Over the comm I asked, “Do we have time to think about our next move, or are we best off moving forward?”
Daniel closed his eyes for a moment, “We don’t have long, but we’ve got a little while before it becomes too dangerous.”
“Okay. I’m going to send out a roachbot to see what’s ahead. If Blue’s can scan this place without giving them too much of a hint that we’re here, maybe she can too?”
“Make it quick,” Jaclyn said, looking up at the hole Cassie had cut in the room’s ceiling. “If they’ve still got anyone upstairs, that’s going to be too big to miss.”
“Yeah,” I fired off a bot, aiming for the bottom of the door, guessing that there might be enough space. I was wrong, but since I’d added killbot tech to almost all of my bots, it wasn’t a problem. The bot scraped out a piece less than a quarter of its diameter off the bottom of the door—not something anyone would notice.
I turned it to the right as it exited into the gray, concrete hall, avoiding the wall the bot would have otherwise hit. Letting the bot fly down the hall told me something important—that’s all this floor was. The bot flew past at least six pairs of metal doors exactly like the one, all of them roughly the same distance away from each other.
That meant that this floor was most likely a series of storage rooms. I supposed that might be enough for anyone who came to inspect the place, giving them a normal-looking basement. The bot’s speed brought it to the end of the hallway—a cargo elevator.
I flipped the bot over and sent it back our way, but didn’t turn it when it came near our door, letting it go all the way down the hall to my left. It was exactly the same as before except on the opposite end of the hall were a pair of doors. I sent the bot low and it cut through near the bottom, finding a wide stairway downward as well as up—where we’d somehow missed it.
I aimed it down the stairway, whipping it around the landings where it turned and then realizing there was enough room between the up and downsides of the stairway that I could go straight down.
That worked well enough until I hit a level where the walls weren’t simply gray concrete. Three stories down, the floor had windows. Through the windows, I could see the basement and in that moment, I learned something.
The basement was bigger than I’d thought.
It went at least as far down as the building upstairs went up. From the windows in the stairwell, the bot showed me a basement floor. In the far corner on the right side stood a round-cornered rectangular device. Black in color, three glowing lines ran across its sides, one at the top, another near the middle, and finally one at the bottom. Cables ran away from it on all sides in large bundles.
Were the cables powering everything else on the floor? It seemed possible. It could be powering the entire building along with the one next door.
In the meantime, looking down to the bottom reminded me of a city. The Abominator wasn’t the only glowing object even if the rest weren’t as large and because of that, they were harder to distinguish. The bot’s camera was better than my early bots, but not perfect. I couldn’t see in the detail I wanted, but I felt sure I could see people down there, some of them in mechs.
Even if I couldn’t, the far side of the room and a platform that stuck out from the wall on every floor from the top to the bottom. Made out of concrete, it didn’t look beautiful, but if the basement were a city, the line of platforms was a skyscraper and one I couldn’t see inside of. Dark panels of glass connected one level of the platforms to the ones below and above it.
I considered sending the bot through the glass and over to the series of platforms. There had to be a reason they existed. As I decided to do it there was a yellow flash the bot sent back, “Activating self-destruct.” The scene disappeared from my HUD.
Blinking at the sudden light followed by seeing the gray storage room again, I took a deep breath. “I’m not sure what happened, but I just lost the bot. It’s set to self-destruct if it takes damage. So that means that someone took it out. On the bright side though, it turns out that I know exactly where the Abominator energy generator is now. Plus, there are more people, possibly a lot more for all I know.
“ I have to get down there in case my cousin’s there, but I feel like I need to warn you in case you don’t want to. I don’t know as much as I want to, but it could get bad.”
Jaclyn shook her head, “We’re going. This is your family and you’re not going to be able to do it alone. Come on.”
She took a step toward the twin metal doors and we followed her down the hall.