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The armor clanged all the way down the stairs. As she fell, she could feel the number of nanomachines slowly decreasing. All over the building, people woke with a shock as what seemed to be silver fluid drained from their bodies, falling inert to the floor around them. While Salvo had not been able to entirely destroy the nanomachines with her command, she was at least making them inert. Her plan worked. As she hurried down the hallway in the basement, dead, mutilated mice were all around here, lying in small silver pools. However the nanomachines had kept them alive until now, the removal of the nanomachines from their bodies had done the trick.


The door to the room was open. Inside, Nicole would find two figures. Rita, sitting on a chair, slowly shaking her head, a mouse lying in a silver puddle next to her. She seemed out of it, but she was getting better, at least.


And at the side of the room, Gary, sitting on his knees, his eyes wide open, staring deep into the open space before him. Silver fluids streaming from his eyes, ears, mouths and nose in seemingly unending amount, he had didn't even notice the massive Belios armor in the doorway.


Rita slowly stirred.


"Who... what's going on?" She noticed the Belios, and Gary. "Gary!? What the hell!?"

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To no one's surprise Rita was confused and scared as she stirred back to consciousness, noticing both the heavily armored Salvo and Guy, who was drooling silver fluids from his orifices. As she began to speak, Salvo held out an arm to block her path towards Guy. 


"Stay back, Doctor. You aren't safe yet."


Salvo's voice was deeper, electronically altered to sound like another woman's voice. Salvo and Rita did not know each other but Salvo was a known hero, perhaps not so much in Emerald City as she was in Freedom City, but she hoped a calm tone would be enough to get Rita to sit still while she worked. She felt her programs run their course, slaughtering the nanomachines in their path, but she had to make sure the deed was done.


And more importantly, if there were any survivors left.


She glanced once more at Rita to make sure she was behaving, then strode towards Guy. And as if he were a stuffed doll, she lifted him up until he was level with her, his toes dangling against the floor. Silver fluids continued to leak down, spilling on her armor plating. Annoying, but she had more important things to focus on.


She peered at him as she prodded into the now broken nanomachines inside his body, and only then did her eyes widen with the realization.


"Damnit damnit damnit!"


Guy's body dropped to the floor as her systems overclocked to expand throughout the facility and locate the infected persons. She had to shut down the nanomachines' continuous replication, or else they'd kill their hosts in the process.

Edited by Zeitgeist Blue

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"Stay back...? What's going on?" Rita was clearly dazed, shaking her head, slowly standing up. "I know you... you're Salvo? Why are you here? Where's... Nicole?" She turned to guy's prone form on the floor and screamed, quickly backing away. "He got me! He's the one that did all this! He was in my head!" She pointed wildly at Guy as Salvo held him up, silver fluid dripping from his motionless body and onto the floor. 


One thing became clear to Salvo, as she held on to Guy. He was still breathing, still alive, even if he might prefer otherwise.


As Salvo's systems raced through the building, connecting and commanding, it seemed she was in luck. The nanomachines might have shut down in the infected, but they appeared completely inearth, unlike the ones that had been in Guy's body, and, compared to guy, she could only detect trace amounts of nanomachines, even fewer than the number she had found in Rita. 

So far, it seemed that Guy would be the only human casualty of his machinations. 

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With her scans completed, Salvo stepped away from Guy's form and, with barely a glance at Rita to see how she was doing, strode towards the basement doorway from which she had entered. It would do little good to engage Rita in conversation when the doctor knew her civilian identity. She might let slip something and Rita could have suspicions. Even as bewildered as the doctor might be now, there was no need to engage in unnecessary risk.


So she ignored Rita's questions and Bellios' the heavy footfalls at first dominated the room.


"You're safe now, Doctor,"' she said as she passed by Rita. "Wait for the emergency services to arrive and you will find assistance from them. In the meantime, please stay put."


Just as she said this, her suit rang 9-11 and several other emergency services directly - emergency medical service and the police mostly. They service operators would find a prerecorded message in Salvo's voice waiting for them, informing them of a metahuman incident in the Archetech Emerald City HQ. Dealt with, fortunately, so they only needed to clean the mess and figure out what had happened.


That wasn't a job for someone like Salvo.


She reached the stairs and her suit began to fire again, targeting all recording systems within and around the Archetech pyramid. Then it found all footage of Nicole and of Salvo and imposed a new reality into the recordings. Nicole never scrambled down the hallway on the second floor. Guy never called to her as she had just entered the laboratories. Salvo never appeared where once Nicole had been. In fact, Nicole had reached the ground floor and instead of fighting her way through a passing horde of mice, decided to hide in a nearby janitor's closet.


It was Salvo who appeared from nowhere, unbidden by anyone inside, just as she would disappear. Bellios banished back to whence it came from.


The lights of the whole building flickered, sending Archetech into darkness for a few seconds.


And as the lights turned back on, Nicole sat inside the janitor's closet, her eyes peered almost shut, gripping a lamp as a weapon in both hands, as she waited for emergency services to arrive.

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Rita stared after Salvo as the massive machine left, but didn't call out. She still seemed disoriented, looking weakly around, trying and failing to rise to her feet.




As the suit targeted the recordings, she didn't just find recordings of herself to erase, but, curiously, also traces of others having tampered with the recordings as well, though the traces were all over them, making it difficult to find the exact point... Of course, Nicole might still be able to do just that.




It didn't take long for the emergency services to arrive, and eventually, the door to Nicole's janitor's closet was pulled open, an officer standing outside with a gun aimed at her. Seeing Nicole with lamp, the officer quickly put her put back in its holster and apologized profusely, but she had been creeped out by all the silver goop and dead mice everywhere.


Nicole was quickly led outside to an ambulance for a checkup, where she found Rita sitting, a blanket over her shoulders and a cup of coffee in her hands. Despite everything that had happened to her, Rita seemed relatively well now, a smile spreading over her lips. "Nicole!" She put the coffee down in the ambulance and hurried over, quickly wrapping her arms around Nicole. "I'm so, so sorry you got caught up in all this! What happened, did Guy get you too? I really hope he didn't infect you too, it was just horrible!" 


She let go of Nicole while she spoke and looked around, before sitting down at the ambulance's open door again. "Are you alright?" she asked, watching Nicole closely.

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It was an odd sort of act, pretending to be merely a civilian bystander so soon after she had a hand in bringing the whole mess to a close. No matter how many times she's done the act, she knew she could never play the part of a civilian shaking in fear to the point of tears. She wasn't an actor but she felt that keeping quiet and out of the way was well enough to go through these situations. People were too busy on more important matters than one girl's way of dealing with the crisis.


But she too had other things to occupy her mind besides playing her part. When she had left, there were the telltale signs of tampering within the recordings. Done before she had attempted to, she had little time to investigate further before the police had arrived, pointing a gun at her face.


The mystery annoyed her, like an itch at the back of her mind she could not reach. Besides her pride lost at having been caught flat-footed, it posed risks to her identity. If someone had seen her in those recordings, which they most definitely had...


Nicole looked up at Rita's question. She blinked as she realized Rita had been speaking to her for the past few moments.


"Sorry, sorry. Just thinking" She shook her head as if to clear her mind, though it did little to dispel the thoughts. "I'm- I'm fine, I think."


She gave Rita a wan smile. "I just hid in the closet the whole time." She averted her eyes from Rita and looked at the scene around her. Then when she returned her gaze back, her face fell, hand going up to rub at her arm idly. "I'm so sorry I left you in the elevator. I thought I'd left you to die."


It was not a lie and so it was easy to say and show emotion for.

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