Chapter 3 – Page 3

Director Nero was frustrated. The mass production of Number 7’s serum was taking longer than was planned. Unexpected difficulties continued to crop up one after another. The People’s Army wouldn’t be pleased with the set backs. They were getting more and more annoyed with Pandora as time passed. Even though Pandora’s recent breakthroughs had been significant, especially within the last four years, it wasn’t enough to pacify their growing displeasure.

He looked through the manufacturing statistics. If things went well, it would be three days until the first batch of one hundred was done. The USCU wanted at least a hundred more such batches. It would be difficult, but once they got the first batch out, they would have gotten all the kinks out of the manufacturing line, and the process would then be  completely automated.

On the bright side, Number 8, the man they had injected Number 7’s serum into three months ago, continued to be preforming well. His regenerative abilities and his resistance to radiation were both extremely high, proof that the serum worked better than he had hoped.

When all this was over and the USCU got their serum, Director Nero hoped he’d be allowed to see his family again. It had been so long since he last saw them. The People’s Army kept them close by to make sure he worked properly. Thinking about his wife and little daughter in their hands made him clench his fist.

He sighed as he looked about the mess of papers scattered about his office. Normally, Julia would help him keep it organized and read various reports to him so he could create a better picture in his head. It just wasn’t the same when she wasn’t there. He was annoyed that she seemed to have disappeared once again. Recently, she was gone more and more often. What could she be doing that would take so much time away from her actual responsibilities? He’d have to call her out on it when he saw her next.

He jumped, startled when a ding sounded in his ear. It was his meta-link informing him of a message from the security room. Ignoring his feeling of embarrassment for being startled, he answered the call.

“What is it?”

“Sir, Number 7 seems to have disappeared from his room.”

“What do you mean, disappeared?”

“He went through the air vent, sir?”

“When?”

“Around five minutes ago?”

“And you chose to inform me of this now?”

“It was only just noticed, sir.” Nero clicked his tongue in annoyance at the blatant incompetence of his staff. What was the point of installing a security camera?

“Where is he now?”

“We don’t know, sir.”

“You don’t know?”

“No, sir. We can’t tell which way he was headed when he went into the air vent. It branches in a couple different directions not far from his room. There’s no security cameras in the vents, so we don’t know which path he chose.” Nero rubbed the bridge of his nose. His annoyance was rapidly reaching peak level.

“Just find him.”

“Yes, sir.”

“No, never mind, tell Dr. Hektate instead. He might have a better time finding him that any of you incompetent idiots.”

“Sir, We’d appreciate it if you didn’t call us incompetent idiots. We’re doing the best we can. We’ll keep looking for him. As for asking Dr. Hektate, it will take a few moments. Getting in contact with him is hard since he doesn’t have a meta-link. Ms. Perkins is the only one that carries around a comm to contact him.”

“Just hurry up.” Nero ran his fingers through his hair. This, so far, had been a very long day. It was only getting longer. A few minutes later, his link beeped once more.

“Sir, We’ve checked several places and Dr. Hektate has as well. Number 7 hasn’t been found yet, but Dr. Hektate thinks he may be in the morgue containing the bodies of the other numbers. He’s headed there now, but-” All of a sudden, a large commotion sounded through the line. Nero frowned as he heard a couple of crashes and several people yelling all at once. He stood up, and his chair fell down behind him.

“What? What’s happening? Someone tell me,” he yelled. Receiving no answer, he pulled up the video feed of the security room through his link. The feed popped up, and he saw the room in chaos. Chairs were tipped over. Bullet holes had punctured through  the sleek videos screens, making them go black or shatter in to tiny pieces. The corpse of a Pandora security guard was slumped over one of the control panels and another was against the wall. Five guards were pushing against the door to the room, struggling to keep it closed.

“Director Nero,” one of them said through his link, “We have intruders. They burst in suddenly. We managed to push them back out, but it’s not going well. None of the other guards are responding to their links, and from the look of the camera feeds, many of them are down. We don’t know how many we have left. Your orders, please.”

“Do we know who they are? Why are they here?”

“So far, we haven’t been able to identify who they are other than that there is a high likelihood they are from New Poland from their combat style. We do know that they seem to be looking for something from the way they are moving about the complex. It’s probably one of the reasons they are targeting the security room.”

“How many are there?”

“Roughly twenty or so.”

“Only twenty?”

“We were caught by surprise, sir. Most of our men were out looking for Number 7. Since he disappeared so suddenly, most left their equipment behind. The intruders are highly skilled. Our men didn’t stand a chance.”

“Try and hold them off for as long as you can and act as you see fit.I won’t be able to come up with a good plan to turn this all around. Can Sergeant Bach be contacted? He would be more suited for this.”

“No, sir. His meta-link is turned off. We haven’t been able to reach him.”

Nero almost never swore, but this was a rare time that he let out a string of curse words.

 

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