“Don’t move, or we’ll shoot!” Some kind of gun hung under each forearm of the lead guy—just like they’d hung under the forearms of Grandpa’s armor during World War 2.
On the one hand that could be a fanboy thing—Rook had said he’d admired Grandpa. On the other, it could just be more convenient.
The robot birds hovered near the top of hall, staying between us and them.
Filtering out the wings’ flapping, the Rocket suit’s newly enhanced ability to amplify sound turned noise into speech.
A tenor voice with a Midwestern accent said, “Teenaged girls? I’m shaking in my boots.”
A lower voice said, “Remember the briefing? The black girl’s a speedster.”
An echo hinted that they were talking to each other through the radio even though I picked it up through their helmets.
Jaclyn held up her hands, managing to tap on her communicator quickly enough that I never saw it.
“Any time now,” she said quietly. To them, she said, “Sure, we won’t be any trouble.”
So if I didn’t come up with a plan, she’d do something. I wished she would. I hadn’t asked for this to be my thing. Jaclyn would have been better at it. If we were to vote on who should be field leader I would have voted for her. She was smart, level headed, and the whole speed thing gave her extra time to think things through.
That was my first thought, and then my second was that I was wasting time. What were we doing here? Rescuing Cassie. To do it, we needed these guys out of the way, and even if they didn’t know it, we had superior firepower here.
The lead guy in power armor said, “Stand against the wall. Everyone hold up your hands.”
Over the radio, he said, “Shoot them as soon as they all turn around.”
The tenor said, “Are you crazy? They’re kids.”
The deeper voice said, “They broke through the roof, and that’s the Rocket behind them.”
“He’s got to be a kid too.”
Izzy had to have heard that. Her hearing blew the suit’s away.
She adjusted her stance as if preparing to move.
No one was going to wait if I didn’t say something now. “I’ll take the bird bots, you two take out the armored guys.”
I targeted the cloud of birdbots, chose EMP roachbots and pressed the button to release them, letting the suit’s computer calculate the optimal number of roachbots.
I didn’t even see Jaclyn leave. She left a purple and brown blur, hitting the first guy in Rook style armor almost as I realized she’d moved. Izzy moved at least as quickly, taking flight to become a bluish blur but with her long black hair stretched out behind her head.
Almost at the same moment the roachbots exploded, generating an EMP that caused black smoke to billow out of the bird bots. The bots fell—all twenty-five of them.
I checked the helmet’s readouts. I’d released 15 roachbots. It wasn’t a bad ratio, but more than I’d expected to lose this early. They must have spread out as Jaclyn and Izzy went past.
Hearing a crash, I stopped thinking about the bots, and looked down the hall.
The big metal door on the far end of the cell block was gone, and four men in smashed armor lay on the ground.
I leaned over and gave the rocket pack some thrust. Even if they didn’t need the help, I had to catch up.
I shot through the door, brought myself upright, and landed.
Izzy and Jaclyn had taken out three more of them. As I landed, Jaclyn ripped a chunk of electronics out of one suit, and crushed it in her hand.
“Hey Rocket, that’s the last of them—for now at least. I’ve been ripping this chunk out whenever I get the chance. I’m not sure what it does, but it looks important. I’d bet they can’t use their suits without it, and I’m betting they can’t even stand without working suits.”
I looked at the crumpled metal case mingled with bits of circuit board. “I’d have to see it in less pieces to know for sure.”
“Right. Got a new plan?”
“It’s the same as the old one—play 20 questions with the gun to find her.”
Izzy frowned. “Let’s get looking then. The sooner we get done, the less people we have to hit.”
Jaclyn shook her head. “If they’re anything like their boss, they deserve it.”
I pulled the gun out. “Is Captain Commando close?”
“Can you talk to her?”
“Tell her that we’re by the prison block. If she can get back here, we can get her out.”
Two sets of sparkles.
“No? She can’t get back here?”
Two more sets of sparkles.
“She won’t? Why?”
It didn’t respond, which was annoying. To be fair, I hadn’t asked a yes or no question, and given what I knew about its personality, I decided to count myself lucky it hadn’t shot me out of irritation.
That didn’t make me feel better though. Cassie always had a mind of her own, but this was one of those times where it was a huge pain in the butt.
Rook’s voice came over the base’s intercom. “Members of the New Heroes League. Welcome to my humble home. I’d have met you in person, but someone shot me in the leg recently, and I’m a little high on painkillers, so I’m directing our defense from the control room. Right now I’m trying to decide whether I should use the nerve gas, or… What? I’ve got to talk to my staff. Back in a bit.”