Home > Calamity (Reckoners #3)(3)

Calamity (Reckoners #3)(3)
Brandon Sanderson

I reached the bottom of the incline and flipped on my scope’s night-vision and thermal settings. Sparks, this was an awesome gun. The silent corridor stretched out before me, nothing but smooth metal, floor to ceiling. Considering its length, the tunnel had to lead under the Foundry walls and into the compound; it was probably an access corridor.

Contraband photos of the Foundry interior showed all kinds of motivators and technology lying around on workbenches down here. That had enticed us to try this all-in plan. Grab and go, hope we ended up with something useful.

It would be technology built, somehow, from the bodies of Epics. Even before I’d discovered that Prof had powers, I should have realized how much we relied on Epics. I’d always dreamed that the Reckoners were some kind of pure, human freedom force—ordinary people fighting an extraordinary foe.

That wasn’t the way it happened though, was it? Perseus had his magic horse, Aladdin had his lamp, and Old Testament David had his blessing from Jehovah. You want to fight a god? You’d better have one on your side too.

In our case, we’d cut off pieces of the gods, trapped them in boxes, and channeled their power. Much of it had originated here. The Knighthawk Foundry, secretive purveyors of Epic corpses made into weapons.

My headset crackled and I jumped.

“David?” Megan’s voice, dialed into the private radio line. “What are you doing?”

I winced. “I found a drone access tunnel in the forest floor and managed to sneak in,” I whispered.

Silence on the line, followed by “Slontze.”

“What? Because it’s reckless?”

“Sparks, no. Because you didn’t take me.”

An explosion shook somewhere near her.

“Sounds like you’re having plenty of fun,” I said. I kept moving forward, my rifle up and my focus ahead, watching for drones.

“Yeah, sure,” Megan said. “Intercepting mini-missiles with my face. Loads of fun.”

I smiled; the mere sound of her voice could do that to me. Hell, I’d rather be yelled at by Megan than be praised by anyone else. Besides, the fact that she was talking to me meant she hadn’t actually intercepted any mini-missiles with her face. She was immortal in that if she died, she’d be reborn—but she was otherwise as fragile as anyone else. And because of recent concerns, she tried to limit using her powers.

She’d be doing this mostly the old-fashioned way. Ducking between trees, lobbing grenades and taking shots while Cody and Mizzy covered her. I imagined her cursing softly, sweating while she sighted at a passing drone, her aim perfect, her face…

…Uh, right. I should probably stay focused.

“I’ll keep their attention up here,” Megan said, “but be careful, David. You don’t have a full infiltration suit. You’ll have a heat signature to those drones, if they look closely.”

“Groovy,” I whispered. Whatever that meant.

Ahead of me the tunnel started getting lighter, so I turned off the night vision on the scope and slowed my pace. I crept forward and stopped. The access tunnel ended at a large white corridor that stretched to the right and left. Brightly lit, with tile floors and metal walls, it was completely empty. Like an office when the shop down the street has free donut day.

I pulled our maps, such as we had, from my pocket and checked them. Didn’t say much, though one of the photos looked a lot like this corridor. Well, somehow I had to find useful technology in here, steal it, and get out.

Prof or Tia could have come up with a way better plan, but they weren’t here. So I picked a direction at random and continued walking. When the tense silence was broken a few minutes later by a quickly approaching sound echoing through the corridor, it was actually a relief.

I dashed toward the sound; not because I was eager to meet it, but because I spotted a door up the hall. I reached it in time to pull it open—thankfully, it wasn’t locked—and slip into a dark room. My back against the door, I heard a group of drones zip past outside. I turned and looked through the little window in the door to watch them buzz down the white corridor, then turn into the access tunnel.

They hadn’t spotted my heat signature. I flipped my radio to the open line and whispered, “More drones are going out the way I came in. Cody, status?”

“We’ve got a few tricks left,” Cody said, “but it’s getting frantic out here. Abraham did manage to get in through the roof though. The two of you should grab what you can find and get out ASAP.”

“Roger,” Abraham said over the line.

“Got it,” I said, glancing around the room I’d entered. It was completely dark, but judging by the sterile smell, it was some kind of lab chamber. I flipped on my night-vision scope and gave the place a quick once-over.

Turned out I was surrounded by bodies.

I choked back a cry of alarm. Rifle to my shoulder, I scanned the room again, my heart thumping. It was filled with long metal tables and sinks, interspersed with several large tubs, and the walls were lined floor to ceiling with shelves packed with jars of all sizes. I leaned in to get a better look at those jars on a shelf near me. Body parts. Fingers. Lungs. Brains. All human, according to the labels. This had to be a laboratory where bodies were dissected.

I shoved down my nausea and focused. Would they keep motivators in a room like this? Anything I found that used Epic technology would need a motivator to work—the mission would be useless unless I found a stash of those.

I started looking for them—they’d be small metal boxes, about the size of a mobile’s battery. Sparks. Everything was bathed in the green of the night vision, and through the tunnel view of my rifle’s scope, the place took on another level of eerie.

“Yo,” Mizzy’s voice said on the line, and I jumped again. “David, you there?”

“Yeah,” I whispered.

“Fighting on my side has moved over toward Megan, so I’ve got a breather,” Mizzy said. “Cody told me to see if you needed anything.”

I wasn’t certain what she could do from such a distance, but it was good to hear someone’s voice. “I’m in some kind of lab,” I answered. “It has shelves full of body parts in jars and…” I felt nauseous again, swinging my gun to get a better look through the scope at the tubs nearby. They each had a glass lid, and they were full. I gagged and recoiled. “…and some vats filled with floating chunks of something. It’s like a bunch of cannibals were getting ready to go bobbing for apples. Adam’s apples, at least.”

I reached out and opened a cupboard, where I found an entire shelf of pickled hearts. As I moved onward, my foot touched something that squished. I jumped back, gun toward the floor, but it was only a wet rag.

“Mizzy,” I whispered, “this place is super creepy. Think I’m safe to turn on a light in here?”

“Oh, that’d be waaaay smart. The people with a hyperadvanced bunker and flying attack drones aren’t going to have security cameras in their labs. Nope. Not a chance.”

“Point taken.”

“Or they’ve already spotted you and a squad of death-copters is heading your way. But in case you’re not trapped and about to be executed, I’d err on the side of being careful.”

She said it all in an upbeat, almost excited voice; Mizzy could be perkier than a sack of caffeinated puppies. Usually that was encouraging. Usually I wasn’t on edge from sneaking through a room full of half corpses.

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