“Crap,” I said, “implants? We’re going to have to turn them off or at least the communication part.”
I queried my implant to find out if we could turn them off. We couldn’t, but we could turn off outside communications. While I was at it, I checked what the Xiniti experience of fighting Kamia had been.
It hadn’t been good.
While they were well aware of her device’s ability to attack implants, they weren’t always in a situation where they could drop communications—flying spaceships, for example—and she made her presence a surprise. Plus, and they didn’t know how, she had some way to get around disabled connections. They suspected it required touch, but they only had implants from dead Xiniti to go on.
Whatever the Abominator device was, it didn’t leave much evidence behind and the damaged implants had been boobytrapped more often than not.
We were so screwed.
I heard Kals telling everyone (maybe including me), “We’re evacuating right now.”
Then she turned to the blue haired tech. “Blow every bomb in the tunnel between them and us. Don’t wait for them to get close. Got it?”
“I get it,” the guy said and turned back to the picture.
As that conversation went on, I used my implant to tell our group what I knew about Kamia, including Kals and Tikki. It’s possible that the Xiniti might not want everyone to know how effective Kamia was against them and how, but Katuk had told us. As far as I was concerned, the colony had entered “need-to-know” status, a point I highlighted in Kals’ message.
As I sent it off, Kals turned to me, dropping her jaw. She didn’t wait to discuss it with me or Jadzen, making a general announcement on the channel the colonists used for emergency messages.
Crawls-Through-Desert, meanwhile, had floated back into the corner. I had no idea what he was doing as he floated there, but I supposed he was more dependent on computer systems than any of us. He was probably trying to figure out what he could afford to shut down.
Then Kals voice filled my head.
“Everyone must shut off the network in any implant they may have installed. This is also true of any AI you may be harboring among your possessions. The Ascendancy troops have an Abominator device capable of connecting to your devices and taking control. Turn them off if you can, but if you can’t you have to disable communications if you want to survive.
“Before you shut them off, remember that we’re using the standard evacuation plan and rendezvous point, but code red evacuation. That means now! They’re coming down tunnel four. Good luck.”
From outside came the click of doors shutting, voices talking and shouting, and footsteps. Amid all of that, my Rocket suit’s comm beeped. Since I wasn’t wearing the helmet, I checked my glasses’ mini-HUD. Jaclyn was calling.
I took the call.
“Just when I get used to using the implant, it signs up with the bad guys… Anyway, we’re setting up near tunnel four. We might send people with the evacuees. It depends on how badly this goes.”
Keeping my voice low, I said, “Got it. We’ll be there as soon as possible.”
We ended the call and Kals said, “Now what?”
“We’re meeting near the opening of tunnel four.”
“I’ll go with you.” She stepped away from the techs and walked over to me.
The techs, meanwhile, were grabbing bags that they kept next to their desks and running down to the next level, following Sian and Asan. The standard evacuation plan didn’t leave the techs here to defend the place—not that you’d expect the techs to do it, but someone would have to stay and slow the invaders down in most evacuation plans. I wondered whose lives we were saving.
It wasn’t as if I’d complain. Saving lives, directly or indirectly was pretty much the entire point of what putting on a costume was all about.
I looked at her. “Are you sure? You’re the second in command. It seems like they’ll need you.”
She shook her head. “In the standard evacuation plan, the second stays. It was written assuming the second would be Maru, but I’m the second.”
“Okay,” I didn’t think it was likely that her mother would approve, but we could use her help. So, I didn’t argue and looked toward the stairs. “We’d better get out then.”
Crawls-Through-Desert floated near the stairway in his pot. “I’m going to have to go with the colonists. If I’m in range of whatever Kamia’s got, I’m a danger to the rest of you.”
He floated away at a faster speed than I’d seen him go so far.
We weren’t the only ones in the room or the building, but it was getting that way. There were only two people left on our floor by then, but a few more were crowding the stairs from the floor above us. They stared at my suit as we walked toward the stairway.
It took a minute to get out of the building.
People were running to exits across the cavern as we stepped out the door and tried to get our bearings or as I tried to at least. Kals pointed down the street. “That way.”
Even as we began to move, we heard a voice echo in the cavern. “I’m Kamia of the Human Ascendancy’s Ascendant Guard. Surrender or die!”
I didn’t know, but if I had to guess, Kamia had found some way of crossing into a different tunnel than tunnel four before entering the cavern.