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<< Intermission: Good Morning, Sunshine

David knew what was coming. It was obscene to him, and offensive; this was real, this…slaughter. People were dying by the dozens, or worse, turning into Integrators or Servus or whatever the hell you called someone enslaved by a machine in their head. And yet David knew that Site 38 was a stage, all the agents and researchers merely players, and a freak with no eyes was directing the show.

And David had the script. All he could do was watch.

The sundial was still in the room as David walked out, turned left, walked down the hallway. Turned right. Two D-class, zombie-walking towards him, covered in blood, holding assault rifles. David had to admit to a certain sense of amusement, knowing what happened next.

A shimmer, and something vaguely related to a human was standing between him and the Servus. The (female? David had read the file once, but wasn't sure) humanoid turned, saw the D-class, who paused.

"Unknown entity," the first began, "you are required to—"

The humanoid's foot cracked across the speaker's neck from the side, snapping it. Blood poured out of his mouth and nose. The other D-class began to raise her gun. A blur of two feet, then the barrel of the rifle was protruding through her chest and out through her back. Another Servus turned the corner, reacting to the sound. Fire erupted from the barrel, shaking the dying human the gun was sticking through. Three bullets. Head, neck, and chest. The shooter propped a foot against the D-class, pushed, withdrew the gun, some entrails coming out along with the rifle. Turned, faced David.

"David Eskobar," she said.

"Olympia," David replied.

"You have been briefed?"

"Ssssssame as you," he stuttered.

"You are not shocked?"

"That…that thing showed me all of this already. I'll…I'll be okay."

"Very good. Let us proceed." Olympia walked down the hallway, David behind her.

"There's going to be a lot of this, isn't there?" David said, trying not to slip on the blood.

"You know the answer to that."

"Fair enough."

David blocked out so much of what happened that day. Half from horror, half from a genuine sense of existential overload. How do you deal with a universe where the plan has not only been written, but laid out in front of you? David watched Olympia kill at least a dozen of his researchers, all infected. Not that that mattered. David knew each and every one of them, had selected or been involved in the selection of each one. Knew their families.

Knew how hard it would be to explain this carnage.

And Olympia didn't seem to care. David was walking in the shadow of someone who was, by all evidence, completely without conscience. She had a mission, and that was all there was to her.

It had been several hours since the two of them had materialized in Site 38. He knew there were exactly thirteen infected individuals left in Site 38, not counting the…things in the surrounding countryside. But there was something to deal with first.

Voices in front of them. Spoken audibly by individuals not capable of telepathic communication. Uninfected. David and Olympia stopped, took cover behind different doorways.

"This is Bravo team," a voice said. "Hallway secure. Moving into hallway Alfa-3-Charlie."

Two camouflaged individuals with assault rifles looked around the corner, saw no one, turned the corner and began walking towards the two concealed individuals. Olympia pointed her handgun over their heads and fired two rounds. The Task Force agents dropped to a prone position, returned fire, shouted some warning. David was only half listening.

"Agent Rasee, Agent Hsu, hold your fire," Olympia shouted down the hallway. "I just needed your attention. We are not infected."

More shouted warnings, several more bullets from both sides. One agent began to throw a smoke grenade; Olympia fired a round down the hall, hit the agent's hand. David noticed she didn't look when she fired. The standoff lasted six minutes.

"Tell your commander that Isham Harris is between the trees," Olympia finally said. Some more shouting down the hall, some squeaking from a radio, and then silence. David glanced down the hall; the agents were shifting uncomfortably and looked pale. Footsteps were coming towards them.

The man who came up from behind the Mobile Task Force agents walked with authority. Everything about him exuded it. He was the sort of man who inspired loyalty without words; a hand gesture as he walked past the two agents in the hallway, and they stood at attention. David had recommended this man for his current job well before he was the director of Site 38. William Lopez, commanding officer, MTF Rho-1.

Lopez walked up to where Olympia was standing and stopped. He glanced at David, looked him up and down, and dismissed him. He did that a lot. He turned to Olympia. "How the fuck do you know who Isham Harris is?"

"That's not relevant, Major," Olympia said, "but I was told that you would recognize that phrase."

Lopez looked Olympia up and down as well. "Nobody calls me Major anymore. Who the hell are you?"

Olympia holstered her gun. "My name is Olympia, and you're going to help me save the world."

It was like baptism, or birth. Transcendence. Transfiguration. Like a first breath in a new world. The Minotaur's body didn't breathe, but there was no reason to break the metaphor. Until recently, the Minotaur was a metaphor. Until now. His Goddess had blessed him. His service was his honor.

The Minotaur turned his head to his left; he heard the sound of scraping stone and paused, before realizing it was coming from him. To his left were several dozen sacks, all with the words "APOLLODORUS CONSTRUCTION COMBINE" printed on them. Behind him (his head turned fully around; it wasn't as though the Minotaur had an actual spinal column to deal with), several human Servus instances were stirring a vat of what looked like concrete mix. The Servus stepped away from the vat and stopped stirring. The movement of the concrete mixture slowed, slowed, slowed…

…a ripple. Then another. A shape moving beneath the surface.

A hand rose from the mixture, dripping, then setting. A metal scaffold sat beside the pit; the arm rose and grabbed one of the bars and pulled itself from the gray swamp. The Minotaur looked at the new creature. Humanoid in shape, though well taller than the hominid parasites. Two, almost two and a half meters tall. Arms, legs, torso, head. The arms had fractures where the elbows would be. The legs, likewise, had crevices where the rock limbs separated; they functioned as knees. The Minotaur did not understand fully how they worked. He looked at the cracks in his own arms where his rock fists were connected. He wanted the fist to rotate. It did so. The why was not important; his Goddess willed it to be, and it was.

He looked at the doppelganger. His face could not smile, but he felt something akin to joy, looking at the other being. The horns rising from the other's head were black, the same as his own. This was a gift from his Goddess. Their Goddess. The Minotaurs looked at one another. Without a word, they began walking towards the nearby complex.

The concrete mixture rippled again as they began to hunt.

Commander Lopez looked at Olympia. "Can you prove a single thing you just told me?"

"About our mission? Hardly." Olympia shrugged. "That you will have to take on faith. But you cannot deny the logic involved. You see an 877 outbreak. You have been seeing increased activity from the microchips for months. Some of that could have happened on its own. This, however, is too much. The world next door to ours is staging a break-in, and this is the window they're coming in through. The only device capable of travelling between worlds is stationed in the physics department of Alexylva University. I invite you to draw your own conclusions."

Lopez sat quietly. "Let's say you're telling the truth. How the hell are you involved? Aren't you supposed to be in a shed somewhere?"

"Storage fffffacility," David sputtered. "But that's not rrrrrrrrrelevant. You need to give the order, Mmmmmajor."

"If you need it done, Eskobar, that's the best reason I can think of why it's fucking stupid," Lopez said. "Remember that even in your version of events, it was your incompetence that let this all happen in the first pla—"

"You think I don't fucking KNOW that, Lopez?" David replied. "You think I don't know I should never have had this job? That the Foundation made a sssssserious fucking error in hiring me in the first place? Believe me, nobody is mmmmmore aware of this than I am. So order this godforsaken place blown straight to hell already and put me out of a job. Give us all wwwwwwhat we want."

Lopez sat and considered this. He turned to Olympia. "What kind of munitions do we need?"

"Fuel-air bombs. Preferably multiple passes over the Site to be sure. They are going to become aware of the incoming bombs in a few minutes, so you'll want to hit the area surrounding the Site as well, possibly for a kilometer around or so."

"That's a hell of a lot to cover up," Lopez sighed.

"Keter containment breaches typically are," Olympia replied, coming to her feet. "Not sure what else you expect."

Lopez nodded as she and David walked towards the door. "I'll make the call. One more question, though. You said they're going to be aware the bombs are coming. How are they going to know? Have they infiltrated our communications?"

"Possibly, but I doubt it," Olympia replied. "No, I'm going to go tell them about it right now."

Lopez had no time to react as Olympia and David left.

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