Join Date: Jan 2006
I finished with the last of the charges. Based on what we'd covered in the briefing, the exact placement of the charges would ensure that no more ilicit cloning would be taking place in this lab. Satisfied that I'd done my job, I patted my hands together in the universally-recognized alternating up-and-down motion that meant I was finished.
Then I remembered I wasn't finished, because I hadn't actually set the charges. Extracting the remote detonator from my pack, I set it for fifteen minutes, more than enough time to get clear, and started out of the room.
(In hindsight, I should have known that that was the absolute last thing I should have done. I've watched a bit of television in my time, after all.)
I headed for the door out of the lab, triggered the lock, and swung the door open. And I was immediately struck by a large, black-and-white wall of fur that hurtled me back into the lab. I bounced of an examination table and tumbled onto the floor, a 200-plus-pound mound of hurt.
I looked up, with the one eye that was still open, and saw the uber-panda breaking through the door-frame and into the lab.
"Um..." I mumbled, hoping to buy me some time. "What a coincidence... I just told a friend of mine to go down and see you..."
At that, uber-panda roared, and charged through the lab at me. Before I could get clear, he connected with another paw, and I went flying across the room, knocking over an incubator before I came to a stop against the wall.
"Ungh... so, I guess he found you..."
Fortunately, the lab was full of equipment that uber-panda had to move, in order to get to me. Unfortunately, all he had to do was swipe an arm, and most of that equipment went flying easily enough. I tried to stay behind the smashed equipment, keeping low, hoping I could get to the exit without him spotting me. I started to make headway, sure I was only a few seconds away from safety.
Then I saw the collapsed framework of the ceiling's block-and-tackle across the doorway, and I realized I wouldn't be getting out that way.
An instant later, and something grabbed my foot. And I realized I might not be getting out at all.
Uber-panda swung me over his head, my own head barely avoiding an impact with the ceiling, and threw me clean across the room. I hit the floor, skidded, and slammed into a table of equipment and beakers that fell to the floor all about me, peppering me with glass and noxious chemicals. When I could sit up, the first thing I saw was uber-panda, walking unerringly towards me with a fierce expression.
This was really not looking good.
He leapt to close the distance between us. In a moment of blind panic, I grabbed at the nearest thing I could find to throw at it... which happened to be a beaker of some bubbling red fluid. I hurled it, and tried to roll away, expecting at any moment the killing stroke. But instead of a huge weight landing on me and a bite-mark the size of a Honda on my neck, there was a small explosion over my head.
It took a moment before I could see through the red smoke that had filled the room... but when I did, I saw a normal-sized panda sitting on the floor next to me. I repeat for emphasis: A normal-sized panda. No bulldozer-sized pandas in evidence. I stared at it, as it sat there and stared at... itself. It seemed to be as surprised as I was that it was now normal-sized.
Then it noticed me staring at it, whereupon it padded over to me, and gave me a big panda-bear hug.
"You're welcome," I said when it finally let me loose. "But we can't stay here. We've only got--" I looked at my watch. About twenty seconds. Yikes.
"Gotta go!" I got up, collected the panda in my arms, and headed for the exit. It took waaay too much time climbing over debris before I reached the door, crawled over the block-and-tackle, and gained the hallway. I bolted for the elevator at the end of the hallway, and was thrilled when I saw it open before I reached it.
"What took you so long--" Amy was saying from inside the elevator car, when she saw me, the panda, and the wild look in my eye.
"No time! Did you find a blue pill?"
"Yes," she replied, eyeing the panda, "but it's not balanced for three--"
"Use it!" I cried, as we tumbled into the elevator together.
Behind us, the explosives triggered. The cloning lab went up, and thanks to the placement of explosives, specific facility-wide systems were also caught up in the explosion. The systems in the green dome went up, and transmitted their disaster through electric and gas lines that networked throughout the village.
As the pandas watched, safe on the beach, the zoo/village erupted like a Quinn Martin production, destroying forever the massive publishing conspiracy that had been the bane of my existence for... well, about four days, all told... but man, had they been pretty extreme days. The green dome was seen to rise straight up as if it was jet-propelled, followed by much brickwork, and strange multi-colored clouds of smoke from below its foundations.
Eventually, debris began to rain down, most of it (to the pandas' relief) landing right where it had taken off, on the ruins of the zoo. One piece of debris was an exception: A door to a certain subterranean elevator, which landed on the beach next to a panda that was looking for an uber-large date...