one of the organ babies flushed down the drain, that's just a myth. Now c'mon, let's flush it and get out of here." Cole patted Bell on the back and was already reaching for the purge lever.
Victor wasn't convinced. It didn't look like it was melted chemicals, and it definetly didn't look like food of any kind. But he did want to get out of here. "Pull it."
"Gladly." Darren closed the junction valve and yanked on the purge lever. Water rushed through two different pipes and forced the wad down the line, and it all sounded like two dozen flushing toliets. Victor looked at the processer scans on his data pad, and saw that pressure was in the green.
"Great," Cole jumped from the valve, smacked Bell on the back, and yanked his helmet off again, "Now, you have your date, and I'm gonna go make this Nicole girl forget about this guy from Earth. Let's get out of here."
His date. Victor had completely forgotten. It was in 45 minutes, and it would take another 20 to get out of here. They had to hurry. But he couldn't get over that thing in the junction. He'd try to show it to that Dr. Kyne, or maybe even Dr. Mercer. Tonight though, he'd forget about it. Tonight was about Monica. And I thought the dinner and a conversation about my day would be dull and boring.
2050 hours. Ten minutes until showtime. Victor was sitting in a booth in Mess Hall C, looking over his appearence in one of the panes of glass. He had taken a long shower to get the grime of the water proccessers off of him. He had shaved his unnoticeable blonde stuble and he had another woman cut his hair to a clean shave. His technician suit was gone, replaced with a simple black t-shirt with his RiG. Victor thought he looked good, but he wasn't sure. It's not that he was worried, he just wanted to make a good impression with Monica. This is what he had been waiting for for three months. Nothing could go wrong, no distractions, no interuptions, and no mishaps. And he wasn't even going to think of that thing in junction K. He didn't want Monica to be freaking out during dinner.
As Victor was focusing on his reflection, something came out and grabbed his shoulder. He jumped. "Yeesh, this date has you really worked up, you need to lighten up." Cole sat down in front of him as he caught his breath. Cole was wearing one of those knock off proffesional Z-Ball shirts. Cole rested his arms on the back of the booth and let out a sigh of relief. "So tonights is the big night with Monica from Communications? I'm glad to see that you can pull that rod out of your ass for at least one night and have fun like the rest of us." He looked down at his watch, as if trying to cut it close with the start of Victor's date.
Victor looked puzzled. Pull the rod out of my ass? I haven't been too uptight, have I? Victor just had to know what Cole meant by that. "What do you mean by that?"
"I mean that in the year you've been on the Ishimura, I have never seen you socialize with any one but me. This is the first time I have seen you actually happy on the ship, too." Cole was right. No one aboard the Ishimura besides Cole or the technical staff new much if anything about Victor Bell. He had always focused more his work than his social life. It'd been that way since he was younger, but now was different. Victor had had a feeling when he signed on for the Ishimura that things would be different, and things looked good. For the second or third time that day, he had to admit, Cole was right.
"You're right Darren."
Cole heard this and he jumped forward and slammed his hands on the table, he put his face right near Victor's, "I knew it! Let's talk about this then Vic, I'm here to listen and help." At that moment Cole felt like one of those old "psychiatrists" you see in the Media Archives, attempting to help others when they don't truly have the capacity.
"I don't wanna talk about it."
"So what about that Nicole girl from the Med Lab?"
Cole instantaniously went from being giddy to looking like he had been hit by a truck. He slumped back into the booth and stared at the floor. "I don't wanna talk about it."
"You got rejected didn't you?"
Cole nodded his head, let out a sigh, and looked over at the wall, "She told me that she was still 100% committed to Isaac, that's the guy from Earth, and that she and him love each other, and nothing could hinder that."
"What'd you do?"
"I slinked out. What was I suppossed to do?"
"Want to talk about something else?"
Cole looked Victor right in the eye. His looked said it all. Victo looked at his watch. Four minutes. He looked around the mess for any trace of Monica. None. He then just looked around the mess hall. It was oddly empty, only a few of the tables and booths were occupied. This mess hall should have been at least three times as full at this hour. His first thought was some kind of entertainment thing going on, but he couldn't recall any being announced. He decided to bring this up with Cole. "You notice that this place is nearly empty?"
The new topic seemed to help Cole bounce back a little. "Yah, one of the RNs in Med Lab said that a lot of people had been complaining of headaches ever since the last ore shipments from the planet. Everyone must be resting or trying to fine peace and quiet in their bunks."
"It wasn't anything radioactive was it?"
"Not according to the log books. It was suppossed to be just a few tons of cobalt, but you never can really know."
The conversation cleared the nerves of both Victor and Cole. Victor looked at his watch again. 2100 hours. 9:00 PM. He looked around the room again. His heart leaped. He saw blonde hair, blue eyes, perfect figure. It was Monica. She was still in her technician garb of a gray shirt and a tan jacket, but she still looked beautiful. She looked tired, even a little shaken up. When she got closer, Victor smiled and said to her, "I'm so glad you came toni-" He was cut off when she collapsed in his arms. She didn't pass out, it was more like her legs gave away. She hugged him, so he hugged back. He could feel her soft skin even through her clothes. This felt right to him.
"Don't let go." She sounded scared, it seemed like she was crying.
"I won't." She was scared, he could feel it. Whatever did this to her, it was something big.
Cole put his hands in his pockets and got up. He was about to leave. he looked at the happpy couple. Victor Bell and Monica Sherman. They seemed good together. That little embrace proved it. It's not even the start of the first date and he's already got her in his arms. Sure, Cole felt good for his friend, but he wished that he had that. He had thought that this Nicole girl could have been his match, but it was all that guy from Earth's fault. Stupid Isaac Clarke.
Pete had been a real gentleman. Pete and Monica had told Executive Officer Babur about the signal they had picked up, and even he looked concered because of it, and he was a veteran of the Resource Wars. After that, Pete had practically carried her to the Tram Station and onto the tram. He walked her to her quarters, and stayed with her until he felt Monica was all right, even though that meant another cramped tram ride for him. Pete being there made Monica forget about the that damn signal from the Colony, but it only came back after he left. She decided to take a shower, try to wash the noise out of her. But that only worked for a while, the sound of the agonizing pain just came back as a low buzz in the back of her head. She layed on her bunk and was almost going to cry.
The she remembered her date.
She had a dinner date with that guy, Victor. Victor Bell and a decent meal could help her forget about the transmission and the ringing headache she had just gotten. She just threw her work clothes back on; she didn’t want to spend much more time in her room. She slowly made her way through the common area, she passed two people playing chess, and a guy named Harry boasting about his last Z-Ball game, even though everyone knew he threw like a girl. Monica heard a few people talk about having headaches; apparently half of the ship had them. If only they could have heard that transmission. She got to the door of Mess Hall C, went through, and let her weak legs give way.
And there she was now, in the arms of Victor Bell, her dinner date. She looked up at his face, right into his eyes; they were a bright, electric blue. In his eyes he saw someone who could keep her safe; someone who could get her mind of that signal and her headache. She also felt a little happy, half standing there in Victor’s arms.
Victor didn’t know what to say. Monica had walked in and had fallen into his arms. She looked him right and the eyes, and he did the same to her. She was even more beautiful up close. Even though he was extremely happy, he could feel something was wrong. He really wanted to help, but what if was something really big and he didn’t have the capacity to help? Or what if it was something personal she didn’t want to talk about? He didn’t want to come off as an idiot, but he felt he had to ask, “Monica, is something wrong?”
Monica got herself standing up again, it was shaky, but she was standing. “I… I… I had a traumatizing day at work today.” Victor could hear her voice cracking. “Can we sit down and talk about this?”
“Uh, uh, of course.” Victor could see her knees were buckling, so he helped her down into the booth. He turned his head and saw Cole still standing there with his hands in his pocket. Victor sighed, “You can stay.”
Cole was giddy again. He leaped into the booth seat across from Monica and Victor and rested his arms on the top of the booth again. He decided to inquire about Monica’s statement, “So I never imagined that a day in Communications could be traumatizing.”
“Well it was ok!” She seemed to let go of a lot of trace tension and anger with that outburst, but she quickly went back to being small and terrified. “I feel sick. I need something to eat. Can we eat?”
“Yah, sure, is anything good?”
“Yes, anything is fine, I just need some food.”
Victor flagged down a mess hall service worker and ordered three specials. He looked back towards Monica, “So, what exactly happened to you today?”
Monica put her head in her hand and covered most of her face with her fingers. “Today, me and Pete Fuller picked up a signal from the planet,” Both Victor and Cole could tell talking about this was terrifying her, “Pete had cleaned it up and played it through the speaker. But was came out was painful, agonizing screams. We could hear gunshots and people dying on the transmission. You’d be reacting like this too if you heard what I heard.” Monica was shaking; this transmission from the Colony was probably the worst thing either Victor or Cole have ever heard of.
Monica turned her head and looked at the floor. Victor’s mind went to that thing he had seen in junction K, “You know, Cole and I found something odd down in the water processors today.” He looked over at Cole, who was waving his hands and mouthing the word No.
But he never had the chance to say anything, at that moment, the Ishimura’s intercom screeched and came to life. Everyone ship wide froze and was quiet to hear what would be said. “This is your Captain, Benjamin Matthius, speaking to the entire crew of the Ishimura,” His voice was stern and to the point, “it has come to the attention of the Executive and Bridge Crew that the Colony has become an increasingly dangerous place. We have had reports of widespread dementia and angry outbursts, and dozens of accounts of assault and even murder. So, with consultation from the Security Staff, we have decided to cut all contact with Aegis VII until further notice. Any and all ships going to, or coming from the planet will be immediately shot down. This is your only warning.” A lot of people in the mess hall, and the whole ship doubted the Captain’s decision, but what would happen next would change all of their minds. The transmission that Monica picked up was played. It was the worst thing anyone on the ship had ever heard. Monica went back to being terrified. For a moment, everyone on the ship heard the screaming, killing and the dying. Thankfully, they only played the first few seconds, but the message was clear: Aegis VII had gone to hell. The Captain spoke on the intercom a final time, “There will be no complaints of this order.” The intercoms screeched off.
For a single moment, the entire ship was silent. That had never happened in the Ishimura’s 62 years of service. Every crewmember was afraid. They feared the Colony and what had happened to it.
The delivery guy came to the table with the food. Victor turned, wide eyed, to the guy, “I’m not sure we’ll be needing that now.”
“I can’t blame you.” The guy took the food and went back to the kitchen.
Tension lifted a bit, and order on the ship returned. Cole looked over at Victor and Monica, he wanted to try to think of something positive to say, but was coming up short. “Well, with all that had happened today, this has probably made it hit rock bottom. But, consider this: We can only go up now. I have a feeling that we’ll hit a good streak soon, and this whole thing with the Colony will be cleared up.” Cole tried smiling, but he just couldn’t stomach it.
Victor looked back at Cole, and then back at Monica. She was terrified. She looked like she didn’t want him to leave. He wanted to say something, but nothing sounded right. “Yeah, tomorrow will be a better day.”
Victor, Cole, nor Monica could have known at the moment, but that day was going to be the best day they would have for a long time.
The Ishimura can save her. That was all Colin could think about as he sped the shuttle towards the Ishimura. Not twenty minutes after Matthius had cut contact with the Colony, he had walked into his room to see his wife covered in blood; Her own blood. Then right before his eyes, she had cut her throat. It’s that damn thing’s entire fault. Colin was slamming his fists on the control panel. He was angry. He was angry for the CEC not listening to him about that thing; angry for his wife for stabbing herself. Colin was especially angry with himself for not noticing his wife’s insanity. The Colony has gone to hell, and the ship had just swept us under the rug. He was slamming his fists even harder, and now he was crying. Colin pulled himself together. He thought he heard flapping in the back, but he put it off as his imagination. He had a head splitting migraine. Fuck Matthius and fuck his orders, I’m saving my wife and we will not be going back to that damn planet. The Ishimura was in sight; he set the autopilot and laid his head in his hands. Colin’s head was killing him; he heard heavy, strained breathing behind him. Colin swiveled the chair to see behind him, and he saw a monster. It was a twisted, fleshy mass. The monster was human shaped, but the skin looked like it was half melted and bone was poking through in some places. Giant blades were pointed right at his stomach. But what he saw next was mind wrenching: he saw his wife’s face. Even though he was absolutely terrified, he couldn’t help but say, “I love you.” A burning sensation went through him as he was stabbed right through his stomach. Blood came through his mouth, he was getting tunnel vision, but he could see the ship in view. At least we got away from that damn colony. In a few short seconds, Colin would join his wife in eternal, agonizing hell.
Chapter 2: Inside Invasion
3 Hours After Initial Infection
Victor had taken Monica back to her quarters. She was still incredibly frightened, but she fought to keep herself on her feet. It amazed him; Victor knew that he couldn’t have pushed on through after being exposed to that ungodly transmission, twice nonetheless. Once they had gotten to her bunk, she collapsed into it. He stayed there for about an hour, and he didn’t leave until he felt she was sleeping soundly. The whole time Victor was there in her bunk, she was whimpering and fidgeting in her sleep, like she was scared of what was in her head. He couldn’t blame her, he was afraid to go to sleep after that.
Victor had gone back to his quarters and was lying awake in his bunk. Cole was lying in his bunk above Victor’s. Both were awake, as were the other 23 people in the room. All were in their bunks, and all were wide-awake, either thinking of the signal from the Colony, or about how the Colony had gone insane. The room was almost completely dark; the only light came from a small florescent light in the hallway. It was dead silent; nobody liked the silence, but they appreciated it. It gave everyone time to think. But then somebody, a Hydroponics worker named Bailey, decided to start a conversation between the wakeful crewmembers. “So did anyone hear about what happened down in the hanger bay?”
“I heard a shuttle from the Colony crashed after Matthius called the no-go zone order,” replied a security officer named Scott.
The two continued on talking, and several more people joined in. Victor was confused; he hadn’t a clue what was going on. He thought that Cole would know because nothing happened without Cole’s knowledge. He knocked on the bottom of Cole’s bunk and Victor got his attention. “Darren, what are they talking about, what happened on Flight Deck?”
Cole slid his head down to see Victor in his bunk. He cleared his throat and said, “Well Vic, I heard that about twenty minutes after the order, a shuttle from the Colony crashed into the bay.” Cole paused to yawn, “Something came out of the shuttle and attacked the security detail and got away. Now a whole lot of people are missing.”
“I’ll find out.” Cole whispered something to the guy in the next bunk over. He looked back down at Victor’s bunk after he got his answer. “As of an hour ago, there are 37 people missing, all from Flight Deck.” Victor was amazed, that was a lot of people in just a little over two hours. He hoped that this whole thing would just blow over, but deep down he knew that wasn’t the case. Nothing this big could go away so quick and easy.
“I heard someone say he saw something jump into one of the vents.” This came from a crewman on the other side of the room.”
Victor decided to join in on this note, “The vents? Nothing can fit in them, let alone move through them, they’re way to small.”
The same person replied, “It’s just what I heard, man.”
Many people continued on talking. Then Victor thought he heard something. It sounded like feet, or maybe even nails on metal, but he put it off as someone moving in their bunk. But another crewmember didn’t, “Everyone, shut up. I hear something moving around.” Surprisingly, everyone went quiet, probably only because what had happened on the ship lately. There was something moving, definitely something moving along metal, and it was all above them. Then another sound, a crash, it was very close. Not a word was said.
Victor looked around the room. Seeing nothing, he was about to turn and try to get some sleep, but another look and he saw a something big. He couldn’t see much in the dark, but what he did see were two long, sharp blades. The thing shoved its body into a bunk near it, and a blood-curdling scream came from the bunk. Blood spattered from the bunk, and an unearthly scream came from the monster in the bunk, as if it was relishing its kill. Someone screamed in the dark, “Everybody run!” Everyone jumped from their bunks and ran for the door. Victor followed Cole as the both of them ran out, but Victor lost sight of him as they got into the hallway. Victor got a glimpse of the monster before another person locked the door. It was human shaped, but incredibly mutated. It had two long blades on its arms, and two smaller hands on the stomach. The head was disfigured, with the mouth ripped open and jagged teeth poking out. It was disgusting. Some had stopped to take a breath, but then everyone ran when a crewmember said he saw it jump back into the open vent.
Victor kept on running. He saw more people run out from different bunks and areas, and they all were yelling about seeing more of the monsters in their rooms and in the vents. Victor kept running until he got to an intersection in the hall. More people ran by, but he stopped to take a breath. He thought about what had happened in the room, but then he thought about what happened to Cole. Victor hoped he was okay. He looked down at the floor, and remembered that all he had on was a pair of sweatpants. If he was going to get around he’d need protection. Victor saw a storage closet and slipped in. It turned out to be just what he needed. The closet was for storing engineering tools and different kinds of suits and RIGs. He put on a technician suit; it was the only kind he felt comfortable in, and grabbed a Rivet Gun and enough rivets to patch up the entire mining deck. Victor was breathing heavy. He tried to calm himself down, but it didn’t work out to well. Well, I’m no safer in here than I am out there. Victor checked the Rivet and his RIG. Both were working fine. No excuse now. He readied himself for whatever would be on the other side of that door. He inhaled a deep breath. Victor slowly reached for the control panel. He touched the pad. The Storage Room door opened into the chaos that had become of the Ishimura.
Victor was holding his breath. The door in front of him clicked and slid open. He stuck the Rivet Gun out in front of him. There was nothing in the hallway he could see. Victor let out a sigh of relief. He was safe, for the moment. Lights were flashing and alarms were whining; the ship was on high alert. Victor wondered why the quarantine didn’t go off, but realized if it had, they would all be trapped with those monsters. He made his way down the hall; Victor was trying to get himself out of this section of Crew Quarters. As Victor made his way down the corridor, he could hear the screams of the other crewmembers coming from other sections of the Deck, and he could see people almost tripping over themselves to get away. Though Victor saw no monsters, he knew they were there, probably squirming their way through the ventilation systems. Those things…. just five minutes ago Victor had seen one of them kill someone, and things all over were probably killing more people. He had to find more people; more people willing to stick with him. Safety in numbers. He’d find some security personnel, and maybe some engineers clad in their big, heavy suits. Cole. He’d look for Cole. Cole knew this ship inside and out. He’d find Cole, he’d find a safe place, he’d find…
Victor had completely forgotten. In all the chaos he’d forgotten. She was catatonic after hearing a transmission; she’d probably be doubled over half dead now. Victor would get over to her quarters and get her away from this insanity. Her quarters were on the other side of Crew Deck, usually only a brisk run, but with these monsters running around, it’d be a gauntlet. “I got to do this. I have to do this. I have to save her, save us.” But he didn’t saw part of that out loud. Victor thought that if he didn’t say it out loud, it couldn’t happen. What he didn’t say was, I don’t want to die alone.
Victor found himself at another intersection. Monica’s quarters were to the left, but he wanted check out the right, make sure it was safe for when they left. He inched his way down the hall, his weapon pointed ahead of him. Victor could hear more banging in the air vents; off in the distance, he could hear more of the ungodly roaring of the creatures in the distance. It all scared him. How could this happen? How could the Ishimura, a ship the size of a small city, come to this? At the moment, Victor didn’t care. All he really wanted to do was find Monica, and maybe even Cole.
Victor peaked around the corner. Nothing. There was nothing, just a lot screaming in the distance, a lot more screaming meant a lot more dying. Victor turned around to go back. Banging in the vents was getting louder, and closer to Victor. It was really close. Victor turned his head up at the ceiling. Whatever what was in the vent was right above him. Angry roars emanated from above Victor. It was mad, so mad it started banging on the vents. Victor bolted down the hall. The monster in the vents gave chase. Metal panels behind Victor actually started to dent from the monster’s strength. Victor got to the intersection, but it wasn’t until then he saw the vent in front of him that he realized he was in danger. Fear froze him to the spot. The monster held itself in the vent; as if eyeing it’s next kill. It broke the duct and jumped out at Victor. It lashed out, but Victor was able to break out of his daze and jump back. By reaction, Victor raised his gun and shot the monster square in the chest. The shot didn’t even phase it. Victor was dumbfounded. A rivet could burrow itself three inches in a block of steel. That moment of thought gave the Slasher time to knock Victor off his feet. He dropped the gun. It slowly advanced toward him, as if it was a cat toying with a mouse. Victor was looking for the gun; his hand felt the muzzle. He stuck the gun in front of him and fired, he did it so fast he didn’t even aim. Roars of pain came from the Slasher’s mouth as it fell to the floor. Victor picked himself up and looked where he shot it. Everything below its right knee was gone. It was dragging itself forward with its claws. After seeing the pain the monster was in, it donned on him, “Shoot off the limbs.” Without mercy, Victor shot off both of its arms. Blood shot out and coated the walls. Screams came out of the Slasher’s mutated maw. Its death was welcome. Adrenaline coursed though Victor’s veins. He was covered in cold sweat; he wiped it off with his jacket sleeve. More roars could be heard from behind him. “I need to move.”
“Since when were these hallways so damn long?” Victor bolted down the hall. The ceiling behind him was being covered in dents and buckles; meaning another Slasher was after him. Not really wanting to stop he just pointed his gun up and behind him, firing as he ran. Another death scream came from the vents. That’s two out of probably a hundred or more already infesting the ship. He slowed his pace, but not by much. Another intersection. Victor was amazed at how many intersections this ship had. The hallway was only about twelve feet long, with a door at either end. Behind one he could hear three people frantically trying to open the door. The other was buckling, meaning another Slasher. Victor was going to go back, he even started to turn back. But he suddenly remembered the only way to Monica’s bunk was through the monster door. Victor raised his gun in preparation for another fight.
Steel rained down as the door burst open and a Slasher jumped out, roaring and lashing out with its blades. Victor’s finger was barely on the trigger when the other door slid open and three security guards rushed out guns a blazing. Though they didn’t hit any of the limbs, the pure number of bullets took the Slasher down. After they put in a few more “safety shots” into the dead Slasher, one of the guards turned to Victor, “Man, you got to come with us, it’s dangerous here on Crew Deck. We’re getting as many people we can onto the trams.” The guard sounded frantic, as if every second counted. Given the present situation, they probably did.
Victor thought about this a moment. If he went with the guards, he’d be in a safe place. Hell, Monica and Cole could be on that tram now. “Is there a short haired blonde and a dirty mouthed engineer at the station?”
The guard shrugged and said, “Not that I know of.”
“Can you hold the tram for ten minutes?”
“We can hold it off for maybe five. There’s a Shuttle Bus waiting on Flight deck leaving in twenty. The whole security team knows it’s risky, but it’s our only chance of leaving.”
‘’’Damn it.’’’ He only had twenty minutes to find Monica and Cole, and get to Flight Deck. “I’m off.” Victor started to jog through the Slasher door.
“Good luck, you idiot.” The last part the security guard mumbled under his breath. He gave Victor maybe three minutes by himself.
Victor was running out of breath. He had just gotten the common area. It was a real mess. There was blood on the walls, bodies hanging off the balcony, and weird scribbles on the floor in what looked like fresh blood. “This… this can’t be happening. The whole damn Crew Deck has gone insane.” The cold sweat was back, but Victor didn’t care. He started to walk to the other door, trying not to look at any of the bodies or non-seneschal scribbling. It was sick. Some of the writing on the walls was still dripping. He could see some of the bodies were the blood came from; arms ripped off, gaping holes in their stomachs, huge cut marks. Victor got to the door, thank god. It slid open and he stepped through. The semi-clean walls were a welcome relief. Victor picked up the pace; he wanted to find Monica as fast as he could. This whole place was crazy; he needed to get her away from the insanity. The Ishimura was giving everyone head problems; in fact, he was starting to develop a headache. And the headache was probably why Victor didn’t notice the Slasher crawling around in the vents below.
Victor got himself to another corner. The sign above pointed towards Sleeping Quarters D, Monica’s quarters. Another minute and he’d be bringing her to safety. He looked down the hall. Nothing. He let out a sigh and lowered his gun. He didn’t want to kill anything. This moment of hesitation is what allowed the Slasher to jump him. It snuck its way out of the vent below. Victor thought he could hear wheezing behind him, and turned around to stare into the eyes of death. Victor raised his gun and put a few rounds in its gut. Nothing. He knew it wouldn’t work; he just couldn’t react fast enough to aim any higher. The Slasher knocked the gun out of Victor’s hand with one of its little arms. I’m going to die. I’m going to die. I’m going to die. His life flashed before his eyes. High School, college, Tech School, other ships. It all flashed by, and it was all meaning less. His life would be put out in a second. The Slasher raised its arms, ready for attack. Just as it was going to strike, Victor heard an electrical charge emanating from behind the Slasher, and a split second later, its arms flew off in a shower of blood. The other came off too, and then it fell down dead with a roar of pain. Victor stood there, dumbfounded. A second ago he was about to die, and here he was, standing very much alive. He looked to see what saved him. Whoever it was, they were clad in a Level Two Engineer Suit. A heavily armored arm was lowering a Plasma Cutter. The man in the suit looked Victor right in the eye; the two blue slits cutting through the semi-darkness. Victor’s savior clipped the Cutter to his side and folded his arms behind his head, “Well it looks like you owe me another on Vic” His savior chuckled.
Never in his time on the Ishimura had Victor though he would have his life saved by Darren Cole.
Victor picked himself up from the floor and grabbed his gun. Cole amazed him a little more everyday. The other day he had found a way to make whiskey with one of the plasma relays; today he had killed an alien and saved Victor’s life. Cole was picking at his suit’s metal plating, without even looking at Victor he said, “Vic, how did you survive in the outside world without me?” When Cole was satisfied with his suit he leaned on the wall and looked over at Victor, “So I want to know why you’re running towards the center of chaos and not the tram station?”
Victor didn’t answer because he was thinking. ‘’Center of chaos?’’ If the Crew Deck around Monica’s quarters were the center of chaos, there’d be ten times as many monsters running around. It was just another sign telling him to pack up and leave. Every minute it looked like he was less likely to save, or even find Monica. No. No, he thought to himself. He was going to find Monica and he was going to get all three of them out. “Wait, you came from over there. Why where you there?”
Cole stepped off the wall and started swinging his arms. “Where do you think I got the Suit and Cutter?” The Plasma Cutter Cole had made Victor’s Rivet gun look like a peashooter. And the look of the suit he had made Victor feel even more vulnerable. “Let me guess, you’re going down there to get Monica? A noble effort, but you’re chances of success are slim. I counted nineteen on the way over here.” Not even the number of monsters could stop Victor. He’d fight through a thousand of them if he had a chance to save Monica. “I’m going.” Victor walked past Cole and down the hall. “If you hurry you can get to a shuttle in the Flight Deck.”
Cole caught up with Victor down the hall. He unclipped the Plasma Cutter and held it in front of him. “I’m coming with you. “
“No Cole, don’t.”
“If you die, who would I talk to on the shuttle?” Victor knew he couldn’t win, plus the extra person would make it easier to fight off the monsters. Down the hall they went, keeping their eyes on every vent they walked by. Victor saw that as they moved deeper and deeper into Crew Deck the walls were covered in more and more blood and gore, and it all looked fresh. Victor was going to be sick; his stomach was doing summersaults inside of him. He looked over at Cole, who looked equally disturbed by the gore on the walls, and now it was on the floor, too. What was more disturbing was the bodies; there weren’t any. There was enough blood for about twenty bodies, but not a single one was to be seen. Streaks of the floor indicated that the dead ones were dragged… towards Monica’s quarters. Chances of Monica’s survival looked grimmer by the minute.
Cole was worried. Every foot of hallway was covered in more and more blood. Even in his heavily armored suit he felt vulnerable. He felt sorry for Victor. He only had on a technician’s uniform. Those monsters could put a dent in the steel vents, and Cole didn’t think a polyester jacket could offer much protection. Steel. Those things could punch their way through half an inch of steel. Cole even saw a door ripped open, and the doors of the Ishimura are a good two inches thick. And the ones doing it didn’t seem to strong, he’d hate to come across, let alone have to fight, a bigger one.
People ran past Victor and Cole. They were running like wild horses; none of them cared where they ended up, as long as it was away from where they came from. Victor recognized a lot of co-workers, all with looks of terror on their faces. But none of them were Monica. Victor tried to get some ones attention, “Has anyone seen a Monica Sherman?” He had to shout to be heard over the people’s screams. “Monica Sherman? Anyone?”
Cole could see this wasn’t working. He raised the Plasma Cutter above his head towards the ceiling and fired. A single, unanimous scream came from everyone who was running. Now that everyone was quiet and not running, some progress could be made. “All right! Now that we’re all done going crazy, we can get some answers here!”
“Cole! What the hell was that?” Victor was crouching down with his hands over his head. Cole’s little antics had a greater effect than expected. But Cole could see it had calmed some people down. “Has anyone seen a technician named Monica Sherman? She’s lives Sleep Bunk C.”
Cole piped in, “Anyone without information should high tail it to the tram station. There’s a shuttle bus waiting in the Flight Deck.” Everyone ran towards the station. No one was left. Victor was about to cry.
“Well, that’s it. What a guy I am. Can’t even save one person. Let’s go Cole.” Victor was depressed. Monica was his key to happiness, and now she was gone. He might as well just get to the station and leave.
Cole wanted to try to console Victor. “Vic, c’mon, let’s get over there. We’ll fight our way through if we have to.” Cole actually wanted to help out his friend.
“NO COLE!” Victor was pissed. “We have to get to the tram NOW! We’ll die here if we don’t!” Victor was trudging around the hallway and rubbing his temples; his headache was killing him now. He was starting to turn towards the direction to the tram.
“I know where little Ms. Sherman is, Mr. Bell.” Victor stopped. A sliver of hope returned to his body. He turned. Cole didn’t say it; he wouldn’t have been as formal. Whoever said it was still in the darkness of the hallway. From what Victor could see was that the person was walking with a limp. When the person came into the light, he could see it was a man whose shirt and pants were ripped up and soaked with blood. Gashes ran across his stomach, and another, larger one ran across his face. “Your little girly is still alive mate.” He collapsed on the floor, still alive, but barely.
“Where is she?” Victor was ecstatic. Monica was still alive. As long as she was still alive, they all had a chance to make it out together.
The man was breathing heavy now; even more blood was coming out of the face wound. He had maybe two more minutes to live. Any information he had he needed to say now. “I saw her… I saw her… I saw her…”
Even more wheezing now, “The Common Area past that door, hiding in some closet.” He was about to let go.
“That’s great, you don’t know how much this means to me.”
As Victor and Cole walked away, the dying man let go, but with his last breath, he said something neither of them heard, but was as important as Monica’s location.
“There’s something big in there.”