I couldn't move, I couldn't breathe...
“Don't make a sound, or we're both dead.” The voice whispers from behind me. The voices get steadily closer until they suddenly start fading, probably taking a turn on the hallway to another part of the floor. The grip around my throat kept tight until they were completely out of earshot, then he lets go, so I do the natural thing and whirl on him after a quick breath, but stop when I notice it's...
“Dominick?” I say, surprise managing to make it's way into my voice.
“What? Expecting it to be your little friend?” He says, voice lowered some as if he's afraid of being overheard.
Come to think of it “Yeah, I did expect it to be him, why the choking and the secrecy BS?” I ask, still tense.
“Because they don't trust me any, and they shouldn't, because of what they are about to do.” He says, taking a look out into the hallway.
“The virus they plan on releasing tomorrow?” His reaction of surprise was literally almost squawking, but he recovered and leveled the gun I didn't see before at my head, I didn't have any doubts he would miss.
“You know?” He says, part angry, part surprise.
“I found out not two minutes ago, by hacking Corey's computer.” He didn't lower the gun, but he didn't shoot either, so I took that as a good sign that I had gotten his interest, so I continue with “What Alpha's doing isn't anywhere near right, and I'm taking it you thought the same?”
“Yes, I did, though I had to go with it or never leave here alive. They made a mistake thinking I would go with this, I actually have human family here, and if that virus gets out...” We both know what would more than likely happen to them.
“Then we seem to have a similar goal, I won't condemn the city to that kind of fate, and if the government even heard this virus was around, we're all dead.” His gun hand wavers, then drops, he puts the gun on a thigh holster and checked the hallway again, he looked different without that hoodie from the store, you would think he'd have feathers on his arms and such but he didn't, he actually resembled an Egyptian deity with the human body and animal head and wings. His dressing was almost casual, black T-shirt, and urban camo pattern jeans, the only thing that stood out was the armor, black steel plates covered the outside of the jeans, looking almost form fitted for the legs, he wore no shoes and saw that his feet were mostly human, except for the talons and having only three instead of five... kind of an odd combination.
“What are you planning on doing?” I ask, then realize how stupid of a question that was. “Or rather, how.” I add on to recover from the stupidity of my own question.
“That's the hard part of it, I have to find where they are keeping the stuff and burn it, force them to do something else, I don't really have a good idea, I only found this out yesterday.” Apparently he wasn't an think on your feet kind of person... hell neither was I, but I still learned to think faster than that, by now I could have had a good solid plan going...
“So you don't know where the virus is being kept?” He shook his head, which I was expecting.
“That's something we're going to have to look for, though it isn't going to be... easy?” A certain someone was standing right behind Dominick, who turns and looks back, and guess who? 101 in his unerring stare stood there, he smiles “Thinking of a little sabotage are we?”
“Okay... I thought you were with-”
“Corey? Yes I was, until I put a hole in the wall with his face, can't stand that egotistical bastard.” Something suddenly clicks
'You're the one who called Sheryl up there?”
He nods his head “Needed to get you alone, but I see you've got someone else who was thinking the same thing, hello Dominick.” Dominick could only nod at the dragon towering over him, I think he was well intimidated by the way 101 carried himself, intense red eyes, and that posture that just said “F**k off, i'm annoyed.” he threw around so well, but I think the rifle strapped to his back added to that intimidation factor just a tiny smidge more.
He clears his throat and continues “Well, since I have two people for stopping the genocide bomb, how about we get to it?” Ooookay, so he knew about that? He seems to get my unspoken question “Who do you think got you into the computer smart one? Not your little hacking device, that's for sure. Anyway they won't be finding Corey anytime soon, and the canister we need to smash and burn is sitting on the floor neg eight, along with a few of the more Zealous members of Alpha.” He spits out the word Alpha like it was the worst thing in the world, though we both knew it wasn't.
“Shouldn't they have a backup of the virus somewhere? It's not like you will just make one of a virus and use it on just one city.” Dominick asks
“They do, in several other large chapters of Alpha, and before you ask, no, I don't know which ones.” He had a really dark attitude, sounds like he has some real hate going on.
I speak up “Well, that just fucks things up doesn't it? Even if we stop this one, the others will still be released.” Pessimism mode activated!
He just chuckles “You really think that they will take a risk like that, when they find out there's a flaw in the virus?” What? He had a look on his face like he had done something.
“What did you do one-oh-one?” I ask.
“Well, since I was on his computer and was tunneling through some files when I see that this is the chain starter, this guy's the complete head of Alpha for now, and when that means... i got creative, made a message about the virus still affecting EVOs through secondary exposure and crap, a bit more on this and that, then sent it out to them all... hopefully they got the message and believed it.”Guy's got initiative, and ingenuity... dangerous combo.
Dominick looks at him questioningly “But what if Corey tries to-”
“He won't, 'nuff said.” His tone matched exactly what he said, don't pursue it.
“Not to interrupt or anything, but we should get rid of that virus and get out of here as soon as possible, I've seen they're weapon collection they've got and there's no doubt they have the man? Power to use it should they find out about us.”
“True enough, this-a-way.” He leads us to the elevators, this floor seemingly deserted... the moment we get inside the elevators he takes a second to get a good , long breath out, probably to ignore the elevator music, and presses the button for -8, we head down, he says “I don't know how they will be set up down there, so be sure to take your guy down quick, and no gunfire, sound still manages to travel well here.” Dominick consents with a yes, though he seemed a bit uncomfortable with the prospect of hand-to-hand... I wished I could use the electrocution mode on aurora, but I still didn't trust anyone enough with that, surprisingly I trusted 101 more than I did Dominick, but still, 101 shot Locke, got to pay him back for that, and true to his personality just plan shady.
The moment the doors open 101 bursts out the door in a blur, and suddenly a beetle EVO has his head used as a football, the exoskeleton cracking as the man did a back-flip through the air, I rush out and chop a komodo dragon EVO in the throat, not enough force to crush his adam's apple, but enough to cut off his oxygen supply and keep him from roaring, with a bit of rapid movement I palm him in the temple as he doubles over gasping for air, the EVO's eyes glaze over and he crumples sideways to the steel floor. Any more guards weren't to be seen, so I take a look around the room., it was more of an entry hall than a lab, so the door at the end must be the actual lab part of the building... and it was solid blacksteel, wonderful. Dominick walks out of the elevator...
“That was quick... I barely even saw you.”
“That was quick.” 101 mocks him in a perfect mimic of Dominick's voice, he quickly switches back to his normal pitch and tone “If it wasn't we would have several more problems to deal with... but for now it's the door ahead.” I quicjky take the Kobra pistols off the guards and hand tuck one into the back of my pants, I hand the other one to 101, who takes it before walking up to the metal door... looks like it could only be opened from the inside... that's a major flaw, made worse by the fact there was no camera or slide on the door to see who it was... I think I know where this was going...
He knocks deftly, once, twice, thrice, before maing a clearing sound in his throat.
“Who is it?” A voice sounds through the metal.
“Open up, it's Corey.” He does an absolutely perfect impersonation of Corey, if that had sounded from behind me I would have been convinced. We hear several bolts and hydraulic locks whoosh open, the moment the door opens the frog EVO gets a nice friendly punch to the face, flying back into a steel table, the frogman stays still after falling to the ground.
“Ugh, think i got slime on my claws.” He says while shaking his hand trying to get the green, disgusting goo off his hand... it would have gotten rid of anyone's appetite real fast. I enter and look around the room, tubes in the far right corner, some rows of terminals and a rack of canisters sitting on the far wall, made of metal and about the size of a brick... something was missing from this equation... where's the test subjects or specimen freezer? My question gets answered when I pot a side hall sitting on the far left, l could hear sounds coming from there.
“There's the stuff we need to burn.” 101 says while pointing to the canisters... I needed to check something first though so I say “Dominick? Mind checking out the far hallway over there?”
“Not at all.” He heads off into that area, I hoped he wouldn't find what I feared, human test subjects in cages.... now onto the original business. “So how do we go about burning this genocidal virus?” He nods toward the tubes “See those? That's where virus's are tested with different conditions, we can put the canisters contents into that and use the purge command, poof, no more virus, and we can smash the mini-server and kill their data, they won't be making anymore of these for at least a good month or two.”
“Guy's! You might want to come get a look at this.” And cue my fears though we needed to hurry about this “Go ahead and start loading the canisters, I’ll take a look and see what Dominick's found.” HE grabs some canisters out of their slots in the wall, and starts taking them over to the tubes. I head into the side-room to see what...
“Whoa.” I look around, it was much worse, I found the specimen freezers... then entire back wall was full of them, in-between? Several humans, all dead from the virus... I felt like puking at the sight, left in four by eight cells to die in unimaginable pain... the fuck! It made me angry just thinking about it, people in cages, subjected to fatal experiments... reminded me of the facility I was in, now I just wanted to watch this place burn in purifying flames. I tap Dominick on the shoulder to get his attention and thumb back toward the main room. He left without a word, he was thinking the same thing I was I bet. I look up, and see the fire detector, the thing could sense fires as far away as thirty meters, don't need that. Reaching up I yank it out of the ceiling, and crush it underfoot. The doors to the specimen freezer stood in front of me like a window to death, each one was kept at an exceedingly low temperature, keeping the viruses and bacteria cultures dormant... I see labels for several deadly viruses including small pox and Yersinia pestis...the bubonic plague? Some of this and that, a few more viruses, one thing is for sure, they needed to be destroyed.
“Shane! The canisters are loaded, come back here so we can finish!” Okay... but first I’ll leave a parting gift I find the temp control for the freezers and crank the little line all the way up, the projected temp showed five hundred degrees Fahrenheit... should be enough to kill anything in there not an extremophile , capable of surviving heat like that and such. I walk out of the room and see 101 hovering over a computer with [purge, Y/N?] written on the screen. The moment I walk in he hits the enter button with the sound of a thermobaric bomb the virus dies, He kicks over a small tower on the ground and breathes fire on it, the computer screens showing a wicked flash of scrambled data before going dark. When 101 stopped the mini-server was just a puddle of plastic on the ground. “Ready to leave?” He asks.
After nodding my head we go back to the elevator, dragging frogman out and shutting the door, the automatic locks sealing it from the outside world. We take the elevator to the ground floor, when it opens we get greeted by the sight of several EVOs pointing guns at us... quick reaction, but ours was quicker, he slams the roof button and shoves Dominick to the side of the elevator and pressing him against the back as a hail of bullets pepper the wall, I had ducked back against the opposite wall, watching through wide eyes the amount of gunfire that made it through before the doors close and we start shooting up. 101 backs away from a nearly crushed Dominick.
“That was a close one, quick too, I didn't think they were going to catch on 'till after we left... but things like that happen, flight it is then.”
And now for Dominick to point out the obvious “But you guy's don't have any wings.” 101 just grins, like he was dealing with a kid who asked obvious questions all the time.
“We will when we get enough room.” was his cryptic answer to the EVO, for once I’m not getting cryptic crap, what a change! We reach the roof and when it opens we find they had covered their bases, though I don't think they expected us to make it past the ground floor, only five EVO's were here, one was downed right as 101 rushed out again, the horse EVO taking a savage kick to the gut and a axle-kick to the head, the EVO's face cracked the roof, I rush out before any of them bring their weapons to bear, I flip over one, gabbing his shoulders as I did so and using my momentum tossed him like a ball across the roof, him in complete surprise, I wrap my tail around another's foot and yank him off his feet, this one an minotaur, I recognize him as the white and black one from the lobby right before I drive a palm right between the eyes... knockout!
I jerk at the sound, it making my ears ring.
I look and see that 101 had taken the rifle off his back and blasted the one I tossed and the one that came up just behind me, both hit the ground almost at the same time like some kind of orchestra.
Bang bang bang!
This one was much quieter, but I see one behind 101 drop, three holes in his head... Dominick scored that shot with the pistol he had apparently. I look around the roof, our skirmish must have lasted only a few seconds, but it had felt like an eternity, we hear the elevator doors close and start to go down.
“And for one last bit o' sabotage.” He pries the doors open... and we see the pulley system... that's really old, modern elevators use magnetic rails along the edges of a very tight elevator shaft... if something were too... yep. 101 had reached out and cut the cable with a quick swipe of his claws, the twisted cable whipping down into the darkness, we hear a resounding crash several seconds later.
“Now I bet they'll really be pissed off.” 101 says with a grin.
“You enjoy causing mayhem don't you?” I say bluntly.
“ 'Course I do, but only to people or places that deserve it.” And that just proved he was conscious about his actions.
Dominick holsters his gun “As much as i'd hate to burst your bubble, but you know, wings and all.” Okay, wonder how surprised Dom's going to be when 101 shows him his little trick.
101 chuckles “I have no bubble, but then again, you were saying something about wings?” He had started the shift into the quadruped form, this was different than the one I saw in the videos though, he was much smaller, maybe a good twenty feet from head to tail-tip, and maybe fourteen feet high if he stretched his neck up, he flips out his wings, still avian, and laughs at Dominick's open-mouthed expression. “Careful, a squirrel might decide to nest in there.” Dominick closes his mouth after that. “Come on Shane, shift so we can get out of here.” Okay....
“But I like these clothes... and I haven't really tried the quadruped thing.”
He get's the biggest look of surprise I had ever seen on his face “They really didn't push you that much? Guess you are a softie.” I come back with “Guess you're a hard-ass.”
He laughs “Touché, have Dominick hold your clothes, and it isn't exactly hard to freaking shift.”
“So I'm a pack mule now?” Dominick asks, without sarcasm I might add.
“If you're a pack mule i'd make you carry my rifle and a bunch of other crap, besides, you owe us for helping out on that virus, you could never have done it by yourself.” 101 says bluntly.
“And here I was thinking you were doing it because it was the morally good thing to do.” Dominick says with a bit of indignation
“I wasn't going to let something like that slide, besides, it would have solved nothing, except increase hate for EVOs in the surviving population, which let's face it, humanity is a stubborn as a cockroach, kill one there will be a dozen more somewhere... Though softie here probably did it because he didn't want the deaths on his conscience.”
“You have zero diplomacy skills, you know that?” I ask to him after getting my jacket and shirt off.
“I had to have something to deal with that Alpha guy, if i didn't i would've taken his head off when he first started that rant. Now hurry up, it's starting to look like the cops might but in and we don't need that right now.” I roll my eyes and finish getting the rest of the clothes off, then I look at aurora... I don't think it's a good idea leaving this on... I set it into standby with a mental command and the constant vibration against my arm stops, it's storing the energy so that it can start itself again when it comes out of standby without having to draw upon my bio-electricity. I pull it off with a bit of a pneumatic hiss, which 101 notices, but says nothing... He already thinks I knew about the quadruped shifting thing... and I guess I do, I look back to when Darwin made me push the shifting abilities... that pressure feeling that I got must have been the threshold for the change... I focus on the feeling again, the increase in pressure and heat, like a heating rubber band, then all of the sudden it snaps, and I feel my bones crack and shift.
I fall to the ground hard, using my hands to break the fall, but I notice them change quickly, now the shift was started it was like a rock going downhill, faster and faster and even harder to stop. My legs go numb for a second and the pressure on my back grew heavier, until I could feel something that wasn't there before, the wings break free and fall by my sides, it almost felt like having extra arms. The rest of the size and muscle changes continue, I only had four claws now on each foot and I could feel something riding down my spine... maybe spikes? My neck was longer so I could look back and see... yep, about half a foot high and sleeked back with a razor edge on top, they only ran down to the tailbone. Those were all the changes I could see so looking back at 101 I see him looking at me closely, his red eyes a little bit unnerving.
“Not bad, though looking alike is kind of creepy.” He was right, though I was glad his eyes were red instead of my orange or else it would be really creepy. I move the wings so they fold against my back. “Pick up your clothes and let's go, we've got a lot of distance to cover in a short amount of time.” 101 says as he takes a look over the edge to the ground below.
“Well that's what you two have to do, i've got family to visit and move out of the city before Alpha gets to them.” Dominick says after a quick moment of silence.
101 is the first to speak “Okay then, don’t know how you are going to do it but they'll be more focused on us for the time being, so get going now, and... oddly enough, goodbye.” Okay, question mark? Dominick huffs and runs off the building top, getting into flight quickly and speeding off into the deeper part of the city.
“Oddly enough? What the hell does that mean?” I ask as Dominick fades out of my increased sight range.
“Never said it before, not even an abbreviation or a similar word, feels kind of odd rolling off the tongue for the first time.” I shake my head at that, at least he's honest though.
I decide to ask after several seconds “Lead on, I have no idea where we're headed.”
“Sure, question though, are you anywhere confident that you can fly?” Good question, no I wasn't.
“Yes.” I lie, I thought it was a good one too.
“I call BS, you're not the least bit confident are you?”
“Okay, got me there... on a scale of one to ten? Maybe a two-point-five.”
“Better than nothing, try not to think about the imminent painful death if you fall, no pressure lad.” Oh sure, no pressure, that's a good one, kind of not hard thinking about it right now, since he just had to say that. He takes a few steps toward the ledge and leaps off with his hind legs, then with a few strokes of his wings he's off... really not sure about his. I see 101 slow into a hover in the distance, waiting for me. I take a deep breath, I was lucky enough to be able to hold onto the clothes and aurora with a single paw, I keep a tight grip on them as I three-leg walk to the edge, great... vertigo. I place my hind legs on the edge and put some serious push into the leap, suddenly over the edge, it was almost like being weightless for a second, but then gravity came back down and feel my open wings catch the air, now it's sink or swim, if a bad analogy for something like this. I try flapping my wings and succeed in only losing quite a bit of altitude, buildings seemed quite a bit more threatening now.
“Focus!” Came 101's shout from somewhere above me... focus? When I'm about to become a wall ornament? Yet some part of me had kept that in mind, flap both wings at the same time, in-between breaths, don't put to much force into it... I follow those words almost mindlessly and see that I had gained quite a bit of altitude, now I was free and clear of the buildings.
“Not bad, though I was hoping you didn't cut it as close as you did.” I turn my head sideways and see him above and to the right of me, looking down in... was that relief? No, couldn't be.
“I would have killed you hadn't I made it you know.” I say up to him.
“That's if you survived crashing into a steel building, and I would have pulled you clear if you weren't going to make it.”
“Then why do I feel not reassured at that?”
“Because I didn't say it before you lept off the building?”
“Oh yeah, that's right... remind me when we land to hit you upside the head for not doing it then.” I can see his smile from where I was flying.
“God, already acting like brothers who hate each other, this is going to be fun.” He banks off towards a smaller part of the city and listening to the subliminal thoughts in my head match a perfect tight swooping curve to follow him towards his unknown destination and whatever else is there.