Part 4



1962 –1:45 A.M.

All right – that was different than anything I've run across in a while.

After walking into the commons area, Archangel frowned as he saw that Valkryie had not stepped in with him – more like we probably stepped into differing time zones, he thought, seeing the newspaper dated '17 October 1962'. Or 'time periods'.

Looks like a Shattered scenario – shame Richard isn't here. He could lecture me about 'how I have to make sure that I don't do anything that'll disrupt the natural flow of events.'

Okay – that wasn't fair. Just because he's almost always right every damn time he opens his mouth...At least he knows where to get a damn good cheeseburger – and the biscuits and gravy at that place-

Yeah. Since I can replicate those from now until infinity, I can get past everything else.

He started across the room – and turned, surprised, as a slow moan of feminine pleasure erupted from a darkened corner. Great. I'm a peeping Tom.

Turning from the two half-dressed girls making out in the corner, Archangel drew back as his Ring's shield-HUD activated:

==Position - 1:45:49 – 28 October 1962
==Location – D-360
==ALERT! Active HST infestation zone
==Classification: Reanimate/Russo-One
==Infestation Intensity Level Status: CLASS FOUR
==HST shields deployed

==ALERT! Active reanimation agent in area
==Method of reanimation: biochemical

Oh, this just keeps getting better and better - another 'Captain Trips' trigger event. I'd better just hurry up and get out of here before I screw up something and have to listen to another Prime Directive speech. Poor girls. No wonder they're enjoying themselves right now - I remember reading the brief on this Earth.

The October Crisis on this Earth involved the planned use of chemical agents in Cuba by the U.S. to try for a quick knockout and victory – but someone screwed up, there was an accidental release of the gas at one of the labs... and it got messy fast.

Still encased in an invisibility glamour, Archangel had the Ring call up a second chart on the HUD:

==Temporal Position - 1:45:49 – 28 October 1962
==Dimensional Location – D-360
==Spatial Location – 40° 40′ 9″ N / 89° 32′ 44″ W

==Reanimate saturation level:
==Zone One (0-50 meters): 0068
==Zone Two (50-500 meters): 0358
==Zone Three (500-1000 meters): 3402
==Zone Four (1000-2500 meters): 7609

==ALERT! Multiple unknown-level HST's in Zone Four
==ALERT! HST's identified
==Classification: Reanimate/ Kirkman-One
==Classification: Reanimate/ Kirkman-One
==Classification: Reanimate/ Kirkman-One
==Classification: Reanimate/ Kirkman-One
==ALERT! Reanimates have entered Zone Three
==ALERT! Reanimates have entered Zone Two
==Reanimates converging on this location

Oh, hell, he thought, looking at the four marks on DRADIS display as they moved rapidly towards 'zero position'. Meta-Zack! There's no way that I'll get out of here before-

The wall on the other side of the room, away from the two girls, exploded in a flare of light and sound; both girls screamed as three 'Meta-Zack' – super-powered zombies in various states of decomposition and very familiar uniforms – came through the hole.

Oh, fuck! There's more of these bastards?

The fourth 'Meta-Zack' - a slender redhead whose sleeveless uniform showcased arms that were simply bones with slender scraps of tendons flapping uselessly in the early morning winds - followed the others inside.

Her single eye, still embellished with black makeup, looked around the room and focused on the two screaming girls for a moment as she toyed with the ankh necklace around her decaying neck with one skeletal hand – and with the other, held up what could only be a trio of infant skulls.

"Ringbearers – come out to play," she warbled in a lilting voice, as she brought the skulls clinking together in a rhythmic manner. "Ringbearers – come out to play... Ringbearers – come out to play-aaay!"

"Scarlet, why can't we just eat the two girls and move on?" said the blonde-haired little boy, the searing bubbles of white light flowing around his right hand lighting up the room; Archangel saw that the flesh on the entire left side of his body (sans head and his left hand) was gone, revealing the organs beneath. "There aren't any Ringbearers here on this world!"

"Yeah – let's just eat them!" the blonde-haired little girl holding his hand said, speaking through a perfect mouth that was the only part left of her face save her blue eyes. "Let me cook one of them up – that way, it's as if we have a choice of entrees!"

Black flame began swirling around her left hand, but the shapely young woman with short, whitish-blonde hair, perfect except for the fact that she had no face, looked around the room. "No – I've already seen this," she said, shaking her head. "They get eaten later – but we get-"

The four members of the Zombie Legion had no time to make any noise as a gentle wind seemed to sweep over them – and in an instant, they were all frozen solid as Archangel used his Ring and air-affinity powers to lower the temperature around each of them to hundreds of degrees below zero.

A hard telekinetic 'push' struck the Legionnaires, shattering their bodies into filthy, melting chunks.

==Kirkman-class reanimates destroyed
==ALERT! Multiple reanimates in zone
==Reanimates converging on this location

Archangel dropped the glamour; the two young women screamed again as he turned to face them. "I'd tell you to shut up, but it's too late for that now," he observed, turning back as an all-too familiar moaning filled the air and three undead, in various states of decomposition and wearing Great Prarie State U letter sweaters, rushed into the room.

The Ring flashed, and the inert dust that was the three zombies sprayed over Archangel's shields.

"And that's from bad to worse," he said aloud. "You two – don't you know what's going on out there?"

"If you mean 'do we know that we're probably going to be dead soon?'- the answer is 'yes," one of the girls – a very pretty redhead - said. "How did you – you killed – how did you do that?"

The Ringbearer shook his head at the cultured tone of the girl's voice that screamed 'filthy rich'. "Wasn't there an evacuation – this didn't happen right away – why didn't you get out when you could?"

The redhead took the hand of the other girl – an equally attractive blonde – and Archangel realized at that moment that the blonde's top was off, and the redhead's breasts were easily visible, as her sweater was fully unbuttoned. "They- I- my father sent a helicopter for me, but they wouldn't let Paige come along with us," the redhead continued. "She ran off crying, and I couldn't leave her..."

"Straighten your clothes, ladies."

The arrival of a second group of zombies distracted Archangel from the girls; they made themselves decent as the Ringbearer made several slicing motions through the air with his outstretched hand, slicing cleanly through zombie bodies with tornado-strength winds focused into pencil-thin streams from his fingertips, and dropping them all in their tracks.

"Ring – interface with Agency historical records. Facial recognition," he said, holding his Ring hand up and letting a quick beam of blue light flow over both women.

==Accessing Agency historical archive – D-360
==October Crisis of 1962
==Identified: Carlyle, Forbes – DECEASED – 28 October 1962
==Location: Pi Rho Omega Sorority, East Peoria, Illinois
==Identified: Turner, Paige – DECEASED – 28 October 1962
==Location: Pi Rho Omega Sorority, East Peoria, Illinois

The sound of moaning grew loud and unsettling as it began to fill the air... "What was that?" the blonde asked, as the beam moved over her. "Are those -those things - they're..." Her voice seemed to go up an octave. "What are- This can't be real– who are you?"

Archangel shrugged. "I'm the person who is about to owe a big favor for saving you - and oh, am I going to hear about it later..."

The entire area was bathed in a purplish-white light, and the two young women both screamed as the mad rush of several zombies through the gaping hole in the wall was halted in mid-flight. "What are you...?" the redhead echoed.

"He's a guy who read entirely too many comics and saw entirely too many vids on heroes who save the world."

Archangel and the women turned to see a plump, dark-haired man in glasses step through a multicolored portal of light. "The 'Lothos' effect?" the Ringbearer groused. "Come on..."

"I like the show," the man said. "Richard asked me to let you know that he's only allowing this because we need a field test of the new simulacrums, that he wishes that you would avoid getting yourself in situations like this – and that yes, we knew you would end up here."

He smiled as the Ringbearer's mouth opened, and then closed again quickly. "In any event – you need to step over to that doorway, right now," the man said, directing Archangel to the double doors on the other end of the sitting room. "Lean back on the doors, will you? You'll thank me later – and ladies – if you could step this way..."

The redhead – Forbes – looked from the Ringbearer to the plump, bespectacled man, confusion on her face. "Who are you people?"

"They have pamphlets that'll explain everything," Archangel said, and an uncharacteristic smile crossed his face. "Go on – its better than here. They also have cookies."

The plump man shook his head. "Come on, ladies. You have new lives waiting for you."

Forbes turned to Paige – the blonde – and glanced momentarily at the zombies before turning back and holding out her hand. "Together?"

Paige took the offered hand. "Always."

They started towards the portal, and then turned back to Archangel. "Thank you," Forbes said, looking back in his direction.

The two women disappeared through the portal, and as they did, doppelgangers of the two women appeared on the loveseat. "Well, that's new," Archangel said, his Ring detecting the warmth coming from the simulacrums. "Will they be okay?"

"They'll do okay." The plump man smiled. "Take it easy, Gerald."

"You too, Guy," Archangel replied. "Get out of here."

Waiting several seconds until the portal disappeared, Archangel leaned back on the doorway as Guy instructed, and let the temporal stasis field drop-

A blinding spear of pain plunged straight through his head, along with an image of Valkryie, and Archangel fell back through the doors just as the zombies completed their rush into the room.

Without hesitation, they zeroed in on the two simulacrums; the vile sounds of ripping flesh and chewing echoed out of the now-deserted sorority house.

Outside, hundreds of zombies began to converge on the area, drawn by the sounds of battle from earlier and the scent of human flesh...