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.
Alex landed hard right in front of the three men. Even with the camo makeup on their faces, she instantly recognized Harry and Ron. Even if this Harry didn’t wear glasses.
Harry said, “I don’t know what they are, but if they touch you, it’s lethal.”
The guy she didn’t know added, “And fucking painful.”
Ron put in, “And they’re pretty much indestructible, so I hope you can carry us out of here.”
She told him, “Sorry, but cargo jet isn’t one of my powers.”
There were dozens to the east and north and south, but only five to the west. She grabbed the closest one with her telekinesis and heaved. Crud, these things were heavy! She couldn’t lift it. She had to strain as hard as she could, and still she just barely managed to drag it across the ground and slam it into one of the other monsters.
Both monsters were unharmed. They just waved their tentacles at her, so she used all of her telekinesis on the tentacles instead. She grabbed one, wrapped it around that other tentacle, and tied a fast square knot.
“Bloody hell, that’s marvelous!” Ron cheered.
She strode forward and grabbed the next-closest one in a telekinetic grip. She shoved it into another monster and tied a knot in their tentacles too. That left a thirty foot gap between the two tied-up pairs, and the things just sort of struggled mindlessly without any idea how to get free. So she grabbed the fifth one, slid it across the ground past her, and slammed it into one of the things coming up behind them.
Ron snapped on a tiny halogen light. “Let’s move it! There’s a lab building somewhere up ahead that might be a safe area.”
Harry asked, “Ron, where do you think these things came from?”
She lifted fifteen feet off the ground and went flying ahead of them. She used her lightning like a big lightbulb, arcing bolts back and forth between her extended arms. It gave her more than enough light to see what was out there for quite a ways around her. She found three more of the things moving toward the light… or the noise or the sound or something that spelled out food to them. Maybe scent or chemical signatures or even vibrations in the ground.
She landed on the ground so she had enough telekinesis to handle the things. Then she dragged one across the ground to a second one and tied their tentacles in another knot. After that, she dragged the third one over to a small tree and tied its tentacle around the tree trunk. She leapt up into the air and made another sweep.
She landed and checked out what she thought she’d seen. It was really there. She felt like urping. Five commandos who now looked like yucky man-shaped blobs.
Harry was on point, so he caught up to her first. “Yeah, that’s got to be the team we were sent to check on.”
Unnamed Guy came up next. “That’s Team One. At least, it’s their gear.” He used his assault rifle to poke one of the dead men, and it looked like he was poking a thing made out of rubber and not properly inflated.
Ron muttered, “Bloody hell, it’s like they have no bones left.”
Harry listened carefully for a couple seconds. “I don’t hear any of the things. Maybe we’re clear for the moment.”
Unnamed Guy checked, “Can we call in now?”
Harry looked at her and asked, “Can you sweep around us and keep these monsters off us long enough for us to make a sat phone call back to base?”
Alex said, “Sure. Hermione will be glad to hear you’re still okay.”
Harry froze. “Hermione Granger sent you?” Alex nodded.
Ron fervently declared, “I love that girl.”
Unnamed Guy said, “I’m pretty damn fond of ‘er myself right now, and I’ve never even seen ‘er.”
They set up the sat phone and called in, as Alex made big circular sweeps around their site to make sure nothing was creeping up on them. When she saw they were packing the sat phone away again, she swung back to them.
Harry announced, “They’ll have a tac team in a helicopter here in an hour or so, and a boat that can use the island’s docks a couple hours after that.”
Alex stopped in mid-air. Off in the distance, the sound was changing.
Ron worried, “I don’t know what that means, but we ought to find out if it’s good or bad.”
Alex said, “Keep going forward, and I’ll catch up in a minute.” Then she jetted off toward the things that were back behind them.
When she saw what was going on, she gasped, “Oh crud!”
She spun about and caught up with the trotting commandos in no time. She flew just above them and told them, “It’s bad. They’re… I think they’re dividing like amoebas.”
Harry groaned, “So in a few minutes there’ll be twice as many, and they’ll need to eat? Great.”
Ron asked, “Can you blast ‘em with those lightning bolts while they’re in the middle of… umm… mitosis?”
Harry muttered, “I didn’t think you were paying any attention in biology classes.”
Ron shrugged, “Just the lessons where that cute blonde student teacher with the big… amoebas did the talking.”
Alex rolled her eyes. “Keep moving toward the building, and I’ll try it out and come back.”
She leapt into the air and went up to about thirty feet, so she was well out of reach of the icky things. Then she put out her hands and used her lightning like an arc lamp. It looked like the ones she had knotted together couldn’t divide properly, but every other one was in the midst of splitting into two monsters. There was a gross, soupy mess in between them with DNA or something floating in the goo.
She tried a massive electrical blast right into the soupy part in between the dividing halves. The two halves stopped moving, but she couldn’t tell if she had stunned them or killed them or not even inconvenienced them. Still, she blasted another dozen of the splits before it was too late and the things had separated into intact monsters.
They seemed to be attracted to light, since they were focusing on her and waving their tentacles at her. She was really glad she was out of their reach. And it looked like she had managed to fry almost all the ones she had blasted. Unfortunately, where there had been maybe fifty before, there were now about seventy or eighty. And who knew how much trouble the town was in?
She turned around and soared up above the treetops so she could race at her top speed toward where the commandos were. And she caught up with them just about the time they reached an old stone mansion. Well, British people probably wouldn’t think it was old, but it looked old to her. She flew around it, using her lightning to see better, and she didn’t like what she found.
She landed beside Harry. “The front door is open. A door that looks like it goes down into a cellar is busted off its hinges from an impact that came from the inside. And there’s an open window north of the front door, along with a couple windows smashed out on the south side of the ground floor. It looks like there’s lights on down in the basement part, but nothing on upstairs and only one or two lights on around the front door. Oh, and I managed to knock out maybe a dozen of the things, but all the others split into two smaller, probably hungrier monsters.”
Harry thought it over. “So our monsters can probably come and go from here whenever they feel like it. Great.”
Ron said, “We’ll just have to be careful, but we’ve got to get in there and find the labs and find out what these maniacs did, so someone can figure out how to stop it.”
Unnamed Guy asked, “And who figures out that bit?”
Ron pointed at Harry. “If Harry can’t come up with something on the spot, we’ll contact Hermione and let her figure something out.”
Unnamed Guy sneered, “And what if Harry and your girlfriend can’t come up with something?”
Ron staunchly said, “Never happened before, Mike. If Hermione can’t figure it out, it’s probably not doable.”
Harry frowned, “If we can’t stop these things, and we can’t find someone who can figure it out, we’re looking at an Option Failsafe.”
“Christ,” swore the guy whose name was apparently Mike.
Alex said, “I take it you’re talking a nuclear option.” Harry nodded unhappily. “Then you’d be the second country that had to take that option this week
Harry checked, “That’s what happened in China?”
Ron choked, “These things were loose somewhere else?”
Alex admitted, “We don’t know what happened in China because they won’t tell anyone, and they’ve cut their internet and satellite connectivity. But there are lots of possibles other than these things.”
Harry said, “I guess you would know about that, if anyone would.”
Alex told them, “Look, I’d be happier if you guys found a room with a secure door and held your position until I got back, but I figure you’re going to do what you were sent here to do.” After all, it was what Hanna would do. Or Riley. Or Graham. Or Jo. Come to think of it, she’d do the same thing.
Come to think of it, she had done the same thing. More than once.
She leapt into the air and flew off toward the village. She soared up above the treetops, so she could go as fast as she could. It wasn’t a huge island, anyway.
Uh-oh. There was a big cattleyard chock full of really dead cows. If the townspeople had tried to round up all the farm animals to starve the monsters, it looked like it had totally failed. And there was a town hall or something in the middle of the town that had lights strung up on it like a giant ‘come eat me tonight’ sign. She really hoped these people had a plan and they weren’t inside there. If it was her, she’d have the building full of dynamite, while she sat a hundred yards out to sea in a boat with a remote detonator in one hand.
Extra uh-oh. The things were swarming all over the building. They were even up on the roof. Alex could hear the horrid squeaky sounds of dozens and dozens of monsters. Even worse, she could hear the sounds of men and women screaming in terror from inside the building.
The roof had skylights. As soon as one of the things crawled over a skylight, it would break through, and the people inside were going to have deadly monsters raining down on top of them.
Ron listened while Harry gave the orders. “Ron, you and I move through the broken cellar door and investigate. Mike, you take up a position here, where you can watch for anything coming our way. If we run into some of these things down in the labs, we need to know we can retreat to your position.” Both men nodded in understanding. “Now we don’t know how these things hunt, but they seem to be attracted to light and noise. So we don’t use our own lights unless we have to, and we keep quiet as much as we can.” He got two more nods. “And I’ll take point.”
“Not a chance, mate,” Ron insisted in a whisper. “You’re now team leader.”
Mike agreed with Ron, “You don’t get to do stupid crap like take point.”
Harry sighed and let Ron take point.
Ron carefully stepped over the wreckage of the door. It was pretty obvious that something really strong had smashed the door off its hinges from the inside and then rolled right over it. The small glass window was crushed. The doorknob was broken off from the door. The hinges were bent until the door was lying flat on the concrete ramp up out of the basement.
The lab was probably down there. The door was extra-wide, and the concrete ramp was probably the only reasonable way to get heavy equipment in and out of the building. But an underground lab area would be really easy to get trapped in. He assumed there were interior steps leading up to the ground floor, but just one of those things could block an entire staircase.
He wondered how Hermione had gotten an American superheroine to fly all the way here at the drop of a hat. It was probably that new project she couldn’t talk about. And it wasn’t as if this was the first time she’d pulled a rabbit out of her hat.
Ron had slung his rifle over his shoulder, since it wasn’t going to do him a lot of good if they ran into another one of these indestructible things. Instead, he had pulled out what looked like a bicyclist’s rear mirror stuck on the end of a collapsible car antenna. Harry preferred an SAS spec ops periscope, but Hermione had made this for Ron, and Ron was attached to it. Just as well, because it was probably more useful this time.
Ron moved as silently as he could to the heavy wooden door at the other end of the hallway. This one was still on its hinges. But something ridiculously strong had smashed its way through the bottom third of the door on its way out of the basement.
He adjusted the mirror and extended the ‘antenna’ part before he slid it through the hole in the door. He looked to both sides, then checked above the door too. He gave the signal for ‘clear’ and grabbed the door handle.
It was locked, and not going to yield.
Harry watched as Ron tested the door and found it securely locked. That meant that they were either going to have to pick the lock, shoot out the lock, smash the door down, or let Ron crawl through that hole. Making noise would not be good. Letting Ron stick his head through there was just asking for trouble. What he wouldn’t give at times like this for a magic wand that would unlock doors.
Ron knelt down and used his mirror to keep watch, while Harry stepped forward and fished out his lockpicking set. He’d gotten rather decent at it over the years, but there were still plenty of high-end keyed locks which he couldn’t pick. Granted, these days there were plenty of high-end keyed locks which almost no one could pick.
He worked on the lock for five minutes before Ron tapped on his leg and gave the hand signal for ‘advance’. Harry sighed to himself, put away the lockpicks, and nodded.
Ron carefully checked once more with the mirror, then stuck his head and shoulders through. Harry tensed up… but nothing happened. Ron squeezed through and quickly unlocked the door from the other side. Harry yanked it open and followed.
There was a zigzag in the hallway up ahead. Ron stopped and used the mirror to check around the corner, then moved forward. Harry followed, trying to provide support when he had no weapons which were useful. He was wielding an entrenching tool, which might be as good as he had. Ron checked around the second corner, and then stepped into the hallway.
Harry followed, and immediately knew they were in the right place. At his right hand was a room full of cages for lab animals. There were no animal noises coming from the room. There was a dead constable on the floor in there, or at least something rubbery in a constable’s uniform. Facing down the corridor, there was an open door to the right, and a sealed door to the left which apparently was for storage of radioactive isotopes. There was a dead man in the hallway near a flight of steps leading up to the ground floor.
Ron used his mirror to check to the sides and above before stepping into the room of animal cages. He stepped out a second later, shaking his head sadly. Harry took a quick look. Most of the cages had a two-inch hole driven through the wire mesh, and a horribly dead lab animal inside. One cage had a door hanging loose, with no sign of the escaped animal. Whatever had been in that cage was about the size of a good-sized dog, like the probably-dog blobs in the cages on either side of it. Harry wondered if the dog was out there now, mutating into something even worse than the things they had already faced.
Ron stepped into the room on the right, and Harry backed him up. The room was empty of life. Ron checked in every corner and under the desks, just to be sure. There were four quite-dead men in white labcoats who looked like they had been in a fight with something. Now they looked just as boneless and horrible as everything else Harry had seen.
There were several large tanks about the size of a big fishtank, and two of them had broken open in the direction of the men. Harry looked around for some clue about what they had been researching, but the lab notes seemed to be missing. There weren’t loose papers or notepads or lab notebooks or anything. Someone had come through afterward and cleaned up. That was probably a desperately bad sign.
They moved up the stairs to the ground floor, and found yet another corpse. At least the things weren’t flooding the building. They moved up the stairs and found two more men dead in what were presumably their private rooms, with the doors smashed in. Harry would have been a lot happier if the things couldn’t manage a flight of stairs. But it looked like little problems like doors and windows and staircases couldn’t stop the things.
He needed to get back to Mike, set up the sat phone in a safe spot, and call in with the latest bad news.
Alex flew as fast as she could to the roof of the building. She dropped onto the roof and nearly slipped, but she needed to get her telekinesis ready as soon as she could. One of the things was just about to crawl over a skylight, and it would fall right through. Worse, the fall probably wouldn’t hurt it if things like bullets and grenades didn’t.
She grabbed the thing with every bit of telekinesis she could muster, and she pulled. It slid off the skylight, down the slope of the roof, and fell with a squealing thump to the ground. She dragged all the things off the roof and dumped them over the edges. Then she flew around the building.
Oh holy crud, they were climbing the walls and getting ready to smash in through the windows and doors, and everything! And there were so many of them!
One window was already broken, and she could see where two of the things had a man by the arm and throat, and he wasn’t screaming anymore. She grabbed their tentacles and tied them in a knot before they could climb in through the window and attack all the screaming people inside. She flew to the front and tied up the two things pressing on the front door, knotting their tentacles together. Then she knotted up the tentacles of the next two, and the two behind them. But the things just started clambering over the ones that were tied together.
She flew around to the other side of the building and tied more tentacles in knots just before they smashed in that window. Then she flew over the roof to get back to the ones by the now-ruined window.
Crud! Two things were clambering over the tied-up ones and going in through the window! One of them was already inside!
She flew back to the edge of the roof so she could stand there and use her telekinesis for something important. She grabbed one thing and hauled it back out of the window. She grabbed the other and hauled it back toward the window. She tied their tentacles in a square knot before they could right themselves.
A loud crash told her the front door had just gone. She used her telekinesis to smash the closest skylight, and she flew through that into the big room. The screaming people were already retreating down a hall, but there wasn’t anything that was going to stop the things once they were inside.
She shoved the one that was already through the front door backward until it smacked into the one that was trying to come in. She tied their tentacles together. She tried to push them backward, but she didn’t have the telekinetic strength to drag two of them around at the same time.
Tentacles waved about the already-smashed window on her left. She grabbed two and knotted them together. But while her attention was over there, the window on her right shattered, and more tentacles waved at her as things tried to crawl in. She tied two tentacles together over there, but that gave the things at the front door time to clamber over the two-monster roadblock she had in place.
She was losing this battle. There were too many of them, and there was only so much she could do at a time.
She grabbed the first thing climbing over the two-monster doorway roadblock and tied its tentacle to the square knot she already had. That blocked the door up better.
A skylight overhead shattered, and she dove to the side.
She just barely managed to avoid razor-sharp shards of glass and yet another of the monsters. It hit the floor hard, and just rolled over like it had fallen out of bed or something.
Alex dropped back to the floor and used her telekinesis to slam it across to the far window, where she tied its tentacle to one that was working its way into the room.
And two more were coming in the window on her left, and two more were climbing over monsters in the doorway, and another was falling through yet another skylight.
There were too many of them, and only one of her, and she was failing. She was letting down every one of the terrified people hiding at the end of the hallway behind her. For a brief moment, she thought of those t-shirts that said ‘What Would Terawatt Do?’ and she thought, “She’d fail horribly and get everyone killed.”
She was not going to let these things get at the people behind her. She wasn’t