Once we got down into the main lobby, I ran over to the desks where the clerks would help people check in and out, and looked behind them. Some of the computers still seemed to be working, but others had been broken in whatever attacks or mayhem had passed through the area. The stations were completely abandoned, none of the workers wanting to stick around. I doubt the hotel owners paid enough to stand at your post and check people out when there's a supervillain attack wiping out Kryptonians and whatnot about a hundred feet and a floor above you.
I found a machine that appeared to be still functioning. Looking over the screen and familiarizing myself with the menu system of the hotel software was easy enough, with Chris' help as she lurked around my shoulder.
Tapping away at the keys, I poked through the registry for the weekend. I told Chris to keep an eye out for anything incoming that might be bad.
"What do you expect to find," she asked as she walked around to the front of the front desk, and hopped up on it. Chris moved her cape out of the way, and blocked most of my own view of what was right in front of me, but it also served to block me from view of anyone else. "It's not like anyone will be registered as Jean Grey, right?"
I kept scrolling through the list of names, skimming more than reading, and hoping that something would leap out at me. "Remember, I've been coming to these for awhile now, and know people, or people who know people. It's a long shot, or at least a one in three chance of the few I know who've done Phoenix in the past are checked in here."
"Probably at the Hyatt."
I gave a nod that went unseen, and kept searching. "Almost certainly, since most people go there as a first choice, but seeing as how we're here, I figured I'd check, just in case. Easier to do it now rather than go to the Hyatt and fail miserably, only to come back."
The list yielded no results and I stepped back from the desk, shoving the keyboard away. It clattered against the back of the podium-like station, and I leaned against the wall.
"But it looks like we'll fail here first. I guess we get to wade back into zombie infested waters."
Chris hopped off the desk and turned, resting her arms against the top of the station and looking past the computer monitor and at me against the wall. "I wonder if anyone dressed up as Jaws."
"Well, if we see any exploded sharks in the road from the pressure difference, I guess we'll know."
She picked up a pencil off the top of the desk and threw it at me, and I dodged my head in time to have it hit the wall instead. "I meant the James Bond villain, actually. That probably wouldn't be a good thing."
"We wouldn't have to worry about any locks or chains in our way if he was, that's for sure."
I stood straight and came around the row of desks, and as Chris turned to follow me, she bumped into a young man with dark brown hair, and wearing a costume as black as hers, but with blue highlights along the arms, and chest, as well as blue boots.
"Nightwing!" she shouted in surprise when she came face to face with her costumed identity's close friend, and occasional love interest.
"Bab...I mean, Batgirl! What are you doing here, where's your mask? People might see you, figure out who you are! And who's this guy," he asked, pointing a black finger at me.
I waved and stood back, not wanting to intrude yet, since the recreated Nightwing seemed to not trust me yet. Since I was hanging around with his sometimes girlfriend, I couldn't blame him.
The black mask with white eyes obscured his real eyes from view, but I could tell he was sizing me up, as well as making sure the woman he thought of as only Batgirl was ok.
Chris put a soothing hand on Nightwing's chest, and he backed down a little. "It's ok, Nightwing. We can trust him. He actually knows what's going on, and he has an idea on how to stop everything, before things get worse and spread."
I explained everything as best I could, in a few words as possible while leaving out Chris' involvement, to the transformed man. When I got to the part about him being someone else, I could tell there was something happening, some recognition of what I said deep within his head.
When I finished speaking, he took off the mask, and something about him seemed different. The way he stood, he was meeker, less sure of himself. This was the true person behind the mask, behind the costume.
"I can't believe it," he said, and even that was less sure than it had been as Nightwing. Before, he had exuded confidence, but now he was just some scared guy in a costume in the middle of chaos. "But I've been doing things all day I couldn't do before, swinging from balconies, leaping, doing backflips. All that acrobatic stuff I learned...Nightwing learned at the circus."
He looked back to Chris, blushing a little at the thoughts I knew must be going through his head from the Nightwing side of him in regards to this woman.
"And you, you were just some girl who dressed as Batgirl today?"
Chris hesitated and I could see she was unsure of how to respond and nervous, but soon opened her mouth to speak, and I interupted before she could say anything awkward. "Yes, she's my roomie, and wanted to dress up this year. Heck of a time to start, right?"
Nightwing nodded and laughed, "Yeah, it's my first year too, I don't know if I'm going to try it again next year, if there is a next year, or a need to get a costume. This is all too weird. You have a plan though?"
"If you can call it that." I coughed and cleared my throat, trying to not look as nervous as the person with whom I was speaking. "If there's a Phoenix at the convention, she might have the power to undo everything that's been done. I'm also keeping my eyes out for any magic users, like Zatanna or the Scarlet Witch."
"Ha!" scoffed Chris.
"Yes, that was your idea. Anyone with sufficient power should be able to reverse this, I hope. Just need to find someone, but it seems they're all hiding or dead. So, have you see any Phoenix around?"
He shook his head and brushed his fingers through his hair. "I have not. But I will keep an eye out. There's still people out there who need saving and protecting. If I find a redhead, I'll throw up a flare in front of the hotel. Sounds like a plan?"
We all nodded, and he put his mask back on.
"I'll see you around, Babs," he smiled. Like a switch had been flipped in his mind, it was as if Nightwing was back in control, and he hugged Chris, before throwing a line to a floor above, and he moved on, leaving us to continue our search on our own.
I coughed while Chris watched Nightwing soar off, that part of her that was more Barbara Gordon happy to see him again, and sad to see him go. At the sudden noise, she jumped, and turned back to me.
"I guess we head over to the Hyatt now," she questioned.
I pinched the bridge of my nose, and winced. "I really, so very much, do not want. However, I suppose we have to. I hope the zombies are full. Maybe they're like snakes, and go into a deep sleep after feeding, or something."
"Uh huh. Because our luck has been so good up to this point."
I gave a heavy sigh and moved through the small tunnel between the lobby and the driveway of the Herriott. "That just means our luck is bound to change, right?"
Far off in the distance I could hear sirens. Word must have leaked by now about what was going on. I imagined at that time they must be moving in to cordone off the area, try and stop anyone from getting out, and meeting any demands Lex, or any other mastermind, had for them.
We made our way across the street. No cars seemed to be travelling along it anymore. They were probably keeping traffic out, and rerouting around the trouble area. Several wrecks were scattered along the side of the road. It looked like a scene straight out of an apocalyptic movie. No cars, very few people, the wind blowing pieces of debris along the silent corridor.
I looked up the 20, 30 steps leading towards the main Hyatt entrance from this point. At the top of those stairs, I had last left several dead, or at least frozen bodies, a group of supervillains, and hungry zombies. Along with Spartans and a Predator, and a number of other possible threats. I was sure they were still up there, and here we were, ready to walk right back into that mess after fighting so hard to escape. Everything kept coming back to this lobby.
As I stood there staring at the steps leading upwards, I had a momentary revelation.
"Why walk straight into the lion's den," I asked out loud, to no one in particular.
I heard Chris beside me, "Hmm?"
Pointing up the stairs, I continued to speak, "We know where that goes, and who it goes to. Not exactly the sort of folks I want to run into in a dark alley. Or a well lit lobby, to be honest."
She nodded, and I moved along the sidewalk to the right of the stairs, towards a door not far from them, before entrance to a parking and delivery area. I guess, at least, since I'd never been in there in all my years of attending, however I did frequently see cars and trucks driving in, so made the assumption.
I gestured at the door, as if I was a presenter on a game show, showing off the big prize for the winner of the next round.
"But what we have here is a far better option." I waved my hands in the air, showing off every aspect of the black, thick door. "While many people would rush right up the stairs and into a wide open area of supervillainy and feeding frenzies, what we have here, is an entrance to the bottom floor lobby of the Hyatt, and a proverbial back door into the rest of the hotel."
Chris grabbed the shiny silvery knob and pulled the door open. "After you, if you're done acting like Vanna White."
"I was going for more like a Price is Right girl."
As I entered the door, Chris shoved my back, "Whatever, just get inside!"
The door slammed shut behind us like we'd just been thrown into a jail cell. We found ourselves in darkness. As my eyes adjusted, searching for a bare hint of light, a circle of what I searched for appeared upon the wall beside me. I covered my eyes from the sudden flash, which was nowhere near as blinding as the event that started this trouble.
Once I pulled my hand away, I could see Chris was holding a small flashlight I suspected was another little toy she had tucked away in her batbelt.
We moved down the small corridor, almost no larger than the door itself. It was wider, but most of that extra space was taken up by pipes running along the hallway, for various purposes I couldn't even guess at.
Once we turned a corner, we could see flickering lights down a ways. We travelled on in silence, and Chris extinguished her light, returning it to the confines of a pouch at her waist. We moved as slow as possible, not sure what we could encounter at the next corner, or where two halls converged.
We drew nearer the light, keeping as close to the walls as possible, and Chris taking the lead. Her new form may have still only been human, but she was far more equipped for this stuff than I was.
The corridors soon entered out into the lobby, where the lights flickered, making it difficult to see any details for very long. The pale yellow walls looked all the stranger in the lights, and the design on the orange carpet was almost psychadelic to watch in the strobe like effect overhead.
Everything seemed quiet, but it felt as if we were being watched. We continued to creep along the hallway, eyes peeled for whatever was out there. As we entered a large square area where many hallways emptied out onto, and access to the elevators, I heard something in the ceiling above.
It sounded like something scratching, scrabbling along inside the ceiling tiles, like a rat, but far larger, or far more numerous than just one.
I could see the tiles bulging above the main area, and moving towards us. The support beams also bent under the weight of whatever was up there, until they gave way in a shower of plaster and tiling material. More lights crashed to the ground, sparks falling about them light brightly lit snow.
Landing in the center of it all was a large, black creature, shining in what little light there was, like a giant insect's chitonous shell. A long spine-like tail whipped around the body. It hunched over on two large rear legs, and long arms were held in front of it, like an animal waiting to pounce. The creature turned and looked straight at us, with a face that did not show any visible eyes. A large mouth full of teeth like a skull without any flesh opened up and a smaller mouth came out through a veil of drool.
As much as I feared running into the Predator up above, now I wish it was right here beside me, because there was no way Chris and I had any chance by ourselves up against a creature from the Alien movies.
"Martin, your plans? Really, really suck."
"But I convinced armies to do my bidding..."