If I were using the original version of the stealth suit, I would have died. Whoever this woman was, she had all of Haley’s strength, more size and greater reach to work with.
Her claws would have torn through the fabric of my armor even though it had multiple layers and hardened in response to pressure.
This stealth suit’s materials came from my own imagination combined with alien tech. Using elements of nanotechnology, it adjusted and even repaired itself while it was being damaged.
That was good because the suit was getting a workout. When she’d jumped, she’d grabbed me around the waist, but reached out with her left arm, pulling her head even with mine.
That was the moment when Spider-man or one of many fictional superheroes would have made a joke. I thought of a few later when it didn’t matter, most of them revolving around the fact that she had one hand on my shoulder, her arm around my waist and she was stepping on my feet.
The moment was ripe for a series of jokes about how bad a dancer she was, how we hadn’t been properly introduced, and, if I spun around, I could have made a joke about spinning her around as I threw her off.
In retrospect, none of them seem all that funny, so it might be best that I didn’t. All the same, it also felt strangely intimate.
Spoiling that feeling, I saw the teeth of a carnivore on a face that was hidden by a mask and knew somehow that she’d be going for my throat if she could.
I didn’t think through my response. I reacted, aware that if her strength was like Haley’s, she’d be stronger than I was. Throwing the sonics to full volume, I whistled, amplifying the sound to a decibel level well past the 130 decibel “threshold of pain.”
Screaming, she pushed off from me with force that would have ripped me in pieces if I hadn’t been wearing armor. Even with armor, I felt it as her motion threw me backwards.
I pushed down the button combination on my palm that brought the suit upright, sending me higher as a side effect.
In the meantime, my attacker had fallen to the ground, gotten up and begun to run away. At the same time, in front of me, Chris fought the man on the ground. Why he’d landed, I wasn’t sure.
As I watched, the man swung at him, claws extended, moving so fast that Chris had no chance to dodge. Even using his own version of the Rocket suit, Chris benefited from the fact that the suit was designed to keep those of us with no chance to dodge alive.
The claws scraped across the front of the Rocket suit, hitting hard enough that they would have ripped apart a normal human’s chest. The suit’s chest plate didn’t break and Chris, trained by Lee and his own grandfather, had stepped back with the hit, helping his balance and softening the blow.
I saw Chris’ response coming before he made it, but his opponent didn’t. It wasn’t an especially clever technique—Chris jabbed at the guy with his left arm—but the strength in the Rocket suit made the blow “don’t blink or you’ll miss it” quick.
Still more agile than Chris, the man leaned back and Chris’ jab passed his face without connecting.
It didn’t matter.
The jab to the face had been a feint. The real blow came from Chris’ right arm as Chris twisted, stepping forward and driving it into the man’s stomach. Whether because of the man’s speed or luck, Chris didn’t hit the spot he must have been aiming for—the man’s solar plexus.
That would have knocked the breath out of him. As it was, the blow knocked the man backward into a flip that he turned into a second flip.
At the same time all that took place, Sydney’s jump over the building ended as she landed on the lawn. A massive, human shaped sculpture of metal, she glittered silver in the building’s outside lights, sinking a good foot into the lawn.
As she did, creatures I hadn’t even noticed earlier stepped away from the building to attack first her and then, I assumed, the rest of us. Worse, I recognized them. The birthing chamber and my implant identified them as Tentacled Seekers, creatures the Abominators used for scouts and assassins.
With the same build and style of movement as panthers, they also had chitinous exoskeletons, antenna, and tentacles.
Sydney smashed the first one with a massive metal fist, cracking the exoskeleton, making unknown fluids and internal organs more visible than I wanted them to be.
She shot another with a metal slug, splattering it across the lawn.
Unable to give any of that my full attention, I aimed my arm at the woman I’d fought as she ran away and fired off some goobots.
She dodged the first two shots. The third hit, spreading across her upper chest and sticking to her uniform, but not sticking her to anything.
She kept on running and I flew after her.