Chapter 21: Collapse

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An explosion, more of a deep rumble that shook the foundations of the building, tore Greg from his slumber. He woke to flickering lights and immediately flung the blankets back. After pausing for a long moment, wondering if it was a fluke or something else, a second and third explosion rang out. Greg stood and slipped into his combat boots. He'd gone to bed dressed. He quickly laced them and moved to stand by the door.

Greg never actually tried to exit the room, instead opting to bide his time. There was a simple control panel on the inside, but when he pressed the exit button, nothing happened. He sighed and pressed the others, but to no avail. Williams's people must have disabled it. Greg moved around the room, hunting for alternative means of escape. After five minutes, the silence of his room punctuated by the occasional explosion and dimming of the lights, Greg surmised that there was no way out of his quarters.

He wasted a few more moments hunting for a weapon of some kind, anything, but there was nothing. It occurred to him then that Williams had been very meticulous in his design of Greg's quarters. Finally, he settled for waiting to the left of the door, hunched, ready for whoever would come for him.

They wouldn't take him easily.

Time passed. He thought he heard gunfire and screams, but it might have just been his imagination. Greg's skin crawled as he imagined the door opening and some Undead horror stomping in and feasting upon him. Time marched on with a merciless lethargy and thoughts began to seep into his skull.

He imagined all sorts of things. What if he was trapped here? What if the creatures had broken out and were overtaking the facility, consuming all those left within? An image, unbidden, flashed through his mind: himself, paralyzed but in unthinkable pain, suspended from a web in a basement somewhere, slowly mutating into a zombie. He tried to shake the thoughts from his mind, but the longer he waited, the more powerful they grew.

Without warning, the door opened.

A DI trooper in black armor stumbled in backwards. Greg prepared to attack, but then the unexpected happened. Kyra leaped atop the man, who had gone down onto his back, and drove the blade of a combat knife into his neck, punching through the softer armor there. A geyser of blood spurted, staining her neck and face.

She looked over, her eyes wide and wild.

"Greg," she gasped.

Abandoning the knife, she stood, crossed the distance between them, grabbed him and kissed him. A figure appeared behind her. Greg felt her tongue, probing, demanding.

"We don't have time for this," the figure said. His voice was familiar. Kyra finally broke contact, stepping back.

"Um, hi," Greg managed, breathless.

Kyra laughed. "Come on."

She regained control of herself, turned, knelt, and retrieved the knife from the guard's neck. She grabbed the pistol in his holster and tossed it to Greg, who caught it, checked the magazine automatically, found it full.

"Bishop," the figure greeted as Greg moved to kneel over the corpse, recovering a handful of spare magazines.

"Cage." Greg had just realized who the figure with Kyra was. "What the hell are you doing here? Where have you been?"

"Long story. Now let's move," Cage replied, an unusual urgency creeping into his typically monotone voice.

"Is he dead or alive?" Billings's familiar voice sounded.

"Alive," Kyra called.

"Damn, guess I owe you."

"You bet that I was dead?" Greg stepped out into the corridor. Billings, Powell, and Kauffman were gathered in the hallway. A pair of black-armored corpses, one of their faceplates shattered, lay on the floor.

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