Out of the corner of my eye, I watched The Thing That Eats in all of its bodies. None of them said anything as they stood by the rock, but they watched it.
I felt certain they had a reason, and said, “How do you want to handle it? Straight out attack or something softer?”
Lying with her armored back to the shingled roof, Amy glanced up toward the roof’s peak. “Do you have an idea?”
I shook my head. “Only that we shouldn’t wait too long, but I’m willing to come up with something if you can think of a reason to go in soft. I mean, if Storm King’s on the vampires, that leaves the two of us against four of them.”
Amy sat up and moved into a crouching position. “Why? Are you nervous?” To judge from her grin, she wasn’t.
Vaughn laughed and got to his feet too.
I got up and crouched next to her, keeping my head below the roof’s peak and out of view. “Not any more than normal. I just like tilting the odds as far in my favor as possible.”
Holding her spear in her right hand, Amy smiled. “Let’s go. I’ve got more than one thousand years of battle experience telling me we don’t have much time.”
I checked my spybots. Between when we’d started talking and that moment, Jillian had begun to glow. OK. Scratch that. She always glowed when she had her powers working, but as I looked the glow had become new and weird.
She’d had a soft red glow around her, matching the one Latoya wore at all times, but as I watched the soft glow grew edges. Still bound to Latoya by the hardened remains of goobots, she’d edged up to the man with the shields—Hank Haseman.
Hank Haseman’s shields were all clear and glowed white if they glowed at all.
When Jillian touched them, clear, triangular shields surrounded her body. The red energy intensified and extended a couple inches from the edges, cutting through the hardened goo around her, freeing her from Latoya.
“Shit,” Vaughn muttered, staring at the comm mounted on his wrist. “Did she just combine two people’s powers?”
“Looks like it,” I said, wondering if that only worked because Latoya, Jillian and Hank were all part of the same creature.
Magic made everything weird.
“Ready?” Amy tapped the roof.
“Ready,” I said, and jumped into the air, angling myself so that the rockets on my back shot me downward. As long as I was at it, I fired off a string of boombots.
It wasn’t as if they could actually hurt any of The Thing’s possessed helpers.
That said, I was careful. I aimed the bots so that they aimed upward when the shaped charge exploded, keeping the main force of the explosions away from the rock.
At the time, I only saw four simultaneous explosions, but the slow motion replay was better. The four of them stood in a semi-circle around the rock, unable to fully surround it because the ward generated out of the other side.
The first bullet hit Latoya Thing on the bottom side of her bulbous head, throwing her upward—which shouldn’t have been a big deal since she could fly, but she was close enough the the edge of the ward that she didn’t get control soon enough to avoid hitting the boundary.
White light exploded from nowhere as she did and The Thing’s toothy mouth screamed.
The second boombot hit Jillian, throwing her into Hank Haseman who’d taken a boombot at almost the same time. Sparks flew from their shields as they collided. Both of their Thing heads stared, eyes wide, jaws wobbling as they bounced away from each other.
Andronicus Thing took the hit better than any of the others, falling backward and getting up almost as soon as he went down.
It was kind of anti-climactic, but it did the job. I needed to get everyone out of Amy’s way and then keep them off her. We’d done exercises a little like this in training even if they weren’t exactly the same. Lee hadn’t ever had us fight people possessed by giant heads, after all.
It didn’t matter though. Amy came in directly behind me or as close to it as she could. Even as Andronicus Thing came back to his feet in full fighting form, Amy landed, spear stabbing him in the gut.
It didn’t penetrate which was unsurprising given that Andronicus was a Cabal veteran, but despite that it did penetrate a little, and Andronicus Thing howled. Whether it was a trick of the Rocket suit’s HUD or not, a dark cloud escaped from its side. Stranger, the cloud contained images of people, some in modern clothes, others in robes. I didn’t recognize any of them.
Whatever it was, Amy gave The Thing That Eats no time to recover, stabbing it again, but not as deeply as I suspected that she wanted to. She barely broke skin.
Meanwhile, clouds began to form above us, and though they couldn’t know what was coming, the vampires on the other side of the shield chattered in alarm.
If that weren’t enough, Jillian and Hank had recovered enough that they’d begun to run toward me. Latoya wasn’t. Hitting the shield must have taken more out of her.
I decided I could use that.