There was a brief moment of confusion at the front door of the facility involving Rachel’s Demonic Legion uniform and a jumpy Resistance gunman. Liberty called a cease fire before anything unfortunate happened.
“Alright, men,” said Liberty, “incursion order, just like we practiced.”
“About that,” said Rachel. “You don’t want to go in there.”
“Dr. Kellner released the Ambulamort.”
“What? Is she insane?”
“She said to trust her. One of the scientists was hiding behind the tanks, and he was threatening to release it and kill all of Long Island. Kellner just up and beat him to the punch.”
“Of course,” said another man Rachel recognized as Spanner, the Liberty’s expert on super-science. “I recall from the debriefing that Ambulamort was designed with a short period of activity. There is no chance that a widespread contagion will break out. The gas should not spread out much past the local area.”
“How far out is local?” asked Liberty.
Spanner’s eyes seemed to look up to the heaven’s as he contemplated the answer.
“Three blocks, but it will depend on how well constructed this facility is. I can’t see that the Imperials would risk exposure through an accidental leak.”
“This was hardly an accident, Spanner. I’m going to call the assault team back and let the Imperials deal with any repercussions. We may have just pulled disaster out of the jaws of victory.”
“I think,” said Rachel, “that you can take this up with Dr. Kellner herself.”
Liberty and Spanner looked back at where Rachel was looking. Frieda was running out the door.
“Take cover!” she yelled.
At that moment, none of the Resistance members were going to question her call. Frieda almost made it to the truck parked just inside the main gate when fire blossomed out of the high windows of the old warehouse. The front door flew off its hinges on a wave of flame. Amid the orange and red were wisps of green. The gas carried outward, trailing flames that burned along the wisps like fuses. By the time the flames died, all of the Ambulamort had burned.
“Sir,” said Frieda, pulling herself off the ground, “the Ambulamort has been neutralized. And I have a sample of the inoculant.”
“Then this area is secure,” said Liberty. “Everyone exposed to the gas, get in the back of the truck while you are still toxic. The rest, pile in the best you can or take a car. We are leaving now.”
The inside of the facility was pure devastation. Save for a few support beams, there was not an upright element left standing. Small fires burned what combustible material remained after the explosion, while a gas main fountained flame.
At the foot of the broken gas main laid a pile of ruptured gas canisters. Jagged teeth of shrapnel and a portion of the roof added to the pile.
From under this pile of detritus came a slight movement. More than the leavings of the explosion settling in upon themselves, there was a stirring. Part of the pile sloughed to the side and revealed a charred-black hand.
The hand curled in on itself and grasped a beam fallen from the ceiling. The beam moved with surprising ease, allowing a hideously burned form to rise from the ashes.
Pain filled the mind of Dr. Felson as he rose unsteadily to his feet. Scarcely a few square inches of skin remained unburned, and a piece of metal, he estimated its size to be roughly that of his hand, was embedded in his abdomen. Either the burns or the shrapnel should have been fatal.
The Ambulamort, he realized. The antidote was only intended to treat skin contact exposure. The shard must have carried a massive dose directly into my blood stream. If I remove the shard, I fear that the antidote will scour the Ambulamort from my body, leaving me to die once and for all. That woman has condemned me to this unlife.
Kellner, I remember her now. She was the defector that had the Institute in such an uproar. She is responsible for all of this, ruination of my body and work, denying me my glory. She shall feel my vengeance; all of them shall feel my vengeance.
With a scream of pain and rage, the re-born Dr. Felson stumbled toward a hole in the wall left by the explosion that ended his old life.