Posted Aug-10-2016 2:08 AM
Disgusted with David's nonchalance, Jacob shook his head and sat back - leaning against the wall supports that cradled his cryo-pod. His mind swam with countless questions and accusations; but he knew each would be fruitless to voice. However, refusing to simply wallow in his inner turmoil, Jacob stood and began making his way swiftly toward the dimly-lit hygenics bay. He'd be damned if the android was going to mire his already fractious thoughts in further conflict. He owed his deceased crew a return home to their families and friends. He could focus on that for the time being. Coming to a slow halt as the automatic door to the ship's forward compartments slid upward with a soft hiss, Jacob looked back over his shoulder to David and, in a flat voice, said "Those bodies on ice in Hold B? They're there because of you and that thing - and nobody else." With this final accusation, Jacob strode off into the shadows beyond the cryo-hall - the sound of his footfall subsiding away and becoming replaced by the faint hum of the ship's power core.
Still seated upon the lip of the cryo-pod, gazing in unmoving silence at the empty space where Jacob had been standing moments earlier, David slowly lowered his eyes back to the gaping hole dominating the center of his chest. Reaching up to gently touch the ragged shirt edge and shredded tissue at the periphery of the wound, his expression distant as he watched a small stream of his milky-white blood roll down and between his pale fingers, David cocked his head ever-so-slightly to the side and softly said "They just need a firm hand..."
Two hours had passed since Jacob had awakened - and still the memories of his team's mission to recover David from the desolate crater fields of Yahga-A15 kept returning unbidden to the fore of his thoughts. The moon itself had never been anything of note; just another ball of rock on the Southern Fringe some surveyor probe happened to pick up around 70 years ago during a return trip to Earth. That's pretty much what the official reports stated, at any rate. It was no small surprise, to say the very least, when Jacob and his team had discovered a full-sized and fully-equipped observation facility just within the central rebound peak of Yahga-A15's largest crater, Endymion.
That's where everything went wrong, Jacob thought as he slowly made his way down the access corridor to Hold B, his boots causing the raised metal grating of the floor to rattle with each of his steps. How in the Hell had David known about the Endymion facility when it wasn't even documented in planetary surveys? Why was he there in the first place? When did he get there? These questions and more plagued Jacob's thoughts as he at last came to stand before the heavy blast door to Hold B. However, one question continued to drown them. What was that thing - that...monster?
Sighing softly as he gazed upon the dark, circular view-shield upon the door, dim reflection slightly warped by the frost build-up on the other side, Jacob shook his head and slowly typed in the access code to Hold B - his fingers pressing heavily upon the scuffed keypad to the right of the door. Inputting the final characters, he stood back as the heavy door's locks came undone and it rapidly receeded away, releasing a sudden wave of icy air. Bracing himself as he slid on a set of heavy gloves and a pair of old safety goggles, Jacob made his way into the dark beyond the door - wincing at the painful cold beyond.
Ice crystals covered every surface within the darkened hold, shimmering softly in the dull light let in from the exterior corridor. Metal tubing and steel panels cast crystalline shadows across the walls, ceiling and floor as frost particles drifted lazily through the air. Yet, Jacob's eyes immediately went to the center-most section of the chamber's floor. There, beneath a thin layer of ice, rested the four matte-black bags that held the mortal remains of his crew. Two evidenced the obvious forms of the individuals they held. The other two were undefined - as if holding a jumble of fragmented pieces. Shivering as much from the cold as the sight of the gruesome cargo, Jacob wiped at the frost slowly accumulating upon goggles - his breath forming banks of wispy fog as he exhaled. "It elicits emotion, doesn't it?" The soft voice emanated from the hold's entrance directly behind Jacob, causing him to wheel in fright - his hand instinctively going to the revolver at his hip. However, he immediately ceased drawing the weapon when his eyes at last took in the uninvited speaker.
David stood there, a lean silhouette in the narrow doorway, his cold eyes leveled upon the bags at the center of the facility. Breathing steadily, his exhalation unseen even in the stifling cold, David said "I have often wondered what, if anything lies beyond...this. If there truly is something after it all." Swallowing back his fear, Jacob softly said "Sneak up on me like that again, and you'll find out firsthand." Allowing his eyes to slowly drift away from the bags, David gave yet another emotionless smile and said "Come now, Officer Best. There's no call for your more militant skills. At any rate, I rather doubt the holes your firearm is capable of producing can outstrip the one I'm currently enjoying." Shaking his head once more, Jacob turned away from the android and steadily made his way to the center of the chamber, coming to stand directly over the first of the bags - Jillian's.
Kneeling down to wipe away the slushy frost upon the thick rubber, Jacob slowly reached forward to take hold of the bag's heavy zipper. Preparing himself, he steadily drew his hand down - the peel of the zipper uncomfortably loud in the cold air. The pale face that emerged from the confines of the bag as it opened sent chills through Jacob's body. A woman in her mid-40s, Jillian was nevertheless a beautiful woman. In life, her chiseled features and creamy complexion had served to accentuate her deep-auburn hair and hazel eyes. Now, nothing remained but frozen horror. Releasing a shuddering breath in an attempt to calm himself, Jacob looked down upon the ragged cavities where Jillian's eyes had once been - the blood long frozen to crimson sheets flowing down her face. The damage had been catastrophic - and almost certainly instantly fatal.
Cocking his head to the side as he looked upon Jillian from the doorway, David said "Greek tragedy comes morbidly to mind. Though I doubt it would shed light into your investigations, Officer Best." Ignoring David's comments, Jacob slowly pulled the frozen sides of the body bag apart with an icy crunch, revealing the whole of Jillian's upper torso. It was ruined; unrecognizable as feminine. Flayed and gnarled tissue clung to bloodstained and denuded bone. Punctured lungs and a crushed heart glistened up from the shadows of the ribs. Taking a deep breath as he placed a hand over his mouth, Jacob fought to maintain his composure. It had been eating her.
Leaning down beside Jacob, having made no sound as he entered and crossed the frozen chamber, David gazed down upon Jilian and softly said "Hubris coupled with unwillingness to accept the views of others can have disastrous consequences." Slowly looking over to Jacob, his eyes colder than the icy dust slowly drifting through the air, David once again asked "What did you do with it, Officer Best? Where is it?" Taking his hand away from his mouth as he turned to look upon David, his eyes nearly as lifeless as those of the android, Jacob said "It's dead, David. I wasn't about to let that thing survive - not after what I saw it do to the others." Arching an eyebrow in simulated amusement, David said "You killed it?", a smile began to form at the corners of his mouth, "With that small sidearm you carry?" Unmoving, Jacob simply said "Explosive decompression." Eyes narrowing slightly as realization dawned within them, David said "Is that why you chose to initiate the air purge in the atmospheric chambers?" Nodding, Jacob simply said "You're actually smarter than you look, David."