It was bigger than before, and creepier by far. Before it had been a mixture of dirt, rock, concrete, and asphalt. Now it was almost entirely asphalt with bits of the other materials mixed in, but that wasn’t the creepy part.
Before had been shaped like a humanoid. Now its legs and arms had been replaced with tentacles of asphalt. Its face was still shaped roughly like a human’s, but when Larry zoomed in, he saw that even its face was now made of thousands of slender asphalt threads. It writhed, and moved.
It looked like something that ought to be on the cover of an H.P. Lovecraft book. Larry took a picture with the suit’s camera. Joe would probably know a wizard who’d want to see it.
Underneath it, the the runway had been stripped to the dirt in some spots, and was looking thin everywhere nearby.
As Larry checked it over, the thing stopped and screamed into the air. Its voice wailed at several discordant pitches simultaneously. Then it struck at something in the air above the hangar. Being inside, he couldn’t see what, but he guessed it had to be Alexis. He didn’t hear any impact. That was good news.
Confirming his suspicion, he heard a series of popping noises—Alexis’ guns.
“I’m going back out. If you see it come in here, run.”
Larry didn’t wait for an answer. He took a few steps, and jumped, flying through the air, and then landing sixty feet down the runway. The tarmac seemed almost normal there.
Larry let fly with another missile. It hit the earth elemental in the back, exploding, but not quite having the effect he hoped. Bits of asphalt did spray out of it, but it stayed together. A divot appeared in the spot where the missile hit, but even that began to fill. He wasn’t sure how at first.
It screamed another horrible discordant noise, painfully high, and low enough that he could feel the vibrations in his chest at the same time.
It turned its head, and its empty, writhing eye sockets stared at him.
Larry waited for it to move, but didn’t wait long. It leapt toward him, its tentacles absorbing bits of the runway as it ran. The divot his missile made disappeared as little bits of blacktop migrated up into the hole.
He jumped again, letting the Frog suit fire missiles as he flew through the air. He wasn’t alone either. As he flew, Alexis’ guns fired, hitting the creature in the shoulder and head, distorting its face as pieces of blacktop scattered.
Larry landed on the other side of the last hangar on the runway. He’d figured something out. It was easier to blow pieces out of the thing now. It was also easier for the thing to repair itself, but if he filled the damn thing full of missiles, maybe he could blow it all apart at once?
He wouldn’t have many missiles left, but all he had to do was make it last ten minutes. The only thing that bothered him about the idea was Armory. If he showed up with security, Larry would need all the missiles he could get. On the other hand, did he want to be dead, but have a lot of missiles?
The earth elemental whirled. The tentacles it now had instead of arms struck, catching Alexis’ armor, and throwing him into the jungle on the other side of the runway.
He didn’t reappear.
Then the elemental took two huge steps—and stopped, standing directly in front of the last hangar.
Larry only barely stopped himself from opening up with the missiles. Wasn’t this what he’d been waiting for? It was, but he’d had time to notice something else.
Jungle rose on one side of the runway, and the hangars, the arena, and island’s hotels and restaurants stood on the other. Security had come. Three of them stood in the open area between the hangar and the runway. More stood further, pointing their right arms in his direction.
He wondered what sort of weapons hung under their arms, but didn’t want to find out.
Then one of them started talking. “Rhino, we have you surrounded. Walk back to the hangar with your plane.”
“Sure, man. What about my friend? Your elemental knocked him into the jungle, you know? He’s right over there.” Larry pointed into the jungle where he thought he’d seen Alexis suit fall.
“We don’t have orders for your friend. Walk to the hangar, and you’ll be able to bring it up then.”
“Hey, he could be dying. That thing hits pretty hard. Plus, my friend’s some kind of national hero in Cuba, and they’re not far away. Do you want to be on their bad side?”
The security guys didn’t say anything, waving him toward the hangar.
Telling himself that Alexis was probably fine, Larry started walking. Ten minutes, he thought. A lot of things could change in ten minutes.
He walked past the earth elemental. It didn’t even move until he passed it. Then it turned around. He heard the thumps as the weight of its tentacles touched the dirt, and what was left of the runway.
More security men, Armory, and Sloan lead Lim, and Cheryl out of the hangar. From the fact that they hadn’t said anything about it, Larry guessed that they didn’t know Lim was an FBI agent. He didn’t know what good it would do, but they might be surprised.
In the meantime, he decided he’d try to raise Alexis over his suit’s radio.