Once again, a snippet in the raw:
Melanie shook out two Burnout tabs and gave one to Cat. “Take this. This process sucks a lot of energy and I don’t want you collapsing before it’s done.” She sat on one of the comfortable chairs Angela dragged over. “The other chair’s yours. Activate your datasuit to its highest level if it isn’t already.” She picked up two pairs of datagloves and tossed one pair to Cat. “Put those on.” She pulled her own gloves on.
Angela scowled at her. “What am I going to tell Marty?”
“I’m doing what I have to do to save our people. We’ll be fine, Ange.”
Angela sighed. “Good luck. Do it right, Mel, and come back in one piece.”
“We will.” Melanie waited until Angela stepped back to activate the secured globe. She waited until it was stabilized.
<Hear me?> she speeched to Cat.
Cat startled. <Voice, not text?>
<Yep.> Check. One point for Enforcer potential. <I’ll gather you once I’m fully virtual.> She knew she could do that easily. But going virtual? She closed her eyes. Visualized turning sideways, stepping out of her body–
The Net came alive around her, much more vibrant than what she could access through viewscreens and hologlobes or even those brief scans she did. She turned to Cat. Tapped on Cat’s shoulder, took her hand.
Cat screamed once as she separated. Fluctuated. Then settled.
<So this is Netwalking?>
<As close as we can get and still be alive. Follow me. I need you to back me up.>
Melanie pulled up Andrew’s link. Traced it to its furthest distance. Began the process of broadcasting the recall code. Identified the dead links and flicked them over to Cat for storage and later identification. Directly contacted Andrew’s Renee and ensured she was on a fast traveller out of the sterilization zone, though she needed to shout to get through to the poor-quality headset. She’ll have to go through isolation protocols but not too long.
<Melanie!> Cat speeched. <What’s that?>
Melanie turned from checking the squad she’d just routed to see what Cat meant.
A gray nothingness hung behind them. One malign tendril whipped toward them but pulled back before it struck too closely.
<Let me deal with this!> she told Cat. <Continue getting staff out!>
Not waiting for acknowledgement, she strode toward the gray that was beginning to spread. Marty and I stopped Sarah when she was like this. Codes. She blinked up her recording of those codes. Whispered them as she traced a blocking line.
Gray shoved against the line. Backed off. Pushed on and through.
<NO!> Melanie projected her full Enforcer vocal command tones. <STOP.> It halted. Then it pushed again, forcing her back three steps.
<Not enough.> Sarah materialized next to her. <Not enough!>
<What the hell are you doing here?>
<You haven’t the faintest clue what you’re up against, girl!> Sarah’s shape changed, forming a black cloud that swarmed around one of Melanie’s hands.