Furious Misfortune: Overture
When the oddballs of Zeta Company are assigned to guard a top secret research facility they assume it’s just another in a long line of crappy punishment details. This time they’re wrong. Someone needs to salvage the situation and prevent an imminent global apocalypse. Unfortunately, they were brought to the assignment about a month too late. Now they have to win the hearts and minds of both hostile and amorous scientists. They are the only men for the job.
With a chimpanzee who throws exploding poo. Tunnels filled with flying rats. The nymphomaniac Troll. And nobody wants to milk the chupa. Zeta Company has finally found a home.
|Title||Furious Misfortune: Overture|
|Author||Noelle Alladania Meade|
|Series||Crucilble of Change: Companion book 1.5|
|Genre||Magical Realism Urban Fantasy|
|Release||February 16, 2016|
|Tags||Magic, fantasy, contemporary fantasy, elves, urban fantasy, murder, alternative reality, parallel universe, online games, role-playing games, trolls, wizards, magic, military|
Augie was only snuffling a little when he grabbed a hazmat suit from a hanging rack. His name was on it. Using his keycard, he entered the first door on the right.
The animal lab was through the third door on the right. Glory went in first and it seemed to him the room was much too quiet.
When Doctor Donne shoved her way past him, one of the enclosures erupted with loud squeals. “Who’s a good boy, Percy?” she said. “And how is our little Gwennie?”
Two piglets shouldered each other side, vying for Doctor Donne’s attention as she scruffed them behind their ears.
“Doctor,” said Shonice. “Jasper’s missing and the rats are all gone. Looks like the mice cages are empty too.”
“What do you mean, gone?” said Doctor Donne. “He’s not..dead, is he?”
“No,” said Shonice. “I mean gone as in missing.”
The door to a large cage hung open. It appeared to be undamaged. Of more immediate concern was the gaping hole beyond the cage. Something had blasted into solid concrete. The ventilation duct stood exposed. Several bloody flying rat bodies littered the floor below the duct opening.
“Shonice, take care of Percy and Gwen,” said Doctor Donne. “Lieutenant, do you happen to have a flashlight stashed somewhere about your person?”
“I do, ma’am, and I’d appreciate if you’d stay back and allow me to look in that duct,” said Glory.
As he approached the dark opening, a broken, bloody rat sailed out, striking him center mass. He jumped back, bringing his weapon to bear.
“Don’t you dare shoot! What if it’s Jasper?” said Doctor Donne. “Wait and see before you get all trigger happy.”
Three more rats sailed out of the duct, followed by a chimpanzee in a navy blue jumpsuit with the name tag Jasper. His mouth and fingers were bloody and the look he gave Glory was not at all friendly, but he broke into a wide smile at the sight of Doctor Donne. He loped over to her, leaping into a hug.
“Thank goodness you’re okay,” said Doctor Donne. “I was worried about you, little rascal.”
Jasper stepped back and gesticulated wildly. It took Glory a minute to recognize the chimp’s wild signing.
Glory had missed the beginning of whatever Jasper was saying, but he was sure the sign he’d just seen was for hunting.
“Jasper was hunting rats,” translated Doctor Donne. “One of them had hot eyes and made a hole in the cage. It got through the vent cover and into the ducts, followed by the other rats. Jasper let himself out of his cage and followed. He says he got many of the rats, but could not find Hot Eyes.”
“Which one of these cages held the rats?” asked Glory.
“All of the cages along this wall,” said Doctor Donne. “We had a lot of rats.”
Glory examined the nearest cage. It looked like a laser had cut through the metal bars. The same small hole appeared in each cage. Great.
“What’s your plan?” asked Glory.
“I’m going to ask Jasper to come with us,” said Doctor Donne. “We can give the pigs enough supplies to last for a week. There is a cover for their cage but it won’t protect them from a rat that can burn through iron bars. Shonice, new plan. Get together supplies we can bring with us and put Percy and Gwen in their harnesses.”
Glory covered the open duct while Jasper packed a small backpack.
He glanced at Glory then signed to Doctor Donne.
“Lieutenant? Jasper thinks you should attempt to cover the opening to that duct.”
“And does Jasper have a suggestion on what material would be impervious to lasers?” asked Glory.
Jasper made a rude noise and signed something else.
“How should he know? You’re the soldier. He’s just a chimp,” said Doctor Donne.
* * * *
Augie cycled through the double doors of lab one. He’d cranked up the external sound pickups on his suit. He didn’t hear anything but his own footsteps in the empty lab. No screeching of those hell-born rats.
He retrieved the case of Prep RQ3 first and sat it on the counter near the door. If he forgot it after all this Doctor Hastings would kill him.
As long as he was here, he ran through the normal safety checklist. It was a damn shame he had to put the Decilian sample into the freezer. It had been coming along nicely. He slipped a little as he walked by the bench with the Ervinox 12. Someone must have spilled something and then left it to him to mop up. Typical.
He heard a faint hissing as he closed the cold storage door. It sounded like one of the gas lines was open. He must have bumped something in this stupid suit. He got cleaning rags and was almost back to where he’d slipped when the sole of his foot started itching. He stared at the spot on the floor. The tile bubbled and melted as he watched and the sensation in his foot moved from itching to pain.
Something black and viscous oozed across the counter and onto the gas shutoff valve. Air sensor alarms began bleating as the valve disappeared and the ooze expanded. He caught himself as his foot went abruptly numb and he missed his step. The stuff had already hit his nervous system. He didn’t want to look down, but he couldn’t stop himself.
The hissing noise was gone and his ears were ringing. What was left of his boot was slightly behind him. The inside of the boot roiled black. More creeping black ooze crept up the pant leg of the suit. If that thing got out of this lab they’d never stop it. Why did he have to wear that red shirt this morning?