Even though I had no time to process it, my implant told me what the purple shot meant. Some Abominator guns had been given the ability to attack out of phase with reality, passing their victims armor. The technology turned out to be related to FTL technology, teleportation, and Abominator intangibility tech. Rook must have reverse engineered it or been inspired by what Jared’s device did.
Either way, it wasn’t Rook firing at me. It was one of the True, a male version of Stephanie wearing silver-tinged Abominator designed armor.
Cassie and I had cut into the room where they’d hidden the birthing chambers—which is what we’d intended to do—but it wasn’t a big room. The lab took up most of the first floor. They’d moved the birthing chamber into what must have been a garage. It was as long as the lab, but only a little wider than the birthing chambers, but wide enough for trucks to park.
Weaving to avoid beams from the True, I realized how much chaos our entrance had created in the room. When I’d been observing the place through a spybot, the newly created True had been lying on sleeping bags, recovering from their births. Now they were running to the sides of the room where weapons and armor lay on the ground. All of them naked, they wobbled and even fell on the way.
Though they didn’t fully have running down, they reflexively knew they had to fight.
They weren’t the big worry, though. That came in the form of four True standing next to the one firing out-of-phase energy blasts in my direction. He was going to kill me if he hit.
They were in the middle of the room, standing next to the door to the main lab and about twenty feet away from Dr. Griffin who’d dived behind a bluish-gray, coffin-sized rectangle that my implant labeled as a “military replicator.”
It was a little disappointing to see that she was part of this. She’d seemed decent when I’d met her at her original lab—resourceful even. They’d fallen just short of figuring out the birthing chambers and turned an Abominator weapon against the invading Hrrnna. On the other hand, even then I knew that she might have gotten the birthing chambers through the Nine. It might be that she’d needed time to show her true colors.
Another possibility struck me then, one that I didn’t have time to test.
Why? Because my attempt to evade being shot had lead me to shoot in the direction of the far wall. Even with my dodging, weaving, and in air acrobatics, I was still heading in the same direction—which meant that I was about to crash through into Hardwick Industries’ laboratories, or another secret room, or find out what bugs felt when they went splat against a windshield. It all depended on the wall’s materials and design.
Despite a casual interest in architecture, I decided I didn’t need to know for sure.
Aiming my head downward, I flipped over the way I had hundreds of times in practice and twisted so that my stomach would face the floor instead of my back.
I tried to anyhow. The problem with being tired is that you’re tired and even when you think you know instinctively when to flip, when to turn, and when to fire off the rockets, it’s possible you’ll screw up.
I screwed up.
I managed the flip without issue even though something did feel a little off. Then I twisted and fired the rockets. At that moment, I knew something was off. Instead of staying level with the rockets slowing me before hitting the wall, I shot downward and to the right with my momentum still carrying me backward.
I gave the rockets more fuel and tried to aim upward and to the left, all the while seeing the (hopefully unreinforced) concrete wall getting closer through my HUD’s peripheral vision.
The only good thing that could be said about it was that the True didn’t see that coming either. So as I flew from near the floor on the right side of the room to near the ceiling on the left, a barrage of laser fire peppered the far end of the room, white beams pitting the wall and burning black marks into it.
The purple-tinged beam passed by me on the right as I climbed, disappearing into the wall behind me without doing any visible damage.
Something on the other side of the wall made a muffled boom and, while the wall didn’t explode, red emergency lights started flashing and the sprinkler system turned on, spraying water all over the room. Along with it came the high pitched EEEE! of an alarm.
I felt sure this could get worse but didn’t know how.
A glowing cylinder of purple light appeared in the middle of the room in front of the birthing chambers. The light disappeared, revealing Victor in his god garb standing with Rook and his two henchmen as well as a small cloud of flying murder bird bots.
That would have been bad enough, but Victor wasn’t done. A second purple cylinder deposited Russell Hardwick, three Protection Force soldiers in “Rocket” armor, and the disappointingly mobile Art and Zola.
We hadn’t killed them after all and if they were anything like Haley they regenerated. Zola’s mouth hung open, her canine teeth and wide eyes with catlike slits made her look more feral than I remembered.
They stood on the soggy sleeping bags, staring at the chaos. Then Art and Zola howled.
I almost felt like joining them. When it rained, it poured.