Returning to the hallway outside of Lab 02, the group advanced slowly, hive constructs continued covering the walls and ceiling, thick but not blocking the path forward. Unlike other doors, Lab 03 had a small window, bright white light streaming from inside. Roger moved to the lead, sneaking a look inside.
“Scientists,” he whispered. “At least one security team member. They all have gas masks but aren’t using them. They seem hard at work, ignoring anything that’s gone on out here.”
“How should we proceed?” Tommy asked, eyeing the encrusted walls warily.
Roger knocked loudly at the door, three distinct raps, startling the rest of the group who scrambled into defensive positions around the overeager “general.”
Throwing the door wide after waiting for a response, Roger marched inside with the air of someone who belonged there, his uniform splattered with orange wasp residue from their pitched battles against the beings. “This facility is now under US Military control. Step away from your stations and fall in line.” The rest of the group filtered in behind him.
An enormous, barrel-chested man wearing army fatigues marched up to Roger, rifle at the ready but not aimed. “Under who’s authority?”
“General Brickland, Special Projects Taskforce.”
“The General Brickland who retired two years ago?” he asked, eyes narrowing.
“Do I look retired to you, son?” Roger retorted, not missing a beat.
“No sir,” the man admitted.
“Stow that firearm and tell me what’s going on here,” he ordered. After a tense moment, with Tommy’s fingers itching to draw his shotgun, the soldier relented and stepped back, slinging his rifle.
“Former Captain Hunter Brown, sir, on special assignment to assist this facility. It’s our understanding that the lack of military involvement was intentional, to keep this out of DOD hands.”
“And look where that’s gotten you,” Roger snapped. “This is exactly what happens when there’s no military oversight.”
One of the lead scientists stepped forward. “The military was never supposed to find out about this facility,” he offered casually, as if speaking to an equal rather than a superior. “This whole site is beyond their pay-grade.”
“You’re summoning wasp spirits and demonic horrors and you don’t expect the US government to get involved? How did you expect this to continue without attracting attention?”
The lead scientist lifted an eyebrow. “‘Wasp spirits?’ I have no idea what you mean, General.” His tone was flat, making it impossible to tell whether or not he was being sincere. “We’re doing standard confidential research here.”
With a deep frown Roger looked to Seth, still dressed as a military attache. “Show this man the hallway, lieutenant. Show him what we mean.”
Seth advanced, wearing his best “mean soldier” face, which in any other context would be almost comical. Putting his hands on the man’s arm, Seth eyes rolled back in his head as the man smirked. Weak in the knees, Seth began slumping over, crumpling to the floor.
Tommy did not hesitate, drawing and shooting his shotgun from close range, sending the scientist bodily across the room. “The next person who tries to cast a spell dies.” Turning to his companions, he whispered beneath his heavy gas mask. “I thought he looked familiar. He’s a member of my society, one of the ones actively helping this crazy experiment.”
Roger snapped his fingers, breaking the stunned tension following the sharp rapport. “Soldier,” he commanded, eyes taking on an almost glimmering sheen. “You are going to make sure these scientists power off the experiments and leave this facility. Make sure nobody gets exposed to this madcap project that isn’t already.”
The man slowly nodded, having met Roger’s intense gaze, and brought his rifle to bear on the remaining scientists. “Pack it up, shut it down. We’re leaving.” Tammy and Ismene shared an impressed glance – Roger was full of surprises.
“You,” Ismene sharply addressed a junior-looking scientist, “explain to us exactly what’s going on here.”