Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Sacrifice (excerpt)

The Game is Afoot

It's a good thing I had to pee before we started up the hidden stairs to head into battle, because by the time I got back to the group waiting at the base of the stairs our plan was changing. And a good thing it was. Evidently Gladys was the one who brought up the likelihood Pink's life no longer was necessarily valuable to anyone but himself.
“Look at it this way,” she argued. “Nigeria wants him alive because he's the only one who knows how to make the enhanced Vulcana, which they want so they can blackmail the developed countries, the oligarchies. That was my job, to get him safely to Nigeria. You can bet Wilde Labs has no interest in the enhanced formula. Their only interest is profits. They think I can make the basic stuff, which is where the money is. They don't need Pink, long as they've got me.”
“What if they think you're dead?” This was Joan.
“A lot depends on how much Hendrian knows,” said Gladys. “He hired Chesapeake, but he might not know Elliot's dead. There's got to be some confusion in the ranks. The zombies are just kids. They don't know shit, except for the head zombie, who's probly Kelleher, their chief operations officer. This is their first field op. I can see Kelleher leading the team. I can see him taking Elliot down, too. Those two never got along.”
“What we need to know is whether Kelleher - if that's who it is - is more than a tactical commander,” said Joan. “If Elliot was the contact point with Hendrian, Kelleher might have killed the critical link in his chain of command. Those zombies may not know who to shoot and who to protect.”
“When in doubt, shoot. That's how we train,” said Ashmore.
“Lemme see if I got this right,” I said. “Our goal is to get to Hendrian without losing anybody. We think Hendrian's interested only in the basic formula, so he doesn't need Pink. All he needs is Gladys, unless he thinks Gladys is dead. Gladys, did the head zombie ever see you?”
“Not that I know of, Al. I got here before the zombies arrived. Came back dressed as a courier. Said I was from Wilde's main office. Nobody recognized me and I pretty much stayed in the lab until Elliot got here.”
“Hard to imagine anyone who knew you not recognizing you, Gladys,” I said.
“Well, thank you, Al, I'm sure, but I'm pretty good with disguises. I'll bet I could have fooled even Mr. Pinkerton.” She shot a grin Pink's way, which he ignored.
As our resolve began wavering I expected Pink to have second thoughts about volunteering to approach a zombie unarmed and attempt to wrestle him into position for a dart shot to an armpit from Cromwell. If he was reconsidering this audacity, he gave no sign, and instead pushed us closer to accepting the plan.
“Nobody knows what the fuck's going on. That's what I think,” Pink said, surprising me out of some intense wondering what alternatives we might have.
“They're just gamer punks. Maybe they've seen a photo of me and maybe of Gladys, but after what just happened all they're doing is trying to catch us and protect Hendrian. They're not gonna deliberately kill anybody, unless Hendrian tells them to. The leader killed Elliot because Elliot was acting crazy, it sounds like. The other zombie killed the other guy because the other guy shot him. The kid'd probly never been shot before. He panicked. That's what I think.”
“So you're still willing to do this, Pink?” I said.
“What else can we do? We keep blasting them with guns, they're gonna boil our guts with their killer rays. They're wearing armor, but it still hurts to get shot. It'll scare the shit out of them and piss them off.”
“Where do you want me in all of this?” asked Dr. Knoe.
Cromwell responded: “I'll need a little cover, because I'll be the only one with a gun. They see that and they're liable to shoot without thinking.”
“I'll be your cover, Tony,” said Gladys. We all turned to look at her. She was smiling. “These are teenage nerds, remember? Probly virgins.” She started disrobing. “I'll be flashing those boys like crazy, and they'll be too busy watching my little show to see anything else.”

“Good idea,” said Dr. Knoe, who started taking her clothes off, too. “But we should wear something. Bathrobes would be good. If we're completely nude these kids might feel intimidated. We can't risk that. If we look like we're on our way to take a shower that'll interest them as well as confuse them.”
“What if they're gay?” This was Gladys.
“It won't matter that much,” said Dr. Knoe. “They'll still be fascinated if we show them a little skin.”
“I'll show 'em some skin, too,” said Pink, starting to undress.
“What about the rest of us?” I asked.
“Al, you'll be behind with me. Bring the shotgun. We'll need the rest of you in reserve,” said Joan.
“You'll be naked, too?” I blurted, without thinking. She gave me a stern look.
“No, Al, they won't need that much nudity. I might as well be a shadow in these dark clothes, and I will be armed. Anthony and Ashmore will stay behind, out of sight in case any other zombies show up.
“We don't know how effectively they communicate in those suits, but we have to assume they're in touch with each other all the time. If we're right and Kelleher's guarding Hendrian with one of the zombies, and one is out back, then we can assume there are two more who could come from somewhere if things get wild. You can shoot them with the shotguns and keep them occupied until Pink and Cromwell can get to them with darts.
“This is a pretty good plan, allowing for something to go wrong, and you know something always goes wrong.”
Pink spoke up, “I'll have a hypo with me so when I get to my guy I'll jab the needle into his armpit. Tony won't hafta worry about missing it or hitting me. If I get the leader, we might not hafta worry about the others at all.”
“How long before the drug takes effect?” Cromwell asked.
“They get the erection almost instantly,” said Pink. “That distracts them and then what seems like a heavy acid trip is upon them in a minute.”
“A minute? That can be a looong time in a firefight,” Cromwell cautioned.
“OK. Not that long. A few seconds, they get this major rush. Their thoughts come tumbling out. They're stoned.”
“Good. Thanks, Pink.”
Gladys fetched her bathrobe from the room in the back and brought a raincoat for Dr. Knoe.
“Bathrobe would be better,” Dr. Knoe said. “Doesn't Pink have one?”
Pink shook his head. “Never owned one. I have a really big bath towel. That work?”
Dr. Knoe grinned. “Better than nothing.”
Ready as we would ever be, then, we launched our strike creeping up the stairs into Cromwell's supply closet. 

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1 comment:

  1. I agree with this plan. Just the right amount of nudity can save everything.