Feeling the rockets throw me forward, I weaved through the air, doing my best to be hard to hit, knowing that the True could predict my moves before I made them—if they had enough information.
Half of the True ran forward, but only on this side of the room. It made flying across the room and following the far wall seem like the best option except that the True would be trying to trick me into a bad choice. Flying across the room would allow the whole group more time to fire at me and flying next to the far wall would do more of the same.
I chose not to. Instead, I turned and flew toward them, dipping downward as if I planned to ram one of the silvery Rook suits in front of me and then shooting upward and to the left to move between two of them. It wasn’t as if there were enough of them to stand close and hold hands or something.
That’s where it went wrong. The True to my left had anticipated this exact maneuver, jumping at me as I passed, grabbing me around my chest, and hanging from my back. The blast of the rockets wasn’t enough to through the True off, and worse, it made it harder to dodge the True in front of me.
Another jumped on, this one from the right, hanging with his left arm and pointing his right arm with its laser at my helmet, shouting, “Surrender!”
I’d been holding my arms ahead of myself, Superman-style, and so neither of them controlled my arms. I brought down my right arm, putting the end of the sonics under my arm directly next to the joint at the elbow of the arm he was using to hang on to me and using the maximum volume.
If it had any effect, I didn’t notice. Fortunately, that wasn’t the only thing I was trying. I also dipped downward, hitting the guy against the massive grey metal platform, causing all three of us to crash into it and roll. The suits were strong and you could grab onto something, but I doubted they were as good at grabbing people as hitting them. I knew the Rocket suit wasn’t.
All three of us lost hold of each other, rolling across the platform—except for me. I was skidding across the platform, rockets still pushing me forward. Knowing that being on top of a semi-working teleportation platform was not a good place to be, I took to the air, angling the rockets upward and flying toward the Amethyst Archer, and Ana, wondering what I was going to do when I reached them.
The Amethyst Archer didn’t have any of those questions. She pulled up her bow and fired two arrows at me. What was even crazier was that she hit. The first one hit my chest and exploded, but aside from the heat didn’t do much damage.
The second arrow could have killed me though. It hit in the middle of my helmet and would have gone straight through if the system I’d installed to protect against killbots hadn’t activated.
I’d have been crazy not to put that in after having fought Rook’s killbot-enhanced crowbots at the end of my internship at Higher Ground.
I was within 20 feet of them by then, having decided that the best thing I could do would be to take out the Amethyst Archer and maybe Ana if I had to, given that the Amethyst Archer had to be a “motivator” by the Human Ascendancy’s standards.
It’s in moments like that, where you’ve figured out what you’re going to do, that everything goes crazy.
Even as I fired off a goobot, the Amethyst Archer gave the inevitable command, “Kill the Rocket!”
The swarm of 20 plus True were already running across the platform after me, joined by more from the floors below that were coming up through the stairs. If that weren’t enough, Izzy and Jaclyn blasted through the glass on the far end of the room, the part that extended into the open basement.
Worse, they weren’t alone. A cloud of Rook suited True from the other teleporter flew up after them. Where Daniel and Cassie were was something I didn’t have time to pay attention to at that moment.
Arguably, I didn’t have time to pay attention to Izzy, Jaclyn, and all the True behind them either, but thanks to my helmet’s wide field of vision, it barely took thought.
As much as the site of a malfunctioning teleporter didn’t seem to be the best location for a fight, it was what we got. I didn’t have time to give that much thought because at the same time that everyone and their dog began to enter the room, two other things also happened.
The Amethyst Archer buckled as if she’d been punched in the stomach by an invisible opponent.
I’d have been running over there to help Yoselin except for the other thing. The red and black suit that I’d seen Ana get into jumped onto the teleporter platform and ran at me.
It was time to find out how familiar with her suit Ana was.