Underground Tower: Part 9

It touched the plate, the silvery color wobbling at the edges and then I let more energy through, wondering how long I’d be able to keep it going and how large I could make it. It’s not that I hadn’t experimented, but there was a difference between expanding a mote to include a desk or sphere of air versus an object attached to a person who might choose to move.

I felt fairly sure I could expand it to include the chest plate and keep it going for a while though, so I took a shot at it.

Letting otherworldly energy flow through me and around the chest plate, I used a technique that Kee had described as a building block for coming out of faster than light travel, allowing you to move back into the normal time stream.

She hadn’t described it as being exactly what you’d use to turn off a stasis field, so I hoped there weren’t unanticipated consequences. Given that I didn’t fully understand what she was teaching me to do yet, it was a distinct possibility.

In an instant, the chest plate turned black like most of the other Rook suits I’d seen, but it didn’t quite look right. I didn’t have the words to describe how it looked wrong. How do you describe time visually? The best I can do is to say that even though it was no longer silver to the point of being reflective, I could sometimes see silvery spots that would disappear.

It was almost as if I wasn’t distributing the energy necessary to move the plate out of stasis perfectly evenly.

I let a touch more energy through and the spots disappeared, but that left me with another problem. How was I going to win this fight? Punch Ana on the chest plate? No. I didn’t want to kill her. I had another option. Using my implant, I reached into my suit’s systems and changed which selection of bots were ready to fire, and then—

A fist hit me in the side of my helmet. A quick replay combined with a guess based on who was throwing the next punch revealed that it had been one of the True using their own speed combined with the Rook suit’s strength to close with me before I had time to notice.

Somehow I kept concentrating on keeping my anti-stasis field going, but Ana’s force field reformed as the True kept on punching me and I struggled to keep my balance. Except then I realized that I didn’t have to keep my balance. When the next punch, I let myself fall backward, giving the rockets a blast of power and shooting me backward and allowing me to fly away, twist around Ana and fire off a couple of goobots at him. They hit, spreading out to hit both the floor below and the ceiling above.

That left me near enough to Ana that she could still reach me and she did, a collection of needle-thin spears of force extending outward toward me. I swerved to the side to give myself time and shot toward the far side of the room, swerving back even as she turned, trying to keep the spears pointed in my direction.

I aimed the sonics at them and they again shattered. Her force field shattered with them and I fired off the EMPbots I’d been intending to release before I got hit.

The bots shot off, heading for the edges near the top of the chest plate on the theory that might be closer to something important.

The bots didn’t explode the same way the boombots did. It was more of a small flash, a sizzle, and black smoke.

Ana’s suit didn’t fall over or even stop moving, but I could see a jerkiness to her next step and a wobble when she moved her arms. Better, the bots’ effects didn’t stop there. Rook had at least tried to prevent EMPs from affecting his suits, but the same couldn’t be said to be true of the teleporter or its controls.

As the bots exploded, I saw a flicker of sparks within the platform followed by darkness and not just there. The two men working on the big gray box that either hid the teleporter’s controls or core components jumped back as sparks flew out and then stopped.

The one in the blue shirt and black slacks hit his chest with open hands as if a few of the sparks might have hit his shirt. The other guy, the one in a flannel shirt who’d been leaning into the box with tools fell backward out of it, landing on his back.

I didn’t have time to pay attention to them, though, because there was too much to pay attention to with Ana. Everywhere her suit had turned silver, it had now turned black and red—its original colors. More than that, she was wobbling on her feet.

I wasn’t sure, but it seemed like we’d won—kind of. Even if Ana wasn’t out, Yoselin had knocked the woman I was calling the Amethyst Archer in my head out and had thrown the unconscious body over her shoulder.

Unfortunately, even though Izzy and Jaclyn had taken out most of the original group of True out of the fight, there were still more coming up the stairs and flying through the windows on the far end of the room.

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