Avalanche – Snippet 10
“No. You’ve done more than enough, Vic. Get some rest, have Bella spell you for a few hours.” Ramona glanced to Trina. The poor thing had fallen asleep against her shoulder, tears still wet on her cheeks. “Any objection to our pilot staying with us for a while to rest? We’ve got a good parking spot.”
“No objection. Maps are accessible in your heads-up. Make sure that she leaves in twelve hours. The consulate is expecting her by the end of the day. If she’s not there, they’ll start asking questions and I’m running out of answers. Oh, and ask her to get me a stash of those Metisian memory tiles; I’ll see if I can replicate them somehow to give the Odd Couple a new home. Have her leave them in the bunker.”
Ramona bobbed her head, an instinctive reaction. “All right. I know you can find us if we head off the map, so we’ll keep it quiet.” She patted Mercurye on the shoulder and placed a hand on his elbow. “Come on. Time to move so we can get some rest. You’re coming too,” she said to Trina. “No one’s staying behind.”
It took her a bit more effort than she expected, but she managed to coax them both to a standing position and convince Trina that a cloaked Metisian saucer would not be found in the wilds of East Lake. With the map and passcodes in her heads-up display, Ramona led them down a small path and toward an access tunnel marked for a train line that was never built.
Long before the Thulians had arrived by overnight express all over the world, ECHO had prepared for a time when its metahumans and civilian operatives might need to find shelter away from its headquarters. Ramona led the pair between two concrete viaducts that had carried the trains on the East-West route. She shuddered as pinpricks of metal rose up over her skin. Summoning the courage to take the subway would take a while, and just looking at the tracks made her queasy. She lowered her head and tightened her grip, eyes focused on the ground. The HUD showed her the way, taking them down a strip of metal and concrete that ended at a rusted metal door.
The overlay flickered to superimpose a keypad in a red outline at eye level. Next to it, an “e” etched in the metal and bounded by a square caught the edges of the light. Ramona wrinkled her nose and waited for the HUD to give her an answer. Instead, the answer came from next to her.
“Try two-seven-one-eight-two-eight.” Mercurye flicked a finger toward the scratched “e.” “If it’s asking you for a code, try that.”
Stunned, Ramona entered in the numbers. The grid went from red to yellow, but the door didn’t open. “I don’t think it worked. I still see the entry.”
“If you can still see it, that’s a good thing.” He screwed his eyes shut, forehead furrowed in concentration. “Next is one-zero-eight-one-zero-nine.”
She had no idea where he was getting these numbers, but she jabbed at the air against the holographic keypad. Yellow became green, but the door didn’t open. “I don’t think it’s opening.”
“Two more,” he answered. “Uh, type in six-six-two-six-one-zero-three-four.”
The keypad glowed blue. “And now?”
Mercurye managed to smile at her in spite of his exhaustion. “Zero.”
Ramona sensed a strange surge of approval from the other consciousness as she jabbed the bottom of the hologram. The grid disappeared, and concrete blocks to the left of the door shifted just enough to reveal a dimly lit hallway. Ramona sighed with relief and shifted her arm around Trina’s waist. “That’s a hell of a code.”
He shrugged. “Physics.”
She didn’t know what to make of that, but she didn’t have the energy to ask. With the promise of shelter and a few hours sleep, Ramona decided that questions could wait for later.
Trina took off after eight hours of sleep and a protein bar. She assured Ramona that she would be able to find the Peruvian embassy and make contact with the appropriate people. She asked several times if the other two wanted to come with her somewhere safe, but Ramona maintained that she and Mercurye needed to stay put, per standing orders. Trina had offered them both tearful goodbyes, and then it was just the two of them in the secure bunker.
Two plus two, Ramona thought as Tesla’s jumbled emotions rattled around between her own concerns and considerations. She stretched out on a cot and laced her fingers behind her head. If she relaxed herself physically, maybe that would get the fussy scientist to stop pacing through her brainspace. “You’re safe, sir. You too, Mr. Marconi. Neither of us are going anywhere until we get official word from ECHO.”
“But they could come back.” Mercurye held his head in both hands, fingertips massaging his temples. With time to rest, the two consciousnesses had not stopped in their concern regarding their futures. Ramona had tuned them out, but Mercurye hadn’t managed that much. “They destroyed Metis, they could find us no problem.”
“Your young beau makes an excellent point,” Marconi chimed in via her Overwatch rig. “We underestimated them, and they have reduced a shining beacon of scientific innovation to a mound of ash. What is to keep them from doing the same wherever we go?”
“More importantly, what will keep them from finding either of you?” Tesla’s voice grated on her nerves. She did not need a cantankerous academic echoing her own self-doubts. “If you succumb to them, we are lost. Every moment we remain with the pair of you, we risk death or possible absorption into your own selves.”
She made a face, doing her best to project frustration at Tesla’s consciousness. “Miss Victrix is a well-trained technoshaman who has taken every precaution thus far to ensure your safety. I’m pretty sure that she’s not going to move you until she’s certain there is a secure location for all of your blue-wireframe antics.” She chuckled as she felt Tesla’s annoyance ripple over her own thoughts. “For now, we are sticking to ECHO protocol and remaining here.”
Mercurye sagged a little more, his head swaying from side to side. “For how long?”
“For as long as necessary.” Eyes closed, she wiggled free of her shoes and pointed her toes. “At the very least, we stay here until the higher-ups find a solution. Take a nap, enjoy the quiet. All we can do it wait.”
Ramona let out an enormous yawn that ended with a satisfying crack. She had every intent to take her own advice and tune out Mr. Tesla’s worried murmuring. For a few minutes, she enjoyed the silence in the stone bunker. The air had a cool damp quality that lent itself to a good snooze, and her body had yet to fully recover from the battle in Metis. She inhaled deeply and felt her muscles start to sag against the reinforced mesh of the cot.
Something crashed into a wall and Marconi yelped in a very undignified manner. She cracked open an eye to see Mercurye with his fist in the center of a small impact crater in the concrete. Blood trickled over his knuckles, his teeth clenched in frustration. The speedster had not otherwise moved from his cross-legged seat. He glared at her, his nostrils flaring with each breath. “No. I’m done waiting. I’ve been waiting on ECHO for too long, and I’m not going to wait here while somebody with a computer and a fancy title decides when it’s good enough for me to leave!”