Revelation (Demons Of The Past 01) – Chapter 28
I focused on the room beyond and muttered a tired curse. Like many of them the closer I got to the center, this area had a psi-damper. I’d found I could still function in rooms with a standard damper before, in my earlier training, but it was like fighting underwater, or in extra-heavy gravity; you just had a lot less to devote to the cause.
Worse, the screens were more than sufficient to scramble even my best attempts to remote-view or listen. As far as I was concerned, those areas were grayish, pretty much featureless fogs, occasional almost invisible shapes moving within them. And up ahead, at the base’s central control, the whole area was gunmetal-gray fog. Fighting my way blind and weakened through the whole area was just not going to work.
I sensed movement behind me, noted the approach of two armored forms. This particular corridor was not damped, so I just ripped a couple of support beams out and brought the ceiling down on them. It wouldn’t quite crush the troopers inside the suits, but they weren’t digging out of that any time soon.
This didn’t solve the main problem, however. I’d already found that my command codes were not functional in this demonstration. Presumably the super-psi I was playing wasn’t a former officer, or they’d found out and changed his authorizations before he got here. Hacking or otherwise tricking the systems into dropping the shielding was out, then.
But… there might be another way. I reached out… Yes, one of the troopers under the rock was unconscious but pretty much intact. His suit would work, and he actually had the least amount of rock on top of him. This would be really risky, but not as risky as charging through probably three rings of security with dampers all the way. Part of the advantage still lay with me; as I was now both a powerful psionic and an experienced officer and engineer, I could see that the security and tactics we had were built on, like anything else, reasonable assumptions. An ordinary psi – even a pretty powerful one – would probably be stopped here. An ordinary man would never get this far no matter what his knowledge. But an extremely powerful psionic, powerful in all four categories of psi ability, who was also an expert Imperial engineer and who understood all the systems, including the combat and defense protocols… that was something for which the system just wasn’t designed.
I continued along the corridors that weren’t shielded; these were mostly deserted, and the automated weapons weren’t anything to worry me, as by now I knew the layout perfectly. In the meantime, I worked carefully on the unconscious trooper… Hawthen Gelmas, as his mind informed me. Doing stuff like this still nauseated me, but if I couldn’t steel myself to do it here, the hesitation would kill me out in the field. Besides, it wouldn’t do him any permanent harm. I was really on his side, he just didn’t know it. Once everything was set, I was able to awaken him. It took only a little telekinetic assistance to let him fight his way free of the rubble.
A few minutes later, rannai bolts blasted into me. I’d barely gotten the shield up in time, but by then twin rockets had detonated, one to each side of the corridor, and the double concussion smashed me to the ground, my body tumbling limply. Not satisfied with that, the Guardsman armored trooper, who’d used his suit’s shield power sparingly in order to approach me undetected, launched a barrage of gas grenades that turned the air around me into a narcoleptic brew that would put an assault force of Zchorada into a six-hour sleep; a human in that concentration might never wake up. As there was need for human psi study subjects, there WAS a standing order to capture them if it appeared possible to do so – one of the regulations I knew of and counted on. The trooper then called for backup to bring a portable psi-nullifier unit to convey me into the secure area.
Obviously, this was a setup on my part, but the danger wasn’t over yet. I had practiced certain tricks in the lab, but pulling them off under the noses of near-panicked, hair-trigger Guardsmen was a different matter. Still, I felt I’d pulled off the “ambushed and blasted unconscious” pretty well – and I had the bruises to show how close it actually was to a success on Guardsman Gelmas’ part. My whole body ached, and so did my head. The past half-hour had been by far the most strenuous test of my new powers and of my old skills I’d ever gone through. Only that terrible siege at Tangia Outpost had been worse.
Gelmas and the others approached. One, carrying the portable psi-nullifier, moved along the wall, leaving his friends a clear field of fire. When I didn’t move, he activated the nullifier and approached, locking me into the device. They then hoisted me up and carried me… into the shielded area of the base. Before we got there, I had already forced the built-in sensors on the thing to show me as unconscious, and deeply so.
This was still the most dangerous part of the ruse. Inside a double nullifier field I really was pretty much powerless. If someone stopped and checked me, or got suspicious in some other way, I could end up dead – or, if Shagrath intervened in time, I’d at the least have failed this one entirely. But these guys were using live ammunition; death was clearly a possible outcome if I really got unlucky.
But we passed through the secure doors without incident; I was placed in a guarded holding cell while Gelmas’ minor injuries were attended to; he was then sent to debrief the main command. He never reached the command briefing room, of course. It was at that point that my subconscious trigger instructions took hold on him. He diverted to the secondary control area which was located nearby, stunned the duty crew, and – using the knowledge I’d placed in his brain – caused a cascading shutdown surge to go through the generators in the entire core area.
As I felt the nullifying fields fade, I concentrated all I had on the portable nullifier. A critical circuit shattered, and immediately I hurled my mind outward, breaking similar circuits throughout the base along a wedge-shaped region leading to the central area, where Shagrath himself would be. I was just a split-second too slow; the backup power came on for the the central control room and it vanished in a shielded haze.
Still, much better, I thought as I walked – with a slightly pained limp – out of the holding cell, knocking attacking Navy and Guards aside casually. Now I had only the one shielded area to deal with, and the entrances to that area were in my sensing range; I brought down the corridors leading into main control, except for the one I would be entering by. Now there’d be no reinforcements to contend with.
Nothing significant barred my way. It was actually pathetically amusing to see these people keep trying to stop me. Didn’t they realize they hadn’t a chance? That I was being gentle with them? Oh, there were a few broken bones, probably, but that was part of the risk you took in the business. It was like fighting a mob of toddlers; there wasn’t anything they could do to hurt me unless I told them HOW, and let them, in the bargain. Even Taelin, I realized sadly, was just a child to me. He couldn’t see, feel, or think the things I could. I was as far beyond even a child of the Five as I was beyond these poor helpless soldiers.
I blew the final door open with a theatrical gesture and stepped inside. Only one figure waited for me, in the heaviness of the central damping field. But that figure – Shagrath, I was sure – was encased in the finest model powered armor, and it had its own nullifier active.
I’d half-expected that, but that didn’t make it any better. I couldn’t hit him or his mind with anything significant. A hurricane of automatic rannai sunfire ripped at me.
I threw much of my remaining psi reserves into speed, moving faster than he could react. I picked up and hurled one of the armored door-fragments at him, a 500 kilogram missile that he barely blocked. The impact shoved him backwards and somewhat sideways. That gave me a clear view to a critical control panel.
In a split second I activated three controls and locked them. The room’s field faded. As it did, I launched a mental bolt at the mind within that armor; without the double protection, I should be able to finish this battle quick.
Oddly, it didn’t quite get through. I felt the mind through the shield, vaguely, but it was much fainter than I’d expected. Well, no matter. I glanced over, pulled the same door-fragment into the air. It felt oddly heavier, and throwing it felt like a mighty strain.
He was moving faster than I expected, and dodged that one. Was Shagrath cheating? Using his abilities to match me? No, I didn’t feel any active psi energy from him… actually, I felt nothing from him at all now. The shield seemed entirely opaque.
Energy bolts splattered on my shield, feeling like molten sledgehammers instead of the patter of raindrops. What the sinking hells of Atlantaea was happening? Somehow, I realized, I was weakening, and fast – and with him having a shield up, I had no way to tell Shagrath this – he might kill me before he realized there was a problem!
I focused as hard as I could, my head feeling like it was caught between colliding warships, increased my speed. I pushed myself as hard as I could, feeling mental and physical muscles screaming, and suddenly I was there, too close to the armored form for it to safely use its weapons. With the last of my treacherously fading strength, I reached down, and with telekinesis and muscle power together managed to lever one leg up, up, tipping the armored form over. As it struggled to right itself, that gave me one short second to trigger two more controls – controls whose movement felt like forcing boulders to roll – and the internal defenses of the control room fired heavily into the armored form, shattering parts of the armor and, I hoped, ending the contest. For a moment I stood there, wavering; the damaged armor remained on the ground, then opened, to reveal a grinning Shagrath. “Well done, Com – Sasham!”
That was the last I heard as I pitched forward.