In the end, what one knows is pain and loss. But after the moments of tragedy, and chaos the new shall arise from the ashes of the old, and brighten as a new, washing the pain away like the clean waters of a raging storm across a dry barren plain, and in that moment we are back. Bigger better, and stronger then the whole we had been.
That day was great… well at least it'd started out that way, Jason had received a call in the early hours of the morning be told that he was no longer needed at the lab for the day. This wasn't an abnormal thing for Metron to do, calling up out of the blue to cancel a day's worth of work. Though they never gave any reason as to why, nor would they ever. Jason learned early on that was just the way Metron worked. The company had trust issues he'd thought… or maybe it was the company's way of surviving in an ever advancing, changing and thieving world. Either way Jason never pestered for answers of the sudden changes, and really he had absolutely no reason, he was paid the same either way, whether he was there or not, so when it did happen he'd make the best with the time and enjoy it when it came, which was at least two to three times a month. So once the guy on the line gave Jason his command code and it was confirmed he fell back into the world of his dreams.
Jason awoke to the sounds of wildly chirping birds; the morning light was streaming in through an open window that He'd been too tired to close before collapsing into bed the night before, now a light breeze drifted though causing the dark blue blinds to flap against the windows frame. Jason blinked rapidly as he was blinded by the bright morning. Moving slowly with a sleep saturated grown he clambered to his feet; It took several moments for his brain to awaken.
It was Friday he remembered. Fridays were game night; he had a bowl of steak in the refrigerator already marinating to be barbecued for the football game. It was nearly 9:00. With nothing of dire importance on his list of things to do, he lazily when to his slightly cluttered kitchen fixed himself a bowl of Coco puffs, and planted himself in front of his flat screen. That's when the day really started to go downhill. 10:00 rolled by, and with it came a call from Nick one of his friends and also coworker, to say that he was being called in to cover someone else's shift, and that he wasn't going to make it to watch the game. That Jason found to be odd, almost no one ever missed their shift, working for a company like Meton you didn't dare unless it was truly dire to do so, and Metron always had an investigation that would follow. The company took all matters concerning its privacy and secrecy with extreme seriousness. Jason spent the morning attempting to vegetate on his black leather couch; he was flipping past channels on the flat screen. Nothing was on, talk shows, wheel of fortune, Doomsday Bunkers, and many others flashed by as he searched. Now to the movie channels, his hopes lightened as he reached them, as he found one he knew he'd enjoy. Tremors 2, staring one of his newly favorited actors from another movie that he'd recently seen called Wild Things, Kevin Bacon.
With a disappointed curse, Jason took up the search again, once he'd come to notice that only ten minutes of the movie remained. Moments later he abandoned the hopeless search, and traded it for a hot shower that he'd held off sense he'd gotten out of bed. The hot water felt as great as it always did, and helped to calm him. He'd had this nervous feeling ever sense he'd gotten up, like something bad was about to happen, but the feeling was quickly wiped away by the hot water. Once finished he headed for the garage where his newly acquired old 1965 Mustang convertible sat waiting for its restoration to be completed, and today was going to be devoted his under cared for project. However he reached his garage door however and was deterred by the ring of his wireless house phone. Jason pulled the phone from its charging holster which sat upon a stake of his poorly organized taxes papers auto mechanic magazines and other things of importance, on the counter off from the kitchen, and placed it to his ear.
"Hello" He recognized the voice right away.
"Hey, Jason, it's Lorenzo. I hate to do this man, but the Lab just called me in for a new training thing, and I guess they want to ask me some questions about some security problem or something. Sorry man." Jason sighed heavily. Well that was Metron for you. Once you signed on they owned in pretty much every way possible, well as close to owning as they could get without breaking any laws, Jason knew that the company made it their top priority to use any and every bit of time that they could as often as they could, just to remind you that your life was theirs until the end of your contract., and Lorenzo was no exception. They'd even pull you in to work for something as unimportant as signing a paper, and of course they wanted to watch you sign it, but it wasn't always like that more or less it was mostly for reviews of new or old protocols and new training that they wanted in commission. Lately they've been doing it more often. Ever sense the new security installations have been in construction, in and around the building. In fact he'd heard that they were putting in some kind of super computer that was supposed to help with security. It was a chilling thought; he was going to have to make very sure that he was following all of the new protocols he didn't know what this thing might be looking out for.
"Well okay, thanks for calling anyway. Nick isn't coming either he called earlier this morning to saying that he couldn't make it, and I know how Metron is, and besides its only the 40 whiners and the Jaguars, it's really nothing special, and as far as I know Steve's still coming, so he and I'll just kick it." Jason said.
"Okay well if there's another game this weekend we might be able to have our game night then." Lorenzo went on.
"Well, there's always a college game on like every night, so we can catch one of those. I'm not sure what time but I think it's around the same time. I'll have to find out." said Jason.
"Okay well, give me a call once you know, Okay? I'll talk to you later." Said Lorenzo, and hung up.
Now he needed to start work on that engine.
It felt like he'd only been in there two hours when his door bell rang, he was almost done removing the severely rust eaten engine, the entire front of the engine compartment had been removed and was sitting on the floor or on tool cabinets or on work benches, he was just last motor mount under it when the ring of the front door sounded, he looked at the clock on the wall next to the door, it read 4:13 PM, time had really gotten away from him apparently. It was probably just Steve ready for the game. Taking a dirty rag blackened with motor oil, from his jeans pocket, he cleaned his equally greasy hands. Sure enough swinging open the door Jason saw Steve standing on the front porch. Clad with a black leather jacket, a pair of black jeans, and a pair of black steel toe boots. A nicely trimmed goatee stood no taller than a quarter inch off his chin, it looked much better than the long wild, and often tangled forest of thick reddish facial hair that normally over took his face, the rest of his long reddish brown head hair was nicely combed and tamed by a long thick brad that ended near his lover back. This was Steve; hanging from both thickly hairy biker man arms swung two six packs of beer. The cardboard sides of the packages portrayed the name Samuel Adams. Jason watched the liquids splash back forth as Steve suddenly noticed the door was now open, he seemed to be studying one of the plants that Jason kept near the door, and he violently raised them up and smiled.
"Ready for some FOOTBALL?" Steve roared with glee.
Jason smiled and moved to let him in.
"Well you look like you were busy huh?" Steve crocked as he walked past. "You heard that Nick, and Lorenzo aren't coming right?" Jason asked as he headed for his bathroom. "Yeah, I heard, and I think it'll be fine, just more steak for us is all." Steve replied as he headed for the kitchen setting the beer down.
"Well I need to get cleaned up then I'll start the stakes, so site down and relax." Jason said as he closed the door the bathroom.
Steve's reply was unheard through the door.
Once Jason finished in the shower, He changed into a new white T-shirt and pair of slacks, and then made for the kitchen where he found that Steve was already at work grilling the stake in the backyard. He was clearly visible from the kitchen window standing in front of the smoking grill with a Samuel Adams tilted over his head as he drained the muddy brown bottle.
Jason knew well enough that if left along to roam that house task less that Steve would quickly take it upon himself to take action and begin preparing the food, which in this case was cooking the meat.
An hour later the steaming hot stake was sitting on the coffee table with other small bowls filled with chips, Chex Mix and other football appropriate snake food. The rest of the night would've progressed perfectly, if it weren't for what happened next.
Half time was rapidly approaching, the steaming steak had been consumed and the night's action packed events of the game weaved in and out of the insistent commercial breaks. The 49ers had the ball, both teams lined up for the play. The HD flat screen mounted on the wall was big and illuminating in the dark room, and then suddenly the ball on the screen was alive with movement as it raced from player to player. One pass lead to stumbled catch and a close fumble. The action was only starting to build when Jason's phone rang.
Slightly aggravated Jason answered with a little more anger in his voice then he'd meant to.
The voice on the other end was Conner, and it sounded nervous and quick.
"Is this Jason Miccarson?" asked the voice.
"Yes Conner, you've caught me in the middle of the game, what's up?" Jason held the aggravation from his voice.
"Okay, employee code? Quickly!" he barked.
"Jason Miccarson, Metron Division 5 employee number, 5NGB88F70." Jason muted the TV as he recited his Division and number.
"Metron Biological Technology Systems Incorporated, Building confirmation code, NB87LK563GBD88S."
The company had these codes that every employee had to learn, one was the number that was for like a second that you had to give then anytime you walked into the building or if they called you on the phone, you were to protect your code with your life and more, any time they called you, that was the first this they ask for is your code, then the building had its own number to verify that it was really them calling, though it was longer then the employee numbers, then they also had another code that you memorized for any case in which you might be held under gun point or any other kind of dangerous event.
"Okay, Conner what's up?" Asked Jason when he recognized that that number was correct.
"Jason we have a very dangerous situation here at the lab, we're calling you in and some others, you need to get here as soon as you possibly can, once you get here check in with me and I'll be bumping your clearance up to level 1 be giving you further instructions from there." Conner hung up before he was able to reply. Whatever this was it was bad.
Jason quickly hung up the phone and turned to find Steven watching with raised brows. Jason was about to explain what happened but then Steve's cell phone range, and before he knew it he too was reciting his own codes, and he knew that he wasn't alone in whatever this task was.
They both scrambled quickly. Jason left to get his black uniform on as Steve let for his house to do the same. Once he was done Jason was in his dodge hurtling towards the labs. He was past the military check points in seconds.
It was dark outside as he pulled in to the parking lot, people in white lab coats, military suits, and other security personnel littered the wide open space of the parking lots. Solders were already against the walls of the building forming a perimeter around the lab; their weapons were drawn and pointed to any opening that the building had, ready for defense.
Amongst the apparent anarchy He spotted Conner near the bass of the building,
From there he was holed to the main security building near the gates. Conner quickly thrust papers at him to sign as he took his security badge tossing it into a nearby trash been that connected to a shredder. Moments later it was replaced with a new. But this one was rated high putting him at Division 2 clearance level.
The room was full people, all moving about busily shouting on the computer or talking to other people in military uniforms.
"Now Jeffery is outside, with the team that you're going to be working with, get out there and fine him, I'll tell you what to do from there, now I have to deal with Steve here hurry. Jason never noticed that Steve had arrived; he was standing right beside him. Jason gave a quick curt nod and was off in search of Jeff.
Jeff was the top researcher in the biological science department of the building, though his knowledge didn't extend to just that one area, his expertise of biological sciences, and chemistry's,molecular engineering, astronomy, botany, physics, psychology, and for shits and giggles philosophy, not to mention many more that Jason couldn't even begin to fathom. The man had spent most, if not all of his life in school, he'd heard that Jeff had graduated top of every class, and had more degrees then Jason wanted to think about, In point of fact, just thinking about it made his head hurt all the more, and all this was what had lead him to be the face of both the biological science division and the largest Metron laboratory complexes in North America. He handled all the major decisions that every department faced, in this complex he was at the top of the chain, except on occasion when Bill Dillinger was around. Bill was the guy who overlooked all of the corporation's contracts with the government. This facility in particular happened to be one of the biggest Laboratories that Metron had in the North American continent, and that made it high value to both the corporation and the United States Government.
The building was intimidating and vast, just walking past the gates was enough to give you the willies. The military check points and other personnel portrayed the importance of the buildings secrets. The place had enough security to cover England, and a small army for every member to the royal family. Most of the security was provided by Metron though, only the two military buildings were held by the government. Metron owned over three thousand acres of forest land, and about fifty of those acres were used for the facility itself. Most of that was held for employee housing and the rest was opened as a national forest reserve. Metron was big into nature, and saving the environment. (Though Jason knew Metrons secrets about its animal testing) it wasn't really illegal, but it was definitely taboo if nothing else. The place its self was a fortress, it had two helicopter pads; one was located on the roof of the building, the other was on the back side of the building. The Massive complex itself was divided into four wings. The West wing was biological research, North was engineering, the East wing held communications and the South wing was solely dedicated to Metron's network of complex security as well as one small portion that was held closest to west wing, it was an extension from some of Metrons most highly classified bioengineering research in the world. Other areas located on the exterior of the building were nicely kept large grassed areas that were laid out like a kind of small park for the employees. Other larger areas were fenced for the testing animals for training and other purposes. Some was open space just for running and observation. The lab had an obstacle course laid out for the training of some animals, another much larger grassed area was held for the larger more aggressive exotic animals.
When Jason started working here he quickly learned that the government treated this place like it was area fifty-one. No one was allowed within a mile of its fencing. The massive building was located just west of Denver, literally in the middle of the forest. It was odd having one massive laboratory located smack out in the middle of nowhere he'd originally thought. Nothing was close; the nearest town was one that Metron had set up for the local people who were employed at the facility, Metron treated everyone of their employees like gold, everyone that worked at the lab was provided with a house and great benefits.
He liked working here.
Now to the reason that he was here, the animals had apparently been on lock down, and now they were somehow running a muck after they'd gotten out of their cages, about an hour ago. Reports said two northern gray wolves, a white Siberian tiger, "Just my luck" Jason grumbled to himself. He was fairly well built, and he'd worked for it twice a week at the gym two block's down the street from his house. He was 6'4" 183 pounds, with very dark brown almost black hair. He shaved almost every day but weekends. (With the exception of dates, if he had any.) He had a small mole that added to the character of his face, it was in front of his right ear. Most of his body held a good tan from the nice sunny days of his childhood.
He grumbled again as he read the list of reported animals. One red fox, two white and gray foxes, one black bear, a California cougar, two panthers that had been shipped from one of the tropical rain forests of South America, Along with many different breeds of dogs.
Somehow one of the chimpanzees had gotten out of its cage and once it had it started unlocking many of the other animals cage doors. It was killed by one of the panthers that it had unwittingly let out, "stupid animal." Jason grumbled again wanting to disregard the entire mess. Let them clean up their own mess he wanted to say when they had called him. Looking on the brighter side Jason knew that wasn't on the list to be found anymore. Jeff's voice crackled over the radio strapped to his belt, distracting his thoughts
"Use extreme caution when dealing with these animals. Don't let any of them bite you. If necessary use deadly force, we can't let any of the animals get outside of this compound. Everyone has been evacuated, so it's time to hunt, boys. Your orders are to take every animal alive if possible."
The crackling radio stopped, and started again, "Once you get to the access shaft your radios won't be any use to you. We are currently setting up a perimeter around the complex. We have the US army here to help; this is a big deal, gentlemen, so don't screw it up. Now remember. Keep the animals alive if possible, dead only if necessary." Jeff's crackly voice stressed the point.
"Of course, Jeff, you're outside the compound, nice and safe." Jason muttered under his breath.
Jason turned back to see the four other guys with him, they were all part of his team. He trusted each and every one of them with his life.
Nick was on point: leading the way to the armory now, it was located just down the main hall from one of the buildings many fire exits, they would obtain the tranquilizers that Jeff had instructed them to find. Nick was 26 years old. 5'6" 140 pounds with dark brown hair, that was slightly wavy in its short buzz cut. Most days he wore a cap that he'd gotten from a Metallica concert. The dress codes said that it wasn't allowed, but the first day he wore it, no one told him to take it off, so he wore it most times, but any time staff meetings were held he knew not to press his luck, and would discard it accordingly. He was young with an outgoing personality. He was a good kid. Jason had known him most of his life, but he was sure that he would have rather been watching football at his place, he knew he would, His body held that repletion of a young man still in his prime. His upper body was trim but not too built, it held the appearance of muscle but not that wisdom that came from older men who had worked hard for the ripped body that they had. Like the guys that worked out five to seven days a week to look good for those one night stands that more often than not took place at the towns local bar. His face was hard from adult hood with small remnants of freckles that his older years had not quite eradicated from his young features. His cheeks held a light blush with a small almost invisible scar that ran over his left ear from his hair line to his upper brow. It had been done in his basic training. Jason never had heard the full story about it. Nick would always shy away from the topic. The slight blush lent more to his still boyish figure that hid in his young face. Now his features were hard and trimmed which added to his businesslike manner.
Swiping his access card, Jason punched his code into the key pad on the doors right side, and then with a green flash and a hiss the big door opened. Jason ushered Nick in first, and motioned for the three others behind him to follow. Moving slowly and steadily, the oldest, Steve, who happened to have the most military training, was the last to enter. His rifle was trained down the hall they'd come down. He lowered it as the door closed behind them. He was an older man that looked to have had many years spent in the good graces of many bars. The same could not have been said for the church. That man had lost religion years ago when he'd supposedly gotten drunk with a priest, only to have awaken with aching pains, and soreness in places he damn well knew shouldn't be.
He was an Irishmen at heart, though he wasn't of the heritage. The closest the man was to a real Irish man was his accent, which he'd learned from a CD set, and his astounding ability to out drink twice the limit that would put any normal man in an alcoholic coma. His black jeans and leather jacket he'd been wearing at his house was now replaced with the same black military Metron uniform that they all wore. His eyes were a shade of muddy brown and blue. His figure held a kind of biker and soldier look that couldn't have been mistaken for anything less than that from the way he hell himself and the way he reacted to everything. The man was as sharp as the tip of a knife, when it came to his job, and drinking. He had more flab on him then Nick, but he was still taller than Nick. He stood at almost 6 foot tall and had to be somewhere between 180 to 200 pounds.
He also held far more years under his belt. His time in the military had hardened him. But now he had a worried look that neither Nick nor Jason had ever thought his facial muscles could ever make, like he said, he was always business, even after his eighth shot of Jagermeister.
"Now, what the hell is going on Steve? Why are you so spooked? We're only going after a bunch of dumb animals, which are likely stoned out of their tiny minds. So why are you going all 'Rambo' on us?" Asked Nick with a grim look.
Nick was the youngest and least experienced guy in the group. He'd come here six months ago, after moving out of his parent's house. Just two months before that he had finished his four year contract with the army. In the short time that he had been active in the military, his skills and enthusiasm had earned him a good name out on the field and propelled him quickly up the ranks; higher still as a decorated officer. The time he put into the service was nothing short of his best, which must have been what led him to his current employment here at MBTSI and this team.
After all, he would rather have Nick who he had known for years, watching his back then some arrogant ex-marine or ex-special forces guy going off half cocked and getting him killed. (Though, no one ever really tried anything around here. He'd often see more action at the bar then he did on the job.) Nick was a close friend, and he was family. He was a highly trained kid; unfortunately he was as clumsy as a kid more often than not. And he was worse when he was around him and the rest of the guys, so it seemed. It didn't say much for a highly trained officer.
Jason was certain that with another couple of years in the service, this kid could far exceed him in rank and decoration. He had always seen great potential in him. Now he was off of active duty, so he had moved back to his parents' place. Just two months later, Nick was looking for a job, and lucky for Nick Jason had the connection, and he needed a spot filled on his team. He pulled the right strings and made his recommendations. Now that Nick was here, he was under pressure to live up to the expectations of his recommendations.
Steve dropped his SCAR 16 assault rifle on the table, went to the door and started punching in another code.
"Because I have a bad feeling about this before Jeff sent us down here he pulled me and Jason aside," he motioned to Jason who was pulling magazines from a shelf and loading his 9 mil Beretta and his assault rifle. "Away from all of the other personnel, and gave us this map of the complex."
He pointed to a long roll of paper on the table in the center of the room that lay next to Steve's rifle. As Steve punched "enter" on the keypad, the door opened to the small armory filled with military grade weapons. Most were encased in glass along the walls of the room and others were in lockers against the room's corners. Steve walked in and turned to the left, pulling out a drawer from beside one of the lockers. He reached in and pulled out several dozen clear plastic boxes that had large red printed warning signs. The map had shown two other floors that were not in the normal schematics of the building.
Nick unrolled the paper to study it. Both Lorenzo, and Eric where leaning over Nick's shoulder doing the same. Lorenzo had been on the company pay roll most of his life, and had started specialized animal training in his third year, then transferred to the special ops unit at the Denver Police Department. He'd came back again to work with Metron as security, the pay was better, and the benefits that the corporation handed out sure kicked the hell out of anything that the government could hand out. Lorenzo was Hispanic with tribal tattoos that ran down the length of both arms. His skin was smooth over his arms, with hands that looked to be larger than they should be. He was 5' 10" and 150 pounds of muscle. Eric looked like the nerd of the group; he had thick black framed glasses that covered his thin and bony face. He was the smallest of them; though he had a strong arm for a guy of his size and stereo type. He had gray eyes, with shadows that always shaded his face, as if he never got enough sleep. He was good with computers as well as most anything else. Jason was yet to find something that he wasn't good at or, didn't know how to do. Jason had been having problems with his PC some several weeks ago, and had asked Eric to take a look at it. Eric had stopped by his house one night after his shift, and began running diagnostics. His computer was back up and running in under a half hour, he'd told him that it had had a virus, and that he should update his antivirus software. Eric had taken off explaining everything he'd done. Jason having no skills past checking his email, using the Google search to find the simple things that he needed, was lost in Eric's explanations, so he smiled and nodded his head as if in understanding as he handed him a Bud light for his efforts. His computer had been running smoothly after that.
Eric was more along the lines of a scientist than a specially trained Security Tactical Retrieval Team member. He always had his nose stuck in some biology journal, as well as future technology magazines. His mother had been a geneticist here five years ago, before she died in a horrific traffic accident.
Steve very carefully laid the clear plastic containers down on the table. The red printed Warning label was laid over the clasp on the containers side. Steven tore it off and opened its clasp. Pulling back his hand, he withdrew a syringe looking object with a fluffy red top, it was a tranquilizer. Its stock had a thick clear liquid that filled its center. Its fluffy looking top swaying with Steve's every moment. Now lifting it higher he placed it on the table top.
"This is filled with a drug called Etorphine Hydrochloride, also known as M99. One drop of this stuff is enough to kill you. One shot is enough to drop an elephant. If you prick yourself with this…" He raised his brow in a look of deadly seriousness. "You die. So please," The seriousness melted away to a humorous grin, "No pricks." He then pulled out his tranq gun and began loading.
Everyone followed Steve's actions and began loading their own weapons.
"So why would they start hiding rooms on the building's schematics?"
Nick asked to know one in particular.
Jason placed his rifle to his side.
"A big government funded facility like this, would only have one reason to do that. They're hiding something big." Nick lifted his brow, "Something that would take up two floors?"
Jason moved to study the new floor plans. "Yeah, two floors that shouldn't be there." He traced his finger down a line that represented a shaft that was hidden farther down a hall on the other side of the complex.
Nick looked from the paper and back to Jason, "So you think they're doing something that they shouldn't?"
Jason rolled up the paper,
"Nick, I don't get paid to know and I don't get paid to care."
Eric raised another questioning brow, "Am I the only one here who thinks the strength of these drugs is a little over the top?" he asked gesturing to the others, "You said one drop would kill us, and most of these animals will have the same reaction to them as we will, right?"
"Yeah, if one drop of this drug is enough to kill any one of us then you can bet it's more than enough to kill every other animal here, on this list ten times over . . . unless there is something that they aren't telling us. Chances are the critters are on something that counteracts tranquilizers, and that's why we are using such strong dosages."
Eric was looking at the list as he spoke. "Did anyone here notice the order that was given? They specifically said not to get bitten, not under any circumstances. Generally speaking, that would go without saying. None of us want to get bitten, yet they feel they need to remind us most emphatically."
Jason rolled his eyes,
"So what, there're telling us the obvious. Now come on, let's Tag'm and bag'm boys, I'm missing the Super Bowl for this." Jason looked to the door as the rest of his team walked back out, weapons drawn and ready. A deathly cold chill ran down his spine like an unwelcome drop of ice water. It froze him in place as his eye flicked to Lorenzo who stood in the doorway waiting for him.
Everything was fine now. He would do, like Jeff said . . . his job.
Lorenzo stood with his arms crossed as he waited for Jason. He looked as spooked as a Deer could in the gaze of a cougar, then the moment passed. Then he lifted his weapon and exited the room to join him and the others.
Jason repeated, "Now remember to tranq them first, people. Only kill if it keeps coming at you."
The team started at the first level and did their sweep, moving slowly and methodically, everyone was on high alert. Another group was covering the top floors above the ground. Once the first of the lower floors were searched, several other teams would start to proceed behind them. But they would never know that this team was ahead of them, because they would be searching the lower floors, the floors that didn't exist to anyone without the proper clearance, the clearance that he and his team was granted only an hour before hand.
They finished searching the North, East, South, and most of the west wing, and were now converging together on the last hall in the West wing. The entrance that leads down to the lower floors was located at the end of this hall. They had three other labs left to search before they could advance down.
Rounding the corner, Jason cautiously led the way. He held up his fist, indicating for the others to stop. The white halls where flawless throughout the entire complex, but now bright red dots littered the white floor as the team continued their advance. Jason bent to examine the liquid. Looking back to the others, he motioned for them to stay alert. They continued down the hall. The blood trail became denser. Suddenly they noticed paw prints trailing down the center of the hall.
Further down the hall, and to the right stood a door. It was the animal holding and testing room, and on the other side was the observation room that held the test animals, so the doctors could make their trials and other tests on them.
It was locked. The top half of the door had a safety wire reinforced window that had been broken outward. Much of the glass lay blooded and broken on the white floor. Fresh blood still clung to the exposed wire and the jagged edges of glass. Tufts of fur stuck in the window's sharp exposed frame.
"What the hell?" Nick gasped
"You would have to hit the gas to even crack that glass, but to rip your way past that wire, you would have to be very determined." Eric concluded, "Something is up. Something big is going on here."
Small streams of blood trailed over the doors sign that read,
Holding Room F17G
Authorized personnel only
Reaching out to the door, Eric examined the still dripping blood that ran the length of the busted window.
The bloodied shards of glass crunched under foot. More tracks continued farther down the hall.
"Looks like we have the general direction," Eric said, pointing to the other tracks.
"But we might want to check this room to make sure we have nothing behind us when we move on. We have at least one animal here, white fur, black stripes or dots, the tiger, perhaps?" Jason said nodding his head, "Great… well, at least we know it's not here at the moment."
"Some other animals were though, something with black fur, a dog maybe, by the looks of it?" Eric said shrugging his shoulders. "Now, how they got past this I don't know. But it's pretty clear they did."
Eric traced his black leather gloved finger over the blooded edge, and then picked up a white hunk of fur. Jason went to another hunk, a darker brown tuft that was dangling on the end of an exposed wire.
The lights inside the room where off, so the light was limited passed the door.
"Okay guys, are we going to just sit here with our thumbs up our asses? Or can we get this over with?"
Nick lifted his rifle to the door, his small but powerful light rising with it. "Okay let's do this. Jason, would you enter the code?"
With a nod Jason stepped back, and entered the code.
A green light flashed and with a hiss the door popped open.
Steve was behind Nick, his tranquilizer drawn to the door as was Nicks.
Jason pulled the door to himself to keep from exposing himself. Nick cautiously descended into the dark room, followed shortly by Lorenzo, then Steve, everyone slowly trickling in.
The room had several large cages that lined the far wall. Their flash lights illuminated the blood that littered the once white floor. It looked to be around 40 by 30 square feet. A big stainless steel table sat in the center. To the right of the door were various sorts of testing equipment, laptop computers sat on counter tops. Screen lights shined in the darkness, other monitors blinked in various colors, indicating activity. To the left were several long counters that stretched the rest of the distance of the wall.
"Holy, Christ!" Nick looked around at the floor his light covering every inch of it.
"This all came from a chimp?" Jason put a finger to his lips, signaling everyone to stay quiet. A quick blink of light came from a door on the other side of the cages. It blinked again long enough to make its presence known. It flashed again, flooding the room with a radiant's of florescent light. Moving past the cages, the team went to search the next connecting room, to discover more of the same blood saturated floors, but this one was riddled with bits and pieces of the friendly chimp. Just past the door and leaning on the bars of an empty cage was part of a hairy forearm.
"Not human." Jason gestured to it with his light, and then moved on to continue his sweep. They were in the kennel area that had held the animal's only hours before. Jason's light swayed up and down revealing more bits of body, some larger than others, mostly eaten and chewed of flesh. The room was about half the size of the last, but it had held many animals, some were larger, and some smaller. All the cages were organized into long aisles. Jason's light continued to waver back and forth over the floor, searching.
A tiger could have done this, it was possible.
Steve and Lorenzo broke off to search the other blocks of cages. Fear over took Nicks face as he witnessed the horrifying scene that his flashlight revealed. The largest cages were all the way to the other end of the room. Something moved, and then an ear piercing howl shattered the still air. It came from an extremely agitated wolf still in its cage.
Nick who was just to Jason's four o'clock, opened fire, shooting in the direction it had come from, just past Jason and into the sucking darkness. The noise, of animals taunting him from their cages returned out of the dark, letting out a panicked squeal as he did so. Jason dropped to the blood riddled floor, trying not to get shot.
Then the room exploded with the sound of the distressed animals, mostly barking and growling. Once the shooting stopped Jason jumped to his feet grabbing the gun from Nick's hand. Then taking his right arm, Jason quickly smashed his elbow into the man's face, Nick's head rocked back like a bobble head and dropped to the same blood covered floor that had held him.
"You fucking idiot! You could've killed me, or anyone of us!" Jason was shouting now, as he gestured to Lorenzo Eric and Steve, over his shoulder. Nick was trying to pull himself up off the floor. Fresh blood trickled down his face, from his nose.
Clutching at the seeping mess, Nick staggered back to his feet, as he held on to one of the empty cages to his right.
"I'm so sorry Jason. I panicked." Nick squeaked on.
A flashlight beamed from the other side of the room, it was Eric.
"Hey what's going on over there?" Eric shouted over the nose of the animals.
"Nothing False alarm, everything's fine." Jason's voice carried back.
Handing the weapon back to Nick, Jason murmured into his ear, "You do anything like that again, you won't get it back."
Nick nodded, and slipped his weapon back into a shoulder holster, with his right hand as his left was still holding at the bloody mess in the center of his face, once the weapon was in place; he reached in With his right hand and pulled a white cloth from his black vest, putting it to his bleeding nose.
Jason walked forward checking cages as he went. Most of the animals had gotten out, and down at the end he found the wolf, that had damn near cost him his life. It was barking and howling ferociously, foaming at the corners of its muzzle, as it snapped and bit at the bars that held it. Its eyes glowing in the dim light, as it again and again attacked. The florescent lights flashed once again dimly. They came back on again and stayed on, bringing more clarity to the room. Turning to survey the room, Jason found no cause to the abrupt change, then Eric came to view, he was standing at the wall next to another opened door. It was undamaged but on the wall attached to it was a power strip that ran from the floor to the ceiling. Eric was working with some of its exposed wires, and as he did so the lights flashed again while he finished.
"Okay, I think I've got it fixed." He said standing back away from the wall. When the lights stayed on he took a short bow, "Thank you Thank you. I'll be here all week."
Eric smiled with glee as he returned his weapon back to his grasp.
"Yeah, yeah. Okay Mega Mind. Thanks for the lights." Steve patted him on the shoulder. "Now my question is what in the hell was big enough to bash its self that hard into an inch thick power strip like that?"
Jason and Lorenzo, answered at the same time, "I don't know." Jason nodded. "Well this room is clear, time to head down to the other levels, so let's get to it." Jason gave the order. "I take it nothings in there right?" Jason pointed to the still open door, to the left of the mangled power strip."
Lorenzo walked out with his rifle held securely in his arm and shoulder, "I didn't know we had to check." He said sarcastically.
Jason rolled his eyes, and turned to scan the room once more. The animals were still acting as if rabid. It didn't make sense. Now that the lights were on Jason bent to better evaluate the wolf that had scared the death out of him and Nick, Nick who still had his bloodied cloth to his face. The wolf's eyes seemed to changed color as it continued to chew its way through the thick steel bars. The chewing wouldn't have worried him if it weren't for the fact that he could see that its teeth were really having an effect, if it weren't for the lights being on, Jason would have dismissed the animals rabid state and its distraught manner. But its teeth were actually making indentations in the steel bars hard metallic surface.
Jason looked closer to confirm what he was seeing, thinking that his eyes might have betrayed him. But as he bent to his knees he could see all too clearly, the teeth marks in the bars as the creature chewed away. The animal's eyes staring into his, its body shaking with activity.
"What the-" Jason was cut off by the radio as it crackled to life, "Team zero come in."
Jeff's voice called over the static.
"Team zero, come in." The radio crackled again, "We have some new Intel for you, gentlemen, and new orders. Do not come into contact with bio waste of any kind, and under no circumstances are you to touch the animals, even after you have them down, is that understood? Once it's down call it in and move on."
Jason's mouth gaped as he stared into its eyes. They looked blacker then what was normal for any animal. He stood, and dismissed it, turning back to face the rest of the group, his eyes wavered between himself and Nick as his memory ran over the blood that covered his and Nicks black MBTSI issued vest. Nick threw the bloodied cloth that he had been holding to his still bleeding nose to the floor as if it had suddenly grown teeth and tried to bite him. Jason calmly but quickly unzipped his black vest and threw it to the floor, Nick did the same.
"We also have reason to believe that someone may have breached the outer fencing and security of the complex, and made their way into the Laboratory. Now we don't know who, but we do have reason to believe that it was an inside job. We don't know for sure that this person is still in there." Jeff's voice crackled on.
"If you come across someone, detain them. Do not harm this person . . . well seriously harm them anyway," He spat humorously. "We are setting up a quarantine zone as we speak. The animals have been given a drug that distorts their thoughts but increases their size and strength. Most of them will also act in a rabid manner. This drug also counters acts the sedatives that are in most tranquilizer drugs which is why we have given you such high doses of Etorphine Hydrochloride. Anyway that's the newest update here, Have you finished your sweep of the first floor yet?"
Jason hesitated still looking at the blood staining his pants, then spoke into the radio, "No not yet we were just finishing the holding room . . . and let me tell you it's not looking good from in here Jeff."
"Yeah, didn't think it was going to look pretty. Anyway, okay Jason. Take your team and finish up."
"Roger that, team zero out." Jason clipped the radio back on his belt; Lorenzo was looking up and down at the blood stains on his front, "Well I guess it's too late for you and Nick. But we're here so we might as well finish and clear this place out."
Jason shrugged, "Yeah what do you say Nick?"
Nick was looking more and more worried. He was reloading his tranq-gun. Not looking up he said, "I think they should have warned us before we came down here. That's what I think. But yeah you're right. We've already come in contact with it so we might as well finish." Cocking a round into the breach, Nick swung the weapon back to his shoulder and started back to the door that lead back the way they had come, paying no attention to the over agitated animals.
The lights when out, and the room was once again plunged into darkness.
Jason huffed, "Just leave it Eric so we can get this done, I want to get out of here and get back home okay?" Nick was walking up behind him, when the lights went out. Everyone had their flashlights on in a flash, Illuminating their way back. Eyes glowed from within the cages as they walked on.
Suddenly, the noise was cut off; every animal went dead quiet, dead still. Jason stopped on impulse, as did everyone.
The hairs on the back of his neck stood on end, and were accompanied by an ice cold chill that ran down his back, all of his senses on high alert. Nick seemed to sense Jason's distress and stopped beside him.
Lorenzo, Eric and Steve were on the other side of a row of cages to Jason's and Nicks right, the door was just twenty feet from them. Lorenzo's light flicker over to them, "What just happened?" he whispered over the cages.
Then, a loud clatter . . . It came from directly in front of them.
"What was that?" Eric Asked.
"I don't know." answered Steve from behind Eric his light now fixed on the exit in front of them.
"It sounded like it came from the next room." Lorenzo Continued. He slowly advanced to the end of the cages and began to turn left, slowly heading to the door. Lorenzo's light continuously flickered to the doorway, giving enough light to see the tiniest flicker of reflection from two glowing orbs that hovered in the darkness. Lorenzo's light was hitting the door at an angle that only shed a small portion of light into the room no more than two and a half feet along the opposite wall, passing the glowing orbs in the room. Jason blinked.
"What the hell?" Jason ushered lowly under his breath, as he slowly raised his light to the doorway ahead. Then he saw movement, he watched as a keyboard swung back and forth one end touching the floor, the wire was not long enough to reach the floor, so it caused one end of it to swing in mid air. Jason Raised the light higher to see that the wire was swinging from a monitor, that sat on a desk that they'd passed when they had entered. Nick stopped in mid breath.
He sensed movement, once again casting his eye farther into the darkness he could see two huge paws attached to a massive creature. Thick black fur covered its body. It stood on two hind legs, hunched over; its glowing eyes stared back at him. It had a head like that of a dog. It hunch over more bringing its long wickedly clawed front paws to the floor, as its upper lips pulled up in a silent snarl.
The sound of an air rifle went off just over his shoulder.
Its ears flew back and it disappeared from his sight as it ran.
He snapped out of his surprised trance, when he felt the wind from Nick's air powered tranquilizers, as they passed him by. It helped to bring him back to himself. He blinked. "What the hell was that?"
Another load clatter came from around the corner past the door way, Lorenzo was jumping to the doorway and past it, his rifle at the ready, Eric was right behind him, as they continued their advance. Jason hesitated but then joined them as they emerged into the next room; Steve was the last one to enter. Everyone had stopped, and was now standing looking at the new scene. The florescent light from the hallway flooded into the room. The door had been half ripped off its hinges. It dangled on one hinge, as it had been made out of cardboard and now it was hanging in a way it shouldn't. Lorenzo turned to face Jason, and Nick.
"What was it? You got a good look at it didn't you? Nick, Jason, either of you? Nick you shot at it first. What was it? It was Massive I know that by looking at the door." he gestured to the now mangled shape of the door.
Eric looked more worried than ever, "Didn't you say that there was a bear on that List, Jason?"
Jason pulled out his list, "Yeah, one black bear from California." Nick was nodding his head, "It didn't look like any bear, Eric. I don't know what it was but it wasn't any damn bear I've ever seen." Jason had a dumfounded look over his face.
Lorenzo loaded his rifle again, "Well it's a good thing I didn't miss. So let's go take a look-see. It should be down by now."
Stepping out into the hall, past the seemingly tattered door, Lorenzo made it five feet before he stopped. He was examining the floor now. The animal had stepped in some of the blood that littered the cold white floors. The new prints trailed part way down the hall, before the blood stopped sticking and disappeared. Eric stopped,
"I know that's not a bear print. It's a dog or maybe a wolf print, only twice the size of any normal one."
Steve cleared his throat. "Am I the only one here who thinks that maybe we should be asking some questions here? We don't know what this thing is, and what little we do know tells us that it's huge. And something we don't want to piss off, by firing at it. Maybe we should radio it in first."
Jason shook his head back and forth.
"No it has to be the bear. It was dark in there, and that door was already messed up so the hinges could have already been loose, and besides if it is something else that we don't know of, they would have told us about it before sending us down here. And we would have to take it down anyway because no one else is supposed to be down here . . . we aren't supposed to be down here, remember?" Steve shook his head, "I have a bad feeling about this."
Jason raised his weapon, "Okay let's keep moving." He spoke in a husky voice, trying to hold back his own doubt.
At the end of the hall Jason saw that the wall which would have normally concealed the hidden shaft was open. On the floor laid part of a human torso, most of the right side of the pelvis was still attached, as was most of the leg. Looking inside, past the wall Jason saw that it was a small room with nothing in it but a bright light that burned in the center of the ceiling. Jason kneeled down holding one hand over his mouth.
Nick was against the wall now he took one look at the remains of what was once a person. He slowly walked forward as if it didn't bother him. Then he leaned forward threw his head forward and emptied his gut on the floor. Lorenzo was by his side now patting him on the back. Steve was leaning down to Jason, "Now can you see why I was having a bad feeling? Something's not right here Jason you can't deny that." he murmured low in his ear, Nick was slowly standing back up again, this time leaning against the far wall. His attention was still drawn to the nightmarish sight of the bloody mess.
Jason said nothing, instead he stood back up. He needed to get Nick away from this. He apparently didn't have a strong stomach.
"Nick, Eric, Steve," Jason gestured to them as he named them. "Go down and finish the last two labs down that way." They nodded and took off at a jog.
Lorenzo called the body into Jeff. Steve was messing with a fire alarm, five feet from the open wall. Jason joined him at his side. Traces of blood ran down the wall. The front half of the fire alarms red cover was hanging open on hinges. Jason pushed it farther open with the barrel of his gun, to reveal a key pad. It too had smudges of blood where someone had punched in the code. Jason looked to Lorenzo, "That poor bastard was trying to get away from whatever it was that killed him."
Moments later Nick, Eric and Steve returned to the group, shrugging to Jason. "We don't know where it is, but it's not on this level anymore."
Jason looked back to Lorenzo, "You sure you saw it run this way, right?"
Lorenzo nodded. "Yep, got it with a tranq too, it should be down by now."
Jason looked into the room again, "Well, this other wall must open up too. That's where it'll have gone."
Lorenzo and Eric pushed the human remains out of the way of the wall, it immediately started to close, and everyone darted inside the small room.
"If you're right, then how would an animal know how to open it, Jason?"
"I don't know. It might have been already open like it was now; I don't even know what it really was. I just know that it had to have gone down this way because; there isn't anywhere else for it to have gone." He pointed to the hall.
"That hall is the only way out of this area." Once the wall was closed again, a small key pad ejected from the wall. Looking at it closer, Jason saw that it had only three buttons; one for the first level under, two for the second level under and the third had a wheelchair on it. Jason pressed that one, the back wall started rolling away to reveal a ramp that looked like it went down to both levels. The wall rolled back a moment later, after they had decided to use the elevator. The wall opened again to a new setting, a new hall, a new polished concrete floor. Red and yellow lines ran down every hall, the walls were also a finished concrete. Pipes of varying sizes ran the length of the ceiling, then turning to disappear into the walls.
Everyone stepped out of the elevator. Jason started walking down the first hall. He came to a big thick steel door that had a scanning pad. On the right side of the door it read,
The door had no window in the top half, like the other before it. Movement at the end of the hall caught his attention. A big red fox trotted toward him, but wasn't aware of him, it looked to be studying everything else. Jason signaled to everyone. Nick was already aiming his rifle. The fox looked to them then and started running, just as Nick pulled the trigger. The tranq flew over the foxes shoulder and shattered on the concrete wall, as the fox ran around a corner, He and Nick were in a full out fun now. Steve, Eric and Lorenzo took off down another hall parallel to the one he and Nick were running down.
"We'll try to head it off so you can get at it" Lorenzo yelled as he raced away. Turning the next corner the fox ran into an open door that held an exit sign in big red letters. Nick was running past him now.
Man that little shit sure can run fast. He thought to himself.
About half way down, another hall intersected with this one. Nick kept running as he passed the intersecting hall, a large creature exploded from around the corner, launching itself at Nick. The man's gun clattered to the floor, as the bear crashed down onto him. It happened so fast Jason didn't have time to think. It was the bear. It was on Nick now its jaws ripping and snapping at his shoulders and arms. Swinging his rifle around Jason pulled the trigger, as he slid to a halt. The bear didn't stop; Nick's screams were loud and desperate, as he thrashed against the animals crushing attack. Pulling out his 9 Millimeter Jason unloaded his clip into the bears back, but it still didn't stop, Jason dropped the clip and loaded the next. Nick was screaming for help. The bear had its jaws ripping into the left said of his upper chest. He wasn't letting it happen. Nick punched savagely at its head as it chewed its way past bone. But the bear started to waver, and it fell to the ground, still half on Nick, the bear stopped moving.
A voice behind Jason yelled "Watch out!"
Jason spun around, as an incredibly strong force crashed into him, it was like being tackled by a professional football player. With the crushing blow to his side he felt sharpness rip past the skin on his upper left arm. In mid fall Jason felt and saw a flash of light, ripple across his body, it was such an odd feeling.
Then something else came to his attention, he was still falling. He hadn't hit the floor yet. He was falling through the air. But now he was outside falling through that air, the ground was racing to him. He impacted the ground, hitting his head on a rock as he did so. The force knocked the air from him, it didn't help that a rather large looking black wolf landed on top of him further squeezing the air from his lungs.
Jason's vision slowly clouded, everything moved with agonizing slowness, and then it all faded to blackness.