The next day, I appeared back in front of the mirror. It was Sunday morning, and I had a day to do scouting. The previous night, I had supper with my family and took a shot of the stuff Jeri made. I sat out with my family after taking the shot, mindful of any bad reactions. If she had wanted to, she could have poisoned me. In that case, I wanted my family there ready to call the hospital. Then again, I wasn’t sure if that kind of advanced tech would be able to be healed by a hospital from my world.
In the end, I felt my mind clear up, and had a feeling like I could move and react faster. Allgility had done its job. I had kissed my mother goodnight and then kissed my sister goodnight after she made me. Then, I got some extra sleep as preparation for today’s event. This wasn’t like my previous trips. We were just going a few blocks away. Even if something happened, we’d be able to retreat here without too much trouble. When I opened the door, Kiera was already there waiting for me.
I had put an order that she couldn’t come into my room when I wasn’t present. I didn’t need them accidentally knocking down the mirror or running into them. Plus, as we added more people to our group, I wasn’t sure I wanted everyone to know about the mirror. It might be worth moving it eventually, creating a place that no one else could access. As a result, Kiera who knew that I was arriving in the morning had dutifully waited for me.
“Master.” She curtsied happily when she saw me walk out into the hall.
I felt like if she had a tail, it’d be wagging. She acted as my maid, but I didn’t really need her for anything. She might clean up a bit, but this decayed building would never look clean. I ate and washed in my world. I really wasn’t interested in doing those things here. Then again, the thought of having Kiera wash me had come to mind. In the end, I had kicked those feelings down. She was an abused person, and taking advantage of her just because she was appreciative didn’t sit right with me. If I was going to get intimate with someone, it’d happen naturally.
“Are you ready?” I asked as I peered into Katarina’s room.
She was already standing there in her typical outfit, something between armor and versatility. She slung her smart rifle on her back, checked various knives and guns on her, and then looked at me.
“Took you long enough.”
I was getting used to her greeting me like that. I had come extra early today, but, to her, the day started when the sun came out. I gave a helpless laugh, and then she followed me down to the bottom floor. I got the armless and weaponless destroyer powered up. I had named him Popeye. He was tasked with dragging the cart behind him so we could carry heavier things. I had thought of bringing something more useful from my world through the portal, but those things were expensive. Until I made more money, I’d have to settle for what we could fit on a cart strapped to a robot.
Katarina insisted on checking all the defenses one more time. Apparently, she checked them three times a day. Kiera cleaned and picked up, Katarina checked the defenses, and Jeri worked in her lab. That was the basic duties of the three girls so far. I was the glue that connected all of them and kept them going. That was a weird feeling and a large part of the reason that I wasn’t willing to just take off on them. I had gathered them here. I had a responsibility to give them a safe place. At least, that’s how I felt.
It was still morning by the time the two of us left the safety of our building. Simply walking out onto the war-torn streets of the city was enough to cause my heart to clench with anxiety. I took steady breaths to calm myself. This was just a simple mission. I wore the armor I had gotten from the Rink, although it already had many strikes and dings from my previous battle at the hospital. I also had Veronica at my side. This was the gun that Jacques had given me. It reminded me that anyone could betray you.
The pair of us left the building, and rather than turning right to head north, we turned left and headed south. This area was only a few blocks from where we had been held up for weeks. I had only walked in this direction once, after being caught by bandits. Fortunately, all of those bandits were dead, so there should be nothing particularly dangerous.
As we progressed, I drew my gun a few times, admiring how much quicker I could pull. With the Allgility, I felt much faster on the draw. I also felt like my mind was clearer, and any noise that startled me I could react to quickly. Katarina looked over at me as I drew my gun for the tenth time. She didn’t say anything to stop me, but she did snort derisively. I didn’t think it was a bad idea to practice such a thing though.
“The museum is up ahead.” She gestured as we reached a corner.
I glanced around the corner to see a large building with giant columns in the front. I grew excited about seeing it. Wealth and security awaited us if we could somehow find a way in there. First, I needed to find someone who had worked there before the war. It had to be someone wearing a Perco. The pair of us cautiously approached the museum. It was only a few blocks away. I might have even been able to see the place from our roof if I had known what I was looking for. Well, if the roof wasn’t mostly collapsed.
I ran out across the street.
“Idiot! Stay back!” She hissed.
I ducked and ran back. I had been so excited I had errored. She shot me an angry look and dragged me back behind cover as she pulled her gun out. After waiting for nearly five minutes, she nodded and walked in the direction I was heading. There was no one nearby. We were safe. I was still a newbie when it came to the apocalypse. The thing that had caught my interest was a skeleton, but that skeleton had what appeared to be a uniform on, although it was hard to tell since it had turned to shreds over the years from the weather. What was more exciting was that on its wrist was a Perco.
This is exactly what I had been hoping for. I ran up behind Katarina. She kneeled first and grabbed the wrist of the dead skeleton, yanking the Perco off without a care. The skeleton fell apart, landed on the ground in a heap as she stood up. After clicking the Perco for a few seconds with a frown on her face, she shrugged and tossed it to me.
I picked up the Perco and then tried to hit the buttons. It was worn and the screen was broken. More than that, the buttons had been scoured away. Countless years in the open had bleached it and burned it. It was in as bad of a condition as all of the rest of the skeleton. I dropped my head in disappointment. I had been far too naïve. If it was that easy, then anyone could do it. It wasn’t just a matter of the technology existing, but also the technology surviving for all of these years. There was no way a Perco would survive outdoors. I was extremely lucky when I found mine in an abandoned, untouched closet wrapped up like a gift. Any other circumstance and the Perco I depended on so much would have been toast.
“It’s fine, you weren’t expecting to get in today anyway, right?” Katarina asked.
I blinked and then gave a little laugh. “I guess I was just hoping things would work out this time.”
“I don’t know why you’re interested in a science museum anyway. There is nothing in there worth anything. Just a bunch of old aged crap.”
“What did you say? Science?” I shook my head, chuckling. “I am an idiot.”
“No argument here.”
I had been so excited about finding a museum, I hadn’t even asked what type of museum. I had assumed it was an art museum, but it turned out it was science. What art was I going to find in there? It looked like this entire day had been a bust. No… the security was still powered by a fusion generator, and we wanted that generator. We still had to see it.
“Perhaps, there is an ally? Maybe, we can reach the basement through a basement window?” I offered, changing the subject from my failings. “There has got to be some way to sidestep the security.”
“Something is off…” She suddenly said, perking up.
I turned to see that she wasn’t paying attention to me but looking off at the building.
“The front of the building doesn’t look like how I remembered it. There was a robot patrolling the top of the steps. Plus, those bodies look fresh.”
Now, that she mentioned it, there were several bodies stretched out on the front of the stairway, and I hadn’t seen a single robot. Katarina started to walk forward in a crouched position. She didn’t tell me to wait behind, so I followed her. The pair of us moved to the steps, and then slowly crawled up them. There were numerous gun holes and ash marks from explosions. The front of the museum looked like a warzone. I was too busy looking at them that I ended up crashing into Katarina.
She didn’t move, and I looked over her shoulder, finally seeing what had caused her to stop. There were the broken bodies of several robots. The museum had recently been ransacked!