Everyone who had a gun drew it. That left only me and May unarmed. “What was that?” John asked, his Browning at the ready.
Meanwhile, Eliza was ushering May and Charlotte into a corner while simultaneously blocking them from any attacks. “Sounds like it came from down the hall and to the left,” Eliza said, moving her ears to get a fix on the location. “I smell at least four people and… something else.”
“Wait…” May said, “I think I know where they’re breaking into. It’s the secure medical records.”
“Secure records?” I asked. “What’s that?”
“It’s where they keep stuff too sensitive to put on a computer,” May said. “They’ve got a few things that they don’t want the hackers in CompSci getting their hands on.”
“Well then,” I said, “this sounds like a job for Campus Security.” I pulled out my phone. After looking at it for a few seconds, I asked May, “Do we not get reception here?”
“We should…” she said. “Why?”
I held up my cPhone. “My phone isn’t getting anything.”
John, Cross and May checked their phones. “Yep,” John said, “I’m not getting anything either.” Suddenly, I remembered the camera that Takashi and Brosnan had given me and the tip Ricardo had given about May’s secret research. A plan suddenly began to form. If I wanted to get some information for them, if I wanted to figure out what May was doing, then now was my chance. I just had to… something. I just didn’t know what.
Then Cross stepped in. “Sounds like we’re going to have to use the best defense. Here,” he said, handing me his M1911, “take this.” After I took it, he lifted up his t-shirt revealing a sawed-off shotgun shoved down his pants. “Let’s take the fight to these assholes,” he said as he gave his shotgun a pump.
This was perfect, but I didn’t want to risk Charlotte or May’s life. If they came with us, there was a good chance that they’d mess things up. “May and Charlotte should go for help,” I said. “They’re sitting ducks in a fight.”
“You’re right.” Eliza said. “Leave them to me.”
“Guess that leaves me to get CampSec,” John said. Crap. That meant he was going to split off from the group, leaving me to collect the information with Cross. “Sound like a plan?” he asked.
“Best possible one we can come up with,” I said. I could make this work, I decided. Cross didn’t really care one way or another about this school. From what I could understand, his only three motivations were friends, family, and money. I could play to two of them.
We moved out into the hallway. “Let’s make sure they’re hostile before we open fire, ok?” I whispered.
Then we heard voices. I was on point, so I signaled them to stop. “…Y’know,” I heard someone say, “this just feels like a bad idea, mate.” He was around the corner and he had a male voice and an accent that placed him in Australia.
“What, you like the little freak, man?” Another voice, also male but more like American frat boy. “The boss gave us an order. We get the research, kill the sanctimonious bitch and leave. Meanwhile, Richard sits on his ass and claims he was the key factor.”
The first guy shot back, “I agree the lil’ bitch has it bloody coming, but she’s working for the pres. If he finds out…”
At that, the two men the voices belonged to turned the corner. They were dressed in ski masks and were both armed, one with a shotgun, the other with an assault rifle of some kind. For some reason, they had their weapons slung over their shoulders in a way that would make it hard for them to be deployed. They were close, too, only a few steps away.
We stared at each other for a moment. Then one of the guys in ski masks reached for his gun, or at least I thought he did. I fired two rounds into his chest. The one remaining, the Australian one, desperately called out, “Wait!” but I had already fired. He fell to the ground, a gaping red hole where his left eye should have been.
We paused long enough for the last casing to finish bouncing on the tile floor, the smell of gunpowder and blood slowly starting to stain the air. The only sounds were the faint hum of electronics and climate control and the ragged breathing of the first person I shot. I edged closer to the two bodies in the pool of light.
Something cold and metallic tapped me on the shoulder. It was Cross giving me a spare magazine. I took it and reloaded his gun, then Cross and I quickly made the turn. John, meanwhile, went off in the opposite direction towards the elevator. From down the dimly-lit hall, I could see an open door with light shining out of it.
Someone called out from inside the door, saying, “Hey, guys? Is everything ok?” Neither Cross nor I answered. “I’m serious, guys,” the person said as he stepped out the door, a MAC-10 or Uzi held loosely in his hand and pointed at the floor, “you better not be…”
He was cut off by the report of Cross’s shotgun. He fell backwards and slid down the door frame, his coat stained red. I also noticed he was wearing a ski mask like his two friends. We moved forwards towards the open door. Cross was on the wall the door was on. I was on the opposite wall so I had to get a good view of the interior.
Speaking of the interior, it was a lot like a library, except instead of being stocked with shelves it was full of filing cabinets. It was still a fucking maze in there. At least the entrance was on one end of the room. The door had been a heavy metal affair, not vault-like, but still formidable. It had been blown in, and the smell of fire and chemicals wafted through the air.
When we got to the door, I held up three fingers, still aiming the gun into the room. Cross nodded. As the countdown went down, thoughts of all the things that could go wrong flashed before my eyes. Then I hit zero. We burst into the room, Cross going to the left, me going straight ahead.
Thankfully, it turned out that the room was much smaller than I expected. When I rounded my first corner, I saw another man in a ski mask raise an MP-5. I ducked back just in time. There was a loud chatter and the sound of bullets whizzing by me to penetrate into filing cabinets.
“Yeah!” the guy yelled. “See how you like…”
Again, the thump of Cross’s shotgun echoed out, cutting off someone. There was the sound of the slide being pulled back, followed by another thump. There was a brief, yet seemingly eternal silence broken only by background noise and the clinking of a shell casing falling to the floor. Finally, Cross called out, “Clear!”
I peeked out around the filing cabinet. The person who had shot at me was now lying on the ground, surrounded by spent casings and drops of blood. Behind him was a desk. I walked over to it. Spread out on the table was a hastily discarded camera, a bunch of papers and a manila folder. The tab on it looked something like this:
Autopsy(s): UNFOR N. Korea
I took out my spy camera to take a picture of it. “What are you doing?” Cross asked.
I turned to him. “Hey Cross,” I asked, “how would you like to some money?”
He looked at me suspiciously. “How much money?” he asked.
“It depends,” I said, pulling on my gloves. “My contact has screwed me before, but I could get you as much as fifty grand. All you need to do is stand watch for campus police and not ask questions.”
“How much are they paying you?” Cross asked. “‘Cause I might be able to get you a better deal.”
I sighed. “What did I say about asking questions?” Cross raised his eyebrow. I looked away to take some pictures. “A hundred grand. Assuming they like what I give them.”
“Damn, Killer,” Cross said, shaking his head. “Forget what I said about that better deal. You’re obviously runnin’ some kinda charity.” He walked off. From over his shoulder he said, “You ever change your mind and decide you wanna make money, come talk to me.”
I sighed, and got back to photographing documents. They were reports, notes, and forms filled out by a surprisingly legible hand. I would not have expected May to have good writing. While doing that, I thought about two things.
First off, I was… concerned about the reports. For once, I wasn’t disgusted by NIU’s lack of ethics. As far as I knew, May was just conducting a series of autopsies and tests in a perfectly ethical way. At least, it seemed ethical.
What bothered me was the people she was autopsying. First off, they were clones. That was the first thing I made out. There apparently were four types, each suited for different military purposes. Two groups differed only slightly and were somewhere in between baseline and para, with minor durability and strength modifications. A third was optimized for going extended periods without sustenance and maneuvering in tight formations. The fourth was obviously deliberately bred as a shock trooper. They were huge, fast, and ridiculously strong. They also had a weird section of the brain that May said, and I quote, “looked like some sort of antennae.”
The most disturbing letter was a condolence note to a redacted person. It was thanking him for his sacrifice bringing in samples. That, along with every other scrap thing I had seen, suggested that these clones hadn’t been created by the University. They also were dangerous and running amok somewhere.
The other thought that my deal with UNIX was incredibly crappy. Cross seemed to be under the impression that accepting a hundred grand for this information was “charity.” A few months ago, I would have believed it was to a worthwhile cause. Now, I wasn’t so sure. Even assuming Takashi and Craig hadn’t used me as bait, they had still underpaid us by exactly $99,500. Good people don’t underpay people who risk their lives.
I took a deep breath. I was taking this too personally. I shouldn’t dwell on how I was being screwed over. Instead, I should start looking for better clients. Or even better, find a way to leave. But I’d get the money UNIX owed me.
I must have taken over twenty pictures of documents when I heard Cross call out, “Hey guys! Glad you could make it!” I quickly stuffed the camera in my shoe and headed over to the doorway.
“Sorry about how late we were,” a familiar voice with a Hispanic accent said.
I recognized it. “Officer Mendez!” I said, trying to be cordial. “Nice to see you here.” As I headed towards the door, I remembered two things. First, he and partner, Officer Gupta, had saved me from Salim’s attack on me a little after Fight Night. Later, Salim had found that another event, The Chamber of Horrors, didn’t remove corpses. Neither of us liked that. To get us out of there, Mendez and his partner had gassed the people who had survived and removed us by force. The next time we saw each other things were… strained.
“We meet again,” Mendez said, with forced joviality. I got the sense he was trying to make up. When I got out into the hallway, I saw that his partner, Officer Gupta was out as well as several over officers with P-90 submachineguns and SPAS-12 shotguns. “Sorry, but we’re going to have to ask you to submit to a pat-down and give us any weapons or electronic devices you have on you. There’s stuff in that room we don’t want people to see.”
“Not a problem,” I said. I gave them my cPhone, my iTouch and Cross’s M1911. Cross also handed over his iPhone, his cPhone and a 3DS. Officer Mendez then proceeded to frisk me while another officer did the same to Cross.
After we were done, Mendez asked, “Do you know where Riley is? Marshall said we should have you show us where they are.”
“Eliza and Charlotte are watching over her,” I said. “Eliza takes guarding people very seriously, so I’ll let her know we’re coming.”
“Good,” Mendez said. “We’ll need to verify that everything is there before we let you go.” He motioned for me to move out. “After you, man.”
We got to the morgue’s door. I knocked on it, and it opened. Eliza was standing there, looking visibly relieved. “Heh,” she said, “You finally got your asses down ‘ere.”
“Where’s May?” Mendez asked.
“Back through there,” Eliza said, indicating the door to the actual morgue. She turned around and called out, “Oi! Char! Campus cops’re ‘ere!”
“Thank God!” I heard May call out.
We walked into the morgue. It was reasonably well-lit, with several tables for dissecting corpses and some morgue slabs built into the wall opposite us. However, there was something missing. “Where is Miss Riley?” Officer Gupta asked.
“Miss Riley,” Charlotte’s voice said, muffled and somewhere to the left, “and I are in the freezer.” We moved towards the other end of the room. There was a large silver door. As we did so, Charlotte’s voice came out from behind it. “I had the idea of hiding in here. However, I failed to realize that there was no interior door handle. I do apologize.”
“Hey,” Mendez said, “there appears to be a keypad by the door. What’s the password?”
“It’s also finger-print locked,” May said. “You’re going to need to get your boss down here or find someone else with access to the lab.”
“He’s… he’s not here,” Mendez said, looking away awkwardly.
“What do you mean he’s not here?” May asked, her voice dangerously controlled.
“He’s in Russia for a conference,” another officer said. “He won’t be back for another week or so. We can look for someone else with access, but it’ll be an hour at least.”
“Charlotte?” May asked dangerously. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Cross and Eliza wince.
“Yes, May?” Charlotte squeaked.
“Never. Do this. Again!”