Chapter 208

                “Wow. That is a shitload of menacing robots.” Violet peered over the side of the rooftop, down at the mass of Sims below. The human-like robots were surrounding the red office building that Will had sent she, Alice, and Amber to, which certainly lent weight to the idea that this was where the big bad was holed up. Unfortunately, since the staff hadn’t known Will was going to bust out drones all those Sims could just be bait meant to draw them in and fight a decoy. It didn’t matter either way, they still had to find the potential Armageddon Sim, it was just a matter of figuring out how to make the approach.

                “We’re here, Will. I dropped us onto a nearby roof so we could scope things out. If this Sim is throwing off energy inside the building, can you give us a floor? Right now going in from the roof looks like our best bet, but if our target is on the ground level I’m going to assume there’s another army in the upper floors that would be between them and us.” Alice wasn’t pacing, in fact she was remarkably calm as she rattled off details into the comms. Sometimes, Violet was a little worried by how good Alice had gotten at staying cool under pressure. It was starting to feel like nothing really got to her, and that was a dangerous attitude for a Hero to have. Especially one going into Subtlety.

                “My last drone sweep had the energy output concentrated on floor number two.” Will’s voice came through all of their communicators, even though only Alice had asked the question. “The building has five floors from what I can tell, and your suspicions were right. I’m picking up a lot of thermal signatures matching that of Sims on the higher levels.”

                “So we either fight the army in the street or the one waiting for us in the halls.” Amber licked her lips, the pre-fight adrenaline clearly already coursing through her veins. “I say we go through the front. We’ve got the element of surprise instead of them, we can see where most of our enemies are laid out, and with the Sims all bunched up like that I can probably wipe the bulk of them out with a single concentrated blast.”

                Although Violet wished there had been a touch less eagerness in Amber’s voice, it was hard to argue with her logic. Fighting their way down one floor at a time would take too long; a single shot could down the majority of their foes while she and Alice picked off the remainder. Violet was about to voice her approval of the plan, but Alice spoke first.

                “I like the idea, you’re right that we can’t afford to piss away the time it would take to fight our way through. But let me make one change to the plan. Instead of blasting them, what if I reversed the gravity around and in the entire building? Our outside foes would go all the way up to whatever the top of this place is, and everyone inside would be pinned to the ceiling. Amber, you could blast us a hole into the second floor so we don’t have to risk anyone on the first taking a ranged shot at us.”

                “It would be quick,” Violet agreed. “But that’s a damn big area, Alice. Are you sure you’re going to be able to change and hold the gravity for all of it, all while presumably keeping us unaffected?”

                “Pretty sure. It is still a risk,” Alice admitted. “If there was ever a time to go for it though, I’d say this is it. I’ll start with the outside group, clearing them will at least let us blast into the second floor easily. And if I start to lose control I can drop that area first. I think the fall would take most of those Sims out of the equation.”

                “But that’s you doing all the work,” Amber pointed out.

                “Oh no, not by a long shot. Holding up that much gravity over that big of an area is going to take all I’ve got. Once we’re inside, I’ll be almost useless except for letting us move. You and Violet will have to be the ones to take out the Sim we came for, plus any who manage to make trouble along the way.”

                It didn’t escape Violet’s notice that Alice had put together a plan that not only indulged Amber’s penchant for destruction and need to feel important, but also minimized the amount of life that would be lost. Enemies or not, Alice was keeping her kill count as low as possible. Maybe she wasn’t as unaffected by all of this as she seemed after all.

                “I think this is as good a plan as we’ll get in time,” Violet said. “We’re ready when you are.”

                Alice moved slightly closer to the edge of the roof, her face tightening in concentration. “Since we have a ticking apocalypse clock, I’d say there’s no time like the present.”

*             *             *

                Sneaking into the museum was easy; Vince just had to follow Chad’s lead. Between his enhanced hearing and exceptional sight, Chad was able to locate potential enemies long before they ever saw him. Avoiding every Sim in their path, few that they saw, they made their way inside to a building that was surprisingly empty, given the situation. There was still a bit of debris here and there, signs of earlier looting, but overall the place was pristine compared to the city around it. Vince wondered, if Will hadn’t pointed them in this direction, would any of the students have thought to investigate somewhere like this?

                “Will, can you give us any idea of where the power is coming from?” Chad asked. “This museum is huge, and the distorting acoustics are making it hard to get a lock on where each sound is coming from. I’ve got four potential targets right now, so any direction you can give is helpful.”

                They only received silence for a moment, long enough that Vince had time to contemplate how screwed they would all be without Will guiding them. Finally, Will replied. “Sorry, managing a lot right now. I’m doing another sweep but this place is pretty well shielded. I guess they don’t want people snooping around, figuring out how to rob the joint. Sorry, I can see the power leaking out the sides but nothing more. You’ll have to search for the location.”

                “Thanks anyway, we’ll keep you posted.” Chad lowered his hand from the earpiece, walking over to a large directory charting the various areas of the museum. It really was huge, so big and detailed Vince wondered if there was a real world version in some city he could go check out one day. They’d never find their guy if they searched one exhibit at a time. Even with Chad having it down to four targets, they might take too long. After several long seconds of staring at the directory, Chad pointed to a section in the northeast of the museum.

                “That’s the one.”

                “You’re sure? Did you hear something?” Vince asked.

                “No, the sounds are still muddled,” Chad replied. “But that is where one of them is coming from. And besides, I know something about Dean Blaine that tells me this is the right choice. He doesn’t like to broadcast it, but he’s got a bit of a flair for the theatrical.”

                Vince edged closer, looking down at the directory, specifically at the section where Chad was pointing. “An exhibit about the origins of Supers and the creation of the Hero Certification Program. I guess it would be a pretty appropriate place to fight for the fate of the world.”