The beam hit Marcus’ chest, but it didn’t get through his new costume. While I hadn’t been planning to go to war, I knew that he and Jaclyn were more vulnerable to heat and lasers than they were to anything physical.
I designed their costumes to disperse heat and reflect lasers.
In Marcus’ case, I designed his to adjust to shapeshifting to the degree that it could—which sometimes worked against protecting him.
In this case, he’d gone with a smaller, denser form instead of a larger or thinner form which would have made the armor thinner as well.
On the other hand, it wasn’t a form that helped a person dodge.
The costume glowed with heat and he dove to the side.
Tikki screamed and I activated the lasers, aiming them at Agent 957. I’d been trying to avoid killing anyone else, but I didn’t have much of a choice here.
I’d never been all that interested in finding out what lasers with the power to burn through a battleship’s armor would do to human flesh, but I didn’t have a lot of choices.
Fortunately for my stomach and unfortunately for Marcus, Agent 957 had an Abominator style shield. Instead of burning and cooking Agent 957’s flesh, the beams hit the shield, each of them creating a spot on the shield that burned with a bright light (that my helmet dimmed).
White with hints of red and blue, the light lit the tunnel.
I didn’t love what it was doing to the suit’s power reserves. While it wasn’t emptying them, I could see that it could given enough time.
At the same time, I could see hints of Agent 957’s face through his helmet with my HUD.
His eyes were wide and he seemed to be looking at something that no one could see. I guessed it might be suit-related information from his implant because defending against the lasers would cost battery life.
I didn’t have information on whether running a shield would cost less or more energy than pointing lasers into that same shield. I would have bet on more, but I would also bet that he probably had better batteries to work with.
Whether or not that was true, he didn’t try to stand there and just take the blasts. He shouted a few quick words and ran at me, firing his pistol.
Kals had mentioned that the Ascendancy prepared people with words that could be used to take them out. I assumed that Agent 957 was trying the common ones out on us except that none of us had grown up in the right time or place to have an agent prepare us to be disabled except for Tikki.
The words didn’t affect her in any noticeable way. She took a step forward, pulling her entire time bubble closer to the rest of us.
Meanwhile, Marcus had slumped against the cave wall near Tikki’s time bubble even before the agent said anything and Tikki’s movement had pulled him into the bubble.
I turned off the left arm’s laser and turned on the sonics, setting the weapon to find the shield’s resonant frequency on the theory that enough vibrations might take down the shield.
At the same time, I kept up the right arm’s laser attacks.
Agent 957 let out a breath, leading me to think that if he was relaxing, turning off the left-hand laser might have been a mistake. Except then, as sonics found the shield’s resonant frequency, the glowing bubble around him began to “wobble” in the air. Worse for him, light from the laser began to get through the shield—not all the time, but stray bits of light were beginning to burn his armor. At the same time, the sizzling noise that the laser hitting the shield made became louder.
His eyes widened, darting around, trying to decide what to do next, I guessed.
Making a decision, he pulled a hand-sized cylinder from his belt and shouted, “Stop or they die!”
Then he ran toward Tikki and Marcus. I didn’t know what the cylinder was, but the smart money seemed to be on a grenade or a bomb. Even as I continued to point the laser at his wobbling shield, I realized that a bomb was the perfect attack against Tikki in that an explosion would fill the space.
She might be able to slow it down, but if it ever reached her, she’d still die and Marcus with her.
All I could think at the moment was to turn off the right arm’s laser, but then, on impulse, I turned on the right arm’s sonic, setting it to match the left arm’s sonic frequency.
As I did, Agent 957 slumped in relief and smiled. He’d won. Except then his shield popped into glowing sparks and Tikki accelerated herself, moving forward in a burst, grabbing the hand with the bomb and pulling it out of his hand as her time bubble surrounded him.
When she stepped back from him, the bubble still surrounding him, he began to age, his skin turning grey and then crumbling to dust.