Realizing that I had no time to speak of, I flew toward the birthing chambers, flipping to slow myself and then turning myself vertical to land. Only a couple steps away from the birthing chambers, the purple beam passed me on my left, close enough that my suit sensors felt the heat.
I jumped toward the birthing chambers, hitting them, but managing to stop myself from falling over.
Checking the spybot I’d released earlier, I saw that they were all still struggling to get out of the goo. The True with the purple-tinged beam (now christened Purple Gun Guy) had stopped firing at me and started pulling at the goo around his legs. Then he grabbed a knife from his belt and started cutting.
I became aware that I was breathing hard. Unsure of whether it was fear, exertion, or something worse, I took a long breath, trying to center myself on that.
In no particular order, I needed to keep my opponents locked down until Cassie could destroy the machine—whenever she got around to that. I needed to take out all the people who could phase attacks through solid matter—at least four people.
I need to do that without getting shot myself. If I could use what I’d been taught, I’d be able to use my armor instead of getting fried the first time Rook or Victor got a lucky shot, and who was I kidding—lucky? I wasn’t Haley or Jaclyn and able to move or dodge more quickly than people could aim. For all practical purposes, I was a normal guy who was able to handle being a superhero because I’d put a lot of work into my armor.
I hadn’t put any work into anti-Abominator defenses. If I survived tonight, I’d have to, but for now, I had an idea.
The Ghosts had shown me how to sense parts of myself I hadn’t been aware of. If I tried, I could feel the slow trickle of energy flowing into me. I didn’t know what it was or where it came from, but I thought I could open it up and get more flowing through. Then, instead of letting energy collect in me (wherever that happened), I’d let it flow straight through, giving me a constant stream to work with instead of the fits and starts that I’d had to deal with so far.
That was the idea anyhow. I didn’t have enough time to truly think it through. I reached into myself, felt hundreds or maybe thousands of little gates or maybe little mouths opening themselves a little farther, letting more food in. I felt heat, warmth, and a chill all at once and then the feeling of a kind of fullness as whatever I used to store energy filled.
Could I maybe keep a little bit of the stream stored, using it to expand my ability to store energy as well as to make the stream of energy more consistent? It sounded like a good idea, but too difficult to keep going in the heat of battle. Now was time to keep it simple. Could I keep the gates open and keep the energy coming?
I could. I felt better than I had all day, the way I might after a long rest. Everything I could see and hear seemed sharper and better defined. This was good. I might not be able to keep it up all day, but for this fight? If I felt like this the whole time? Definitely.
I hoped there were no side effects.
In my head, Cassie said, “Nick, you okay?”
“I’m fine. Great, actually. Why?” I checked the spybot. Purple Gun Guy had nearly cut his way free. He had one big strand to go. Even given the speed of an implant to implant conversation, I didn’t have much time.
“Because I’ve got an alien gun that lets me see through walls and stuff. Half a second ago you and ten feet around you lit up and was labeled with the words, ‘Danger: Phase Stability Field’. And the gun doesn’t know what that means.”
“So,” Cassie continued, “Do you?”
“Artificer thing, I think. Aren’t you going to shoot the birthing chambers?” I checked the spybot. Purple Gun Guy was nearly through the last strand. I had no time to talk.
I stepped out from around the corner, crossing the distance in one jump that I had no trouble timing, pushing off on one foot and landing on the other. I grabbed Purple Gun Guy’s Abominator gun, yanking it out of his hands as he dropped his knife and pointed it at me.
Then I broke it in two. Then I stepped to the side of him and grabbed the gun from the guy next to him and broke his.
It was strange. In a fight, I’d noticed that everything sometimes slowed down, but I felt I hadn’t slowed down as much as everything else. From what I could see in my HUD, I wasn’t moving any faster, but my reaction time felt faster than theirs.
It wasn’t that much faster, though. The other True caught with Purple Gun Guy pulled out their lasers and fired, hitting my armor and setting off a bunch of messages in my HUD.
Cassie’s voice exploded in my head. “Don’t fight those guys! Get Victor. I keep on turning off the chamber’s repair systems and then he turns them on again.”