Superheroes don’t kill (most of the time). There are reasons for that, ranging from moral to legal to practical. Legally, most of us aren’t empowered to do it (even if we can get away with it). Morally, killing isn’t something you want to do unless you have to. Practically, society would come to regard us as a menace if we did it a lot even if it was justified.
Here almost none of that applied. We weren’t vigilantes. We were the law, empowered by the Alliance as part of the Xiniti Nation to do whatever was required to protect the colony.
All the same, it didn’t come easy for me. While you could argue that was a good thing, you could argue that the colony might be better served by a conscienceless killer.
I say this because I hesitated. It wasn’t the kind of hesitation that was too long and turns the fight into a tragedy. It was long enough to remind myself that if there was any time that it was right to kill, it was now. She was directing people to kill civilians and she was doing it to distract us from what the rest of the group was doing somewhere else.
I pulled the trigger, releasing a killbot, targeting her via the observation bots. It shot out from under my arm, flying low to the ground, picking up speed as it grew closer to her.
In that moment, she must have noticed something or maybe the Abominator devices did. She raised her right arm, firing yellow beams and taking out all three observation bots, but missing the killbot which dodged and weaved in what my design document called an “evasive wobble.”
It only made it halfway through the shield, which meant it didn’t hit her at all—except that killbots exploded. This one exploded partially inside and partially outside the shield, creating a blast of fire on each side.
That meant a lot of different things. First of all, it meant that my killbots almost went through Abominator shields and the Ascendancy shields that imitated them. All they needed was a little more push or maybe more monofilament wires on the head of the bullet or on the body. That was the good news. Secondly, it meant that I was screwed because I didn’t have the equipment here to make the changes, but also because the implant indicated that all Ascendant Guards had those force fields as well as their better solo agents.
The more practical and immediate result? The half-blast still blew Kamia backward in her force bubble. She ducked back into the tunnel.
I ran up to the side of the tunnel but didn’t run in. With an inexperienced fighter, I might have considered it. With someone carrying Abominator devices who had defeated Xiniti, it seemed wiser to assume that dropping back was part of a plan on her part even if it was her emergency backup plan.
I sent out a spybot. In an effort to avoid hinting where I was, I took the minimal precaution of having it enter the tunnel from the top rather than from the same direction I was standing in.
Watching the spybot’s feed as it flew down the tunnel, I didn’t see anyone.
Pulling up the implant’s map of the caverns, I saw openings into the buildings on either side. A little farther back, Tunnel Three passed other tunnels. Bearing in mind that they could create connections between tunnels, that meant that she could be anywhere.
When I took into account how quickly I’d lose a connection to the bot underground, I realized I’d be better off helping Jaclyn and watching for the others to attack in whatever way they were planning to.
That’s the point at which Kals and Katuk joined me.
Katuk stopped next to me. “Where did Kamia go?”
I moved to stand in front of the tunnel and looked in. “I don’t know.”
Even as I said it, I used the suit’s sonic and thermal sensors, hoping that I might get footprints out of the thermal or that the suit’s echolocation or passive sensors might catch something. They didn’t.
“I saw her go down into the tunnels, but she got out of range before I could get a good sense of where she was going.”
Katuk peered down the tunnels next to me, possibly using his own suit’s sensors. “I don’t see her either.”
Without turning away from the tunnel, he added, “This is not good. She’s an extremely effective soldier.”
“I’m more worried about where the others are,” I said.
Off to the side of the tunnel, Kals glanced upward to the buildings. By that point, there were no more flashes coming from above. Jaclyn must have handled that.
“That’s exactly what I’m worried about,” Kals said. “If they managed to catch up to my mom and the colony while we were doing this, they could already be slaughtering them.”