I held the edge of the shielding and started to shake it. Within moments I could feel the cheap bolts wiggling loose.
“Do you really have to do that, cadet?” my captain asked me.
“Sir, these things couldn’t take a light kick from my gran,” I told him. “What are we supposed to do against the possessed?”
“That’s enough, cadet. I know that we don’t have the finest shielding or even the most effective laser rifles, but it will be enough to take care of the possessed inside the hotel.”
I didn’t disagree with my captain in that moment, but there was no confidence in anyone here really, and he knew it. All eyes constantly watched the dark, metal doors ahead of us.
We were all waiting for the report from Specs back in HQ. He was doing an electronic sweep of the hotel and was about to bring up the feed soon.As if on cue there was a buzz from the captains earpiece.
“This is Captain Carlson, what have you got for us, Specs?” he asked. He still used the informal nickname like the rest of us, it put a smile on my face if only for a moment. “Right, put up on everyone’s visor.”
After that a black panel appeared over my visor screen, it was the inside of the hotel and all I could see was darkness. There was a high-pitched whine as the the drone switched to night-vision showed hundreds of pairs of legs.
“Jesus…” I murmured beneath my breath.
“Radio silence, cadet,” the captain ordered. I could tell he was trying to keep the morale up, but everyone could see what was in front of them
How is Cloud 9 going to handle this? I asked myself this repeatedly, thinking about the city that was behind us. The hotel was close to the lower cities, the ones overrun with these creatures. I could understand that the infection might have reached the gate, but I couldn’t understand how it got through and into one of the hotels.
The drone began to move around the legs, slow and silent. It was well piloted, mainly to avoid detection from the possessed.
“Any location on patient zero?” the captain asked.
It was an important question. A patient zero in these cases are the possessed who form a hive, releasing the black bugs that infect the people.
“Yes, sir,” Specs replied. “The zero was spotted on the third floor of the hotel, room 3-89.”
As he told us the room was highlighted for us via our visa. The hotel remained its own colour, but the room began to throb a dull yellow.
“Are the bombs in place?” the Captain asked.
“As of this moment the last one is being configured,” Spec chirped. “From the second floor up the hotel will be vaporised and fire will spread to ground floor, but…”
“Not all of them will be cooked. Don’t worry, we have it covered. Can you give a ballpark?”
Ninety eight possessed will walk through those doors, burning, but still alive. We can’t cook the ground floor without destroying the lobby’s main window. If that should happen there was a great chance of one of the bugs slipping out and that couldn’t happen. It was a problem that the new laws should have prevented, but the owner wasn’t able to find the right barriers to fit the size of the window. Nor did he want to replace the window with something more practical.
Of course, it always came down to people like us to clean up after the rich folk.
“Right, prime the bug field on the door, Specs, get ready to detonate on my mark, be sure to open the doors soon after,” the captain ordered.
Every knelt behind their barriers and pointed their rifles at the dark metal. A field began to spread across the door, a laser grid that would destroy any of the bugs that would fly through, but only roast the possessed who would come through. I prepared my nose for that smell.
“Detonate now,” the captain ordered once everyone was ready.
There was a hot flash from the second floor up as the hotel was subjected to an internal inferno. The technology was perfect, destroying every square millimeter of the inside with white hot fire. It was used by military forces as booby traps for the enemy, but was soon added to the list of weapons not to be used in war-time right next to that of our ion cannons.
However, it was not a war-crime to use it against the possessed, it was in fact recommended, before the ion cannon. With that thought, I turned the safety off and my rifle hummed to life. The metal doors opened and there were sparks and hisses as the bugs that tried to escape that way were fried in an instant. That was the least of our concerns, because next came the possessed.
The first to walk through the door made us pause. It was definitely a possessed and a possessed missing every from the waist up. A pair of legs walked through that field, fried and clothing burning. Despite its lack of eyes it knew we were there, pausing outside the field then running towards us. In that moment the rest of the possessed flew from the darkness of the hotel, dashing towards us with flailing limbs and open mouths. Their terrifying faces yelled their displeasure and that was when every soldier fired their rifles.
The possessed were riddled with shots, destroyed in moments and then the flamethrowers sent jets of purple fire towards the undead. Each and everyone was incinerated as soon as they stepped out. All ninety eight were vaporized within three minutes of constant fire. Everyone felt the intensity of the moment and waited for the all clear signal.
That was when the captain did something that made us realize that someone was beyond wrong. He talked with Specs on a private channel and fell silent for a long time. That silence was enough for everyone to realize that the hotel was just the beginning.
“Mobilize everything you got, Specs. We’re on our way to the next one.”