Just as it had earlier, Blue’s yell caused chaos. The giant winged dinos dove to avoid her voice despite anything their riders did with their reins. As they dove, the League jet circled around from over Grand Lake to appear behind us even as we dove to follow.
“I’m thinking we should use Blue to herd them,” the Rocket said. “If they stay low, it shouldn’t be hard to hit them from the side.”
Blue’s voice came over the comm. “I’ll try, but you’re going to lose a lot of windows.”
The Rocket said, “Hmmmn. You can narrowcast, right? Or maybe find a frequency they’re suseptible to that doesn’t break things?”
Blue’s grunted. “I’m not a computer. If you figure out the right frequency, play it for me and I’ll imitate it.”
As they talked, we dove toward the city. The dinos couldn’t fly between the buildings—they were too close—but they could dodge behind the taller skyscrapers and change direction.
Worse, they were doing it.
The group of them had flown around a boxy fifteen story building next to the river that ran through downtown. Two of dinos flew past it, angling themselves toward the lake when they were out of our sight. The other four flew toward the growing army of dinos.
Blue and I understood what had happened as we followed them around the back of the building, its mirrored glass reflecting my glow.
Blue spoke over the comm, “They’re scattering.”
A new voice spoke over the comm—Accelerando’s, “We’ll take the ones heading for the lake.”
Before anyone could reply, a purple colored figure appeared on the top of the ten story buiding next to the one we’d flown around. Then Accelerando ran across the roof, jumping, and hitting the nearest flying dino’s neck.
She pulled herself up on the neck in a blur of movement that ended with a blow to the back of the dino’s head. It fell and she jumped off, stubby wings extending from the back of her costume.
At that moment we learned what she’d meant by “we.” A beam of light hit the other dino that had been heading toward the water, cutting off one of its wings.
It fell, splashing down, and sinking beneath the waves.
I couldn’t tell at that moment where the beam has come from, but by the time I’d made it around the building I could. A giant red, white, and blue robot stood in the street, still pointing an arm that ended in a laser barrel at the sky.
The Shift’s voice came over the comm. “Wasn’t that a semi earlier? Did One just make you Optimus Prime?”
Two sighed. “He didn’t do exactly the same weapons, but yeah, in looks. Plus, I helped.”
I didn’t have time to pay attention after that. Too much happened at once. Night Cat’s voice came over the comm, “We’re concentrating on the right two. Blue and Critical Mass, left two are yours.”
Small laser beams peppered the outer two flyers, the League jet’s black silhouette dipping below the flying dinos, hitting them more than once.
“Taking the far left,” I said.
Blue accelerated past me. “Got it.”
Then she screamed (and not into the comm). The two dinos dodged in opposite directions to avoid the noise, mine left toward the water and hers to the right, toward the city.
I let energy through, feeling it throw me forward, and then as I came close enough I let go of my flight, let the energy gather further, further… Then as I felt there was enough, I let it all free, recovering my flight before I dropped on to the strange wave shaped conference center below me.
The dino burned in the air. I’d hit it with a cone of energy wide enough to surround all of its body but the wings. It turned into black ash.
It didn’t disintegrate, but when it fell, it became a pile of ash on the sidewalk next to its cooked but still fleshy wings.
Ahead of me in the air, Blue screamed again, and even though it didn’t hurt me, I could tell that it was loud. While the creature darted in one direction and then another, trying to avoid the noise, she grabbed the tail, swinging it around, and down to the ground.
It hit dirt in a huge junkyard on the north side of downtown, near where the old factories and warehouses began.
In the moment, I felt sorry for the poor, dumb beasts, if less sorry for their riders, but it wasn’t time for that. Even then I knew I’d be killing many more that day, some of them self-aware.
I took a breath, watching as the League jet dispatched one dino and then the other above the water. How they’d got them there, I had no idea.
Only then did I have time to realize that C had been talking to the group. “… The National Guard dropped enough bombs through the gateways near the armory that they closed the gates. We’re not going to do that. We’re going keep a perimeter around the downtown gates. Nothing must get past the perimeter, and we’ll do it as I’ve been telling you—powers with a wide area effect cover the gates. The rest of you cover what gets past them.
“And remember, you’re authorized to defend the country right now. We’re not turning these creatures in to the police. If the dinos see civilians, they’ll try to eat them. I can tell you this from experience.
“Hold the perimeter, and if the gates move, move with them.”