After all that Izzy and Jaclyn had done and the damage they’d taken, I probably was the person most ready to take point. The Rocket suit might not be in perfect shape, but I could take a few shots from the True I knew had to be up there.
Of course, Cassie was already moving. She jumped through the hole in the ceiling even as I aimed myself in that direction. I shot off a bot to scout as she passed me because I wanted to know what was up there if I could.
My bot got up there at the same time as Cassie, giving me a picture of an empty room this time, gray concrete on the ceiling, the walls, and the floor. The one thing that wasn’t gray was the Rook-suited True crawling up the windowed side of the room.
One other detail about the room didn’t stand out until I flew up there myself—the spiderweb of cracks across the floor. Izzy and Jaclyn had done more damage when they’d stomped on the floor than any of us had realized.
More interesting, the True weren’t even trying to engage. They were hurrying upward as quickly as they could make one hand reach over the other.
They’d noticed more than we had.
I barely had time to explore that thought and had begun to say, “Blue—“ even as I used the sound-based slice of my sensors to take a look at the area. I couldn’t see to the depth that Izzy could, but the sonics showed fuzzy sections where I was getting more noise back than I’d expected from what I’d sent.
It didn’t take much to guess that that might be the sound of cracking.
The nearest ones seemed to be centered around support beams near where they’d damaged the floor. The fuzziness increased as it went further away from me, becoming its greatest at the far end of the room.
That was the end that dropped a few feet after Izzy and Accelerando attacked the floor.
Izzy talked over my attempt to get her attention, “We need to get out of here. This whole place is going to fall in.”
We didn’t take any time to discuss anything after that as Izzy knocked a hole in the ceiling, allowing us to fly toward the next floor up. Following behind Izzy, Cassie, and Jaclyn, I helped knock pieces of concrete to the side so that they wouldn’t hit Daniel, Yoselin, or their captives.
Even before we’d gone through the new hole, we heard a rumbling followed by a deep, crashing noise that I felt even though I was in the air.
For a moment, I expected everything to come falling down on top of us, but it didn’t. We flew through to another room, this one filled with wooden crates that we didn’t have time to investigate.
We had to be getting close to the top floor even if we weren’t quite there. Jaclyn took the next entry, dropping to the side of the hole we had just come through, and jumping upward, shattering the ceiling, throwing chunks upward, and creating a shower of concrete dust along with some small pieces.
But that wasn’t all. Along with the dust came flashes of bright light and a muttered curse from Jaclyn. Izzy and I shot up after her, Cassie following us. This was another floor full of wooden and metal crates, many of them large enough to hold full mechs.
Standing behind the crates were True, some of them with silvery armor, others in the more familiar all black. All of them were firing at us, seeming to hit with every shot and from every direction.
You could see that as an example of the True’s ability to extrapolate the best approach to a problem based on small, not obviously related bits of data, or maybe (and less impressive) once Jaclyn broke through, it was obvious where we’d be.
I didn’t have time to mentally debate the merits of either one. Beams hit my suit, burning it, and creating a lot of errors and notifications, all of which told me the same thing—the suit was getting too hot and the coating that allowed it to deflect much of this kind of radiation was being burned off. Also, the Rocket suit was getting closer to the point where the fuel in the tank would explode.
That wasn’t all of the bad news either.
Jaclyn had been the first one through and her suit’s reports showed that she had less than 15% of her suit’s expected protection and she wasn’t in my direct sight. Izzy, meanwhile, had flown through the hole a little before I did, allowing me to be there as the silvery shield around her disappeared under a deluge of white light.
She fell—not back down through the hole which might have been better, but off to the side of it, landing on the concrete floor next to the hole. That left me alone in the air, target of every True that could see me.