I fell into the third floor from a height of around ten feet, taking down the nearest section of drop ceiling along with me, bending the metal grid downward, and crashing through the nearest tile as a couple more fell out of the grid.
It wasn’t what I’d call an inspiring entrance.
On the bright side, if you can call it a bright side, is that none of the chunks of concrete that fell when I pushed through the wall hit anybody. There’s no denying that that was a good thing, but directly ahead of me stood another one of the same types of mechs I’d destroyed on the fourth floor except this one had a person inside. Not only that, but based on how they’d been shooting through the wall, they didn’t care who they hit as long as they had a chance to hit us.
The voice we’d heard over the intercom earlier spoke again, “They’re in the stairwell. Find them. Kill them.”
Though I hadn’t paid attention the first time, this time I noticed my implant’s alert: Dominator command inflections. I’d already assumed, but it brought up a question. Was this whole place full Dominator tech or did the building’s speakers carry the Dominators’ commands well enough that they worked?
Either way, that wasn’t a good thing.
Not that I had time to think about that. As I landed on the ground, the mech changed position, aiming the gun at the end of its right arm at me. I aimed a few bots at the arm and fired, letting the bots’ navigation systems find their own way to the mech as I jumped forward and to the left, closer to the outside wall.
Just like the top floor, this floor of the building was an open room with a few large pillars and the big rectangular block holding the elevators and the stairwell. The elevators and stairwell opened toward the middle of the floor. I’d jumped through the wall facing outward.
Ahead of me lay rows of emptied cubicles and the mirrored windows to the outside. Between me and all of that stood the mech, of course. With my jump leftward, it had been forced to swing the gun even further to its right—which was my plan.
Running next to the wall meant that its misses would fly out into the cornfields instead of at my friends or the Nine’s mind-controlled employees.
On the other hand, the mech was still aiming at me, but not very well. All of its shots whizzed past me—one five feet above my head and the other two off to my left. I couldn’t know for sure, but my gut told me that the operator wasn’t a trained soldier. Most likely, some employee had received some barebones mech pilot training from the company along with their 401K.
Out of the next salvo of bullets, one hit me, not getting through the armor. It hit my suit’s left shoulder, kicking off a series of error messages and knocking me backward. I didn’t lose control of my suit or fall over. I did have to move a couple of feet sideways as I found my footing again.
Looking down, I noticed that the bullet was still there, stuck partly into the armor protecting my upper chest. As I looked though, the bullet popped out and the suit filled in the hole.
That wasn’t all. At about the same time, my bots hit the mech’s arms, hitting where I’d intended, the lower arm where it merged with the gun. Exploding in a burst of fire and smoke, pieces of the gun flew in all directions, separating into cables, wires, armor plating, metal rods, and dark liquids.
I’d aimed the bots there in hopes that I wouldn’t hurt the human inside, but I was still relieved not to see a hand or arm rolling across the beige carpet.
What wasn’t so good about that was how the mech then ran straight for me. I wasn’t sure what the mech planned to do without its main gun and with fluids leaking from the arm, but then a round object shot out of its head, exploding as it neared me.
The flash of fire obscured my vision, but while the blast burned the carpet and hit a set of cubicles, blowing them apart and starting papers on fire, the Rocket suit was made using ceramics more advanced than most.
I had the momentum to run straight through the blast, finding that the mech was directly ahead of me. Guessing from the size of the grenade that the pilot sat inside the body, I punched into the head, smashing through the front into the middle, breaking the rack partially full of grenades.
As the force of my punch bent the head backward, bending the metal of the rack, the mech’s working arm flew toward my right side. Seeing it out of the corner of my eye, I moved sideways, taking less of a hit than I might have. The suit didn’t even post an alert.
I pushed forward with my arms and legs, releasing extra energy from the artificial muscles to get some extra momentum. This did what I thought it might—I knocked it on its back. Not stopping there, I stuck my fingers into a crevice on the main body near the head. My gauntleted hands sunk into the metal and ripped a panel of the mech’s outer body off, allowing me to see the quivering man inside, and ripping away pieces of the mech’s control panel at the same time.