Upon discovery of the bomb, Lilith paused and took stock of her mission.
Objectives achieved to this point included the acquisition of five more pieces of enemy armament, assorted ammunition and accessories, three enemy bodies, and a Charlescomm Either-net ("Your dual-purpose, single-solution item for capture AND carriage!") to haul them around in. Enemy units sighted: none.
It was too easy. It was also too hard. And now, she had a choice to make.
She set down the net, crouched, and examined the Dirtamancy trap attached to the back of this hatchway door. It was explosive, or (less likely) incendiary. She didn't understand much more about it than that.
She knew what it was for, though. Any invaders on 36 trying to get at Charlie's inner sanctum would have found an easy route to this trap, probably a big wide corridor that Archons never actually used for anything. From the other side, the enemy would apply some form of siege to bash this hatch in, and trigger a blast big enough to wipe out a whole stack.
But then, what would she tell the Titans, if her final act was to disobey an order from her Chief Warlord? Her directive was clear enough: get guns and bodies (and presumably ammunition and other associated items) down to 40, and shove them through the portal.
That was the "too hard" part. She didn't know the way. And encountering this trap from the mechanical side of it was a good indication that she'd traveled away from the parts of the tower complex Charlie considered important.
She eyed the bomb, now almost certain that she could see how to set it off. Were these guns and units really more important than a fortune in Shmuckers, when Gobwin Knob was suddenly so poor? Chief Parson seemed to think so, but maybe he only meant that she shouldn't dust herself without collecting a payout. She should call him and ask for clarification, now that a foolproof self-destruction option existed that would restore the treasury, right?
Except, no. No way. Calling in for clarification at every decision point on a mission was not a habit that Charlie had ever encouraged, and she didn't like it now. Thinkagrams cost juice. After blasting the Fox Forcer (mmm, that crit! She'd leveled!) and cutting into the supply store, she didn't have too much of that left.
More than that, though, she just knew she was capable of making her own decisions in the field. Even this field.
So Lilith made her choice. She picked up the Either-net and dragged it down the hallway, back the way she came. She would not use this trap to end herself.
There were better ones she could use.---
Charlescomm, and especially Comm Tower, had unusual Signamancy. The ornamentation on the walls and ceilings involved stylized lines and circles. Lighting was provided by some means that Lilith didn't understand, which often included this tracery with the glowing lines and dots within the circles.
It wasn't all for decoration and lighting. She knew, for example, that some of the circles were Dirtamancy emplacements for putting out fires. And when a pair of glowing circles were situated exactly opposite one another, then a unit which stepped between them would take Shockmancy damage.
On the few occasions when Lilith had spent more than a turn or two at home, she remembered doing drills to lead an enemy into these traps. You could fly right through them without tripping them, but the enemy behind you would fry. Up until now, she'd been carefully avoiding them.
She now stood in front of one, in the middle of a long, empty passageway two corridors away from the bomb door, convincing herself that frying would be a good thing.
"I will probably survive this," she said aloud, if quietly. "It's only Shockmancy." And it was true; Archons had a bonus against Shockmancy. But it was still a powerful trap. And if it left her incapacitated…
The hallway was empty, and almost suspiciously silent. She'd heard very few noises and no voices since her encounter with the triad, which probably wasn't good news. She glanced both ways down the corridor, feeling acutely exposed here.
If she was going to try this, she'd better do it now. She let go of the net, shut her eyes tightly, and stepped between the circles.
Then… she opened her eyes again.
With a sigh of both frustration and relief, she half-whispered, "Bust." Either Charlie had a way to disable these traps through-out the tower, or they had been created to ignore Archons, even enemy ones. She looked at one of the wall ornaments, wondering if it might be worth cutting into to see if she could work out a way to trigger it, when…
She swiveled her head sharply to the eastern side of the corridor. Something had moved at the corner of her vision. Training from a few dozen war exercises kicked in, and it took her only a heartbeat to make the decision to spend the last of her juice.
"Assange," she intoned.
Two of the veils she blew completely. She could see those two Archons' full forms floating at the center of the hallway, fifteen steps away. Their guns were drawn, but not aimed. Two of them had nets.
She also saw three more in blurry, transparent blue outlines. Their formation suggested seven, so she'd probably failed on two more detects. The Archons were not advancing.
She snatched up the net and fled the other way, only to stop cold in just three steps.
Two more Archons, one on the floor and one in the air, were emplaced on the other end of the corridor. Their positions suggested an identical formation of seven."Ah disband it, Lilith," she whispered faintly, "you should've tripped the bomb."
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