“No extra beans,” Kayla said. “Got it.”
She looked down at the gun. It had two grips. The trigger and guard were on the back one. the front grip had a line of buttons on the side. Above them, it said, “Extra,” followed by “Beans,” “Cheese,” “Chunky Salsa,” “Green Sauce,” “Red Sauce,” and “Shell.”
Thinking back to English composition class from last semester, she wondered what Chekov would do if he saw a burrito gun hanging on the wall in Act 1 of a play.
Probably kill himself, she imagined.
Movement on the big screen caught her eye. News 10 showed beams of light on the beach, and not coming from Chris, Camille, and Sydney’s position either–raining down on it.
Out of the sky came white beams that illuminating the beach and the small dune behind it, also illuminating the long, thin blades of beachgrass, and the unmoving aliens in broken, and blackened powered armor.
The beams of light on the sand dune winked out as figures ran toward the woods.
Kayla knew that if the first two had gotten in, the others would too.
She put the burrito gun on the floor, and logged into the computer. New windows appeared on the big screen, showing what the spybots saw, and their positions plus multiple angles from cameras the original Rocket must have hidden all over the area.
Some of them weren’t even cameras, and she didn’t know what they detected. Everett/Wheeler Particle? She had no idea what that even might be. All that mattered right now was that the icon was green. It meant that she didn’t have to care.
She had to worry about the icons that were rearranging themselves under headings like, “Damaged Fusion Plant,” and “Abominator Derived Technology.” Those were in red.
Also, “Chameleon Tech.”
C said, “Set the whole complex on red alert.”
Kayla moved her mouse pointer over the status icon and stopped. “Won’t that stop everybody from getting in? Even our people?”
C nodded. “Yep. Our people are safe or they’re fighting. We’ll figure out a way to let them in if we have to, but we need to lock the complex down. We’ve got big things to worry about.”
Kayla clicked the button. She knew what the big things had to be.
In the distance came the sound of metal crashing against metal, the clicks of pieces setting into place, and also hum of pumps, and splash of water.
She looked up at him. C nodded, the glow on the inside of his glasses reflecting off the skin around his eyes.
“Water?” She asked.
C shrugged. “And vacuum. Also gasses. Depending on how Nick is with maintenance, the water might have a few additives.”
“What about the breach?”
After a moment of silence, he said, “I’m sure they’ll be able to make more holes. The whole point of red alert mode is that they’ll be very cautious about breaching a second time.”
As he talked, Haley’s icon started blinking. Kayla clicked on it, taking the call.
“Control,” Haley barely seemed to believe what she was saying, “you’re still in HQ?”
“C showed up, and told me to stay.”
Marcus’ voice came over the speakers, “Grandpa?”
“Here,” C said. “Staying is the right call. The moment it stops being the right call, we’ll slag the storage rooms. You know which ones I mean.”
“Abominator relics,” Marcus said. “That’s crazy. Slag them now.”
C gave a small laugh. “No. Humanity will be ready for them someday. Even the Xiniti agree on that. But aren’t you fighting?”
From the spybots’ view of the beach, Kayla realized they weren’t fighting.
“No,” Haley said. “Were you watching News 10? They’ve got this on a delay. We’ve got the beach to ourselves. Gravity Star kept them all stuck in place, and between the jet’s weapons, MM2, and Railgun, they couldn’t get away, and couldn’t dodge.
“Now we’ve got a different problem. They had more that they’d sent into the woods, and they came back, and targeted Railgun. She’s badly hurt. Gravity Star’s talking her to the… team doctor.”
C gave a short whistle. “The same doctor?”
“No, his son.” Kayla wasn’t sure, but she thought Haley might be holding back tears.
“Hmmn. Good to hear. How badly is Railgun hurt?”
Haley’s breath caught as she began to talk. “I… I don’t know. What Chris told her to do must have helped, but it spread the heat out. She’s hurt all over.”
Chris voice came over the speaker. “What are we going to do now? Didn’t the AI estimate they had forty people left based on what it saw?”
“I know,” Haley said. “When I thought Control was out, I thought I might blast HQ with the ship’s guns once they were inside. I didn’t want to do it, but I couldn’t think of anything better.”
“C,” Chris said, “they’ve got to be heading in your direction. Didn’t Control say there was a breach?”
Calmly, C said, “Don’t worry about that. We’ve got it handled for now. What have you got?”
Chris’ voice went higher as he talked, “I shot all my missiles, and my power’s down. I can still get around, but not for long.”
“Night Cat? Shift? What have you got?”
Haley sighed, “On a personal level? Particle accelerator rifles, but not much else that I think will actually hurt them.”
Marcus said, “Ditto.”
Man-machine’s icon blinked, and Gerald Cannon’s voice said, “I’d say we’ve got them where we want them. C, remember what I hid on top of City Hall in 1962?”
C shook his head. “How fragile is it these days?”
C shook his head again. “Damn.”