Chapter 32: Damien
Ethan and I creep along the dark halls of the station. In a way it feels familiar. Just like another mission dropping behind enemy lines and taking out the Sekrid horde.
“You sure you’re ready for this?” I ask him in a hushed voice.
“What’s that mean?” He asks in return.
“I just mean...that you still have your situation going on. How do I know that once we get in there and the action starts, you aren’t going to rage out?” I explain.
“I guess we don’t but…well I guess you’re the first to know...Thomas figured out a cure,” He says, his words causing me to stop dead in my tracks.
I turn and face him, looking him in the eye.
“You’re sure?” I ask, being cautious of my own hopes.
He smiles and nods. I feel my face scrunch slightly as I resist the tears of relief.
I nod slightly “That’s good bro...that’s good,” is all I can bring myself to say.
I turn and continue my walk down the path.
“There’s…something I’ve been meaning to talk to you about though, Damien,” Ethan continues.
“Can it wait? This is kind of an inopportune time,” I request.
“Um…yeah…sure,” He responds, a shade of disappointment in his voice.
We arrive at the bay that Thomas parked his ship in. I peer through the small, circular window of the entrance, spying an unsettling sight.
“Fuck…” I quietly exclaim as I duck down.
“They’re in there, aren’t they?” Ethan assumes.
I nod in response. I notice him swallow hard as his face becomes nervous.
“We’re limited on ammo already. We can’t afford to waste too much on them,” I point out.
“What do you suggest?” Ethan asks.
I look around the frame of the door, spotting a small panel on either side. One beneath the keypad, the other centered on the wall.
“Open up that panel,” I say as I begin the action on my own beneath the keypad.
Ethan complies without a word. A smirk forms on my face as I take a look at both open panels. Ethan looks at me with the same idea on his mind.
“Hunter Two style?” he asks already knowing my answer as give him a quick nod.
I look into the electronics, pulling out the required wires. I look at Ethan, signaling him with a stare as I hold my knife to the wires. Ethan takes his own, jamming it into the autonomous-open mechanism, applying pressure to the circuit card controlling the hydraulics. He then places his knife on the hydraulic lock, popping it off with a quick jerk of his hands. He looks at me, signaling back. I pull on the wires, ripping upwards with my knife, slicing all of the wires. There’s a light click on the door. Just as planned however, it doesn’t open as it would normally when these particular wires are cut.
Ethan’s handling of the mechanism was perfect.
I take hold of the door and carefully pull on it. Though a little resistive, it starts to open in a quiet fashion.
“So, what’s the plan?” Ethan asks as the both of us peer into the darkness, watching the creatures pace back and forth in their rickety fashion.
I sigh “Well the way I see it, we have two choices: try to sneak by and make it inside the ship or…” I point at the large air lock field separating space from the inside of the station “we sneak by and space these fuckers,”
“Think they can survive out there?”
“What, space? Hell if I know. But they’re between us and the objective. We have to do something,”
“I’m just worried someone is going to pick them up at some point. And spread this shit somewhere else,” Ethan voices his concerns.
“We’ll do it the hard way then. Let’s go,” I say as I enter the small hangar, quickly moving in a crouched position to a stack of boxes.
I peek over top of the boxes to sight of them stepping passed the front of them causing me to duck down swiftly. I feel the sweat start to bead down my forehead and on to my face.
I look at Ethan “This is going to suck,”
I creep around one side of the boxes, spying a number of pallets that contain the same type of materials dotted all along the bay. I look into the crowd of monsters, noticing none are looking. I take the opportunity to move closer to our destination, Ethan close behind.
Ethan and I play a careful game of cat and mouse, zig-zagging from pallet to pallet. My heart pounds in my chest as we nearly achieve our goal.
“Almost there,” I whisper, eyeing the ship right in front of us.
As I step out, a large talon slams into the ground in front me, causing me to fall backwards in order to avoid it. The creature looks around the corner of pallets, staring at us.
“Fuck…” I say just before it screams in an ear piercing fashion, signaling the horde that surrounds us.
I raise my rifle fire a short burst into it’s face, killing it. Ethan and I stand up as they begin to advance almost too fast to think.
Ethan and I retreat, stopping as our backs touch the hull of the ship. We open fire as they close in, taking care to fire in only short bursts to conserve ammo. I look to my left, then slam my hand on the keypad, opening the ship’s door behind us.
I snatch Ethan up by the front of his vest and shove him inside the ship. I fire another volley, giving me a few seconds reprieve.
“Stay here! I’ll take care of this!” I yell out as I close the door on him, his hand outstretched to me.
I snappily turn, fire a few more rounds and run left towards the override switch placed next to airlock field. I shoot on the run as the creatures step into my vision, placing shots meant to disable as opposed to kill due to the easier nature of them.
I don’t stop as I hear the click of my rifle going empty. I toss it at the nearest abomination and pull my knife from its sheathe.
I duck under a talon, slide through one of their legs while slicing into their ankle, jumping back into a sprint. One finally catches me off guard, striking my feet, causing me to dive forward. I land with a thud and slide a number of feet.
I can’t hesitate. I have to get up. I’m so close. I roll on to my back, whipping my blade at the nearest one, striking it in the eye.
I grunt to my feet and limp as fast as I can to the switch. They’re so close behind me I feel the hair on my neck stand up. I close my eyes tight as I lunge for my goal, the satisfying beep of the override switching on rings in my ears.
My body compresses against the wall as all the air begins to be sucked from the hangar bay. I grit my teeth as the pressure pushes down on me.
I hear the screeches of the horde as they’re sucked out through the airlock. My eyes grow wide as a talon plunges into the wall next to my face, detaching just before it hits my face.
I force myself to turn over as I hear the screeching of metal. I notice the ship begin to lift from its position, the landing locks struggling to keep hold of it from the pressure. I attempt to reach for the button again, a few inches feeling like miles away as I struggle to move my arm.
One of the locks sheer of the ship’s landing gear. I reach harder. Another shears off. Almost there…the ship detaches, careening towards the airlock, turning sideways.
I struggle with all that I have, slapping my hand down, disengaging the override, restoring the field.
The ship immediately falls to the ground, sliding across the hangar bay as it expends its remaining momentum. My body falls limp to the floor in relief. I see the ship’s door slide open, Ethan falling out on his hands and knees.
I force myself to stand up, limping over to Ethan’s position.
“You okay?” I ask him.
“You’re an asshole,” he says as he catches his breathe.
“We’ve been in worse situations. Remember Caldera?”
“That’s not the point,” he says, standing up, dusting himself off.
“Did you see it in there?”
Ethan sighs “Yeah, it’s quite a bit. Should do us for the what we have planned and then some,”
“Good. Let’s grab it and go,”
“Say less,” Ethan says as he steps into the ship, unzipping his duffle bag.
I carefully solder together two wires, prompting a high pitched chirp to sound from the makeshift detonator on one of several explosive devices I’ve crafted. I remove the magnifying glasses I’m wearing and look closely at the fused wires, inspecting them. Satisfied with my work, I wrap the exposed copper in electrical tape to prevent damage and shorting.
The bombs themselves are created with the intention of low yield, high impact. Like a claymore device they explode in a small area but hit hard enough to eliminate whatever they’re aimed at. I managed to find a number of plastic tubs, whatever chemicals Cain informed me are boom material and mixed it all together with anything I could find that could be used as shrapnel.
Not my best work, but it’ll get the job done.
I hear the door to the lab slide open as I place the finishing touches on the final explosive.
“How’s it coming?” Ethan asks as he steps into the lab I’m working in.
“Almost done. Just have a few more,” I respond, not looking up from my work.
“So look, about that talk I mentioned earlier,” He says, causing me to stop my work and look at him.
“Ethan. Just stop alright. I don’t need your apologies. What happened, happened. No changing it,”
“I know that…but I’ve been thinking about why you’ve been so angry with me about it,”
“Oh yeah? And what’d you come up with?” I ask, leaning my hands in the work bench.
“You and I…we’ve been separated before. Even chose to leave each other behind because it was the best move at that point. That’s not the issue,”
“The issue is you lost control of yourself,”
Ethan shakes his head “That’s not it either. You did the same before. It’s Jake, isn’t it?” he finally points out, a pang of emotion cutting into me.
“The hell are you talking about?” I deflect.
“You’re angry because it was Jake that I did that for. You think I put him in a higher place than you,”
“Ya got me, Ethan,” I say, rolling my eyes.
“I know you aren’t going to admit. And that’s fine,” Ethan steps closer to me, placing a hand in my shoulder, looking me in the eyes.
I can see the regret in his own.
“Jake was my best friend. But you’re my brother. And that puts you on a level all your own, Damien. Don’t ever forget that,”
I can feel my eyes start to water as I clench my jaw to hold them back.
“We done?” I ask curtly.
Ethan nods “Yeah. We’re done,” He says, taking his hand off my shoulder and starting for the door.
I lean my hands on the table again, the tears almost too hard to hold back.
“You don’t get to clear your conscience that easily,” I say just before Ethan leaves.
I look at him with a mournful anger as he turns back towards me “Let me tell you exactly what your actions reaped, Ethan,” I begin as I step towards him “When I was captured. There was a man. Doctor Peter Hall,”
“Do you know what this man’s job was, Ethan?”
“To interrogate you?”
“To break me. He didn’t just torture me. He played with my head while he was doing so. I’ll tell you something I’ve never told anyone. He succeeded,”
“You opened this can of worms. Shut up and listen. I managed to escape thanks to your little Sekrid friend. Which, thanks for telling me about her by the way,”
“Tal’Vira? Wait, she helped you?”
“I managed to get out with a few other people. And by God we almost made it. Shame that I had to watch them all die with a plan I created. I made sure one of them got to see the freedom of space though. Just before I watched him bleed out all over the cockpit,”
“I’m sorry Damien…”
“I told you, I don’t need your apologies. To top all of this off. When I finally thought I was going to make it. I had my own people fire on me. Apparently the blockade needed an authorization code now. And I couldn’t give it to them. The only reason I found this God forsaken place was by utter chance, Ethan. I know I shouldn’t be here right now. But I am. And I have to live with my guilt. My failure. So next time you go thinking about the metaphorical level you have me placed on, maybe you should think about the mountain you have to climb to earn your place back on the level I had you on,” I say, ending my rant.
Ethan stares at the floor, the weight of my words clearly pressing on him. He looks at me, seeming as if he’s setting something aside in himself.
“You’re right. And I will. I promise you that, Damien,”
“Fine. Please get out now,” I say, pointing at the door.
He turns away, exiting the lab. I begin to pace, my hands on my hips. I close my eyes, taking a few deep breathes to cool off. I return to my work, looking forward to one of the few things that gives me peace when I’m angry…blowing shit up.