Zooming in on Yoselin, I noticed that she held something in her hand. From this distance, her hand covered most of it, but I could tell that it glowed. In my head, my implant told me, “probable Abominator origin.”
On the one hand, that wasn’t good news, but on the other, it didn’t seem to be harming anyone. The woman laying on the ground in front of her mech pulled herself up and stood as I watched. She walked up to Yoselin and started talking.
I thought about flying over to them and felt Daniel’s agreement. Leaving the mechs we’d destroyed behind us with their sleeping owners inside, we crossed the room to join Cassie and Yoselin next to the mechs they’d destroyed.
Since I was there, I checked around the corner of the elevator block on their end of the room. No one was coming around it. No one else seemed to be on the floor—which was good except that it meant that everyone other than the five people in the mechs had to be downstairs. For now, that was fine, but in the back of my brain, I found myself wondering what the Nine planned to do with them.
If they weren’t on the first floor below us, they’d be in the basement with all the Abominator relics. What I’d seen of what their technology could do worried me, especially how some of it could warp human beings beyond what I could do to fix them.
I turned back to Yoselin and Cassie, “Are you two okay? And what’s that thing?”
I pointed at the glowing object in Yoselin’s hand. Now that I was closer, it appeared to be a glowing sphere made out of glass or, more likely, a material beyond what we could make.
Glancing over at the woman who’d been piloting a mech, Cassie said, “We’re fine. Meet Cindy. I think that whatever Cypher’s holding freed her mind.”
Turning toward Yoselin, I said, “Seriously? Because we could have been using that a while ago.”
Yoselin shook her head, “It is not that easy. Minds are complex and it can’t just remove what’s been done. It takes time, and it is not even done now. I think that we are halfway.”
Cindy, the former mech pilot, said, “I’m sorry. They chose a few of us to learn how to pilot the mechs. I didn’t know what for and I don’t remember why I agreed. I don’t know anything about mechs and I’ve never wanted to fight you people.”
Daniel turned away from the other mech and looked at her, “You didn’t agree. Someone constructed those memories.”
“I’m done,” Yoselin said. “There will be holes in what you remember where they manipulated your memories to fit their needs. I can’t replace what they removed. The most I can do is leave markers of where they changed things and hope that you can piece together what was real.”
Cindy nodded, breathing slowly, “What should I do now?”
“If there’s an exit that goes straight outside without going downstairs,” I said, “I’d leave that way. Otherwise, wait for us to go downstairs and then exit in the chaos that follows. Whatever you do, don’t go down there while we’re down there. You might get told to attack us. Oh, and if you’ve got earplugs, wear them. They might not help, but you never know. They might.”
She nodded, “We’ve got a stairway that leads to the parking lot. I’ll go that way.”
Then she ran away, running toward a door near the corner of the building. As the door shut, I heard Jaclyn’s voice over my comm, “We’re done over here. Do you need us?”
Before I could respond, Cassie said, “Yes. We’re going down to the first floor and then the basement. They’ve been attacking us with mechs and mind-controlled civilians and they might have more down there. We’ll need any help you can give us.”
Izzy’s voice cut in, “There’s no one on the first floor.”
My stomach sank, “Do you see anyone on the upper floors of the building or around it?”
“Almost no one. I think they must have gone toward the basement.” Izzy spoke slowly as if she were scanning the building as she talked.
“Can’t you see the basement?” Cassie asked.
“Not well. Between the ground around it and the materials, I can’t see details. I can tell there’s more than one level down there and that there are people, but I won’t be able to tell much more than that until I’m inside,” Izzy paused, adding, “Sorry.”
Next to me, Daniel pointed to the stairwell, saying over the comm, “Let’s meet on the first floor.”
As the group of us started toward the stairwell, I asked him, “Is that the best option?”
He held up his hands, “It’s the only option. I don’t have a good read on it. The future keeps on changing so quickly I can’t tell the overall best option on the way down. Whatever decision has to be made for me to get a clear read, we haven’t made it yet.”
I followed him through the door to the stairwell, saying, “I hate your powers.”
Running down the stairway after Cassie and Yoselin, he said, “I don’t always like them either.”
Then he slowed down—a lot. I almost ran into him. He turned around to look at me, breathing heavily, “Something just changed. A decision was made and I don’t think it was by us. The overall picture just got worse. We might have to ask under what conditions we abort.”