Courtesy: Part 15

Over the comm, Vaughn said, “I hope they got everybody inside because this is all for nothing if you get everyone except for one guy—like in horror movies.”

Samita replied before I could, “I told the Wizards’ Council what the zombies do and the Council said they’d figure it out.”

Vaughn’s name blinked on the screen, “As long as the Wizards’ Council has it covered.”

Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Daniel speak, “The impression I get is that they’ve got it covered the vast majority of the time. I mean, we don’t have any guarantees, but it’s not because they’re not paying attention.”

“Good,” Vaughn said, “I’m glad it’s us instead.”

“I don’t know exactly where things go wrong yet,” Daniel shot me a look, “we’ll have to get closer to the moment where it happens if it happens.”

“Right,” Vaughn said, “Cool.”

Adam’s name flashed and a blinking hand appeared next to it, “Everybody, I called in my favor and the Duke’s assembling his forces. They’ll appear more or less where we are and fight their way through. Is there anything specific you want them to do?”

“They know the situation, right?” I asked. “Everyone they’ll fight is an innocent so far as we know. They’re all being mind controlled. If there’s any way to avoid killing them, you told the Duke’s forces to avoid it, right?”

“I get it,” Adam said. “You already brought that up. They’re the people we’re trying to save. And yes, the Duke’s forces can do temporary weird, fairy shit. I mean, I think most of them would rather do that than fight straight out. Don’t get weirded out if you see people who now have donkey heads or whose pants got turned into a swarm of bees.”

“Bees?” I said, thinking about what that would be like, but following it up with, “They’ve got a way to avoid being sucked into the mushroom collective, I’m assuming.”

Adam sucked in a breath, “I told him about it. He didn’t seem concerned. All I can say is that they definitely know.”

Amy laughed, “That’s fairies for you. Whether he’s misjudged or whether the zombies are simply nothing to him, we won’t know until it happens because there’s no way he’ll tell mere mortals.”

“Yeah,” Adam said, “that’s pretty much it. I’m going to tell myself I did everything I could and that Duke Metzul has thousands of years of experience. If he’s not concerned, I shouldn’t be either. Oh, wait, I’ve got to go, they’re beginning to come through the portal.”

Then Adam added, “One more thing, I’ve got a general announcement for everyone. If you see fairies, give them a wide berth. Be polite if you have to talk to them, but it’s wiser to leave them alone. Try not to get their attention.”

Sean piped up at that point, “They’re supposed to be helping us. Are they going to attack us? Because I’m going to defend myself if I have to. I’ve kept a pouch of steel ball bearings on me ever since Castle Rock.”

Adam let out a breath, “That’s not the right attitude… Crap. I don’t have time for this. Someone explain it to him. I’m off the call for a bit.”

Off the call, Amy turned to me and said, “Sean’s an idiot.”

Unmuting herself, she said, “They’re fulfilling an obligation to Adam. They’re only friendly to us because we’re not his targets. The rest of the time they’re the kind of fairies who curse and kidnap people. Give them a wide berth.”

“Okay,” Sean said, “I get it.”

“They’re coming through the portal now,” Jody said. “I’m not going anywhere near them.”

I wanted to check in on them. Haley, Adam and the rest of Team Hidden would all be near Sean by now. If he didn’t figure this out, something was going to turn his pants into bees or worse.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have time. We’d made it downtown and didn’t need the spybots to look at City Hall. I could see it with my own eyes (mediated by my HUD and various sensors).

Spybots had their strengths, but they didn’t give you the scope that eyes did. Mushroom goo expanded outward from City Hall, coating roads and nearby buildings with the slick sheen of whatever they were made of. Tendrils extended outward from all the buildings that I could see along with other growths, many of them circular, almost dome-like.

I didn’t know what the domes were for, but I doubted knowing would make me happier.

This was bad all around. I’d never imagined that the zombies could expand this far this quickly. I wondered if Alex activating the colony’s internal kill switch would be enough. It had absorbed a lot of people and now that I was looking around, I could see animals and birds too.

“Blue,” I said, “do you have any idea of where Bouman and the rest might be at this point?”

Izzy didn’t say anything for a few seconds, scanning the buildings below us with her sonics. Then she said, “The City Hall’s basement, but it extends into the lower levels of the parking garage next door. I think that’s the center of it.”

3 thoughts on “Courtesy: Part 15”

  1. Two possible typos:
    “They’ve got a way to avoid bing sucked into the mushroom collective, I’m assuming.”

    I’m going to tell myself I didn’t everything I could and that Duke Metzul has thousands of years of experience.
    I didn’t -> I did

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