Marcus followed them, lengthening his legs as he jumped, and stretching his arms to grab the ledge on the other side. His leap reminded me of a frog somehow.
If it weren’t night, I could have blamed it on his green costume. I only recognized him because I knew he was coming, and because no normal human could stretch like that.
Frog-like or not, the way his shape briefly blocked the stars made me think of Batman cartoons—which ironically brought me back to reality.
We should have attacked them when they passed over us. If we’d called Marcus and told him to hang back, that could have worked beautifully.
Sparing everyone else my 20/20 hindsight, I said, “I’m going up,” started the rockets, and shot into the air.
Suddenly above the row of buildings, I had to decide how I wanted to handle this. We didn’t have a plan. Okay, we kind of had a plan, but it didn’t amount to much more than, “Find out who Marcus was chasing, and help him.”
I leveled off, and angled sideways, flying above the street.
I’d gotten ahead of them, giving me a second to detach the guitar from my chest, and send a message to everyone on the comm.
“Hang back, I’m going to blind them. One…”
The stealth suit’s sonar filled in the details normal human vision couldn’t, assisted by a computer. I’d improved it during the summer. Each of the seven figures running across the roof appeared to be wearing more than just boots.
Hard supports ran up the sides of their legs, arms, and chest. Small rockets or jets hung on the supports, probably to help stabilize the boots. The design reminded me of Jack Maniac’s a little, but unlike him, I hadn’t seen any sign these guys could do more than make rocket-assisted jumps.
Large bags hung by straps across their shoulders. I guessed they might hold the bank’s money.
Marcus had lost ground or he’d heard my message. Either way, he ran half a rooftop behind them.
Cassie followed him, staff in hand, sword on her back. Vaughn flew above her.
“Two…” This could work, I told myself. Blind them, and we could take them hand to hand. Reports of their actions during the chase showed no indication they were anything more than normal humans. Sure, their exoskeletons might be strong, but they weren’t armor.
Switching the setting from communicator to voice, I shouted, “Hey,” through the suit’s speakers. As they turned their heads toward the noise, lasers from my guitar bathed the rooftop in bright, multi-colored light.
My helmet blocked most of it, but from the shouts, their helmets hadn’t done as well.
Better than the shouts, lightning flashed from Vaughn’s black gloved hand to hit one of them. The bank robber’s arms flailed, and he fell over as electricity crackled.
The crazy thing? I recognized that as one of Vaughn’s smaller “taser sized” blasts.
I turned and flew toward them, landing a few feet from the edge, and letting the guitar hang while I gave them a blast of pain with the sonic weapons.
The two directly in front of the blast tensed, and one put his hands uselessly on the side of his helmet.
Marcus, in the meantime, had shifted from his long-limbed form into a muscular, humanoid shape that appeared to be made of rocks and reminded me of a comic book character.
Shouting, “It’s clobberin’ time,” he punched a guy in the face, cracking the man’s helmet, and knocking him down.
Cassie came out of the darkness behind Marcus, sweeping a guy’s legs out from under him with her staff, and hitting him in the head with it when he tried to push himself up.
He stayed down after that.
I charged the two guys standing in front of me, taking one down with a punch to the solar plexus. While he gasped for breath, the other backed away. He must have been disoriented from the light and my sonic blast because he tripped.
The exoskeleton restricted his movement more than the Rocket suit because he had a hard time getting his arm into a position to push himself up.
The big bag of money couldn’t have helped him either.
That left two effective fighters—one guy in an exoskeleton, and another who (I only then realized) wasn’t wearing rocket boots at all.
He’d been jumping between buildings with nothing but his own strength.
Dressed in black combat gear like the rest of them, he pulled out a pistol with a solid barrel—a paralysis gun in all probability. He pointed it at me before I had the chance to move.
I didn’t have time to worry, but if I had, I probably wouldn’t have. I’d worked out a device that countered the sounds the gun used to trigger paralysis.
He pulled the trigger.
The device on my belt didn’t hum at all.