THE GUARDIANS Chapter 18: The Inhuman File Part 2
Posted April 13th, 2017 by Codename-X12
in a secret bunker finishing the Guardians
PREVIOUSLY ON THE GUARDIANS
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The sides of the vent were rough and cold. Tiny slits of light shone in from the vent covers of the other rooms. Shane vanished up into the tight shaft and I followed. Digging the toes of my boots into the slits of the ventThe sides of the vent were rough and cold. Tiny slits of light shone in from the vent covers of the other rooms. Shane vanished up into the tight shaft and I followed. Digging the toes of my boots into the slits of the vent and began to climb up the vertical ventilation shaft. Scaling hand over hand, soon I had reached another horizontal stretch of the shaft.
Closely pursuing Shane, I crawled along. Trying to keep the clanging of our boots against the metal surface to a minimum, we inched painstakingly forward.
"The central elevator shaft should be just ahead," Shane whispered, peering through the slits in one of the ventilation covers. Through it, I could see even rows of perfectly white computer desks manned by men in white coats so clean they were almost blinding. To my satisfaction, they looked slightly anxious.
Shane nodded to me in the half-light of the vent and we continued on. A few twists and turns in the labrynth-like ventilation system, it started to become brighter. As we pressed forward, I could begin to see almost clearly.
And at the end of that stretch of the metal pipe were the inviting shapes of several powerful floodlights. And below the glaring bulbs was the gaping hole of the elevator shaft.
Shane and I hobbled forward until we could stare over the edge of the hole. Thick metal cables lined its edges and I could see the closed metal doors on each floor where the elevator would pick up passengers. There were dozens of them, stretching down almost as far as I could see.
"This thing must go a ways underground," I remarked in awe.
"I guess so," Shane breathed. "I wonder what's going on down there." We stared downward for a moment until a rattling brought us back to the present. A highly hazardous and danger-filled present.
The rattling of the elevator ascending the shaft echoed and vibrated across the metal shaft and was nearly deafening from our position. The dull screech was soon cut short as the elevator made a stop at one of the closed doors.
"How are we going to get the file thing?" I asked.
"All I know is its on one of those subterranean storeys."
"So we ride the elevator down?"
"You got it," he replied. "Follow me." And he slid out of the ventilation shaft and plunged downward into the elevator shaft. As he plummeted downward he grabbed one of the cables lining the edge of the hole. Gripping it desperately to ease his descent, he touched down on the top of the elevator without a sound.
Then, with more creaking, the elevator became to descend to some lower floor. Panic spiked inside me as I stared at the shape growing smaller in the shaft. Then I slithered off the slick steel of the vent and took a deep breath before dropping.
It almost happened too quickly. The elevator rose up to meet me with stunning speed. I barely had any time to slow myself down and not give myself away with a loud clunk when I landed on the top.
Extending my hands below me, a single concentrated thought formed an inkly blanket of shadows on the elevator's top. Landing on it noiselessly, I sunk through the thick, liquidy substance like it was thick syrup. Then it was gone and the sucking around my ankles was gone as well.
And Shane and I were standing on top of the elevator, rapidly descending down into the earth. Lights decorating the side of the shaft flicked past us as we shot downward. Finally, with a loud, steam hiss, the elevator slowed, then halted.
Now the sides of the shaft were stone instead of the cold steel of above. The rock was still laced with cables and lights, but from it I knew we were deep under the ground. Shane gripped the top of the elevator, about to pry it off, but I brushed his hands off. I could do it quieter.
A knife of vibrating purple and black shadow essense formed in my hand, hovering there without me touching it. Guiding it toward the elevator's top hatch, I watched as it began slashing a circular hole in the hatch.
The metal simmered and bubbled as the knife cut a white-hot edge through it. When it had almost made a complete circle, I motioned and it jerked up out of the metal and faded. Then, Shane raised his foot over the hatch and booted it down into the elevator.
The clanging was almost painful. Shane looked at me, but his face didn't have the ghost of a grin. Then he drew two revolvers from holsters on his belt and jumped the few feet into the shaft.
The elevator door was wide open and through it we could see shocked and terrified scientists staring back at us. They were frozen in the middle of their work, some of them with hands inches from their keyboards. Some still clutching test tubes and vials.
Then, in a burst of motion, the scientists screamed and jumped for cover at the sight of the glimmering guns. They scrambled behind black desks as three black-clad guards rushed forward, assault rifles clicking into full-auto mode.
With a blur and three flashes and three blazes of sudden light, they collapsed in agony, clutching their chests as the blood already began to ooze. We strode out of the elevator and into the room.
It looked like it had been hollowed directly out of the stone. The room was dimly lit and the walls were the same rough stone of the elevator shaft. Dark grey pipes interlaced and wound all across the rock surfaces. The room was filled with ebony black computers, desks, and chairs. Even the scientists wore black labcoats.
As we stepped into the room, Shane took care of the security cams with a few loud cracks of his dual pistols. Each time he fired, the cowering scientists flinched in horror. With a flicker of shock, I saw one of them pulling out a revolver from behind a desk and aiming for Shane's head.
"Get down!" I yelled, sprinting into action. Swirling shadows leapt from my palms and the bullet ricocheted off the spinning mass. The scientist fired five more rapid shots in terror and each was propelled harmlessly into the walls and ceiling.
A sudden piercing anger flared within me like dragon's breath. My fists grew instantly white hot and frigid at the same time. I felt myself slamming my fists into the ground, overcome with unbearable fury.
The next thing I knew, I was lying on the ground, pain shuddering through my body. Flickering lights flashed above me like alien orbs. Muffled noises reaches my ears like it was coming through quicksand. I couldn't make any of them out. I couldn't make my own thoughts out. The only signal was pain.
Ugh. It was like I had been run over with a truck. Not a truck. An out-of-control semi. Or bulldozer. Dark red agony rimmed my blurry, unseeing vision. Something warm and sticky covered my face. I rubbed at it and my hands came away red. My vision began to clear slowly. As the fog lifted from around my dazed head, the hand a foot from my eyes became sharper. It was stained with blood. My own blood.
No matter. I had seen my own blood on my hands more times than I could count, often splattered and mixed with the blood of others as well. I staggered to my feet, which was difficult due to the room still spinning around me like a funhouse ride of insanity. My vision centered on Shane, standing a few feet away, his hands positioned protectively in front of his face.
"What...happened?" I managed to get outs before I began frantically spitting blood onto the floor. "All of a sudden, I just..." There was no masked laughter, no assured confidence as usual. Only a cold, raw expression of unbelief met my gaze.
"You...slaughtered them," Shane spoke. I turned. And I stared at the mangled bodies of the scientists, lying on the floor. Their skin was the color of black ash, their forms twisted up against themselves grotesque human knots. Their mouths open in a final exclamation of utter agony.
I stared about the room. The desks and computers lay shattered about the dark room, shredded and spread everywhere. Cracks had laced and ran up the stone walls like an outbreak of vines, slicing straight through the dozens of pipes and cables running across the room.
"How...," I choked out.
"You...sort of...exploded," Shane managed to speak. "Blood poured out your eyes and a burst of purple and pitch black tore out from you. It shattered everything and killed all of them." His expression was clouded over with anger.
"You survived?" I asked in horror at what I must have done.
"Yeah, but a ton of innocent doctors didn't," he spewed his anger. "Did you just kill them for the fun of it, or because it was easier. How's that better than what those thugs did to your family?"
I gaped, taken aback by the razor-sharp, poison-tipped words.
"How could you think I did it on purpose?" I hissed. "I never wanted to kill anyone, okay? It just...happened. I couldn't control it."
"Saying you can't control your power is like shooting someone and then saying you didn't know it was loaded," Shane accused. He sighed. "Let's just get this thing and get out, alright?"
I didn't reply. I was mentally analyzing the few possible solutions as I followed Shane toward a door in the rock surface of the room.
I could go along with this plan, which I was starting to regret getting involved in, and then go out to recruit some other fools to join the suicide party. Or I could just escape as soon as I could and go back to what I had been doing before this whole mess had happened.
That is, taking down more common criminals like murderers and even maybe gangs and small drug cartels. How had I gotten myself involved in fighting lethal superhumans with inhumanly freakish powers?
The mechanical hiss of the door sliding automatically open jarred me out of my mutinous thoughts and Shane and I found ourselves in a tiny dark room. The walls were not stone but some black substance that looked like some kind of soundproofing. The room was empty except for a single computer monitor jutting from one wall.
Shane approached it cautiously and it suddenly illuminated, spewing bright light into his face. The only thing present was text at the top of the display reading 'Project: Inhuman File Beta'. I walked up beside Shane and together we gazed at the black white screen, for it did not change.
Finally Shane tapped the screen in impatience, and a disembodied voice of a female A.I. responded, filling the small room. "Which area would you like to search?"
"Search the Baltimore, Maryland," area," Shane spoke clearly.
"Searching....done," the lifeless voice replied. Text filled the screen. I squinted at it; the hundreds of tightly-packed lines filling the screen were made up of strange letters that were comprised of straight lines that crossed and overlapped across the letter. It looked very much to me like some sort of alien alphabet.
"Dang. It's in code. Well, cover me," Shane hissed to me as he approached the glowing panel. I nodded silently and in a few quick steps positioned myself in the corner of the room vigilantly staring out of the gaping doorway.
I felt my hands cold with pulsing energy ready to spring forth and my heart thumped with adrenaline. If any guards discovered what we were doing, at least I might be able to get the drop on them and take out a few.
Shane impatienly began inspecting the edge of the screen for some sort of input he could plug his memory chip into. Apparently there was none, for he pulled out a notebook and pen, and began scribbling down information.
Every few seconds he glanced back anxiously at the door to the dark room. I almost expected a mob of heavily armed guards to burst through the doorway at any second and mow us down. Shane slapped his notebook closed and shoved it back into a pouch on his belt.
"Let's get out of here," he breathed. We headed for the doorway, and I felt a surge of guilt rise through me as we strode past the gory remains of the innocent scientists. "Getting out is going to be harder than getting in," he told me as we headed for the elevator shaft.
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