They weren’t normal footsteps either. They reminded me of Jaclyn’s when she was running slowly enough that they still sounded like footsteps, but close to the point where her footfalls blended together into a hum.
So, a speedster was behind me, and a huge suit of powered armor stood in front of me. Normally I’d have tried to move myself so that they could only come at me one at a time, but with a speedster that would be nearly impossible.
I didn’t even have time to come up with a plan before he hit me.
Basically there are two kinds of speedsters, the kind that mess with physics to seem to move quickly, and the kind whose bodies have the strength, toughness and reflexes to handle moving at obscene speeds.
Judging from the way he punched me through the nearest wall, I guessed that I was facing the latter.
I hit a tall structure on the way through, causing it fall over with a crash, but I couldn’t tell what it was. Before I could look, a red and white blur came through the hole, and began pounding on the Rocket suit.
The good news? I wasn’t getting a string of error messages. The bad? Given time, he’d break something, and when he did, the Rocket suit wouldn’t do much good against nerve gas.
And that could mean death.
I had no chance of hitting him, and I didn’t try. He’d see anything I did and dodge it.
I didn’t panic. Hours of training with Jaclyn during the spring and summer meant that I’d had to come up with tactics that would work.
Touching the buttons on the palms of each glove, I triggered the sonics at high volume—well past the threshold of pain.
He stepped back, covering his ears.
Knowing I didn’t have much time, I fired off a few of one of my newer roachbot types. On the inside of my helmet, they showed up as three blue dots flying toward him, but then they exploded into fine strings of white goo. Spreading out, they stuck to his skin, his costume, and the wall.
Better yet, using multiple goobots had worked as intended. Instead of just sticking to his front, lines of goo covered his sides and met in the back.
For most people it would have been overkill to use three bots, but with his strength, three was the minimum.
He tried to get out, shaking, and trying to pull his arms away from his head, but he couldn’t. The goo had bonded with his hands and skin. He had to feel skin pulling away from his muscles every time he moved.
Disgustingly, the usefulness of the goo totally banked on the assumption that people wouldn’t be willing to rip their own skin off to continue to fight.
That, and the assumption that if it had only touched clothes, they wouldn’t be willing to fight naked.
After a few seconds of frantic movement, he relaxed, hanging within a web of goo strands.
Only then did I get a good look at the guy.
I recognized him. I’d seen him in newspapers and online. Some supers became internationally famous and people all over the world knew their names. He was almost one of those people.
Just a little shorter than I was while in the Rocket suit, he had brown hair, tanned skin, a mustache and solid, square face—where it wasn’t covered by his mask. The red and white costume included a small eagle on the left side of his chest.
He was the speedster of an EU hero team, and he was almost famous because he’d stuck with the Polish version of his name instead of publicizing an English version. He called himself “Prentkos” or something like that.
That left the question of what he was doing here, why he was helping Rook, and whether he was doing it willingly.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to think about it because I still had a a guy in big set of powered armor waiting outside for me.
I pulled myself up out of the wreckage. The metal structure I’d knocked over turned out to be a bunk bed. The bunk had smashed a TV set, a rack of CD’s, and what looked to be an athletic trophy.
Still, it was interesting how some people here got nicer accommodations than others—private rooms instead of open bunking areas.
Outside the sound of heavy footsteps gave me more than a little motivation to leave, and a bad feeling that even if I took the powered armor guy out, it might not be the only set I’d have to face. Plus, I’d either have to make myself constantly visible to find Cassie, or continually ask the gun questions if I wanted to find her while sneaking around.
I couldn’t wait and think about it.
Fighting down a rising sense of panic, I bashed the door open, placing myself in a hallway near a corner.
The helmet’s sonar showed me that the huge set of powered armor wasn’t more than ten feet from me. The cool thing though was that I could target the armor indirectly.
I fired off two EMPbots, and they turned the corner, exploding directly in front of the armor, and creating a very respectable pulse.
The armor didn’t slow down at all.