The smell of burning electronics was not a good sign. Otto had held such hopes for the new recharge mechanic for Sentinel's deployment, but the tests so far had been nothing but disappointments, and now he had to cover another deployment module with a fire blanket. The proximity sensors to his workshop going off just seemed like a bonus at this point.
"You could have knocked," he remarked as he turned to face the intruder — his sister Valerie.
"And you could not send a murder robot at me!"
"Ed isn't a killer; he's an exploration drone."
"Who kills people. My point stands."
Otto sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. "What are you doing here, Val?"
She frowned and glanced around. "I detected something wibbly-wobbly spacy-wasy going on here."
"Ok, I think we're done here. Ed will show you out. Stay safe."
"No! Wait! There's actually something wrong! You've been working on something that changes size, right?"
Otto glanced at the blanket hiding fried electronics. "Possibly. Sentinel's deployment depends on a fold in space-time to mitigate the quantuum information prob-"
"That sounds like it, yes! You're creating a portable hole!"
"That's not remotely how it works. But what of it?"
"It's messing up in some way and it seems bad."
There was an uncomfortable pause as Val looked more and more awkward. "You have no idea what's wrong, do you?" Otto sighed more heavily this time.
"...Not the specifics, no..."
He pulled the blanket away and gestured towards the pieces underneath. "I'll keep it simple for you: I need to carry something small and light that can bring in something big and heavy. That might seem impossible to you, but —"
"Nope, it doesn't."
"BUT, thanks to analyzing on energies here, I can. Except the device keeps overheating, and I don't have access to a good enough coolant."
There was a moment of silence while Val considered her options. "WARD has been building a new physics lab. I saw a bunch of pipes labeled as coolant next to it. Is that the kind of stuff you're looking for?"
"Depends, but maybe... Wait, are you joining WARD now?"
"I was just visiting someone," Val tried to deflect, "But if I help you get some of this stuff, you won't twist space worse than Li, right?"
"Just keep out of the way when we get there. I'm guessing we're dealing with potentially bad reactions if that chemical leaks in the wrong area."
"You're a bad reaction..."
The WARD encampment was never completely quiet, even during the night. The major champions for the island weren't always around, of course, but others were.
"There," Val pointed, "That's the tank."
"Far away from the robotics lab. Sheiße." As the Pionier's eyes trailed the visible areas between the points, he grunted with further frustration. "And of course, there are a whole lot of power cables running across the ground. If we let the hose touch those, the explosion will take out this side of the camp."
"You know, I'm starting to think you should just give up on this turret. Ask Verse nicely to tag along?"
"You go get people away from those power cables," he said, completely ignoring her. "Get the power diverted while I get a hose that can get the coolant to where I need it."
"Sure, Artoo. I'll just distract the entire camp while you pull a bit of cord around."
"I'll place the Sentinel to help you if we're discovered. The deployment might not be perfect, but the risk of an explosion is slight."
Pionier picked up the hose and made his way towards the lab. The area of WARD Labs here was unusually open, which came with the disadvantage of others having a line of sight, but the advantage of there being plenty of tall grass and rubble to hide amongst. He looked around for possible threats and immediately noticed Sonya pacing around Maya as the two were talking. That made this whole operation a lot more complicated, and he cursed under his breath.
He hid behind a couple of rocks next to the powerline before sneaking over and decoupling it. That made the next building go wholly dark and alerted the two women to his position. Fortunately, Val was apparently in place because the decoupled cable was quickly retracting. He grabbed the hose and ran towards the next cover, but this time he was spotted and just barely managed to evade the heavy impact from one of Sonya's guns. "Hey!" Her shout was cheerful. "Come out and play! You didn't even let me get a good look at ya!"
This had to be it. Only Sonya paying attention to him likely meant Maya was checking out what was happening with the power cable. He detached the deployment disk, and with a deep breath, he rounded the corner just long enough to throw the device into the field. A jump back saved him from another couple of gun blasts. Still, he could hear Sentinel getting ready, and immediately after, it was firing against any available target, forcing them to seek cover.
Taking the opportunity, Pionier ran to some new cover while also grabbing ED from his back. "Go," he whispered as he haded the drone a grenade. "Take this to whoever is attacking Sentinel." ED gave a confirming buzz before flying off. Hopefully, that was enough of a distraction to get him the rest of the way. Behind him, he could hear that his sister had slowed down the others, making it easier for him.
Arriving at the lab, Pionier grabbed spanner from his best and smashed the side of the card reader at the door, causing the front to fall off. Switching to his homemade hacker tool, it took him all of five seconds to get the door to open. The automatic lights came on as soon as he entered, and he looked around for the equipment he needed. He looked towards where he had deployed the Sentinel and entered some commands into his device, which let out a purple energy field before the deployment disk apparated in front of him. "Probably should retrieve you like that if you're unstable."
He placed the disk on a table and attached the hose he had brought to a tool bench. A cool mist of liquid nitrogen and more spread across the room while he worked. Finally! He had an internal circuit that could cool the particles in the compacted device enough to lower the risks! He picked it up and turned to leave when he saw the brown duster of WARDS cowgirl in the doorway. She spun her revolver. "¿Cómo estas, Pionier?"
"I just needed to fix my Sentinel."
"The thing that was just shooting at us? Not sure I want you to fix that one."
Before the Pionier could answer, Maya was pulled out of the building as if grabbed and thrown away! "Pionier," the focused voice of Li pierced through the darkness outside, "I suggest you run."