Chapter 12: Shutdown

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Greg lowered his rifle as he finished putting down the final Fiend, his eyes wide as he scanned the entrance lobby for more of them.

But they were alone again, for now.

"We're clear," he said.

The other three moved into the room, weapons at ready. The walk across the surface had been surprisingly uneventful and Greg was again immensely grateful for the suits. They didn't have to put up with the damned tunnels anymore. He was also very happy to have another two certified killers and seasoned professionals with him again. Jennifer and Genevieve absolutely did not fuck around when it came to mission objectives.

"All right, everyone knows their objectives?" Greg asked after they double-checked to make sure the area was secure.

All three of the others responded affirmatively.

Jennifer and Genevieve were going to break off into the left side of the structure and hit the primary mainframes to download copies of all remaining files and research notes on the creatures, while Greg and Eve would be heading into the right wing of the building and hunt down the kill-code, which was locked away in Volker's private office on a hidden infoclip.

"We're almost done," Greg said, more to himself than to them. "At least...I hope so."

"We'll get it done," Genevieve replied.

He nodded tightly. He could trust them. He had before and he would again. They would get the job done. Honestly, it was himself he was worried about. Greg was exhausted and his back was bugging him again, but he couldn't just keep stopping to deal with it every time it started to bother him. He shouldered his rifle and broke right, Eve backing him up. Each two-person team disappeared into their chosen wing.

A network of offices and corridors awaited him. He sighed, tired of dealing with offices, and took the left corridor. At least this time he knew where he was going. The path they had to take was dangerous and their progress was slow. Open doors and floor-to-ceiling windows, typically broken out, lined the walls. Each one housed a potential threat. They both had to check every office as they passed. Generally, they were empty, but every now and then...

"Contact!"

Greg squeezed the trigger, putting a three-round burst in the dark center of a Shadow as it prepared to leap out of its nest and attack him. It had been lurking under a desk, bathed in darkness, and only its eyes had given it away. As he killed it, a cacophony of sounds erupted from all around them: Altered of every variety. Apparently the Shadow had been a loner, this place belonged to the things with Slugs in their chests.

Half a dozen Mutants and a trio of Harvesters stepped out of the offices that lined the walls. Growling in frustration, Greg sighted the first one and blew out its chest with a wall-placed shot. He was not in the mood for this shit.

"We've got more behind us!" Eve called.

"Fuck! Deal with them!" he snapped, shifting aim and placing another trio of bullets through a second Mutant's chest.

He heard Eve opening fire behind him.

They began shooting their way down the corridor as more Mutants stumbled in and came for them, shrieking, screaming, and yammering like banshees on steroids. Greg emptied his rifle, ejected the spent magazine and slapped a fresh one in, then resumed a constant rate of fire. By the time they'd reached the end of the corridor and Volker's office, he'd expended another two magazines. He was glad for that trip to the armory.

"We clear?" he asked, checking the offices around them.

"Clear," Eve confirmed.

"Fucking finally," he whispered, marching up to Volker's office. He punched in the code the doctor had given him on the keypad next to the door and it chimed once, then turned from red to green. The door slid open. Greg moved in, smoothly clearing the room. The place had been ransacked. Probably not the best sign, but Volker seemed positive that no one had found his stash. He'd placed the infoclip inside of a wall panel behind a bookshelf he'd had imported. It was full of many old texts: actual, paperback texts.

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