Does Not Compute

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 Rolling her neck to stretch the tension attempting to manifest into a migraine, Alex reclined on her sofa with her arms thrown over the back, content on letting her spine stretch back out from its perpetual hunch. She and Georgia had been going over files for most of the afternoon and hadn't broken any further ground on Rebecca Farrow. Dead ends were par for the course for a journalist's line of work. When one door closed another opened, but Alex was starting to worry Rebecca's case wasn't as much a case of wrong door as it was wrong house, wrong street, wrong state.

Deciding herself flogged enough and deserving a proper retreat into relaxation, Alex rose with the aching groan of a truly ancient thirty-five year old and made for the bathroom. A hot shower, maybe another glass of wine, and bed were very much in her future. Likely in that order. But when the sound of someone racing up the fire escape nabbed her attention, she frowned, poking her head back around the corner.

Odd.

Lingering in the hall out of wary curiosity, Alex felt her pulse quicken when a dark figure swung over the railing. Oh no...not again. That same pulse roared into overdrive when Lee put her face against the glass, and Alex saw the sheer terror pouring from her. The bloody hands bracketing her face didn't help matters.

"Oh my God!" Alex ran to the window, thumping against it in her haste to throw the freshly installed new latch and missing on her first attempt. When she finally got it open, Lee tumbled into the living room, panting to the point she was wheezing and scared out of her mind.

"What happened?!" She couldn't get an answer out of the woman beyond a few unintelligent grunts, their shared mental connection spotty with static. "Talk to me," Alex implored, going to her knees in front of Lee despite the clawed hands clinging to her wrists like she was the last lifeline on earth. "What happened? Who did this —"

"Alex!"

The shout from the hall was immediately followed by the riotous concussion of a door being kicked in. The frame cracked, wood flying everywhere as Georgia thundered into the apartment. Somewhere, in the calmer depths of her mind, Alex wanted to know why the universe seemed to have a personal vendetta against her door and why it was so easy to break down because at this rate she might as well just hang a sheet for all the abuse it was suffering.

In the present, however, she could only manage a startled yelp and an instinctive duck.

"Get away from the window! Someone —" Georgia took one look into the room, saw something her mind couldn't compute and felt her world tip. "Oh fuck, the rats have become sentient!" she shouted, gun leveling. "Jesus Christ, what the fuck is that?!"

Oh, fuck.

Oh, no.

This was bad. This was beyond bad. Alex could feel the chilling reality of what was about to happen deep in her marrow. Georgia, an ex-cop, was seeing the unexplained for the first time. Lee, the scared out of her mind Undergrounder, was already coiling, lips peeling back from her canines in a display more animalistic than Alex had ever seen.

Lee was coiling to lunge.

Georgia was aiming to shoot.

Alex would lose two people in one night because of circumstances outside of her control unless she gambled with the only chip available.

Spinning in place, Alex dove into Lee's anticipated charge like a linebacker sacking a quarterback, wrapping her arms around the woman and bracing her legs. The force of the Undergrounder's dive pushed her backward across the floor with a squeal of sweaty flesh against hardwood, but Alex's held firm.

"Leanna!" she shouted her full name over and over as her friend struggled to be free. "It's okay. You're okay. Calm down."

Alex could hear Georgia swearing, likely because she couldn't get a clear shot with Alex in the way, and tucked further into Lee who was intensifying her thrashing, the two stutter-stepping across the floor in a deadly tango.

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