“Thank you for your purchase.” Vicky said from behind the counter as Hemlock the Vast trundled off out of the store with several components which she was sure he would use in such ways as to void all their warranties immediately. Probably some sort of ray gun, she decided. She immediately thought up four different designs that she could create with what he had bought. All of them extra deadly.
Vicky looked around, there were no customers in the department now. Several shoppers were milling about in the halls just outside, but no one was coming in. She had not seen Avera or Kyle in several hours. Of course, not seeing Avera in several hours could also mean she was either asleep or causing mayhem. Vicky shook her head, it was not something she needed to worry about. She reached over head and stretched, and leaned up against the counter. Her shift was almost over and she’d be free for another weekend. Just another 40 minutes without any incident to go. She smiled.
The smile fell off her face. Without any hesitation she answered, “No!”
IT WILL BE FUN.
“No! And your definition of ‘fun’ is broken.”
YOUR ASSISTANCE IS REQUIRED.
Vicky heaved a sigh and rolled her eyes. “I have,” she checked her pocket chronometer, “38 minutes and 20 seconds left for today. Go get Avera. She likes doing your jobs.”
SHE IS ALREADY ON ONE.
Outside, the lighting flickered and dimmed for several moments before returning to its normal luminescence.
Vicky wasn’t entirely sure that could be Avera’s doing, but she had no way to verify either. Then the store plunged into darkness, with only the light from the hallway spilling through the front windows. Security blast panels began slamming down one by one in slow succession, further cutting the department off from light. That wasn’t Avera.
“Alright, fine! I’m coming. What assistance is required of me?.” Vicky stalked out of the front door as the last blast panel slammed down behind her, closing the storefront. The sign’s lights winked out indicating it was really closed.
EXCELLENT. I KNEW YOU WOULD AGREE.
“There wasn’t much of a choice.” Vicky muttered and leaned up against the window. She checked her chronometer again. “35 minutes and 40 seconds.”
YOUR ASSISTANCE IS REQUIRED IN THE BASEMENT. TAKE YOUR BOOTS AND SPECIAL OUTFIT. MAYBE THAT NICE LITTLE NUMBER YOU KEEP HIDDEN IN LOCKER #1045.
Vicky groaned. “Is there flooding?”
“Why can’t you ever make things easy? No, don’t answer that.” A threshold appeared in a nearby wall. Vicky stepped through as it closed behind her. She took several steps forward to the opposite wall as it opened up into a locker room. She opened up her locker and pulled out the ‘little number’. It was a Ravenholt Mark VIII Harpoon rifle repeater. She checked the steam chamber for debris before filling it with liquid and adding a small amount of Thread to the reaction pan. Mark 10’s ran on Halo. The pressure gauge needles started their slow climb to max pressure. Next she put on waders. Finally, she picked up several harpoon bolts. “I get paid overtime you know.” She went back through the only exit in this locker room, the way she came in. Several steps and a doorway later, she was standing in the stairwell that lead to the basement.
The lights flickered, illuminating the stairwell in dull ominous light as it descended into the dark abyss below. “If you are doing this on purpose, I’m going to bolt you instead.” She hefted the rifle towards one of the myriad of security cameras that dotted the interior of the building. The lights flared up as bright as the noonday sun, revealing the entire stairwell and as far as the underground hallways and mazes allowed her to see. “That’s what I thought.”
At the bottom of the stairs stood about three feet of water. Undetermined things were floating around in the water, having come off their shelves.
DEAR ME. I WILL NEED A CLEAN UP CREW DOWN HERE.
“It’s not going to be me.”
OF COURSE NOT. YOU HAVE THE FUN PART.
“I regret every day I work here.” Vicky groused. She slogged through the debris filled water, following gushing sounds until at last she located a floodgate that had been opened. She had to climb over several racks, run along the top, scale down the other side and jump from pallet to pallet until she had reached the gate control room. It took her several minutes to crank the big metal wheel that managed the gate lock. Finally the roar of the egressing water faded away.
She sloshed through until she found the sump pumps and switched them on. The basement hummed as the engines rumbled to life.
“The water is draining. I’m done here,” she announced over the din. She turned to leave.
And then something large and heavy wrapped up her leg and pulled her underwater. Vicky let loose a scream as she went down. While being drug through the water, she lined the Mark VIII along side her leg and fired. The thing on her leg let go and vanished. Purple swirled and mixed with the floodwaters. Vicky sputtered as she hauled herself up out of the water and back up onto the racks. “You could have warned me!”
I DID. I TOLD YOU TO TAKE YOUR SPECIAL NUMBER.
Vicky scanned the water, but with so much flotsam bobbing around, it was hard to tell if anything was moving with a purpose. Down a side hallway she caught a shimmer, a glow reflected off the walls. She jumped back into the water and headed down the side passage, the Mark VIII at the ready. She flipped on the second and third compressors and let them charge. Several turns later the hallway emptied out into the top another large room full of submerged storage racks. The glow came from the center of the room, deep under water.
Ripples passed by Vicky on either side and vanished into the depths. The glow rose to the surface.
A massive squid floated up out of the water and hovered. Its tentacles whipped around everywhere, knocking more boxes off the tops of the racks.
“I am FKNsRKEKKN! Demi-God of the deeps. I have claimed this as my domain. Bow down before me, mortal.” It said.
“Of course it’s squids. It’s always squids,” Vicky yelled. “Why do you always give me the squid missions? I hate squids!”
YOU ARE SUCH A GOOD NEGOTIATOR.
“Silence, mortal! Or I will rip your limbs from your body and feast on your organs! You are in the presence of FKNsRKEKKN. Minions, bring the female to me. I have uses for her.”
Vicky pinched her brow. “FKNsRKEKKN, you are trespassing on private property owned by the MacSweeny Inc. Corporation, I will give you one minute to get yourself and all your minions out of her.”
The water thrashed around as several squid swam over to her and wrapped her legs to pull her under again.
“I am FKNsRKEKKN, son of KBRKsKEKKN, this is my my domain now!” The squid said again.
Vicky closed her eyes in concentration as the water around her danced with small green electric arcs until the squids attached to her legs floated to the surface, unmoving. She swayed a bit as she opened her eyes and caught her breath. Her stare returned to FKNsRKEKKN, “I remember KBRKsKEKKN, he tried to take over the basement two months ago!”
“Fiend! What happened to my father!” The squid swam wildly towards Vicky, putting its massive eye almost up against her head.
“He didn’t listen either.” Vicky backed up three steps, trailing squids and hefted the harpoon rifle and leveled it at FKNsRKEKKN’s eye. “Leave now.” Her voice was icy cold.
“Murderer! I will avenge my father!” FKNsRKEKKN echoed throughout the room as it began to charge. Vicky fired all three rounds. The bolts pinned the squid to the far wall where it continued to writhe for several minutes. “You may have bested me, villain, but my brothers shall avenge me.” It coughed out.
OH GOODY, WE CAN OPEN THE SUSHI BAR AGAIN. SEE, THIS IS WHY YOU ARE THE BEST NEGOTIATOR.
Vicky looked at her chronometer, “I’m going home. My shift ended 20 minutes ago.” She dropped the Ravenholt Mark VIII into the water and sloshed her way out of the basement.