- They warned you. They said: something’s wrong with Ellydium. Did you listen to them? No! You could have thought about security, but you just want to make money. Fool! Fool! What a hopeless fool you are! Why couldn’t you just stay at the station? We could be repairing mercenary ships right now… if we get out of this mess, I’ll make you drink to death. We will get out, right?
But the reflection on the inner surface of the helmet did not respond.
- Do not look at me like this. Yes, I’m talking to myself. And what else can I do here?
Three days have already passed. Ron sat between the mechanisms of a giant excavator and waited for salvation.
- They should have already arrived. You heard the SOS signal yourself. They were supposed to come yesterday.
His heart pounded in his chest. But what if…
- No, no. Rubbish. They could not leave without us. Most likely they never even came.
Just in case, Ron checked the suit’s on-board computer. There was very little oxygen and nutrient solution remaining. Enough for another day…
- At the most. Best case scenario - we suffocate. We will not die of hunger.
The air on the PB42 was suitable for breathing, but it contained a suspension of iridium dust.The dust was so fine that it penetrated even through the filters. One breath is enough to meet the forefathers. One of the safest mining projects has been based on air purification. But no, they had to dig into the bowels of the planet.
- Are you going to think about this now? Or are we better off thinking about surviving? We can’t stay here. If no one has come for us, we must get out ourselves.
But the prospect of getting out of his hole did not appeal to Ron at all. Here he survived the attack, here he was still not found. He was busy repairing the machine when he heard screams and pleas for help on the radio. Senior research assistant and security chief lasted the longest. While the former was searching the whole complex for survivors, the latter sent an SOS signal. Ron heard their talks, but he was silent. Soon they went silent too. Perhaps it made sense to get into the armory…
- There were more than a hundred armed guards in the complex. Did their weapons help them? Doesn’t look like it.
It was supposed to be safe here. There were no aliens in the sector.
- As if they were bypassing this damned planet…
Although usually a planet rich in Iridium is their main goal. Ron heard that leviathans appeared like this. Crystallids build giant stations around the core of the planet and then draw all of Iridium from it. And when there is nothing left, the Leviathan awakens. Why didn’t they do it here?
- That’s not what you need to think about right now, Ron! The shuttles! They are suitable for space!
We only need to reach the hangar. But how are we going to do this, if everyone’s dying over there and god knows what’s happening?
- Very carefully. Whoever attacked the station. They either have already left, or think that everyone has been killed here.
He finished the last phrase while getting out of the excavator’s technical hatch.
- But first we’ll take something from the cabin.
Stepping on the ground, he immediately saw a figure near the pond. The man in the lab coat was sitting with his back to him and actively gesturing, as though he was talking to an invisible interlocutor.
- Maybe he’s just as crazy as you are?
Just walk past him, don’t talk to him. Ron headed for the residential complex. He walked quickly, but carefully, trying not to attract the attention of the man in the lab coat. The rubberized soles of the suit’s boots gently treaded on the ground.
- Stop. - What?
The man in the lab coat. COAT. Ron suddenly felt the weight of his spacesuit with his whole body. The man by the pond had no protection.How could he breathe this air?
- Lie down!
Ron fell, obeying his own cry. He wished the helmet wouldn’t let it out, he wished he hadn’t been heard. The tall grass concealed him. But was it enough?
Meanwhile, a man by the pond jumped to his feet. Alex Mace, Senior Researcher. The front part of his clothes was soaked with blood, and Alex was clutching his weapon in his hands. Only now did Ron see other silhouettes near the pond - bodies strewn across the ground.
Did he kill them all?
- Isn’t it obvious?
After standing just a few seconds, Alex headed to the central block of the base. As soon as his silhouette disappeared behind the doorway, Ron jumped to his feet and rushed to another entrance.
- He’s not going to the residential complex. Don’t go to the residential complex!
But if we are very quiet…
- He won’t notice us.
Fortunately, the complex was still functioning. The shuttle’s airlock was working, but even passing through it, Ron did not take off the suit.Traces of blood were clearly visible on the walls of the brightly lit corridors. Sometimes palm prints, sometimes - huge brown spots.
- Don’t look. Keep moving.
He’s alone. I could…
- Are you sure?
In a matter of minutes, Ron crossed the distance from the airlock to his cabin. He tried not to look at the bodies on his way. He was afraid to recognize one of them.
Fortunately, nothing has changed in the cabin. Two bunk beds, one table and a common wardrobe. Before the attack, he lived here only with one neighbour. Ron knelt beside his bed and put his hand under it. In the suit, it was hard for him to reach the box hidden there.
- We don’t have time for this!
Almost got it…
A steely noise rumbled through the corridors. At the same instant, his fingers closed on the box. He jerked back, but his hand did not budge.
- Idiot! You’re stuck!
He jerked once more. This time the bed moved, but the hand was still stuck. If he jerked at least a little bit stronger - the bed wouldn’t stand still.
- You know what happens now.
- Then get ready to run.