Saturday, November 29, 2008

Nuclear Thanksgiving Part IV

Nuclear Thanksgiving Part IV

We blasted through the cabin door with Julia's gun and gathered our weapons. Ellie found her earpiece and put it in, listening to the attack. We found some towels and a sink, and tried to clean away the blood as much as possible. Ellie studied her face in the mirror for a moment. "Damn. I think I have a broken jaw, nose, and maybe my zygomatic bone. My head's gonna start swelling up like a balloon. This is gonna hurt."

She spit a huge gob of blood out into the sink. Julia's wound seemed superficial but her eyes didn't seem too focused. I worried she might have a concussion. I felt fine for my part, just some aching ribs, nothing broken I hoped.

Ellie listened intently for a moment, then shouted, or rather spat, "we've secured the ship. Alex, tell them how to restore power. We'll need to do a room-by room search."

She handed me the earpiece and I instructed them, and in a minute all the lights flashed back on.

"Okay, let's find her," said Ellie, grabbing her weapons and backpack.

I led the team over to Carrie's cabin. I knocked on the door and shouted, "Carrie, it's over! Come on out."

The door exploded from a shotgun blast. "Carrie," I yelled. "It's over. We have control of the ship."

"Fuck you, asshole," came the response along with a couple blasts, knocking down the rest of the door. Ellie nodded at me, holding up a knife. I stuck my shotgun around the corner and fired randomly, then Ellie jumped into the doorway and threw her knife. I heard a scream.

I rushed in behind Ellie, who grabbed the woman and pinned her up against a wall, a knife at her throat. Carrie had another knife protruding from her arm.

"You bitch," she screamed at Ellie, who back-slapped Carrie hard and returned the knife to her throat.

"Say the word, Alex," she breathed, blood still foaming out of her broken mouth and nose, "and I'll end this right now."

At that moment, the ship lurched to one side. I ran over to the console Carrie had been using. "There's flooding in the SMD. Carrie, what have you done?"

Carrie laughed. "That water will cause containment to fail, and this thing will blow sky high."

"Alex, tell the men to evacuate," said Ellie. I relayed the instructions to the men.

Ellie took the knife and jammed it into Carrie's shoulder. She screamed in agony. "I'm going to keep doing this until the end," whispered Ellie, her face inches from Carrie's. "If we die, you will die in agony." Ellie began twisting the knife, digging it into Carrie's shoulder socket.

"Ow! Stop! Stop! Aghh!" Carrie clutched her shoulder, and dropped to the floor, trying to escape Ellie.

Ellie grabbed Carrie's foot, and plunged the knife into the ankle socket. Carrie screamed. Ellie didn't relent, digging the knife through the tendons and cartilage. Ellie grabbed Carrie by the neck, and threw her into a chair. Carrie screamed and cried, writhing in the chair, trying to hold her shoulder and ankle at the same time. Ellie produced some quick ties, and bound Carrie's arms and feet to the chair, making sure the ankle tie was extra tight.

"Everyone has a breaking point," she told Carrie, waving the knife in front of her face. "You can't send someone to the breaking point, unless you've been there yourself. Listen to me!" She slapped Carrie hard. "Now we'll see what you're really made of. Not many people can survive this level of pain before their heart literally bursts. I'm going to try my best to keep you awake, all the way until the very end. Are you with me?"

Carrie just howled and whimpered, struggling against her bonds.

"What's the point of this," asked Misty. "Let's just end this and be done with it."

Ellie looked up at us, then grinned at Carrie. "Fine. Looks like this is it then." She raised the knife, and Carrie squeezed her eyes. Ellie stopped, then looked at me. "No, you do it, Alex. She's done far more damage to you. Come over here."

Ellie handed me the knife, and I approached Carrie, who struggled and writhed in her chair, gasping and whining with every breath. Her eyes found mine. I looked down at the knife, and then at the bound woman. Yes, I killed dozens of zombies today, but that was self-defense. This was a cold-blooded execution. Not that Carrie didn't deserve it. I looked around the room. Misty seemed a bit sickened. Julia simply stared at the drama with wide eyes. Ellie motioned me forward. I turned to Carrie again.

"Alex, please," she begged. "You don't have to do this."

"Why the hell would I spare your life," I asked her. "After everything you've done? All the people you've killed? All the lives you've ruined?"

"Alex," she wheezed, "I can ch-change. I see that now. I've been b-bad, I've hurt people. I...I can b-be different. You s-said it's never too late. You said it. Is it too late?"

I hesitated. "You want to change, Carrie? Then tell me, how do I end this? How do I destroy the Singularity Matrix without destroying the Earth?"

"Let me go and I'll t-tell you," she said.

"No. You tell me what I want to know without conditions. This change starts right now. Do the right thing."

"Just fucking kill her," yelled Misty. "She's messing with your head!"

I held up my hand for silence. Carrie struggled for a moment, perhaps an internal battle. She nodded to the side. "Over there. Your answer is over there."

I looked around the room. I only saw a bookcase and a desk. At the top of the bookcase sat a large box. "Fuck," I screamed, not believing I hadn't thought of it. "That's it! The twin singularity."

"Yes," agreed Carrie. "Why do you think I h-have it? If you put them together, they d-destroy each other. It's my 'other' insurance policy, if someone tries to s-steal the Matrix. But you don't have much t-time. You've got to add this one to the containment field."

I glanced at the console which flashed red. "Ellie, we've got to move. Misty, take Julia up to the deck and get into a transport helicopter. I'll meet you there. Ellie, help me get Carrie up. She'll give me instructions as we walk. Everyone ready?"

Misty gave me a big hug. "Be careful Alex, I don't trust her one bit."

"Take care of Julia. I'll be up there as fast as I can." I gave Julia a hug and kiss too.

Ellie cut Carrie's bonds and Carrie flopped to the floor in a fetal position. She tied Carrie's hands together in front of her, then tied a strap to it. "Move it," ordered Ellie.

Carrie struggled to her feet, not able to put much weight on her damaged ankle, but the pain in her shoulder when yanked didn't give her much choice.

We headed down the hall while Carrie explained the basics. I carried the heavy box with me. All I needed to do was place the box in a receptacle, set a timer, and at the end of the countdown one wall of the box would be breached and the singularity guided into the heart of the Matrix. From then, there was no telling what would happen. It might take microseconds, it might take months, but the two singularities would circle each other faster and faster until they merged and annihilated each other, releasing any residual energy, which might be substantial.

"How substantial," I asked.

Carrie waved her good arm. "Goodbye, London."

We entered the Palace, a smoke-filled land of corpses. As we passed the center, Ellie gave Carrie a painful tug, causing her to fall.

"Alex, do you have everything you need from her," Ellie asked me. I nodded. "Good. Now get up here, bitch!"

She yanked Carrie up the stairs leading to the cage platform.

"Alex," cried Carrie, "you said you would help me if I changed! Please, don't do this! I helped you!"

"Shut up," growled Ellie. She pulled Carrie onto the platform, then threw her down onto the middle. She walked to the corner, and lowered the heavy steel cage over Carrie.

"Let's go," said Ellie, waving to me, and the room filled with the sound of gunfire. I dove to the ground, rolling down the stairs. I pulled the gun off my back and looked around. Nearby I spotted a wounded Pirate looking around. Apparently he had been left for dead. I took careful aim, and discharged a round into his head. He dropped. I ran back up the stairs.

Ellie lay on the stage, motionless. I ran to her, and knelt down. "Ellie," I cried. "Ellie, talk to me."

Her eyes blinked. "Shit. I've been shot. I think it's fatal, Alex." I looked at her. A pool of blood formed behind her. One bullet pierced the upper right breast, the other through her leg. They both looked bad. She grabbed my jumpsuit and pulled me close.

"Alex," she wheezed, the blood gurgling in her lungs, "you've got to finish this. But after that, I want you to have a good life. Misty is a really good person. She's strong and steady. You need to take care of her, but for goodness sake listen to her. Alex, I'm so sorry about how things turned out between us, but I'm truly happy for you now. Go live your life, be the best person you can be. Don't let me die for nothing."

"Ellie," I cried as her eyes closed. I shook her. "Ellie, please, don't die! Ellie! The world still needs you! I still need you! Don't go!" She lay motionless on the stage.

I stood up slowly. The woman who I spent night and day with for eight months of my life lay dead before me. I screamed. My earpiece crackled.

"Alex, what's the status," called Misty. "We're loaded and ready."

"Ellie's dead," I replied. "I'm heading for the Matrix now. Ross out."

I picked up the heavy box.

"Alex, let me out of here, please," begged Carrie, clinging to the bars of her cage. "Don't leave me here to die! Alex! Alex!"

I kept moving. "You made this bed, Carrie, now sleep in it!" All I could think of was Ellie lying there. If not for Carrie, Ellie and I could still be together. Not that I wanted to go back, because I've found something greater in Misty, but still, I put Ellie's death on Carrie's head.

Carrie responded with a stream of epithets and screams.

I ran with the heavy package through the Palace and down through the flooded corridor leading to the Matrix. The water helped me carry the heavy load but impeded my progress. It also felt a bit warm, like a sauna.

The Singularity Matrix stood only a couple feet above the top of the water. I found the receptacle for the box and placed it in there. I keyed in the transfer sequence, and set it for fifteen minutes. Given the rise of the water, I wasn't sure that was short enough, but we needed a chance to escape the blast.

I swam back through the rising water, almost getting trapped at one point, then climbed the ladder of to the deck hatch. I instantly saw the lone Merlin helicopter in the middle of the deck. I ran over to it and hopped in. The British Naval airmen strapped me in, and I waved and blew a kiss to Misty, who had tears in her eyes.

"We've got ten minutes to clear the blast zone," I shouted. "At least ten miles, twenty if you can. We need to be on the ground in a shelter by then."

The helicopter lifted and headed towards Northwood. I studied my watch anxiously.

"We're not going to make it," said the pilot, "I'm putting her down."

We landed in a field near Harrow on the Hill. I grabbed Misty's hand and she grabbed Julia's, and we ran like madmen towards the train station. My watch beeped as we ran down the stairs, down as far as we could.

I think you've heard what happened next. For a few minutes, nothing. We sat there panting and gasping for air. Then the ship began belching steam, not just from the cooling towers, but from every opening in the hull. The back of the ship began glowing, boiling the River Thames into huge clouds of steam. The glow grew brighter and brighter, until the entire ship detonated in a ball of white hot gas, sending a blazing mushroom cloud up into the sky and leveling all the surrounding structures, leaving a mile-wide crater in the Earth, slowly filling with water mixed from the Thames and backing up from the ocean.

We could see the mushroom cloud from Harrow, but it didn't radiate dangerous radiation. The blast had vaporized everything. The river, the Tower of London, and the surrounding blocks. I held my loved ones tightly, knowing that somewhere in that cloud floated the ashes of Ellie and Carrie.

Well I've got to rest now, I have another busy day tomorrow. Misty's been extremely supportive and understand of what I'm going through. I'll write up a little something tomorrow to let you know how we're doing and what our plans our. Talk to you soon.

Posted: Saturday, November 29, 2008 @ 8:35 PM

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