Cassie and the gun’s arrival had distracted me from the Rook’s final killbot, something I realized as a wave of fear went through me.
The emotional push from knowing that my life could end at any moment left me scanning my HUD only to have the implant draw my attention to the small yellow glow behind the bot. It had flown past me in my moment of inattention and, contrary to its previous behavior, it wasn’t adjusting its course.
Then, a few hundred feet ahead of me the light winked out and the HUD’s sensors showed it falling into the woods.
That told me two things about Rook’s design. First, he’d given his killbots less fuel to work with. Second, he may have run remote control (or decision making?) through the crowbot because otherwise, the bot wouldn’t have lost its purpose when the crowbot that fired it had gone down.
Deciding that it would be better to go into whatever the ground fight turned out to be with a partner, I made a quick turn and dropped through the trees to land next to Cassie.
Cassie didn’t stop pointing her gun into the woods as I hit the ground, though she did glance over to me and grin. Via implant, Cassie said, “Back in the forest and shooting people again.”
I thought back, “Except this time we’re home.”
“Not my home. Where are we, anyway?” She started walking toward the rest of the group. I kept pace with her, watching through my HUD for Rook.
“An hour north of Grand Lake, kind of close to Muskegon. How’d you get here?” I kept my focus on the right while she took the left, knowing that with her Abominator gun in hand, her senses were every bit equal to the Rocket suit’s if not better.
“Reliquary has a place in D.C. I’m pretty sure it’s just a doorway that teleports you to wherever his real house is. Red Hex introduced me, but never mind that. Do you have any idea what’s in that lab? The Gun went nuts when I pointed it that way.”
—YOU PRIMITIVE MONGRELS HAVE NO CONCEPTION OF THE GLORIOUS PURPOSE FROM WHICH YOU’VE DESCENDED! YET SOMEONE IN THAT PLACE ATTEMPTS TO SCALE THE LOWEST RUNG OF MY MASTER’S GLORY!”
“Genocide, you mean?” I asked and felt the gun begin to respond, but didn’t hear it as Cassie cut it off.
“No kidding,” she said. “Is there anything you haven’t told the whole team in chat?”
“At this point, I don’t even know. I think I told everyone everything. If you’ve been listening in on the mission channel, you should be up to date. Uh… Probably.”
She looked over at me again. “Yeah?”
I’d have shrugged but she’d never have seen it through the suit. Or maybe she would have. She’d seen me in the Rocket suit more than most people.
“I’m sure we missed something.”
I would have followed that up with more, but something glittered in my HUD. When I looked directly at that part of the forest, I didn’t see anything. I sent Cassie the video of what I’d seen via implant and queried my implant for information. Did the video bring up anything in its databases?
Cassie said, “Swap?”
As one, we switched positions and areas to watch. I gave the section of woods on my left a look as my implant came up with pictures of different things that glitter could be—teleportation, interdimensional travel, various sorts of beams, force fields…
The Abominators had used all of the above.
To Cassie I said, “See anything?”
“Not yet. Nothing that glitters, for sure. We’d better catch up with everyone else.” She took a step forward.
I hit on another idea, asking implant about the Abominator armor model that I’d seen the True wearing. Did the implant recognize it and what did it do, assuming it did more than protect the body?
From that, I learned that the design was common for the Abominators’ human servants, that it had various abilities beyond protecting a person’s body, but which ones depended on the period in Abominator history and the Abominator lineage that designed the armor.
I considered stopping the explanation, but then it said, “the most common characteristic of Abominator armor was invisibility or camouflage, especially when fighting other Abominators.”
Before I could tell Cassie, energy lashed out from the forest, a bright white light that reminded me of Cassie’s gun’s.
It hit my armor even as Cassie said, “Duck!” Then she started firing back, this time with a thinner, brighter beam than she’d hit the crowbot with.
A RESPECTABLE RECREATION OF THE MASTERS’ BUT ONE THAT USED INFERIOR MATERIALS THAT WERE NO MATCH MY OWN PEERLESS BEAM!
Two more burning white lines appeared, both aimed at us. Cassie ducked, avoiding them and fired back. I didn’t get as lucky. One of the beams hit my thigh, not going through, but I could feel the heat and see the error messages roll across the screen.
I dived to the ground and fired back in the direction of the beams with my sonics, hoping that the sonics would adjust and find whatever in the Abominator power armor had the most resonance and vibrate it until it broke.
Cassie’s beam did better. A set of abominator armor shimmered and fell over with a hole in the chest.
Making a strangled noise, she managed to get out, “The fuck?”
The woman lying on the ground had her face.
I said, “I’m pretty sure we mentioned that.”