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.Eddie didn't answer as he waved Drake on.They entered an echoing building with a marble floor, climbing flight after flight of stairs until they could go no further because the way was blocked.Instead Eddie took them down a corridor and out onto a balcony."This is a favorite observation post for the Division.They often station a couple of men up here.Take a look," he offered."I can see why," Drake said.From this vantage point he was able to look down on the layout of the city, and was struck again by just how extensive it was.He gazed across at the large domed building, which Will had also mentioned to him -- it really did resemble a second St.Paul's, although this one had been built many centuries before the Topsoil version Drake knew."May I?" Eddie asked, and Drake drew back to let the Styx scrutinize the avenues below.When he was satisfied he couldn't see anyone, they retraced their steps down the stairs and into the open again, where Eddie led Drake into some sort of flooded underpass."Watch it in here," he warned, taking out his Styx lantern.Drake didn't ask why, but turned his torch on and held it beside his rifle.He wished he could have worn one of his light-gathering lenses, but it would have been impractical under his gas mask.They'd gone several hundred meters when something rolled at them through the water, throwing up spray behind it.Eddie reacted with lightning speed, and leapt back.As it kept coming for them, he trod straight on top of it.It ruptured into a pulpy mass of flesh, as if a slug the size of a pumpkin had been squashed.Through a rend in its thick black skin, its exposed body organs were visible -- they were leaking a dark purple liquid, which mingled with the stagnant water."Whoa! What the hell is that?" Drake exclaimed.Eddie rolled it over with his boot, so they could see its ferocious teeth."The Scientists believe it's some sort of unique fungus which has evolved in this city.It's carnivorous, and it's capable of locomotion.""You don't say," Drake gasped."Anything else I should know about? Flying mushrooms, for example?""No, they can't fly," Eddie replied in a flat voice, as if he thought Drake was being serious.They resumed their journey, eventually coming to the city wall where Drake called a halt."I reckon this is as good a spot as any.Time to see if my wireless detonator does what it's supposed to." Unbuckling a pouch on his belt, he slid out a small box, then extended the aerial from it.He lifted up a cover on the front of the box to reveal its fascia, and pressed one of the buttons.A green LED came on."Armed.Why don't you do the honors?" he said, handing it to Eddie."Predictably, it's the big red button."Eddie held it before him, then hit the button.With muffled explosions there were bursts of light all around the perimeter of the cavern.Plumes of vapor rose from each of the thirty ruptured canisters, lit momentarily by the fiery glow of the charges, and then just as quickly fading away again.Drake shrugged as he turned to Eddie."That wasn't very impressive -- don't get much bang for your buck, do you?""As long as it does the trick," Eddie remarked."Now we need to evac.If there's anyone here from the Division, they'll want to know who was responsible for that.""You bet they will," Drake replied, and they began to move quickly through an archway in the city wall and out into the flats, on a course that would take them to where the rope hung.As they came to the graveyard of boxlike tombs, a shot rang out."Contact!" Drake yelled.Passing straight between them, the bullet slammed into the side of one of the tombs, the mica side panel crazing with fissures.Almost instantly, it shattered into a thousand tiny pieces, revealing something dark and rotted inside.Drake and Eddie threw themselves in opposite directions, rolling behind the tombs for cover."Where was it from?" Drake asked urgently over the radio.He heard Eddie's voice -- it was completely emotionless."As you face the city, a four-man patrol at two o'clock.I--"Eddie's voice suddenly cut out, and Drake couldn't see him anywhere as he used the light-gathering sight on his rifle.He took a moment to wipe the eyepiece of his mask.He wasn't up against amateurs here, and he needed to draw on all his senses.The trouble was that the hood of his Noddy suit was restricting his hearing -- he took the risk of yanking it down.The gas mask would still be protecting him from any airborne pathogens.He listened and watched.Seconds turned to hours as he strained to make out the tiniest thing, but there was only the wind and the steady dripping of water around him.Then he caught a noise.It was barely audible, the sound of a breath being taken.Drake spun around just in time to see a huge stalker bearing down on him, its slitted eyes reflecting the eerie green light.Almost losing his footing on the slimy weed as he stepped back, Drake fired from the hip.The tranquilizer dart caught the dog in the flanks, where it lodged.The massive animal came to a sliding sideways halt as its paws ploughed through the weed.But it didn't seem to be the tranquilizer that had stopped it, but more the surprise at being tagged by the dart.Drake realized he wasn't out of trouble as he watched the stalker snort and shake its huge head like a bull in a ring.Twisting its heavy body around, it pounded toward him again as it resumed the attack.Then, with a growl, the several hundred pounds of hell-hound were airborne as it sprang at Drake.But he was ready -- he fired, catching it in the eye.The tranquilizer seemed to have more effect this time, the stalker's body instantly going limp.But the dog's momentum was such that it slammed against Drake.Like a bowled tenpin, he whacked hard against the waterlogged ground, the air knocked from his lungs.Although he wasn't hurt, he stayed on the ground, seeking refuge under the nearest weed-covered tomb."One stalker down," he puffed into the radio once he'd got his breath back.Despite the suppressor fitted to its muzzle, the rifle still made a sound similar to a punctured football when it was discharged, and Drake was concerned that it might have been enough for the Styx soldiers to get a fix on him.He needed to move to a new position, and fast [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]