“Benjamin, Jeremiah, are you ready for Operation Vaporize?” Asher asked.
“Ready, boss,” they answered, going over to a huge panel of buttons. I noticed one was very large and red, signifying that might be something very dangerous, and I was right.
“We put in place a safety strategy just in case something like this ever happened,” Asher explained, “Throughout all of Diamond City, beyond the hologrammed sky, runs a pipeline much like a sprinkler system, only, it’s not water that is dispersed. It’s a deadly gas we’ve created from the tiny tree frog in Columbia called batrachotoxin, or as we call it, the ‘Sethinator’. The neurotoxin works by attacking the nerves, opening their sodium channels and causing paralysis, essentially shutting off the entire body’s ability to communicate with itself. There is no known antidote and death comes very quickly indeed.”
I’d learned about this frog in Biology class. Small enough to fit on your fingertip, it emits a coating on its skin. It has enough lethal capacity to kill a dozen humans or a couple of elephants. Mother Nature at her bitchiest.
“Chris?” Asher turned to him, “Would you like to do the honors?” He pointed to the red button.
“Oh, hell yeah!,” Chris grinned, “Now?”
He hit the button with gusto, standing back to watch as the gas came down in a fine, invisible mist.
At first the Seth were curious as the mist covered their bodies. They inhaled it by sniffling and immediately went into torturous convulsions, clawing their throats and each other. I was glad there was no sound for it must have been horrible to hear. It took less than five minutes before the Seth lay twitching on the ground. Asher hit the green button, stopping the gas.
He made an announcement and all throughout the safezone you could hear cheering and whistling. We laughed in triumph, clapping each other on the back with wild abandon. We killed them, all of them. And not one them killed any of us. It was a great victory to slaughter so many of them like they slaughtered us. I wanted to dance with joy.
“Now we can go back up?” I asked, “They’re all dead, right?”
“No we can’t go back up until the clean up crew dons their suits and gets rid of bodies. It takes three days before the poison is rendered harmless. Remember, we sprayed everything. If we go out now, we’ll most certainly suffer the same fate as them. We’ll set you up in a pod, and then you guys can go and explore your immediate surroundings.”
We nodded, understanding and happy to be at least be able to roam around and stretch our legs. Plus, my stomach was growling like crazy.
“Is there anyway we can grab a bite to eat?” I asked, “We haven’t eaten since yesterday morning.”
“Oh, shit,” Asher groaned, “Forgive my manners. Of course we have food, and plenty of it. I’ll have Lucy, our resident mother hen, get started in the kitchen, and then after you wash up and maybe nap, we’ll all gather in the dining rooms.”
The pods were like little miracles in themselves. Each pod contained two sets of bunks, a small kitchen and a large living space. They were stocked with food and water, and for newcomers there was even a small wardrobe to change clothes. I just wanted to take a hot shower, take a long nap and eat. In that order. Chris let me go first, and as the hot water ran deliciously over my aching body, I moaned with pleasure. The soap smelled like jasmine and vanilla and I generously soaped up my body, washing away weeks of dirt and grime. Washing my dirty blonde hair, I scrubbed my scalp until it tingled, adding conditioner to make it soft and manageable. I didn’t stay in too long so Chris would have hot water. After drying and putting on clean clothes, I felt brand new again. I looked over at Josh and Chris, sleeping soundly already and smiled. My boys were exhausted. What I needed now was a long nap myself so my body could regenerate. I took the bunk, so tired I knew I couldn’t make to the top and was asleep before my head touched my pillow.
“Piper!” a strong hand shook my shoulder urgently, “Piper, wake up!”
My head groggy and my eyes gritty with sleep, I sat up slowly, angry at having to wake up
“Piper, come on, hon, Josh is here and he’s got something to tell us,” Chris whispered loudly.
“What?” I asked sleepily, “What’s wrong?”
Josh and Chris both sat on my bed, concerned looks on their faces. I sat up immediately alert.
“Talk low, they’re listening and watching,” Josh told us, “We have to go, you guys.”
“What are you talking about?” I asked, “We just got here! We’re safe here!”
“No, Piper, we’re not,” Josh told me, “This place isn’t what it seems, and Asher isn’t who he says he is. I saw a picture on a wall in what looked like his office. He’s a scientist, one of the elite. Everyone here is! All those people we saw? They’re all in the pictures! I saw picture of them standing next to cages of Seth, smiling and opening bottles of wine. They created the Seth! It was them!”
I got chills up my spine at this revelation. It seemed we’d stepped right into the lion’s den.
“My God! What do we do now?” I asked, horrified.
“We play it cool, play along,” Chris answered, “Look for an opportunity or excuse as to why we have to leave. We’ll tell them we have to back and get someone that we left behind and we’ll be back.”
“Okay, but we have to be sincere,” Josh said, “These people are not fooling around. I think they want Piper.”
“Me?” I was startled, “Why me?”
“Why do you think?” Josh asked, “For breeding more Seth.”
“Oh, hell no!” I cried.
“Shhhh!” Chris warned, “Keep your voice down!”
“Sorry, but hell no,” I repeated, “that’s just sick. These people are truly insane.”
“Yes, but they’re also very dangerous, so keep that in mind,” Chris said, “Josh, did you see anything else we should know about?”
“Yes,”Josh answered, “I saw something I couldn’t explain. I was peeking through the window of what looked like a giant laboratory, and inside, the air changed. That’s all I can describe it as. It sort of twisted, almost like what a tornado looks like when it first starts from a cloud. Right before my eyes a being appeared from thin air, a Gray, and what I think was some sort of time/space thing, the ‘doorway’ disappeared.”
“You saw them?” I asked, “You saw the Gray’s?”
“One of them, anyway,” Josh confirmed, “It started arguing with Asher but I couldn’t hear what it was saying. I have a real bad feeling, you guys.”
A knock on the pod’s door made us jump and Chris put his finger to lips, plastering on a smile as he answered the door to Asher.
“Hey! We were just getting ready to come and find you,” Chris exclaimed, “Everything okay now?”
Asher peeked in, satisfied to see us all together, and nodded. “Seth are all taken care of and we can return topside in a couple of days,” he informed us, “Everything alright in here?”
“Perfect, my man,” Chris told him, “I haven’t felt this safe since this whole thing started. Thank you for that.”
“Awesome,” Asher said, “we’re all heading to the dining hall, care to join us?”
“Yes, I’m famished!” I said, standing up, I really was more hungry than I could ever remember being, “Can you give us a few so I can fix my hair and stuff? I must look like a wreck.”
“Of course, I’ll send someone around in about fifteen minutes,” Asher said, “and leave your weapons here, someone will be by to pick them up later.”
Chris smiled tightly, not liking that at all. Keeping the smile on my face, I nodded like I didn’t care and turned towards the bathroom like I was going to get ready, only coming out when I heard the door to the pod click closed.
“Okay, now what, you guys?” Josh asked, “We can’t go into that dining room, Chris! If they trap us in there, we’re dead meat.”
“Well what else can we do, Josh?” Chris agonized, “We don’t know any of the codes.”
“But don’t we?” Josh grinned, “I saw the numbers Asher punched in to open the door to the elevator and the door to down here.”
All my misgivings about Josh disappeared as I realized what a lifesaver he truly was. If he hadn’t done what he did to Angel, we’d be dead already. As far as not liking animals, well, maybe he had a traumatic experience at some point in his life, who knows. I just know I was so grateful at that moment for his strong will to survive, I could just hug the shit outta him.
‘Chris clapped him on the back, giving him a one-armed man hug.
“You are amazing, buddy,” he told the smiling boy, “now let’s get the hell outta here.”
© 2016, RissRyker518. All rights reserved.
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