Chapter 09: Dissidence

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Enzo was beginning to get sick of this.

Ever since he'd awoken naked on a pile of corpses, it had been one thing after another. Making repairs, fighting creatures, dealing with jerkoffs that wanted to kill him. Through the whole thing, like a fine crimson thread piercing the continuity of his entire existence, his shoulder hurt, a low, burning ache riding on the frequency of his own personal hell. It didn't hurt too much now, at least, he thought as he moved low through a corridor, the latest arrival watching his back. Something he didn't particularly enjoy, but she'd insisted.

Luckily, he was too busy for the pain, so it had been reduced to a background murmur for now. Just miserable white noise. And he knew that death and blood was ahead, which tended to help as well. Further up the way, a sustained burst of gunfire sounded, punctuated by intermittent shrieks. Enzo and Lee waited, falling back into a side corridor. While they did, Enzo reviewed the plan in his head, not wanting to get it wrong.

It was, at least, simple.

Simple plans were the best plans, given that they had the least likelihood of fucking up.

What remained of Dark Operations had set up something of a headquarters in Doctor Dietz's personal lab, Dietz being the mad scientist character he and Ramirez had run into earlier. Apparently he was the lead brain behind the entire project. They were, apparently, attempting to continue their experiments. The first part of the plan was to cut power to Dietz's lab. From there, they would crawl through the vents, into the lab, and mount a surprise attack, destroying the transmission blocker and killing as many troops as they could.

The gunfire fell away and, after another long moment, footsteps sounded. Enzo and Lee kept still and silent, waiting. The footsteps were getting closer. Before long, a pair of Dark Ops troopers walked by the side corridor the two were hiding in. They stopped and shined a light down it. As soon as they did, Enzo and Lee opened fire, cutting the two men down, shattering their faceplates in sprays of red gore. Both men dropped to the floor.

Enzo and Lee waited for reinforcements and, hearing none, hurried forward and relieved the two fresh corpses of whatever ammo they had on them. Enzo was glad for the rifle, but still missed the almighty Burner. He wondered if there were any more in the entire facility, but doubted it. On the other hand, there had been seven other experimental testing ranges in that lab, so there was a decent chance that there may be something equally impressive lying around. Having finished checking the bodies, Enzo and Lee moved on.

"I don't suppose you can shed any further light on this situation?" Enzo asked as they settled into a quick walk through the corridors of the derelict research level.

"Not really," Lee replied. "When it happened, there was a lot of chaos. A lot of people dying, the Altered everywhere, and-"

Enzo interrupted her. "Altered?"

"Yeah. That's what they're called. I'm not sure where the name came from, heard it over the net before the comms died the first time. I guess that's what the scientists called them, officially. We just call them freaks or mutants. There seemed to be a never-ending wave of them. There were dozens of us at first, Marines I mean, but they just kept coming. Overran all our defenses. Now, as far as I know, there's only three of us left. Myself, Staff Sergeant Stern, and Corporal Beam. They're up top, in the living quarters, two levels up."

"And the command center is directly above us?" Enzo replied.

"Yes. Well, technically it's the Military Headquarters."

"What's the situation up there? I overhead some of the Dark Ops guys mentioning that there's something preventing them from getting up there."

"There is. Some kind of huge Altered. At some point, we're going to have to deal with it, because we'll need direct access to the Control Room. A lot of shit went down here. Our CO and the people that sent us figured it wasn't exactly legal, ethical, or moral. Or safe. Unfortunately, we kept getting the runaround, so by the time we were actually beginning to make progress on seeing just what, exactly, Dark Operations was up to, the shit hit the fan," Lee explained.

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