"Meredith!" Evan Robertson called out to his partner. She stalked away from him, back toward where they had left their FBI-issued vehicle. "Where are you going? We still have work to do here."
Meredith ignored her partner. She knew he was referring to the Bureau policy that stated she had to continue on in search of a way into that underground labyrinth in order to locate and recapture one Oswald "Ozzie" Bunso, the bank robber they had apprehended previously and subsequently had released in order for him to lead them to the person they learned was the new Crime Kingpin of their city.
To hell with policies. It had been several hours since her husband in the guise of his new Super persona, Solar Eclipse, had gone into that tunnel after their "Rabbit", Ozzie Bunso. Neither had returned. Sure, Bunso could well have met with something unexpected and been injured in such a way that he wasn't able to return back to the surface world, or even worse, been killed, but her husband? Not a chance. If there was something preventing him from leaving down there against his will, that had to be one hell of a something.
"Where are you going?" Robertson demanded as Meredith opened the driver-side door of the FBI car and slid in behind the wheel, readjusting the seat and wheel to accommodate her frame, since he had been driving last. Robertson grabbed hold of her door and prevented her from closing it.
"We can't just leave a scene like that back there!" he still shouted as she glared up at him.
"Get in or get the hell out of my way, Evan. Either way I'm leaving and I'm not waiting for you to make up your mind."
He saw the determination on her face and although he didn't at all understand why she was this determined, what had happened to make her this focused on whatever it was she had decided she needed to do, he released her door and hurried around to the other side, leaping into the passenger seat just as she fired up the ignition and slammed her foot on the accelerator. Her vehicle sped away from the curb, barely missing a car that was coming up the street on her left. The other car blared its horn. She continued accelerating.
While they drove, Meredith withdrew her personal cell phone, not her Bureau-issued one, from her jacket pocket. She flipped it open and pressed a single button for the speed dial number she had programmed in. The phone on the receiving end rang several times before it was answered, the voice on the other end traveling from the phone to the ear bud she was wearing.
"Doctor Mathis?" she spoke rapidly into the phone.
There was a momentary silence and then a male voice began to speak. "Lo..."
"No time to explain," she cut him off, afraid he had recognized her voice and was about to speak her name - the name she no longer was able to use. "This is FBI Special Agent Meredith Montgomery. I was told about you by a close friend," she began to spin the invented story that would cover her and explain how she knew this renowned scientist who was not only part of, but one of those in charge of a covert government agency that was experimenting with various aspects of paranormal mixtures with science and the occult. The organization was known as Scientific Paranormal Amalgamated Research Technology Acceleration or simply S.P.A.R.T.A. Labs.
"But isn't this..?" he tried once more to understand what was going on with this person whose voice he thought he recognized, but who was telling him she was someone altogether different. And what was this about being an FBI agent?
"Doctor Mathis!" she spoke tersely into her cell. "I need to borrow a couple of your Zeus Particle Cannons. Can you get them ready for me? I'll be there in approximately ten minutes."
"Doctor, please! I don't have time to debate this. Get the Zeus Cannons ready. And two of your Sparta Suits, too - one male, about six-feet in height, one-sixty..." she paused, looking her partner over. He used his thumb to indicate upward. "Make that one-seventy-five pounds and one female, five-seven and one-thirty-seven pounds." She closed her cell and slid it back into her pocket. She knew Mathis was confused, but she also knew he was someone who could be trusted in an emergency. She and her husband had worked with him many times in the recent past when they'd had occasion to be in this city, as well as the S.P.A.R.T.A. Labs in the city they once called home and Mathis had always come through for them, no matter how urgent the situation and how impossible it had seemed at the time.
"One-hundred thirty-seven pounds?" Robertson asked, an eye-brow lifted in curiosity. "You don't look an ounce over one-twenty, tops."
"It's all muscle," she said, almost smiling. His eyes roamed over her seated form and he nodded. He could believe she was solid muscle.
Nine-point-seven minutes later the FBI car pulled up in the business district, outside the building in the downtown portion of the city that was unknown to those walking by it on a daily basis as being anything other than simply one more structure where one of many thousands of companies conducted business matters. In fact it was the covert headquarters for S.P.A.R.T.A. Labs.
Meredith ran through the main doorway, flashing her FBI credentials and walking briskly toward the elevator, ignoring the security guard who started to move toward her, but paused as he noticed her government shield. Robertson jogged to catch up with her, fumbling to get his credential case out of his breast pocket so he wouldn't miss getting into the same elevator car as his partner. He wasn't sure she would wait for him and still had no idea where she was going. He had never heard of the covert research facility and had no idea what it was all about. He watched as Meredith slipped a card out of her pocket and slid it through a card reader before replacing it in her pocket. The car began ascending and he noticed how it never once dinged as it reached each floor, nor did it stop at any floor, though he knew they must have passed more than a dozen and certainly someone else in this building must want to ride up to a higher floor. Express to the top, he thought silently to himself. Someone's got clout.
When the car stopped Robertson glanced at the panel that displayed all the floors. None of the buttons was lit up. He looked up at the digital display and noticed no floor number was prominent there, either. "What the..?" he began to ask as the doors slid aside and his partner exited abruptly. He had no choice but to follow.
Meredith turned right and walked briskly without stopping at the main desk where a perplexed woman of slightly less than middle age sat at a console with her ear-bud in place as she answered phones and re-directed each call. She looked up as the two agents passed, but said nothing. No one could get anywhere in this facility without a key card to access any of the sections. If they were not authorized they would be back momentarily.
Meredith reached a door and once more slid her card through the reader. The door opened inward and she pushed through, not waiting for it to finish its movement. She likewise slid her car on yet another door, but then called out as she moved beyond the door, "Doctor Mathis! I need you to get your Super-locator as well. The Maximum Particle Detector, please."
A thin man who appeared to be at least sixty years old stepped from behind a bank of large cases which Robertson realized held various mechanical devices. Many looked as though they could be weapons, but then again, they looked as though perhaps they could have other functions as well. He was experienced enough to be discerning.
"The Maximum Particle Detector, Lo..?"
"Meredith Montgomery, Doctor Mathis," she snapped her name once more, displaying her FBI credentials, holding the picture ID right up to his face where he couldn't miss it. She snatched the device he'd been holding in his hands and looked it over briefly, then tossed it behind her, trusting her partner to be there to catch it. She then snatched up another identical weapon and held it in her left hand then reached under the counter behind her, proving she had indeed been in this facility before and was familiar with its contents. She extracted two identical cases large enough to hold the weapons. She pushed one across the counter to Robertson and placed her own weapon within the case she had, snapping the lid closed. Robertson followed suit and picked his case up in his left hand.
Meredith noticed the two Sparta Suits she'd requested laying folded on the counter. She picked one up, saw it was the size for a male and tossed it to her partner. She picked hers up, checked to be certain it was the correct size and began undressing, dropping first her jacket onto the counter and then unbuttoning her blouse. She noticed Robertson's eyes grow large as he watched her undress. She wanted to laugh at his expression, but knew the situation was too tense for levity at the moment.
"This isn't a strip club, Evan. Change clothes," she snapped even as she continued stripping off all her clothes down to her bra and panties. She then slid her legs through the waist of the suit and snuggled her feet into the boot sections, making sure they fit snugly. She slid her arms into the sleeves and sealed the front of the suit. It fit her as though it was made specifically for her. She looked at Robertson and saw that he was almost completely into his suit as well.
Dr. Mathis returned with a slightly smaller device, this one seeming less like a weapon and more like the pommel of a medieval sword. Meredith held it in her right hand and depressed a button on the outer portion of the pommel with her thumb. From the center of the device several antennae-like projections extended upward and a soft beeping sounded audibly. She nodded as though satisfied and did an abrupt about-face, starting for the exit.
"But Lo..." Mathis reached out to grab hold of her, but was too slow to catch even the cuff of her form-fitting Sparta Suit.
"I promise to return these as soon as we're finished with them, Doctor. We'll leave our clothes as collateral. The FBI thanks you for your prompt cooperation."
She and Robertson exited the research lab, leaving the head of S.P.A.R.T.A. Labs in this region looking on as bewildered as he had ever been.