Emma knew the danger of dashing the catwalk. It was beyond likely that the zombies had bunched up outside the vault door and she had to charge right through them. Easily, she could outrun them, but pushing through was another story entirely. Sergei and Liam would provide cover, but in these situation, there is no such thing as a guarantee. Emma, while nervous, was not worried. She was scared, but fear did not phase her. Years of facing the impossible made fear just another piece of background.
She unzipped and removed her tactical vest and coat. She would not need them or anything in their pockets. What she needed was to move quickly and any hindrance slowed her down. She kept her pistol on her thigh and her knife at her belt, though she planned on using neither. Her objective was not to kill, only to make it there and back. Hopefully this supervisor was alive and able to make the run.
Emma handed her G36C to Liam and said, “You keep my ass covered, got it?”
“Shouldn't be too hard, fat ass,” Liam pat her on the shoulder. He set her rifle by the door and checked the load on his SCAR. “We'll open the door, toss out a few frags, close again, 'nades go boom, then you go. Got it?”
Fresh magazine inserted, Sergei slapped the charging handle on his UMP. “I'm set.”
“Let's do this,” Liam pulled open the steel door to find a mass of zombies trying to get inside. Sergei belted a full-auto stream into the frenzy as Liam tossed a triplicate of M67 fragmentation grenades through. With all of his might, he shoved the door closed again. Three explosions later, he yanked the door open again and cried to Emma, “Go!”
The grenades had their desired effect. The monsters on the catwalk were scattered, injured, or off-balance. Some even had died. Emma took in one last, courageous breath and charged. The door on the other side of the catwalk was only about fifty feet away. Unlike the safe room door, it was not made of reinforced steel, but of simple wood. It was a miracle that it was still closed.
As Emma made her mad and desperate dash, bullets whizzed all around her. She had no worries about Liam's shots missing and hitting her instead, but she had no reason to trust Sergei's aim. She knew, however, that if she were hit, they could always take out the bullet and see who she had to blame. Corpses and body parts littered the floor and Emma concerned herself greatly with falling, which meant a very likely death from either zombies or falling into the path of a stray shot.
At near the halfway point, a pair of the ugliest zombies she had ever seen stood in her way. The catwalk was too thin to squeeze between them and Liam and Sergei had yet to blow their brains out. Emma did not have time to make a decision about what to do next. She threw her balance backward as she let herself fall. Her legs hit the ground first, bringing her into a soccer slide. Her outstretched foot collided with the first's zombie's knee, knocking it off to the ground. Emma swiftly recovered from her slide and broke back into her run.
She arrived at the wooden to find it locked; another good sign that someone was inside. With a powerful, thrusting kick, she rammed her foot just below the lock, shattering the strikeplates. Emma burst inside to find a thin man pointing a pistol up at her. “Whoa, don't shoot!” she exclaimed.
The man sighed in relief and lowered his weapon, “About time.”
“Yeah, yeah. You're in charge here, right?”
“Yes,” the man nodded.
“You can activate the Purge?”
“I can, just get me to the-”
“Already on it! Let's go!” Emma grabbed his arm and pulled him into a run. More zombies had come up the stairs. Most of them charged toward Liam and Sergei, who, for some reason, seemed more appetizing. For this, Emma was thankful. A few, however, came for her and the supervisor. Emma rapidly drew her Taurus pistol and pinned a few headshots.
“You're a good shot!”
“Shut up!” Emma yanked on his arm. They weaved their way through the horde, drawing little attention. Once a zombie picked a target, they generally kept focused on it. Their simple brains could only keep track of one thing at a time.
With great force, Emma tossed the supervisor into the safe room before running in behind Liam and Sergei. Liam stopped shooting and quickly closed and locked the door. Emma put her hands down on her knees and stopped for breath. “Good work out?” Liam asked.
“Shut up,” Emma rolled her eyes as she wiped sweat from her brow.
“You're in charge here?” Liam asked the new man on the scene.
“Yeah, that's me,” he said.
“Can you get the power back on?”
“I can, just give me a few minutes to-”
Thwack! The supervisor's head suddenly burst in a bloody frenzy. Thwack! Emma drew her pistol and turned it on Sergei, who held his suppressed P99 firmly trained on the supervisor, whose body fell dead and limp.
“What the hell was that for?!” Emma demanded using every ounce of will to keep from firing.
Sergei instantly dropped his pistol and said, “Let me explain.”
“You better have a damn good explanation,” Liam snarled, SCAR raised.
“We can't let the Network go active,” Sergei said with his hands raised. “I think I know what's happened to my moth-”
“Why not?” Liam asked, keeping his rifle ready to fire.
“Just listen,” Sergei said. “I think I know what's happened to my mother. There's a man named Peter Goodwin who's been threatening a takeover of Steelewood for a long time now. He doesn't only want Steelewood though, he wants the world; he wants power. What better way to get power than by taking over global communication? If we let the power systems go online, then Goodwin gets control of your network and there may be no way to get it back. But that's not the worst, if my mother is in danger, then your parents are as well.”
“We need to go back,” Emma said to Liam. “If mom and dad are-”
“You idiot,” Liam scoffed at Sergei. “Even if my dad gave this Goodwin asshole his password, there's no way he can get the Network activated. The system uses two passwords. There's dad's password and my password. The system won't go online without both.”
“I didn't know that,” Sergei said quietly
“No one does,” Liam said. “Not even my dad knows the Network needs a second password. It's an insurance policy Fujikawa put in.”
“I hate to intrude,” Mackenzie interrupted. “But we don't actually need him, we just need his keycard, it's got the passcode on it!”
“You killed that man for nothing,” Emma shook her head. “Liam, we need to get back.”
“She's right. We need to get back now.”
“Sergei, you shut the hell up,” Liam took command. “Mackenzie, get the power back on and start up the Purge Protocol. Emma, suit up. Do you guys have vehicles outside?”
“Yeah, we have a pair of trucks,” one of the technicians said. “Should be gassed up and-”
The lights in the safe room suddenly came on as Mackenzie turned the key. He said, “That's just residual power. It'll be a few minutes before the whole system is on and we can turn on the Purge.”
“Do it as fast as you can. We need to get back.”
Sergei asked, “Liam, do you have a plan?”
Liam thought it over, “We drive back, get to the Network station, and figure it out from there.”
“That won't work,” Sergei shook his head. “If this really is Goodwin, he'll have his men on alert looking for us.”
Liam scoffed, “Okay, so what do you propose? You got a better idea?”
“I do,” Sergei said. “Mother provided me with an insurance policy of sorts. In my jacket pocket is a personal data assistant which links directly to a tracking device embedded in mother's skin. I can tell you exactly where she is.”
“And how do you propose we get to her?” asked Liam.
“We've thought this through as well. Right on the coast is an unprotected opening in the city's defenses. The idea was to use this opening to sneak out in case of an emergency, we will use to sneak in. It is a weakness we can exploit to sneak into Boston and rescue our parents. I can show you where it is. This opening is very well hidden.”
“We just have to trust you then?”
“I can't imagine you want to.”
“Nope!” Emma said.
“Power's back!” Mackenzie exclaimed. “Make sure those doors are locked up tight!”
“We're set, Mack!” One of the techs replied.
“Alright, I'm turning on the Purge,” Mackenzie said as he turned the key once again. After a few seconds, a hissing sound came from outside the doors. Following that came loud moaning screams of curdling pain. Mackenzie said, “Their brains are being melted from the inside out. I'd scream too.”
“How long before we can go out?” Liam asked.
“The gas works quickly and doesn't linger for long. Ten minutes.”
Liam turned to his companions, “Be ready.”