That left me alone in the dark again, but one thing had changed. Before Adam talked to me, I could believe that this was unplanned, an overreaction by Earthmover who might easily be inexperienced at teaching.
Now I knew it was intentional, and that Adam, or whoever was controlling or using him, wanted me out of the way.
It seemed likely that if someone wanted me out of the way, the best thing I could do was get back in the way.
Well, assuming that I wasn’t stepping in front of a metaphorical Mack truck.
Bearing in mind that I still didn’t really know what he was keeping me out of the way of, I needed more information. Metaphorical or not, I didn’t want to get hit by that Mack truck without armor.
Deciding to stop laboring that particular metaphor, I touched middle of my chest with my hand. As I did, my clothes unraveled, turning into the new version of the stealth suit. The nano machines reformed the material around me, covering my entire body.
Checking my HUD, I wished I had been carrying my backpack along. If nothing else, it would have been more material and thus thicker armor. Better, it would have included a rocket pack. I had a feeling that I’d need the mobility.
So what did I have? Limited sonics, better than human strength, thin but self-healing armor, sonar, and a computer (courtesy of my phone). It wasn’t anywhere near as good as regular Rocket suit, but it was better than nothing.
I aimed my arms at the wall and turned on the sonar.
The results were not encouraging. The thinnest walls around me were two feet thick. The weakest points would be next to the air holes. Given a little time, I could shatter the barriers between the air holes with a combination of sonics and physical strength—weaken them, then punch them.
It was just a matter of time. Unfortunately, it could be a really long time.
Another thought occurred to me. What if Earthmover had a sense of feeling inside the rocks he controlled? I’d never get anywhere. He’d sense it the moment I broke anything and reinforce the cell.
Did I have any way to get around that? I couldn’t think of one—not without a clue as to how such a sense would work.
I was going to have to simply try it, and hope he didn’t have cameras out in the hall while I was at it.
Turning on the sonics to maximum volume, I set them to find the frequency with the greatest resonance, first in the rock between the air holes and then in the thick wall in front of me.
I narrowcast the sound, so as to get the maximum strength out of it, and the thin walls between the air holes vibrated audibly–at least they would have if my helmet didn’t filter out the sound. But, I could see the blur as they vibrated in my sonar’s black and white representation of the cell.
When I felt that I’d done enough, I aimed the sonics at the wall below the air holes, finding that two sections vibrated most strongly at different frequencies.
That was good news—the best news I’d had since getting stuck down here. It meant that Earthmover hadn’t put much thought in how to counter me specifically, or that he had no idea what my tech was currently capable of.
I used the sonics on one arm to vibrate one section, and the other arm’s sonics on the other. With the sonar, I could see that I was making progress, that the two sections were vibrating at different frequencies, and even rubbing against each other—to a degree. They were still part of the same slab of rock. They weren’t moving much.
At the very same time, I could see the batteries visibly losing power—not in a frightening way, but a noticeable one. The percentage of power left on the right arm was already down to 88%.
The sonics might ultimately have a deeper effect, but the artificial muscles in the suit would last longer.
Steeling myself against possible pain, I got into a martial arts stance, and aimed my punch below the air holes.
It hit the rock, and it didn’t feel good, but I’d done my calculations right when I’d designed the armor—the strength of my punch didn’t shatter the armor that had formed around my hand.
Better, the rock noticeably cracked below the air holes, but the walls between air holes above the punch shattered. They didn’t break all the way through, but more than halfway.
When I examined the wall with the sonar, I was less impressed. Sure I’d made cracks on the surface, but the wall’s structural integrity was completely intact.
It had been a good punch. From what the HUD’s stats said, I’d gotten almost all the force out of it that I could. I’d have to be smarter about this. Maybe I should push off from the wall on the other side and get more of my legs into it? Maybe I should be looking at the corners to see if they had sections with different kinds of rock like the wall had?
Or maybe I needed to punch the wall a few more times?
“There you are,” Haley’s voice came through the air holes.
“In here,” I said.
“I know. Back away from the wall, okay?”
I considered telling her that it would be harder than it looked, but I moved anyway.
The wall buckled and then shattered, falling into the cell, but not flying everywhere. A few stray bits hit me, but bounced off the suit’s skin.
Haley stood above the rubble, all monstered out—teeth turned to fangs, and her feet and hands to claws. Bits of dust covered her clothes.
“That went a lot easier than my wall,” she said.