We walked back to the lab without saying anything more. In books I’ve seen people described as “walking together in companionable silence.” I don’t think that this was it. This was more, “I’ve accepted your apology, but I still don’t know what to say to you,” silence.
When we got back, I walked straight to the Rocket suit, and did what I probably should have done before I walked to the storage room. I stepped on top of the ceramic block, and activated it from the stealth suit.
It assembled around my body, connections formed between the stealth suit and the full suit. Messages scrolled down my HUD, assuring me that system integration between the two suits was working, that suit integrity was at 100%, and that life support, repair, flight, and weapons systems were functional.
It gave a list of what armaments were on board, and then the HUD printed the word, “READY.”
I hadn’t realized how tense I must have been feeling without the full Rocket suit, but when I saw the word appear on the screen, I found my muscles relaxing.
It wasn’t irrational either. I could take a lot more punishment in the full version.
“Ready?” Haley asked.
“That’s what my HUD tells me,” I said.
She glanced over at Samita, Sean, Vaughn, and Amy and back to me. “This is how I see it. The plan is that we get to the router, take it over, and send a distress call to the teachers. In order for us to do that, we have to find the router. That one’s on you, right?”
“Yeah. I was thinking I’d use the suit’s sonar to find the network cable trays and then go in the direction where the number of cables in the tray increases each time I pass a new hallway.”
Haley frowned. “Great. Lots of sonar. Maybe you should go in front.”
I noted that she was still in regular clothes. “Do you have your costume?”
“Nope. That’s back in my room. I didn’t expect to need it during dinner.”
I thought about that.
Not letting me finish, she said, “Don’t worry about getting me a new costume. I’m going to stay hidden and stay out of the way. You should be worried about yourself. If we meet something dangerous and you’re in that,” she pointed at the suit, “you’ll have to fight it.”
She was right. Getting her costume would mean going to her room, and theoretically fighting everyone in the program. We didn’t need the distraction.
All the same, I’d feel better if she had any kind of armor. I considered putting together a stealth suit for her out of materials I had in the lab, but guessed it would take too long too.
Haley nodded toward everyone. “C’mon.”
And what could I say? There wasn’t anything else to do.
I walked ahead of everyone. It didn’t take much to follow the network cables. For the first section of hallway they hung off to the right side near the top.
As we walked further, our footsteps (or at least mine) echoing in the hallway, the metal tray holding the cables disappeared into a hole in the wall.
I stared at the spot, zooming in, and making the suit fire off the sonics, using the suit’s computer to create a picture of a room.
The picture in my HUD showed a room with roughness along the far wall that had to be cables–or so I guessed from the fact that the roughness led upward, disappearing into the ceiling.
Next to the wall of cables stood a rack that I guessed held servers, and probably a router and a switch.
I checked the room against the map of the compound my system had access to. It didn’t include this room. That was probably a good sign.
What wasn’t good was that the room didn’t appear to have a door. Presumably Earthmover himself intended to create one as needed to service the area. Also, when you considered that this was a compound, it could easily be that they had teleportation available with one phone call to the right person.
Unfortunately, we did not.
On the other hand, it wasn’t as if the wall was completely impossible to get through. It was more a question of how to get in while doing the least damage inside the room.
Sure, I could punch through the wall with tons of force, but if I happened to pass along tons of force to a rock flying in the direction of the router we were hoping to hack, we were screwed.
Fortunately, I had an idea or two.
Everyone arrived as I stood there. I’d started warming up the suit’s laser even before they stopped.
Amy tapped the wall with her mail glove. “This is it?”
“Dude,” Sean asked, “where’s the door?” He looked at the flat wall as if expecting one to appear.
“I’ve got to make one. Is anybody comfortable catching a several hundred pound chunk of rock? It might be as much as a ton. I haven’t done the calculations yet.”
With a laugh, Vaughn said, “No.”
Haley stepped up. “I can.”
Amy looked down at her. She was more than a foot taller after her transformation. “Seriously?”
I didn’t bother to argue. Haley could. I just hoped we wouldn’t attract any attention in the process.