Avalanche – Snippet 33

“Holy shit!” One of them tripped over his own feet and tumbled backwards, landing hard on his rear. The other, a woman, seemed to shrink in on herself for a moment as she backed up. Even so, she was the first to regain her composure, as the man was still crumpled in a ball on the floor, covering his head.

“Thank Christ you two are here! He got out, and there’s an attack on the Facility! You—you have to get him back in his cell, and fast!”

“She’s right! He’s already killed the guards and the QRF, or near enough.” The male tech looked Sera up and down for a moment, but his eyes were glazed over with fear, and apparently he didn’t register much beyond the fact that John and Sera looked like they knew what they were doing.

“He’s out of control! If we don’t get him locked back up, he’s going to kill us all!”

“Where is he?” Sera demanded, her voice as cold as her sword was hot. “Where is Zachary Marlowe?”

“Marlowe? You mean Patient 1524–” The female tech stopped mid-sentence, her eyes going wide.  They went even wider when Sera planted the tip of her sword between the tech’s feet. “Y–you–you’re not with security!”

“Thanks for catchin’ up with the rest of class. Now answer her.” John had very slowly but pointedly aimed his rifle at the male tech, who was still sitting on the floor; the man looked even more dazed than before with this latest revelation.

The woman gulped, seemed to think about trying to be brave, then thought better of it. “He’s back behind the containment door. Third right on this hallway, then the second left.”

“And?” Sera’s eyes had gone golden, with wisps of flame trailing from the corners.

“…you’ll need this keycard to get past the door. That’s all, I swear!” Her fingers scrambled to detach a slip of hard plastic from her coat’s breast pocket, holding it out like a talisman against danger.

Sera snatched the keycard from the woman’s outstretched, trembling hand, and passed it to John.  “If you value that shriveled atomy you refer to as your soul,” she said, her voice taking on some of that curiously multi-toned quality John remembered from their first meetings, “You will cease this so-called ‘work,’ and find a way to atone for the evil you have perpetrated within it.”

The woman could only gulp as her eyes filled with tears, finally looking at her own feet, unable to meet Sera’s gaze any longer.

The man finally snapped out of his daze. “Jesus-fuck, Karen! Let’s get the hell out of here!” He nearly jumped to his feet, almost tripped again, and then looped his arm under the woman’s, dragging her through the door to the stairwell.

“Darlin’, you can be downright scary when you need to be.” John grinned, then thrust his chin towards the direction they needed to go. “Shall we?”

Sera was already two steps ahead of him.  If Zachary were not what we need…those two would be more than simply afraid right now, she replied.  What they do here…well, you know.  Except they do it to children who never gave their consent, as you did in the beginning.

I know, darlin’. I know. Those two are goin’ to have to be lookin’ over their backs for the rest of their lives, now, an’ they know it. Might just be corrective for ’em. But they’re not our problem, right now. Mission first, John sent to her, adding a light mental caress at the end of it. He felt some of the fire leave her, and her resolve set in.

They set off again; John stayed on the right hand side of the hall, Sera on the left and slightly back from him. He could cover the corridor that much more effectively with his rifle, that way, and she had her spears that she could use to back him up with. They followed the path that the female technician had told them about; sure enough, they came to a set of doors that stood out from what they had seen so far. They were heavy and thick; blast doors, like the sort of thing that you would see in nuclear missile silos. They were meant to withstand a lot of abuse, and still keep on ticking.

“Glad we don’t have to cut through these bad boys. It’d take too damned long.” With his left hand, John retrieved the keycard they had been given and swiped it across an RFID reader. John could hear hydraulics and gears working even over the klaxons as the door worked to open itself. As soon as there was a crack of light between the edge of the blast doors and the hallway beyond, John could hear the sounds of shouting, screaming, and fighting. And a tremendous amount of gunfire. Whatever that kid is doin’, he’s puttin’ up a helluva fight.

The entire building rocked again with a second explosion, this time one clearly coming from above this level. A new set of alarms went off. What the hell? Did somethin’ get knocked loose in the first blast? John wasn’t looking forward to having to try to swim out of this joint. For now, the battle sense he shared with Sera was quiet; whatever was happening above wasn’t going to be immediately fatal to them. At least he hoped not; the Futures were finicky, and as much as he enjoyed the advantage and edge they brought, he didn’t like relying on them as a crutch.

The blast door swung part-way open, and stuck.  The motors for the door whined and then went silent. Whatever was going on above must have warped the doorframe. The gap was just large enough for Sera to fit through, with her wings tucked in close; John had a much easier time squeezing by, bringing his rifle up as soon as he was past the edge of the door. The sounds of fighting were much louder, now.

“Don’t think we need much of a clue on where to go, darlin’.”

The couple had a few more turns and twists to go down before they were close enough to the fighting to see it. Along the way they found different scenes of wreckage; destroyed labs, medical bays, offices, security stations. Each was its own microcosm of carnage, telling a piece of larger story. There were more than a few bodies, as well.  If this was the work of Zachary Marlowe, it was frighteningly violent.

But John only had to reflect for a moment on the carnage he had inflicted on the day of his escape; that had been all fire and ash. This…was visceral, and bloody. No time, old man.

Finally, they arrived at the main corridor. The sounds of gunfire and shouted commands were deafening. The very top of the ceiling had a layer of smoke over it, and the strained HVAC system was working overtime to compensate and keep fresh air pumped in. The space in front of them was jam-packed with men. They carried riot shields, assault rifles, shotguns, net-launcher guns and grenade launchers. And…bizarrely, all their gear was a blinding white.  Well, except for the blood-splashes.

Security, darlin’. Zach’s on the other side of them…I can feel it. Let’s even the odds.

The security personnel were all jammed together; their focus was in the complete opposite direction from John and Sera. John didn’t mind in the least. He lined up his first target, base of the neck and under the helmet, then depressed the trigger on his carbine. The suppressed round hit right on target, the hypersonic crack of the rifle and the impact with flesh lost in the cacophony, sending up a red mist that dusted the first man’s nearest companions. He worked his way down the back of the line, putting a double-tap into the upper neck or head of his targets; some he had to smoke-check with an extra round or two while they were on the ground. He was a damned good shot, but even still, nothing was certain in a gunfight; it was better to spend the rounds to make sure a target was out of action than to get surprised later. Towards the end, the security guards started to catch on that they were in the middle of a death sandwich, and tried to react, fight back somehow. John expended the last of his magazine putting them down; ten dead for sure, with at least two more on their way out and definitely out of the fight. Now it was time for Sera to go to work. She manifested her spear alongside her sword, and she waded in.