Jenny found herself in a long hallway in another part of the building. Whoever pulled her to safety was in a damaged POL suit; there was a visible wound on the thigh with black blood.
“Who are you,” Jenny asked, “By the way, thanks for scaring the crap outta me.”
“My name is Kate,” she said, “I picked you up on my radar. I’m a security officer for the IDC. I sent the message. You with a rescue party?”
“I was,” Jenny said, checking her HUD for readings, “Wait, my friend, Lisa is still alive. Lisa, can you hear me?”
Lisa had to whisper back, “I’m alive,” she said, “But I’m surrounded by this crowd and they keep pulling at the suit like they’re trying to get through. Where are you?”
Kate chimed in, “They’ll eventually find a way through,” she said, “Even a Myrmidon has to eat and drink.”
“You’re not helping,” Jenny said, “Lisa, we’re right upstairs. I’m not reading teams two and five. Messages from three, four and six indicate they’re holed up.”
“Just saying,” Kate said, “These things will probably wait for you to starve.”
“What are they?” Jenny asked, quickly walking to a lab.
Kate limped against a wall facing the door, “Dead,” she answered, “It started about a month ago when miners dug up an old dead alien body. It was all over the news, but at the same time the miners were getting sick and turning up dead only to come back to life as something else. Whatever it is, it spread quickly. First, among the medical community and then, the general public. The IDC did everything they could, but they couldn’t find an answer.”
“What’s your story?” Jenny asked, as she reactivated the computers and placed her hand on a data wall for a node to absorb the information.
“I was held up here with a few other people,” Kate said, “Until they turned and I had to deal with them. The dr. s and scientists discovered some stuff, but that was it.”
“How did you deal with them?” Lisa asked.
“Brain,” Kate said, “You have to destroy it; in my case, I shot them in the head. It’s the only way.”
Jenny took a sample and placed it in a machine for a microscope, “You’re lucky you weren’t infected,” she said, “I keep reading these samples as alive.”
“Must be the disease,” Kate said, “It does screw with the body and bring people back from the dead.”
Jenny looked at the enlarged image of the sample and was shocked by what she saw. It looked like rod-shaped bacteria with two flagellum on each side and a smaller triangular piece at one end with two black dots next to each other, “Computer, what am I looking at?” she asked.
“The Venati,” a feminine voice said. “An airborne, small multicellular organism that reproduces by transmutation.”
“‘Multicellular’,” Jenny said, “No wonder why my HUD was going crazy with life signs. Computer, how does it transmutate?”
“By injecting a flagellum into the cell,” the computer answered, “Then injecting material into the cell, causing the cell to become another Venati.”
“Lives like a bacteria,” Jenny said, “Reproduces like a virus.” She looked closely at the triangular part with two dots, “Eww, is that a head?”
“Unknown.” The computer replied.
“Sounds parasitic.” Lisa said.
Outside, the sunlight dimmed as the sandstorm crashed into the building.
“Lisa,” Jenny called, “Can you break free?”
“If these things ever put me down,” Lisa answered, “I can try.”
“Individually they’re not that strong or fast,” Kate said, “In large numbers, they can be overwhelming.”
Jenny approached Kate in the hallway, “I don’t think there’s anything I can do by myself,” she said, “Unless there’s something you’re not telling me.”
Kate thought for a moment, “I can’t think of anything,” she said, “I’m pretty sure I told you everything.”
“Why are you not infected?” Lisa asked.
“No idea.” Kate said as Jenny kneeled down to inspect Kate’s injury.
“That’s some wound,” Jenny said, “I don’t detect any broken bones or ruptured major arteries. What happened? Maybe I can take care of this.”
“Shuttle accident,” Kate answered, “Pilot turned and I had to waste him. I landed as best I could, but I ended up crashing and injuring my leg.”
“Why is your blood all black, like oil?” Jenny asked.
Kate shrugged. Jenny collected a sample and put it in the machine. The image showed a lot of dead Venati. It also showed more Venati showing up and being cut in half by nanites that resembled one clawed crabs.
“Nanites,” Jenny said, “Kate, were you ever a Myrmidon?”
“Former,” Kate answered, “Helped me get my job.”
“Makes sense,” Jenny said, “Myrmidons get exposed to nanites as part of their genetic augmentation. That’s why your blood is black. Venati are trying to infect you but they can’t because of your nanites.”
Jenny purposely cross contaminated Kate’s sample with another sample and saw the nanites killing the Venati, “That’s it,” she said excitedly, “Lisa, Kate, I don’t think we can be infected.” Just to be sure, Jenny prepared herself and phased off her helmet. Each moment that passed made her feel uneasy and want to phase her helmet back on, but she persisted and didn’t feel or come down with any symptoms. After a few minutes, she phased her helmet back on.
“Jenny,” Lisa called, “Come in. You there?”
“Yeah,” Jenny answered, “Just had to do a quick test.”
“I think I can break free and join you.” Lisa said, “There’s only a few of them now. If these things are not that fast or strong I can probably make them drop me, and then I can make a run for it.”
“It could work,” Kate said, “I’ll open the door while Jenny and I provide cover as you join us.”
“Doable,” Jenny said, “Lisa, you got that?”
“Got it.” Lisa said.
Jenny joined Kate at the end of the hall opposite of the door. She phased out her pistol, and they both pointed their weapons at the door, “Lisa,” Jenny called, “Ready when you are.”
“Here goes nothing,” Lisa said, as she phased out her pistol and wiggled violently until her feet touched the floor. She easily pushed away and fired, “On my way.”
Kate remotely opened the door with her suit, and she and Jenny open fired on any infected coming in. Everyone aimed for the head.
Lisa ran around the reception desk and went upstairs, “Almost there.” she said.
Jenny and Kate kept firing to cover Lisa as she ran through the doorway and joined them
Kate sealed the door again, and they were all safe.
“Lisa,” Jenny called, “Are you ok?”
Lisa stood up and looked at her blood covered suit, “It’s not my blood,” she said, “I should be ok,” She walked over to Jenny and pat her on the shoulder, “Thank you and Kate for helping me out. Go ahead, make the call. You figured this out.”
“Really,” Jenny said, “Thanks, Lisa. Pvt. Jenny Nguyen to Nightingale. Pvt. Jenny Nguyen to Nightingale. Most locals have been infected and are hostile. Nanites required to come down to Aurora V. Repeat. Myrmidons and anyone with nanites may come down. Possible first contact scenario. Repeat. Possible first contact scenario.”