- Challenge Response
- Science Fiction
Helen stared at the machine while it ticked away. “It’s a machine we used during World War II to send secure messages between the allies.
It functions by using a specific electromagnetic wavelength. This is the only one remaining.”
Will looked at her in disbelief “so how is it working?”
“The one person that knows it exists and can make it work.” She pulled the slip of paper showing SOS. It’s a distress call from Nikola Tesla.”
She looked at Bigfoot.
“Take the machine to my office in case he decides to send a different message. I’ll have Henry work on tracing the signal. We’ll see if we can figure out where he is and just what kind of trouble he’s in.”
“It would have been nice if he’d found a way to give us more information” Will snarked from his spot on the stool.
“Picked up a phone,” Bigfoot’s dry humor following Will.
“I’ve been following the signals and found a general location in the Columbian Highlands. It fades in and out so possibly underground.”
Henry was matter of fact but had a glint of admiration and excitement in his eyes.
As much as Nikola annoyed the team, Henry also admired his genius. She wished Will was a little less abrasive when it came to Nikola and she knew Bigfoot was just protective of her.
“We leave in an hour.”
Helen felt Will’s eyes on her back as she walked out. She knew she’d see an eye roll if she turned around. She expected the comments to start any minute too. She started counting quietly “three… two…. One.”
“You know this is a trap,” Will stated as they waited for the elevator, “he’s been even worse since he was de-vamped.”
“Quite possibly, but he could also need our help.”
Will just looked at her askance and stepped into the elevator.
Helen sighed and went to pack her gear. She hadn’t seen Tesla since after the “de-vamping” incident as Will called it several months ago, though it felt a lot longer. He had run off to sulk Though Bigfoot had mentioned a phone call. She wondered what he was getting up to in the Columbian Highlands.
As they neared the location of the signal, Helen started to receive pulses of distress. She pressed her hand against her chest as they reached the cave opening. She was moving down the cave tunnel toward the signal before Henry could even check the equipment again. “Doc, hold on let me see which….” He glanced down at the meter in his hands, “direction.” She heard him mutter to Will “how’d she know?”
Magnus paused “this way, gentlemen if you please.” She continued down the tunnel with her flashlight as she heard Will and Henry start after her. The distress she was picking up seemed to calm somewhat the deeper into the cave the walked. Close behind her Will and Henry were exploring the cave walls and monitoring equipment.
“I’m not seeing any markings to indicate the caves are inhabited,” Will remarked as they reached the next junction in the cave system.
“That’s a small favor then.”
She looked to Henry for confirmation before starting off toward the right.
She darted ahead as she received a pulse of alarm urging her to move faster. She saw a large white cocoon hanging at a junction in the cave tunnels. She stopped in front of it trying to make sense of what she was seeing. As she started to step around the structure, she caught a low moan. “Nikola?”
A spiky head turned toward her “Helen I knew you’d come.”
Henry and Will stopped dead in front of the two of them.
“whoa, Dude. What happened?” Henry dropped his pack and started looking for tools to cut Tesla out of the structure.
Will moved behind him, inspecting the material holding him in place.
Nikola kept his eyes on Helen and smirked, “Took you long enough.”
“Yeah, Yeah, you could be grateful you know.” Henry took the cutter and started sawing through the cocoon at the spot Will indicated in the back.
“What exactly are you doing down here?” Will asked over the machine.
Tesla ignored him, keeping his eyes on Helen, “You look beautiful.”
Helen started to dismiss Tesla’s comment as his normal distraction technique, but she could feel his relief at seeing her and his sincerity in the comment.
“Nikola.” She put her hand on his face as the boys tugged away the last of the cocoon.
Tesla fell backward but caught himself on the stone. “To answer your questions, I was following up on a tip regarding a Kabul outpost in these mountains. I was checking it out when these centipedes started coming out and needless to say, I couldn’t do much against them.”
He paused for a second with his head cocked to the side “if you have weapons now would be a good time to use them.”
Helen looked at Nikola in concern, but then caught the sound of thousands of little legs scurrying their way.
“We took their toy,” she smirked at Nikola and turned to face the onslaught with her weapon drawn.
“Can you walk?” she asked as Will and Henry started shooting.
She started firing while walking backward away from the rather large centipedes. Will grabbed Tesla’s arm to assist as his limbs were not moving as well as they could.
They retreated into the outpost “Nikola, the door” Helen yelled over the weapons fire. The door slammed shut as she turned to see him release a breath. They could still hear the millions of little legs crawling over the iron structure that surrounded them. “It’ll hold?” she asked.
“Yes, I’ve gotten quite accustomed to using my new abilities, though they’re not good for much I’m afraid.” He gave her a self-deprecating smile. “That’s part of why I was down here. I wanted to see if the Kabul had left any of their research on the source blood.”
Helen stopped and stared at him in shock. “Nikola…”
She was hurt that he would seek out something that had caused her (and him) so much grief, costing her Ashley, her only child. But as she stood there, she felt his pain, confusion, indecision, and fear. She had never been able to feel so much from him, but with the bugs at the door, now was not the time to wonder what that meant.
“We’ll discuss it later!
Right now, we need to figure a way out.”
She turned toward the other two men with them. “Henry, can you access their systems and see if there is anything in there to assist? Nikola, you help.”
“Will, help me see if there is another way out of here.” They searched the small bunker finding nothing until at last, they both turned toward the grate in the ceiling. Will raised his eyebrows in question. She shrugged in response and they moved to lift the grate out of the way.
“Well certainly not a way out,” Will said sarcastically.
“Certainly not. Looks like we found the creatures’ nest….” She paused, “maybe we can use that to our advantage.”
“How do you mean?” Will continued looking at the structure in front of him.
“If we can get all the creatures into the facility and blow it up somehow, we may be able to get rid of the creatures and get out relatively unscathed.” She worked through the plan in her head, confident they could get it to work.
She looked to Tesla, “can you figure it out?”
“With my genius? How dare you ask such a question!”
She returned the quip with a glare.
He relented, “Fine yes, we can figure it out, almost there actually.”
Henry turned at that moment, “Doc? Looks like this place had a self-destruct that activated. There are tanks underneath us that were used as the detonators and there is some fuel remaining. We can probably use it to blow the nest.”
They got into position on beside the door after rigging the explosion to go off. The creatures poured into the room, heading straight for the nest as they hoped. However, as Helen stepped back into the cavern, several turned to start after her.
“They must be drawn to our blood Helen,” Nikola said with a sad look in his eye.
Helen looked on in horror as he cut his palm and dripped blood on the floor. “There’s got to be another way.”
“Helen, just go.”
“Doc, we’ve got 12 seconds.” Henry pulled her arm to grab her attention.
“Okay, yes, you’re right.” With one last look at Nikola, she turned to run down the tunnel.