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“Randall…” I breathed, taking a step back.

“You… if you put me into the mainframe, I would have been able to do something about this!” Chief immediately chided me.

Her words struck me in a hard place. I had bungled this situation. It was a matter of hindsight though. At the time, I was trying to get here as quickly as possible to interrupt Randall’s plans. Had I known a minute ago what I knew now, I naturally would have acted differently. For example, I wouldn’t have shut down all of the security. It had been the fastest way to get me into the armory, but that was before I knew that I’d be encountering more than a single guy who hadn’t known I was coming.

I wasn’t sure if it was by coincidence or if he had some kind of warning, but he was fully suited and ready for a fight. That’s when my eyes narrowed on the object in his hands. He had picked Katarina by the neck, and she was struggling for breath while he held her there. I reached behind myself and pulled out the turret gun. As soon as I aimed it at him, I realized the problem. There was no way I could shoot him without risking hitting Katarina.

“AI, so you managed to gain control of the mech armor. I knew it was only a matter of time before you betrayed me.” I heard a voice come out of his speaker system.

“You imprisoned me.” Her voice came out of my speaker. “Did you think I wouldn’t come for you?”

I realized what she was doing immediately. She was hiding my presence. As far as Randall knew, she was controlling this mech completely.

“We have 3% Power Shield and maybe 4 minutes left of power.” Her voice spoke internally so only I could hear it. “Give me control of the power armor.”

“That…”

“Master, you deleted my current mission protocols. I’ve defaulted back to a subcommand. In the event of a breach, the entire armory must be purged.  Randall cannot be allowed to gain control of any part of this armory, are we agreed?”

“We are, but…”

“Then, do you understanding what I’m asking?”

“I do.” I sighed.

“Then, we agree.”

Warning! Foreign host is requesting complete mech armor control. Allow access? Yes / No

I selected yes. The armor seemed to loosen around me and then started moving without my control. Randall had been waiting for Chief to make a move, watching with a seeming curiosity. As soon as Chief took a step forward, he threw Katarina aside to reach for his weapon. Had he known she was holding back specifically because of Katarina, he would have realized this was the worst decision. She pulled the trigger, running forward as bullets rained out toward Randall.

Several bolts of energy landed on him, hitting him back with distinct thuds. He lifted his spare arm, defending his more vital components as he pulled out a long rifle and then aimed it, pressing the trigger. The rifle gave a buzzing sound as it seemed to power up.

“Now!” Chief cried out.

Chief lunged at Randall, at that moment, the back of the armor started to open, I kicked out of the mech armor, flying out into a spinning role. The beam went off, but with Randall blinded, and Chief running at him at full speed, he didn’t have a chance to aim properly. A beam of light shot out from the gun, striking the mech’s arm. My arm had been within that frame only moments prior. When the light faded, the arm was completely gone.

I didn’t have time to watch the pair fight. As soon as I hit the ground rolling, I stumbled to my feet, running behind various crates to keep from being seen. It wasn’t clear if Randall had seen me leap from Chief or not. By the time he managed to get back to his feet, the mech was already sealed back up, and she was attacking him with full force. I acknowledged that the maneuver she just made was something that required the precision of a robot. I never would have been able to do such a thing on my own if I was given a hundred tries.

I could hear the sounds of battle, gunfire, and the thuds of metal against metal as I took the most direct route to a device, I had noticed the second I entered the room. Sitting back against one of the walls of the armory was something I had seen once before and recognized. It was a nuclear implosion bomb. It was the same construction device that had been used to demolish that office building to take out the murder dragons. One such bomb was in this armory.

When Chief said that the entire armory must be purged, my eyes immediately fell on this item. I shoved the adapter from my Perco into the bomb, dropped my master code, and then activated it. I set the timer for three minutes, the same amount of time that Chief likely had left. As soon as the countdown started, I raced to the other side of the armory.

Out of the side of my eye, I could see that Randall was toying with Chief. He was engaged in a fistfight with her. Her shields had already crumbled, and each punch caused dents to appear on the armor. I hadn’t had any strong opinion on this AI before this moment, but seeing her now, I couldn’t help but feel slightly complex. Ultimately, she was just following her programming, but she also gave us the only chance we had to escape.

“D-daniel?” A voice croaked out.

“Katarina… thank god.”

Her eyes were swollen shut, and by the way, she was moving she likely had a few broken ribs. One of her arms also hung down the side of her uselessly. If I had a Regenx, I would give it to her. I cursed myself for selfishly using them just so I didn’t have to experience a sunburn. They were life-saving drugs for other people, and I had wasted several doses.

These thoughts were only lingering for a moment. I had no clue how long Randall would remain distracted. Thus, I helped Katarina to her feet and the pair of us started moving desperately down the hallway out of the facility. Katarina was limping the entire way, but I pressed her forward as quickly as possible. We reached the end of the hallways, passing the now-open glass doors. Just as I was excitedly thinking this would work, a voice came from behind.

“Where do you think you’re going?”

Despite every desire inside me, I turned back to see Randall standing there. His mech armor had barely taken any damage at all. Meanwhile, he had the other armor in his hands. Chief’s mech was missing one of its legs now as well, and the only thing that was keeping it up was Randall, who was holding her by the head, his hand squeezing with enough force to illicit cracking noises.

“Katarina… get to the lift,” I whispered.

“Dan…”

“The lift!”

I shoved her toward it, and then ran to the console, hastily plugging the adapter into it. Randall seemed to realize what I was doing, but just as he went to toss Chief away, she grabbed onto him, wrapping the leg around him to catch his feet. As he struggled with Chief, I immediately activated the line of turrets.

Randall let out a roar, lifting Chief’s mech armor, and then pulling from both sides, ripping it in half. He threw the sides away and then began to run toward me. The one thing about these mech armors. While their speed was quick, their acceleration was quite slow. Still, watching him pick up speed as he roared toward me while the turrets powered back on was terrifying. As soon as the command appeared, I set them to target and eliminate all hostiles.

Randall had made it 2/3rds of the way down the hallway when six turrets suddenly started firing. His moment was defeated in an instant as he was pelted down by the enemy fire.

“Daniel!” Katarina cried out.

I turned to see that when I powered back on the facility, that also caused the lift to return to the 1st level. I spun around and ripped the adapter out of the port as I raced for the lift. The lift wasn’t so fast. Even if the turrets took care of Randall, by the time the lift rose up and then back down, it would be too late to escape.

I had to leap, catching Katarina’s one good hand as the lift rose toward the ceiling. Behind me, I heard a roar as Randall began to attack the walls randomly. He managed to tear out two turrets and he was already working on his third. I kicked my feet out and desperately climbed onto the lift, sliding onto the platform just before it reached the ceiling of the facility, effectively cutting me in half. Randall’s roars and screams were cut out under us.

Katarina and I collapsed on the metal grating. We had done it. I looked at my Perco. Just under two minutes to spare. I looked over at Katarina. Although she was bruised and battered, she looked back at me.

“You came.” She stated.

“I came.” I nodded.

That was all that needed to be said. The pair of us still needed to get out of the building. We stood up as the lift reached the ground floor. However, just as we were about to leave. The lift suddenly bounced up, causing both of us to stumble. Katarina lost her footing and fell back down. Another thud struck us even higher.

“What the…”

“It’s Randall!” Katarina cried, who was staring down through the grate.

Randall had climbed up the shaft and was now lifting us. We were already no longer able to get off on the ground floor, and even if we tried, Randall would run us down and kill us. I grabbed the lift control and then flipped the button, there was only one other option. We were heading to the roof.

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