The Last of LARPA
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Provisional Site-136/LARPA "Boromine Branch"
Boromine, Nevada - Site-136, Section Twelve
07/25/2022, 10:24 AM


"Containment breach in Sections Twelve and Ten. All personnel evacuate the West sector. I repeat, containment breach in Sections Twelve and Ten. All personnel evacuate the West sector. Over." crackled the intercom.

Researcher Petahn overrode the G4 fire door leading back into Section Twelve. On the other side stood the captain of the MTF team δ-17, waiting for the researcher. Twelve could only be described as a hellish inferno; the fires licked and toyed with the walls, drawing dancing shadows like a fiery kaleidoscope.

"What's the status, Captain Quayle?" Petahn asked as he approached the suit-clad MTF member.

"There's fire everywhere. It's helping to contain the instances, but that also means our team can't contain them ourselves." replied Quayle.

"What about the safety team?"

"We've got some of them helping, but most of them are dedicated to the evacuations."
Petahn stopped and turned toward Quayle.

"Look, Quayle. This could possibly exacerbate the status to an ARBH-Class Event. Can we re-contain the instances?"

"At this rate we can indeed, Petahn."

"Thank god. I'm manually aborting PLAN-X."

"I'll keep you updated on the situation. Here. Take these." Quayle took a beat before he unclipped a shortwave radio from his belt, then kneeled down and pulled out a S&W Model 36 from his ankle holster. Pettan received the amenities and tucked them in his belt.

"Thank you. Good luck and godspeed." Quayle disappeared in the rushing glow as Petahn made his way to Section Twelve's local control room. When he arrived, it was deserted. Filing cabinets were left in a disheveled mess. Papers were scattered like dust. Most of the electronics were fried. Obviously whoever had been in there was in a rush to leave. He didn't blame them - meat-eating locusts were no joke. Petahn made his way to small panel with a lever and a keypad; he punched in a number and turned the lever.

"West PLAN-X Outer Door overridden." a distorted voice announced. Petahn was uneasy about the whole situation. PLAN-X was the Boromine Branch's fail-safe device: once a certain amount of instances escaped containment, or if it was manually activated by a senior Site personnel, Boromine would be reduced to a pile of smoldering, radioactive ash. Because it was a fail-safe, the amount of instances that triggered PLAN-X hadn't been disclosed to anyone - save for the O5s, but Petahn highly doubted they would disclose that amount to him. He quickly made his way into the heart of the West Sector to the closer PLAN-X control room.

"May whatever god there is help us all." muttered Petahn.

-~-

"Have you ever seen Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds?" asked Administrator Simmons.

"Uhh, yeah." replied Vice Administrator Nelson.

"Do you remember that one scene where they're at the school, and all the crows are on the playground?"

"Yeah."

"Well this is just that… except they're murderous locusts." Simmons pointed at the locusts resting in the hallway corridor. "Kahching, kahjough, let's go."

Simmons and Nelson peeked around the corner towards the exit area for Section Ten. The corridor led to the G7 Fire Door, which on the other side was Section Nine. The corridor's floor was blanketed in resting locusts, one of swarms caught up in the containment breach. There was no way to get around the locusts without going directly through them in some way. Simmons went first, looking at small openings where he could fit his feet in. The concrete floor contrasted with the brown locusts so spotting any openings weren't too difficult. The two men tried their best to keep quiet, and it was easy for Simmons. Nelson, who was right behind Simmons, was having a little problem - he wasn't as agile as the thinner Simmons. Nelson had always complained about being pudgy, and certainly didn't want to be a burger for locusts.

"You good? We can make it out." whispered Simmons.

"Yeah, I'm doing fine."

"You think we can make it in time to the control room?" asked Simmons. Nelson had no answer, because he had just stepped on several locusts with a sickening crunch. A soft buzzing noise started to emit from the floor as the two men gunned it down the hallway.

"G7 Fire Door locking down." announced the VOX.

The noise, akin to someone crunching on raisin bran, echoed throughout the hallway. The locusts at this point were sufficiently disturbed enough to start picking at the two hapless men. Simmons made it through the door first, Nelson had to crouch underneath the falling door. There were still some locusts clinging on to the two men, which they promptly swatted away.
"Let's not ever do that again, Nelson." Simmons complained.

"Agreed. Now let's get to that control room."

-~-

The control room antechamber was a small rectangular room that really served no purpose than to act as a second verification step for the control room. It was made out of concrete, like most of Site-136, but covered in plaster and made nice. When Pettan arrived at the control room's antechamber, he found the door open as he had expected. What he had not expected, however, was the dead body on the antechamber floor. It was awkwardly slumped in the corner, the corpse's hand still on an identification card. Blood was permeating on the floor, all around the body. Petahn cautiously turned over the corpse. What greeted him was the sight of half a face blown off.

"Oh, fucking Chri-", said Petahn, gagging. "Bloody hell. Ugh." The best course of action, Petahn thought, would be to check whose face had gotten so distorted.

"Ph… uhh.. Phi… something?" Petahn asked himself. He tried to wipe the blood off of the card with his soot-stained lab coat. He managed to wipe off enough to reveal the name.

"Phillip Nelson? Vice Administrator Nelson?" he asked himself yet again. The mangled corpse looked nothing like the decent-looking man that was - or had been - Vice Administrator Nelson. Petahn patted Nelson's body to find anything remotely useful. He felt a bulge under the corpse's arm and pulled back its brown jacket to find a revolver encapsulated in its holster.

"Well, well. What do we have here, Dirty Harry?" Petahn quizzed the corpse. He had the unusual quality of questioning the obvious, but that also was valuable in research at the Foundation. He had dilly-dallied enough with Nelson, an unfortunate loss. Petahn laid the body down gently, then placed Nelson's keycard in the administrative slot, just left on the antechamber's inner door. He subsequently scanned his own card in the activation slot.

"Voice identification required." the VOX commanded.

"James Alexander Petahn."

"Voice password required."

"Bu-", Petahn started in protest, before hesitantly relinquishing the password.

"I like cheesecake." Petahn leaned into the speaker and muttered.

"Voice control accepted. West PLAN-X Inner Door opening." When the iron barrier that separated the main chamber had lifter, Petahn entered gun drawn. But no sooner than he had walked five steps he heard a spectre from the shadows.

"Put the revolver down, Petahn."

"Who's there?"

"Put down the gun, Petahn."

"Why should I?"

The answer he received was a bullet whizzing past his ear. "That's good enough for me." admitted Petahn. He threw the revolver down and it clattered loudly on the tile. A gun barrel extended from the shadows, followed by a hand, then an arm, then a familiar suit-clad figure. He kicked the revolver before sitting down in an available swivel chair. The figure motioned to Petahn to move over opposite him, near a control panel.

"Of course it's you, Simmons. Not like I'd expected anything better of you." stated Petahn.

"Not like anyone else could. Look at what your damn locusts did to my arm." Simmons lifted it up; it was wrapped in a bandage, but Petahn could clearly see that Simmons's right hand and most of his right forearm was gone.

"Jesus, what happened, Simmons?" Petahn asked, concerned.

"I got a bit too close to the action. Where were you when the breach happened?"

Petahn was a bit taken back by this question, but he answered nonetheless; "I was in the East Sector. Taking care of business."

"What business, Petahn? Creating a containment breach so you get rid of me? Because you knew I was going to shut you down?

Petahn remained silent to this question. It looked like Simmons hesitantly wanted an answer, but he was not going to get one.

"But anway, Petahn," continued Simmons, "I can't do any justice with this. I'm going to need your help."

"Help for what, Simmons?" asked Petahn.

"Help to turn this godforsaken place into a nuclear crater."

"A nuclear crater? Simmons, I came here to tell you - or whomever, for that matter - that we can recontain the instances. We don't need to use PLAN-X."

"I don't trust your word. Can someone back that up?"

"Captain Quayle."

Simmons looked questionably at Petahn before making a statement. He started to say something, paused, then finally said: "If you can get him to tell me, I'll consider it."

Pettan reached for his back to pull out the radio when he felt the Model 36. He still had a backup plan, in case things went wrong. Simmons lifted the gun and aimed it right at Petahn's chest.

"I'm just getting a radio." Petahn said, before unclipping the radio all the way. He turned it on and to the correct channel band, before pushing the PTT button and sending out his message.

"Researcher Petahn to Captain Quayle, come in, over." Nothing but white noise. Petahn tried again.

"Researcher Petahn to Captain Quayle, come in, over." Again nothing. Simmons chuckled as Petahn reclipped the radio to his back.

"I expected that. I'm sure you came here to stop me personally."

"Shut your damn trap, Simmons, or I'll do it for you. You're still spouting bullshit like you're some goddamn movie character."

"It's really not good to threaten people with guns, Petahn. You'll only get yourself killed."

"You're the one who fucking shot Nelson then? You psychopath. If I had known that was you I would have shot you myself."

The two men stood in the awkward air, stagnating around the silence in the room. It remained this way in every light and every shadow for several minutes. The two men were at a loss for each other, and stared intently. Eventually, the men couldn't bear to gaze at each other and looked at their twiddling thumbs. Their emotions had reached its melting point but neither man wanted to admit it. Simmons finally broke the silence.

"Alright, I thought he was trying to attack me. He wanted to abort it, just like you, and when I said I was going to blow the place up, his hand slipped into his jacket and then I just… I just pulled, alright? I had nothing against him."

Petahn sighed. He realized that getting angry and throwing insults wasn't going to help the situation they were in. His best bet was to reach some sort of a compromise, where everyone was happy and alive. Petahn knew it was never in Simmons's intention to hurt anyone. Although he didn't trust his temper that much, he knew he could reach something in the Administrator to convince him to not just blow up the place.

"This isn't going anywhere soon. Goddammit, Simmons, I can fix this. Just don't blow up the place because you're…"

"Because I'm what?" Simmons demanded.

"Because you're afraid that there isn't a hope. I'm here to tell you, even though things have been rough, you've got to still keep a sliver a hope, Simmons. Somewhere. But I've been wrong too. I've been too confident. We'll leave it up to the fail-safe. How long do you think those things will take to overrun Site-136?"

"Thirty minutes. At best." admitted Simmons. He finally realized his nervousness as well the futility of forcing his way.

"Then we'll wait thirty minutes. If nothing happens then, and we have confirmation everything's contained, how about we honor everyone whose gone so far by kicking the ass out of these locusts? Does that sound good?"

Simmons smiled, plopped down in a green chair, and adjusted his watch.

"That's the Petahn I know."


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