Nothing was as populous as the ever-present insects. Neither Dann nor Jackson could take more than 3 seconds without waving some sort of bug away, and both received several bites before they finally arrived. On the plus side, this kept them distracted enough to stop worrying so much about predators, which Rose kept an eye out for for them.
The armory was a small building designed like a bunker. The doors were similar to those on the cryo-bays, but even heavier looking. Rose punched in a code on what looked to be a physical keypad, then dragged the heavy door open. It groaned and protested every year it had remained closed, sliding outward with a grinding noise Dann was sure was enough to wake the dead. It left a scraped up, scratched brown patch of earth through the underbrush that had grown in front of the door.
Dann stepped forward to peer in. The space beyond was dark, but there was very little dust and there were no cobwebs to be seen, at least in the immediate area the simulated sun lit up. “Huh, I would’ve expected it to be dirtier after all this time. You get in there to clean often?” he said to Rose.
“No, Dann, but the armories are built to the same specifications as the cryo-bays; they’re air-tight when sealed. They need very little cleaning.”
Dann was about to comment when a rustling sound near his foot caught his attention. He looked down just in time to see a long, dark green and brown blur rearing back to strike. He stumbled back with a yell.
A grey blur of motion swooped in from the side. When Dann recovered his balance, Rose was kneeling in front of the door, a hissing and angry snake held by the neck in her hand. The large brown triangular head fixed beady eyes on him, mouth agape, long fangs glinting in the sun.
“Be careful where you step, Dann. Rattlesnakes have been spreading through this biome for the last few hundred years. They can sometimes be difficult to see in the spectra of light you use.” She stood straight up, still grasping the snake. She coiled its body around her arms and carried it some distance before letting it go. As she did so, the distinctive rattle sound sent shivers down Dann’s spine.
“Scared of snakes?” Jackson looked irritatingly calm after the encounter. But then, it hadn’t been rearing back at her.
“Wasn’t till now,” he said. “Never really had to deal with them before.”
Rose returned after a few moments. “It shouldn’t bother you now.” She turned her attention to the vacant doorway and hit a switch inside, flooding the dark interior space with light.
“Wow,” Dann breathed. “There’re enough guns in here for a small army!”
“A very small army,” Jackson said. “More like a platoon or small company.”
Rose equipped herself with a sub-machine gun, small caliber pistol and ammo for both, then handed the same load-out to Jackson. Jackson cracked a smile for the first time since she’d awakened and immediately set to inspecting and cleaning the weapons.
To Dann, Rose handed a pistol and ammo. “What about the other gun?” he asked.
“I’m sorry Dan, but maintenance crew aren’t authorized for more than basic arms, and you don’t have any personal certification for weapon grades higher than that.”
He frowned and looked at it, then looked around at the vast stores around them. “Do you really think anyone’s going to care about the regs given that almost the entire population is dead?”
“We can discuss exceptions with a officer once we revive someone of sufficient rank, but for now I can’t issue you anything more.”
“Yeah,” Jackson chimed in. “You don’t know what you’re doing with a bigger gun. Stick to the pea shooter for now. No offense. With somethin’ bigger you’d probably just end up shooting me, and that’s somethin’ you really don’t want to do.”
He sighed and set about inspecting and cleaning his own weapon. She was right; he’d only had the most basic weapons training. He’d never thought he’d need to use a weapon. He’d certainly never thought he’d need it to defend against wild animals on board the ship.
Rose disappeared into the back of the armory. She returned by the time Dann was done cleaning the pistol; Jackson had long since finished both of her weapons. The sleek android handed each of them a sheathed knife, and then a much longer bladed weapon.
“Swords?” Dann wondered aloud.
“Machetes,” Rose corrected. “We’ll need them. The bay we need to access is located in the rain forest biome. The vegetation there is much denser than it is here.”
They rested a short time, eating and drinking more. Dann was starting to feel almost human again, and Jackson was looking better too. Finally they set back out into the woods again.
Rose led them off in the same direction they’d been traveling to reach the armory. It was mid-afternoon and travel would be slow. In the event of a proper awakening with an intact crew, there would have been elevator-like lift cars available near each cryo-bay, but the shuttles were secured before launch and they were going to stay secured for the foreseeable future without anyone to prep them for use. That meant going the long way.