While Gunther talked to Gimpius, I tapped out a message to Jaclyn.
If she were in the middle of a fight, a text would be easier to ignore than a call. Probably.
Her message came back seconds later.
“Not busy. We freed the hostages and brought them to the hospital. They’re OK. Some scrapes and bruises. No major injuries. No one dead. We’ve handed the Syndicate’s people over to the police. Is it over on your end? And did something happened to Kayla? She’s supposed to be handling communications.”
“Kayla’s fine. Are my parents there?”
“No. They aren’t supposed to be. Did that change?”
Back when Daniel took Ray’s call to HQ (even though it was only a few hours ago, it seemed like days now), Ray had said something about not needing them because he had enough hostages.
So he might not have taken them with the others, but he could have left them as backup hostages.
Or, thinking about how he usually handled his victims, he might have been planning to kill them on the way out if things went wrong.
Which they had.
I wrote, “Don’t know. Bye,” and blasted into the air with the rocketpack, flying away from the fall back position in the corn field, and toward Gunther.
I heard shouts, but I didn’t listen to them, landing a few goo-splattered soldiers away from Gunther. Larry stood next to him.
The nearest one tried to grab me with his left hand, but I was out of reach, and he couldn’t move.
He chuckled as I stepped around him.
“So that’s it,” Gunther said, “you’ll leave them alone for a year, and we’ll let you all go.”
Gimpius said, “Agreed, but after that year, no limits.”
He glared as I came closer.
“I’m not going to stop hunting until the two of you are dead.” He eyed Gunther, and then me.
“The Rocket?” The bulbous head of the Rhino suit turned in my direction for a moment. “Why him?”
“He’s the one who took my father’s head away. Where is it now?”
“Uh… I didn’t keep it. I dropped it in a pond.”
Gimpius made a noise somewhere between a sigh and growl.
“Wouldn’t want to be you,” Sean said from behind me.
He must have followed me, I realized, and looking behind me, I noticed that everyone was coming.
Even Travis had moved the League jet. It floated above the field, and had its anti-personnel lasers pointed at Prime’s people.
“Gunther,” I said, “I have to go. Ray’s going after my parents.”
Gunther didn’t miss a beat. “Of course, he is. I’m going with you.”
“What?” Larry asked. “How do you know that?”
“I don’t,” I said, “but he’s not here, and he knows who my parents are, and Accelerando saved the rest of the hostages. So…”
“God damn,” Larry said. “If everything’s taken care of here, we should all–”
My communicator started flashing red. Kayla’s voice came over the communicator, “It’s the second wave. The roachbot saw Syndicate L mechs!”
“Rhino,” Gunther said, “you take command. I’ll borrow Night Wolf’s car and help the Rocket.”
“No, I’ll go.”
“Nice thought, but I don’t have a choice.”
I couldn’t see Larry’s face behind the gray mask, but I could imagine a look of comprehension that went along with the sound in his voice.
“Oh, that. Well, then you’d better move. Where to?”
“My dad’s office for Dad, and my mom works at home, but if they’ve already been taken, I don’t know where.”
“I do,” Gimpius Prime grinned through the hardened goo spatters on his face.
I didn’t like the look.
Gunther said, “What do you want?”
No one said anything.
“2913 Northshore Drive,” he said. “My people brought stuff over there for him.”
“What,” Sean said, “is it rigged with explosives?”
Gimpius shrugged. “Believe me or not, but you’ve got a chance of beating him there, if you believe me.”
Gunther smiled. “He’s probably hoping to finish you both off, but I’d bet he’s telling the truth… mostly.”
Gimpy didn’t say anything.
“I’m going. He could already be there,” I said, and clicked the buttons on my palm that readied the rocketpack for take-off.
“Wait for me. Don’t fight him by yourself,” Gunther said.
I barely heard him over the noise of take off.
For the first time since putting the helmet on, I paid attention to the GPS readout. We weren’t more than twenty minutes south of Grand Lake. They must have been deliberately trying to disorient me on the way down here.
I could be home in less than a minute if I wanted.
Maybe I could get Jaclyn to check my dad’s office. I clicked on the communicator and started to text her.
I’d just moved my left arm in front of me and touched a button with my finger when Rachel materialized. She had her hand on my shoulder.
It had to be at least the third time she’d pulled the “invisibly tag along” trick since she’d gotten home from school.
Not that I wouldn’t need the help.
“You could have told me.”
“I barely had time to grab on,” she shouted through the wind. “Besides, don’t complain about me. Look behind us.”
I turned my head to see Sean Drucker flying behind me. “What are you doing here?”
“He killed my father. I’m going to kick his ass!”