According to Lee, anyone who chooses to fight you has a reason to think they’ll win. They may not be right, but they’ve got a reason, and the sooner you know it, the better.
I had no idea why they thought they could beat us.
Granted, we were supposedly there to talk, but what were the chances of that?
They stopped about ten feet away from us, and one of them said, “You’re close enough. Let’s talk.”
He had white skin, a square jaw, a day’s worth of whiskers, and a little bit of a paunch. I guessed he might be in his early forties.
In addition to the rest of their gear, he wore goggles — night vision goggles, I assumed. All of them did. It made them look a little goofy. It wasn’t that dark yet.
“OK,” Jaclyn said, “talk.”
He frowned a little at her, possibly taken aback that she seemed so casual about it, possibly surprised that she seemed to be in charge.
“Where are the rest?”
“They had homework,” Jaclyn said, and frowned a little herself.
“Well, here’s what we got. How about you leave us alone, and we’ll help keep a lid on crime here in the city. We know people. We’ve got connections. Say the word, and we can keep people out. We can even get you backup against supers if you need it.”
“Really? And if we said there was no chance we’d ever cooperate?”
“Then…” He nodded, almost imperceptibly, toward the person next to him.
I felt the sudden pressure of Daniel’s mind in my head.
+++Close your eyes.+++
A Cabal member blazed with white light. The Rocket suit darkened my view, but not before I got an eyeful. Even as my eyes shut, I could see a bluish afterimage.
When I opened my eyes again, I found that the suit had blocked out most of it, but the guy still shone like a miniature sun.
Meanwhile they’d started firing their submachine guns at us. Small blocky letters and an arrow pointing to the guns appeared in my vision. The label said, “Heckler and Koch MP5. Unknown variant.”
I supposed that knowing which type of gun was pounding my armor with bullets might be useful somehow.
Then I heard Jaclyn’s voice, “Take down the glowing guy!”
A look to my right showed Jaclyn covering her eyes, but still standing, despite the bullets hitting her. Rachel floated toward them, but she didn’t seem to be able see them, and so she wasn’t going quite in the right direction.
They were shooting quite a few bullets uselessly through her, however, so that was a good thing.
Travis, meanwhile, had apparently jumped over the group of them when Daniel warned us. He didn’t seem to need to see, and had already taken out one of them, but not, unfortunately, the human glowstick causing the problem.
Trouble was, they could see him. When a couple of them started firing at him, he jumped out of the way. I couldn’t tell where he landed.
That left me.
I ran at the glowing guy. One of the others noticed, and moved his gun to fire at me, hitting with what was probably better than human accuracy.
I barely noticed, smacking him with my hand as I ran.
He went down.
Almost at the same time, I reached glowstick guy, and punched him in the stomach. Well, technically in the armor covering the stomach.
He doubled over, and the light went out.
The helmet’s system adjusted back to normal night vision. I looked around and realized that we’d taken out more of them than I’d thought. All six were on the ground. One of them lay at Jaclyn’s feet, holding his leg. It looked broken — unless it had always had three joints.
Rachel floated above one that she must have taken out with her taser gloves.
I’d seen Travis take out one for sure. Maybe he’d taken out two. Either way, he stood with us, his hands and feet still shaped like claws, and his mouth full of very sharp teeth.
I noticed marks on his costume where bullets must have hit. The team’s costumes all had stealth suit technology worked into them, so they hadn’t gone through.
“We got ’em,” Travis said. “Think the rest of the team did their part?”
He should have known better than to hand the universe straight lines like that.
I heard popping noises in the distance that I wouldn’t have noticed if I weren’t already paranoid. Also, with the outside noise filtered through the suit anyway, it might have been intentionally amplified.
Travis noticed them too. “Everybody get down.”
I didn’t, and got hit a couple more times. No big deal. The 80’s version of the suit had heavier armor than the one I usually wore. A rifle’s armor-piercing bullets were not a worry. They would need something a lot bigger.
I used the suit’s radar to take in the situation.
The Ottawa Trails Golf Course ran down Jefferson Street, up to Fifty-Second Avenue on the east side — where the parking lot, and pro shop were. People hid near, possibly in, the trees that blocked the view from Fifty-Second. To the north, the golf course stopped at a small forest. The helmet showed people with guns there too. They were fighting already — probably with Haley, Marcus, and Cassie.
To the west, the golf course stopped at a small river. I didn’t know the name. I didn’t see anyone over there, but it didn’t matter. There weren’t many trees on the course, so people in the forest or near the pro shop could fire at will, and have a clear shot.
I left the south till last because I didn’t expect to find anything there at all. No trees blocked the view of Jefferson Street, or of the Meijer store (with its massive parking lot) immediately opposite the course.
On top of the store, above the glowing red letters that spelled its name, and the facade that gave the impression of a series of little shops, stood three men.
The helmet identified two of them as holding rifles, and the third, a missile launcher.
It didn’t take much to guess who he planned to shoot with that.