“One more thing,” Haley said. “The armor Chris made for you back when we fought the Cabal is still here, right?”
Kayla said, “Yes,” hoping her voice didn’t sound like she was thinking what she was actually thinking–that this was getting worse and worse.
Haley glanced toward the hangar where they’d kept it, and said, “If it sounds like they’re coming down here put it on. It might make the difference between living or dying.”
“But I was awful in it. I was useless. I don’t like fighting. I’m fine helping you coordinate, but I don’t train all the time like you do.”
Kayla put her hands in her lap, suddenly aware that they were shaking.
Haley met her eyes. “Kayla, we’ll get through this. I’m sure it doesn’t seem like it right now, but facing the Cabal and Ray was worse than this. I didn’t have any idea how to hurt them, and Nick only figured it out by luck. We know that some of the things on your lists worked on the Abominators’ servants last time. Remember that, and step through what we need you to do. Go over the lists with Man-machine, and when you’re done, grab your armor from the hangar, and watch the robots feeds. We aren’t going to leave you alone.”
Kayla would have felt better if Cassie had given that speech, but she nodded anyway. She didn’t need to add to all things Haley had to be worrying about. It might be easy to imagine she could do better, but Kayla didn’t delude herself.
She’d been in the middle of a fight last year, and she had no illusions. She’d do worse.
“Okay,” she said, and slipped off the stool. She started walking out of lab and over to Man-machine.
Gerald Cannon grunted as he saw her. He’d been staring up at the enormous TV wallscreen. From the direction he’d been looking, she guessed he must have been watching the News 10 commentary on the spaceship floating above Grand Lake.
“Bunch of goddamn idiots. What do they think the aliens are here for? Bringing us some fucking enlightenment? Did they notice the guns?”
Gerald nodded at her. “Bring it all over here where I can see it.”
Kayla put the lists from the files on the table in front of him, and pulled up the spreadsheets.
He went for the paper lists first, flipping through the pages, sometimes chuckling. “Wish I’d known about these lists a few years ago. I made about a quarter of these.”
He snorted. “A burrito gun, courtesy of Yellow Burrito himself. What a crazy kid… Made for a helluva strange couple years when he was part of the League. It made things very interesting.”
He turned his face up to the screen where the spreadsheets glowed. “Yeah, we better go with simple. The list has some great weapons on it, but we ought to stick with the ones that you kids will get–particle accelerators and lasers. Point and burn. That’s what we need.”
Then he looked down at the list again. “Damn,” he mentioned. “Never mind what I just said. You go grab the particle accelerators, I’ll be in the lab.”
She frowned. When had she become the team’s servant?
She did it anyway, lining up the particle accelerator rifles next to the table in the main room. Then she got her powered armor from the hangar, passing Chris and Sydney. Sydney whirled layers of metal around her right arm, and Chris pointed at the layers and talked.
Kayla didn’t pay too much attention to them. At almost the same time, Marcus and Haley were floating the League jet into the airlock.
The wide metal doors slid open, and then closed behind the jet. The sound of pouring water followed the thump and hiss as the doors sealed.
She hoped they sealed. A leak would be a disaster. She wasn’t even sure if her suit worked underwater. Dismissing it from her thoughts, she piloted the suit out of the hangar and back into the main room.
As she passed, she heard Chris say, “I think I better suit up too, but you get the idea, right? We can spread out the heat, and even lose some of it.”
When she reached the table, she opened the suit, stepped out of it, dropping a little over a foot to the floor, and pulled out her chair. Then she launched the bots.
Nick had placed a few outside. The League had cameras outside, but even the best placed cameras couldn’t point in every direction you might want. The bots covered the holes. Kayla aimed them toward the edge of the forest nearest the spaceship.
In the end she could see the spaceship from five different angles, and felt fairly sure she’d see people jump out of it.
Chris and Sydney left the hangar and walked into HQ’s main room. Camille had beaten them to the table. Kayla wasn’t sure where she’d been, but she’d been sitting there when Kayla stepped out of her suit.
Everyone wore costumes now. Gray metal covered Sydney’s entire body, making her at least a foot taller, and giving her the appearance of a massive, metal woman.
When she reached the table, the metal fell away from her, turning into an ugly metal lump. Sydney wore a green bodysuit underneath.
A quick check showed that Gerald Cannon was still in the lab. Kayla wondered if she should have left him there.
Haley’s and Marcus’ icons reappeared on the screen.
“We’ve surfaced, and we’re in position for the attack. Let us know when everyone’s ready, Control.”
Kayla clicked on the mouse to reply. “Man-machine’s still in the lab. Is that okay?”
On the screen, Haley tilted her head a little, and said, “I don’t know. It depends on what he’s doing.”
Chris, now in his suit said, “He did say he wanted to be ready for the soldiers.”
Haley frowned. “I guess.”
No one said anything else for a little while.
Then Haley said, “It’s just floating above Grand Lake. What do you think it’s doing?”
Chris spoke into his comm. “I don’t know. Scanning maybe? That’s what I’d be doing.”
Gerald Cannon broke in. “Both of you, quiet! I’d be hacking into our communication system, and the more you talk, the better for them.”
Kayla had a bad feeling he might be right.
Bare seconds later, all the TV stations on the wallscreen began to show headlines similar to “Message from the Alien Ship’s Commander.”
Over the comm, Gerald said, “Looks like the gloves are about to come off.”