Chapter LII: The Fu Syndicate
The Fu Syndicate building was a sprawling concrete and mirror-glass building, still brightly lit, the hum of hundreds of electric devices ringing in my hyper-sensitive ears. Trotting up the front steps, I decided that I had let the mysterious man simmer long enough. Pushing open the large double-doors, I took a quick look around the lobby.
Decorated with old oak and black marble, the lobby was a very expensive display. No receptionist sat at the large desk however, the building seemingly abandoned. The elevators were locked and powered down, the doors to the right securely locked with an electronic card system. A door to my left stood open however, inviting me in. An obvious trap, yet if I wanted to find Barabus, I didn't have much choice. I'd have to spring the trap first.
The monitor at the front of the large boardroom table sprang to life, giving me a clearer look at the man who had been calling the Tong's shots. He was to the point, clinical almost. I decided to see if I could shake his confidence a little.
'Yeah, sorry, I got distracted on my way here', I replied lightly. 'Couldn't you bring Barabus out though? I don't really feel like staying long.'
'Possibly both. We big scary vampires could be naturally tenacious. Although, the fact that it seems to be irritating you so much probably means instinct.'
The man visibly sneered, infuriated at my refusal to play along.
An impasse. I wasn't going to be seeing Barabus until I stepped through those doors and into whatever the man had planned. Sighing, shrugging my shoulders theatrically, I turned towards the only other exit from the room.
'Whatever you say.'
At the end of the corridor was a circular room with no visible exit. The door behind me had clicked as I stepped through it, locking electronically, presumably at the man's request. Having no other way to go, I stepped confidently into the circular room.
As soon as I stepped into the circle's centre, the floor began to raise. The circular room was actually a form of elevator, raising me into a testing chamber. Above me, a panel of lights was revealed as a segment of the ceiling separated. The lamps unlit, I peered through the observation window, seeing the man and a scientist standing side by side, looking into the window with curiousity. I had a very bad feeling about what was going to happen, but damned if I would let them know it.
The man spoke.
'It is my task to observe your kind, and to determine the most suitable ways of killing you. I hope that you prove to be a useful test subject.' More formally, the man began documenting the test.
'Subject appears to be a white male in his mid-to-late twenties, although actual age is unknown. Subject's body is room temperature.'
A gas began to fill the room, odourless and seemingly ineffective. I looked at the man curiously, an eyebrow raised in expectation. He spoke again in that formal tone.
'The room's atmosphere now primarily consists of carbon monoxide, making it impossible for respiration to occur. The subject however is displaying no signs of distress. For all intents and purposes, the test subject is clinically dead.'
The man leaned closer towards the screen, a smile breaking out on his otherwise emotionless face as he spoke directly to me.
'We already know your kind is destroyed by sunlight. But why is still a mystery.' He turned to the scientist, nodding.
'We will now fill the room with ultra-violet light, to determine whether it is that element in the sunlight which causes the immolation of the subject's species.'
Involuntarily I flinched, squeezing my eyes closed as the lights came on. After a second, I opened them slowly, raising into a more normal posture. Despite the bright light flooding the chamber, I felt fine.
'Do you feel any sensation of pain? No burning, or wounding?'
'Do I look wounded you idiot?', I snarled in response, looking in irritation at the man. I wanted to get out of here and rip his throat out.
'Subject is unaffected by ultra-violet light, and therefore I determine that it will serve no purpose as a weapon against his kind. Proceed to the next test.'
The next room comprised a set of lasers moving at alternating heights and speeds, each system connected to a small hole in the wall. Looking more closely, I could see that each hole was actually the barrel of a wall-mounted turret, a steel spike slightly visible at the end of the chamber.
'We know that your kind is able to adapt and change to suit their environments-', the man started to talk, as I walked under the first laser, ignoring him completely. He stopped in consternation at my apparent lack of interest in this test, before continuing in a slightly annoyed tone. 'But how well do they adapt under pressure?', he finished lamely, as I ducked under a second laser, and stepped over the third.
'Subject displays strong survival instincts', the man said formally as I sniggered quietly. 'Onto the next test.'
In the next room, three large fans moved up and down along grooves in the floor, sharpened steel blades spinning with a high-pitched whistling noise. The speed at which they were moving would make it impossible to run past to reach the doorway.
'You have shown surprising resilience to damage, unlike the local Tong', the man said, looking through the window at the spinning blades. 'But is it possible for you to regenerate amputated limbs? How far does your healing factor go?'
I wasn't particularly interested in finding out. I stepped back quickly as the blade span past my face, almost catching my skin. I looked down the room, seeing the control boxes to the fans through metal grates.
I raised the colt I had in my belt, taking careful aim at the control box for the first fan. If I was right, the damage would cause the fan to cease functioning. If I was wrong, I didn't have a clue how to get past in one piece.
As the box fizzled loudly, sparks emitting from the damaged steel, the fan powered down, the blade slowing, then stopping. Relieved, I destroyed the remaining boxes, and stood in the centre of the room looking at the men. The scientist backed away from my rictus grin, the other man unperturbed.
'How long is this farce going to go on?', I yelled through the glass.
'Subject has displayed remarkable intelligence. Continue to the next room.'
Standing in the room was a man in a biohazard suit, holding aloft a large wooden crucifix.
'Sometimes, truth can be gleaned from superstition. Let us see if some of those traditional means of defeating vampires have any relation to fact.'
I advanced slowly on the man who held the crucifix out as a shield. Unbidden, from a night a seeming lifetime ago, came Jack's voice.
'Someone shows you a crucifix? Shove it up their ass! Ha ha ha ha ha!'
Quickly I grabbed the crucifix from the man, who stepped back quickly, shouting rapidly at the man behind the glass, trying to step out of my reach. I grabbed the man by the front of the suit with the other hand, and summoning every ounce of strength I had, slammed the long end of the crucifix through his protective visor, and through the man's skull. He fell to the floor twitching, blood and shattered plastic littering the floor. It may not have been his ass, but this experiment had me annoyed to the point where I had needed to shove it somewhere.
'A pity', the man behind the glass murmured. 'But where superstition fails, modern weaponry may succeed. Commander!'
I looked up quickly to the second floor as four juxtaposed doors opened synchronously, four men entering the room. They were garbed in combat armour, three carrying submachine guns on shoulder-harnesses, the fourth wielding an assault rifle. I determined him to be the greatest threat.
Using my Tremere ability to create some armour of my own, I vaulted up a ladder, feeling the bullets from behind smashing harmlessly against the blood shield. I advanced on the man holding the rifle, and quickly moved to the left as he raised it, slamming the back of my hand against his visor, slamming him into the wall on his right. As he tried to push himself up, I hit him again with the other hand, feeling the combat armour give way under the force of the blow to his stomach. Even behind the heavy helmet I heard the man gasp, winded. Refusing to relent, I quickly drew the colt and held it at an angle under his ribs, firing twice, his body crumpling to the floor. Turning, I ran towards another man, grabbing him, spinning him around to use as a human shield. The bullets riddled his body as he was peppered with the machine spray, and I kicked his lifeless body over the ledge with contempt, firing at the third man. He dodged behind a pillar, gesturing to the other man to approach from the other side. Sprinting behind the other column, the men took turns firing at me, one seeking to pin me down with fire as the other reloaded, and then reloading as the other man fired. Dispensing with the bloodshield, I gestured at the man leaning out from the column, seeing him drop his gun as he clawed his helmet off. He fell to his knees, vomiting blood, gurgling as he tried to breathe through the torrent. Mercilessly I continued to force him to expel his lifeblood, watching with a clinical detachment as he began to choke. With him incapacitated, I rolled to my right as the other man fired, seeking cover behind a column of my own. I sprinted along the wall, the bullets trailing me until I disappeared from view, the man turning to meet me as I turned the corner. He kneeled down, hands shaking as he tried to reload.
'Shit, not now, not now!' he half-groaned in panic as the gun jammed, slamming his hand against the barrel of the gun. I walked towards him, lifting him gently to his feet, a look of mock sympathy on my face. The blood expended in my efforts this evening had to be replaced. With my other hand I tore the damage resistant material from his throat, ignoring his weak struggles as I bit into his neck, draining him. As I felt his life fade, I lowered his body to the floor, almost tenderly. I wiped my mouth, jumping down to the lower level.
'You're running out of men', I said viciously. 'Hand over Barabus and I'll leave peacefully.'
The man snarled, slamming his hand on the glass. He spoke into the microphone, his voice cracking.
'Get into the next room!'