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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
DianeCastleFR132351,177,0232896487754,27612 Dec 1215 Nov 14Yes


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.

Jack tried to dive to the side, but he was still going to be hit by a falling silicate, and even if that didn’t take him out, he would be in easy reach of at least one tentacle.

But he hadn’t figured on Action Girl. Hanna came sprinting down the hallway at her top speed and tackled him hard enough to stop NFL fullbacks dead in their tracks. If she hadn’t hit him right in the tac vest, she would have broken him in half. The two of them went flying down the hall. She finished her move with a forward roll that she used to hurl him down the hall so he slid until he crashed into the emergency slide in front of the emergency door.

The move left her sitting on the floor with her back to the silicates and in easy tentacle reach.

The silicates hit with a thud that Jack felt through the floor. He had no idea where his tranq rifle was, but Finn and Walters were already firing at the two threats. Unfortunately, neither threat was going to be dead in time to save Hanna.

He needed time. He needed something to separate Hanna from the silicates. He needed…

He needed exactly what he had within reach. The inflatable emergency slide secured to two hooked clips on the floor by the emergency door. The clips would hold it so it didn’t fall out the doorway. And they would allow for easy removal. He yanked it out of the clips, pointed it back down the hall, and pulled the handle.

It exploded in his hands. The emergency slide unrolled and inflated as it shot down the hallway, and Hanna ducked under it. A tentacle came down right where her neck would have been, and slapped on top of the heavy plastic instead.

The slide inflated, and the closer silicate clambered right onto it, squealing and slapping its tentacle in search of dinner. Hanna stood up and slammed the silicate and the whole slide against the wall. The tentacle came sliding out underneath the bottom edge of the slide.

Finn snapped, “Heller! Watch your feet!”

Hanna leapt back and swiftly moved away, just as the tentacle sagged and went limp.

Jack suddenly realized that he had had the wind knocked out of him and he’d been too busy to notice. And he was going to have to go see Janet as soon as he got back.

Maybe she’d be home hugging Hanna, and he’d get to see one of the other doctors.

Finn had already reloaded his tranq rifle. He had it up pointing into the ceiling areas while Walters was pointing his into one lab.

Jack needed to make an effort to get air back into his lungs, and then he realized he probably had bruised ribs, despite the tac vest. He was also going to have a really lovely collection of bruises on his back and butt when he got back home. Maybe a good one on the back of his head where he’d slid into that stupid emergency slide.

Who the hell cared? He was going to get back home. “Hanna? Thanks. But next time, don’t leave yourself exposed to enemy fire like that. Or I’ll tell Janet.”

“Yes sir.”

Jack went on, “And Finn? Where’s my tranq rifle?”

“Sir, I think it’s under silicate number two.” Finn didn’t take his eyes off the hole in the ceiling, where he had his tranq rifle pointing.

And a female voice that Jack had never heard before yelled, “Is somebody out there? We need help! We’re trapped up here! There’s one more thing up here trying to get at us, and I don’t know how many of ‘em down on the floor!”

Jack took a deep breath… and regretted it. Maybe those ribs were cracked instead of bruised. He pointed at Finn.

Finn yelled, “I’m Major Riley Finn of the Department of Homeland Security! I have a team here, and we’re dealing with these silicates, but we still have three to go! Please stay put if you can!”

“Hell yeah, we can stay put!” yelled a man this time. “Stayin’ put is what we do best! We’ve been up here, what? Half a day?”

Another man called out, “Yeah, since lunchtime, which none of us got, and we’re all starving!”

Another woman yelled, “Please get us out of here!”

The first woman called out, “Is anyone else okay?”

Finn calmly said, “I’m sorry, but you’re the only survivors on this entire floor. But the rest of the building is safe.”

Jack carefully slid back down the hall toward the lab door. Hanna reclaimed her weapon and carefully checked it to make sure the dart wasn’t damaged. Good weapon safety for a tranq rifle, especially with a radioactive payload. He was going to note that in her file.

Jack scooted past the ruined ceiling and realized where the silicate had to be. “It’s up on top of the partition wall.”

Walters reported, “Most of the drop ceiling inside the lab near the wall has been pulled down, maybe from the things trying to get from the wall to the people.”

Jack ordered, “Walters and Finn, take the two silicates on the floor, but watch for a dropping tentacle from Fall Out Boy. Heller, if you get a clean shot at it, take it.”

“Yes sir.”

Finn crouched down to slip through the doorway and stay out of reach of the silicate up in the ceiling. Walters gingerly followed. The silicates on the lab floor were ignoring them and working to get up on the counters that were probably directly under the people. But the counters were covered in loose papers, so every time a silicate got halfway up onto the counter, it slid off with another few sheets of paper.

Finn put a dart into one climber, and when it fell, Walters used the distraction to put a dart in its partner. But they still had an unseen silicate up in the drop ceiling.

Jack carefully ducked into the lab and looked around. There was a ladder that was propped against the partition wall, and a very dead, very rubbery guy in a labcoat was draped over the bottom four rungs. The ladder was jammed against one of the fixed tables in the center of the room, so it made a perfect highway for the silicates to get up to the top of the partition wall. They just couldn’t go anywhere useful from there, because their weight would rip out the drop ceiling. And the people were apparently over in the far corner, in between a ventilation duct and a couple ceiling fluorescents, where none of the silicates could get at them. And they’d been stuck there, terrorized by unkillable monsters, for nearly twelve hours.

Jack said, “Okay troops, any thoughts on how to get a clean shot at that last silicate?”

Hanna said, “I can go up the ladder and-”

Jack said, “That would be a ‘definite no’, Heller. There is no way one of us is sticking his or her face in reach of that tentacle.”

Finn said, “I can go in the lab across the hall and climb up there. There’s no way the silicate will be able to reach me, and I ought to have a straight shot at it, since these are only partition walls and not full-height walls.”

Walters said, “And just in case it tries for the Major and falls into the hall, I can be positioned in the hall and back thirty feet.”

Jack said, “And in case it rolls this way, Heller, you have position on that center table for easy targeting.”

“Yes sir.”

Jack asked, “Major? Do you need a hand getting up in the other lab?”

Finn said, “It wouldn’t hurt to have an assist, sir. But I’d rather you didn’t do anything that will make your ribs worse. It’s bad enough having Doc Fraiser mad at me when Heller’s out in the field. I don’t want Acid Burn and Terawatt mad at me too.”

Jack rolled his eyes. He didn’t believe that one either. But he answered, “Taken under advisement, major.”

And it wasn’t as if Finn needed any help. The man placed fourth in the decathlon at the NCAAs his senior year, and was invited to the Olympic Trials to compete for a spot on the Olympic team. It was too bad for the Olympics that Finn insisted on sticking with his military duties, when he probably could have found a PR-inclined general who would have given him an easy out. Instead, Finn had done paratrooper training. In southern Georgia. During a brutally hot, humid summer. The guy was too dedicated for his own good.

Jack watched as Finn hopped up on a lab table beside the doorway, and knocked a couple drop ceiling panels out of the way before grabbing the top of the partition wall and pulling himself up onto the wall. Finn said, “The thing’s pretty much stuck. The wall only goes maybe eight feet either direction before there’s a steel girder jutting up and blocking its path.”

Jack heard the tranq rifle fire. The silicate squealed again. And then about fifteen seconds later, it rolled off the wall into the hallway, taking a couple more ceiling panels with it, before it hit the floor and started sagging into goo.

Jack directed, “Okay. Let’s rescue our citizens. Heller, get over there under them and lower them down. Finn, you get to help once you’re off that-” Finn leapt down easily. “Never mind.”

Once Finn and Hanna were under the people, the four lab workers started stiffly clambering off the ductwork and wires they had been lying on for hours. They seemed kind of surprised that Finn could take their full weight, much less Hanna. But Jack wanted Hanna to experience the ‘rescuing people up close and personal’ part, because it was Jack’s second favorite part of the job. His favorite part was getting to watch some pompous, arrogant badguy’s face just at the moment he realized he was about to take it in the shorts. He was always going to treasure that look on Danielle Atron’s face when she came to and realized she not only had lost her powers, but Terawatt had kicked her ass and outsmarted her too.

While that was going on, Jack signaled Sergeant Scott. “Leader to Scott. Leader to Scott. Mission objectives completed. Four survivors. All critters accounted for. Go notify the DHS and NG leaders, please.”

“Scott to Leader. Roger that. Over and out.”

And now it was time for all the extremely-un-fun parts. Hazardous waste disposal, including the radioactive remains of the creatures. Paperwork. And waiting to find out if all of his teams had a hundred percent success on their mission objectives… or not. He really hated sitting behind a desk and sending people out to risk their lives fighting these kinds of things.

He checked his phone. The lab had a cellphone jammer up too, maybe to keep employees from transmitting valuable data to rival companies. Maybe it was just to keep down the number of people using the lab wifi to play World of Warcraft. But it meant those four people had been trapped with no way to get any help. And he wouldn’t be able to call Acid Burn until he was off the Hillman-Klein campus.

He walked down to meet with the DHS guys, trying to ignore how his ribs ached. He had Willow visiting, and he was going to come back too beaten up to make with the horizontal samba. She’d give him the big sad Willow puppy dog eyes, too. He just knew it. He was going to tell her he loved her, even if it might be too soon. He still didn’t grok all the nuances of dating and relationships for the current generation, but right then he didn’t care.

He worked the security doors that Finn had locked, and he walked out toward the parking lot. Agent Peters of the DHS and Colonel Hathaway of the Guard were already moving toward him with their adjutants. And Jack could see what had happened with the third silicate. McCloud had lured it into the front seat of his squad car and shut the doors on it, so by the time it broke out a window, Sergeant Scott was ready to dart it. Still, the car was damaged, and had hundreds of pounds of radioactive goo in it.

Broadhurst was standing off to the side, with slumped shoulders. He looked like he had known something like this would happen, and he was resigned to getting yelled at when he couldn’t explain why they’d lost another squad car. Jack could imagine how that would go. “But Chief, we couldn’t bring it back. The car’s radioactive. And we can’t tell you why.”

Jack made another mental note. He needed to get Walter to put him through to the Chief of Detectives and get these guys off the hook. At the cost of one car, they’d saved who knew how many people.

His phone buzzed. “Hi, Burn.”

“Is everyone okay? Are all the creepy-crawlies dead and gooey?”

He smiled, “Yes and yes. I picked up some hurt ribs and bruises, but other than that, we’re good.”

She burbled, “As soon as I figured out you were in a cell jammer zone, I just programmed a redialer so I could beep you as soon as you came out of the zone. Tera’s got Rome saved, and she’s flying to Tokyo to back up Graham. Latest word on Petrie’s Island looks good, too. Rome lost a couple dozen soldiers and nearly had a level four infestation all because some moron named Colonel Leonetti wouldn’t listen to the experts, probably because he’s a big important army colonel with medals and diplomatic contacts, and the experts were just a couple girls. I want you to call George and have him yell a bunch at the EU liaison office, because Tera’s really upset about it, okay? And just how hurt are you? Because I’m still kinda… you know.” He rolled his eyes. “And don’t roll your eyes like that, I’m not doing it on purpose.”

Ah yes, the simultaneous upside and downside of smart girlfriends. “We’ll be back in a couple hours, but I’ll need to go see a doctor first thing.”

“Oh no! How bad are those hurt ribs? It’s not anything worse is it? Because I’d really rather know than have you doing the ‘protect the little woman’ thing, and you know how I feel about that…”

He was going to wait until he got home, and then tell Willow in private.

Alex was flying across the Himalayas. It was something she’d never dreamed she’d ever get to do. But she was flying over the Himalayas, and she was so high up so could see what felt like all of the mountain range. And it was amazing.

And she was still hungry. She’d eaten five more energy bars once she got in the Blackbird, but she’d had to go silvery before it got up past twenty thousand feet. And while she was silvery, she couldn’t eat. She’d have to wait until after she bailed out over Tokyo, and fought more monsters, and met up with Graham’s team.

Graham had been stewing quietly for a couple hours, and trying to mask his tension by working on paperwork he’d have to complete after the op. The one thing he didn’t like about the military was all the paperwork, even if he wasn’t as bad about it as the colonel. And frankly, the computerized forms Willow had sent him and Lupo for their tablets made life a lot easier. He just wondered when Willow had the time to write code like this. On the other hand, if what the colonel said was true, Willow could probably write code like this as quickly as he could write ‘see spot run’.

He knew the Rome op was covered, and the original op was down to a final cordon-and-search task. He’d heard back on New York City, and he was glad to hear no one got more than a few bruises. But then he’d had to sit in the jet and wait.

All he had were intermittent calls with Colonel Watanabe of the Japanese self-defense forces on the progress of their battle against the silicates. The colonel knew what he was doing. He had managed to set up a second containment system another block farther out from the lab, and he had managed to find a supply of baby pigs which they injected with radioisotope and let loose inside the first barricade wall. He had implemented several of Acid Burn’s suggestions, too.

They hadn’t lost the first barricade containment system yet, but they also still had a slew of silicates in the building and loose in the containment area. Graham and Colonel Watanabe both knew that the live silicates were going to divide in another thirty minutes, and then go in search of dinner. Graham’s team wouldn’t land for forty minutes. They wouldn’t be on-site for fifty minutes. And Terawatt wouldn’t arrive for seventy to eighty minutes. Graham had been on ops where things went from ‘looks okay’ to ‘desperately bad’ in under one minute. And these things were just as nasty as the things his team had faced in Siberia, even though these silicates were a lot slower.

Colonel Watanabe watched over his troops. He had moved up to the roof of a neighboring building to get a better view, and his computer techs had hijacked many of the traffic cameras in a four block radius so they could monitor everything. The American military team would be here soon, and so far Captain Miller had been more polite than some Americans he had needed to deal with, even if once again it was the ‘America will save the day’ attitude that his superiors complained of after attending international conferences.

Granted, if the Americans and British had not contacted his superiors and informed them of this crisis, and had not given them information on the ‘silicates’, he suspected that a large number of his troops would be dead, and the creatures would be moving through this entire section of Tokyo, eating the very citizens he was sworn to protect.

He had realized that the silicates squealed in those eerie tones almost constantly, except when they stopped to divide. And the sound was dropping. His research people had used a rapid-drying spray foam on half a dozen of the silicates that had approached the barriers, and it had apparently encased the silicates and trapped them. Now he was hoping it would withstand whatever stresses were caused when the things divided.

He wished his scientists understood this ‘division’ process better, because it sounded like an exploitable weakness. From direct observation and re-routed traffic cameras, he could see more than a score of live silicates. They had stopped moving. They were pulling in their tentacles. They were all dividing at the same time. If only his forces had not run out of strontium-90, this would be an ideal time to move through the entire barricaded area and dart every one of them, then block all building exits to confine the threat to a much smaller area.

But he was forced to wait while the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy gathered radium-228 from a research facility and drove it to him in a secure truck. Everyone wanted fancier weapons and more effective ammunition, but no one wanted to take the time to improve the logistics, and in his experience that was where things fell apart most of the time. Just like here.

He watched as the process of division ripped apart the solid foam that had trapped half a dozen of the creatures. He watched as the division turned roughly twenty-five outside threats into fifty, and even more threats began to emerge from the building. What had those fools in the research labs been thinking?

He watched on one monitor as three silicates simultaneously hit one heavy concrete barrier on the far side of his containment area, and tipped it over. He hastily ordered his troops to move back to the second containment wall. He ordered the spray-foam trucks to move to the area of the break and try to confine the creatures. And he called in a request for yet another, even larger, containment wall, this time yet another block out.

If he lost another one-block radius every six hours, he would have time to evacuate all residents in the danger zones, but he would still lose the entire city in a matter of weeks. He called his immediate superior and alerted him. That didn’t alter the fact that he was responsible for the hard decisions, and he would bear the shame if he failed.

The Americans were known as the ones who dropped nuclear weapons on Nagasaki and Hiroshima, but if he could not contain these things, then the name Watanabe would go down in the history books as the one who had to nuke Tokyo.

Graham made sure everyone was ready to go as soon as the jet taxied over to near their copter.

He knew everyone on the team knew how to rappel from a helicopter, but he was a little worried about Lupo and her still-not-quite-healed leg. Granted, she was wearing a skin-tight high-strength molded plastic cast that mimicked a combat boot plus lower leg protection, and was topped with what amounted to a hinged plastic knee brace. In theory, Lupo could jump off a ten foot wall and land on that leg, and the impact would get transmitted to her knee and lower thigh instead of damaging her lower leg bones. She just looked like she had a cyborg lower leg. And she had no mobility at her ankle, so she limped when she walked or ran. But she was insistent she could do the rappel.

He just wished he didn’t have to go with the rappel. But Colonel Watanabe had just given him the bad news, and his team clearly needed to get down to the ground ASAP.

Graham just knew that Janet Fraiser would throttle him if Lupo re-fractured those leg bones.

Colonel Watanabe studied the monitors. The laboratory was on a street corner, and they had been able to build a two block by two block containment wall with the intersection at the lab’s northeast corner as its center. When the creatures burst out through the center of the north barricade, he had lost one block on that side, and partway around the containment square, but his builders had been able to put up walls of the rigid foam across the east and west sides, limiting the creatures to only about a third of the expanded area. Some of the building fronts that had been sprayed with the rigid foam might never be the same again, but at least the creatures wouldn’t be bursting into those buildings through the doors and windows, which would have made the containment harder, and then made the later search efforts far more dangerous.

But he finally had good news. The Americans were on the way in a Super Huey, and the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy had a truck on the way, with technicians who could fill darts for his forces. If they could just contain the silicates for another five minutes using the rigid-foam sprayers…

Graham used his monocular to study the terrain as they closed in. He spoke to the pilot and the team over his comm system. “All right, they’ve got the biggest problem at the barricade due north of the breach. We rappel down forty feet north of the barrier. Anybody who has a shot on rappel and thinks they can hit the target, go ahead and take it. Otherwise, land, move to the barriers, and begin clearing. We spread out east to west in order: me, Marshall, Carlson, Bailey, Lupo. We sector based on equidistance between us, and we clear the area in front. Then we move over the barriers and spread to clear the street with fifty feet between each of us.

“Then I need the chopper to land on one of these roofs so our armorer can bring the radioisotope out, and get down to the street level so we can reload. The objective is to give our allies time to get their own dart reloads, so we can clear these streets back to any strategic regions they can hold. If we can clear the entirety of containment zone two, we do so and help them re-establish containment for zone one. If we can do that, then we move to clear zone one and then clear the lab. If there are buildings the things could have gotten into, we cordon them off for later search. Understood?”

“Yes sir,” everyone said.

He nodded, “Then let’s load up, and we’ll rappel on my signal.”

Colonel Watanabe looked out over the containment area as the American helicopter dropped in. He knew there was no place to land a helicopter, unless they planned to hop out on a rooftop and make there way down through one of the buildings. Unless…

Oh, naturally. He watched in exasperation as the Americans opted to do a five-man simultaneous rappel from eighty feet up.

Wait, was one of them taking a shot while rappelling? That was just showboating. No one could hit something the size of a silicate during a rappel.

At least his men would have reloads any minute now.

Graham was pretty sure Lupo would take the shot as soon as she thought she could hit something. So it didn’t surprise him that she fired her tranq rifle while they were still forty feet in the air.

The shocked looks on the faces of the Japanese self-defense forces told him that she hadn’t missed, either.

He and Lupo had the only tranq dart handguns. He was fairly concerned they wouldn’t have enough power to penetrate the silicates’ armored hides, and the Roswell armory only had two, anyway.

Everyone landed cleanly and disconnected from the ropes to move into position. There were eight of the ugly things squealing and squeaking at the barrier, while men without dart reloads were doing the best they could. The Japanese forces had put together two-man teams that each had a fifteen foot steel pole. With the back man stabilizing the pole, the front man could step forward and ram any silicate trying to get over the barrier, while staying out of reach of those tentacles.

Shit. And Graham had hoped the colonel might be exaggerating just a bit. He waited until the nearest two-man team knocked two silicates back, and then he stepped up. He fired a dart from his rifle, and then he aimed at the just-tipped-over silicate in front of him and put a tranq dart into it using his handgun. It looked like the dart went in, even if it clearly didn’t get the depth that the rifle-fired ones were getting. And it took an extra twenty seconds to kill the silicate, which could be extremely bad in close quarters fighting.

He stepped back from the barrier and checked on his team while he reloaded both weapons. “Miller to team. Status?”

“Lupo. Two down. Reloading.”

“Carlson. One down. Reloading.”

“Marshall. One down. Reloading.”

“Bailey. One down. Reloading.”

“Lupo to Miller. Just got the last of our eight targets, and reloading handgun. Handgun is not as dependable, and doesn’t provide enough penetration, so be advised.”

“Miller to team. Roger those sitreps. On my hand signal, we cross the barrier and take the silicates directly ahead or if too close on the flanks, then reload.” He made sure both his weapons were ready, and he checked the battlefield. The damn things were all over, but were spreading out. If his team moved forward and cleared the street ahead of them all the way to the first barriers, and they could tip that barrier back up, they could take their time re-establishing control of zone two.

“Advance.” He made the hand gesture and slid over the waist-height concrete barrier.

His team moved fluidly, even if Lupo on the far end was doing her limp-along bit. The colonel would probably have called her ‘Hopalong Cassidy’ or ‘Chester’ but that wasn’t Graham’s command style. They moved at the street full of silicates. “Carlson, you have our six. Lupo, you have point, and you take the first shot. Then Marshall, me, Lupo’s handgun, Bailey, my handgun. Carlson, you fire as needed on anything coming up behind us. Everyone reload ASAP.”

“Yes sir.” Lupo naturally picked off the first thing that even moved her way.

They moved down the street. Graham saw several doors left open or knocked open, so there were probably silicates inside some of these buildings too. He’d have to make sure his team didn’t have too many unloaded weapons at any time. He took his turn and picked off a silicate near the tipped-over barrier. Then, after another hundred feet, it was his turn again. He carefully walked around one silicate, which didn’t bother to turn after him. So he had an easy shot with the handgun at close range, right into the thing’s back. That was the way he wanted to use the handgun.

He had another turn with his rifle before they reached the tipped barrier. He did a quick check to make sure nothing was lurking just out of sight on the other side of the upright barriers, and he checked behind the team to make sure they had time for this step of the operation.

“All right team, stow weapons, move into place, and lift this bastard back into position. On three.” He wasn’t surprised when Lupo took position near the center and moved Carlson into the other near-center spot. Carlson was a beast, but Lupo had a hell of a lot more upper-body strength than you’d think, even after she kicked your ass in the dojo. “One… two… three!”

Graham lifted for all he was worth, and he felt the massive concrete piece coming up off the ground. It tipped back into place with a loud crash. He checked, “Everyone okay?”

He got four thumbs-up gestures.

He said, “Okay. We need more ammo before we’re ready to move on to zone one, so we move back to Point Able and have our armorer load us up again. Lupo, you have point again, and Carlson, you’re still on our six. Everyone keep an eye out for anything coming out of one of these open doors, or coming in on our three or nine when we get to the cross street. Let’s move.”

By the time they got back to their armorer, the Japanese forces had new loads, and were clearing the streets. Colonel Watanabe directed his men to move in cordon-and-search operations to clear every room that could have been invaded by a silicate, so they could re-take zone two. In the meantime, Graham was going to take his team into zone one, alongside three of Colonel Watanabe’s teams.

The good part was that they had hours to cut this population down to something manageable before the silicates divided again. And Terawatt would be here soon. The bad part was that they had an unknown number of silicates loose in the four block area of zone one, and they had a limited number of darts. Even if they started pulling used darts from dead silicates, they still had a limited amount of radioisotopes available. If they ran out of radioisotope before they killed off every silicate, they were going to be in massive trouble.

And he had no idea how the defense forces were going to handle the aftermath. If it was his call, he would put a one-week quarantine on the entire infested area, with cameras monitoring everywhere, while doing a full-fledged search, just in case there was one silicate left alive in a closed room or a closet or something. These things were too much of a threat to risk leaving even one loose in Tokyo.

Colonel Watanabe sighed inwardly. They had control over zone two once again. He had cordon-and-search teams moving through every building the silicates could have gotten into. His computer people had a count on the number of silicates that had gone through the breach, thanks to the traffic cams, and his lieutenant had a count on silicates that had been shot, so he knew there were only two silicates left alive in all of zone two. His teams just had to track the two things down and dart them.

Zone one would be a much bigger problem. They had no count on enemies in there. They would have to clear the streets, clear that laboratory building, and then clear the other buildings one-by-one. After that, the politicians would probably step in with their own ideas on when it would be politically reasonable to take down those barriers. If it was up to him, the barriers would stay up for a month, while animals were staked out in the intersections to lure hungry silicates out of hiding.

It would probably take at least that long to clean up the radiation problem from the contaminated silicates anyway.

And he was going to have to thank Captain Miller and his team. He didn’t like admitting that his people needed help from outsiders, but it had been a very timely rescue. And his people had informed him that the Americans had not missed a single shot. Not even with those handguns. Not even the cowboy who fired at a silicate while rappelling down from a helicopter and still forty feet in the air. In addition, they had simply lifted that concrete barrier back into place. That bothered him, because he knew exactly how much the barriers weighed, and he would not have attempted that without at least eight men equipped with heavy levers. Was it possible that the large sergeant on Captain Miller’s team had superstrength?

His communications officer signaled him, and he clicked on his comms. The Americans had an SR-71 entering Japanese airspace, and Terawatt was onboard, so they would soon have superhero assistance too. He sighed inwardly. Why couldn’t it be a Japanese superhero, instead of an American one? Not that there were any Japanese superheroes yet. He had a brief mental image of Terawatt flying to the rescue like a manga character.

He was not going to imagine Terawatt in a tiny seifuku and white panties. He was not.

Graham was keeping an eye on the Japanese teams as his team cleared the silicates that were still on the street. His team had the easy job. All they had to do was aim and shoot from a safe distance. The Japanese teams were doing building entry against a foe that couldn’t be frozen by throwing a flashbang into the room first, couldn’t be stopped instantaneously with a one-shot kill, and couldn’t be handled by lobbing a few grenades in ahead of your team. The Japanese teams one and two were checking open doors and broken windows on either side of the street, while his team acted as a plug force to keep any new silicates from oozing into the search area.

Okay, officially they were teams ichi and ni, but he knew enough Japanese to get by. He couldn’t give these soldiers a coherent lecture in Japanese on what the silicates were and how big a threat they posed, but he could certainly count to ninety-nine in Japanese and order food. He didn’t think his Japanese was as good as Willow’s, but Willow was a genius. He figured Riley probably spoke more Japanese than he did, but Riley was a lot smarter than people gave him credit for. You didn’t get to be valedictorian of your class at West Point by being a dummy.

Suddenly he heard rubbery squeals and darts guns being fired and men screaming.

He instantly reacted. He signaled for Lupo and Marshal to move with him, while the other two stayed in position. He ran into the open door on his left, where the screams were coming from.

Two men were down, and three silicates had been darted but were still mobile. He moved the rest of Team Ichi back, and let Lupo drag one guy out of the room. He moved back toward a window, just trying to lure the silicates toward him. He could see the darts in their fronts, so he knew they would drop at any moment.

The wall on his right fell toward him, and rubbery squeals told him why it had fallen. He tried to dive out of the way, but the upper portion of the wall still swatted him to the floor. The weight of the wall had his legs trapped, but he still had his rifle. He put a dart into the first silicate that clambered onto the crushed wall, but there was one more live one behind it, and he was lying atop his handgun so he couldn’t get at it.

Two tentacles waved through the air and aimed for his throat.

A/N: Yes, it's another cliffhanger. My muse insisted. But it's the last one for a couple weeks.
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