Underground Tower: Part 10

I aimed my sonics at Ana’s suit. Even though firing them off was something of a crapshoot and you never knew what you’d damage, you generally damaged something, sometimes even something important. Given that Ana’s suit was no longer protected by either stasis or a force field, I had a real chance now.

Despite that, it didn’t spark, blow smoke, or stop moving.

Even though her suit wobbled, she still took a punch at me. It missed, passing a few inches in front of my helmet.

Meanwhile, Jaclyn’s suit monitor showed a sliver of red, meaning that it was done. All it could do was cover her now. It wasn’t giving any protection—which didn’t mean she was down. She blurred across the room, throwing True into another Rook suited True. Izzy meanwhile was on the ground doing much of the same, but standing next to Cassie who’d given up on using her gun and seemed to have grabbed all of everyone else’s goo grenades, making a wall of stuck True in front of her, all of whom were trying to rip their way free of the goo.

This was good because Izzy barely seemed to be moving. It wasn’t that she wasn’t doing anything. She’d step and throw a punch that knocked the nearest moving True down the room, smashing over several of his teammates, and falling out of the far window. Still, she was taking as few steps as possible to do it and wasn’t flying unless she absolutely had to—flying across the room to stop a True heading for us and then dropping to the floor to punch him and walk back to cover.

That was the moment when I realized the obvious. We were done.

Ana wasn’t in the greatest of shape either—even if my sonics hadn’t done much by comparison to the EMPbots. Using my implant to operate my comm as I threw a punch that knocked Ana’s suit on its back, I said what I could, “If Blue or Accelerando grabs Ana, we can leave.”

Ana tried to pull herself up, but noises came from inside the suit, throwing her backward and straightening her legs and arms. They didn’t move after that. It was as if they’d frozen in place.

Daniel, who’d picked up the Amethyst Archer with his mind and was floating her next to Yoselin, said, “Atoner? Everyone with you should stay away from the window side and definitely shouldn’t be on the floor below.”

“We’re coming from above,” Atoner said, “as per your earlier directions.”

“Great,” Daniel said, glancing over at Jaclyn and Izzy.

Whether Daniel told them what to do or whether he anticipated it, I didn’t know, but knowing Jaclyn, it was more likely her than him.

Jaclyn and Izzy looked at each other and simultaneously slammed their feet into the floor, hitting the teleportation platform and smashing through the metal plates, the equipment below them, and finally into the floor below that.

At that moment, a loud cracking noise began, the kind of noise that makes a person worry about the structural integrity of the floor. It began with their kicks, but continued and didn’t stop. In fact, the cracks grew louder and the floor to on the windows side dipped, starting just past Izzy and Jaclyn and losing at least a foot of height below the windows.

The True who’d been flying upward to come through the broken windows dropped back out, flying away, their enhanced ability to analyze data telling them something a much stupider person could figure out too—battery-powered stasis armor won’t hold out forever, making hanging out in a falling building a bad idea.

The other True, the ones that didn’t have working wings had another problem. Were they going to stay and try to fight us or try to escape? Their routes for escape amounted to the stairs off to the side or jumping out of the window and hoping that stasis plus their armor would stop them from being crushed.

Well, that’s what I thought their choices were. It turned out that there was at least one more. The True stuck their claws into the concrete and crawled up the sides, or, even leaped upward out of the broken window and caught the floor above, pulling themselves upward—except for the one person who missed. He fell.

A group of them did run toward the stairs, going upward, and they were right to do it, I realized. We weren’t going down. If we went out of the window, we’d probably be shot at by True that had to be out there waiting. We had to go up.

“They’ll know we’re coming,” Daniel pointed up at the far right corner of the ceiling, “If Blue or Accelerando could break through that spot, it’ll be a surprise.”

Before Izzy or Jaclyn could do anything, a bright, white beam of light annihilated the spot. As the remaining bits of concrete and dust fell, Cassie ran toward it, the gun that she’d used to create the hole still in her hand.

Meanwhile, the two civilians who’d been trying to fix the teleporter stared at us opened mouthed—well either at us or at the half of the teleportation platform that was sliding toward the far end of the room.

“You’ll want to take the stairs,” I said, “but you might want to wait before you do that because of, you know, the fighting. That said, you won’t want to take too long because this whole place might fall.”

They stopped staring at the platform to stare at me.

Cassie ran between us, aiming for the hole she’d just made, “Rocket! Move!”

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