The True didn’t make it easy for me. Even as I swerved toward the far left table in the line, they started running for me—except for the one that was already there and waiting.
The bots hit that one first, exploding and throwing him backward. They hit the other two at almost the same time, whipping around them and shooting them not backward, but forward in a fiery explosion, generally in the opposite direction that I was flying.
That had been my plan after all. If I couldn’t take them out, I could at least slow them down. Given that I hadn’t seen them fly yet, it might be that they couldn’t. Given that this appeared to be the lab where they were made, they might not be finished.
It would be nice for the universe to throw me a bone.
As I flew forward, passing over the True I’d just blown backward, the universe at least threw me a small bone. The True aimed his suit’s gun upward but, still struggling to stand, couldn’t move fast enough to hit me. The white beam hit the ceiling above him, causing chunks of concrete and dust to fall.
That left the True that was still on me. I even had an idea for that one even if it wasn’t an idea that I liked. Still, the nice thing about near invulnerable opponents is that you don’t have to hold back.
At my internship, I’d had to give some thought to plastique near the end of the summer when all hell broke loose. It struck me afterward that there might be a time that I might want to place a shaped charge with a bot. So, I designed one and had a few on me.
I fired off a couple and they shot forward, flipped over, one of them hitting the joint near the True’s right hand and the other hitting the True’s suit directly in the middle of the faceplate. Both of them stuck where they hit.
From the tilt of the True’s helmet, I could tell that he noticed the one on his hand as well as the one on his faceplate, offering him an annoying problem—how to remove the bots without letting go of me. It barely took any time for him to come up with part of the solution. He began to move his head closer to me, probably with the intent to rub the bot off on me if he could.
He never got the chance because I set the bots to explode.
In a flash of red and yellow flame, the bots exploded and the True let go, screaming—which was good because it meant that he was alive, something I thought I wouldn’t have to worry about.
It suddenly became a question in the moment that I noticed that the faceplate was a spiderweb of cracked glass. It didn’t seem to be broken, but it was damaged to a point that seeing out of it wouldn’t be easy.
He hit the ground and started pulling himself up using his right hand. The metal near the joint was discolored, but it didn’t seem to work any worse. At least that’s what I thought, but then it wobbled for a moment.
Having come out of the spin I’d been using to keep him distracted, I found myself going diagonally across the room instead of straight as I’d intended. It wasn’t all bad in that it gave me a moment to collect my thoughts as I straightened myself out.
I hadn’t expected the plastique bots to do much of anything. To be fair, I’d used a shaped charge and the technology I used was a mix of Grandpa’s ideas, my own, and ideas inspired by technology from the implant’s records. Still, it showed that the faceplate might be a weak point. Helped by my implant, I knew that wasn’t where Jaclyn had punched.
I needed to let Jaclyn and Izzy know as soon as possible but now wasn’t good for me.
Ahead of me lay more True, some in powered armor and some in mechs and at this moment I couldn’t see Ana anymore. I didn’t know whether that meant that she’d disappeared into a mech or if she’d left.
I pinged Yoselin through my implant, Where’s Ana?”
Yoselin replied, She’s in powered armor and she’s leaving. I’m following. I think they’re going up to the next level.
Well, I thought about that, looking at the True in armor ahead of me. There were at least ten of them. The ones behind me were already running after me, jumping from table to table. I guess I’ll have to get through.
Hurry, she thought at me.
That was easier said than done, but I told her, I’ll try.