Naoko didn’t know what to do. Take the lead? Up to her? It was easy for him to say. He had always known exactly what to do. How dare he leave her alone and expect her to be alright! Nothing was alright, nor could she envision it ever returning to a good state. She narrowly stopped herself from punching the conference table.
A sharp rap on the door caught her attention. She reached out with her mind. Come in, Ryu.
He opened the door and swiftly entered. He bowed his head slightly to her. “Please, give me an assignment.”
“I don’t want to let his loss be in vain,” Ryu said. “No, I refuse to let it be in vain. Please, give me a task so that we might still make his dreams a reality.”
Naoko examined him for a moment. He’d been crying, he wasn’t even trying to hide that, but the look on his face was determined, fierce. Very well. I’d like you to infiltrate one of the higher level enemy intelligence buildings. Try to find out what they’re trying to accomplish.
“I will do so or perish in the attempt,” Ryu said, he hurried out.
“Zhao?” Jenny knocked on the laboratory door. “Are you okay?”
“Zhao is fine,” the answer was soft. “Zhao is working right now. She would like to cuddle up to Jenny, but it will have to wait a little while.”
“Okay,” Jenny said. “I’ll be in my room if you need me.”
Within her lab, Zhao nodded. Not thinking for a moment that the gesture was impossible to see through the door. She tore up the blueprints she was working on. “No,” she muttered. “That won’t be strong enough. Zhao needs more energy to open the rift. Maybe…” She started a fresh blueprint.
“Trojan, I’m coming in.”
“It’s not time for my exam,” Trojan said. “You shouldn’t be here.”
“I’m worried about you,” Florence said. “We all know how you felt about Michael. Are you holding up okay now that he’s…”
“He’s not dead!” Trojan interrupted. “So… something has to be interfering with his ability to contact us. That’s all. I’m running a full systems check, making sure the backdoor is intact. If… If I can…”
“Trojan,” Florence said. You’re in denial. It’s a natural part of grief, but you’re going to have to move past it. We need you. In the present and working on gathering intel.”
“I… I don’t know what to do,” Trojan said. “He was… I…” she burst out crying. Florence hugged her.
“It’s okay,” Florence said, kindly. “Let it all out.”
“The kid okay?” Elizabeth asked.
“Poor Dear cried herself to sleep,” Rose said. “It hit her especially hard.”
“It hit all of us hard,” Elizabeth said. “It’s like our king got taken and we have to keep playing anyway.”
Rose, report to the conference room.
“Duty calls,” Rose said. “Watch her for me?”
“Yeah, okay,” Elizabeth said.
Sirvanna hurried to the conference room. Rose and Jenny were both there along with a few people she didn’t recognise.
That’s everyone. We can begin.
“Is this about the rotation schedule?” Sirvanna asked.
Yes and No. The rotation schedule will be on six hour shifts with the five of your squads each taking a turn. But there are more important issues.
“How to deal with the golems?” The question came from a woman with short brown hair and freckles.
Correct. We can’t just sit here like cornered animals. For the moment, I’ve asked Zhao to develop some robots to send against them. I’ve also put in a call for our allies on the outside to send reinforcements. The problem is that there are none to spare. Everyone we have is needed to hold the line.
“Can we break through on our own?” Jenny asked.
Possibly. Once Zhao finishes her robots we’ll send them out. Erin and Rose will take Theta and Beta and try to tunnel their way underneath the enemy units, collapsing the ground around them with explosives. While they’re in disarray, Sirvanna, Jenny and Amy will lead Omicron, Omega Theta Sigma and Epsilon in a hit and run attack. We’ll inflict as many casualties as we can before retreating.
“Won’t they chase after us?” the freckled woman asked.
I don’t know. While you and Rose are digging the tunnels the rest of us will work on fortifying our defenses, just in case.
“I suppose it’s better than idling,” Jenny said.
I expect the preparations to take a week. Be ready to sortie as soon as they are.