Travis’ voice came over the comm. “Don’t get too close. I’ve got a plan.”
I didn’t have time to ask him about the plan. The Thing disappeared through the wide hangar door. We could have closed it. It would have bought Travis time, but on the other hand, he didn’t seem to need it and The Thing would have trashed our door.
It was a big metal door that ran from the ceiling to the floor—not exactly the kind of thing you can pick up at Lowe’s.
The Thing flew through the doorway, past the concrete wall on one side and the door on the other.
It made it halfway into the room and stopped. I stopped too, but thanks to Travis’ warning, I stopped just past the door. What Travis had done was awesome, or if not awesome, at least smart. In the minutes that he’d had before Lucas stepped into HQ, he’d taken stock of the powers available and put together a defense that fit.
The hangar looked exactly like it had except for one thing—an ocean of darkness covered the floor. It was thinner in front, almost nonexistent next to the door, but impenetrable gloom covered the back of the hangar
A quick look at my HUD placed Marcus, Sydney, Kayla, Jeremy, and Dayton inside the League jet, Chris Cannon and Courtney inside the Wolfmobile. Shannon and Julie hid in the darkness beyond the jet.
It was Shannon’s darkness. Maybe she had to touch it to keep it up.
Travis, Sean, Jody, and Kid Biohack stood in front of the jet—which would have been stupid if I hadn’t known that Samita’s wards were directly beneath them. None of them had one of Amy’s wards after all. Any of them could and would be infected if The Thing bit them.
I still hadn’t had time to read the email about how to activate them.
If Travis or one of the other people in the room hadn’t either, it pushed the whole idea back into stupid territory.
“Yo, Thingy,” Travis waved it toward him. “Come on. You know you want to take us down, infect us and turn us into your hosts. Well, we may be doomed, but we’re resisting. Let’s get it over with.”
Then for good measure he gave it the finger with both hands, a gesture made more intimidating because he’d already transformed, giving him fangs and making his hands huge gray claws.
In the smooth baritone we’d heard before, it said, “Very clever. You’ve completely overmatched me. I surrender.”
It began to lower itself slowly to the ground. I could see my own surprise mirrored on their faces—well, except for Travis’.
I couldn’t see much of his face because the black mask of his Night Wolf costume covered all of it, but the mouth. His mouth curled in a snarl.
“Yeah,” Travis said, “I bet.”
It turned out that Travis was right about that because The Thing opened up with lightning on the group of them. The Rocket suit blocked out most of the flash, muting the thunder, and so nothing distracted me from seeing Sean and Jody fall to the ground unconscious and burned.
Their new black costumes hadn’t been designed with lightning in mind.
Kid Biohack blurred, moving the bodies deeper into the darkness where they disappeared. At the same time, Travis leapt upward and to the side, landing on one of the metal storage shelves (usually accessed by the forklift) that went up that wall.
As The Thing shot upward toward Travis, Julie shouted, “Lucas, stop!”
Lucas must have had some control of his body still because The Thing hesitated, and that was enough for me. I’d stopped hovering and aimed for The Thing even as the thunder still echoed in the hangar. With its hesitation, I could slam into it from behind.
It screamed as I hit, driving it forward past the jet and into the wall on the far end of the hangar. I got my left arm solidly around its neck and punched it on the lower side of its head. It felt like punching a fleshy beach ball, but every punch produced a horrible gargling noise.
I don’t know how many punches I got in before it pulled us away from the wall despite my best efforts to keep it pointed into the concrete. It twisted left, changing our positions relative to the wall—now I was between it and the wall—but with one crucial difference. I was still behind it.
It had the side effect of moving both of us away from the wall, and it flew toward the shelves where Travis still hung.
I punched it again, this time into its gigantic ear. It screeched, giving Travis time to jump from the fourth shelf down to the third and from there to the second.
I punched again, even as it used Lucas’ arms to try to pull my arm from its neck. Lucas’ hand grabbed my armored forearm and squeezed, setting off error message after message in my HUD, but for the moment, the suit could repair the damage as quickly as it was made.
That wouldn’t last forever. I needed to end the fight.
Adjusting the hold I had around The Thing’s neck, I started choking him. The Thing twisted its head around, saying, “You’ll kill him first! You’ll kill him—”
And then it was dead weight, dragging me toward the ground.