We scouted it out even before we left HQ.
Prime’s men had parked in a dirt parking lot. Adjusting the roachbot’s position on the car gave us the name of the business — Perliss Manufacturing, Co. The roachbot’s GPS system gave us the exact location, and soon we were looking at it through Google Maps.
We could have used government maps, but Google had a better user interface (though the Feds updated their maps more often).
The square cement block building stood a few miles outside Grand Lake along M-22. A little bit of research showed that Perliss had manufactured auto parts until last year when they’d gone out of business.
Still, as abandoned auto parts factories went, it seemed to be in a nice place, assuming you wanted to be out in the boonies, surrounded by trees and farmland.
Travis walked up as I finished. He wore his costume, and he’d transformed, making him more muscular than usual, and just as big. His fangs and claws weren’t proportionately larger than Haley’s, but they seemed more intimidating.
The satellite view hung on the big screen next to a browser window with a Grand Lake Sentinel article entitled, “After 30 Years, Perliss Manufacturing Closes.”
“Plenty of trees around the sides and back. We’ve got cover.”
“If we need it,” I said. “You know how the roachbots self-destruct? I’ve made a version that’s more of a flying bomb than anything else.”
“Not much of a bomb. They’re pretty small, right?”
“Well, yeah, but it’s a shaped charge, and there’s a lot of force for its size. What you do is take a bunch of them, and they work their way into crevices, and then they explode. Plus, I’ve been working on roachbots that make an electromagnetic pulse. So between the two, I’m thinking we could destroy it. Pulse to damage the mechanism. Then blow it up with the others.”
“It sounds like it’d work. What kind of range do they have?”
“Not much of one. Maybe a football field, but that’s optimistic. It assumes there’s no wind, for example. Think one hundred feet if you want to be sure.”
Rachel had stepped up while we were talking. “Why don’t I float in with couple grenades. It would be simpler.”
“I think Lee said that if there’s a way to block you, Ray would probably have it,” I said.
Rachel said, “You know what I hate about our grandparents being famous? Everyone knows what we can do.”
“Except for me,” Marcus said. “I’m an original.”
“I can’t argue with that,“ Jaclyn said, walking up with Daniel, Vaughn, and Haley. They’d been talking about something next to the pile of boxes and our own copy of the Impregnator.
“I’d go with the roachbots, by the way,” Jaclyn continued.
“Yeah,” Vaughn said. “I was thinking of sending a tornado at them, or maybe some lightning, but I might kill somebody.”
“You might kill Ray,” Cassie said. “I’m not saying we should, but no great loss if you did.”
I turned to look at her. Cassie was in costume and had the sword, but that’s not what I was noticing. Kayla stood next to her.
Kayla gave a little wave, and said, “Hi, everybody.”
“Kayla,” I said, “I didn’t know you’d be here.”
“I had an idea,” Cassie said. “You remember how when we were fighting the Mayor, we all got separated? Well, you know what we need? Someone who’s not in the middle of the action. Someone who can call for help, or tell us information we can’t look up ourselves. Kayla already knows us. She’s already been blocked, and she doesn’t have powers, so it’s not like we’re taking anyone out of the field. She’s ideal.”
“Right now?” Jaclyn’s face tightened. “Cassie, this isn’t a good time. Are we all going to be bringing in our friends without telling anybody?”
“But it’s not the same thing. We’ve known Kayla for years,” Cassie told her.
“Some of us knew Chris,” I said.
Daniel said, “I think it’s a good idea. Teams usually have someone back at base.”
“It’ll be like the Matrix,” Marcus said. “With the operator on the ship.”
Kayla turned her head, taking the whole scene in. “I can go. I don’t have to stay.”
“No, stay,” Travis said. “I just wish we had time to train you.”
* * *
Thirty minutes later I found myself landing on a dirt road in the full Rocket suit. The road ran through a farmer’s field, and ended in the forest behind the old auto parts factory. Leaving rows of corn behind me, I stepped into the forest, hoping that they didn’t have anyone watching this far back.
It hadn’t looked like it from the air, but I couldn’t see everything from the air.
Standing behind a tree, I activated my helmet’s communicator. “Everybody, I’m in position, and I’m ready to send in the bots.”