Chapter 08: Glorious Leader

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One more battle.

One last fight.

Or so Callie hoped. She had watched Allan leave the command center with Hollis, that feeling of slow horror and cold misery unabated, and made herself lead Shaw and Pendleton out of the room as well, intent on completing her own task as quickly as possible. She moved swiftly down a lengthy stonework corridor, passing several barred windows smeared with gray sunlight and rainwater, most of them leaking. She made herself slow down, made her mind clear. She needed to be sharp, focused and quicksilver for this last run.

The corridor she was in was coming to an end. She'd memorized the map to the first of the most likely locations. Down this corridor, through a couple of large, unmarked rooms, up a stairwell, down another two corridors and then she should be there, but the map had been more than a little strange. Well, when all else failed, improvise. She'd gotten fairly good at that. Callie came up to the door at the end of the hall, waited, listened. She heard nothing on the other side, though that didn't necessarily mean there wasn't anything there.

Well, they couldn't wait around forever.

She opened the door and peered cautiously in gun-first. The room beyond was a strange configuration of long gray stonework with huge, interlocking cogs slowly grinding away along most of the walls and what appeared to be another one of those meat machine creation plants that they had begun to set up but abandoned midway for some reason. Tables were set in seemingly random locations across the broad room, their tops scattered with tools, parts, and pieces of human beings. Hands, fingers, random chunks of flesh.

She thought she saw a heart at one point.

But the room was otherwise unoccupied, and the blood was long-dried. It looked like no one had been here for days at least, maybe longer. Why? Who cared? Callie began making her way through the haphazard mess of the surgical tables, ignoring the horrors that covered them. All she had to do was get to the other side of the room and pass through the door there. Hopefully whatever was in the next room wouldn't be like-

Callie heard a soft click from somewhere overhead.

Roughly a quarter of a second later, a powerful metallic whirring sounded that quickly doubled and grew louder.

"Contact!" Pendleton screamed.

Callie was already spinning around, having determined that whatever it was, it was coming down from the ceiling behind her. She stared up in numb horror as an impossible contraption finished its descent and landed among the tables and the pieces of corpses. It was very tall, easily nine feet high, and incredibly thin, spindly, with very long, multi-jointed limbs. And on the end of these limbs were large, gleaming metal buzzsaws. They had whirled to life and they were all Callie saw. She watched, even as she raised her gun to get the jump on this thing, as it extended one buzzsaw and whipped around in a blur.

The saw connected with Shaw's neck and cut through armor, flesh, and bone and came back out the other side in a tremendous spray of blood in less than two seconds. Callie heard herself scream as she watched Shaw's head fly away from her body, which took a few stumbling steps backwards, limbs jerking crazily, a few shots going off as her nerves worked, and then the corpse collapsed as blood continued spraying from the stump of the neck. Callie kept screaming as she began throwing out rounds, hosing the tall thing down with hot lead.

Pendleton was screaming and firing too.

Both of them backed away, keeping out of the monster's long reach. Even as she took a step back, the beast whipped back around and tried to decapitate her, too. The buzzsaw came within inches of her neck and she could hear its mad buzzing. She adjusted her aim and fired the remaining bullets in her magazine at the thing's shoulder, trying to do some damage. The last three-round burst connected with its intended target.

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