At the same time, the smell of vomit began to saturate my awareness. Beyond the smell of alcohol, I recognized the smell of the fried cheese curds Cassie ate at some point in the afternoon. Unlike your average cheese curds, these hadn’t been made of cheddar, but of a stinkier cheese I didn’t recognize, adding a strong moldy addition to the already questionable smell.
“That smell,” I swallowed, trying to keep everything down, “I feel sick too.”
The bald man’s eyes widened.
From behind me, Daniel added, “Me too.”
With a cry that might have been poorly pronounced swearing, the man backed up and shut the door between us, still dripping Cassie’s vomit.
Daniel thought, Let’s go, at us and we headed back up the hallway, but not before I let loose a single roachbot. Little more than a small black spec, it landed in the corner intersection of the ceiling, the wall, and the double doors, practically invisible.
As we ran away, I thought, I wasn’t joking about feeling sick.
Me neither, Daniel thought back, but I’m feeling better now that we’re farther away from the smell.
I realized that I was too.
Cassie’s voice cut into my thoughts, That’s great for you two, but I still need a bathroom and I need a drinking fountain. I haven’t been sick since my powers were activated and I never liked the taste of vomit.
We rounded the corner, putting us back in the public part of the arena, but still not one of the most popular spots. Like the rest of the building, it was a wide hall surrounded by concrete, the floor covered with black tile, but it didn’t have any shops, restaurants, or anywhere to sit. The men’s and women’s restrooms and a couple of drinking fountains were the only objects in sight.
It felt to me as if the arena’s architect were telling people to move through and not stick around.
We took the message to heart. Except we did stop for Cassie to use the drinking fountain and the bathrooms. We hung out next to the door as she stepped inside. I’d already identified two visible cameras by then (two small half-globes on the ceiling) and was willing to bet that there were more.
Cassie commented in our heads as she took care of a few stray bits of vomit on her dress and washed the taste out of her mouth. Nice save back there, Nick. I can’t say I liked it much at the time, but if there’s any better way to make the guy dismiss us as a group of drunk kids, I can’t think of it.
I took a drink from the drinking fountain. I hadn’t had much to drink, but the taste of the beer I’d had was lingering and it made me think of the smell in the hall. I didn’t need that. No problem. After what you said, it was that or the brown note, and I was pretty sure you wouldn’t like that idea.
God, no. Don’t ever do that unless I ask you to. And if I ever do, you can bet I’m not in my right mind—which reminds me—give me some fucking warning next time or I’ll make sure some of the splash hits you.
Feeling her irritation wash over me, I decided apology was the better part of valor. Sorry. All I could think of was that I didn’t want to fight my way out. I’ll warn you next time. In fact, if we have to do it again, maybe I should choose someone else.
Leaning against the wall next to the drinking fountain, Daniel shook his head, I’ve got to admit that would be fair, but let’s not overuse it. They’ll see through it eventually.
What I’m hearing, Cassie thought back, is that someone doesn’t want to take his turn. Remember that, Nick. Daniel’s next.
Daniel didn’t say anything or give even a hint of a mental response. He did roll his eyes as I stepped away from the drinking fountain.
So the next thing, I began, is for me to get the roachbot inside the lab, mech factory, or whatever that place is, but I feel like we can’t leave until after a concert or two if they’re watching for us after that.
Works for me, Cassie said. I don’t have any plans tonight. Besides, we might see a band we’d never get to see normally.
I checked up and down the hall. We were still the only people in this section. Daniel, are you pretty sure this is the right spot for me to send the bots? I’ll be using the one I planted to guide the others in. It’ll be a waste of time if this is just an outlying mech repair room or something.
Daniel grinned, No, this one’s real. The guy Cassie puked on is one of Armory’s top engineers. You know how else I know it’s real? How little I got out of him. He was right on the edge of an anti-telepathy fuzzer. Whoever set it up, set it to be effective up to the doors, but end there. So they were trying to hide everything inside, but not give it so much protection that it was a beacon that they had something to hide. But this is it, Armory’s main lab and manufacturing facility. All we have to do now is figure out what we want to do to it.
Cassie stepped out of the women’s bathroom door. The gun wants you both to know that he’s ready to burn it to the ground right now, but I’m not. I think we need to decide if we’re going to stop at grabbing Armory or if we’re going to trash the whole lab on the way out. Think about what our base has in it. It’s anybody’s guess what this guy’s got and if we take him, his people will sell it or keep it for themselves.