“Does anyone have eyes on her? Over.” came over the radio. Admiral Bridges’ voice and Roger Evans could hear him trying to keep it under control.
“Myrmidon Evans reporting in sir. We missed her. Over.”
“You can say that again,” Diane said, her voice filled with dry horror.
Arnold took a long, hard swallow at the carnage around them. “Shit,” he said, drawing it out where it came out sheeeeeit. “Are we sure we can take her? I mean-”
He cut off as all three of them heard it at the same time. Gunfire coming from Hallway D. It wasn’t the short burst of fire, rat-ta-ta, three rounds rapid of someone who had spotted an actual threat. This was longer, drawn out. Panic fire, some idiot emptying his entire clip like he was Rambo.
Evans wanted to scream into his headset for everyone to remember they were goddamn soldiers. Just because they were up against something new didn’t mean you tossed fire discipline out the window. When all else failed, you fell back on your training.
Instead, he held up a fist to signal to the surviving two members of the Myrmidons that they weren’t going to investigate that gunfire. A second later, an explosion followed by screams confirmed why – by the time they got to Hallway D, everyone there would already be dead.
After all, that’s why they were standing over a couple of bodies in Hallway C.
Minutes earlier, Bast’s first move had been to flood the base. She’d considered, briefly, turning all the air into water – complete suffocation. With a gesture and a thought, she could wipe out every single person in this damn building now that they’d sealed it up all nice and tight.
Two problems occurred to her with that plan. The first one was a base, primal reason. Their hearts, their damned hearts, they sang to her. A deep bassline, a beautiful cacophony, each beat called to her. If she just shut out the air, if she just cancelled it out completely – all the hearts would stop.
She’d have no new food.
And then there’s the other reason… Bast pushed that voice down. Instead, she’d momentarily crystalized all the carbon dioxide in the air into its solid form – dry ice. While it had evaporated pretty much instantly, the end result had left the base several degrees cooler, and had cut visibility almost in half.
Which meant the soldiers at the end of Hallway C couldn’t see her standing there in the shadows, holding Grace’s body by its snapped neck. They couldn’t see her – even with their fancy goggles that had been forged with her ichor – as she popped the last remaining chunk of Grace’s heart between her teeth.
Even unbeating, it was still sweet. Sweeter than honey, and more intoxicating than the finest wine. The mere act of letting it slide down her throat sent shivers down her spine, and a surge of power into her finger tips.
She took that surge and ran her fingers over Grace’s empty forehead, closing those lifeless eyes. Bast knew that this had been beyond her once. But now…now she saw more.
“You will still serve me,” she whispered in Grace’s ear as she worked, the soldiers at the end of the hall advancing step by step. Bast peered at them a bit closer. Too much more and they would be able to see through the mist, a mist that parted just enough to allow her sight. Her mist.
None of them wore the harness that marked them as Myrmidons, and all of them were soldiers. None of them were important.
She tossed Grace down the hallway.
Jimmy Creighton had signed up for the armed forces the day he graduated from high school. He had seen some things in his years; the kind of things that made you lay awake at night. The kind of things that were waiting for you when you went to sleep. Dark things. He’d even done a few himself, and he’d come to the conclusion long ago that the real monsters were all men.
That belief was challenged in Hallway C, when the body of the researcher, Grace, began crab walking across the ceiling, her head twisted so it was right-side up, her mouth opened in a mute scream almost as wide as the gaping hole in her chest.
The two soldiers with him had stood there in mute horror, but Jimmy Creighton had felt something different. Monsters are real, and I’m going to kill one. He’d raised his gun and opened fire, emptying the entire clip into Grace’s silently screaming corpse. Each round was specially formulated to kill actual, literal gods. No way whatever Grace had become could survive it.
True to that promise, the corpse began to tumble and trip and started rolling across the ceiling – like it had fallen, but gravity was the wrong way up for it. “Hoorah!” he shouted, turning towards the soldiers with him.
He turned to find himself face-to-face with Bast, who rammed her arm into his chest and pulled out his heart. The last sight Jimmy Creighton had was the other soldiers, lying dead on the ground, their necks twisted one hundred and eighty degrees.
“Hoorah,” Bast echoed, before taking a bite out of his heart.
Bast hadn’t been able to savor that meal. The mist might favor her for now, but mist did not stop sound, and there would be more coming soon. Just a few more bites…
She stuffed the heart into her mouth. The two that lay dead at her feet would have to sit, they’d have to wait. Their hearts are going to spoil.
Not that she regretted that too much right now. That rush of power, that heady sensation – better than any drug she’d sampled over the millennia – made regret impossible. But it was a distraction, and she couldn’t afford that right now. Instead, she grabbed some of that power and shifted her body into a black cat. With a few quick steps, she found herself in the shadows behind some piping.
Myrmidons had arrived shortly afterwards. A woman and two men. One of the men had started to turn green as he saw Jimmy Creighton’s heartless body.
“Does anyone have eyes on her? Over.” Bast knew that voice coming from the radio. Admiral Dale Bridges, US Navy, head of project Myrmidon. Even just thinking the name made her want to hiss with rage.
“Myrmidon Evans reporting in sir. We missed her. Over.” Evans. Bast noted the name. Evans the thief.
“You can say that again,” the woman said. Not her, not the other reason you can’t just kill everyone here. The tag on her vest said “Munoz,” and Bast noted that name too.
The man who had taken on a sickly hue now swallowed as he looked at the empty eyes of Jimmy Creighton. “Shit,” he said, a southern drawl turning it into sheeeeeit. “Are we sure we can take her? I mean-”
Gunfire. Bast was very glad she was a cat, since she didn’t have to resist the urge to chuckle, and instead let out a satisfied purr as the thieves looked towards it. Evans raised his hand to keep the others from moving.
A good call. From the direction, it sounded like those soldiers had stumbled upon Liam. An explosion confirmed it for Bast.
It was a similar twist to the one she had laid on Grace. Liam’s corpse was ‘wandering’ up and down the ceiling of that hallway. They weren’t alive or reanimated. Bast thought she knew how to pass along her gift, as Vlad once had, but that hadn’t been her game with those two. Instead, twisting gravity just so gave the illusion of movement. With Grace, she had rushed in while they were distracted to secure the kill herself. With Liam, she had twisted his stomach, intestines, and liver into trinitrotoluene – which had been set off by the gunfire.
“Damnit, Evans. We’ve got people dying out here, find her.” The Admiral was almost screaming.
Evans rolled his eyes as he responded. “Yes, sir.”
Munoz spit once Evans took his finger off the button. “That asshole’s holded up in Operations, he doesn’t have any more idea than we do.”
Evans started to respond, but Bast didn’t listen, darting out through the cover of mist and darkness. She would deal with these thieves, oh yes she would, but now she knew where she needed to go.
Cut off the head, and the snake will wither.