My helmet dimmed the light as the lightning leapt from Vaughn’s black gloved hand, outlining the Eagle suit in sparks. The woman in red must have been struck too because she convulsed, even if she didn’t fall out of the air.
The Eagle suit did fall. It landed on the edge of one of the Escalades’ hoods, crumpling the metal underneath, but simultaneously jumping lightly to the ground. Then she flipped the Escalade onto its side.
Whoever was inside obviously hadn’t been hurt, but the wings had. One hung loosely, almost touching the ground. The other had retracted into a straight line that hung behind the suit’s back. A little smoke rose from the metal casing between the wings.
The Eagle suit might well have been a Faraday cage, but important parts of it existed outside the cage. It was an interesting design flaw.
I would have explored that line of thought further except that actions have consequences. Specifically, I mean that when you zap a woman in power armor out of the air, and shock her teammate in passing, the teammate might decide that you’re an excellent target.
For all the woman in red’s convulsions, she blasted back at us. I didn’t even realize it until Haley shouted something while yanking me sideways.
The blast had to be more than simply light. Camille’s gravity shield caused it to curve upward, passing above her head.
Vaughn wasn’t so lucky. The distance between the roof we were standing on and the road meant that the reddish substance spread out, some of it hitting the wall below us, some passing Vaughn to splatter against the roof halfway across the building, slowly fading out.
Some of it hit Vaughn’s face near his mouth where his mask was open, running across his cheek, but somehow not burning through it.
“Ow,” Vaughn muttered, brushing it away with his gloved hand. His cheek looked a little red, but not burned. Meanwhile metal on the edge of the roof where the burning red substance had hit had actually melted a little.
My initial thought was that Vaughn hadn’t been hit by quite so much, but my second, clearer thought put it together. He’d leveled up.
During the summer, Dr. Nation had put everyone on a system of eating, drinking and exercise that was supposed to help activate secondary powers that might not have been fully expressed.
It hadn’t done anything for me.
I didn’t have much time to think about that either. Vaughn’s lightning strike had attracted the wrong kind of attention. The men in one of the Escalades had chosen to target us, apparently not recognizing that we were on their side.
They opened their windows, pointing their weapons at us. Some guns ended in flat, wide, rectangles, others in thinner rectangles that appeared to glint. As they aimed at us, my HUD indicated it was paralysis rays—both kinds, sound and light. We’d been taken out by both in the past two years, and I’d built resistance to both of them in the new version of the stealth suit and our costumes.
“Did they just try to paralyze us?” Vaughn shook his head and looked across the green lawn over to the cars.
“Looks like it,” I began only to be interrupted by Camille.
“Not just us.” She pointed out over the lawn. The woman in the red costume lay on the grass, most likely conscious, but unable to move.
Alden ran out of the mass of cars, a blur, slowing down to pick her up, but only then. The Protection Force soldiers pulled up their weapons as he became visible, but not quickly enough. He disappeared.
Back on the road, it was obvious that I wasn’t the only person who’d figured out how to stop paralysis. The Eagle suit woman was fighting one of the people in powered armor.
The second powered armor person fought someone new.
It appeared to be human, but it was hard to tell. Silvery cubes, tinted like sunglasses and arranged into a humanoid shape, obscured the man inside. It was as if he knew how to make force fields, but didn’t know how to curve them. Whoever he was, he hit the person in modified Rocket armor with long, rectangular shapes that extended far past where his arms must have stopped.
He fought well, too.
Even as I watched, he battered his opponent the way he might if he were wielding two clubs, but as the man in powered armor backed away, he extended one forcefield behind his opponent, tripping him.
Then, as the man fell, he stepped in and started slamming the suit with both arms.
Haley frowned. “We need to do something. We can’t wait any longer.”
“My armor’s coming—” I began, but Vaughn interrupted me.
“Got him,” Vaughn said.
A gust of wind blew the force field guy into the air. That didn’t last long. He extended the force fields around his legs into stilts, extending his arms to grab on to an armored truck.
It was enough time, though. His opponent made it to his feet and started firing the rifle under his arm.
Frowning, Haley walked to the edge of the roof, putting one foot on the concrete and metal edge. “Gravity Star and I are going to get the civilians out of there. Storm King, do what you can from here until the Rocket’s ready. Rocket—”
And then it happened—the pod arrived. Floating above us with alien gravity technology, the hatch at the bottom of the cylinder, that had slowed to a stop above me, opened. Small gold and black cubes fell on me, arranging themselves into the fully armored version of the Rocket suit.
A few cubes bounced off to the side, but attached when I grabbed them.
“Right,” I said. “Storm King and I will take on the Eagle and force field guy.”