“I’m not sure that we can leave,” I told him.
Lim, sounding frustrated, asked, “Why?”
“They’ve got an Abominator birthing platform. It’s got twenty tubes or so, and even though it’s only partially working right now, it seems to be repairing itself.”
I’d almost told him that Cassie had communicated with the machine. They probably knew about her Abominator gun. Flick had seen it when we’d rescued Cassie from Rook last fall, and she’d probably passed it along. All the same, they probably didn’t know that Cassie could communicate with and possibly control Abominator devices.
It seemed like the kind of thing to keep quiet.
Lim made a strangled noise, and said, “What? Fuck! You’re not joking at all. I thought everything else we had to deal with today was bad. Destroy it, and if you can’t destroy it…”
He paused. “If you can’t destroy it, get it out of there. I’ll send you Portal if you need her.”
This was the most upset I’d ever seen Agent Lim. I took a breath. “I’ll see what we can do.”
“I don’t care what you need,” he told me. “If you ask for it, I’ll try to get it for you. Just don’t let them get that machine.”
“Seriously? Okay. I’ll call you back when I figure out a plan.”
Lim sighed, and said, “You’ve got less than a minute. After that, everyone follows my plan, or whatever plan comes down from Washington. And bad news, some people over here are already talking nukes.”
I was about to point out how that hadn’t worked out too well in the Avengers, but Lim hung up.
I broadcast on our groups general channel. “Hey everybody, Lim just told me that the main alien ship’s heading straight for us. We’re either going to have to take an Abominator artifact back with us or destroy it.”
Bloodmaiden stared down at her communicator
“Hey Cap, how easy would it be to destroy it?”
Cassie’s armor adjusted as she pointed her helmet toward Blue Sky Labs.
Then she said, “It’s not possible.”
“Not possible? We’ve got your gun, my bots and Accelerando and Izzy.”
Cassie sighed, and said, “It’s not possible in the time we’ve got. We can put a few holes in it and rip it to pieces, but its mind is stored redundantly all through it. Give it enough time, and it will put itself back together. Bet we could drop it in the sun, but we don’t have the jet here, so that’s out.”
This was not good. In the back of my mind, I tried to think of what we were supposed to do next, but it didn’t feel like I had any good ideas.
Jaclyn’s voice came over the comm. “OK, so destroying it is out. We take it and run, right?”
I shook my head. “No. It’s really, really big. I bet this thing is as heavy as a moving truck–one of those big U-Hauls, you know? Plus, they seem to be able to home in on Abominator materials or something. Even if we take it somewhere, they’ll find us. I think we’ve got to take the ship out.”
Thinking about the ship, I had a sinking feeling in my stomach. How were we supposed to take that out? We’d taken out a couple small ones. It couldn’t be that easy to take out a full sized battleship–or whatever it was.
For all I knew, it was an alien garbage scow that had been adapted for piracy.
Okay, I told myself, I probably ought to keep on talking so they don’t think I got distracted. “The really bad news is that people in D.C. are talking nukes.”
Vaughn broke in, “Didn’t they see ‘The Avengers?’ There’s no way that’s going to work.”
“I know,” I said.
“Alright,” Jaclyn said, “so we’ve got to take the ship down. How are we going to do it? Can’t we do it the same way we took out the small ships?”
“Not that simple,” I said. “Bloodmaiden’s hurt. I don’t know if she could take out everyone on the bridge. Plus, on a ship like that, they’ve probably got an AI. Bloodmaiden’s spear can’t hurt inanimate objects, right?”
Bloodmaiden nodded. “You’re right, but I’ve harvested enough that I can keep on going for as long as we need to fight.”
“You’re sure?” I asked.
From where she stood next to Jaclyn, Bloodmaiden nodded.
The other people on the lawn–Dr. Griffin’s staff–appeared to have noticed that we were having a private conversation. The trenchcoat guy was eyeing us like he expected us to suddenly attack.
Dr. Griffin was looking across the lawn, checking each of us in turn.
I decided to ignore it. This was more important. “Even if Bloodmaiden can manage it, there’s bound to be more redundancies on a big ship like that, so we can’t just send Rachel up there. I think we’d have to send up more people. Plus, after we take it down, that thing will fall, and it’ll be a lot harder to handle than the two troop transports. The main ship is more than twenty times their size.”
Vaughn nodded. “Yeah, I’d say that once that thing starts going down, it’ll go wherever gravity takes it. I might be able to give it some direction, but not much.”
“I’m low on bullets,” Rachel added, “so I’ll second the ‘more people’ part of the plan. I’ll need them.”
Exactly, I thought. She would need more people, and even if she could float through, the others would have to get past the ship’s shields.
Impossible. Well, maybe not quite. I realized that there was one fairly obvious way to get past the shields.
“I’m going to call Lim,” I said.