Home > Calamity (Reckoners #3)(5)

Calamity (Reckoners #3)(5)
Brandon Sanderson

I reached the door to the lab with the body parts and ran through it, skidding to a stop, then slammed my back against the wall next to it. The tap of a button patched the view from my scope into a small screen on the side of my Gottschalk rifle, which let me lift the gun around the corner and fire without risking a hit.

The robots scuttled like a group of sparking brooms on wheels. Personally, I’d have been embarrassed to create such stupid-looking robots. I fired in burst mode without much aiming, but the corridor was narrow enough that it didn’t matter. I gunned down several of the robots, slowing the others, which had to push past the wreckage. After I dropped a few more, they retreated to take cover around the corner, in the room with the freezers.

“David?” Mizzy’s frantic voice finally drew my attention. “What’s happening?”

“I’m fine,” I said. “But they spotted me.”

“Get out.”

I hesitated.

“David?”

“There’s something in there, Mizzy. A room that was under lock and key, guarded by drones—I’ll bet they moved in there as soon as our original attack happened. Either that, or that room is always guarded. Which means…”

“Oh, Calamity. You’re going to be you, aren’t you?”

“You did just tell me to, and I quote, ‘embrace my nature.’ ” I fired another salvo as I caught motion at the end of the corridor. “Let Abraham and the others know I’ve been spotted. Pull everyone out and be ready to retreat.”

“And you?”

“I’m going to find out what’s in that room.” I hesitated. “I might have to get shot to do it.”

“What?”

“I’ll be radio silent for a moment. Sorry.”

I dropped my radio and headset, then tapped a button at the side of my gun that extended a small tripod on the bottom. I set it pointing into the tunnel at an angle, hoping to ricochet bullets off the metal wall toward the robots—but really setting up a distraction. The gun could remote fire, using the slightly melted controller I popped out of its alcove on the side.

I hurried through the room, triggering short bursts of fire to make it seem I was still exchanging shots with the drones. Their floodlights were bright enough that they reflected off glass and metal in this room, giving me enough light to move by. I snatched the little cleaning robot off the shelf, its wheels still whirring frantically, then grabbed a pouch of blood off the counter and a roll of surgical tape I’d spotted in a drawer earlier.

I tore off a piece of tape and affixed the pouch to the top of the robot, then punctured the bag with my knife. I crossed to where I’d originally entered the room, cracked open the door, and set the machine down outside it. It scuttled off down the white hallway at speed—leaving a wide trail of blood drops behind, as blatant as a sudden tuba solo in the middle of a rap single.

Great. Now hopefully I could fake the getting shot part. I grabbed another pouch of blood and stabbed it with my knife. Taking a deep breath, I ran to the door on the opposite side of the room, where the drones were firing on my Gottschalk.

The robots had made progress, shoving the fallen ones out of the way and advancing. I ducked back as the robots started firing at me, then I screamed and sprayed some of the blood on the wall. From there I dashed to one of the tubs, using the pouch to squirt a different trail toward the exit.

I couldn’t see much of what was inside the tub, now that I wasn’t using my scope, but I pulled it open, gritted my teeth, and climbed in—touching some slippery bits that I was pretty convinced were livers. As I settled into the icy fluid, I was profoundly aware of exactly how gruesome all this was. Fortunately, I was quite accustomed to my plans humiliating me in some way; this time I was merely doing it on purpose. So hey, progress!

I tried to remain still, hoping the tub’s refrigeration unit and icy temperature would hide me from any infrared detection the robots might be using. Unfortunately, to not stand out, I had to close the top of the tub and hold my breath. And so I lay there among the bobbing body parts, watching lights flash above as the robots and their floodlights entered the laboratory. I couldn’t see much through the water and the glass top, but I couldn’t help imagining the robots gathering around the tub, looking in at me, amused at my feeble attempt at a distraction.

I held my breath until I was ready to burst. My face, not covered by my infiltration suit, was freezing. Blessedly, the lights finally vanished. I managed to last a little longer before I pushed open the top and, shivering, looked around the lab. Pitch-black.

The robots had apparently taken the bait. I wiped the liquid from my eyes and climbed out. Sparks. As if this place hadn’t been creepy before I’d decided to crawl into a vat of livers to hide from death robots. I shook my head, crossing over to pick up my radio and gun. I shoved on the headset, but I had gotten blood on it, and it seemed to be on the fritz.

I’d have to use the radio the old way. “I’m back,” I said quietly, pressing send and speaking into it.

“David, you’re crazy,” a voice responded.

I smiled. “Hello, Megan,” I said, slipping into the narrow corridor. I jogged past fallen robots. “Everyone pulling out?”

“Everyone who’s smart.”

“Love you too,” I said. I stopped at the corner where I’d first run into the robot guards and peeked around it. The room beyond was dark, like before. I looped my gun’s strap around my shoulder, then used the scope to look for lingering robots. “I’m almost ready to go. Give me a few more minutes.”

“Roger.”

I clicked the radio to send only, so that their chatter wouldn’t alert any nearby foes. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to be more careful. My trick with the false trail would soon be discovered. As if in testament to the danger, a distant explosion shook the building.

I felt at the wall and turned on the lights, then crossed the room to one of the large standing freezers. The stainless steel surface reflected my face, which had two weeks’ worth of scrub on it. I thought it looked rugged. Megan tended to snicker at it.

Heart thumping, I unlocked the first of the chests and threw it open, releasing a burst of icy air. Inside were rows and rows of frozen glass vials with colorful caps. Not the motivators I’d been looking for, but most likely Epic DNA samples.

“Well,” I whispered, “at least it’s not a rack of frozen dinners.”

“No,” a voice responded. “I keep those in the other chest.”

I stood very still, a chill rising up my spine. I turned, careful not to make any sudden motions, and found that I had—unfortunately—missed a single robot hidden in the shadowed recesses of the room. That beanpole of a body was hardly intimidating, but the souped-up FAMAS G3 assault rifle mounted to its top was something else entirely.

I considered trying to shoot it, but my body was turned the wrong direction. I’d have to swing my gun around and hope to hit the robot before I got shot myself. My chances did not seem good.

“I actually do have food in the other one,” the voice continued, projected from the robot. A man’s voice, tenor, soft. He had to be one of the enigmatic people who ran the Foundry. Most of these drones seemed autonomous, but their masters would be watching—each gun had a camera on it. “Not frozen dinners, mind you. Steaks. A few choice ribeyes left over from the good old days. I miss those more than anything.”

Hot Novels
  • Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as Told by Chris
  • Fifty Shades Freed (Fifty Shades #3)
  • Never Too Far (Too Far Trilogy #2)
  • Fifty Shades Darker (Fifty Shades #2)
  • Library of Souls (Miss Peregrine’s Peculi
  • Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades #1)
  • Fallen Too Far (Too Far Trilogy #1)
  • Forever Too Far (Too Far Trilogy #3)
  • Ugly Love
  • Allegiant (Divergent #3)
  • Hold on Tight (Sea Breeze #8)
  • Bared to You (Crossfire #1)
  • The Destiny of Violet & Luke (The Coinc
  • Captivated by You (Crossfire #4)
  • Uprooted