Circling around, I tried to think of the next step. If they had equipment in the SUV, I didn’t want them to have access to it, so I dipped back into the roadway, firing at the SUV’s cargo area and hoping I’d destroy anything that mattered inside.
When I started firing, Ray and the other guy were already moving. By the time the laser had melted a few holes in the vehicle’s side, they’d already run to the edge of the woods and started to return fire.
I angled myself upwards, over the trees, and out of their sight.
Then I called Jaclyn and told her “The vehicles got separated. I’m going to try to keep their attention from a distance until Rachel can take care of the paralysis rays.”
Jaclyn said, “How’s Rachel doing?”
“I don’t know.”
I flew closer to the road and checked, leaving the connection open.
Illuminated under the road’s sole streetlight, Gena stood behind the truck, automatic rifle in her hands, firing over the bed of the pickup at Rachel.
Gena wore black armor with guns, knives and other devices strapped to her arms, belt, and legs.
Rachel’s costume could have come straight from an old news clipping. White spandex with a semi-automatic pistol holstered on her right hip, it looked exactly like Grandma’s and glowed dimly. Something seemed wrong with Rachel’s left arm, but I couldn’t figure out what.
Rachel glided toward Gena, completely unaffected by the machine gun.
As she floated through the other side of the truck bed, Gena turned and tried to run for the woods.
I wouldn’t have thought Rachel’s glide would be faster than running, but she caught Gena’s bare neck with her right hand just as Gena turned her head and put down her gun.
Sparks came from Rachel’s glove. Gena spasmed and fell to the ground.
I would have expected someone to get out of Night Wolf’s car at that moment — if only to help Rachel with Gena’s body.
No one did. In the meantime, Rachel’s left arm hung loosely as she took away the rifle and started unstrapping the other weapons.
“Nick,” Jaclyn’s voice said, “what’s happening?”
“Rachel just took out Gena. I need to check where Ray and his friend are.”
I turned toward the SUV, then toward the woods where I’d last seen the two of them. They weren’t there or my eyes had adjusted to the streetlight. Either way, it looked dark.
“Nick?” Jaclyn said.
“I can’t see them. Give me a second.”
Pushing the button that activated the sonar, I struck the lever on the guitar, aiming the body towards the woods. Images filled the readout just above my eyes. Stripped of detail, tree trunks appeared solid and white. Thinner branches appeared gray.
A white torso with grayish arms and legs appeared in the woods, followed by another, sneaking from tree to tree, moving in the direction of Gena’s truck.
“They’re going to try to rescue Gena. No one in the car is doing anything. I think they must be para –”
“Nick, stop talking. I’m coming.”
With the push of a button on the palm of my left hand, I activated the suit’s sonic systems.
“Hey,” I said, addressing the woods, “you out there. It’s going to be a lot easier on everyone if you just give up. You don’t get hurt that way. We don’t get hurt. Everyone wins, you know?”
I knew it didn’t have much of a chance, but if nothing else, it bought Jaclyn a little time.
She wouldn’t need much.
To my surprise, Ray’s voice came from the woods.
“Nice try, kid. I’ve got a proposition for you too. You let us grab the woman and go, and my friend over here won’t blow your friends’ museum piece of supercar to hell.”
I could just see the two of them in the streetlight. Both of them wore black armor like Gena’s, complete with strapped on weapons, a helmet, and night vision goggles.
The big man next to Ray held a rifle with two barrels. The lower barrel probably fired off grenades.
“Do anything suspicious and we let the goddamn car have it. And that includes going invisible, Ghostgirl. See? I know my history.”
Rachel turned away from Gena’s unconscious body and rose a few inches in the air. “Yeah, you’re so smart I bet you’ll be able to figure when the ‘War of 1812’ started — eventually.”
From all I’d ever heard, Grandma didn’t back down either.
“What the fuck was that? Do you want us to kill your friends?” Ray pointed his rifle at me.
“No,” I said. “Calm down. We can work this out.”
I moved my right arm ever so slightly closer to the guitar, trying to think if I had anything short of the laser that would work at this range. Hitting Ray with that would burn a hole through him — a small one for a battleship, but a big one for a man. On the bright side, I supposed, the wound would be cauterized.
If we did have to fight, Night Wolf’s car could probably take a grenade or two, but I didn’t feel like testing it. If anyone inside got hurt, or worse, killed, what would I do then?
The second my right arm moved, Ray shouted, “Don’t touch the fucking guitar!”
“Hey, no problem,” I said, but it was almost a moot point.
The neck had long ago slipped down to point toward the ground. I could see the red dot that acted as the laser’s sight whenever I looked down. Turning myself a little would place it in the middle of his chest.
After that, I only had to touch the guitar. Could I do it quickly enough? That was less clear.
Out of the corner of my eye, a purple blur fell from the sky. I didn’t know where she had begun her jump, but Jaclyn landed in front of Night Wolf’s car.
The road cracked under the impact of her feet. The man with the grenade launcher fired almost instantaneously, but it didn’t matter.
She spiked the grenade, knocking it out of the air to land at her feet.
She covered her eyes as the blast knocked on her back, but aside from that she appeared to be unhurt.
As she stood, I knew that that was precisely the sort of thing that the Army never let out about her grandfather.
I didn’t have long to meditate on race relations and near invulnerability in 1940’s America though. Ray had apparently decided to empty the magazine of his rifle at me.