Project Accountability 3



Houston, Texas. Site of our stopped crusade against ICE. It’s stopped because ICE captured Dr. Monroe, the guy who is technically in charge of our thing. And the site of pretty big airport. Newburgh, the medic, has an almost supernatural ability to figure out where on the airwaves these clowns are chatting. ICE has a headquarters somewhere in the city and he’s slowly figuring out where it is based on what their people are saying. We really spurred them into action with our bar brawl.

But they weren’t going anywhere. No matter how much Newburgh looked, they weren’t organizing flights or caravans out of the city. That struck Slam and I as weird. As much as Sgt. Slam hated it, we had too few people and he wanted someone in the hospital with him, watching his back. I tried to tell him he could take Newburgh. “As good as he is, I’m sure I can find them just as easily.”

“Why are you objecting?” Slam asked me.

I rolled my eyes. “You clearly don’t want to take me in there. Offering you an alternative that makes sense. You have the medic doing something I’d be better at.”

“I can’t have his back the way he needs,” Newburgh said.

Sgt. Slam held up a hand to silence the team’s medic. “I don’t like you and I won’t want to rely on you. You and Monroe are the only ones in this bunch I haven’t worked with before and know I can rely on. We’ve all worked together before, all devoted ourselves to the Exemplars. It goes down, we go down with it. You, I know I can’t rely on. You’re here for money and because your ex has a soft spot for you. If I take you in there, you might not have my back when the trouble starts. You might make the trouble.”

“Ok, Slam. Slam, ok. I’ll go in with you. Wish me luck.”

“Kind of wish you didn’t now, but let’s go,” he responded. He grabbed a paper with a name written on it and circled. There was a simple note underneath from Monroe, “Must discuss with Dr. Pepperidge.” At least Monroe told us what hospital he was going to.

We headed in to a fairly busy hospital, facemask on for Slam’s protection while I pretended to have one on to blend in. “You going to be fine riding the elevator?” the Sergeant asked about my armor.

“Hospital elevators can handle the weight,” I said.

“I mean width and bumping into people other ways,” he clarified.

“I’ll be fine,” I said. That’s part of the reason the hologram depicted me as a pregnant woman, too. Keep people out of my way in case I extend the nanomachine tail out or turn it into additional limbs. I’m tired of not having my armor around when I need it. The bar brawl wasn’t one of those times. I could have brought the armor into it if I’d wanted to, but it was just a little bar fight. I had it handled. Just like I had it handled when we worked our way up through the offices in the hospital toward where this Dr. Pepperidge was working. Pepperidge himself was out.

Sgt. Slam looked around, then at me. “Can you get us in without making it obvious we broke in?”

The nanites were good for that sort of thing, too. It’s barely even lockpicking at that point. We were in as if the door hadn’t been locked before.

“Either there was a struggle here, or Dr. Pepperidge is messy as all hell,” Slam said, pointing to piles of paperwork on the desk.

“Messy,” I said. “A struggle would leave a lot of those papers on the floor or mashed down.” I checked them over a little. “This is a lot of different stuff here. I wonder why he needed all the physical documentation of these.” Without waiting on Slam to say if I should or shouldn’t, I used the armor’s tail to connect directly to his networked computer and the systems it stayed logged into. Inter-office emails about this or that. “He doesn’t have any appointments right now, but he’s officially busy with something outside the office for a couple of hours.

“This isn’t good,” Slam said. I looked over and he had divided up the papers into a couple stacks. He held the file from Monroe in one hand while comparing it to another.

“Wow, you’ve got the same touch as Newburgh at finding stuff,” I said.

“I took a speedreading course to help me process faster,” he said. “These are the same files. This was Dr. Pepperidge’s patient.” He held the page up for me. Using the information, I tried looking him up in the system.

“Not according to this hospital. They don’t have records of that person.” Slam held up a few more for me, to similar results. With a specific angle to work, I checked back through emails. “Weird though, this guy’s not an OB/GYN. No reason he should be doing a hysterectomy.” I didn’t see anything from ICE in his emails at first until I found something tucked away in his spam filter, probably because instead of being from someone specific in there, it was sent from an official organization email account. I projected it out using my armor for Sgt. Slam to read along. “Networking meeting with other ‘patriotic’ doctors assisting ICE’s Purification Initiative. There’s a name that stinks of genocide.”

“Does anything say when he’ll be back?” Slam asked.

I shook my head. “Nopers.”

Slam thought for a few seconds, then started setting files back. “He didn’t leave all this out just to have it out. Close whatever you opened there and let’s get out of here. I want to watch this place. We see him, we follow him and these files wherever he takes them.”

Seemed reasonable, so I closed it up, made sure I hadn’t caused any sort of alterations. I’d have just waited there myself and caught the guy for some friendly interrogation, but Slam was doing things differently. The way to prove him wrong this time wasn’t to cause a big fuss that would inevitably get us noticed and ruin the whole thing.

Besides, Dr. Pepperidge came back that night, well after a dinnertime consisting of tacos from the nearest taqueria we could find, with me occasionally asking if we needed a better vehicle for surveillance than an RV.

“Gates has a plan for that,” Slam answered.

“I added special lights and panels. We’ll look smaller,” Gates explained from up in the passenger seat, taco in hand. “We’re cool.”

“I got him,” Newburgh said while peeking out the side window. “Dr. Pepperidge has entered the building.”

Slam checked his watch. “Late night for him.” He looked to me for a moment. “Follow him, quietly. Don’t let him see or hear you. Let em know if there’s anything hidden in the hospital.”

“Good call,” I said, slipping out of the RV and into stealth.

I’ll cut to the chase. By the time I caught up to Pepperidge at his office, he was walking out with a full suitcase and a clean desk. If there was a secret torture site under the hospital, he didn’t go there, just headed back out to his car. Then he went to the secret torture site. I followed along inside the RV in one of the most boring chases ever. This is… well, I’m showing I can be a team player. And for most mortals, my adventures would be less “exciting” and more “certain doom”. So I sat there all pretty like and didn’t headbang on the roof while listening to Dethklok.

Before long, though, the doctor pulled into a mechanics shop. It was 8 PM, and the roller door closed behind him. So when Slam told me to hop out and scout around the place real quick while they found a place to park, I did. Slithered on up the wall and over the roof, quiet as a slasher villain. Nothing stood out. No traps, booby or otherwise. Those big roller doors are loud, so checked the outside for entrances and popped into a side door that took me to the main car area. The doctor and his car were both absent, but one of the car lifts was missing and the floor underneath it had a hole big enough for most automobiles. I slipped down, claws digging quietly into the concrete as I spied down there. The car was down there, along with a guy in coveralls sitting in a chair. He was casually guarding the place with a pistol that looked a lot like the unconventional sidearm that ICE guy had in the bar. More of those blaster weapons.

Slam and I had worked out communications by now, so when he dropped me a text saying he was outside, I could direct him to the door I’d taken and that it was empty inside except for a guard down underneath where they work. I even asked him if he wanted the guard killed before doing so. “Yes, quietly,” came the answer.

I slipped down and behind the guard, putting one hand over his mouth and the other on his neck. If you’re strong enough, you don’t even have to twist and snap. “Death comes, quiet as a mouse. It’s done.”

“Do you have to be that way?” Slam asked in a text. After a second, I saw his legs start to stick down as he let himself hang from the edge and drop down.

“Points for good spelling and grammar,” I told him. “Anyone else coming?”

He shook his head, then pointed to the door. “What’s through there?”

“This is as far as I’ve gotten,” I said.

“Alright, you first. Stay quiet,” he said. So I took vanguard, pulling open the door. It swung open effortlessly, which speaks to newer construction that undermines whatever they’re doing. One of the benefits of a used base is that the doors might squeak, quite loudly in fact. That’s its own special warning system.

There wasn’t much hiding to be done inside there. The room had cages on either side of the doorway, far enough they couldn’t just reach out and grab a person passing through, and a few doors on the far wall. Hanging from the ceiling was a sign that read, “Welcome to Olympus” with a pair of lightning bolts on either side. There were a few people there, including one beat-up Dr. Monroe. In the middle of the room were a pair of gurneys with a table bolted down between them. They’d found a use for those car tools, too.

Dr. Pepperidge was just finishing strapping down someone down with the help of two men in black and purple, ICE-issue uniforms. The guys in the uniforms were looking at us, meaning looking at the open door and Sgt. Slam standing there. I kicked Slam back and pushed the metal door closed. The guards advanced, more of those fancy guns in hand. These looked more like SMGs. I slid past them on my knees, which drew their attention.

“There’s one in here!” Pepperidge shouted. I grabbed the tire iron on the table next to him and, when I used the tool to change one of their faces quite forcefully. He spun and fell. The other shot, sweeping from left to right where I was. Normally, I’d duck, but this armor’s capabilities let me cling to the ceiling and slash at the long fluorescent bulbs to either side of me, plunging us into darkness.

I dropped, my armor going into a combination low-light and thermal mode, and grabbed the cables from a car battery sitting right there. “Clear!” I shouted. The guard in front of me raised his blaster SMG. Then I hooked the batteries to his nuts. He squeezed off some shots before I got the gun away from him.

The room was then lit by a glorious angelic visage letting off white light. Yeah, that was me. The image floated over to where Pepperidge was huddled up to the side, feeling around for something to defend himself with. “Dr. Leonard Pepperidge. Your angel of death awaits.”

“Not yet, Gecko!” Sgt. Slam called out from over by the door.

“Aww… fine. But at least we got a good puddle out of him,” I said. I kept an eye on him, but instead went over to break the lock on the cage Monroe was in.

“Easy, we got you, doctor,” Slam said.

“Thank you, but you have to get the rest out,” Monroe said. He pointed to the other cage and to a series of doors on the opposite wall. Slam went over to open those while I got the other cage and Monroe unstrapped the man on the gurney and pulled a gag out of that guy’s mouth.

Then Monroe grabbed container of oil and a needle. “Lenny… how fucking dare you. The… the fucking audacity! These are people!” He plunged the needle into the top of the oil bottle and pulled the plunger until it filled up with viscous black fluid. “First, you’re going to talk. Then, we hold you… accountable.”




2 thoughts on “Project Accountability 3

  1. Pingback: Project Accountability 2 | World Domination in Retrospect

  2. Pingback: Project Accountability 4 | World Domination in Retrospect

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