Looking like Gunther had in every picture I’d ever seen of him–tall, brushcut, and muscular, I didn’t see why Ray would look forward to his appearance.
As Haley stepped through the door, Ray said something, his voice low, and intense.
The white circle that had been painted on the floor flared, making everything outside the circle a shade lighter. Simultaneously, the walls of the room turned reddish, including the open doorway behind Haley.
She turned, and tapped it with her claw, making a clicking noise.
“Nice one,” Gunther said. “I especially like the way the circle ends at the door on the far side of the room, allowing you to leave while I’m stuck here.”
I checked the far end of the room. The circle coincided with the open doorway–which, unlike the rest of the circle, was completely clear.
So that left Rachel, Mom, and me within the circle with Ray, Gina, and the two powered armor guys.
And Sean. He lay on the floor, not moving much, but he had his eyes open.
When I started paying attention again, Ray was talking.
“After the bit where you challenged Prime, I looked you up. I happened to know a guy who could put this together.”
I remembered finding a link online to records of how to cage “the Immortal.” Obviously, someone else had too.
To one of the men in powered armor, Ray said, “Stu, shoot Mommy if Nick tries anything. Gina watch Ghost and the kid on the floor. Don, you’re with me. And Nick, we’re leaving. Now.”
He gestured simultaneously at me and toward the door.
I tried to think of what to do next. He probably didn’t realize it, but I still had the sonics. He hadn’t told me to get rid of them, so I hadn’t. And anyway, the stealth suit’s sonic weapons were supposed to blend in.
Doing some of the more clever tricks without the helmet’s readout would be a challenge, unfortunately. I could probably do a little from memory.
Disabling everybody with a blast of sound also got harder without a helmet. In a room like this, I risked breaking my eardrums, and disabling myself. And Mom. Not to mention what might happen to Haley. Sonic blasts and sensitive hearing did not go well together.
I considered letting Ray take me out, and dismissed it. I might get everyone else out of danger, but from what I’d seen so far, Ray would get me out of reach before anyone had a chance to catch us.
I’d have to do something now.
“Now?” Gunther tapped on the white circle’s wall. “Ray we need to talk.”
“No, we don’t.” Ray pointed his gun at me. “Move it.”
I took a step.
“I killed your Syndicate L contact. His name was Allen, right?”
Ray turned his head toward Gunther. “What?”
“He got out of the building and started calling people on his phone. I shot him while he was talking. Hope that doesn’t cause any problems with you getting paid.”
Ray stood there, staring at Gunther as he kept on talking.
“I wonder how they’d work with that? They probably don’t have one central computer for processing accounts. Do you suppose Allen told anybody? It’d be funny if you were doing all this for free.”
Ray stepped toward Gunther, the almost transparent, white wall glowing between them.
Don, the guy in powered armor who’d just started to follow Ray out, said, “Ray, they don’t know where Allen is. And shit, they’ve lost a lot of mechs.”
“Hey Joanie,” Gunther said.
Joan was my mom’s first name. Of course he knew it.
Mom’s eyes darted between Gunther, Ray, Rachel, and I.
Sweat, or maybe a tear, rolled down her cheek.
It was hot with everybody including two guys in powered armor in the room, but I doubted that heat was the main reason.
Her eyes lingered on Gunther. She had to recognize him.
“Its not the first time she’s been kidnapped,” he said to Ray. “The last time it was remnants of Red Lightning’s army. I don’t think think your dad was with them. If he had been, it would have been me who killed him, not Chicago Hawk. It was Chicago Hawk, right?”
Ray didn’t say anything. He stood in front of Gunther, his pistol pointed at Gunther’s stomach, close to, but not touching the pale wall that separated them.
Near me, very softly, Rachel said, “Nick.”
Following her gaze, I noticed that the ropes holding Mom’s legs had fallen to the floor.
It didn’t look like anyone had untied them.