Chapter 23:

Crash Landing and March Forward


“Perfectly on time, eh?” Said the idol half-stuck inside the machinery that covered her landing zone.

A few months ago, she would’ve been impressed that such a weird plan had worked, but doing this much was now common.

Even so, the pink projectile with redacted weight had passed through the concrete floor with success.

She was inside the subterranean area of the building as planned, but she wasn't expecting the number of machines in her landing zone.

Also, although she didn’t know that, her stunt and the explosion before that had caused widespread panic among the people around the building.

Both the fleeing civilians and the nearby cops in fact, but that was another subject entirely.

“I wonder what would have happened if this one place was not a room…”

Amy pried open a path through what seemed to be a bunch of servers without much effort.

She also threw the remains of the topless fire extinguishers to the ground when she had the chance.

“Maybe I should have used another tube...” She commented to no one in particular while looking around the room. “I came so very close to Mach 1...”

Almost a kilometer of freefall together with some makeshift boosters of compact gas could make wonders, she thought.

It relied on using those with something resistant enough to take the impact though.

Sadly, Amy’s body was still a bit short of this status, even if just slightly.

“Now, I can see this one is the wrong room, so…”

This room's temperature was perfect to buy her more time, but it was unlikely that she could draw her foes inside fast enough.

It wasn't a doable plan either way, so she ignored it and started to walk with slow steps towards the exit.

The stunt bought enough time by ignoring any traps on her way, so she was still on the clock, even if the slower than usual pace of her walking said the opposite.

“Maybe I should have saved some little ones for later. I am walking slower than expected…”

As she was contemplating her choices, heavy metallic steps started to approach the door and she could identify a few figures closing in.

It wasn't unexpected, so all it did was prompt Amy to draw her old-fashioned gun though.

“Good response time, but you are still underestimating me.”

Three pairs of steps, all wearing power armor, were approaching the door much faster than Amy was.

In the ideal world, she would reach the door first and use it as cover, but her steps were too slow at the moment to do so.

It wasn’t that much of a problem though.

The rushed steps kept approaching for another while until, as Amy was already getting impatient, the door was swung open.

And even before the first of the three guards could identify Amy, a server flung from its place to his face.

The vanguard was down already and it rushed his two companions to take cover by the sides of the entrance right away.

“It is one down, you see?" She taunted in a voice high enough for the other two to hear. "The next one may enter now…”

Calling them out was for naught in the end as, instead of following her orders, just the muzzles of their guns entered the room.

A hail of self-propelled projectiles came soon after, but the girl was already behind some cover as it happened.

Of course, blind fire or not, they were smart bullets.

Even if Amy was well covered and the guard's aim was all over the place, some of the projectiles would still turn and find their way.

Moving like this made these lose a good part of their stopping power though.

Either way, Amy was once again being peppered by projectiles, although these were lacking in power to pierce through her dress.

It was still a nuisance and would cause damage with due time.

“I told you to enter, not to unload your guns!”

Since she wasn't given her close-quarters fight, the idol instead waited for a moment when the weapons would reload and jumped from her cover.

She rolled on the ground during the small window between the thud of the empty clips and the guards pulling their guns away to reload.

As she changed covers in a single moment, two shots were perfectly set on her targets.

And then she waited for a moment.

No gunfire rang when the rifles were reloaded and returned to their firing positions, just as expected.

All the idol heard were the dry clicking and then a pair of small explosions when the two guns with obstructed barrels finally overloaded.

“Now, now…”

The first menace was dealt with.

It shouldn't be enough to knock the man out, but knocking them out wasn't a need.

All she had to do was get up, dust the bullets from her dress and walk towards the silent door and the fainted guard in front of it.

The moment she crossed the entrance though, a metal gauntlet was thrust towards her and then blocked right away.

Its brother followed suit as one of the armored men kept trying to punch the unarmored idol, but he was failing flawlessly.

Even when the second man joined the fight and tried to grab her from behind, they were still failing to overpower Amy.

"Melee is much more fun..."

The man on the back received an elbow that pushed him a meter or so away while the hand of the other was apprehended.

As his arm twisted, the struggling guard managed to land a first hit, but it only brought a smile to the girl's face.

She couldn't simply punch him into submission like this though, so the man was instead flung towards his companion.

And as he landed on top of his friend, a revolver was unloaded on his back.

Gas started to leak where the shots connected and the sound of grinding gears came from the armor of the targeted man.

Still fazed by the impact, the second man tried to go for his sidearm, but a pink heel crushed his armor and hand as he did so.

Without even having the chance to scream though, a hand and a smile covered the line of sight of the man and his head was thrust into the wall.

Happy with the results, Amy slowly got up again.

“Three down and we are..." She clapped her hands before noticing that her handiwork wasn't done yet. "Ow! I almost forgot.”

The continuous grinding of gears she could hear remembered the pink girl that one of the men was still trying to move his body.

As it could be troublesome if he noticed that the control and gas systems of his power suit were all the damage, she grabbed his leg and started to walk.

“Sorry about this, guard guy…”

And when she came far enough from the door to have a clear line of sight, the remaining guard was simply thrown away.

More servers received damage as Amy started to hear more approaching steps in the next room.

While she was getting ready to move on though, the girl turned around and took a good look at the room she was in now.

There wasn't much to look though since the room was just an empty area around a smaller room made of metal.

Due to the single fortified door and the connections leaving this smaller room though, Amy could get some ideas of this place's purpose.

“Is this a reactor…? So, that is why it lacked the energy pull... I see I see... No time to lose on this though.”

More steps were approaching by now and this one room was too open to take cover.

Something on the back of her head was telling her that this thing couldn't be left alone, but she lacked the time to deal with it.

Since Amy couldn’t move fast though, she had few options on what to do, the best being to retreat to cover.

But retreating would take too much time and she wasn't in the mood for it too.

“Advancing is my favored tactic either way.”

She got the fallen rifle from the guard she took down first and his sidearm too, loading his revolver with its bullets as she walked forward.

By the numbers, she should reach it almost at the same time as the approaching guards.

The number of steps was much higher this time though.

“A bigger number of them, but still…”

Almost ten guards were approaching Amy’s location in the same way the three from earlier had.

It was much less than the idol would expect even for a delayed reaction, but it was a lot still.

Maybe the number of guards was lacking, to begin with...

Either way, the focus now was on the enemies right in front of her and those seemed better organized than the ones before.

By what the sound suggested, they were waiting for her instead of rushing in.

“Not moving around makes it harder, but I can still get you all, you see?”

Getting the map of the room she didn’t see was hard and Amy couldn’t calculate for all variables like this, but she didn't need to.

Getting an idea of where each one of them was waiting was doable with their earlier footsteps alone.

And with the generic position of her foes, the idol took a step away from the door and supported her weight on her bad leg.

The next thing the waiting guards saw was a metallic door being kicked away from its place.

A gasp and a flying door later, two guards holding position on a flipped table in what seemed to be another security room.

It was a similar room to the one on the 500th floor but with more doors.

There was an entrance from where Amy came, another one from where the guards came, and a last one that should be her destination.

Only the second of those had a safe door run by engine though.

On the inside, the surprised guards were spread around makeshift cover, but the sudden attack gave a moment of window to the pink girl.

Not willing to waste the second she had, her rifle was pretty much unloaded right away without much counter-fire.

And in just a few moments after the breach, every smart rifle in the room was disabled and a smiling pink idol was slowly walking toward the closest guard.

“If you gentleman could not fight back, please…”

As was expected, the guards with bullet-holed guns ignored her warning without a hitch.

And another fight including everything from tackles to pistol fire started.

It lasted no more than a few seconds though.

“Sigh… Why could you not take my advice, people? Fighting living beings is always so tiresome…”

Thrice many guards took thrice much time, but in the end, the current fight wasn’t that different from the first one.

Almost every piece of furniture in the room was damaged in some way and no piece of equipment was working still, but it wasn’t that different.

Amy's movements were less fluid than earlier and a piece of her pink dress was dyed in a much deeper color, but she won nonetheless.

And all her eyes had in sight was the door that, in theory, led to the elevators.

“Since I am here already…”

She was unsure of how many still worked after that explosion on the tunnel and if there were more guards, but being flanked here would be bad.

Luckily, one of the doors needed a motor to open, so all she had to do was unload some pistol mags on the engine box.

There were better ways to do it, but they would be a pain.

In the end, the sparks coming from the area shot seemed good enough and it should buy some time if someone tried to cross the doors.

“Now… I wonder if they will bring some robots next. I need some reinforcements.”

Her self-diagnosis was saying that most of her time was burned out and she was running at 70% at most by this point, so some help would be appreciated.

The other option would be aiming to kill without caring about why they were attacking her from now on, but that wasn’t an option.

She moved on then, heading to the last room while, weirdly enough, not hearing any other guards.

Even by pushing her senses to the limit, all she could hear was a single set of breathing noises.

The clock was ticking though, so it wasn’t as if she could lose time here forever.

“Here goes nothing, I guess…”

Still unsure of how smart that move was, Amy leaned on the wall and opened the door while using the frame as cover.

She waited for a while after it was open just in case, but nothing happened too, so she finally looked inside.

And when she did so, the sight in front of her was very much what she was expecting.

The room was similar to the ones where people living in VR were stored.

This one had fewer devices, half a dozen of them to be exact, and they were much bulkier and big than the usual ones though.

They were also connected to some kind of big machine in the middle of the room, said device being where the only occupant of the room who wasn’t in a VR device was.

“It was a good test drive, IDOL.” Said the chief of security, or who was partly the chief of security, as he saw the pink girl probing the room. "Now, if you could give up this shiny toy of yours..."

Richard’s body was sitting at the helm of the big machine and the person inside it seemed to be happy to see Amy approaching.

It was exactly the expected, but the fact that it was what she expected wasn’t good.

None of it prevented Amy from opening fire right away though.

Dalion Alteri
Steward McOy