Chapter 5: Elena
I slink down the dark hallway of the lower research labs. After the…incident, this is where they took it. Twelve people dead and one just today lowered to moderate injury status. This Blake guy must have a hell of a strong body in order to resist whatever those fumes were.
I carefully peek into each lab room, ensuring all the scientists have turned in for the night hours. My process continues until I reach my goal. Peeking into the small square window on the lab’s door, I notice a shape on a one of the examining tables.
A black cloth covers it.
I stare down at the key pad, noticing the solid red light shining against the matte texture of my outfit. I crouch done so that my face is level with the key pad.
I remove a device from my belt and place it against the pad. Armatures extend from it, including a jack plug that connects directly in to the pad. A dim screen lights up on the device, displaying four numbers that begin randomly changing from one to nine.
One by one the numbers stop on the correct one needed to unlock the door. There’s a light beep as the final one stops, causing the red light on the key pad to turn green.
The lock clicks and the door glides open fluidly. I quickly step inside as the door glides back closed, resetting the lock.
I stare at the covered shape for a moment, an eerie feeling gripping me. I feel my stomach churn slightly as my eyes focus on it. I shake my head as I feel myself almost become entranced.
I take a medical mask from one of the supply cabinets and approach unknown form beneath the black sheet. I raise a hand and grip the sheet tightly, feeling my hand begin to tremble softly. I slowly pull the cloth down, jumping back at the sight of long, black hair revealing itself.
Realizing the truth, I yank the cover off, revealing a corpse. Even with the knowledge, I can’t help but gasp at the sight. What lays before me, is a dead body, no larger than that of a small child. Stepping closer, the long hair and facial structure tells me that it’s most likely that of a little girl. Her body is twisted and broken, more mummified than decayed.
It was as if she was placed inside that capsule…alive.
Lucky, I wore my gloves this time.
I place my thumb on the corpse’s eyelid and lift it, revealing a solid black eye, further feeding my already established uneasiness. Against my better judgement, I move my thumb to its upper lip, lifting and revealing a row of razor-sharp teeth.
“What the hell did they do to you?” I say to myself.
I pull a camera from my belt and begin snapping pictures. After several photos, I switch the camera to video mode and pan the device from the husk’s feet to her head. I hold steady on her face for a moment. A strange feeling overtakes me and I can’t help but feel drawn in to the display screen of my camera.
I see the corpse’s eyes snap open and look directly at me, causing me to stumble backwards, lowering my device.
I breathe heavily in fear as I use my own eyes to see her face, revealing that the eyes are shut. My head snaps towards the direction of the door as my eyes catch on to the sound of footfalls.
I put my gadget back on my belt, quickly cover the…what ever it is, and find a hiding place behind a lab work bench in the middle of the room. The lab door opens and the more distinct sound of two pairs of feet enter echoes through the empty area.
“You’re sure that’s what this is?” A refined voice echoes.
Dr. Cain I deduce given the unique nature of her annunciation.
“I’m positive, Doctor. Based on the trajectory of the capsule when it reached us, we tracked its origins back to Voresh,” The male scientist, most likely the lead researcher, Doctor Aldan says.
There’s a gasp from Doctor Cain and a pause. I decide to peek around the corner of the workbench just as Doctor Cain is removing the sheet from the corpse’s face. I see her eyes almost light up at what she witnesses.
“I had only heard rumors. But you’re telling that it’s that one,” She says with emphasis.
“Precisely madam,” Doctor Aldan confirms.
Doctor Cain looks at Doctor Aldan with a smile “I want you to run every relevant test you can on this. Take samples and see what you can do,” Doctor Cain says as she turns to leave.
Aldan gives her a nod.
Cain turns back as she reaches the door “Oh and Aldan,”
“Live trials are authorized,” She says as the door open and she steps out, her black heels clacking on the floor.
It’s only a moment before Aldan leaves the lab himself, leaving me sitting against the workbench, contemplating what I had just heard.
“Prydwen? Hey, Prydwen,”
I shake my head, blinking several times in order to stop my daydreaming.
“What?” I say confused.
“You’re looking pretty tired today, you sleep much?” Destin, my coworker asks me.
I give an embarrassed smile “Not really. It was so hot in my room last night, I thought I was going to die,” I answer with an excuse.
“I hear ya there, they really need to fix the AC in this tin can,” Destin says, accepting my answer.
I walk over to the job board in our workshop and run my eyes over the various fixes that need to be completed. Coming to a decision, I tap on the board, highlighting a specific task. I press the arrow icon at the bottom and scroll through the names until I see my own. I tap on it and the job disappears form the board. I pull a device from my pocket as it vibrates. The display lights up and shows the job has now transferred to my device, assigning me to it.
I grab my tool bag and begin to leave the shop.
“Hey, where did you wanna get dinner today?” Destin asks.
“How about Jeffrey’s?” I answer.
“What, again?” He says, disappointed.
“What can I say? The man makes a mean rueben sandwich,” I respond, shrugging and stepping out the door.
The door closes on the sight of Destin shaking his head at my bland choice. I turn around and traverse the various, snaking hallways to my first job for the day.
My mind returns to what I saw last night. I flash back to seeing that thing’s eyes opening. And how staring at it for too long started made me feel as if my mind was descending into something…unnatural.
And more so than that, what the hell were Doctor Cain and Doctor Aldan talking about? What happened on Voresh? And who was that little girl? I stare at the ground as I walk, focusing on the incident.
That is until I feel myself collide with something sturdy.
I stumble backwards, nearly falling over. I here the sound of splashing liquid. After catching myself, I look up to find Ethan standing in front of me. He holds a crushed coffee cup in his hand. His uniform is soaked and the liquid drip from his hair and face.
He stares at me with an ‘Are you serious?’ expression.
“Oh my god…I’m so sorry…I didn’t see you,” I say through a hand covered mouth.
“Yeah…I gathered that,” He says, lowering his hand that contains the coffee cup.
I pull a rag, normally used for grime from the back pocket of my coveralls and hand it to him. He slowly raises his free hand and jerks it from mine. I nervously cross an arm over my chest, holding on to the other one.
“I really am sorry. I was just lost in my thoughts is all. Aren’t you still supposed to be in the med bay? I thought they just downgraded your status?” I say as Ethan wipes his face and hair off with the cloth.
He says nothing as he finishes up and hands the rag back to me. He stares at me a moment and I anticipate a verbal thrashing for my carelessness.
“I was. But I couldn’t deal with nurses and doctors poking and prodding me anymore. So, I discharged myself,” He explains plainly.
“Oh…is that...safe?” I ask, playing my character.
He shrugs “I can breathe fine enough. And I doubt anything is going to go on that causes me to overexert myself on this hunk of junk,”
Ethan steps around me to walk away “Try to be careful next time. I like coffee, but not enough to shower with it,” He sarcastically requests as he steps off.
I sigh heavily in relief and continue walking. I can’t help but think on Ethan now. I’m usually pretty good at reading people, but he’s a horse of a different color. I can feel so much tension from him whenever we have a conversation. Like his mind is an ocean in a storm, asking to be released. I can’t tell if he’s just going to snap one day or if he can really control all of those feelings he’s holding inside. Either way, I think it best to keep an eye on him. Especially if he’s going to be as close to this little project of Doctor Cain’s as I think he and Dante are.
“Hey there, girly,”
Speaking of Dante.
The both of us stop in the hallway.
“Hey Dante, good to see you,”
“Likewise. Hey, quick question,”
“Would you happen to know anything about a coffee spill a few minutes ago?”
I bite my lip nervously and stare at the ground.
Dante lets out a laugh.
“I just got off a call with Ethan, told me he was going to be a little late on account,”
I laugh myself “It was an accident,”
Dante starts walking away backwards “No biggie. Just try to be careful next time, you might unleash the beast,” He says playfully imitating the hand movements and facial expressions of a monster.
I laugh and shake my head at him before turning and walking away.
A little more walking later and I finally reach the room I’ve been looking for. It wasn’t at random that I chose the room in question. To specify, it’s a server room where most of the intranet access goes through. However, there’s one server in particular that allows for outside access. A server used by only two people on this station.
Captain Anderson and Lauren Cain.
I enter into the room and show my badge to the guard standing watch. He studies it for a moment before handing it back.
“Purpose of being here?” He asks.
I remove my acquisition device from my pocket and show him the job. He gives a nod and I continue my walk through the numerous rows of flashing lights and large metal housing units. The fortunate thing about this server room is that after walking so far, the guard has no line of sight.
The amount of trust they place in their staff is rather high given the nature of the things they do here. I work my way through the forest of wires and metal until I reach the server I’m looking, housed inside a locked cage.
It’s locked by a card slider, no doubt only accessible by Cain and Anderson. I set my tool bag down and sift through it until I find the proper tool for the job. It’s a blank key card attached to a credential device, allowing me to gain access to wherever I want. It’s come in handy in quite a few situations since I’ve been here.
I use the keypad on the device to shift through the credentials until I find Doctor Cain’s. With a simple button press, the clearance uploads to the card. I quickly swipe it through the pad on the cage, seamlessly causing it to unlock.
A smile forms at the corner of my mouth in satisfaction.
I open the cage door and proceed to take the bottom panel off the server. I remove a small clip device from my pocket and locate the required cables I need. I clip the devices around the cables and replace the panel.
I stand up and access the terminal’s display. I type in numerous lines of code that allow my devices to function and transfer the specific information that I need it to filter. An easy hack I’ve performed on numerous occasions.
With the job done I put everything back exactly how I left it and close the cage door. I perform the job I was initially allowed entry for and make my exit, flashing the job completion on my device to the guard as proof.
With my last job done for the day, I return to the workshop. I return my tool bag to its rightful place and take a quick shower to remove the dirt from the day.
Upon exiting the shop, I see Destin waiting patiently.
“I don’t know about you, but I’m starving,” he says with a smile.
I grin back at him and we walk together to the dining level of the station. I get my standard sandwich from Jeffrey’s as Destin proceeds to get his strange new alien food of the day before joining me at a table that is mostly away from everyone.
“So, what do we have this time?” I ask inquisitively.
Destin bites into what looks to be a fried dish “Barthax balls I think the guy called them,” He answers with his mouth full.
I raise a questioning eyebrow.
Destin stops chewing and looks at me, realizing what he’s said.
He swallows hard “Not that kind!” He exclaims.
I can’t help but burst out laughing at his reaction. We laugh together before the moment passes and we eat quietly across from each other.
Which is unusual.
“Your quiet today,” I mention to him.
“Hm? Oh yeah…sorry. I’ve just been thinking stuff,” He replies, rubbing a hand on the back of his neck.
“What kind of stuff?” I prod.
“Well…” Destin leans forward, placing a hand on mine.
I glance down at it, then back to him.
“I was thinking,”
Here it comes.
“Why don’t we go— “
I put up a hand “I’m going to stop you right there,” I say, placing my hand his is touching in my lap.
Destin looks at me shocked “Um…okay then,” He says awkwardly.
“I told you, I’m not looking for anything right now. This is the third time you’ve asked me. Let’s just leave things how they are,” I explain.
“I guess I just don’t get why is all,”
“Well for one, we work together. It’d be a little awkward if things didn’t work out,”
“How do you know things won’t work out?”
I roll my eyes “Please don’t be that childish. And besides that, I’m just not interested. I have way too many things going on in my life to add on the responsibility of keeping someone emotionally fulfilled,” I say coldly.
Destin sits back in his chair, dejected. The guilt of his expression stabs at my mind causing me to sigh heavily.
“Look, I’m sorry Destin. But my answer is no,” I say, standing from the table and leaving without allowing him to respond.
I take the long elevator ride up to where my room is located and quickly make my way there. Upon entering and turning on the light, I notice the blinking notification of a call coming in to my computer. I swiftly walk across the room, sit down, and answer.
“Took you long enough,” the voice on the other end says.
“Sorry about that. I was having dinner,”
“Right. Tell me what you found,”
“Definitely some shady business going on here,” I say as I remove a small drive from my desk and place it on the data transfer pad in front of me.
“Uploading some files to you now,” I notify.
I watch my contact sift through the files; her face grows more troubled as time passes.
“I want you to stay on top of this. I have a feeling there’s a whole lot of laws being broken here. Find proof, get it to me. We’ll shut this whole thing down,”
“Copy that. I have an angle I can work on to get me closer. Ethan Blake,”
“The psych case? Explain,” She demands.
“Dante Hall is too well acquainted with me to get close to. Ethan is a blank slate. If I can get him to loosen up with me, establish something, he may just let some things slip that I can use,” I elaborate.
She thinks a moment “Alright. But be careful. You’ve read his file. He can be dangerous,” She cautions.
I give a sly smile “He’s never dealt with someone like me,”