"Scourge," I tell Mulligan. "His body. Downstairs. Backup incoming."
Mulligan narrows his eyes and nods. Another dull explosion rumbles from downstairs. He gives me a look; it's one I know all too well.
"Let's go," I tell him, and we move.
It's not hard to figure out where the explosions are coming from. The elevator shaft in the lobby is exposed--the doors have been crudely blown apart. Smoke and light ascends from below.
I wrap one arm around Mulligan's waist--bands of white swing around his shoulders and under his arms to reinforce my grip. Then I encase my other hand in a shell of energy, grab hold of the elevator wire, and shift my weight over the space below.
We descend amidst a shower of sparks.
Three floors down and we hit bottom. This doorway's been blown off its hinges too; inside looks like a lobby. Down the hall are more char marks along with the shattered remains of part of the wall--someone didn't want to bother with any more doorways it looks like. We clamber out of the shaft and start moving forward.
"Society inbound in 60 seconds," I hear Holly say.
We step through the wall and into the sterilized laboratory beyond. Several steel shelves are mounted on the wall; at least six have been pulled open, baring sets of slabs with bodies. The fifth mercenary is on the right side of the room, standing over one of the bodies--the cloth has been pulled back, revealing the bloodless remains of a recently dissected Scourge.
The mercenary empties what looks like a vial of blood into the hole in Scourge's head.
"Fuck," Mulligan says as he charges forward. I make a ball and chain from my left fist and sweep it out past Mulligan's left flank, aiming for the merc.
I feel the shock of impact roll through the chain and up into my arm as I score a direct hit on the mercenary's chest. His suit absorbs most of it, but he's still sent reeling back. The vial clatters to the floor just as Mulligan reaches Scourge's corpse.
One thing I'll always say about Mulligan--he doesn't waste time. The baseball bat descends in a savage arc, hitting what's left of Scourge's skull again and again. I turn away with a grimace while Mulligan does his work. No clue what was in that vial, but if the intent was to bring Scourge back to life, Mulligan's going to make damn sure it doesn't work. And then--
Suddenly, Mulligan stops, hurls the bat aside, and runs straight at me.
"Run," he snarls.
When Mulligan tells you to run, you damn well better run. I don't stop and ask questions--I just turn and obey. A few seconds later and I hear the sound of something cracking behind me, followed by a scream.
"What the hell is--" I start.
"Merc," he says between gasps. "Scourge killed him."
"Scourge--Scourge is alive?!" I ask.
"Class 2 threat," he responds. "At least."
"What? Are you screwing with me?"
"Up," he tells me just as we reach the elevator shaft.
I sprout a set of spider legs from my back; each one ends in a human hand. Creepy as hell, but it gets the job done. With my arms around Mulligan's waist, we start to climb up the shaft. Somewhere beneath me, I hear the sound of metal bending and cracking.
That's when I notice Mulligan's nosebleed.
"Jesus--Jack," I tell him. "How many times did you--"
"Hundred and eighty seven," he says. "Move faster."
Something is moving fast behind us. I try to look down, but the shaft below is little more than darkness and smoke. As we reach the ground floor, I emit a set of legs behind my back and use them to kick off the shaft's wall, throwing us both back to the floor.
Without another thought, I twist around and make a wall with my left hand, blocking off the shaft.
"Won't hold him," Mulligan says. "We gotta get the fuck--"
"Society has arrived," Holly says.
A brilliant, burning light explodes behind us; we both feel warm air hit our backs. A teenage girl in jeans and a t-shirt steps through a freshly opened portal of swirling blue.
Behind her, I can see silhouettes emerging.
"Move," Mulligan says, grabbing me by the shoulder and pulling me up. "Fucking move!"
"They're here," I say as he pulls me up. The wall I've made flickers out of existence as soon as my hand moves away from it; meanwhile, I see Society members pouring out of the doorway. "We're fine--"
"We need to warn the rest of Epoch," Mulligan says, shaking his head as he shoves me through the portal. "The mother-fucker is back, and he knows our names."