“Hey,” I told Sgt. Slam the other day. “I don’t exactly know how long this is going to go on, but there is a little bit of a time issue. Come the full moon, I’ll change.”
“You’re one of the weres from last year? How much of a threat are you going to be to us?” he asked. He was sitting there with Gates, having a PB and J while Gates cleaned a shotgun.
I shook my head. “Reindeer’s heroic.”
“You’re Reindeer? You?” he asked. “That’s goddamn tragic. Thanks for letting me know so I can plan around it.”
Walking away, I overheard him tell Gates. “I wish it worked the other way. I hear Reindeer’s a good one.”
Fuck you, too. Slam and Monroe have been doing all the planning, too. They either know enough what I’m capable of, or don’t care and expect me to die in the case of Slam, that they’re working it out without a lot of input on my behalf. What are they going to do, ask if I’m willing to blow up a building? I once played chicken with the moon! I killed a monster that ate gods by portaling it into the sun. From what I’ve seen, the biggest challenge they’re coming up with is a way to take out DIE while exposing them so this isn’t painted as a terrorist attack. Plus, Slam wants to be part of the attack for some reason.
At least they didn’t need much more time after my revelation about Reindeer. Good. There couldn’t be that much to figure out.
“The doctor and I have gone over this in case there’s anything more to it, but we can’t see many potential complications.” Slam briefed us all in his room again, using a projector and a blank wall. “Take a good look at the blueprints, everyone. Gecko, we have a copy you can download. These are old and pre-date DIE moving into the building, but the building’s layout should be fundamentally the same. According to this, we’ve got three basement floors, and twelve above. I want Murko covering us from the south, able to catch anyone trying to stage a defense or assault at the main entrance, catch any of the targets who try to escape that way. Gates will be north of the building in our getaway. Keep us appraised of the situation, and you might be called on to round up anyone sneaking out that way. Newburgh will be in the getaway with Gates to help pull lead out of our asses if needed. Otherwise, monitor communications to give us an updated view of the police response. Monroe’s staying back here. Gecko, you and I are going in. We disable the elevators here, here, and here, lock the basement stairwell and one of the upper stairwell doors, then take the other up. Pick off targets as they present themselves. We get to a computer with full server access, like one of the ones the directors use up here, we can plug these USBs in to give Newburgh access to dump everything incriminating on the web. Any questions?”
Of course my hand shot up. “I get why we’re not splitting up, but is there any chance at all at bringing in outside temp help here?”
“We don’t have the resources to pay for some gun-happy mercenary kill team,” Slam said. “And I don’t trust them. We make do with what we got. Anything else?”
Me again. “Ok, so you don’t want help for that. I can arrange a distraction to keep the cops away from us. No need to trust outsiders with anything sensitive. Contract some villains for a distraction job, keep cops and SWAT focused on that before we go in. I can pay for it myself.”
Slam thought it over, but Monroe was already nodding. Not that Monroe’s opinion mattered to this part of the plan. After thirty seconds, Slam nodded. “Keep our business out of it, yeah, that sounds like a good idea. Set that up for ten to fifteen before we move on DIE. Anything else?”
The day of the job, Slam and I hopped out of the car we’d taken, separate from the minivan Gates had reinforced and modified. According to the driver, what looked like a soccer mobile could hold its own in the Indy 500. We’ll see if the situation calls for it.
Slam and I brought bags with us, containing the essential toys we needed for this mission: chains, locks, guns, and my spork. I moved on ahead, wrapping myself in invisibility so I could screen for Slam. Loaded down with the chains and locks, he was easy pickings for the guards they had. It didn’t help that, while they looked like standard rentals, the first pair of guards I encountered were packing some pimped-out pistols. I’m not talking nickel- or gold-plating; these had unusual barrels that adjusted in width as they were aimed at Slam. They didn’t even have time to issue an order before their necks opened up and they fell. I reappeared, one half of my spork still held where it jabbed one guard’s throat, the bottom half and the concealed serrated blade within where the other throat had been.
“Told you it’s tactical,” I told Slam as he approached.
“I’m still never taking that thing serious,” Slam said. He was about to open his mouth when I disappeared again. Soon, a lawncare guy kneeling in the bushes collapsed, spreading his own personal tomato soup from the wounds in his back from my spork, another of those pistols rolling out of his hand. I grabbed that one for later examination.
A foursome of guards waited inside, all taking cover behind counters. One of them had a plasma rifle like the ICE agents favored. They all yelled at Slam as he entered, then the guy with the rifle turned it on his comrade next to him before his own head smushed. At the same time, the other two’s arms came off. I appeared in the middle of the room, a metallic monstrosity with flowing liquid metal tendrils stabbing into two of the guards while gripping the headless body of a third.
“Get the basement doors!” Slam ordered.
We had the whole lobby area shut down in minutes, despite the alarms. We had a few people flee from the elevator, but none of them matched Monroe’s targets. He’d warned us there would always be lower level people, some deserving what they got, but others would be in the dark. Slam didn’t want us causing more casualties than necessary.
“How’s that distraction?” Slam asked.
“The Bingo Night Robbery is going swimmingly,” I told him as we started making our way up to the second floor. “Hey, how about instead of that, we just seal these- there’s one!” One of the targets, an evil neorologist, poked his head out of a door and got his mind blown by Slam.
“Seal them?” Slam asked.
“Yeah,” I said, pulling that body out of the way of the metal door so I could weld it with my tail laser. “Funnel them into the other stairwell while we head up. Handle the computer bit, then head back down and clear as needed.”
We made much better time that way, finally bursting into a laboratory lit with green and yellow lighting at the top. “I expected cushy offices.” I looked around, spotting some samples in protective cases with labels. I looked over them, looking for anything to suit my fancy. They had names like Mutated Anthrax, 245 Trioxin, Solanum, Zero Point Pathogen, Ecz-ecz-eczema, Spontaneous Combustion, and Moderately Pissed-Off Cow Disease.
“Found one!” Slam called out. I heard him calling out. “Newburgh, we’re plugged in. Tell me this is what we’re looking for.”
“It is,” I heard Newburgh call out over comms. “The distraction is holding up. No law in sight.”
“Murko?” Slam asked.
“CDC knows something’s up and some guards have approached, but they can’t get anywhere. One of them tried to shoot out the lock on the stairwell and injured himself in the process. Lock’s still holding and no law in sight.”
“Gates here. I keep wondering when one of them’s going to try jumping from the second floor, but so far they’re all inside. Like the others said, no law.”
“We’re about ready to- hey!” Slam called my fist bounced off the protective cover of one of the displays. Holy shit that thing’s tough. I turned around toward him, hiding what I’d tried to take with my body. “We’re not here so you can steal the next mega-disease. Come on, let’s clear the other stairwell and the floors.”
I nodded and followed him along, leaving behind a hole carved in that now-empty display.
We set foot into the stairwell and headed down one level, getting a good look at the mass of people crammed into the lower part. “I’m surprised the chain’s holding up,” Slam said.
“Won’t have to much longer,” I said, holding up a vial. I pushed him along into floor eleven before uncorking it and tossing the expanding white fog down into the stairwell below. I rushed in after him, pulling the door tight.
“What the hell was that?!” Slam demanded.
“Mutated Anthrax, apparently,” I said. “Should clear the stairwell no problem.”
“I didn’t want to turn this into a bloodbath! You’re ruining everything!” Slam yelled.
“I agree, you are ruining everything,” added a man in a labcoat. We were in another lab, this one dimly lit in blue. He stood next to a body shackled to a thick steel table. Rubber tubes spiraled around the body’s arms and plugged into the sides of his neck. Despite the colored lighting, his exposed skin was an unnatural pink, and lights blinked from beneath the upper skin layer in places.
“Kill me,” rasped the person on the table, his body seizing up.
“Get away from that table!” Sgt. Slam ordered.
The scientist raised his hands and moved to the side, toward a control panel. “Gladly!” I was already jumping, but he didn’t even try to hit the switch before I plowed into him, shoved my hands into his ribs, and pulled his body in two lengthwise.
I turned to the screaming subject on the table who grew rapidly with the sound of tearing flesh. I should know, I just made that sound with the scientist. He broke out of the table and grabbed me in a giant hand, then slammed me into the ceiling and floor. I was a bit dazed, but pried his hand open, having to break one of his fingers in the process. I landed free, and watched as this giant purple slab of muscle and fury grabbed his own broken finger and tore it off. I formed my nanomachine tail into a thin blade and went for his head. The tail stopped about halfway through. He grabbed it with his hands, opening himself up even more in the process, and pulled it free. The neck closed up almost immediately. He yanked me toward him by the tail and caught me even as I tried to kick his face upward and scramble free. He held me against the the floor and punched me so hard, I suddenly saw a hole in the ceiling above us. A hole with blue light. Oh shit, he punched me down a floor.
Something that hard knocks a few brain cells into slumber. I know I tried punching, kicking, and slashing, but he still clocked me more than I was capable of counting at the time. I think at one point the beatdown went horizontal and I went through a pillar. Take it easy on me, folks, punches that hard remove lots of skills. He knocked the reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic out of me. By the time we landed in the lobby, I’d even lost potty training.
I got pounded so hard, I got invited to a porn star union.
He stopped there, looking around at the daylight streaming into the lobby while I was on dream street. My conscious mind had checked out, but when this pink monstrosity turned back to me, it got to meet the instinctive me. It turned back to me and raised both fists. In retrospect, I could spot where the finger it broke off was growing back. Two tendrils formed atom-wide nanite blades as they wrapped around his elbows. They bit in as they wrapped around, then rapidly unwrapped, carving through the pink flesh. Hot blood splashed onto my armor and through cracks in it where I could feel it, and his fists fell to either side of me.
He roared in pain, right in my face. The tendrils shot into the back of his mouth. His eyes went wide just before I popped the top of his head off. His whole body thrashed and fell on me. I pushed him to the side, rolling over on top and pulling his chest open with the help of my lovely little machine blades. New meat was growing out of the bottom half of that thing’s mouth and I was going all Poe here trying to silence its tell-tale heart. I levered its chest open to see the thing still beating. My machines ate it, tearing atom from atom and staying there in a knot of metal that kept a new one from growing back until, finally, the body stopped healing at all.
After that, I got up, took a few steps, shat myself, and collapsed for a moment while tiny robots stitched my meaty shell back together. Pretty sure it had to knit some grey matter to itself, too. I nearly lashed out at Sgt. Slam when he came up behind me and helped me back to my feet and helped me limp out to the getaway minivan.
“Where’s your bag?” Slam asked me. I turned to him, starting to regain my sentience, and checked my HUD. Instead of the time, the clock showed a trio of birds flying around in a circle. There was a readout with the status of “Bag of Treats” asking “Boom?”
“Boom,” I told Slam. Behind us at the compound, the first floor went up. Between the rest of the structural damage, the DIE building began to slowly fall in on itself, throwing up a few remnants of white powder.
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