In episode 4 readers voted for Captain Arnold to move in close enough that he can determine if the thing is human or infected.
“I’m picking up a heat signature,” Captain Arnold whispered to his three crewmen as they kept hidden, concealed in the darkness. “It’s in the corner of the room.”
“Is it an infected?” the doctor voiced his concern as the four were almost completely defenseless. “We can’t risk an encounter.”
The captain pulled out his weapon. Having depleted all the fuel in the flamethrower, all he had left was an ancient Colt .45 pistol, swiped by Joseph from the captain’s personal museum.
“Doc, I need you to wait here. I have to move in closer to see what that thing is. The readout in my goggles is confusing. I can’t tell if it’s human or infected.”
“Human? Could it really be?”
“I have to find out. If it attacks, use the commotion as a diversion and get through. Don’t try to save me, it’ll be too late.”
Captain Arnold held his pistol at the ready and advanced. Through his goggles he saw the path he needed to travel and moved in closer, quietly dodging the crates stacked in the launch bay. His assisted vision gave him the advantage against his target that remained enveloped in darkness.
As the captain drew close, the cause of his visual confusion became evident. The launch bay floor was littered with infected bodies. They appeared to have been shot with a high-powered explosive pulse rifle. Hidden behind the mess, he clearly saw a living, breathing, non-infected human—another person had miraculously escaped the calamity.
Seeing the pulse rifle, the captain determined it had to be one of the soldiers stationed aboard the ship, so he spoke up. “Soldier, this is your Capt—“
Startled at the sudden sound, the soldier in the corner raised a weapon and directed it towards the voice. The captain’s quick reflexes shot into gear, and he hit the deck just as a pulse round came ripping over his head, obliterating the crate he was next to.
“Stand down, Soldier!” The captain yelled, and then barely rolled out of harm’s way as he felt the rush of air when another pulse whirred by his head.
He wasn’t sure he could evade another round; he hoped the next words out of his mouth weren’t his last. “Hold your fire!”
The soldier’s shaky hand aimed the pulse rifle right at him.
He pleaded with the shell-shocked crew member, “Please, Soldier, it’s me, your captain.”
“I-is t-that really you?” A female voice responded.
He breathed a sigh of relief. “Yes. It’s me, Soldier. I’m not infected, and I’ve got three other good crewmen with me. Lower your weapon.”
The soldier complied. “You don’t know how good it is to hear your voice, Captain. It’s been horrible!”
“What’s your name, Soldier?”
“We’re all gonna make it out of here, Velasquez. Just stay calm and follow my lead.”
The captain guided the soldier, and they regrouped with the doctor, Joseph and Corporal Jackson. Assisting the injured, they made their way over to the launch bay control room and started putting on the environmental suits.
The captain now had access to the controls he needed. “Once we’re zipped up, I’m gonna vent the oxygen from this ship and finally kill these things!” He moved near the control panel ready to give the command to the computer.
Velasquez seemed surprised to hear the plan. “But, Sir, some of my squad mates are out there.”
The captain hadn’t planned for this bit of news.
The soldier continued, “I was separated from my squad when the lights suddenly went out. We were attacked, and I ran. I kept running until I reached the launch bay. But they could still be alive—we can’t vent the ship until we know what happened to them.”