Chapter 14: Liberation

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Something growled and shifted just beyond the blackened window. Enzo glanced over, grabbing his rifle. Whatever it was lingered for a moment, then moved away with heavy, plodding footfalls. He waited a little bit longer, then stood and quickly inventoried his supplies. He had two fragmentation grenades and one flash-bang, his rifle, his pistol and some ammo for each. Not exactly the choice arsenal to go up against an army of mutant freaks. He sighed heavily, replacing all the magazines, the pistol, the grenades, and stood.

Letting the rifle hang from its sling, he walked across the room over to a ventilation grate along the floor. He opened it up, got on his hands and knees, and crawled in. The vents were uncomfortable and made his shoulder hurt, but he supposed they gave him a better chance of survival than fighting tooth and nail through all the nasties. Entering the vent, Enzo closed it behind him and began crawling. He hadn't forgotten the Slugs he'd fought in the cramped confines, or the huge thing he'd encountered in the vents earlier.

Trying to push those thoughts aside, Enzo pressed on. For the most part, it was quick and easy going. He glanced through the mesh grilles as he passed them, watching scenes of horror and aftermath next to and then beneath him as he ascended so that he'd be in the ceiling. Mutant patrols and foraging Harvesters roamed in pairs and packs, hunting for flesh, live or dead. Enzo imagined that this place must be picked clean by now.

What happened when they got out into the world?

Syberia couldn't have been that populated of a world. If they put something like this beneath the dirt, he imagined it would be a sparsely occupied mining planet with a scattering of settlements sprinkled across its vast surface. Still...what if they got offworld? Out-of-system? It was possible. Likely, even. He groaned inwardly as he kept crawling. This was something he was likely going to have to deal with. In the crimson-lit ventilation shaft, surrounded by monsters, he made a deal with himself, a simple one.

He'd take care of this, but he wouldn't die for it.

Maybe taking care of the problem would give him some leverage against the government when they came after him for knowing their dirty little secret. Also...another thought popped into his mind. He'd never gotten a copy of the dirty data Eve had been downloading. So there was another good reason for springing them from Dark Ops' lair. As he thought this, the vent he was in shifted. Enzo froze. Shifting vents were never a good sign.

He swallowed nervously, then tried to keep going.

The second he did, the vent shaft broke out from beneath him, depositing him belly-first onto the floor. Groaning, the wind kicked out of him, he immediately rolled when he saw a dark figure looming over him. He rolled again when it reached for him, grabbed his rifle, aimed and fired a few three-round bursts. Something shrieked, then collapsed. Gasping for breath, Enzo struggled to his feet. He looked around.

The vent had dropped him into the middle of a main corridor. He'd made it a little over halfway to his destination. Behind him, a patrol of half a dozen Mutants. Ahead of him, just a pair. He shouldered the rifle and fired out two quick bursts into the chests of the Mutants even as he began running towards them. Behind him, a chorus of roars and a thunder of footfalls. They were coming for him. He grabbed one of his fragmentation grenades, primed it and tossed it over his shoulder as he reached the end of the hall and rushed around the corner.

A muffled explosion, followed by another cacophony of roars, this time pained and dying, were his reward. His punishment, however, was a big, burly Ire standing halfway down the hall. Enzo glanced down at his rifle. Would it be enough? All he had to do was run the length of this corridor, make a right-hand turned and he'd be where he needed to be. More growls behind him. He had to be quick about this, too.

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