Chapter 20: Haven

It felt like it had come a lot faster than it should have. Walter had died, and after that, I’d only had very rare breaks from planning this. Now though, it seemed a little surreal. I quickly adjusted the sleeves of my suit as I walked out of the cockpit, and found Thunderbolt fiddling with her harness. After her cape had been burned by Pyrus, she chosen to ditch it. May liked to say it was because of what it had done to her hair, but I was pretty sure it was more to do with the fact that it had given her some pretty nasty burns, and it really wasn’t necessary. With Tempest, I could see something like that working, considering the fact that he could probably fly if he tried hard enough. I walked behind Thunderbolt, and pulled out the massive steel case from one of the under-seat compartments. She smiled as she saw it.
“So, I finally get to know what that is?” She asked, and I grinned. My helmet was sitting on one of the seats, resting on the canvas that really didn’t do a great job of providing comfort.
“Yep,” I pulled the lid open, and she looked at what was inside. It looked like a backpack made from polished metal, with two little rods set aside. She looked confused as I pulled it out.
“What exactly is that?” She asked. That was a tough question to answer.
“An idea Walter had,” I said, and walked up behind her. I pressed the underside against her back, and she instinctively raised her arms. Straps sprung out and coiled around her arms and her waist, and fastened together with a thunk. She jumped as the straps squeezed her stomach, and glared at me.
“Why do I have to wear this?” She asked. I didn’t really have a good answer for her. I guess it just seemed right, because it was one of Walter’s ideas.
“It’s not too tight, is it?” I asked her, and she shook her head. I picked up the two rods from the case, and looped them onto my belt, before picking up my own harness, and strapping it on. She still didn’t know what we were doing, because I didn’t want to scare her. This was going to be dangerous, and she’d freak out as soon as she knew. I grabbed my helmet off of the ground, and tuned the radio so that we could both easily hear each other. She’d had lenses put into her mask, finally, and she clipped her radio onto her ear. I dug into one of my belt pockets, and pulled out an earplug for her.
“Trust me. You’re going to want that,” I said, and she took it.
“So, are you going to tell me what we’re doing now?” She asked. We were the only two up here, well, us and the pilot, after all.
“We’re the advance party. We’re going in first to try and take out Haven’s power. That way, the rest of the force can get in,” I said, and she seemed to relax a little bit, before realizing what she was wearing.
“How are we going in?” She asked, and I walked up to her. I spun around in front of her, and grabbed the buckles on the front of her harness. I clipped them onto mine, and rattled them around to make sure that she was firmly attached to me. Together, we walked over to the drop-ship’s door, and I slammed my fist against it. It rose open, and Riley looked out at the open sky below us. I felt her arms suddenly squeeze down on my waist.

“This doesn’t seem safe,” she said, and I laughed.
“This was the safest option,” I said, and she squeezed me even tighter.
“Okay then, how’re we landing? There aren’t any parachutes in a drop-ship,” She said. It sounded dumb, but these things were meant to land before they dropped off their passengers, so parachutes weren’t part of their equipment.
“We’re going to have to create an electromagnetic force strong enough to counteract gravity,” I said, and she punched me in the ribs.
“That’s not something that sounds possible,” She said.
“That’s because it isn’t. Don’t worry, we’ll be fine,” I laughed, and pulled the rods off of my belt. Motion controls for the thing on her back. Technically though, it wasn’t a thing. It was more of an omnidirectional thruster pack, or a rather crude jetpack. It’d be useful for quickly changing directions as we fell.
“Entering the drop zone now!” the pilot shouted over the rush of air flooding in. I stepped over to the edge of the drop-ship, and Riley came with me, carefully holding on to the edge of the ship as I couldn’t. I sent an electrical surge into the rods and the thruster pack, and a blue light strip lit up on each of the rods. I could only assume something similar had happened with the pack.
I knew we were in the right place when the drop-ship was rocked by a nearby explosion. Another explosion erupted in front of me, and I turned to look back at Thunderbolt, and then at the pilot.
“Anti-Aircraft guns! Just like you said!” He shouted, and I grinned. I guess that meant it was time.
“Three!” I yelled, and I felt Thunderbolt’s head move to look up at me.
“Two!” I shouted.
“Wait, why are you counting down?” Thunderbolt hurried to say.
“One!” I yelled.

“Wait!” thunderbolt yelled, and I turned back into the dropship. I took a few steps away from the edge, and Thunderbolt seemed to calm down, that is, until I suddenly flung the two of us around and sprinted out of the drop ship. I dove into the open air below us, and thrust my hands down to give us a quick burst of speed.
Thunderbolt screamed as an explosion echoed next to us, and I thrust my arms out to the side to avoid it. She kept her arms wrapped around me as we continued to fall, and I weaved around another explosion. I watched the altimeter on my helmet steadily tick down as we went, and spun around another explosion before it hit us. We hit the clouds, and for a moment, the world was silent, and then the world was full of explosions once again. A fighter jet roared beneath us, and Thunderbolt screamed once again. A targeting reticule appeared on my helmet, including a list of instructions on how to move the two of us so that I’d hit it. I spun the two of us around so that I could use the main thruster on Thunderbolt’s back. I spread my arms out by my side, and we shot forwards, flying past the shots of from the ground. An alert appeared on my helmet, and I thrust my arms back towards the ground. Our jets were scrambling now, and that meant they had the opportunity to hit us. Thunderbolt had started to dig her fingers into my stomach, and it was starting to hurt, but I wasn’t going to stop her. I felt bad for not letting her have any time to prepare for this, but I needed her here for when we were on the ground. An explosion erupted next to us, and we were thrown to the side. It took a second to recover, and I checked up behind me to look at Thunderbolt. She was alright, save for her anxiety.

The altimeter beeped. We were probably around seven hundred metres from the ground, and closing in fast. I pressed my thumbs to the tops of the rods, and a parachute shot out from the back of Thunderbolt’s pack. Bullets whizzed past us as we slowly descended onto the ground, and I stumbled as I hit it. The parachute folded over the two of us, and Riley squealed as she felt her feet on the ground. I could hear her breathing heavily, and I pulled on the buckles holding the two of us together to set her free from me. I pulled her into a hug while we were still covered by the parachute.
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry,” I said to her and she hugged me back, before promptly punching me square in the chest.
“Don’t ever do anything like that without telling me ever again,” She said, and she smiled at me. She was pumped up on adrenaline now, and ready to get into a fight.
“Hands in the air!” I heard a shout from behind us, and Thunderbolt grinned. I pulled away the parachute, and the group of soldiers around us were taken aback.
“Thunderbolt?” I said, and lightning leapt from her fingertips. The light tendrils flickered in front of the soldiers, and they promptly ran away.
“That was cool,” I said, and she grinned. I hurried to toss off my harness, and I deactivated the thruster pack on her back. I took it from her, and lifted it onto my back. I’d probably give this to someone else when we met up with them later, but if the need arose, I was confident I could simply ditch it. Once we were both sure that we were ready to head out I started to run, and Thunderbolt followed closely behind me. We immediately ducked into a small nearby building, the almost entirely undetailed cubic building was more of a facade than anything else. When we stepped inside it was entirely empty, save for a small staircase leading down into the black depths. I leaped over the railing, while Thunderbolt opted for the more standard approach, and I rolled onto my knees before taking off again. I heard Thunderbolt laugh behind me, I guess I looked pretty stupid, but I just pressed forwards. I had been through the blueprints, schematics, floor plans, every single detail I could find on this place over and over again in my mind. I’d been through absolutely everything so many times I knew this hallway like I’d worked here for the past six years or more. I pushed off of the wall as I rounded the corner, and came up to the very first obstacle. Nothing to crazy, not like spy movie style lasers, more like just a couple of tripwires here and there, meant as a silent alarm.

“Why are you so fast?” I heard Thunderbolt ask over the radio. She rounded the corner, and looked at me. She looked over the laser tripwires as well, and grinned. She stepped over the first one, which was very obvious, and just as she was about to put her foot on the ground, she pulled back.
“It’s pressure sensitive, right?” She asked, and I went to scratch my head. Helmet. Got to remember the helmet. I thought about it for a moment. The lasers were only on the ground. I leapt up, forcing an electromagnetic current into my hands, and promptly connected with the wall. I crawled along it, carefully placing my hands onto the wall so that I was over the metal inside of it. Thunderbolt followed my process, but managed to do it a lot more gracefully than I had. Once I reached the end of the hall, I dropped away from the wall, and Thunderbolt followed me. The two of us took off again, but I ran just a little bit slower so she could keep up with me.

We kept up that sort of process for a little while. Find something blocking our path, stop, and get past it. Occasionally, we’d have to take on one or two guards, but with Thunderbolt pumped to fight, they never created any real trouble. That was, until we walked into a dead end. There was nothing there, it was pretty much just a solid concrete box. I wasn’t even sure just how this place was being lit. But I’d studied this place. There was meant to be a staircase here, something, anything that led down into the server room. We’d be able to shut off the power from there, and I’d be able to dump their data to a server aboard the Sandman. That was, if I could get in. But I couldn’t, and I couldn’t figure out why.
“What’s wrong? Something is wrong, right?” Thunderbolt asked, and carefully placed her hand on my shoulder. I didn’t want to freak her out, but something was most certainly wrong. God, I just wanted to put my foot through…

That might work.

“Stand back,” I told her, and she did as I asked. I stood in the middle of where the stairs had supposedly been, and slammed my foot into the floor. It shook when I hit it, and I couldn’t help but grin. I slammed my foot down into the ground over and over again, and gradually, cracks appeared beneath me. This must’ve been pretty hastily done, because the concrete was incredibly weak. I slammed my foot down once more, and I suddenly realised the terrible mistake I’d made. The ground beneath me collapsed, and I fell through it in a cloud of dust and hardened chunks of concrete. I landed hard on my arm, and slipped over. I ended up face down in a small pile of rubble, and I struggled to push myself out of it. That arm was definitely broken. I looked up at Thunderbolt, who was staring down into the hole I’d made with a very distressed look in her eyes.
“Are you okay?” She asked, and I smiled up at her, even though she couldn’t see.
“I’m good. You’re going to have to jump down,” I said, and she took a step back. She was scared, of course. I couldn’t blame her. That probably looked pretty bad from her angle.
“Don’t worry, I’ll,” I stopped when I heard her shriek, and she landed on top of me. I almost caught her, but it was more like I broke her fall. She hurried off of me, and I scurried off of the ground. We were in the server room alright. We were surrounded by walls of blinking lights and the hum of fans. There were wires draped across the ceiling, and underneath an incredibly sturdy glass floor.  We followed the wires out of the server banks together, and we ended up where all of the wires on the ceiling and the walls converged, a glass desk with a rather unimpressive looking computer sitting on top of it. I hurried over to the computer, and took a seat at the desk. Incredibly, it was still logged in, which gave me access to literally everything on the network. Immediately, I plugged in a thumb drive I had with me, which had a specially written program inside that would transfer their data, and then fry the system. From what I had read, this computer system controlled absolutely everything in Haven, and taking it offline would even fry the power. I looked over behind me at Thunderbolt, and she was carefully scanning the room. She was incredibly alert, and probably expected something to go wrong. I did as well.

It took fifteen minutes for the program to run its course, and I only realised that it was finished when the low whirring of the servers signalled its powering down. I pulled out the thumb drive, and Thunderbolt and I started our run out. That had gone far too well.
“Power’s down!” I said over the radio.
“Good. All fire-teams, advance!” Wallace ordered, and a massive explosion echoed above. Things were kicking off overhead, but I was more concerned with what had been on that computer.
“Thunderbolt. Hear me out for a second,” I said, and she stopped.
“What’s up?” She was panting from all of the running.
“President Harrison is here. I had a hunch he would be, but I didn’t think I’d be right,” I said, and she considered it for a moment.
“That’s a tough one. We can’t let Cherufe or Tempest get to him, I’m worried about what they might do,” She said. I was as well. They wouldn’t admit it to me, but I knew that they blamed him for their sister’s death. But we had to do something about him, take him into custody if we could. There’d be people aboard the Sandman scrubbing through the information I’d sent as it was received, and I knew that there was damning stuff in there.
“We need to get to him first, then,” I said, and Thunderbolt smiled at me.
“We?” She asked.
“Sure. Well, maybe it’d be good to have Miracle with us,” I said, and she laughed at me.
“Maybe? You’re pretty confident in the two of us,” She said as we stepped out of the server room. Well, I guess I was, but after the Streamline fight, I knew what she could do without her anxiety getting in her way. I think the fact that she would be living up to Walter’s memory by doing this was helping her stay focused.