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The third mekani leaped away, and the dust swirled. Behind each of the several Aquarii enveloped in radiance, regular-sized blue orbs sparked into electricity. The nearby people who saw them first started up the exit chant: “Hey hey, ho ho, we won’t put up with it anymore!”

At this signal, they scrambled up from the ground and formed small clumps around group guides holding a tall object up high. Then they linked hands again, and hustled, group by group, toward the nearest glowing orb shielded by an Aquari. Small group organization was easier to manage chaotically. For each set of hands linked, just one person had to touch the orb, and they’d be netted out.

Bright Wave, Soft Sand, Sharp Talon, and the others gave the greatest last ounce of their defensive intensity to these moments of egress. The pilots facing them had to ride out the storm in the procedural stasis of instrument and sense confusion.

The sounds of human passage died down until Bright Wave felt the arrival of an empty breeze. Turning her head to look, she saw that it was just them left across the area between the fence and the distant hovers. The glint of a glowing zerite chip embedded in a boltball caught the corner of her eye. Its presence had been boosting her amplitude, and she said goodbye to it. Still holding her pendant high, she backed toward her orb, seeing the others do the same. Once Bright Wave was close enough to touch the orb, she cast a piercing white light in front her and disappeared behind it, as did the others.

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The Aquarii below began to weave their workings into the airspace, and the government control hovers stuttered in their forward progress. The viewing group then relayed the signal to Chrysanthe, Vanessa, and Yleon. With the focus of adventure turned serious, the three gave each other their unifying signal with their fists punched out.

A klaxon sounded, and they lunged forward to touch the orb, their giant forms netting into it and disappearing. They throughported in high above the compound in midair. Falling together for a split moment, they quickly telesighted their landings far below, inside of the giant array of people laying on the ground. They each executed their moves to jump to earth.

Torrents of impenetrable illusions clouded the aircraft in the distance, causing them to do very little except rotate in place. Each kid stuck their landing and looked around. After this moment to gain their bearings, each ran toward an air filtration silo, one of those they’d previewed on maps. These were the things to break into.

Not a body moved inside the fence. The Aquarii sustained their energetic protection, though it was understood that this could only work for so long.

The cookie cutter on the forearm of the meka, when applied, was designed to create an easy opening in the shell of the air filtering assembly. That was so they could deposit their payload. As long as what they had could get in, it didn’t matter what got out. Heart pounding, one thing before the other. Hole punched. Release canisters and break wind.

These fumes actually smelled of roses. They were supposed to be pleasant to inhale, because they carried a teeny, tiny protector that could always destroy the Affliction. It could lay dormant, but the counterphage knew exactly how to attack that bug, and turn it into something that could attack that bug, until that bug couldn’t make half a move. The long-running experiments that produced the Hirylien Affliction wouldn’t be making it ten steps from an open container, or to the next container in quite the same condition. Experiments would go bad they day they tried to move them forward. From then on, it was a haunted lab. Nothing they were running could work right in there anymore.

That’s all the kids needed to do. A canister at each hip for the general vicinity, a canister on one forearm and an aiming fan turbine mounted on the other. Aim that cloud in with the fan, give the distribution systems a nice saturation with the contents, and get right out.

The scent of roses wafted over the people laying on the ground holding hands. The sky above was beautiful, except or especially where it was being painted thick with illusions designed for the eye within the miasma. The protesters were cushioned in calmness by waves of natural sound that shredded a little with electricity. They hung tight and kept their cool.

The mekasuit team had enough time. After gassing up the place, Chrysanthe executed her exit first, initiating the suit’s motion direction to send herself to exactly the touchpoint they’d entered from in the air, and she disappeared. Yleon followed after they watched her go, and his jump was clean.

Vanessa turned to look at this lab, and the people beyond, and the threats they were holding at bay. She felt the suffering of generations that had created this moment. Clenching her meksuit’s fist, she looked at the building, thinking about crushing part of it in. Then she looked at the protesters, laying down with arms linked before an approaching frontline; some of them were looking up and back, watching her. She thought about what was inside the building and shook her fist out with a shudder. Then Vanessa made her jump, up and out.

91.1 \ 283

In the aerial view that was coming from the throughport location, the Human-Vedani remote command core were able to witness the last of the biolab facility staff drive their flyers out of the compound. That was when the top three kids on the meksuit team, suited and ready, each began to engage the systems of their mekani.

The core team on the chamber bridge, a combination of human guardian adults and Vedani engineering and strategy, continued watching the ground view to determine the timing for the signal. Crowd control units appeared flying in to face the protest, while the mass of buffer volunteers subsided and made way for the Aquariid guard. In the center of the enormous meka chamber, an enlarged throughport node was being actively maintained, a sparking sphere shell of blue light.