They went for the windshield first, and if it had been normal glass, it would have shattered.
It was transparent aluminum—kind of. Grandpa came up with a transparent metal alloy that included aluminum, and I was glad he had. It bought us some time.
I pressed the button that electrified the outside of the van.
A black bird dove, hitting the windshield with its beak, and leaving a divot in the middle of the windshield.
Courtney and I jumped back in our chairs as it hit, and watched as it became outlined in bluish-white, crackling electricity.
It fell, spasming.
I’d gotten enough of a glimpse of it to realize it wasn’t alive. A fiery red glow burned under the tail—which either meant it was using some form of reaction engine, or it had incredibly bad gas.
Theoretically, both could be true.
So anyway, we were probably facing robot birds.
I took a break from considering the ramifications of gas propelled birds to push down the accelerator.
The van jerked forward, smashing into, and zapping a couple more birds.
From the street came the screech of brakes, and the beeping of horns. Travis must have made it onto Jefferson Street. I wondered what they were going to try. The Wolfmobile had better weapons than the van, but Grandpa had designed it more for car chases and crowd control than fighting angry birds.
I considered calling them on the open channel, but didn’t get a chance. More birds slammed into the windshield—and not just the windshield either. They also hit the back windows and the van’s sides.
The charge on the battery that provided the shocks plunged.
If there were enough birds, the person controlling them could bring the battery to zero long before I could charge it up.
It was a different battery than the one I used to start the van, so it wasn’t as if that would be a problem, but aside from armor, it was almost the only protection the van had.
The armor would protect us for a while, but we really needed to leave.
The birds covering the windshield made that a lot harder. I had to stop. I still hadn’t made it out of the parking lot. Worse, the new group of birds didn’t seem to be as affected by the electricity as the first ones that hit.
They weren’t falling off the windshield, and they were releasing some kind of liquid.
Acid, maybe? Or something explosive?
I turned on the windshield wipers, and sprayed the windshield. It wasn’t the best idea. It certainly didn’t move the birds much, but I hoped it might dilute whatever was dripping toward the engine compartment.
I pressed the accelerator, checking the radar to make sure I wasn’t about to hit anything.
Then I slammed on the brakes, provoking a curse from Courtney, and knocking a few off the windshield. Unfortunately, more landed.
I had to come up with something better.
I knew I didn’t want to go out there, but I was beginning to think my best option might be flying away. Hopefully carrying Courtney wouldn’t slow me down too much.
“Hey,” I said, doing the speed forward and jerk to stop thing again. “We’ve got spare armor in the back. You’ll need it if we have to leave the van.”
“Leave the van? Oww!” Her seat belt tightened, stopping her from hitting the dashboard. “Nick, Rook’s out there!”
“Right,” I said. “So that’s what rooks look like? Kind of like smaller crows?”
She glared at me, and I guessed this might not be the time to discuss it.
“Do you know how many people he’s killed?”
Too busy to answer because I was making a couple quick turns that knocked a couple more birds off, I just said, “Yeah.”
I knew though—more than two hundred, but not all of them personally. The rook robots were responsible for a sizable percentage of the total. They had really sharp beaks.
Enough birds were off the windshield that I could actually see though, and I had a plan. The far end of Grand Lake Marina Supplies parking lot exited into a gas station. The gas station sat directly on the intersection, so all I had to do was drive, and we might be able to escape on the cross street.
I accelerated, racing across the parking lot, and roaring toward the gas station.
The station had two rows of pumps (and potentially four rows of cars). The middle row was empty. I aimed toward it, passed between the pumps, and pushed hard on the brakes, stopping just before I plowed into a pickup truck.
The cross street was filled with cars too, all of them waiting for the stoplight to turn green, their headlights illuminating the back of the car ahead of them.
I had no chance of squeezing the van in. I looked both ways, and realized that I couldn’t see anyone on the sidewalk.
I backed up a little, and began to turn. The sidewalk would be just wide enough.
Then I heard the sound of jet engines followed by a thud as something big hit the concrete.
A moment later, my van landed on its side.