The hold of night nearly total, Sergei, Liam, and Emma stopped about a quarter mile outside of the power plant. They took position in a crop of trees where Emma scanned the facility with her sniper rifle. She reported what she saw, “I see a couple of stragglers outside the fence, and even more inside.”
“Stragglers?” Sergei asked.
“She means zombies,” Liam told him. “We just assume it's zombies. It always is.”
“Ain't that the truth,” Emma sighed. “I can't see inside; it's too dark. Which is weird because there should be lights on.”
“If the plant's outta power, then it's outta power,” Liam said. “Which also means their defenses are offline too, which would explain the zombies.”
“So, what do we do?” asked Sergei.
Liam thought it through, “We've planned for something like this. Any facility we make has something called a Purge Contingency. There's a series of pipes all around containing a specialized nerve spray. If zombies overrun the place, the staff goes into a sealed safe room and activates the Purge Contingency, killing every zombie who happens to be close by.”
“So, why haven't they activated theirs?”
“Beats me,” Liam replied. “My guess is that they're all dead.”
“Okay,” Sergei said. “But what do we do?”
“We need to get inside and activate the Contingency.”
Sergei sighed and paused, “And how exactly do you propose we go about this?”
Liam thought it through, “You and I are gonna slip inside and get to the safe room. Meanwhile, Emma, you stay here and give us sniper cover. As soon as we're inside, you follow, got it?”
“Right,” Emma said without taking her eye from the scope.
“Hopefully with that silencer they won't be able to spot you,” Liam said to Emma. “You'll be fine.”
“Of course you do.” Liam turned back to Sergei, “You're good at this whole sneaking business, so I'll follow you inside and keep you covered.”
“Fine by me,” Sergei said as he shouldered his UMP submachine gun and drew his suppressed P99. “Don't use yours unless you have to.”
“Your game,” Liam nodded.
“We're going in from the back entrance,” Sergei said. “Emma, if you would be so kind as to thin them out for us as we approach.”
She scored her first whisper-quiet headshot, “Way ahead of ya, bud.”
Liam took a breath, “Alright, let's move!”
Looking through the scope into the extreme darkness strained Emma's eyes. She found it difficult to pick out targets and even harder still to compensate her aim to achieve perfect headshots. This strain did nothing to stop her, but any obstacle created a hassle. After nine perfect shots, she dropped her first magazine and slapped another one containing ten rounds. Counting the one she left in the chamber, she had eleven rounds.
Emma sometimes wondered why she let Liam take the lead. He was, after all, the youngest child. By rights, Emma should be the one giving orders and putting Sergei in his place. But every time she wondered, she came to the same conclusions. For one, Liam always led better than she did. For whatever reason, people were more willing to listen to Liam than she. Emma noticed that she trusted and listened to him without thinking about it. In many situations, even their father looked to Liam for advice. To put it simply, Liam proved himself to be a level-headed and natural leader. He also thought through things quickly, much faster than Emma. Emma reacted faster, but almost never in the smartest way. Her method involving shooting first. Liam searched for better ways.
In an effortless squeeze of the trigger, another fell. Too easy, Emma thought. She then spotted Sergei and Liam making a stealthy approach to the plant's rear entrance. Sergei fired inaudible shots at any zombies standing in their way Emma did not kill. Her kill rate was remarkable, but not magical. As soon as the dynamic duo were out of sight, she expended the rest of her magazine and dropped the rifle. She stood, loosened the strap on her G36C, and made a break for the power plant. Plenty of monsters remained, but Emma never saw them as a problem.
Once past the fence, Sergei and Liam found themselves just about ten feet away from the metal back door. Fortunately, it was closed, which meant that it had not been breached by zombies. Perhaps only the front door or maybe a side entrance had been taken down. Doubtlessly, zombies were inside, but resistance would be thinnest here. With a swift, hard kick, Liam broke the door down and blitzed inside.
The room inside was a large, dark, and putrid. All along the middle of the room were transformers, converters, generators, gauges, and computer readouts of many types. It would take time for Liam to make sense of any of it; time he did not have at the moment. Instead, he had zombies, bullets, and a mission. All around the room were zombies, dozens maybe even hundreds.
Thinking on his toes, Liam knew what to do. The plant's control room, also the safety room, was upstairs. To get there, one only needed to climb up a set of iron stairs against the wall and up to the catwalks above. From there, it was a twenty foot dash to the solid, vault-like steel door. Sergei did not know what to do, so Liam took the lead. Stealth became entirely unnecessary as every zombie in the room became aware of the two living.
Liam unclipped a grenade from his vest, yanked the pin, and dropped it at his feet. He exclaimed to Sergei, “Let's go! Up the stairs!”
“Right behind you,” Sergei said as he squeezed shots out of his P99.
Liam moved up the stairs first, firing his SCAR as necessary. For reasons Liam could only make theories for, zombies tended to avoid stairs. He supposed it was because they lacked the coordination to climb them, but time and time again they proved it was possible. After all, if there was food up the stairs, the monsters gave chase without hesitation. Still, the steps slowed them down, which was why the safe room was placed upstairs.
The grenade exploded, killing a small mass of zombies, just as the two were about halfway up the stairs. A monster standing at the top of the stairwell suddenly jumped, lunging itself at Liam. Without enough time to to place a shot, the beat collided wit him. In a masterful stroke, Liam swiveled, bringing its head away from him where it could not bite him. He wrapped his arm around his neck and, using momentum from the spin, threw the zombie over the railing.
They got up the stairs and dashed past three more zombies. Once they arrived at the door, Sergei turned around and put headshots into the three. The slide on his pistol locked. He put it away and brought his UMP-40 to bear as he asked, “If it's locked, how are we supposed to get inside?”
“It's code-locked,” Liam said. “Any facility we build has the same master code. Unfortunately, there's no power, so I'll need to get creative. Cover me.”
“Right,” Sergei crouched and lined up his sights.
Liam knew what to do. He took off his small backpack and took out his tool kit. Using a specialized tri-wing screwdriver, he removed the faceplate from the simple numeric keypad. Inside was a fumbled mess of wires of various colors. Each wire corresponded directly to a number on the keypad and pressing a button would open an electrical switch. If the right combination was punched in, then the current would be completed and the door would open. A simplistic system like this one was placed there on purpose for situations such as the one happening here. If the plant workers became trapped in the safe room, then they could be rescued with ease.
Sergei fired six shots, temporarily breaking Liam's concentration.
Liam shook his head. He needed to simulate the keypad's operation. Using his knife, he cut the pair wires which led to the power supply and connected them to a nine-volt battery he kept in his tool kit. Hopefully it would be enough. Liam whispered a prayer as he input the code: “*6743598012#”.
As the lock buzzed, Emma came running up the stairs. Liam pulled the door open and allowed the others to go inside first. A triage of zombies charged, but Liam ignored them and went inside, shutting the door behind him.
Inside they found four men who obviously had not shaved in days. They were dirty and tired looking, but also relieved to see someone new. The chubbiest of them all asked in a weird half-Scottish accent, “Who are you?” Liam had expected to be held at gunpoint or for them to want to fight, but instead they didn't seem to particularly care what happened next.
“We're with the Holdsworth,” Liam told him.
“Oh, thank God!” he exclaimed. “About time rescue showed up!”
“Not exactly,” Liam said. “What's your name?”
“I'm Byron Mackenzie,” he replied. “This is Ryan, Toby, and this is Jim.”
Liam nodded. “What happened here, Byron? Are you in charge?”
“No, I'm not,” Mackenzie sighed. “Our supervisor is locked up in his office across the catwalk, we haven't been able to get to him.”
“Could he still be alive?”
“Right,” Mackenzie wiped his brow. “Two days ago, my God it's been two days, our landlines died and the defensive perimeter died. It did not take long for the demons to figure it out and start breaking through. We put up a fight, but the damn things came in by the thousand.”
“Why didn't you activate the Purge Protocol?”
“We tried,” Mackenzie sighed. “Problem is, there's a safety which prevents anyone except for Darryl, our supervisor, from turning it on. We need his access code. If we had that, we'd be Scott free.”
“And he's in his office?”
“Yeah, he is.”
“Won't you need power for that?” Sergei cut in.
“Yes,” Mackenzie replied. “We made the decision to shut the power down only a few hours ago. Since no one was coming for us, we thought that might be a way to get someone down here to come for us.”
“Good plan,” Liam said. “Can you turn it back on now?”
“That's the down side, you see,” Mackenzie scratched his neck. “We need his access code for that too.”
“Where his office?” Emma asked as she reloaded her G36C.
“Just across the catwalk; straight down.”
“I'll go get him,” Emma volunteered.
“What about your leg?” Liam asked. “I should go.”
“Dammit, Liam,” Emma scoffed. “I'm fine. Leg's better. I can do this. Besides, I'm faster than anyone else here and you know it.”
Liam sighed, “You're right. Alright, get yourself ready. You're going in.”