Casting a last look at the dead people on the floor, I ran.
Only a few steps of the Rocket suit took me away from the scene, and that was good. I didn’t want to look at them.
They’d probably died when I broke the barrier between the core and the rest of the base.
Still, even if out of sight wasn’t really out of mind, they were at least out of sight.
Unfortunately, the next room was worse.
Three times the size of the other lab, this one held even more human sized cylinders. Not all of them had been used but the ones that were made up for the others in sheer creepiness.
The flesh floating in the blue liquid was probably supposed to be people, but I couldn’t say for sure. They were a jumble of explosive growth, weird, discolored flesh mixed with pulsing blood vessels, and organs I almost recognized.
I didn’t see bones or brains, but they might have been hidden. Some of the blobs might have been heads.
Something about the shape of them seemed wrong. I couldn’t say how.
Could they possibly be the beginning of an attempt to clone Cassie? It didn’t seem like it was going very well. It was a lot of growth given the time since they’d taken her, but given how quickly she healed, it wasn’t impossible.
It was, however, disturbing.
The cylinders weren’t alone in the room. Computers and screens took up half of it along with machines I didn’t recognize at all.
People stood in the corner in the gray, hazmat jumpsuits I’d seen earlier, masks on, and facing the wall.
Two of the lightweight Rook suits lay on the floor looking battered. One wing lay on the floor, severed near its base.
Cassie stood next to the battered Rook suits, wearing one of the jumpsuits and mask herself, but holding her staff. If that wasn’t enough to identify her, she wore her utility belt and her sword.
I’d found her. I stepped up to the door. Made out of the same material as the transparent wall around it, it was locked. A key card reader hung on the wall next to it.
I smashed it in.
“Finally,” she said. “You took forever.” The mask gave her voice a hollow tone, but I couldn’t mistake her.
“You kept on moving. I didn’t know where you were.”
“What was I supposed to do? Sit in my cell, and wait to be rescued?”
“I don’t know… It would have made it easier to find you.”
“You had the gun. I know you were talking to it. It hasn’t stopped jabbering at me since you got here.”
One of the people began to edge away from the group. She tapped his arm with an end of the staff.
Sparks flew, and he swore.
“Next time I taser you unconscious, okay?”
He swore again.
She pulled the staff back into a ready position. “Now, where were we?”
“Arguing. Anyway, the gun can’t talk to me. It was like twenty questions the whole time. Did she go right or left? Is she close? Did Timmy fall down a well?”
Cassie turned the mask toward me. “Who’s Timmy?”
I thought about it. “I’m not sure. I think he was in an old TV show. Lassie, maybe?”
One of Rook’s people muttered something, and another one snorted.
Cassie adjusted her hold on the staff. “What was that?”
No one said anything.
The suit’s new ability to enhance my hearing wasn’t perfect. I couldn’t quit make out what he’d said either.
“Never mind,” Cassie said. “Rocket, could you hand me the gun?”
“You’re not going to—”
“I’m not going to shoot them.”
I gave her the gun.
She pointed it at the cylinders.
Searing light erupted from its barrel, shattering and cracking the cylinders, melting metal, burning the fleshy things to ashes, and turning the blue liquid into gas—some of anyway.
Then she turned it on the computers.
I might have expected one of the scientists or lab techs to start screaming about losing their data, but they didn’t.
Don’t get me wrong, they reacted, but they crowded closer to each other. They didn’t attack. One of them actually started to cry. I’m not sure if that was out of losing their work as much as fear of being burned alive.
Honestly, I could feel the heat from her gun through the Rocket suit.
“There,” Cassie said. “That’s one less thing I’ve got to worry about.”
The blackened remains of the cylinders and computers gave off trails of smoke.
Interestingly, the smoke floated toward the door I’d broken. Someone had turned on a fan, and I didn’t think it was Rook’s.