That put everything into a new light. The crowd of people was moving in that direction to be teleported out. Mechs that looked a lot like the mechs Rook’s henchmen used were coming out of the teleporter room, presumably because this base was worth fighting for—at least for a little while.
Inside the room, more bird-shaped mechs appeared even as I descended toward them. Thinking back to Daniel, I asked, When you drew my attention to the room, what were you hoping I’d do?
I had no plan. I felt that whatever was going on down there was important, Daniel thought back at me.
Thanks, I told him. Then I talked the group over the comm, “They’ve got a teleporter in the room in the middle of the far wall. They’re calling in more mechs to fight us. Plus, I think they’re planning on evacuating the people that way. I’m thinking I’m going to head over to the far wall above where they’ll come out.”
“Good idea,” Cassie replied, “but I’m heading down.”
It wasn’t a bad idea. It put Daniel, Yoselin, and me in a position to fire down at the mechs as they came out and made it a little more difficult to fire back at us. Mechs had their limits and one place where they appeared is their range of motion. They might not even be able to target us without moving out from the wall. It wasn’t something to count on, but it wasn’t impossible.
Plus, it wasn’t as if the main reason were tactical. I was actually doing it because it offered me the chance to figure out what to do next while also looking for Ana since I still hadn’t seen her.
We got into position for that at about the same time I told people what I was doing and sent a picture of what I’d seen in the room. In the meantime, Cassie landed in the middle of the room, slicing a mech in two with her gun before aiming the beam at the cables that led up the wall next to the Abominator energy generator.
Sparks flew everywhere as the gun cut through.
Meanwhile, Izzy hit another of the room’s large guns, this one on the wall below the window we’d broken through. Jaclyn, meanwhile had stopped crushing the closest mechs to ask, “Did you find her yet?”
The funny thing was that I just had.
Using my helmet to scan through the faces of the people on the ground, I’d told my implant to help if it could. It turned out that it could. Among more than a few hundred different faces on the ground, it identified Ana before I did, making her glow with a white light in the crowd.
She stood on the edge of a crowd of other office workers near the front. Even as I saw her, she picked up her phone, listened, and then broke away from the group, running over toward the stack of glass-walled in platforms that stuck out from the nearest sidewall.
“Almost,” I told Jaclyn as I considered going after Ana. “She ran into the stacked platform over there. I might have to go after her.”
As Jaclyn began to reply, a voice broke out, filling the room, “Welcome, Heroes’ League! I have to admit that we weren’t expecting you today or I’d have been here myself. But sadly, I have other plans and so I’ve sent a group of my very best to look after you today. You’ll find that I’ve been busy lately. It’s been so annoying that I have to try my best to catch up to you, but that’s the way the world works isn’t it? Competition makes us all better. For now, though, I hope you’ll do your best here. Because if you do, I’m sure we’ll meet up again in person and I’ll be able to tell you what I’ve done to my hand and my leg.
“Until then, goodbye.”
The speakers went quiet.
I didn’t instantly recognize the voice since I’d only ever met the guy twice, but by the end, I was absolutely sure it was Rook even if the mechs in the teleportation room hadn’t been enough of a clue.
Even though part of me wanted to ask which limb he’d lose this time, I knew better. He wouldn’t hear it. That said, I decided to do my best to remember it for the next time we did meet.
It seemed obvious that Rook’s henchmen would rush out of the teleportation room soon, but I hadn’t decided if my next move would be grabbing Ana or trashing all of the Abominator tech that I could see in the room.
There was no shortage of it.
Now that I was close to the bottom floor, the room reminded me of nothing more than the lab at Higher Ground where we’d analyzed Abominator artifacts. Groups of cabinets and cubicles surrounded well-lit tables with broken or fully assembled devices, some of which appeared to be made out of the same metal as Cassie’s gun.
My implant labeled them one by one, from spaceship pieces to weapons to equipment for survival on alien worlds.
It struck me that the group didn’t need me to destroy as much of the room as possible. Izzy and Jaclyn could do it by themselves. I should go after Ana.
As I came to that conclusion and prepared to aim myself toward the glass-covered platforms, another voice spoke over the room’s speakers. A woman’s voice said, “Surrender, Heroes’ League. Go to the front of the room near the open double doors, take off your armor, weapons and stand still.”
I didn’t need the implant to identify the “Dominator command inflections” because my own buzzers were neutralizing her commands. Also, I felt as if I knew the voice. I recognized it from the memories that Daniel had grabbed from Armory’s head.
Somewhere in this room, the “Amethyst Archer” waited for us to make a mistake.