Read The Infected 3: Cast Iron Online

Authors: P. S. Power

Tags: #Horror, #General Fiction

The Infected 3: Cast Iron (4 page)

BOOK: The Infected 3: Cast Iron
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Still, Rachel had the knowhow, but that didn’t mean she’d do a better job than Chris did. Having a telepath in charge worked pretty well, in the main. Even if she wasn’t wild about people all the time. The job was about being the boss, not being everyone’s friend. Christian Poures was good at that.

The woman sighed again.

“Are you sure? We could just ask her to do it and…”

Marcia snorted softly and gave the woman in front of her a small smile.

“Stop trying to get out of doing your job. That’s just lazy.”

They both faked a chuckle, which ended as Proxy blinked back into being in the hallway next to the door. The rules for him coming back were simple and pretty clear. Check him for blood first, head to toe, then for trouble breathing if it wasn’t obvious. After that look for breaks, bruises or limping, which could be from strains or torn muscles. He seemed fine this time. He was even smiling a bit. Nearly joyful for him, a look on his face that spoke of something almost pleasant.

His eyes locked with hers.

“A group of kids trying to bully a little girl on a school playground, of all things. I told them that I’d show up again if they tried to harm her at all and next time I wouldn’t just talk to them. I don’t think they’ll be hassling her much for a while. Glad I didn’t have to fight though. They looked like they were pretty tough… for third-graders.”

The words got a polite nod from Chris, who indicated that she needed to make some arrangements, for the trip, leaving Marcia to go and get the others into place. She glanced at Brian, who was still smiling a little and on impulse gave him a hug.

“Always a good day when you don’t have to kill anyone, right?” It wasn’t the way she felt about things all the time, but he seemed too. The words got a solid nod.

“Pretty much. I need to get some things for the trip. I… Honestly I didn’t think I’d ever be leaving this place for anything but business ever again. I don’t have clothes for vacation or anything. I should get something. Maybe a bag to carry it in too. Maybe… I can get Scott and Charlot to help with that? They’re both pretty good with that kind of thing. Clari too. We should ask her along, but we’re going to run out of room on the plane if we do.”

Marcia tilted her head to the side, thinking, finally giving the man in front of her a nod.

“Yeah, don’t add anyone else. I think that’s about the limit on people for this trip. I need to chat with everyone in the core group once we’re on the ground in Miami. Maybe a walk on the beach?” It would be harder to use listening devices with all the white noise of the ocean, and it was easier to see who might be watching out in the open, at least if the thing wasn’t too crowded.

After a few more minutes of talking about details, they went their separate ways. Brian to get outfitted for the mission and Marcia to find the others and get them all on board with the program. It was going to be a hard sell; at least it would have been for her, since the mission was so ill defined. What could she tell them?

She couldn’t go with the truth, not with most of them. She decided to head to the fifth floor first. After all a lot of the people going were Team two, which meant clearing the whole thing with Sparks, their leader. He was an ex-cop and a bit blustering at times, but not a bad guy. He had a cute mustache and if he looked a little blocky, it was a fairly muscular thickness, not anything too sloppy. Not that she was going to be dating the man anytime soon, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t recognize him as being decent looking, did it?

She took the elevator up four floors and headed straight to his office, which was next to the common area on the blue floor. The whole thing was done in blue, to keep everyone calm, since most of the hotheads made their way onto Team two. Each team had a distinct reason for being, and while no one liked to admit it, two was both the dumping ground for the second rate players and uglies, as well as the group that actually got the work done, as often as not. Never popular, but always useful.

Team one, her current team, was mainly the public face of things, though the cooking show was helping with that now too. The thing there was that to be on that team you had to be fairly harmless, or at least look that way. The most dangerous person in the whole mix, other than her, was probably Bridget. She was more powerful than they’d told her, or the public by far, slated eventually for Team three, but too young, being just fifteen. Tiny too. Her first mode made it really hard for her to control her impulses though, which meant that she could just go off at any time and start hurting people. She didn’t, not often, but that was half good management on the Directors part. Keeping people with her that could keep her in line.

That time was fading though, and fast. The girl had to learn to control herself soon, or she’d end up being so powerful that no one could reasonably stop her if she ever got out of control. It was really getting close too. The horrible thing there being that, if they couldn’t control her, they had to kill the girl before she had a chance to really lose it. Inside two years she’d be one of the most powerful people on the planet physically speaking. She was already faster and stronger than all but a small handful of people, and was starting to catch on to the fact. So far she wasn’t letting it go to her head though.

As it stood they only had a few people that could take her in a fight. Marcia thought she might be able to, for now. She wasn’t as strong as the girl, or as fast, but being almost impossible to hurt had some advantages in a fight. She didn’t get tired either. Not that Bridget would, but that was pretty much equal at least. The girl was down as a class five in her record, but she was really a class six already and would probably make seven before she hit twenty. Maybe a lot sooner than that. Marcia was, technically, a class four. It had to do with how many people you could be expected to beat in a fight. A class four would be expected to take down less than a hundred armed fighters at once.

She was really a class five of course, meaning she could take down over a hundred armed men at once. Easily too. Again it was because she was so hard to hurt. It made a vast difference as to what she could really do.

The IPB downgraded all of their top people like that, especially the ones on Team three. It was in part to keep them from getting a swelled heads, but also to keep the government from realizing how dangerous they could really be. Past a class five, the general consensus was that no military force could actually control an individual at all. Not without using nukes or something at that level of effectiveness. So they hid their top people to prevent the bombs from being dropped every time anyone had a bad day. Some were easy to hide, like Mark or Penny. He froze time for everyone but himself, which basically meant he could do anything he wanted to anyone in the world and no one could stop him at all. That made him something like a class eight or nine. A pacifist though, so what he did was always nonviolent, and often humorous, so no one really felt threatened by him.

 Penny was kind of ultra invisible. She pretty much couldn’t be seen or heard and most people forgot about her altogether even if they knew she was in the room with them. So both were nearly off the charts in actual power, but no one really cared about them too much. Not in a way that was fear inducing at least.

Christian was about the same, since her power was almost absolute in the mental realm. She was called a class five, but was really a six at least. Almost no one really got why, but the fact was, if she felt like applying herself, the woman could destroy half the planet, stealing nuclear codes and bio-lab secrets without ever leaving her office. That she wouldn’t do anything like that helped a lot, since otherwise the government would have killed her and she knew it. It wasn’t an advertised fact, but she could put thoughts into a person’s head to, not just read their mind. Chris hated using that part of her ability though. Marcia wasn’t sure why.

Denis was hard to hide, but he didn’t get that he was as powerful as the rest of Team three, thank goodness. No doubt figuring his being there was all about him having been kicked off Team one for being a jerk, years before. He was the only person in the IPB that could take down almost everyone by himself. If he wanted to, he could cripple all of them, leaving them on the ground unconscious or in agonizing pain, feeling anything he wanted them too, at any level he desired. They called him a class four, but that was bull. He was a class six at least. She’d seen him influence crowds with thousands of people all at once. Not that Marcia wouldn’t just sneak up on him and kick his ass anyway if he ever got out of line; she even had a plan for it. He used to be a complete jerk, so it had come up at least in theory, but lately he’d been working pretty hard to fix that. She didn’t trust him to keep doing it, of course, but she liked him better this way.

Maybe she wouldn’t have to kill him after all?

That left Brian. His assignment to Team three had seemed like a mistake at first, even to her. No one could really explain why he was there at all, other than the fact that they didn’t have any place better for him. The Director had put him there and everyone on the team liked him well enough that it hadn’t been a big problem, after a bit of messiness at first with Denis, but it didn’t fit the secret team mandate much. Power wise he really had seemed to be a class two at best. The IPB didn’t normally take anyone that wasn’t at least a three, but they’d known that without help the kid would just die, so they’d taken him in, almost as if it had been charity on their part. It hadn’t made sense to put him on a team at all. Not that she’d been able to see at first. Since then it was starting to show a bit more, though Marcia still didn’t get how the Director had come to the conclusion that Brian should be on the powerhouse team like that. It didn’t make obvious sense to her anyway.

The old man had experience though, and she wasn’t gong to discount that as a factor, was she? Half of what she did had to do with just having better planning and more experience than people thought she should based on appearance.

She waved Sparks into his office, since he was standing in the hallway, actually talking to some of his team, making connections with them that Christian just couldn’t manage with her crew and then, as an afterthought gave a nod to the people he was talking to.

“We’ve got a mission, mixed teams, some of your people are slated for it. Could you collect them up for me Charles?” She listed off the needed personnel, not explaining more to the man, which clearly cheesed him off. It was slightly fun to watch, but the fact was, the man didn’t need to know about what they were really doing. Not past the fact that she was using some of his people and that they shouldn’t be in too much physical danger.

It wouldn’t hurt for him to get the cover story though, so once everyone had crowded into his office, which wasn’t tiny at all, being nearly twenty by twenty, with vaulted ceilings, and salmon colored walls… with pink carpet. It was meant to be calming. How the man didn’t go insane working there all the time she didn’t know. Maybe he just spent as much time as possible making sure he didn’t have to? He was often found in the gym on fourteen or even just in the hall, talking to people.

Everyone assembled at a jog, since the announcement over the speaker just said there was a mission, not what it was. That could mean they’d be needed to actually rush off and fight, or go to save people from wildfires or something. They didn’t play around much on Team two. Marcia smiled at them all when they got there, filling the back of the room. Sparks sat behind his desk, but just waved to her.

“Quartz has something for us. A mixed unit exercise. I don’t have the specifics yet. She’ll fill us in.” He said it like it was a command, but that didn’t bug Marcia at all. It was her plan after all, and getting worked up because someone tried to act like they were in charge of their own people was just a waste of time.

“It’s something different. Proxy is getting a vacation, his powers are apparently giving him a bit of time to heal up, so we’re going with him to make sure nothing happens to him. At the same time there’s a Food Network conference in Miami, so that’s the destination. Two or three birds with one stone here. Kerry has to go for that, being all famous now, and Tobin is going, so that we can try to work in a little publicity for his upcoming album.” She waved to each in turn. Kerry was a bit plain at the moment, but had a cute look to her that worked well enough when she had make-up on. Tobin was Tobin, but he looked happy, a big grin splitting his face for some reason.

On him that was very nearly a real description, his thin lips and slick black and green skin reminding her a little of a frog. He didn’t say anything, but he wouldn’t if he could help it. Not with this many people around.

Except he surprised her by doing it anyway.

“So, is… the rest of the riot squad coming too?” It was the only other mixed team on base, unless they counted the cooking program crew. It was a good thought. Clearly the man had a point, asking if they had something secretly planned that way. Ready to do his job, even if it had to be a secret for some reason.

It was closer to the truth than Marcia thought anyone else would have gotten that quickly.

“Nope. Cooking show peeps, this group here and Peggy, just because Brian thinks she deserves a vacation too. Lauren, would you be willing to partner with her for the week? That way we won’t have to keep explaining to everyone why a felon is out having a good time. If anyone asks she’s one of your backup singers Tobin.” She grinned when she said it, feeling clever, but the man just smiled again.

“That’s fine. She’s good. Do you think she’d consider it for real? I mean for touring? I haven’t wanted to ask anyone, but she’s one of my top four choices for it. Brian said it was a good idea.” He looked down at the pink tight weave carpet and then over at the giant suit of smooth brown and black armor that was Lauren. It made her look like an insect, and she was huge, over nine feet tall, with jet black eyes the size of Marcia’s hands, that never blinked at all. She should have been scary, but kids loved her for some reason.

BOOK: The Infected 3: Cast Iron
4.26Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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