The New Haven Incident - Part Four

Published on 7 June 2024 at 08:00

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Oliver Mendez hoisted his rifle, easing the tension in his forearms.

“It’s fucking creepy,” Bruce Richards muttered behind him. “Where the fuck is everyone?”

Mendez had to agree. The empty streets of New Haven City were incredibly creepy. Even in the full sunlight, there was something wildly unnerving about entering a city that should be full of people, but wasn’t.

The alarm went out two nights ago. Mendez was pulled from his vacation, briefed and out with his team in record time. And even still, he had the sneaking suspicion that they were too late. It was Cedarwood all over again. Even the orders were the same. Locate and acquire the research. Rescue the surviving researchers.

To hell with everyone else. Mendez growled softly to himself. Cedarwood was supposed to be a freak accident. A once-in a century event, never to be repeated. Yet here they were, Cedarwood Corporation’s extraction team, sent into another biologically engineered hellscape. The researchers would escape. Cedarwood would keep its precious research. They would pay a hefty fine — a negligible amount considering the billions of dollars in grants and contracts they got from governments around the world — and then the government would firebomb the city, killing everyone still in it, infected or otherwise.

“Alright,” Captain Harding said, coming around the group with a map. He placed it on the picnic table in the park where the extraction team was gathered. “Preliminary intel tells us there are two separate groups of survivors which currently have our targets. Doctor Lundt is with Group A, on the near side of the New Haven University campus. She’s the one with the codes we need. We’re to go there first, acquire the codes from the good doctor, rendezvous with Team One at the labs beneath the university. Team Three will meet us along the way, and take over the extraction of the researchers. Team Four is headed to the second group to acquire the targets there. The new extraction point is here.” Harding tapped the map. “At the stadium. Teams Five and Six have been deployed to cleanse and secure the location.”

“Cleanse,” Mendez grumbled.

“Problem, Mendez?”

“No, sir.”

“Good. Alright, as I understand it, a number of hostiles have escaped the lab. They are extremely aggressive. We are advised to shoot on sight.”

“Infectious?” Briglio asked.

“By injection, is the suspicion.”

“Oh good,” Mendez said. “So not like Cedarwood at all.”

“Keep your sarcasm to yourself, Mendez,” Harding snapped. “It’s going to be a long mission, and we could do without it.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Yo,” Richards whispered to Mendez. “Was Cedarwood really like this?”

“Technically no,” Mendez answered. “Infection was by exchange of fluids there. Got cut? Congrats, infected. Bit? Sat on a wet toilet? Someone sneezed in your eye? Infected.”

“Fuuuuck. No wonder almost no one got out.”


“Done gossiping, you two?”

“Yes, Captain,” Mendez and Richards answered in unison. “Sorry, Captain,” Richards added.

“Okay.” Harding looked at his watch. “Teams Three and Four should have touched down. Let’s get going.”

With nothing else to add, and a long mission ahead, Extraction Team Two broke formation and followed their captain across the park and into the city proper.

Extraction Team Three landed first, taking control of the eastern corner of the market square. Captain Sakata signalled the chopper and it pulled away, permitting Team Four’s chopper to come in to hover. Team Four rappelled down quickly, moving to take control of the western corner of the market. Captain Mu signalled the chopper pilot, who offered him a cheery thumbs up before pulling away.

The deployment was smooth as butter. No encounters with hostiles, no issues whatsoever. Even so, Sakata could not shake the feeling that something was terribly wrong. Chalking it up to the eeriness of a city shut down, he pushed his disquiet away.

“This is where we part ways, Team Four,” Captain Sakata said into his coms. “Take good care of yourselves.”

“You too, Sakata,” Captain Mu answered.

“Would you two just kiss, already,” Warrant Officer Franz said into the coms, earning chuckles from both teams.

“Alright, kiddos,” Captain Mu said, “Let’s go.”

Sakata and Team Three waited, watching as Captain Mu led his team in the general direction of the secret Cedarwood Laboratories, which were, according to their briefing, located beneath the New Haven City University.

“Okay,” Sakata said. “Let’s go.”

Team Three moved with well-practiced efficiency, heading down the quiet streets towards the last known location of Cedarwood survivors, Group B.

Sitting on the top of an old building, dwarfed as it was by the tall skyscrapers closer to the centre of the city, the strange, winged creature watched as the two groups split. One group moved deeper into the city, the other looking like they would skirt around the central district.

The gossamer wings on the humanoid’s muscular back moved back and forth lazily. They were too short and not strong enough to lend their owner true flight, but their use in assisting with height and speed could not be underestimated. Large, black eyes moved back and forth, their compound structure capturing an incredibly detailed picture of the quiet city. It relayed the information back to the hive, to the powerful god-mind that guided all its actions.

Cocking its head, the creature waited for orders. They came through not in words – it did not have a mind enough to understand or formulate speech – but in desire. It suddenly found a desire to make its way to the Fermerer Building where, at the top of the top of the tower would be a switch, a switch it had the overwhelming desire to flick. Doing so would please the god-mind and thus the hive, and what pleased those, pleased the drone.

Trusting its abilities, the creature stood to its full height, reaching an impressive six feet. It leapt, its wings working to carry it further than the action of its muscles alone could. It landed on the wall of a building, using the chitinous talons on the ends of its fingers and toes to crawl up the wall to the roof, before leaping onto the next building. In this way, it moved rapidly to its destination and clambered up the side of the skyscraper with little issue.

At the top, it circled the tower in order to find the switch. Reaching out it placed a finger under the tiny white lever. With approval coming in from the god-mind, it lifted its finger, moving the lever to the up position. The hive buzzed, all aware that the god-mind was pleased, all aware that the trap had been set. Sharp teeth flashed as the winged creature smiled; an appalling mimicry of its abandoned humanity. It turned and leapt from the Fermerer Building, trusting its wings would give it a soft landing.

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