Because the van’s dashboard was still in civilian mode, I couldn’t even send out bots to try to follow her. I pulled out my own phone, holding it to my side, and angling it with its back toward the back, so that people behind me couldn’t see the screen.
The “presence” screen showed that Kid Biohack’s communicator was on and placed him in the factory’s yard.
There had to be another way to find out whether he was alive or not, short of running out there.
Then I had an idea. I flipped my phone back to civilian mode and went to Kid Biohack’s camera feed.
It was dead.
I checked the last seconds of online video. He’d cut off the feed as he’d gotten into the theater parking lot. Given that he streamed everything with a lag, that meant he’d probably cut it off the moment he recognized Alden. That would have been before the conversation, and even before Jillian became visible.
Deciding not to use a fight with his best friend as part of his on-going self-promotion made Kid Biohack seem almost like a decent human being. Being able to view his stream would have gone a long way toward knowing if he was conscious or not, though.
Haley put her hand on the door handle. “I’m going out there. He might need first aid.”
She’d already pulled the first aid kit out from under the seat. As she began to open the door though, Jeremy said, “Are you sure?”
From the far back seat, Gabriel said, “Seriously, people get killed stepping into these fights.”
Near him, Caleb said, “Don’t be crazy.”
“Oh come on,” Camille said, sounding like she was only barely suppressing a laugh, “this one’s over.”
That had been my thought, but as Haley’s door opened wider, jets roared outside as the eagle powersuit did a quick circle above all the stopped cars and the factory yard.
Haley pulled her door shut.
At about the same time a metal cylinder flew out of the yard over the privacy fence. Between the darkness and the speed I couldn’t see it very well, but it looked like an oil barrel.
It hit the eagle powersuit, knocking it sideways, but not breaking anything. It flipped over, but the wings adjusted, the jets fired and the flight smoothed out. In the end, it stayed under the pilot’s control.
I couldn’t recreate the algorithm off the top of my head, but I had ideas. Whatever the system behind it was, it compensated for how hard it had been hit, taking into account the limitations of a human pilot as well as the suit’s strengths.
However messed up he was as a human being, Rook was an excellent engineer.
The eagle suit dipped downward aiming for the line of cars, and for one excruciating second, it aimed directly at us. Soon enough though, the suit had roared over us and into the darkness.
After it disappeared, the noise fading into the sound of sirens, and the rumble of engines, Haley leaned into me. “The suit slowed down as it flew over us.”
I didn’t ask her how she knew. Her senses were better enough than mine that I had no reason to doubt her. Besides, I was wondering how much the person in the eagle powersuit had seen. I’d tested the van with radar, sonar and anything else that might allow someone to see what it really was.
While I couldn’t make it look exactly like any of the vans it appeared to be on the surface, I could make it impossible to see anything below the surface, and that’s what I’d done. The only way you’d find that strange is if you were thinking.
I had a bad feeling that the person in the eagle suit (whoever they were) was thinking.
Kid Biohack walked out of the fence hole he’d blasted through. His costume hadn’t been ripped, but it wasn’t in good shape. The part that I could see was scratched and covered with dirt. The part that I couldn’t see might have been worse. Black goo covered most of his chest, and that struck me as interesting because I’d escaped the woman in the eagle suit by covering her suit in goobots.
She (or whoever was in the suit) had shot Kid Biohack with a single, wide round. The eagle suit’s goo apparently wasn’t as strong as mine. Small bits stuck to his arms and legs (where he must have ripped it off), leaving only a black, gooey mass that covered his chest.
Interrupting my speculation about whether it was the same eagle suit and operator I’d seen before, Jillian said, “I’m going to turn myself in.”
Haley and I both turned around to stare.
Jeremy watched her, clenching his hands. “Are you sure?”
“Yes,” Jillian said, undoing her seatbelt. “I don’t want to, but I don’t want you all to go to jail.”
A police car rolled down the side of the road, half on the asphalt, half on the grass.
“If you’re sure,” I said. “My best friend’s dad is a lawyer. Even if he won’t take the case, he might know someone who will. I’d call him before you talk to the police. I’d definitely call him before you get assigned a public defender.”
I texted her the number. Moments later, she stepped out of the van, and walked toward the nearest police car with Jeremy.