Part of me wondered if telling the truth would help. In this case, that would be something like, “You know what? I didn’t see it coming. I’ve been instructed by aliens in how to make myself and my armor extend outside our reality, stopping your weapon from going through it like it didn’t exist.”
For one thing, that speech would have gone way too long. Beyond that, I couldn’t help but wonder if his fascination with Grandpa, and by extension myself, was a kind of competitive thing. He might stop caring if he knew I hadn’t out-thought him.
Also, he might figure out a way to tweak his tech so that it worked.
On the other hand, keeping him talking was a good thing. Not sure of the best way to do that, I went with the first thing I could think of. “If you can’t figure it out, I’m not telling.”
I kept moving, but continued to watch him—to the degree I could. His crowbots and henchman stayed between us, making it difficult to see him for more than instants at a time.
I needed to do more than distract him, I needed to take him out. Better, I needed to remember what Rook had seen me do because I had a bad feeling that he’d planned for anything he’d seen before. What did I have that was new?
Rook laughed. He had a high pitched laugh that continued longer than it should have, amplified by his suit’s speakers. “I never got to fight the first Rocket. He retired before I ever visited Grand Lake. Without him, there was no point, but you, you’re a disappointment. It’s not the same person in the suit all the time and how am I supposed to kill you when you predict my inventions before I even try them on you?”
Even as loud as his suit made his voice, I could tell that he’d shouted the last line. I didn’t think he was in the mood for talking.
Using the observation bots that I’d loosed earlier to pinpoint his position, I sent the floating pod that had carried the full armor over the order to fire. That allowed me to use its secondary function, floating weapons platform.
I’d been working on it around the time I fought him the first time, but it hadn’t matured until later and I hadn’t used it much.
On the off-chance it might do some good, I turned toward the oncoming wave of crowbots and henchmen and blasted them with sonics set to frequencies that worked on electronics.
As I did, Rook shouted, “Fine, then. Die by your own hand!”
I’d have asked him what he meant by that, but that’s the moment when the pod’s beam hit, a burning white beam that appeared to come from the night sky. The crowbots blocked my view of him and so I couldn’t know where he got hit as it happened. I only saw the laser’s beam.
My HUD gave me the observation bots’ view. The beam hit his back. It didn’t go through, but it did hit the bulge that housed both his wings control mechanism and the rocket pack beneath.
Whatever kind of fuel he had in there, it didn’t explode, but he still fell.
I didn’t have time to celebrate because even as the pod’s beam hit, one of the crowbots extended a barrel out of its chest. It wasn’t the only one. Five more of them did the same.
At the same time, I realized what Rook could have meant—killbots. Killbots were my invention and though I hadn’t used them on him, I’d used them around that time and I’d never done anything special to protect myself from them. My armor had the potential to wear down the bullets before they got through, but it wasn’t anything I’d bet my life on.
Despite there being two choices, I went with the option that wasn’t quite as obvious. I activated EMPbots and sent them out from my armor.
They exploded as the crowbots fired off Rook’s version of my killbot. Flashes of light obscured my vision as I leaned sideways, hoping I stayed within the area of the EMPbots’ protection.
Had the bots gotten all of them?
One crowbot fell out of the sky as Rook’s killbot hit my right arm. I felt it hit the armor and continue inside, burrowing into the armor covering my bicep. In the confusion of all the explosions and the impact, I didn’t know whether it made it through.