2034-03-15 1810EDT Beam Weapon
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Droo cleared the corrodor connecting the 200m long passage to the main gun to Hall 17 by flying above the drones and then dropping grenades on the way back to the HC troops. They went off with a satisfying 'boom', sending a powerful shockwave up the sloping passage, but with a cross section of 5m x 3m there was no danger of causing structural damage.
The next step was to clear the passage from Hall 17 to Hall 19. The 500m ocean passage and the giant machine rooms would need actual troops to deal with, not one invisible man. Seventy two Celestes soldiers and their four supercharged leaders crossed the rubble strewn corrodor in seconds. After clearing out stragglers, they took cover behind the huge, strange machines that filled the Hall.
Genie said, "Droo, stop!"
He had been about to pull a similar trick in the next hall. Instead of a yo-yo manoeuvre, he planned to round a block, clearing out attackers that could flank them in Halls 18 and 19.
"What's wrong?" Droo recalled, uneasily, that Genie could sense the future.
"That passage is hot death. You go in there? You die."
"What if we lob grenades. Vernon's --"
"I think you might scream 'lava' before you die."
"Holy shit, Shadows is gonna drill a hole through the crust?!" Droo's voice was not nearly as controlled as he wanted it to be.
"No," Dan said. "The corrodor itself feels like emptiness, but the entrance there - that feels like burning death."
Fucking Wizards, Vogel thought. "Ok, now what?"
AJ motioned a squad of soldiers forward. "Check for traps, then come back. They're not coming after us, which is suspicious."
The men and women nodded, and moved forward quickly, their armour encasing them in featureless darkness. Even without the armour, the dim light and their incredible speed made it hard for even a Celestes to see the soldiers move. Three paused at the near side of the wide entrance to the passageway. When they got the signal, the other three sprinted east across the open space, toward Hall 20. They didn't make it.
The blast only lasted for a second, but it was devastating. The front ranks of celestes soldiers reeled back, screaming, as their skin burned. The rolling wave of heat blistered the skin of soldiers 50m away, even as they dragged their partners back from the heat.
When the beam went dark the 4m wide hallway Droo had planned to storm was gone. In it's place was a circular tunnel about 8m across. The walls of the new tunnel were glowing a bright yellow, and running down to pool at the bottom, making it slowly grow wider. It followed the slight downward slope of the corrodor, but it did not stop where the corrodor ended: the beam weapon had continued on, apparantly unimpeded by the bulk of the island.
The beam poured out of the island nearly 5km north of the base and few metres below sea level. It continued through the ocean for several kilometres before blasting through the next finger of land in the fjord. Eventually, the curvature of the earth brought the beam above the surface, and into the atmosphere above the Arctic Ocean.
From inside the ABC hazmat lab, Jake saw this happen through the eyes of a dirigible drone he'd stolen it Shadows' network with relative ease. From a few thousand metres up he saw the beam hit the ocean, which exploded. "Uh, guys?" Outside, Willow saw the sky light up in the distance to the north. A wave of fog billowed up, forming a towering mushroom cloud. The strong wind pushed it south immediately.
"Expect heavy rain and snow in a few minutes," Google said to everyone. "Whatever that was it boiled a lot of ocean and threw a lot of water into the air. It will be landing on you."
Inside the base, the soldiers to the north were taking losses, but making progress. The ten large Halls they were to destroy were defended, but no magical superweapons fired on them. In an effort to save ammunition and explosives for the labs and fabs, the HCs engaged in close-quarter combat with the drones, using nanowire blades to do damage.
Droo flew across the molten channel, a bit shaken, to scout an alternate route to Shadows' brain.
- 248/288 HC
- 182/203 HC northward
- 66/72 HC southward
- 40 HC deathward
- 4/4 HC2 northward
- 3/3 Droo
- 944/1000 Clanks
Outside, Willow saw the night sky to the north of the base light up brighter than a sunny day. A few seconds later a massive roll of thunder shook her lungs. Not a nuke, then, she thought. The glow was already gone, but she was certain that whatever happened wasn't over yet.
In her ear, Google said, "We think that was a petawatt laser that fired for just under a second. The ocean it hit exploded and is being blown toward you by the wind. In three minutes expect a blizzard, fog like soup, and hail."
Jake saw the blast. With the protein folding done, his enormous mind sought a complex problem to occupy it. The power source for the beam was either matter/antimatter conversion or it drew power from wherever the MRO drew power. Given Shadows' progress to date, antimatter seemed the more likely candidate.