The car ride was quiet, and when they approached the boundaries of CAMM’s base of operations everyone was intensely focused.
“Remember,” Septi said. “Frigid and Mikey will take out the security machines; Mes will stay near the van and act as our doctor and center of communications. Gin and Kin will take the north-north-eastern corner, while Ryan and Raram take care of the northern corner. Ferinequell I need you to slip into the building through the delivery door and see to destroying their records and freeing any prisoners they may have. Kane, you and I will take care of the southern wall. According to our Intel, they don’t use that wall very much, so we’ll be there for purely defensive purpose. Do you all have your signal flares?”
A chorus of halfhearted “yes’s came from the other members of the VI4C. Septi glanced at Frigid and Mikey, who scowled back before they got out. “If you’re going to stay and fight, fight,” Septi told them seriously. “But if you’re not going to bother, then get out of our way once you’ve done your jobs.”
“Are you serious?” Mikey asked, his voice louder than Septi wanted. “I’m not going to miss the chance to say hi to dear old daddy or big brother Chucky.” Frigid merely glared at Septi before stalking off.
That went well, Septi thought blithely.
“As soon as one of them lets us know that the security devices are broken, you need to get to your places,” Septi said. “According to the Intel, the security guards will be changing shifts in about five minutes so we have to move before then.”
“Got it,” Gin said tensely. Silence fell over the van for a couple of seconds before Frigid tapped on the window. Ferinequell opened the door so they could hear what she said.
“The electronics are busted,” she said before turning and stalking off.
“Move,” Septi hissed to the VI4C members. Quickly the van emptied and the members scattered. It took only a moment or two before everyone was in their places and they were watching for the guards.
They didn’t have long to wait. Two of the groups of three came in from their patrols of the perimeter at the same time, and Septi and Kane waited as they talked briefly before separating. As the one patrol party rounded the corner Septi and Kane attacked the other party from behind, Septi using her tazer and Kane stirring up the sand – blinding the other two guards. Quickly Kane and Septi closed in on them, killing them quickly and quietly.
Immediately, Kane swung his hand widely causing the wind to blow the sand over the bodies. Septi glanced around and, seeing no one, made her way to one of the doors in the wall, picking the lock and shoving it open.
The harsh white light in the hall revealed an extremely sterilized interior with pale gray carpeting and white walls, steel doors evenly spaced on both sides of the hall. No one was in sight, but there was a buzzing noise from the light and the quiet rush of an air conditioner.
“Watch my back,” Septi told Kane, glancing over her shoulder one more time before stepping into the building. Cautiously she stepped into the hall, moving quickly. At the first steel door she paused, tugging her lock picks back out and began to work on the three locks on that door.
An odd stench hit her nose as she pulled the door open. Septi looked into the room curiously raising a gloved hand to her nose. What she saw surprised her.
Several skeletons lay on the tables in the middle of the room, and there were still living animals in the cages that lines the walls. The smell of blood and fecal matter hovered in the room, and Septi turned on the light.
The caged animals showed signs of surgery, testing and abuse, and many of them cowered away from the light. Septi gasped as she surveyed the room spotting a few jars with dead animals all of which showed signs of mutations which appeared to be unnatural.
Septi spotted a computer and crossed the room to where a desktop sat on the counter turned off. Quickly she booted it up and logged in, skimming through a horrific set of files.
Aware that time was not on her side, she copied everything and emailed it to herself before erasing all traces of her getting on it.
Being careful to turn everything off and return things to their places, Septi left the room, moving on to see what else CAMM had hidden in their facilities. Glancing behind several doors revealed a kitchen, a dormitory, and a couple of empty labs.
“Septi,” Kane called quietly and urgently from the end of the hall. “Four more guards are coming.”
“Coming,” she called back. Septi was so distracted by what she had seen that she didn’t notice the oddity in what Kane had said. In all their preparation for that evening, the VI4C had learned that CAMM only sent patrol parties of three, no more and no less.
As Septi stepped outside she saw that Kane was right. There were four CAMM agents approaching from both sides. Without thinking, Septi reached for her gun. “I thought you said there were only four,” She said to Kane, turning to face the four on her right. “In case you didn’t notice, there are eight.” Kane moved to face off against the four on the left, tugging a set of needle thin blades out of his weapons bag.
“There were,” He said, selecting five needles from the set. “I have a feeling that this won’t end well.”
“Me too,” Septi said, raising her gun and aiming at the agent closest to her. As the agent raised his gun she shot him and then turned to aim to the next closes. Behind her she heard several thuds and fought the urge to look around.
After the attackers were dispatched, Septi turned to face Kane. He was standing unscathed with his back to Septi, looking a little green.
“Don’t throw up yet,” Septi said, spotting another two agents rounding the corner. “The fight isn’t over yet.” With that she turned back around to find another two on her side.
She shot them down, quickly reloading her gun with skilled hands. As she lowered her gun she glanced to her right back down the hall. A couple of agents were running towards them, apparently to investigate the noise.
Swiftly she dove for the door, pulling it shut with one hand as she holstered her gun for a moment so she could grab her lock picks. She jammed the largest into the lock, intent on relocking the lock and making it impossible to unlock again.
“Kane, watch my back again,” She ordered, finishing that and then reaching into her pocket. A single stick of gum was tucked in there; she unwrapped it and popped it into her mouth.
“What on Earth are you doing?” He asked, like he thought that she had lost her mind. Septi shook her head as she chewed furiously, determined to turn the gum into a sticky, gooey lump. Finally she spat it out and wrapped it around the smallest lock pick, promptly jamming it into the lock.
“That should slow them down a little bit,” she said, straightening up and turning to the left. “Kane, do you have any needles left?”
“I have five,” he said tensely. Septi sighed, worried. “I still have a few other tricks though.”
“I hope so,” Septi said drawing her gun again. “This isn’t over yet.” Tensely she began shooting again. This time however, she couldn’t keep up and as the first row of agents fell to the ground Septi felt something sting in her neck.
Septi exhaled sharply as she holstered her emptied gun, and drew the emergency flare from her belt. Quickly she lit it, planning an escape route as she threw it up in the air. “Kane, shield us from whatever they’re shooting us with,” she said as she reached up to her neck and brushed the thing with her fingertips. “It’s time to go.”
“Alright,” he said. A cool evening breeze whipped around them, behaving like a tornado, with Septi and Kane in the center of it.
“Let’s go now,” Septi said, watching as several agents tried to fire at them. Kane nodded and broke into a job. Septi moved to keep pace with him, watching for the other VI4C members.
Ferinequell, Ryan, Raram, and Mes were already in the van when Septi and Kane jogged up. Mes slid out of the passenger’s seat and moved to the back where they kept the emergency kit.
“What’s in your neck?” Raram asked as the other members took their seats.
“I don’t know,” Septi said, tugging off a glove before pulling the thing out of her neck. “I didn’t want to increase my blood loss.”
“Here,” Mes said, dabbing at the wound with an alcohol cleaning pad. “Let’s get you cleaned up.” Septi sighed and took the cleaning pad while Mes looked for a bandage.
“That bullet,” Ferinequell started to say, taking it from the seat that Septi had set it on. “It looks like they were injecting something into you. A drug of some sort.”
“Are you sure?” Septi asked, glancing at Ferinequell.
“Yes,” He said. “The VI4C used to use darts similar to this to inject poisons when we were on stealth missions. But I don’t think you need to worry about poison at this point. You would be feeling ill effects if it were.”
“If it were what?” Gin asked breathlessly as he crawled into the car, Kin on his heels.
“Get your buckles on,” Ryan said as he started the car. “We’re getting out of here.”
“It’s not a tranquilizer, and I’m not feeling sick or hallucinating yet,” Septi said to Ferinequell. “In fact, I feel fine.
“Try shape shifting partially,” He told her, looking extremely concerned. “I know that they were working on a power suppressant, but I don’t know if it’s been completed…”
Septi sighed and then raised her bared hands, trying to change the skin to fur. After three tries she lowered her hands and shook her head.
“It must be a power suppressant,” Septi said, her brow wrinkled with worry. “But will it wear off?”
“I’d assume so,” Ferinequell said. “With the small amount injected into you I’d guess that you’ll be back to normal in a day or two.”
“Alright,” Septi said, feeling old and tired. “I don’t suppose it matters too much whether I have powers or not.” Quietly she leaned back in her seat and allowed herself to think over everything that had happened that day. The rest of the VI4C chattered off and on about random things trying to lighten the mood but Septi couldn’t bring herself to participate.
The public is going to hate us, she thought. Not only because of this attack when it’s publicized, but because of the havoc that Frigid, Mikey, and Raram caused earlier and will most likely cause again. Septi ran a hand through her hair, battling guild and distaste as she thought about Frigid and Mikey.
It’s so weird leaving behind a living team member. Although I suppose they’re no longer team members.
They aren’t, she told herself. They chose to leave. They are nothing but security threats at this point.
But you can’t just hunt them down and kill them for it, she argued. You’ll be just as bad as Steppe if you do.
You’ve gone soft, Septi. What about the rules designed to protect the VI4C? What about your responsibility to them?
Forget the rules, she thought rebelliously. There’s no need to kill them yet.
Yet. And what if they do betray the VI4C? What if CAMM attacks again because of Frigid and Mikey’s carelessness? Then what will you do?
I’ll kill them then.
But why then? By that point it would be too late. Someone you care for would be hurt or dead. Why wait?
Because I’m not a monster, Septi thought, getting angry at herself for doubting. I will not become like Steppe.