Breaking & Entering: Part 9

Casting a last look at the dead people on the floor, I ran.

Only a few steps of the Rocket suit took me away from the scene, and that was good. I didn’t want to look at them.

They’d probably died when I broke the barrier between the core and the rest of the base.

Still, even if out of sight wasn’t really out of mind, they were at least out of sight.

Unfortunately, the next room was worse.

Three times the size of the other lab, this one held even more human sized cylinders. Not all of them had been used but the ones that were made up for the others in sheer creepiness.

The flesh floating in the blue liquid was probably supposed to be people, but I couldn’t say for sure. They were a jumble of explosive growth, weird, discolored flesh mixed with pulsing blood vessels, and organs I almost recognized.

I didn’t see bones or brains, but they might have been hidden. Some of the blobs might have been heads.

Something about the shape of them seemed wrong. I couldn’t say how.

Could they possibly be the beginning of an attempt to clone Cassie? It didn’t seem like it was going very well. It was a lot of growth given the time since they’d taken her, but given how quickly she healed, it wasn’t impossible.

It was, however, disturbing.

The cylinders weren’t alone in the room. Computers and screens took up half of it along with machines I didn’t recognize at all.

People stood in the corner in the gray, hazmat jumpsuits I’d seen earlier, masks on, and facing the wall.

Two of the lightweight Rook suits lay on the floor looking battered. One wing lay on the floor, severed near its base.

Cassie stood next to the battered Rook suits, wearing one of the jumpsuits and mask herself, but holding her staff. If that wasn’t enough to identify her, she wore her utility belt and her sword.

I’d found her. I stepped up to the door. Made out of the same material as the transparent wall around it, it was locked. A key card reader hung on the wall next to it.

I smashed it in.

Finally,” she said. “You took forever.” The mask gave her voice a hollow tone, but I couldn’t mistake her.

“You kept on moving. I didn’t know where you were.”

“What was I supposed to do? Sit in my cell, and wait to be rescued?”

“I don’t know… It would have made it easier to find you.”

“You had the gun. I know you were talking to it. It hasn’t stopped jabbering at me since you got here.”

One of the people began to edge away from the group. She tapped his arm with an end of the staff.

Sparks flew, and he swore.

“Next time I taser you unconscious, okay?”

He swore again.

She pulled the staff back into a ready position. “Now, where were we?”

“Arguing. Anyway, the gun can’t talk to me. It was like twenty questions the whole time. Did she go right or left? Is she close? Did Timmy fall down a well?”

Cassie turned the mask toward me. “Who’s Timmy?”

I thought about it. “I’m not sure. I think he was in an old TV show. Lassie, maybe?”

One of Rook’s people muttered something, and another one snorted.

Cassie adjusted her hold on the staff. “What was that?”

No one said anything.

The suit’s new ability to enhance my hearing wasn’t perfect. I couldn’t quit make out what he’d said either.

“Never mind,” Cassie said. “Rocket, could you hand me the gun?”

“You’re not going to—”

“I’m not going to shoot them.”

I gave her the gun.

She pointed it at the cylinders.

Searing light erupted from its barrel, shattering and cracking the cylinders, melting metal, burning the fleshy things to ashes, and turning the blue liquid into gas—some of anyway.

Then she turned it on the computers.

I might have expected one of the scientists or lab techs to start screaming about losing their data, but they didn’t.

Don’t get me wrong, they reacted, but they crowded closer to each other. They didn’t attack. One of them actually started to cry. I’m not sure if that was out of losing their work as much as fear of being burned alive.

Honestly, I could feel the heat from her gun through the Rocket suit.

“There,” Cassie said. “That’s one less thing I’ve got to worry about.”

The blackened remains of the cylinders and computers gave off trails of smoke.

Interestingly, the smoke floated toward the door I’d broken. Someone had turned on a fan, and I didn’t think it was Rook’s.

17 thoughts on “Breaking & Entering: Part 9”

  1. Gex holds his nose with one hand, using his other hand to duct tape the bathroom vent switch on. The stall walls lay crumpled against the walls, blown away from one cracked, red-glowing toilet. The wall behind it is black with soot in the shape of a mushroom cloud. Just before he leaves, he tosses a pine tree-shaped air freshener behind him into the room.

    The shelf holding the sinks then collapses.

  2. “Someone had turned on a fan, and I didn’t think it was Rook’s.” I think should end with “Rook.” or else “Rook’s people.”

    “some of anyway” definitely needs an “it”.

    I really appreciate you posting all this for us to enjoy!

  3. Losing their data? We hope so. But what about off-site backups? They will have, if their IT people are competent, unless the Rook is so paranoid and over-confident that he thinks their HQ is the only safe place. And even then, they may have backups in another room.

  4. “Who’s Timmy?” — HAAAAAAAH! Got a good laugh at that one. We use the Timmy line on our dogs whenever they are barking too much about something we can’t see. The dogs don’t get it, but it keeps us from overreacting to all the barking. (And in case anyone’s thinking along the lines of how if I trained my dogs better, they wouldn’t bark like that, let me point out that they are Bearded Collies, known to be a ‘vocal’ breed, and also that I’d rather they get a little excited and noisy when someone comes to the door or turns around in our driveway, or when a pine cone falls against a window, than not. Besides, I LIKE their exuberance, and wouldn’t want to train it out of them — that’s part of who they are, and training them otherwise feels a lot like forcing a left-handed person to learn to write with their right hand.)

    And @Dave, I agree with you about backups, but I’m of two minds about the implementation. On one hand, supervillains with secret bases tend to be insular and paranoid, which makes me think the back-ups are probably in a secret vault 200 metres below the base, with weekly or monthly secondary media copies hidden in a different secret location that has some significance to the villain. On the other hand, Rook is working with (and probably getting a whackload of money from) the Nine, and you can bet your best booty that they’ll have redundant real-time uplinks to multiple globally-distributed backup systems, each with their own triply-redundant recovery protocols. In an organization like that, if the backups fail, heads will literally roll.

    Needless to say, while Jim has most definitely considered that, given his other profession (a.k.a his day job), it’s quite possible that Nick, as a teenaged boy who inherited most of his tech and who has not shown a strong leaning toward long-term planning, would forget about the possibility of backups. And certainly Miss Fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants-because-I-can’t-sit-still-for-very-long Cassie hasn’t thought about it. In any case, I’m sure it was at least satisfying for Cassie on an emotional level. And for the gun too.


  5. i am sure Nick has and will report that thought in the next post.
    Nick, you should not use references when you do not know their meaning. Have the op culture gurus taught you nothing?
    And Cassie I know you are super strong, but seriously you could not sit and wait once you knew he was there? Would have made things a whole lot easier. the fans were starting to think you were dead. (well i was)
    Now you be a good super chick or you will get grounded you hear me?

  6. I am just waiting for Courtney to make an appearance, She was the villain for hire in the the Rook Suit that got “gooed” <– Insert bad joke here.

  7. I think Nick is overthinking it a little. Rook released the nerve gas into the entire bass. Anyone without a hazmat jumpsuit or Rook armor died before he took out the wall.

  8. Algean: What, not normally up at 2am (Eastern time)?

    PG: The pine tree bit somehow makes me think of the bit in Iron Man where he destroys a tank will a small missile…

    Andrul: Oops. Guess I’ve got to fix that. As for your thanks, no problem. I’m sure I get at least as much out of it as the readers.

    Dave/Hg: I have thought about the backup issue (more on that later), but you make me wonder who signs up to be an IT guy for a supervillain. You’ve got to be really desperate–that, or greedy.

    Hg/Captain Mystic: As for the whole “Timmy” thing. I know that the reference is still somehow out there (I don’t think I’ve ever seen the TV series), but I wouldn’t be surprised to discover teenagers knew the reference but had no idea where it came from.

    Hg: My dog is fairly horrifying about barking when the door rings too, but without the excuse of being a particular breed. My dog is a mix of Labrador and German Shepherd. He’s definitely full of energy though.

    Evil Twin: Courtney’s likely to make an appearance before the end.

    MadNinja: The whole thing about guilt (and other feelings) is that they’re not particularly rational…

  9. If he feels guilty about this, how will Nick feel when Rook or the Nine detonate the nuke to cut off the evidence trail? They’ve got to be thinking that way by now …

    I’m glad you get something out of writing this. It feels a bit like being a parasite when I read free web fiction.

  10. @ AVR If you have spare funds, you can always avail yourself of the donate button up right.
    Equally, TLN is now published and thus for sale!

    Of course you probably knew all this…

  11. Everything re: Courtney is one heck of a coincidence. At the same school as Nick. Just happens to be friend him when they really weren’t friends before. Uses him as “back up” to meet a guy who can make her powers permanent. That guy just happens to work for The Nine. Cassie gets kidnapped shortly after this meeting by The NIne. She enhances her hearing and can listen on Nick’s phone calls–for Lord knows how long. Etc.

    Plus she can modify her DNA at will. I wonder how long before she modifies it enough to give herself a Citizen’s Mark.

    Last, she has a big booty and great teeth. You can never trust a big butt and a smile. It’s poison.

  12. Who would work as an IT guy for a superviain? Well, the payment must be good.
    Besides, there are a lot of companies (including many banks) with deals more than a little shady (Cayman islands ring a bell?) in the real world and they have IT people working for them.
    In Rio there were a few publicity people, ex-military and others with high level of education and/or training working for young drug dealers that were always killing each others, their employees and the employees of the others. Why? Some where drug addicts, some were afraid for their families and some were simply greedy.

  13. @The Evil Twin – I see what you did there!

    I am thinking along the same lines as others, Nick didn’t release that poison by breaking that wall. That’s the whole reason he told the others to get out, so they could avoid the poison. Now I really feel the need to see a story about an evil IT guy.

    I miss Narbonic! (If anyone ever read that webcomic…)

  14. There are evil IT guys all over the place. Who do you think makes those lovely Trojans, worms, malvertisements, and other things that make you want to take the person aside and give them a special type of drink, a shot of Hemingway?

  15. I’m sure Rook pays well enough above the standard wages to make it enticing to just about anyone. Also, why does everyone assume the employee knows who they’re being hired for? They could be hired by a legally created corporation with high secrecy clauses about non-disclosure then when the employee shows up, finds out he’s working for Rook, opens his mouth to complain and the boss points out the non-disclosure clause with very fine print in invisible ink stating upon termination of employment the worker and all his family will be terminated. That’s enough to keep just about any family man in line.

  16. Oh, and I don’t mean that Nick should feel sorry for them, just that some of the employees may not fit neatly into the “evil” category.

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