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The Secret Return of Alex Mack

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This story is No. 3 in the series "A Brane of Extraordinary Women". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: Alex is back from her 5-day trip to Hermione Granger’s world. But she's going to need everything she learned if she wants to survive, starting with finding her world's Willow Rosenberg. (Cross with BtVS, SG-1, HP, DCU...)

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Multiple Crossings > General
Harry Potter > General
Stargate > General > Characters: Jack O'Neill
Television > Secret World of Alex Mack, The
DianeCastleFR132351,177,0232896487754,23512 Dec 1215 Nov 14Yes

Raining More Than Ever

A/N: Alex’s powers and new knowledge will make more sense if you go read the first story in this series: “The League of Extraordinary Women”. The disclaimers, spoilers, and other information are all in previous chapters, plus the disclaimer at the bottom of this one.

Naval Lieutenant Hank Marshall, Ph.D. (biophysics) stared at the computer screen. Someone had screwed up these files, because there was no way an RNA sequence like that would do what they were claiming. That meant he was even farther away from an effective anti-viral than he had been twenty minutes ago.

He had met Riley Finn, and the guy seemed really nice. Granted, the captain talked about Major Finn a lot, so Hank’s view of the guy was probably skewed by those stories, but Finn seemed a lot nicer and more wholesome than most guys you met. And now, Finn was probably infected. If what Hank was reading was correct, then Wesker had been given an experimental antiviral that was supposed to protect Orphans, and might – or might not – have a similar effect on ordinary mammals. The documents from Birkin referred to regular people as homo inferior. What a sweetheart.

Still, Hank wouldn’t have wished Birkin’s transformation on anyone. Not even on Birkin himself. And the virus was forcing uncontrolled mutations on the guy because it was having to patch up all the damage they had managed to do to him every time he came after them. Now he was a four-legged monstrosity with its front third covered in indestructible spikes, and it got stronger every time they fought it off. He wondered if Birkin’s mind was still in there anymore.

He would have been toast if it wasn’t for Lupo. Someday, Lupo was going to spar against Terawatt, and he was going to bust his buns to get front-row seats for that one. That would make Freddie vs. Jason look like a nursery school squabble. There was no way Lupo deserved to be stuck at lieutenant, only he was figuring the four-stars would shoot themselves before giving a known Orphan a promotion.

Lupo fired off two rounds and then waited thirty seconds before firing off one more. “Making any progress?” she called from across the lab. “This door isn’t going to provide a lot of security if Birkin comes back.”

That was putting it mildly. It was a solid steel alloy security door that had been in a steel alloy frame, and Birkin had torn it off its hinges before they had managed to drive him off the last time. Lupo had the door lying on its side and blocking the bottom half of the doorway, but really the only thing keep that entry secure was Lupo herself.

And it wasn’t like they could just crawl through the airvents to make a Hollywood-movie escape. The ductwork was way too large for a normal building, so a person really could crawl through it. But that meant a lot of the things down here could crawl through the ductwork too. There was a mass of carnivorous vines that was lurking somewhere out of sight in the ducts. It had already snaked its way out of a vent and gone after them. He had mixed up a nasty herbicide from chemicals on some of the lab benches, and he had dosed it while Lupo hacked the shit out of it with a fireaxe. It had scrambled away as fast as it could, but he didn’t think it was dead yet. And there were noises from the ducts that suggested even worse things might be loose in there, too.

He replied, “Not as much as I’d like.” If he had to assume the computer files had been damaged, then maybe he could make some headway with the paper files he had salvaged…

Willow typed furiously from her house computers. This was the most stressful hacking job she’d ever done. Not because she might get caught. Oh no, there was no chance of that, not when the DHS was working with her. But because of what was lurking in that building and might get at her friends if she wasn’t fast enough.

Lieutenant Bailey was really good, and really sneaky. He had already figured out what needed to be powered up and what didn’t, so he not only had a UPS on every box that they needed, but he had a pile of UPSes for backup and for the hubs and for the satellite dish and for the firewall box and for the gateway. The massively parallel computer system for Umbrella’s computational genetics work took up a huge chunk of their IT capability, but it was basically a super-fast hand calculator as far as Umbrella was concerned. Bailey had seen that it was nothing but CPUs and math coprocessors and really fast RAM. Willow figured from what she could see of their internals that the CPUs and coprocessors were probably seriously overclocked when they ran the set-up. She thought that was an uber-bad design for something this important. But all the useful computations got stored afterward on some hard drives that Bailey had already moved to a slower computer with better net access. Willow had copied everything good off those drives already.

And she’d copied everything bad off them too. These badguys were so sick and wrong they made Maggie Walsh look like Mary Poppins. Okay, Mary Poppins had been pretty scary when she wanted to be, and she was a totally badass witch even if she was pretending she wasn’t all magical and dangerous and stuff. But still, these creepazoids had been experimenting on people, and they were planning on unleashing a zombie apocalypse to wipe out all of North America except their own private reserves.

And they were about a jillion times less competent than Maggie Walsh, because it sure sounded like their amazing virus to just mutate people and targeted species also mutated other mammals and reptiles and birds and fish and amphibians and everything including plants, which would mean there would be nothing left except creepiness, not even food you could grow in a garden. And their files said that their secret anti-virus had turned out not to work right, and that Albert Wesker was turning into something creepy and feline, and according to Lieutenant Marshall, William Birkin had injected himself with something to make him a more powerful Orphan, and the chatter she was monitoring on her earbud and her third computer screen from the surviving building security people made it pretty clear that Professor Birkin had turned himself into something so horrible that even zombies didn’t like it.

Willow studied the tables and used a quick Perl proggie to compare DNA sequences. Eww. “Lieutenant?”

“Bailey to Burn, we’re fine here for now.”

“That’s good, because somebody tampered with the files for the secret antidote stuff. They changed some sections of the synthetic DNA stuff, so it would be really bad creepiness.”

“Bailey. That would certainly explain what we’re seeing here. If we have a civil war going on within the Collective, then we’re looking at extensive sabotage from a mole with computer access.”

“Okay, Burn to Bailey, how many more computers do you want to loot?”

“Bailey. I finally got the email server unlocked and sysadmin status on it, and I’m getting all the backup mail files live. We need to copy as much of this as we can, so we can hit as many Collective opponents with incriminating evidence as we can.”

“On it. And… oh crap, I’m getting more chatter from the ‘sanitation’ teams. Could they be any creepier with the naming? Two of the badguy teams just killed something nasty in the emergency access, and they’re climbing over it and heading up to the roof to make with the blowing up of the satellite dishes so they can cut you off.”

Lieutenant Bailey said a couple words that Willow was willing to bet Alex never ever said.

Alex used her tk to yank on each of the outer doors of the front ‘airlock’. All of them were locked. Which was a good thing, because who wanted creepy viral monsters rampaging through the streets of Davenport? She puddled under one outer door and went normal with Klar right beside her. He took a deep breath like he hadn’t had any air for a couple minutes.

Graham was keeping one inner door open about half a foot, and firing at anything that came his way. The young-looking patrolman a couple doors down was doing the same thing. There were two police officers lying on the atrium floor within thirty feet of the airlock doors, and both of them were really horribly dead. One of them looked like he’d been eaten by lions, and the other one looked like he’d been whipped to death. There was no telling how many other police officers were in there and horribly dead. Or worse than dead.

People who thought superheroing was a glamorous job were in dire need of a clue.

Graham said, “Terawatt, it’s good to see you. Leon? Meet Terawatt. Terawatt? Rookie officer Leon Kennedy, the only survivor of the LEOs who came into the building.”

“Pleased to meet you, ma’am.” Officer Kennedy didn’t take his eyes off the atrium. She appreciated that, because she didn’t want any of those things to get into the airlock area.

She told him, “It’s nice to meet you too. This is Klar, who’s invisible. Make sure not to shoot him, even by accident. Klar? Take up station like Captain Miller and Officer Kennedy. I’m going in.”

Graham warned, “Watch out for those giant flying bug-things.”

“Will do.” She went silvery and slid through the small gap Graham had between the door and the doorframe.

There was a low wall of dead zombies and zombie-ish things and monsters about fifty feet in. It looked like Graham and Leon were biding their time and mainly saving their ammo until something came their way. She flew up to about forty feet and zapped the zombie-things lurking behind the wall of bodies.

The dogs came barking at her, even though they couldn’t possibly get at her. She zapped all of them and kept flying through the atrium to the back of the building.

One of the giant fly-things came buzzing after her. Up close, it was a hundred times ookier than it had looked from the outside of the building. It was all she could do not to barf, and that was even while she was silvery. She hit it with a massive bolt of lightning, and it sort of exploded hideously. Nasty, slimy, icky fly-bits rained down on monsters that didn’t care at all. She was totally glad it wasn’t exploding all over her.

She got to the back of the atrium, and found three revolving doors that looked like they were locked. Good. And the massive, four-legged walking plant-things that were pawing at them were way too big to fit in revolving doors anyway, which was extra good. She hit them with lightning, and they burst into flames. They didn’t like that, but they didn’t have enough sense to go jump in one of the fountains.

Now that she had a firebreak blocking the back doors, she flew back toward Graham. That Tyrant was lumbering in his direction, and she already knew she couldn’t stop it, and if it got to him he was a goner, and most of Davenport, Iowa would be too.

Jack smirked as Sergeant Scott used their last fire extinguisher on the charred remnants of that topiary lion thing. He murmured, “Red… rum… red… rum!” Action Girl overheard him and looked his way with puzzlement written all over her face. “I’ll explain it later.”

She just nodded and went back to work. Her plan had even gone off pretty well. They headshot the zombies and let the plant-lion chase them into an ‘open office’ area. Then Action Girl used her bat-grapple to lasso its front legs together, and as soon as it fell over, they torched it.

Fortunately, they had also found enough fire extinguishers to put the fire out afterward, because it turned out to be pretty darn flammable for something that was supposed to be alive. And the fire suppression systems, which ought to be pretty damn awesome considering this was the IT floor, seemed to be completely off-line. That could not be good.

“Bailey to O’Neill, come in please.”

“O’Neill here. Your checkpoint is now clear.”

“Acid Burn reports two Umbrella teams are taking an emergency access to the roof to deny internet connectivity.”

Jack replied, “It never rains but it pours. On it.”

“Thank you sir, because we’re working on their email server now and we need time to get all that transferred.”

Jack had a feeling that would be juicy. He turned to his little group. “Okay, let’s saddle up. We need to get back to the roof and see if we can deny the red team access to our satellite dishes.”

Jill was kneeling down at one if the inner doors, waiting for one of the monsters in the atrium to move her way so she could shoot them. That had turned into more ‘wait’ and less ‘shoot’ because Terawatt was loose in there too.

And Christ, was she glad Terawatt was on her side. The licking-things were down. The regular zombies were down. The plant things were on fire and down. The zombie dogs were down. Even the plant monster in the fountain was in trouble, because Terawatt had blasted the fountain apart and the plant’s water was going everywhere but on the plant. And the Tyrant was delayed, because Terawatt had managed to drop one of those giant fly-monsters right on it, so it was busy clawing its way out from under.

The entire atrium, which had been a zoo full of deadly nightmares only a couple minutes ago, was now nearly clear. There was one giant fly monster loose which was buzzing high up around the atrium ceiling trying to get away from Terawatt, one Tyrant which was still trying to get out from underneath a giant dead thing, and one seaweed monster that looked like it was in serious trouble.

If there was a monster out there with Terawatt’s powers, Jill did not want to have to fight it.

Alex checked the atrium again. The Tyrant was still fighting its way out from under the giant gross fly-thing. The last fly-thing was trying to get out the top of the atrium, where there was no opening, just a whole floor of glowing bluish light. The seaweed-plant-vine-thing was looking like it desperately needed to be watered.

She ducked past one of the massive steel-and-glass chandeliers, and she watched the Tyrant struggle to its feet. Crud. Those things just would not quit.

She could not let it go for those front doors. Or the rear doors. Or any windows. Or even a wall. It was strong enough to rip its way out of the building and be a public menace. And her lightning didn’t stop it, and her tk wasn’t enough to do more than give it an annoying groin pull. And…

And she had an idea. She opened a pocket on her utility belt and got a little tk going. After all, there was a reason she’d wanted a utility belt, other than having a place to hide food. She flew down to the floor of the atrium.

The floor was really gross pretty much everywhere it wasn’t damaged, but she wanted as much tk as she could afford, so she went ahead and stood on a stone bench that was pretty clean, even if it was broken in half. Then she used her tk to pick up a good-sized chunk of rubble that was probably from one of Graham’s grenades. And she did the stupidest thing possible. She yelled at the Tyrant to get its attention. “Hey!”

It didn’t pay much attention to her, so she hit it in the side of the head with a big lightning bolt. It didn’t like that, even if it wasn’t hurt.

When it turned to face her, it got about two hundred pounds of marble and concrete and rebar slammed right into its face. It definitely didn’t like that.

“Raaahhrr!” It lumbered right at her.

She put the chunk of concrete down and floated away, moving only about as fast as the thing wanted to go. Then she landed on another clean spot and pulled on her chunk of concrete. She scooted it around so it was in front of her, and she slammed it right into the Tyrant’s stomach. And its face. And then the stomach again. And twice in the face. It definitely came after her then.

She carefully avoided one patch of floor, and she floated in a little semicircle to get to just the right spot. Then she really went to work with her tk.

The Tyrant moved under the chandelier, and started to take one more step. Perfect. She pulled the trick that had worked so well in Wesker’s lab: she yanked as hard as she could on its raised foot, pulling it straight out to the side as the Tyrant tried to step forward. The Tyrant did a perfect split, even if this one didn’t land on its claw.

Then, while it was down and off-balance, she hit it as hard as she could in the face with that chunk of concrete. It tipped over backward with a really loud thud.

And she felt the cutting wheel finish its work. The chandelier went out with a hiss as its electrical connection went, and then the wiresaw sliced through the last cables where she had been cutting relentlessly for the last minute. The whole steel and glass thing dropped like… well, like a giant fifty-foot-high chandelier with no support.

It fell about a hundred feet straight down. The metal frame holding all the glass cylinders together was stronger than she thought. It punched right through the Tyrant’s chest and crunched into the floor.

Alex suddenly felt like she might throw up. But Terawatt didn’t get luxuries like that. Little Alex Mack could be a wimp with a weak stomach. Terawatt had to be hard as steel. She used her tk to pull her wiresaw and her cutting wheel over to her and tuck them back into her belt pocket.

She was about to move closer to check on the thing, when she heard the explosion way overhead. Had the giant fly-thing done something? Had the Umbrella security guys done something to ward off the giant fly? Maybe something really stupid?

She darted away and went silvery, which meant she could see behind her as she flew as fast as she could toward Graham’s position.

One of the bluish walls at the top of the atrium was exploding into the open area, blasting the giant fly out of the air. The explosion came with water. Thousands and thousands of gallons of water. The ‘wall’ shattered for over a quarter of its perimeter, and water cascaded downward. More of the glass ‘wall’ gave way. And more. Huge things flowed downward in the waterfalls of water, only to smash two hundred feet below on the already-damaged atrium floor.

The water kept coming. It poured across the floor, rushing down steps and flooding little privacy pits. Graham and his people slammed their doors closed and tried to hold them against the force of the water.

But the water kept pouring out of that upper level. Was one whole floor a giant aquarium or something? Who would build something like that?

And there were things in the water. Even if most of them had been crushed when they fell twenty stories to the atrium floor, they were still recognizable as big, mutated sea creatures. Sharks, and stingrays, and giant eels, and one enormous octopus.

Did these jerkheads have a giant aquarium up on the twentieth floor and full of mutant fish monsters? Apparently the answer was ‘heck yeah’. Or maybe ‘well duh!’ Alex momentarily wondered if they had watched every bad spy movie ever and made notes like they were supposed to do stuff the way the movie villains did.

And then she realized. Water was pouring down the elevator shafts and flooding down the stairway she could see. And Jo and Lieutenant Marshall were down there trying to find a way to save Riley! Crud!

Jack already had his spec ops periscope out before they reached the helipad exit. He nodded at Sergeant Scott, who quietly opened the door a couple inches.

And damn, there were already at least six guys in black security uniforms and tac vests, moving across the roof toward the sat dishes. He whispered, “At least six, on the move. I go right, Scott goes left, Heller goes on top.” He pointed upward, so Hanna would be sure what he meant. They both nodded. He held up his fingers and silently counted down from three.

They moved. He popped out of the door, turned to his right, and opened fire on the lead team. Scott went to the left, moved around the roof exit, and opened fire from his position. Hanna jumped straight up, clambered onto the top of the roof exit, and opened fire on the rear forces.

Unfortunately, the Umbrella Uglies had the high ground, since they had some big-ass HVAC systems on the other side of the roof that they could shoot from. And they had more shooters. In a matter of seconds, he and Heller and Scott were pinned down behind the shape of the roof exit.

He peeked around the side of the structure with his tiny periscope, and he saw the badguys were moving forward with a support team and two guys in full Advanced Bomb Suits. The bomb boys were carrying what looked like two three-block packages of C-4, which was overkill when they only needed to cut the power cable or the data cable going down to the IT floor. Jack really wanted to call and have Eddings drop in and gatling these guys, but the SRI was using a borrowed Super Huey with no externally-mounted weaponry, so he was SOL.

Action Girl signaled that she had a plan, and she moved. She sprinted away from the dishes and toward a much smaller roof structure on the far side of the helipad. The Umbrella teams opened fire on her, but none of them were expecting someone that small or that fast or moving in that direction, so they weren’t tracking her effectively. Yet. Jack shot at as many of them as were exposed just to give her cover, even if that sniper was changing his aim back toward Jack.

Hanna dove for safety, doing a belly-slide across the smoothness of the helipad.

She slid past the roof access, under the far railing, and went right off the edge of the roof.

Hanna dove off the side of the helipad and out into space. She knew this was dangerous. She knew she was supposed to be afraid.

She wasn’t. She knew she was stronger and quicker and better coordinated than the Batman, and he could do this at night.

She fired her first grapple gun at the farthest angled helipad support. The grapple snagged it cleanly, and she swung in a big semicircle toward the far corner of the building. There was a metal rail structure all along the edge of the building for window cleaners, and that looked easy to grab.

She fired her second grapple gun at the corner where the metal rail went around to the other side of the building. She could see that her grapple hooked on, so she pulled on that line and released her first grapple.

The grapple guns worked so cleanly. They were really a pleasure to use. She really had to think about something nice to do for Mister Paine, because there was no way she could afford to buy him the kind of gift he deserved for sending her these toys. She triggered the reel and quickly reeled in the first grapple. Meanwhile, she swung around the corner of the building.

It was almost like flying. She wanted to move to a big city with lots of skyscrapers, so she could do this every day, or maybe every night when no one would be watching her. She wondered if the Batman would be grouchy if she swung around with him some evening, just for fun. He did seem to be really grouchy.

Mega-grouchy, as Alex would say. Of the grouchy, as Willow would say. Hanna was fascinated with idioms and speech patterns and dialects. Her father had told her that knowing a handful of common speech patterns for any group would let her blend in with that group so much easier, and would let her appear to be from that group when she was undercover with a different group. She was already using that information in high school. According to teen movies, high school girls were sneaky and manipulative, but she was finding they were surprisingly easy to fool.

She used the grapple gun’s reel just a little as she swung around the corner of the building, so she was moving up instead of down, along with her sideways motion. She fired the first grapple gun at a stanchion halfway along the edge of the roof, and she released the second grapple.

And she was ready. She pulled hard with her right arm, even as she used the powerful reel to take in the line as fast as it would go. She soared up toward the edge of the roof.

And there. One of a number of huge, boxy HVAC units on the roof with pipes all over each of them. She used the other grapple to hook one of the upper pipes, and she soared up over the roof’s edge up to the top of the HVAC unit. This would be perfect as a sniper’s nest.

She knew the red team had already done that. There were two snipers within twenty feet of her, and not a hundred feet away, one of the Umbrella security men was lying in prone position, trying to get a shot off at Colonel Jack. Or maybe Sergeant Scott, who had a very cute little daughter so she was not about to let him get injured either.

She landed on top of one sniper and kicked him in the back of the head. Then she did a somersault that put her in perfect position to strike the next sniper in the back of the neck. She fired a grapple at the distant sniper’s head. It was really easy, despite what Janet and Colonel Jack said. Major Riley had explained it all to her. She just had hand-eye coordination that was far outside their range of experience, so they didn’t understand how simple it was for her.

The grapple hit the sniper in the side of the head and knocked him completely off the HVAC unit.

She leapt down onto the fireteam below her before they even realized anything had happened to their sniper teammates. She grinned ferally. They had no chance when she had the strength and the speed and the toughness and also the element of surprise.

Jack was using his spec ops periscope a lot, since the Umbrella Uglies had snipers in good positions, and two supporting fireteams pinning him and Scott down, and a forward team protecting the two demolitions men. And their bomb boyz were wearing those Advanced Bomb Suits which also made them less vulnerable to ordinary rifle fire. Not good.

Fortunately, he had a crazy teenager who thought possibly leaping to her death was totes kewl. As soon as he’d seen Heller was reaching for one of her grapple guns, he’d known exactly what wackiness was about to ensue.

He just hadn’t expected her to dive off the edge of the helipad like an otter sliding into a creek.

On the other hand, he had expected the red team to have a huge surprise a couple seconds later.

When the snipers went silent and one fireteam stopped firing about a second later, he’d known what was going on. When Action Girl opened up on the second rear fireteam, he knew it was time. He gave Scott the hand signals to begin the assault.

He whirled around his side of the roof exit and took down the two forward team riflemen on his side. He trusted Scott to take out the two on the other side.

The booming from the far side of the roof exit told him his faith wasn’t misplaced. He focused on the bomb boy about to place the now-armed C-4 on the first satellite dish’s support frame. And seriously, what kind of moron armed your C-4 before placing it, especially in a firezone? He aimed and fired. One shot in the head, two shots in the body, one shot in the side of the leg.

That was the problem with a really good ABS. It stopped most impacts. The helmet starred but didn’t shatter. The guy staggered from the impacts against his torso, but didn’t drop. The one in the side of the leg got him, though.

The guy staggered to the side about three steps too far, and fell over the window cleaning rail.

Unfortunately, Scott was right on task, and the other bomb boy keeled over at the same moment. Right on top of the fire control box.

The C-4 pack exploded maybe three or four floors down. Judging from the size of the explosion he could see, the blast probably took out windows on a dozen floors, and probably damaged plenty of stuff across the street too. The only good thing was that Bailey and Carlson were holed up in the interior of the IT floor, so they should be safe.

Well, relatively safe.

Pete Bailey looked over at Sergeant Carlson when the boom went off.

Carlson frowned, “That wasn’t up on the roof.”

Pete hastily checked, and the internet connection was still up.

Carlson said, “They may be moving in through a window.” He picked up his machine gun and moved quickly through the rooms to check.

Pete hurriedly checked on Acid Burn’s progress, just in case they were about to lose connectivity, or maybe even have their position overrun.

Carlson ducked back in. “I have good news and bad news, sir.” Pete just gave him a Mister Spock eyebrow lift. “Good news? No incoming forces yet. Bad news? Maybe every window on the east side got blown out, and we have a pretty big fire sweeping through the open office area there, with wind from the outside whipping through and driving the fire.”

Pete muttered, “Great.”

Carlson added, “And if this floor’s on fire, we have to figure the floors above and below us are in the same shape. And whatever those assholes did, the halon fire control systems aren’t kicking on. So we have to hope the sprinklers on the other floors are working.”

Pete stepped into the nearby bathroom and flipped on the taps. Nothing happened. “Sergeant, I think we have to assume there is no fire control whatsoever up here anymore.”

Carlson just grinned. “I saw this movie on tv once. Which one of us gets to be Paul Newman?”

Graham had been stupid enough to relax when Terawatt pinned that thing with a fifty-foot chandelier-harpoon. He definitely hadn’t been prepared for the explosion at the top of the atrium, or the deluge of water. And there was no way to prepare for a five-foot-high wave of water coming at them. He’d managed to get his door shut and locked, but he was the only one with a door key.

Valentine had thrown herself flat on the floor and stretched until her feet were against the outer door and her hands were against the inner one. He knew from the colonel that she was an Orphan, but there was no way she was strong enough to hold back that wall of water.

Walters threw his weight against that door too, but they were still shoved aside when the flood of water hit that door.

Klar and Leon got out of the way of their doors, and the wave of water still smacked them against the outer doors. It was bizarre to see Klar as nothing but an empty space in the floodwaters.

The water hammered against the outer doors, but he had them all locked at the tops and bottoms, just in case. Only two shattered, but water still poured down the steps toward the street. And Graham had no confidence that the water wasn’t contaminated with poisons or viruses or something even more disturbing.

As soon as they weren’t all submerged or drowning, he yelled, “Count off!”




And then, after some coughing up of water, “Kennedy!”

He tapped his earjack, which – amazingly enough – was still working. “Lupo. Marshall. You’ve got floodwaters coming your way. Try to get to higher ground. I’ll have Terawatt moving your way ASAP.”

“Roger that, sir,” Lupo’s crisp tones came back.

He snapped, “Kennedy, Valentine, and Walters. Get down those front steps and keep anyone else from touching this water if you can help it. We have no idea what it might have in it.” Kennedy looked pretty alarmed, while Valentine just looked angry. “Interface with the LEOs – and the Guard when they get here – and keep this place cordoned off. Find someone who can block off any storm drains, sewer lines, underground passages, anything that might let this crap out into Davenport proper. Walters, make sure the Guard knows to set up a wider CBW perimeter, just in case.”

“Yes sir.”

He turned toward the extremely soggy pouch floating in the air beside the dripping water that was outlining Klar. Water was still streaming through the entryway and out the two broken doors. Graham could see an empty space where Klar’s feet and ankles stood in the flowing water. He made a mental note about it in case he ever had to fight invisible opponents.

“Klar, you and I are going to assist Terawatt. We’re going downstairs. We’ve got even nastier stuff loose down there, and there’s a monster that used to be William Birkin. Avoid it.”

“Yes sir,” Klar said crisply.

That kid had improved far beyond what Graham had expected. Less than a year ago, he was a high school nerd whose big goal in life was spying on the cheerleaders in the showers. Now he was the kind of guy who you called on to save the world.

Granted, something similar could be said about Terawatt. A few years ago, she was one more high school girl who wanted to be popular and didn’t want to have to work hard in her classes. Now she was the kind of person that even the President wanted to meet. He was damn lucky he had the superheroes of the world saving his ass on a regular basis.

Graham moved out through the shin-deep water. There was nothing left alive in the atrium, except the feebly-writhing giant octopus-thing that was more-or-less beached on the higher portions of the atrium, and the seaweed monster which was now plastered against one of the far walls. He checked, and he only had two white phosphorus grenades left in his tac vest. He decided he’d better save his ammo for later. It wasn’t like he was going to find grenades and mags of ammo just lying around down in the basement levels.

He tapped his earjack again. “Terawatt, come on down, please.”

She came flying down from somewhere on high, like an avenging angel in white and black. She hit the octopus-thing with a massive blast of lightning from her hands, and it writhed helplessly. The lightning passed through it, turning it momentarily translucent so it looked like it was lit up from within. Then it collapsed like she had turned it into an octopus-shaped baggie of jelly.

He didn’t think Alex had any idea how impressive or intimidating Terawatt in action could be.

She hovered a couple feet above the water and asked, “What do we need to do next?”

He explained, “The floodwaters can’t be good for the lower levels, and that’s where Lupo and Marshall are. And they have more threats down there, including whatever Birkin’s mutated into by now.”

She nodded. “And we need an antidote for Riley. And Officer Marini.”

He didn’t tell her that he was assuming anything these Umbrella assholes were working on might not work on anyone except Orphans. It seemed like they also had their entire families involved in this mess, but he wasn’t counting on any member of Umbrella showing any sort of loyalty to anyone except Numero Uno.

Graham made Klar clean that Ruger while he field-stripped his rifle enough to be sure it would work after getting soaked. Granted, the Ruger was a revolver, so Klar didn’t have to do a lot more than making sure the barrel and chambers were clear.

The water slowly subsided, which was probably a bad thing. It had to be pouring down into the basement levels and maybe even into the storm drains. Completely flooded levels would be impossible for anyone except Terawatt to move through, and if this stuff got in the storm drains it might be able to infect the entire damn city in hours.

He didn’t want to think about the consequences if the city of Davenport just let the storm drains empty straight into the Mississippi River.

“Miller to O’Neill.”

“O’Neill. Go.”

“We’ve got a flood of probably-contaminated water that may be going into the city storm drains or sewer system.”

“How big a flood are we talking about?”

“Sir, we’re talking enough water to flood their entire atrium to a depth of several feet.”

“Great.” The colonel used as much sarcasm as you could get into an earjack. “We’ve got the top half dozen floors on fire on the east side and spreading, with no working fire control systems, so we could really use that water. Power’s out. No elevators. The emergency roof access is on fire, and the other stairwell has something that looks like twenty tons of really angry vines.” The colonel changed his tone of voice. “Bailey, you got all that intel to Acid Burn?”

“Bailey here. Yes sir. She says she’s updating real-time for the CDC, the Guard, General Hammond, and also the FBI agents who are moving on Davenport city officials as we speak.”

Terawatt asked over the comms, “Will that be enough?”

The colonel muttered darkly, “If it isn’t, we all know what’ll happen.”

A/N: Leon S. Kennedy is a rookie cop in ‘Resident Evil 2’ and continues in the franchise from there. And yes, Umbrella Corp. really refers to some of their hit squads as ‘sanitation teams’ in the videogames.
A/N2: Sergeant Carlson was, of course, referring to “The Towering Inferno” (1974), one of the big-budget, big-star ‘disaster movies’ that got worse and worse until they killed the genre. In my personal opinion, this genre was spawned by the immense success (for its time) of “Airport” in 1970 and then “The Poseidon Adventure” in 1972. (I didn’t like either movie that much, but both were better IMHO than the books they were based on. Okay, I didn’t like the books either.) The genre was on its last legs by the lame and unsuccessful “Meteor” and “When Time Ran Out,” but the genre as a whole was killed by the success of “Airplane!” (1980) after which it was impossible to take these things seriously any longer. “Airplane!” is really based on a completely different movie than “Airport”: go find a copy of “Zero Hour!” (1957) starring Tyrone Power and Linda Darnell and just try not to laugh while watching it, because the creators of “Airplane!” used large sections of the screenplay almost verbatim. Everything in “Airplane!” that made no sense about Ted’s WWII experiences in 1980 suddenly becomes clear (and funnier) when you realize they’re using a 1956 screenplay about a man who hasn’t flown for ten years.
A/N3: In this case, SOL == Sh!t Out of Luck.
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