Her aching feet carried her across the cracked, buckled pavement of their own accord, her lungs sucked in the smoky air and pushed it back out, and the stitch in her side cried out for her to stop, but still she ran.
She snapped her head around quickly, terrified of tripping, but desperate to see if her colleagues were still there. She was alone. Alicia and Sarah were gone. There was no sign of either of them. Layla tried to remember the last time she was sure they’d been behind her, but everything was a swirling, nightmarish blur.
If they were still alive, maybe she’d somehow find them again. If they were dead, there would be time to mourn them later.
For now, she ran.
The sounds of chaos grew fainter, but they still spurred her on. Screams, explosions, sirens, and concussive blasts filled the night air. Her city was in its death throes.
Massive skyscrapers were smashed or completely leveled. The sky was lit by raging fires. Walking among the buildings, each step an earthquake of its own, were impossibly huge robots, their reflective hides gleaming in the destruction as they made their way systematically, block by block, decimating anything and anyone in their path.
A sudden whooshing sound over her head made her come to a skidding, ungainly halt. She felt a surge of adrenaline as squad after squad of hyperjets filled the visible sky above, swarming past her, loaded with laser fire and concussion missiles. Every instinct told her to get moving again, keep putting distance between herself and the robots, but she stood on the splintered double yellow line and watched as salvation flew toward chaos.
And she saw the nearest robot swat the entire attacking force out of the sky with one swing of its massive arm before any of them even fired a shot.
So Layla ran again, sprinting down the same broken street, in one direction only, away from the destruction. She ran block after block, sweating, crying, not knowing where she was going and not really caring, only that she was moving toward relative safety. If there still was such a thing.
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