Magenta hair swirling about her, Norelle scampered into the control room. Soong and Havel stood leaning against the main command terminal, Soong's loose amber hair flowing gracious around her bare shoulders. Even out of Armor, she looked gorgeous, throwing a stab of jealousy in Norelle. That only compounded the frustration building, something Havel seemed to gather as his pale green eyes narrowed at her approach.
"What now?" he groaned as she stamped up the metallic floor towards them.
"Where the hell is Entura?"
Soong exhaled, fidgeting with a strand of her loose hair. Her expression was dripping with annoyance. "She's obviously making a field run. Why does it matter?"
Norelle took a calming breath, resisting the urge to slap Soong's expression right off her stupid face. It was funny how much had changed in the last six months. Norelle never considered herself so confrontational…or violent. But this business of theirs—supposedly helping to protect the world—it had apparently led her to discover all sorts of interesting things about herself. Some she wasn't so sure she wanted to discover.
Keeping her temper in check, Norelle smoothly flashed her transfer crystal by the main terminal reader. The big screen winked to light in a showy display of graphics. That definitely hadn't come with the Armor tech; Andev had probably programmed the animation to be cutesy. Soon after, active security footage from their secure vault winked to life, displaying a very empty sarcophagus.
Soong's frown only slightly deepened, but Havel looked genuinely concerned. Good. They should all be on high alert. But heaven knew where the rest of the Sentinels were at this hour. Andev was out, and Lykke was snoozing the last she had seen. Norelle had a few guesses about Kovic, probably hitting some social scene…
"Sigma's toy is missing," Soong grunted.
"Not missing," Havel stammered, beating Norelle to the punch. "Entura is using it." He turned on Norelle, questions in his eyes. "How did you know she would take it?"
Norelle gaped, throwing up her hands. "Are you kidding me?! Am I the only one who watched the way she ogled over the damn thing ever since we confiscated it back in Annattan?"
"We all were ogling over it, Norelle," Soong replied coolly. "I do seem to recall you wanted to take it personally."
Norelle sighed, running a hand through her short hair. "Only because I knew Entura would be too tempted. If she tries to perform a crytos transfusion…"
"She couldn't," Havel said, sounding like he was trying to reassure himself more than the others. "It's incompatible hardware. There's no way it would relate to Sentinel tech."
"Havel…it was made from Sentinel tech."
Norelle blinked, surprised to hear those words coming from Soong. It was so astounding that for a moment all she could do was stare at the self-absorbed girl. Only now she didn't look quite self-absorbed. Maybe Norelle had misjudged her these past few months. After all, the Shard had chosen her to be among their numbers. The Sentinels hadn't left these things to chance.
"Don't act so surprised," Soong added, noticing Norelle's expression. "We all knew that's what Sigma Fire has worked on for the last month. Ever since…"
She didn't need to finish. A chill ran up Norelle's spine, the horrific memory of her captivity flashing back to the forefront of her mind. Even buried deep within her Supernal Armor, the Sigma Fire cronies had done…terrible things to her. Things that sometimes gave her nightmares.
Things that now apparently made her so confrontational and violent.
Out of her torture and confinement, Sigma Fire had extracted something. It couldn't have been much, because the process had transformed Norelle, unintentionally evolving her and her Armor. Then she had leveled the facility. Events after that were a blur. But at some point Havel and Entura had retrieved her. Brought her here, back to command, where she was still recovering.
But Sigma Fire had apparently limped away from the encounter with more than she bargained for. That's how they had created the Device. And now it had stolen Entura's loyalty.
"I still maintain it would be incompatible," Havel pressed.
Norelle noticed that he had summoned his Shard, though. It didn't take long to arrive in the command room, pulsing with bright green light as it enshrouded his body. Soong's was just behind, pulsing in equally blinding amber light. In a split second, the two had transformed from annoying roommates into Sentinels, armed in the most advanced technological Armor the world had ever seen. Even as an initiate among their ranks, there was a very deep part of Norelle's mind that was strongly tempted to kneel before these divine creatures and worship them.
Bearing the Armor of a Sentinel came with that image.
"You should stay here, Norelle," Soong spoke, her voice magnified and enhanced through her helmet. "Someone needs to raise the others."
"We'll take care of Entura," Havel assured her.
Norelle shook her head. "If she has found a way to harvest its crytos, I don't know if any of us can stop her."
"Then don't wait for us," Soong replied grimly.
The two Sentinels turned on their heels, leaping into the air. In an instance, they vanished up the exit shaft in the center of the command room ceiling. Norelle lingered a moment, watching as the main screen displayed their departure from the facility, disappearing into the skies southward.
She exhaled, leaning against the command terminal for support. On cue, it sent a wave of pain up her thigh.
Grimacing, Norelle reached down to massage the tender flesh. Simultaneously, she suppressed the memory of torture that had spawned this particular wound. Sigma Fire was going to pay in full for the things they had done to her body.
But first, they had to survive the dissension in their ranks.
Lykke wandered into the room, obviously recently awakened. Her raven hair was a mess, and she wore only a sports bra and a pair of boxers. The girl had the weirdest fashion tastes.
"What'd I miss?" she mumbled groggily.
"Take a seat," Norelle grunted, patting one of the chairs. "We might as well see if we can't get a video feed of the end of the world."