Chapter 04: Power Up

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The elevator rattled slightly as it ascended. Not the best thing for frayed nerves. Enzo laughed grimly at the thought of dying here, now, in a shitty elevator, when there were so many other things out there in the galaxy that could kill him. In the moment of relative calm, an eye in this enigmatic storm, Enzo reached up and gently massaged his shoulder. It was hurting again. Or rather, it hadn't stopped really since the injection.

He frowned. How many times had he been in a shit situation made that much worse by his omnipresent shoulder ache? For now, it was a background murmur, a slow, pulsating burn deep in his muscles...muscles which didn't even exist anymore. At least not all of them. Half of what he was massaging was false skin over plastics and metals. He frowned deeper, staring down at his false limb. It was getting torn up.

At least it was all cosmetic. The flesh had been ripped clean away in several places now, and the metal showed through, but it was okay. It would take a lot more than some claws to do any serious damage. Still, even now, after almost three decades with the thing and a tendency towards violence, the sight unsettled him. Enzo sighed and let go of his arm, letting it back down. His fingers were still wrapped around the combat knife, unable to completely let go of it. There could be anything waiting for him beyond the elevator doors.

As he thought that, the lift settled into its metal nest, rising out of Level Nine and taking him to Eight. Whatever that might bring. Moving smoothly over to the right side of the lift, hidden from view of anyone or anything that might be beyond, he waited for the doors to open. A moment later they did. He heard nothing and, after another moment, peered cautiously out. There was a lobby beyond the doors, a small one, with a Mutant standing in it, its back to him. Enzo's eyes widened as he saw that it had what he wanted.

The Mutant was a former security guard and his pistol, sitting in its holster on his right hip, was still there. The latch was even undone. The butt of the gun was exposed, facing towards him, the Mutant still facing away.

What more invitation could he ask for?

He sheathed his knife.

Enzo grinned darkly as he slid quietly out of the elevator, crossed the short distance between them and grabbed the gun. The Mutant made a warning sound. Gambling on his luck to hold out, he yanked the gun free of the holster, brought it up and pressed the barrel against the back of the smelly thing's head. He squeezed the trigger. His luck had indeed held out. The gun let off a satisfying gunshot and the accompanying bright flash blinded Enzo for a moment. His was briefly stuck with the image of the Mutant's head snapping forward, blood and brains and bone fragments spewing out in a spectacular display of death.

He blinked a few times, watched the body slump to the floor. Enzo dropped into a crouch by the corpse and began patting it down to see if it had any other goodies hidden away in its pockets. His head snapped up, however, as he heard the unmistakable sound of a door opening. Ahead of him, across the lobby, he spied first one, then two Mutants coming in through a doorway.

"Shit!" he snapped, snatching the pistol from where he'd set it on the floor.

They could open doors!?

He took aim and fired, taking the first one directly in the face. The bullet pierced its left eye and punched through its skull, turning the back of its head into a plume of crimson gore. The new corpse dropped immediately to the floor, but as he focused on the second one and squeezed the trigger, nothing happened.

The gun clicked empty.

"Fuck!" he snapped, dropping it and pulling his knife back out.

The Mutant rushed across the room, faster than any of the others he'd encountered so far, and took a swipe at him. Its claws raked across his security vest, tearing through some of it. Not enough to break his flesh. It was a what appeared to be a medic, a woman who wore a tattered and heavily stained white jumpsuit. Enzo plunged the blade into her chest three times in quick succession. He was rewarded with a spray of blood and an earsplitting shriek.

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