Chapter 5

Jenson scrambled around his cell, putting his shoes on and grabbing his backpack that held some personal affects. He reached under his pillow and came back with a creased photograph, and then quickly folded back to the small square and slipped it his pocket.

While he was busy getting his things together, Ms. Alley took the opportunity to riffle through a few manila folders that had been discarded to the floor. In a rush, she grabbed a few of the documents from each folder and hurried back to Jenson.

"Here, put these in your bag." She said.

Jenson looked up at her with a black face.

"Are you serious?" He asked. He tried to muster a voice of playful sarcasm, but his energy had been drained so that it came out with a deadpan gravity.

"There might be something in here that can help you. Just do it." She said again.

"Then give me the gun." He tried to crack a smile, but failed.

"You won't need it. Like I said, those things won't try to hurt you. They will, on the other hand, gladly rip my throat out."

Jenson nodded, too tired to argue with the pretty doctor.

"You know, if there is a chance that we are going to die down there, I should know your full name." He said as he stood up and took the papers from her, putting them into his bag.

"Emma. Emma Alley." She said with no hint of a wanting to take care of pleasantries.

"Nice to meet you, Emma. Now, are we going to break me out of prison, or what?" He finally reached the sarcastic smile that he'd been trying for.

Emma kept the cold and stern expression glued to her face as she made her way to the door, stepping to the side as she got to it.

"Once we leave this room, there will be a lot of those things down there. I won't have enough ammunition to do much good, so we'll need you to take the lead."

"The lead? I don't even know what we're walking into." He snapped back.

Jenson reached a hand out and leaned against the wall. He wished that he could explain how the plan was a bad one, because he could hardly stand, let alone fight. But the explanation itself would take too much energy, so he'd let Emma find that out in due time.

"You will understand when you get down there. Just follow your instinct, and you'll be okay. Don't think too much, but don't forget about me either."

"You've got the meds, doc. I promise that I won't be forgetting you."

The thought suddenly dawned on her that they were completely dependent upon one another. Without Jenson, she would surely die trying to make it to the street. Without her, Jenson would be consumed by the Queen Rider. Their relationship had become as symbiotic as the parasite and host.

Emma turned the handle and pushed against the door, the sounds of sirens were instantly combined with the din of gunshots and screams. The door was soundproof, but now they were going into the dangers.

Jenson took his hand away from the support of the wall and started to walk through the doorway.

"I hope you know what you're talking about, Emma. Shit sounds crazy out here."

"You have no idea, but you'll be fine."

Sullivan looked out over the morning horizon from the UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter. Everything looked peaceful from where we was sitting, but he knew that the panic was just starting to set in on the crowd of people that were rolling out of bed and turning on the television.

The higher-ups and politicians would do their best to keep the situation from getting to the press, but Sullivan knew more about the Queen Rider than all of them put together. He'd seen the weapon first hand, and he'd seen how quickly it could spread in a heavily populated area. The best that his bosses could hope for would be to pin it on a foreign terrorist once it was all said and done.

Using the time en route to reflect upon his briefing, Sullivan had already started to come up with a plan of attack. He'd decided that he would lead the Alpha team in dispatching the prime carrier, and he would let the Bravo team take care of cleaning up the infected while he did so.

Taking out the prime would be simple enough, as he was a prisoner in a cell, but it would ultimately be the action that would save the day. It was possible to salvage his good name after all.

For the Alpha team, he'd picked the soldiers that had been on the ground level during the success of the Queen Rider mission, only a half a day before. They'd proven themselves as professional soldiers that would do him a fine enough job.

There was a moment that Sullivan wondered if he should have some of his men track down the defector, Doctor Jeremiah Hans. It was still unclear why the doctor had gone rogue and released the specimen into the general population, and it was even more unclear as to whether or not he planned on doing it again. After a few moments of deliberation, he decided against it.

The doctor is a needle in the hay stack, he told himself. It would be better to eliminate the threat at hand, and then track down the traitor.

"T-Minus fifty-six minutes until we reach the epicenter of the infection, sir." The co-pilot sounded over Sullivan's headphones, taking him away from his reflection.

The Captain didn't respond, but instead continued to look out over the horizon.

"So peaceful", he said to himself.

Jenson walked carefully down the narrow corridor. The sirens and lights were doing their best to disorient him to the point of psychosis, and he did his best to push passed it. There had been a fleeting moment of longing for his cage, away from the fun house effect of the warning system.

Emma stayed close behind him. If he'd stopped suddenly, running into his back would have been a sure result. The comfort of knowing that he was as fast and as strong as nearly any animal on the planet made her feel somewhat better about their situation, but only somewhat.

Before they'd ever made it out of his holding room, Emma had insisted that she carry the backpack with the files and serum, opening up Jenson for more mobility. The time would come that he'd have to defend both of their lives, and having extra weight on his back would not behoove them, she knew.

Seeing the door that would lead into the main wing of the building, Emma tapped Jenson on the shoulder. He spun around so quickly that she flinched and jumped back, fearing another attack from her ever-strengthening protector.

He made no such attack, however, mouthed out the word 'what'.

She pointed at the door, hoping to clearly signify how dangerous the particular pathway would be.

He seemed to understand.

The sluggish and sickly looking Jenson seemed to perk up at the mere mention of danger. His shoulders forced back, his chest emerging from the slouch that he'd been carrying, and his arms flexed as he balled his fists.

The Queen is in charge now, Emma thought to herself.

Albeit having little experience with the Queen Rider project, she could recognize the shift in body language for what it was: A parasite defending her host.

Emma wanted a moment to prepare herself for what would be beyond the door; a luxury that Jenson did not grant. With no hesitation, he reached out and pushed the door open, revealing the dangers that the doctor had warned him of.

The room itself was large and spacious. The white walls were intensified by the flashing of the blinding lights, as were the black and white checkered tiles on the floor. There were four rows of blue chairs in the middle of the room, bolted to the ground so that they faced each other. At the far end of the room from where they stood a receptionist window and door were the only distinguishing features.

It didn't take long for the smell of blood to fill Jenson's nose, setting him into a tiny and unexplainable frenzy, and then the sight of the red puddles followed to validate his first sense. Smeared across the checkered floor were pools of blood in various sizes and shapes.

In the moment that Jenson was noticing the smell and sight of carnage, Emma was seeing the eyes that were turned in her direction. Where there should have been bodies laying face down in the ponds of blood, there were instead several bodies that had been recklessly walking around the room. But now, they had all frozen in place, eyeing Emma with the ferocity of a lion staring down a gazelle.

The first of the monsters started to move towards her, not even noticing Jenson in their way. He was dressed in a security guard's uniform, blue and black with smears of red, and he was fast. The rest of the abominations took after his lead, some slow and others fast, but the security guard was the quickest.

Before he'd been infected, he'd obviously spend a good portion of his free time in the gym, and post-infection he hadn't taken much damage to his body. These had been deemed the most useful of the drones by the doctors that experimented with the Queen as a weapon, but on domestic soil they would be the most devastating.

As fast as this drone was, he still was no match for the speed of the Primary Carrier.

Jenson moved in the security guard's direction, not noticing how quickly he'd gone from feeling deathly ill to feeling like a living weapon, but Emma noticed. In a different time and place, she would have taken notes about how quick the transition had been, and would have made a recommendation to give the Queen Rider role in combat.

Once Jenson closed the distance between himself and his first target, he made easy work of the security guard. With a simple right hook, he knocked the would-be attacker to the ground. Then, without a hint of hesitation, he sighted in on his next mark; a woman in a nurse's outfit similar to Emma's

The nurse drone shuffled with uncoordinated feet toward her still living counterpart at a shocking speed. Her left ankle had been nearly chewed clean through during her infection, but the lack of pain made it easy for her to hobble quickly in an unnaturally disturbing spectacle.

Directly behind the nurse walked a man in military fatigues; another muscular man, but his body had been damaged to the point of nearly useless.

Jenson sprinted towards them, coming between the couple. He reached out with lightening quick speed and put a hand behind the soldier's head and one on the nurse's forehead. For a moment, the nurse appeared to want to bite Jenson, but thought better of it. Then, just as quickly has he'd ever moved, he slammed their heads together with a monstrous force.

The cracking sounds of their skulls was nearly enough to cause Emma to lose her lunch, but she forced it back as the first drone got to his feet and focused in on her again.

Jenson, worrying about the last three drones blocking the door, left Emma to fend for herself with the most dangerous of the monsters.

The security guard took off in a dead sprint towards Emma, his mouth open and his eyes locked on her face. He let out a gargling scream as he pushed his physically ideal body towards her.

Emma's mind flooded with too many thoughts at once.

Shoot the bastard. Aim and kill him. He's too fast, you'll never make it. You've never shot a gun before!

Out of instinct, she brought the gun up with two hands and pointed the barrel where she thought it should go. Closing her eyes and preparing for the shock of the recoil, she pulled back on the trigger.

Nothing happened.

She opened her eyes in time to see that the monster was nearly on top of her. From the short distance, details of the man turned monster became horrifyingly clear. Noticing the chunks of flesh between his teeth and in his nearly trimmed beard, Emma had one last thought.

He forgot about me.

Just as she'd given up hope and started to wonder what it felt like to be one of the drones, she saw the blur of a black t-shirt spinning through the air in her direction. It happened with a speed that her mind was not prepared for; leaving her clueless to what was moving behind the security guard drone.

It wasn't for a few seconds that her mind was able to piece the picture together. Jenson had easily dispatched the drones on the other side of the room, and then he preformed some aerobatics that she hadn't known possible, leaping to her rescue.

After the danger had faded, the moment of her salvation became clear as day. She'd seen Jenson leap from the top of one chair to the other until he was at the last one, and then he leapt an impossible distance to her attacker. In the end, he came down with an elbow to the top of security guard drone's head, splitting it down the center.

Jenson looked up at Emma, panting heavily as the realization of what he was capable of became clear to him. A mixture of fear and bloodlust filled his eyes as he stood in complete silence, waiting for the doctor to tell him what had happened to him.

Knowing that they had no time for an explanation yet, she walked passed him.

"There are a lot more of them between here and the street." She pointed at the door next to the receptionist window. "The stairs will take us to the first floor, and that's where most of them will be."

Jenson stared at her for a moment, feeling the sickness as it started take the place of the adrenaline. After a few seconds of shared eye contact, Jenson moved towards the door, pausing before opening it.

"Then I suggest you take the safety off of that pistol." He cracked a smile with the last of the buzz that he'd gained from the melee.