Cold sweat trickled between his shoulder blades and made a lazy, chilly trail down his spine as he shrank back into the shadows. Fear, musty and nauseating tainted his nostrils. So thick he could taste it, souring the back of his throat, lingering on his tongue like the dank mildew of a subterranean grotto. He coughed, gagged, and hugged the wall, holding his breath lest the sound had alerted them to his presence.
Closing his eyes, he let his head fall backwards, leaning against the wall, easing the tension in his neck and shoulders. For now, he was undetected. Thoughts of what had happened brought hot, bitter bile gurgling into his throat again and he swallowed convulsively, shutting out the horror from his mind, refusing to recall the images of blood, viscera and death. It was not going to get hold of his mind again. They thrived on fear, and he would not allow them to sense his.
Three days now. Three days without sleep, with no respite. He couldn’t afford time to rest. If he let his defences down, even for a moment, they would be upon him. He gritted his teeth, forced his eyes open. Stared into the darkness, along the silent hallway. His goal was to reach the control room, but the damned things were everywhere. He’d depleted the power cell in one disruptor already in the desperate fight just to stay alive.
He didn’t even know how many of the others had survived. Maybe he was the only one. Perhaps his fight was in vain. He’d had no contact since that last day; the day the commander had given him his orders. “Get to the control room and destroy the hive,” that was his mission, the only thing he could allow his mind to focus on. Communications had gone out a couple of hours later. Since then, he had spent all his time dodging them, and fighting to stay alive, but now just one deck lay between himself and his goal. By tonight, all going well, he would reach the control room.
Drawing a deep breath and ignoring the sweated, foetid reek of his own flesh, he reached into the small pack he carried and took out the charge. Tonight, he would strike back. Tonight Kalem D’taar would become a hero. Or die trying.