20:15/21 SW-CP-Local Time
Crowning Point > Reactor > Maintenance Tunnels
Whatever was in the vent with him, it was momentarily struggling to move, caught on some of the resin at the corner before eventually forcing itself free, jerking and tumbling against the far wall with a series of thuds. Finally, it righted itself and proceeded straight for Saygin who now recognized it as a two-wheeled machine. It was Officer Gauss’ recon drone, Buddy.
Buddy chirped happily and static scratched across Buddy’s little speakers followed by a tinny voice.
tzzt Saygin! That you?! It’s… - - Rico Gauss! tzzt
"Gauss! Am I ever glad to see you n' Buddy! Where are you driving from?"
A little light on the front of the drone’s core braced between its twin treaded wheels, blinked blue as it received Saygin’s voice pattern. Then it blinked green at Gauss’s forced whisper response.
tzzt Oh, thank Jesus! tzzt I’m trapped - - reactor -aintenance tunnels in some alien nest. - -otta stay quiet. tzzt w- - -ealing with some kind of alien -eature. This thing got Chyka and Ricci. We followed it inside and I think… I think we found what was left of the missing Lombard kid… tzzt
There was a pause before Gauss started again.
tzzt It’s hard to believe but, they cocoon --eir prey, turn ‘em into eggs… they turned this poor kid into an egg, man… tzzt these eggs birth - - spider - -ings that attach themselves to other - -ictims and eventually they fuckin’ POP! Baby alien comes out and - - things get real big -eal fast. tzzt - -ew minutes ago I heard -unfire and explo- -ons. tzzt - -ink it was Sargent’s team. Then - - -ot quiet again. I thought I might be the only - - tzzt - - eft. tzzt I managed to hide - -hind some of the victims and the - -alls the’re building. …—uck… I’m screwed if this thing pops on my end. tzzt Be careful. They’re smart... tzzt I’ll - -ave Buddy send you a scan of the layout. tzzt
Saygin gulped automatically and he noticed his mouth suddenly seemed very dry. He recognized the signs of visceral fear, and only hoped they'd give him a boost when he needed it most.
He took a moment to evaluate the situation before responding to Gauss.. "OK Gauss, here's what's gonna happen. You're scared shitless an' I get it, but it sounds like you're relatively stable and pinned down nonetheless. So, I'mma double back and look for Sargent's team, or at least the mess it sounds like they made, see what I can figure out."
Saygin looked Buddy over, trying to determine if the little guy was in good enough shape to follow him and keep an open connection to Gauss in case the situation changed.
The little drone looked fine though it’s wheels were a little slimy from the resinous terrain.
tzzt Yeah, okay… I’ll hang tight. Just uh… just tell me what you need. tzzt
Gauss sounded calmer but still clearly nervous. Saygin could tell he was resigned to his fate of staying put for now.
"I need you to follow me with Buddy here. Watch my six an' keep a comms channel open 'case anything changes for either of us."
Saygin shifted, making his way backward to the iris opening, keeping his weapon ready. He thought about how poor his trigger discipline was right now, because he wanted to shoot something, anything, that made a movement he didn't like.
tzzt Copy that. Comms are spotty, but turn off - -ur handset and kee- - your earpiece in tzzt so I can give you direct -eedback and avoid attracting any unwanted attention. No more talking through Buddy.tzzt
Saygin did exactly as he was told and turned off his handset.
"Earpiece only. Copy." Saygin whispered.
He moved towards the breached door with purpose, but trying to make as little noise as he could.
Saygin found that the door swung open easily and was loose of its fittings. It opened up to a similar scene as the ventilation duct. An entire hallway full of wall-to-wall, dark, resinous, organic matter lay before him. The overhead utility lights were dimmed by what appeared to be sticky patina and the smell was more intense. The vibrations and dampened droning of the generators on the floors above permeated the space throughout the maintenance tunnels.
Saygin pressed forward with Buddy the recon drone in tow. It was hard to make out the differences between niches in the resin walls and actual hallways and ventilation shafts, but further ahead of them, a little more clearly, was what must have been a four way junction.
Saygin pressed ahead toward the junction, his heart pounding in his chest. He whispered into his comms, praying the material covering every surface wouldn't interfere with transmission too much...
"Gauss, I'm coming to a four-way about 15 meters ahead. Any idea which way the team went?"
The comms were spotty indeed, but it wasn’t hard to understand what Gauss was getting at.
tzzt Yeah. -ey - -ould’ve had to go straight past that - -unction. We - -eared out some egg - - but - -eep yo- - eyes out for anything. tzzt
So far, so good.
"Copy," whispered Saygin into his earpiece. He moved straight ahead as Gauss had indicated, glancing carefully down the cross tunnels as he moved through the intersection. He realized he was involuntarily holding his breath and mouth breathing when he wasn't, so he wouldn't have to deal with the smell in the air.
As Saygin passed along the corridors he looked to the right, that hallway went on for about 10 ft before ending in a door to a storage closet, but he noticed a difference immediately upon looking to the left.
There was an open room at the end of that corridor where a light flickered. He could make out expended bullet casings and scorch marks along the floors and walls.
It would seem that one of the security teams had made a stop there before moving on. Remnants of fleshy material sagged in corners and niches. A small nest.
As if on cue, a sleek, grey shape, the size of a small child, emerged from above the door and crawled slowly down. A long purple proboscis stretched from the strange mouth on its eyeless head. It was secreting goo; patching up the destruction of the hive.
Then it stopped for a moment and turned its invisible gaze toward Saygin, tilting its head as if examining him.