Chapter 12: Shutdown

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The bookshelf was knocked over, the paperbacks scattered across the floor.

"These must be worth a fortune," Greg muttered.

"Only if they're legit and not copies," Eve replied.

Greg felt his hopes rise as he saw that the panel in question was undisturbed. He opened it up, crouched down and felt around inside.

"Got it," he said, securing the little piece of hardware and slipping it into a hardened pocket on his suit, then locking it down tight.

"Jennifer, we've completed our objective and are on our way back to the lobby. How are you doing?" Eve asked as they headed out of Volker's office and began jogging back down the corridor they'd killed their way down.

"We're almost to the mainframe room," Jennifer replied. They could hear a lot of gunfire in the background. "There's a lot of Altered here."

"Need any backup?"

"Negative. Secure the lobby."

"Affirmative."

By the time they'd hit the lobby again, putting down a pair of Mutants that had shown up from somewhere nearby, Jennifer and Genevieve had found the mainframe room and were in the process of beginning the actual download. He and Eve locked down the way they had come and any other doors they could find, except for the way they had to go and the way Jennifer and Genevieve had gone. Eve spoke up after a moment of silence.

"I wonder what this will mean," she said suddenly.

"What what will mean?" Greg replied.

"Blackmore, Jericho, Volker. We now have objective proof against the jerkoffs who have been hassling us for months now. When that falls away and we finally earn the trust of the government and the military...what will happen? Will they finally start treating this like a real operation? Give us even more resources? Ships? An actual base of operations? Personnel? I mean, imagine it, Greg. We've been basically running this thing like guerrillas. I mean yeah, it's high-tech and well-funded, but imagine what we could do with our own little fleet of ships, our own bases, our own research laboratories and containment facilities."

"We could sure do a lot," Greg replied. "Although that's basically what Dark Ops was."

"Yeah...but we won't let that happen. Dark Ops happened because of a freak accident. We're going to stay honest, and keep our superiors honest," she said firmly.

"I hope you're right," he murmured.

A few moments later, Jennifer and Genevieve reappeared in the lobby, their suits of black-and-silver armor covered in coagulated blood, but otherwise they were undamaged. "We've got the notes and everything else we could find," Jennifer reported.

"Excellent. Let's go kill this Alpha creature," Eve said.

They moved up to the door leading into the research labs themselves and opened it up. The room beyond, a high security checkpoint, had been hit brutally. Blood seemed to cover every surface, although there were no bodies, not even parts of bodies. The Altered must have been through and gathered up everything of use for their Hives, Greg reasoned. The deckplates were almost totally carpeted with spent shell casings and abandoned weapons. How many had there been? A solid wave of the creatures must have come through here. He felt a chill ripple through him as he led the way down the security passageway. The door behind was basically torn open, like someone had taken a giant can-opener to it.

The room beyond was just as bad.

It had obviously been a research bay of some kind, in its previous life. Now it was a tomb, robbed of corpses. All manner of lab equipment lay shredded and sparking across the bay. A lot of the lights were flickering or dead. They cast a broken light across the wrecked, bloody remains of the room. There were no Altered around.

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