Jaclyn punched too quickly for me to see her arm move, but the dome dented. She struck a second time as I registered the dent, and that time her hand went through.
She put both hands into the hole, and pulled back, tearing the roof like I might tear fabric.
I thought about reaching in to help, but I didn’t get the chance. Izzy reached in and tore it from the other side.
In seconds, they’d ripped a hole large enough for all three of us to jump through at the same time.
Izzy stared down into the gap, undoubtedly listening.
“They heard the roof tear, and they heard the jet. They’re sending people up.”
I stepped closer, and looked down. The room below looked like it belonged in a stereotypical lab—white walls, and tile floor. It this case, it would have to be the storage room for a lab because boxes filled it from one end to the other. They were stacked in rows with aisles, but aside from the aisles, boxes covered every available spot.
“We decided the cells were on the first floor—one ring out from the labs, right? I guess we’ve got to keep on going down.”
Jaclyn gave me a look. “And?”
“You’re running this, right? Time to lead. Make a decision, and if you don’t know what to do, ask for help. I’ve got opinions.”
Telling people what to do obviously came a lot easier to her.
“Ok,” I took a step closer to the tear. “Let’s go down and rip through this floor too.”
“See? That wasn’t hard.” Jaclyn took a step, and dropped into the room.
Izzy stepped out, and hovered over the hole. “Don’t worry about it. You’re doing fine.”
The fact that she’d even said that made me wonder if maybe I wasn’t doing fine at all. I didn’t have time to think about it though, and stepped forward, dropping into an aisle.
Only as I landed did it occur to me that Daniel might have told her I had mixed feelings about being in charge.
Jaclyn had already punched through the floor once, and gave it a rapid fire series of punches as I watched. Izzy landed next to her, giving the floor a kick that knocked a big chunk of it downward.
Dust that used to be concrete floated back up through the hole.
If I were the kind of guy whose masculinity was wrapped up in being stronger than women, it would have been really demoralizing.
As it was, I was beginning to wonder if I was in any way useful.
Izzy said, “We’re just above a hallway, and I tried, but I still can’t see where Captain Commando is.”
Remembering that I was supposed to be the guy providing the plan, I said, “Let’s try all the cells once we get down there.”
“I didn’t need you to tell me that,” Jaclyn said.
As I chewed through possible replies in my head, she grinned and said, “Kidding.” Then she jumped.
Izzy and I followed her down.
The first floor looked like the storage room, but without the boxes—all white walls, tiled floor, and very clean. Well, clean everywhere but where chunks of concrete had landed.
We’d all shared Izzy’s mental picture of the dome. The doors for the cells were all in the next hallway over. So, when Jaclyn said, “Over here,” and waved a purple suited arm, Izzy and I followed her.
We turned a corner, ran down a short hallway, and stopped in front of a door that had actually been labeled, “Authorized Personnel Only” in black lettering against an orange background.
A big metal door, Jaclyn rammed it with her shoulder, bending it, and ripping it out of its metal frame.
It crashed to the floor.
Izzy and I followed her in to find a hallway with several cells. Remembering what Isaac had said about the Nine kidnapping people who looked like Cassie, I wondered how many had been sent here.
The cell in the middle was different though. Its door was open, and not in a “mistakenly left open” sense. The door itself was still in one piece, but the motion sensor above it had been shattered.
Plus, blood had been smeared across the front of the door, and there were indentations, showing it had been hit hard by something.
“Totally figures that she wouldn’t wait to be rescued,” Jaclyn said.
My eyes settled on the blood. “I wonder how long it’s been?”
“No idea,” Jaclyn said. “Wish we had the Mystic or Night Cat.”
“Yeah,” I said. Optimizing this group for fighting might not have been a good idea.
Izzy cleared her throat, and we both looked at her. “They’re coming.”
As I was about to ask her how close they were, the door on the far end of the hall, the one Jaclyn hadn’t destroyed, opened.
Robot birds flew through, followed by men in Rook’s style of powered armor—complete with wings, and four claws.