Chapter 6

“May I use the tankbuster?” Lilith asked, and Chris did a double-take.

“You’re asking that now?” he demanded, skidding across the floor, and cursed internally. He really should replace his shoes, with how the soles were wearing out. “That’s a little—”

The woman was keeping up with him seemingly effortlessly, which shouldn’t surprise him, even if it did. More importantly, he could hear what sounded like energy fire from the cafeteria.

“If they’re ripping through the walls, that means they’re confident in beating you even with Nightsinger here.” Lilith said simply. Combined with the sound of the weapons, dread rippled through Chris, and he made his decision, pulling out his comm unit.

“George, breach in the cafeteria. Meet Lilith at the armory and get her a charged tankbuster.” Chris told him, his lungs burning as they reminded him he’d been slacking in the gym.

“On it, boss.” George replied, not bothering to argue.

“Good. Techs, loadout A-Five on my armor.” Chris said, and glanced back again as he said. “See you there, Lilith. Try to help Night, please?”

“I will. See you soon!” Lilith replied, a smile flashing across her face, and at the next hall she took a different turn and accelerated, proving that she’d been holding back next to Chris.

Chris didn’t say anything, instead focusing on getting to the armor bay. It just figured it was almost on the opposite side of the building from the Cafeteria.

He really wished that he’d gotten powers that gave him more physical strength.


Lilith took the corner fast enough that she had to shove off the far wall to keep her balance, and when she did, she saw the door to the firing range was open. Darting through, she saw George had beaten her there, but this time he looked significantly different than before.

The man wasn’t smiling as much, and now he was wearing black armor that covered him from the neck down in dull plates, while he was snapping a clip into the rail gun. He glanced over at her and grabbed the tankbuster, tossing the large weapon toward her easily.

“Here you go. Charged, primed, and ready. The safety is on.” George said shortly as she snagged it out of the air, his face grim. “I could really use a suit of that power armor right now.”

“We both could.” Lilith said, making certain she had a solid grip on the weapon, and examining the charge indicator. “I guess Circe had a point about not coming here unarmed.”

“I usually have my reasons.” Circe said, prompting Lilith to roll her eyes.

“Definitely, at least this time.” George replied, and nodded firmly. “Now, let’s see how much good my range time has done me, eh?”

That prompted a laugh from Lilith, and she nodded, turning to retrace her steps.


“Damned, stupid, octopus-starfish robots!” Nightsinger spat out, and grunted as she ripped the one off her back, hissing as one of its drills left a mark. Her suit wasn’t quite in tatters, but it wasn’t in good shape.

The robot shattered as it hit the ground, sparking as it flew apart, and Nightsinger launched a bolt of energy into another, destroying it as well. The problem was how many of them were pouring out of the hole in the wall. She’d held off the initial wave, but now there were over thirty of them in the room, swarming toward her, and still more were working their way through the open drill-bit which had punched through the wall. The thing that unnerved her the most was how the five-armed robots were entirely silent aside from the whirr of their drills and their energy weapons, since most villains made their robots taunt their foes.

Another three lunged at her in tandem, and the heroine cursed, trying to fall back as she blasted two of them and reached for the last, but she realized her mistake an instant too late, as another of them wrapped around her from behind, twisting around her arms and legs rapidly, while a long, segmented limb wrapped around her neck. It wasn’t enough to remove her ability to breathe, but it made it difficult to move her head… just as the one in front of her raised two of its drill-tipped arms and thrust them toward her eyes.


The bright beam of light ripped through the robot without even slowing down, destroying another three of the machines before searing deep into the wall, and the suddenly-disconnected drill-arms crunched to a stop as they fell to the floor. Nightsinger tore herself free of the one on her back just as a high pitched whip-CRACK split the air, and what looked like a bar of light shattered several more of the robots.

When she glanced over, Nightsinger saw George and Lilith, each just barely inside the cafeteria and to either side of the doorway and aiming their guns at new targets. Considering the size of the weapons, she was thankful that they hadn’t hit her, though Lilith’s casual slacks and blouse were quite incongruous with the size of the cannon she was using.

“What took you so long?” Nightsinger demanded, turning her attention back to the robots as one lunged at her, and this time she used it like she was competing in the hammer-throw, launching it into the opening in the wall with a grunt, and she heard a great deal of satisfying explosions from the other side.

“Lockdown increases security.” George said, carefully aiming and taking out a few more robots. “Damn, this is going to take ages to remodel!”

“Yup.” Lilith said, rolling to the side, then taking a shot that wiped out five of the robots in a single blast. “Sorry!”

“Fine, I just… oh, you’ve got to be kidding! How many of them are there?” Nightsinger demanded as still more of the things surged through the opening, and just behind them was a much, much larger robot, one with a huge, glowing red eye at its center. She threw a bolt of energy at it, smashing through a couple of other robots, but to her shock the bolt bounced off it, and her eyes widened as its eye focused on her and grew brighter, throwing herself aside hastily.


The sound of the red beam melting the floor where she’d been standing and punching through the door was loud, and heat billowed through the room while Nightsinger blanched. As tough as she was, that could prove fatal, which worried her even more.

“That’s not good.” George said, taking a shot at the robot as the beam ended, staggering it and denting its armor. “Really not good.”

“No, it isn’t.” Whispering Darkness’s booming voice came from behind Nightsinger as she smashed another robot, a surge of relief rushing through her, and she glanced back to see the man in his power armor on the other side of the glowing remains of the door. “Invaders should know their place. Goodbye.”

With that, Whispering Darkness raised a rather large weapon and pulled the trigger. Nightsinger didn’t see anything come out of the weapon, but she definitely saw the effects, as every light in a cone in front of him went out, and all the robots lurched, then fell over, including the huge one and the one she was holding. A moment later he tossed a large object into the hole, and there was a dull whump from inside, as it light up bright blue like there were flames.

“What did you do?” Nightsinger asked dubiously, looking at the one she was holding, then smashed it just to be safe.

“Heavy EMP cannon. Limited range, but fries most robots, including these ones.” Whispering Darkness explained, stepping into the room as he added. “Thanks for keeping them bottled up, though. If you hadn’t, this would’ve been a disaster. Looks like I have an enemy, though.”

“Wait, so they weren’t after me this time?” Lilith asked, drawing Nightsinger’s gaze as the woman flicked her gun’s safety on and offered it to George. “As often as I’ve been attacked, I thought this might be another attempt.”

The comment was amusing enough that it prompted a bit of a smile on Nightsinger’s face, and she glanced at her boyfriend as she replied. “Well, contrary to what you might believe, the world doesn’t revolve around you. We’ve been attacked by robotic starfish before, so I’m pretty sure you’re not responsible for this one.”

“Agreed.” Whispering Darkness said, and sighed, raising his helmet mask as he added. “Damn, I wish they hadn’t wrecked the cafeteria, though. Of all the places to attack, the only one I’d want hit less is the armory.”

“True, I suppose.” Lilith said, her smile fading. “I guess that means we’re not getting our lunch. It looks like most of the food isn’t salvageable.”

Nightsinger glanced over at the line and winced, as it looked like multiple energy beams and a whole lot of wreckage had been thrown into the waiting food, along with the lights being out, and she shook her head.

“No… that looks like it isn’t a good idea.” Nightsinger said, and paused, then glanced at Chris, an evil thought working its way through her head. “Actually, I do have a different idea.”

“Oh?” Lilith asked, tilting her head. Unlike Nightsinger, the woman didn’t look like she’d taken any damage in the fight, and her clothing was only slightly mussed. Chris gave her a wary look, though.

“What might that be?” he asked.

“Well… Whisper needs to clean up and close the tunnel, along with everything else involved in an attack like this. That being the case, why don’t I get cleaned up and take Lilith over to my HQ for lunch?” Nightsinger asked sweetly.

Chris froze, his jaw working as George chuckled. For her part, Lilith’s eyes lit up as she said. “That sounds like it’d be interesting!”

Chris hesitated, then he looked around and nodded.

“Probably not a bad idea. Geez, today took a bad turn of events. George, I think I’m going to need a few survey bots.” Her boyfriend said, and George nodded.

“Sounds like a plan, boss. Have fun, Night, Lilith! Just let me know when to take her back to her extraction point!” George said cheerfully.

“Sure thing.” Nightsinger said, and grinned at Lilith. “Sorry for the interesting day.”

Lilith just laughed, grinning as she said. “Honestly? I’m used to it, at this point.”

With that they headed out of the room. Nightsinger would have to get changed, but she was sure she could keep Lilith out of more trouble.

She hoped so, anyway, and just maybe they could exchange a few notes.


“I’m home!” Lilith called out, and she saw a hand wave from over the sofa, while a pair of bare feet were stretched off the end.

“Welcome back!” Gina replied. “I had a nice, lazy day, and Rachel is out shopping for dinner stuff. I hope you had fun? Tons of geeky conversations?”

Lilith thought back on the day and laughed softly, smiling as she replied. “You might say that. I’ll tell you later, hm?”

“Sure!” Gina said, poking her head over the edge of the sofa and grinning. “I’m just reading a book, so I’ll finish my chapter, then we can see where Rach is.”

Lilith nodded in response, then headed upstairs. She suspected Gina wouldn’t be nearly as sanguine once she heard what had happened, but that was fine with her. She could deal with that later. For now, she wanted a shower, and to think a bit about the conversation with Janice. The woman had been rather nice.

Chapter 5