Chris grinned, “Can’t argue with that. We’ve still got time to figure it all out and with any luck, we won’t get corrupted by ancient alien artifacts first.”
“Sadly, that means that we’ve got to leave this one alone for the time being,” I looked down at the tablet where it lay on the table. “I’ve got a feeling I’ll want to lock this one away.”
Raising his eyebrow, “Does this mean you’re finally going to open storage room three or four?”
I bit my lip, glancing toward the door, “You know, I probably will. We’ve got two entire rooms full of Abominator tech. It’s the one place I know we can keep it. You know what? I should just do it now. Knowing what I know, I don’t feel comfortable leaving it in here during practice.”
Chris swallowed, “Well, this will be a first.”
“You’re telling me,” I walked over to the safe Grandpa put in the wall next to his tools. It didn’t take long for me to go through the combination, twisting the dial a few different times and then waiting as it scanned my handprint from a spot on the counter next to the safe that looked exactly like the wood on the rest of the counter.
With that, the safe door opened, showing several sets of keys, three sets of three-ring binders, and a couple of grey metal containers that held three by five cards—the cards that people wrote recipes on. They didn’t contain recipes. I’d looked through them. Written by hand in Grandpa’s handwriting, many cards contained ideas Grandpa had but didn’t have time to fully explore along with the location of the proof of concept if he (or someone else) had made one. He’d written secrets on others, ones he didn’t feel comfortable putting on his after-action reports.
I’d read a few and decided he’d had good judgment.
I picked up the keys as Chris asked, “What’s the rest of that stuff?”
“I can’t give you details, but basically it’s insurance. Figure that if I ever get it out, we’ll be planning to purely metaphorically burn down the world. Basically, it’s all stuff that can’t be taken back once it’s said. Um… You know how in comics Batman has secret plans for how to take out the whole Justice League except supervillains get them and use them first?”
Chris shook his head, “I basically barely read comics at all, but I think I know where you’re going with this.”
“Yeah,” I said. “It’s pretty similar to that except it’s not at all about the Heroes’ League. It’s all pointed outside of our walls. Some of them are about people, others are about locations, and there’s a bunch that are about ideas. I’m pretty much the only person who can get in and there are circumstances where the safe burns itself to slag if someone tries to open it.”
I shut the door. It clicked and the whole safe hummed as something happened inside. The combination would be different next time, but I knew the equation necessary to figure it out given the time and date.
Letting out a breath, Chris said, “I’ve got a feeling we’ll all have better lives if we never see a situation where you open it for anything but keys.”
“Pretty much,” I walked over to the table and picked up the godkiller tablet.
Then we walked out of the lab and walked through HQ’s main room next to the wall, passing the first two storage rooms until we reached the third. Looking at it, you’d assume that it was another painted metal door, but I knew better. I’d noticed a spot where the paint had chipped and knew the material at sight. Tests confirmed my guess. It had been made of a ceramic used in alien spacecraft that I’d learned how to make.
I put the key in the lock, heard mechanisms inside the door and wall click as the door opened. At first glance, the room looked like every other storage room in the complex, the same gray metal shelving reached from floor to ceiling, all of it looking like 1950s era industrial technology.
It probably was.
The resemblance to every other storage room ended there. For one, the walls, ceiling, floor as well as the inside of the door were covered with a shiny blue-green foam. My implant identified it a material used to block access to the ambient energy that a lot of Abominator technology needed to recharge.
Ignoring the nagging thought that no material blocked energy completely, I took in what was on the shelves. If I hadn’t already been a low level of anxiety when I opened the door, this would have brought me there. Abominator technology covered the shelves and half of the floor.
A power impregnator (that my implant labeled an “activator”) sat in front of the shelves on the left side wall. Guns that bore an uncanny resemblance to Cassie’s lay next to each other and a foot-wide disc that reminded me of the flying neutron emitters we’d destroyed in St. Louis. Those were far from the only weapons. My implant identified more than twenty different weapons as well as spare parts and charging devices.
That was far from everything. I needed at least an hour to fully understand what we had. Placing the tablet next to an egg-shaped device that my implant labeled “Abominator implant constructor,” I took a look at the right side of the storage room and wished I hadn’t.
An eight-foot-tall cylinder sat on a two-foot-tall platform. I didn’t need my implant to identify it as an “Abominator birthing chamber.” It was exactly like the machine I’d helped destroy except that ours had only one chamber while Higher Grounds’ had 12.
Next to me, Chris said, “You know what? I’m going to feel better after we lock the door.”
He stared at a big grayish-blue box on the lower shelves. It glowed, giving a dim light. Tuneless humming came from its direction. My implant didn’t even try to identify it.
I turned to Chris, “Let’s do that now.”
We backed out—it only took a step—and I shut the door, hearing mechanisms click as it swung into place followed by a hiss as the door sealed. I tried the doorknob without putting the key in the lock.
Nothing moved, not even a little.
From behind me, I heard Vaughn’s voice, “Whoa. I never thought I’d see that door open.”
At almost the same time, I also heard Yoselin mutter the word, “Dios!”