A man opened the door. He didn’t give Larry the impression of being a brilliant inventor, superhero, or villain.
Len’s combover was painfully obvious, and his small moustache reminded Larry of Hitler’s. It was wider, but had a similar look. Larry pegged the man as being in his mid-thirties, and guessed that his clothes dated from the late 70’s. His shirt’s collar seemed a little too wide.
Len looked up at Larry, and tried to close the door.
Larry didn’t let it shut. He put his foot in and pushed forward, stepping into the room.
Len’s room was a bigger version of Larry’s suite—except Len’s main room included a hot tub. Plus, a significant part of Len’s workshop had migrated inside. Most flat surfaces held tools. A mech’s arm lay across the coffee table.
Len let go of the door as Larry pushed his way in, beginning to turn, and probably to run. Larry grabbed his arm.
“Hey Len, what’s with the running? It’s me, the Rhino. We fought on the same side a couple times.”
Len stopped struggling, and looked up. “Rhino? I didn’t recognize you. How are you doing?”
“Not bad. Not bad, man. I do need to talk with you though.”
“Sure. Why?” He looked down at his arm. Larry still hung on to it.
“People have been noticing your armor in a lot of places—here, on supervillains in Chicago, and a couple other spots. Some people who talked to me would like you to be choosier about who you sell this stuff to.”
“What?” Len’s voice became louder, and he stopped looking at Larry’s hand. “Is that what this is really about? You’re here to tell me what to do?”
He pulled away, and Larry let him.
Face red and hands balled up in fists, Len stood on the beige carpet. “That’s what I hate about you guys. You get so fixated on doing the right thing that you won’t let the rest of us make our own decisions. Who made the armor? Me. Who designed it? Me. You know who should decide who uses it? Me!”
Larry took a breath. “No one’s going to have a problem if you sell it to the government or the police, but seriously, the last I heard, you sold armor to the mob. They kill people. If you provide them with armor that helps them do it, you could go to jail.”
“Are you going to take me there?”
“Not planning to. All I’m here to do is tell you that you gotta stop selling people like that armor. I bet people won’t even be bugged if you provide the security team here with armor. They’re keeping the peace, right? It’s when you start selling it to guys without morals that people get unhappy. If you keep on doing it, you’re going to wake up to find half the Defenders knocking chunks out of your wall. You don’t need that.”
“You’re right, I don’t.” Len had backed further into the room while they talked, and stood next to the dark, wooden coffee table. He reached down and picked up the arm, and stuck his hand inside.
Blades extended from the fingers.
Larry took a step back. His flight suit acted as armor, but it didn’t do very well against blades.
“Whoa,” Larry said, “I’m not threatening you.”
“That’s right,” Len said, “you’re not. I’m threatening you!”
He twitched his arm, and the inside of his armored forearm bristled with spikes. “Now get out, or I shoot you.”
A spike fired, flying over Larry’s head, and embedding in the ceiling.
Larry backed a few more steps. “Nice idea,” he said as he felt behind himself for the door. “I wouldn’t have thought to give individual sections of your armor their own power sources.”
Len raised the arm in his direction as Larry touched the doorknob, opened the door, and stepped back into the workshop. As much as he didn’t want to give Len the idea that he was afraid, he also thought that the sooner he got inside his suit, the better.
He touched his hand to the access panel. The suit recognized his handprint, and opened up. As he stepped inside, red lights began blinking everywhere. A siren began wailing.
Larry felt pretty sure he knew why. It was still annoying though. If Len had let him leave, that would have been the end of it.
Now he was going to have to fight.
The Frog suit closed, and messages ran up the HUD. Except for a few minor issues, all the suit’s systems were showing green. Better, the suit’s radar didn’t show security coming. He was sure that would change.
The suit did, however, start evaluating everything in the room, labeling powered armor, weapons, energy sources.
With an Armory suit, and at least twenty spare security suits nearby, Larry knew his first step. He loaded three mini-missiles, and launched them, firing one at the Armory suit, and the other two at clusters of security suits.
The explosions filled the room with painfully bright light, and sound.
Larry aimed the Frog toward the hallway, knowing that if security wasn’t coming for him before, they were now.