No Way Out
The stairwell was dimly lit, dust clinging to all the light fixtures. Clearly none of the officers stationed here ever used the stairs. Nona ascended the flights quickly and without interruption. She reached the third floor, slipping through the door there into the main hallway. The corridor was eerily deserted this time of morning, perhaps because most of the action was on the floor beneath her in booking. She found Detective Vasquez’ office quickly enough. She took a deep breath and barged into the room. It was extremely dark for the middle of the morning, all the curtains drawn. She could vaguely make out a figure sitting behind the desk.
“Detective?” She asked tentatively, then in a more authoritative voice, “Detective we need your help. There is a terrible threat facing the city and my boss thinks you’re the only one that can help.”
A small light on the desk clicked on and she could finally see whom she was addressing. At the desk sat a pretty Hispanic woman with short black hair and freckles. Vasquez looked to be a few years older than Jordan, mid to late thirties maybe? She sat ramrod straight in her chair, making Nona wonder if it was she that was making the woman tense. She took a step towards the desk and the other woman eyes seemed to grow wide with panic.
“Don’t.” she stated. “Don’t come any closer.”
“I’m not here to hurt you. If we could please just talk, I think we can help one another.”
“I wish that were true Nona.” At the mention of her name, Nona involuntarily drew back a few steps.
“You’ve got the wrong girl. You can call me Impact.”
“There’s no need for the mask. I know you, know your sister Jordan who sent you here and I know you’re in grave danger.” Nona pulled the mask down and glared at the woman. Was she threatening her?
“How do you know my name?!” She demanded.
“He told me.” That statement made Nona’s blood run cold. He was the same person who made her attack her sister, the same person who poisoned them, the person she came here to try and stop. As if on cue, another figure moved out of the shadows.
“Hello Nona. Or do you prefer Impact when you’re in uniform?”
CLU stepped forward smiling menacingly at her. With a flick of his wrist Vasquez shot to her feet behind the desk, gun trained on Nona! She moved around the edge of it, inching ever closer to her target. There was nowhere for Nona to run, her back now against the door with Vasquez' muzzle just inches from her forehead. Her eyes darted back and forth between Vasquez and CLU. The other woman’s eyes shined with unshed tears. Clearly, she was acting against her will. The two women shared a desperate look, neither sure how they were to escape this nightmare. CLU broke the tension.
“I wonder,” he mused with a smile in his voice. “If she fired right now, would you be able to deflect the bullet? Could you do it that fast; increase your density of whatever it is that you do?”
Vasquez hand shook uncontrollably, making the gun wave wildly as she tried to fight his control. Sweat poured off her forehead in rivulets, her eyes wild. CLU seemed unconcerned. He placed a hand on Vasquez shoulder and Nona could SEE the nanites flowing into her, pouring over her skin.
“Steady detective, steady. I need her in one piece. The plan doesn’t work if she’s dead.” That statement pulled Nona’s attention away from the weapon in her face.
“Plan? What plan?”
“The plan where I use you to get your sister here and then you all end up making me a very rich man.”
“You son of a-!” She wanted to lunge for him but couldn’t risk it. He smiled again, enjoying her predicament. He walked over to the desk, picked up the phone and held the receiver out to Nona.
“No.” Another flick of his wrist and the hammer on Vasquez weapon clicked back.
“I won’t ask again.”
This time the gun was aimed at her leg. Panic seized her as her body involuntarily remembered what it was like to have a bullet tear through her flesh. Nona was out of options but she knew if she made that call Jordan would come running and CLU would take her down easily. She prayed Legend was listening to this and was either forming a plan or calling for help. She inched towards the desk at a snails pace trying to buy some time. The hard nozzle of the gun urged her forward. As her hand shakily reached for the receiver, the window next to her shattered inward!
Legend took Vasquez down with a well-placed kick to the forearm that dislodged the gun, and a very ungentlemanly right hook with the butt of his weapon for good measure. He pulled Nona to her feet, placing himself between her and CLU. He kept his gun trained on CLU, daring him to move.
CLU charged Legend with murder in his eyes. For his part, Julio didn’t hesitate to fire two rounds directly into his assailant’s chest. CLU staggered, hand to his chest. He pulled it away and all in the room expected to see blood. Instead, glittering blue liquid dripped from his fingertips. Nona gasped in horror; he had injected HIMSELF with the nanites. That was why they hadn’t been able to locate the other supply; they were IN him!
“Is that all you got?” He sneered before his arm turned into a scythe like blade he began to swing wildly at them! Pushing Nona to the floor next to Vasquez, Julio dodged the weapon as best he could in the small office. He moved just a second too slow and the blade went deep into his stomach!
He fell to his knees as Nona scrambled towards him. She reached him just in time to hear a weapon cock behind them. Vasquez was sitting up, leaning heavily on one arm with the other pointing her gun straight at them. Nona flinched, waiting for the shot. Nona opened her eyes to the realization that neither she nor Legend was hit. Vasquez had trained the gun on CLU at the last minute. When the first shot came, it was immediately followed by four more. CLU staggered backwards with each shot until he tripped out the window Legend had just come through! Everyone in the room was breathing hard trying to process all that just happened.
“Thanks.” Julio piped up and Vasquez could only nod. Nona immediately turned to him, inspecting his wound. It was bleeding heavily, though stomach wounds usually did. He seemed vaguely calm about the wound. “Not the first time I’ve been stabbed.” He joked; Nona frowned.
“Believe me I know.”
“Is he dead?” Vasquez asked quietly, still seeming unnerved by the whole experience. Being controlled by tiny robots would do that to you. She had the wherewithal to grab the first aid kit off the wall and bring it over to them. “Here, this might help.”
Nona pulled out some gauze and pressed it to Legend’s wound, soliciting a sharp hiss of pain. She eyed him with an amused expression.
“You big baby…”
“Is he DEAD?” Vasquez posed the question again, her voice rising with intensity. Nona shook her head, indicating she didn’t know, then leaned out the broken window. There was plenty of glass and debris in the street below but unfortunately, no body of a criminal mastermind.
“He’s not down there.” She dug her phone out of her pocket and saw she had missed six messages from Kurt. When she dialed the number back, he picked up on the first ring.
“Where the hell have you been?! What happened with the detec-?”
“CLU was here!” Nona interrupted. “It was a trap and Legend’s hurt.”
“I’m on my way!”
“No! You can’t. You have to take care of my sister…” Kurt gave an exasperated huff from the other end of the line.
“That’s why I was calling you. Jordan was poisoned with nanites! They were suppressing her system when she used her powers and… well they’re out now. Her cuts have already started to heal!”
Nona felt a rush of relief hearing the positive report. Jordan was in fact going to be okay; now all she had to do was deal with CLU before he got to her again. That part was tricky since he was clearly more of a threat now than ever before.
“That’s good news. Keep her there. Don’t let her watch the news and don’t tell her it was a trap.”
“I don’t like lying to her…”
“Trust me, it’s for the best. I’ll call you back when I get Julio somewhere safe and figure out our next move.”
She ended the call before Kurt could respond knowing he would object to her plan. She didn’t really expect him to lie to Jordan; she just needed a little time before her sister came barreling back into the fray. Kneeling back down, she picked up the gauze to inspect Julio’s wound. It was beginning to clot, though he looked slightly pale from the blood loss. “Can you stand?” He nodded and she looped an arm around him to pull him up. Both were surprised when another set of hands grabbed his other arm to support his weight. Vasquez gave them a guilty smile.
“I feel like this is partially my fault. I let him in here because he said he had information about your identities. Funny thing is, now that I know who you are, it doesn’t feel right turning you in.”
“Thanks.” Nona told her sincerely. “Since you’re not gonna turn us in, I need your help…” Her statement was interrupted by a large crash from outside followed by the ear-torturing wail of several hundred car alarms! “What the hell?”
All three moved to the windows in an effort to see what was causing all the commotion. They couldn’t have imagined the scene that played out before them. Dozens of grotesque creatures of all shapes and sizes were wreaking havoc on the downtown area. Their glittering skins the only feature giving away their common origin.
“Are those things what I think they are?” Legend’s mouth was agape having never witnessed CLU’s nanites in action before today. Nona nodded slowly, equally surprised by how much his “power” had grown. Vasquez spoke up.
“I think you need to call in your team… NOW…”