I concentrated, trying to find out exactly how many frog monsters were around us. I stopped after scanning the immediate area. There were more than 500 gathering in the park next to the river. I didn’t even count the street. I knew what I needed to. There were too many of them for a straight ahead fight.
The gun was a hell of an equalizer, but I couldn’t point it everywhere at once.
Our original plan for getting out assumed that the Liberators had cleared the area, and that it was going to stay cleared. We thought we might run into a few, but not this many. Nowhere near this many.
In short, our original plan was fucked.
I looked over at Rod and Sam. From the expressions on their faces, they had to be thinking the same thing.
“Red Hex, Troll? We’ve got to talk privately for a second,” I said. “We thought we’d bring you to the D.C. Heroes Association’s HQ. We’re going to have to find a new route.”
Or, maybe a new destination, but I didn’t say that. I was missing Daniel a lot right then. A telepathic conversation between Rod, Sam, and I would have been great. Without him, we’d have to talk quietly a little bit from the rest of the group.
The halls were lit only by red emergency lights, and not very well. We were all in a hall just off the lobby. I hoped they wouldn’t do anything that would draw attention.
Anyway, with Rod and Sam there, I said, “Can you guys do anything I don’t know about? Because the way I see it we’ve got to go out the back and bet they’re not out in force there, or we stay in here until morning.”
Rod said, “Why didn’t we go out back when we were at the parking garage?”
“I didn’t want to fight them and then find out there were a lot more I didn’t know about. And there are. There are a lot in front.”
Sam said, “Captain Commando’s right. We couldn’t win against that many. I think we should stay here. There’s no reason for them to come in, and in the morning, they’ll have to retreat.”
“I don’t like that,” Rod said. “If they do figure out we’re in here, they’ll swarm the place, and we won’t have anywhere to go.”
“No, we’ll be fine,” Sam said. “I’ll set up a ward, and they won’t notice us.”
“Remember the yeti? And what about downstairs?”
“The yeti was a special case. They’re magical. He sensed the ward. And the frog-monsters don’t have infrared cameras.”
I said, “You guys fought a yeti?”
Rod made a grunt that might have been a laugh. “I punched a yeti through a wall. It was pretty cool.”
“Huh,” I said. “So how’s troll-you doing?”
“Slow and hurt. Give me a couple hours, and I’ll be better. My troll form heals pretty quickly.”
“Then let’s stay. If we even had you at half-strength, we could still leave before the night’s over.”
Rod sighed. “Good point, but I still don’t like it.”
We went with it anyway.
When we explained it, John (alias Suitguy) said, “We’re not going to survive until morning. Something will happen. Something always happens. Those things will eat us and all that’ll be left are our bones.”
The guy who’d told him to “grow a pair” said, “Yeah, he’s right. They’re gonna smell us or something. Can’t you guys call the Liberators, and have them airlift us out?”
Half of me wanted to argue with him, and the other half felt stupid for not thinking of it myself.
“The Liberators won’t do squat for us,” I said, but I pulled out my League phone anyway, and called them. I didn’t get the same person I talked to before, but the woman I did get said, ”You’re in a building? They’re not after you?”
“Then call back when you’re in danger.”
She hung up on me.
“They’re not coming,” I said, and began to put away my phone. Halfway there, I stopped.
I called Nick.
“Cassie? I thought you were still in Aruba? What are you doing in D.C.?”
In the background, Haley said, “Now what?”
“I’m surrounded by evil frogs, and I need a ticket out of here.”
I explained. When I was done I asked, “How long?”
“Well, I need to get on the Rocket suit, and start the jet… I don’t know. Twenty minutes? Thirty?”
“Twenty,” I said. “We’re heading for the roof.”
I hung up.
Ten minutes later we were on the roof. I’d had to break down a couple doors and an access panel, but we made it. We were seven stories above the ground, looking over the Potomac, the park and the highway we’d ridden on only an hour earlier.
The stars shone in in the sky, more visible than usual because all of Georgetown had lost power.
I didn’t have time for stars.
I’d walked to the edge of the roof and used the gun’s enhanced senses to zoom in on what was happening in the darkness.
The frog-things weren’t the only monsters in the Potomac. A fifty foot wide circle floated in the water. The gun labeled it as UNKNOWN AQUATIC BEAST. BIOLOGICAL FACTORY. THREAT.
I thought about blasting it with the gun, but I didn’t. It would be totally counterproductive—probably good for D.C.’s defense, but not part of our mission.
Plus, if I did that, all the frog-things would come for us. Better to wait a few minutes and have Nick blast it with the jet’s lasers.
I turned my attention to the apartments off to the right.
I didn’t know whether they were technically apartments or condominiums, but either way a lot of people lived there. Most of them had managed to light candles, or hid, but the frog-things still walked through the complex.
At least twenty had gathered in front of one door.
Through the gun’s vision, I couldn’t see all the details, but one ran and slammed into the door. From inside came a muffled scream.
I couldn’t let that go.
I pointed the gun at the frog-things. It started screaming about bringing down destruction on their heads, telling me (yet again) to BURN THEM TO ASHES.