Then Cri’s voice came over the channel.
“Dali, I need to know all possible access points to the roof. Highlight them now. Kill all enemy cameras and try to disable their power and their comms. Do this now!”
Dali shook herself away from the video of the rocket impact and dove back into the circuits. She savagely slashed the buildings power and backup power and then cut down external camera feeds with a vengeance. She went through the enemy comms with a surgeons touch. Cutting some but not all. Leaving teams able to talk to only half. Adding ear splitting feedback to others. Halfway through her rampage a signal popped onto the net. And then another.
“Ah, a challenger emerges!” She thought to herself and then the battle was on. Back and forth they raced trying to pin her but her little babies, those spiders she’d scattered. Her babies saved her. Every time the opponents thought they had her trapped on their circuit she’d escape to her drones and reenter from a different point.
She was so caught up in her guerilla campaign she almost didn’t notice when Griego physically picked her up and moved her across the roof behind a bunch of large pipes. The contact pulled her out of her fight enough to scan her team’s status. Tien was bleeding badly from a leg wound. Cri was good on ammo but both Griego and Talos were almost out. There was a multitude of dead bodies near the access way and she’d lost about 20% of her rooftop drones.
They weren’t going to last long like this. A glance let her know that the initial response had been fully supported by the city police forces and the building was completely surrounded. Two more helicopter wrecks had joined the first. They needed an exit fast.
Cri came on the com. “We can’t stay here. They will shoot down any vehicle that comes close and isn’t one of theirs. We can’t fly away so we’re going to have to go back down and out through the sewers.”
Talos swore softly.
Greigo started to argue and then suddenly Dali lost contact with him. Switching video feeds she saw what remained of his body laying next to her own body. He’d been shot in the head by something big. The pipes they had been hiding behind were a steaming mess of twisted jagged metal. In the corner of the video she saw Cri sprint across the roof, rifle blazing as he ran, and then felt the impact as he knocked her down and pulled her to a safer location.
Tien’s voice, weak and hazy came on.
“Okay. I can veil us for just long enough to make it to the elevator. But if they’ve got that covered we’re screwed.”
“I’ll handle the elevator if Talos can get his lift operating. Talos?” Cri didn’t stop firing while he talked. Two more enemy died.
“Got it boss. Say when”
A countdown appeared on Dali’s screen. She flashed a warning message to everyone. “” Then she pulled a large cluster of drones back towards her. When the timer hit zero they exploded in a brilliant luminance that lit up the roof. Her optics went white but she’d been expecting that and backups came on line almost as fast. Cri picked her up and took off towards the elevator. Tien limped behind them with Talos supporting her. The mage was muttering and waving her free hand around in circles. The security forces around the roof kept shooting at, well, nothing. Dali smiled and sent spiders pouring down the elevator shaft giving them as much advanced warning as she could. It was wonderfully gloriously empty. They hooked back up and started down.
Tien’s voice came out even weaker than before. The short walk had reopened her wound.
“They will notice the elevator soon. We need to get out of it as fast as possible.”
Talos grunted and suddenly they were plummeting downwards at an almost breakneck speed. A groaning whining sound coming from the spider lift way above them. Like an angry ghost moaning down a mine shaft.
Then with a head snapping jerk the lift suddenly stopped. Almost four stories above the basement floor they had come in on.
Cri cursed and flicked a light around. There was a door just below them. He twisted acrobatically, pulled himself up. Unhooked his line and wrapped it around a foot while holding himself up higher on the line with his other hand. Then like a circus performer he swung back down.
Hanging from the one foot he pulled a long knife from a sheathe somewhere and pried the door open. Dali watched all this through the eyes of her spiders in amazement.
“Get me a map of the building. We need another way down.”
She shook herself and pulled up blueprints and old video footage from when she’d had the security cameras before. By now the enemy hackers had finally won the war and locked her out of the building security and coms. She still held the power systems but they would get those soon and then the team would be tracked mercilessly down. Cri unhooked her as she worked and then he pulled Tien in as well. Talos was last and leaned back into the elevator to detonate his liftbot. There was a rumble then the roof came tumbling down the shaft in pieces.
“Dali, you’ll need to work and walk. Tien needs to be carried and I need Talos for backup.” Cri’s voice was business like, all professional and crisp. Dali pulled enough of her focus to the physical world to point and start down the hallway.
“There is a laundry chute that way. It empties into a big bin full of clothing and other washables two floors down. From there we can take a set of service stairs to the basement. It’s the least guarded path from the last video I had.” Her own voice was shaky and halting and very very distracted. “We don’t have much time before they bring the power back up. We really really need to move.”
Cri swept up Tien and took off down the hallway with Talos on their heels. Dali followed with the last of her spiders running around her providing vision in every direction. At the shoot Talos didn’t wait, he jumped in and slid down. A muffled thump and then he flicked on his lights.
“Floor is clear. It’s a rough but doable landing. Hurry up.”
Cri helped Tien into the chute and she also slid down, letting loose a choking scream when her leg impacted the laundry. Cri followed right after and Dali started into opening. The scream had brought attention and two guards spun around the hallway opening up when they saw her. A round clipped her shoulder and she fell lopsided into the chute. During the brief fall she reflexively triggered her spiders. An explosion filled the hallway above her and she lost vision… everywhere. She hit something soft and panicked. She couldn’t see. Everything was dark, all her video feeds gone. Then someone shook her and she opened her eyes.
“I’ve lost the net…” She wanted to cry. Cri shoved a pistol into her hand.
“No time for that now. If you see something. Shoot it. Now come on.” His voice was entirely matter of fact. As if they had all been sitting at a table and he had been describing the best way to eat cake.
She clumsily grasped the pistol and they started through the darkened floor. Halfway to where she had indicated the stairs were Cri let off multiple bursts from his rifle and something hit the floor with a gasping cry. A little bit later the same thing happened again. Finally they reached stairs and started down. Halfway down the lights came on. As they hit the bottom, Dali could see cameras swiveling and tracking them. Shouts could be heard from higher up.
They made it to the sewer and as soon as they entered Dali was able to pick up the faint signal of the spiders she had left behind. Feeling like she was taking a breath for the first time she connected and through them dialed the phone. It rang, an odd mundane sound in her head as they sprinted through echoing tunnels back towards the street.