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MECHANISM: CHROMOSOME 13: Volume 11, by Ty Gorton with art by Derek Mott

He registers the smell, the awful fucking stench seeping through the cracks and imperfections of this place. Mr. Holt breathes deep. He sucks the distorted decay down into lungs where it registers as near-liquid, thick and slippery as snot.

"What are we doing here?" Darren stares at the moss-green front door, the paint peeling in long lines, a large section broken away at the top left corner.

"Our job."

"And what makes you think our job is in there?"

Mr. Holt's head turns toward Darren, his eyes hot with a brand of lust Darren hasn't seen before, not in all their months of sketchy partnership. Nathan does not speak. Instead, his mouth opens to let loose a yawning roar that vibrates air, slamming ear drums like a gush of hot wind. Instantly the battered green door splinters apart, a porcelain-cracked face soaring over the four cement steps amidst a scattering of saliva and rotten wood. A window to the right shatters as another Abhorrent reacts to Nathan's inhuman call; and there is a melody in that scream, an ancient rhythm layered with something unspeakable.

Darren Matthews falls to one knee, gun already loose and rising to meet diseased flesh.

Mr. Holt does not move with signature precision. His huge hands do not reach for the Colt 199's longing for affection within his suit coat. His body does not slip into fluid motion of simultaneous defense and offense. Instead he steps forward clumsily, blocking Darren's easy shot. Those huge hands reach up, one slamming into the snarling face of the late stage Abhorrent, the other taking hold of it's pale, black-veined neck. His fingers close all at once. Nathan's strength surges up then down, breaking the body upon the cement walkway.

He stays there, on top of the thing. Staring into it's eyes as the lights fade, dance, and blink to zero.

He stays there as the final squirm of desperation dissipates with a whimper of childlike confusion.

He stays there, fingers digging deep into the mutated shell of the once human carcass.

If Darren didn't know better, he'd swear a tear slipped down Mr. Holt's stone cold face. But there isn't time to concern himself with the increasing madness of Mr. Holt. The next Abhorrent has exited through the window and is halfway across the overgrown stretch of front yard. Darren stands, takes aim, and fires four shots without hesitation. He steps toward the fallen, writhing creature and places a final bullet into a brain that is reluctant to stop firing electric knowledge.

A firm nudge of his toe confirms the kill.

Darren turns, "What the fuck was that about?" but Nathan is gone. Vanished. Maybe inside the house, maybe not. It doesn't matter. Darren knows there aren't any more Abhorrents inside. Mr. Holt's demented mating call pulled them like moths to firelight.

The standard police will arrive soon, falling over the carnage, stabbing blind with theories about what happened here. Not that any of it will make the evening news. Sector 13 will make sure of that.

Darren Matthews holsters his weaponry and strolls away.

If Mr. Holt's mental state was questionable before, it has become a raging, sinister beacon illuminating his worst fears. There is nothing left but confrontation.

Mr. Holt must fall.

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MECHANISM: CHROMOSOME 13: Volume 11, by Ty Gorton with art by Derek Mott