“I…” Checking the armor’s status report, I learned that while the rocket fuel systems had been fully repaired, I had less fuel than I thought.
I hadn’t designed it with as much fuel as the Rocket suit to begin with, so losing some made more of a dent in the total supply. Did I have enough to fly up ten floors, maybe a little more?
I told Amy, “I’ve got that much fuel. I think.”
She raised an eyebrow. “What do you think about dropping 30 stories? I can’t carry that thing.”
I frowned even though she couldn’t see it, “The fuel gauge works. If it gets really low, I’ll land on the stairs or something.”
She nodded, “It’s your life.”
Activating the main leg rockets and the directional rockets, I opened up the comms, “I don’t know where you guys are, but Chromatic and Nanosecond have been told to kill you. We’re flying up to help—you, not them.”
Breathing heavily, Mateo’s voice came over the comm saying, “We know,” followed by more breathing and the sound of air.
Not waiting to ask if that meant that if he was in the middle of fighting them (that seemed obvious), I gave the rockets fuel enough to fly.
Weaving from one side of the stairwell to the other at a speed that felt a little too fast, I still managed to avoid hitting anything—well, mostly. I hit one railing with the V4 suit’s shin. It didn’t damage the shin. The iron railing bent and broke.
I decided not to think about it. After trashing the building’s electrical system, what was one railing? I just hoped no one would get hurt fixing it.
My helmet’s peripheral vision showed Amy flying after me, the red glowing accents on her black armor making it easier to pick her out. She was a couple of stories below me. Whatever magic she used wasn’t as fast as my tech. On the other hand, she hadn’t hit anything.
Not that I spent a lot of time comparing our relative speeds. That was pointless, except that it meant that I’d be arriving first.
Checking my HUD, I tried to use the comms’ tracking feature to figure out whether I’d reached the correct floor.
It turned out that I didn’t need to.
A lightning bolt arced across the stairwell two floors above where I was. To be fair, it could have been Samita, but it wasn’t. She was still outside. Also, I heard Vincent yelling, “Chromatic, dude, you know me. I’m your friend!”
That was a clue.
Unfortunately, Vincent’s attempt at talking sense with Chromatic wasn’t working. A second lightning bolt followed the first and Vincent jumped from one side of the stairwell, dropping at least ten feet, and swinging over the railing onto the stairway.
I passed as he came out of a roll, turning around, and standing with his arms in a guard position facing the direction he’d come from.
He waved at me as I passed, “Hey V4, good to see you! Hurt him, but don’t hurt, hurt him, right?”
I didn’t get to answer. Chromatic’s orders didn’t leave him any options except for hurt, hurting people and he’d decided to include me. The good news, though, was that he appeared to have an affinity for lightning.
That said, I didn’t feel like it was that wonderful as the first bolt hit, searing brightness making it hard to see through my helmet. The suit dimmed the light, but there’s only so much that you can do when lightning surrounds your head.
I’d done what I could. Like the Rocket suit, the V4 suit had been designed to route electricity around the suit and not allow any to go through it. Better, it worked. Nothing shorted out and I didn’t get electrocuted.
The rockets didn’t stop when I got hit, sending me upward, and I had enough presence of mind to zig to avoid another section of the stairway and zag back, putting me a little higher than Chromatic who stood on the landing—the one that led into the rest of the floor.
He raised his reptilian claws and electricity gathered around them. I didn’t hesitate. I blasted straight for him. His tail twitched as I bore down on him, knocking him over as lightning shot out of his hands toward the ceiling, burning the mural above us and downing a chandelier.
It crashed to the floor, glass shattering and metal bending.
Meanwhile, Chromatic and I hit the marble wall next to the doorway out. The marble cracked. I pushed myself up, realizing from the angle of Chromatic’s forearm that I’d probably broken it. Nothing was sticking out, but it wasn’t straight.
I’d been trained in first aid, but for humans, not draconic immigrants from alternate universes. I aimed my sensors at him, giving him as much of an exam as I had time for, learning that he had two hearts and they were both beating.
Deciding that that was good news, I tried to think of what to do next. Elevate his arm?
The roar of wind from the hallway told me that I didn’t have time. Nanosecond appeared in the doorway, turning her head toward me.
I aimed my paralysis weapon at her, hoping I’d connect.