I couldn’t see it happen, but at least one of the bullets hit. Vaughn fell, or maybe more accurately, lost control.
He flipped over a few times, dropping dangerously low. I would have lost track of him if it weren’t for the sonar built in to the stealth suit’s helmet.
His black costume blended into the night, but the helmet outlined his body, showing him as he nearly hit Grand Lake Marina Supplies. I say “nearly hit” because he didn’t.
He swerved right just as he was about to hit the “G” in Grand Lake.
“Right” in this context meant toward the gas station. In short, toward us.
I could see his logic.
When you know you can’t take your opponents out by yourself, it makes sense to bring them within reach of your friends.
Unfortunately when your friends have pretty much realized that they don’t have the tools to deal with your opponents either, it’s not good news.
Travis turned to Courtney and pointed past where the van sat on the sidewalk, down the street. “Hide. Everyone else… Go there.” He pointed at the Verizon store across the road. “We’re disappearing. Rocket, be obvious.”
It made sense. That would get us away from the gas station. I didn’t think there were people in the cars still at the pumps, but I was sure I’d seen people inside the store.
Not to mention that we’d be taking the fight away from the tanks of fuel.
Haley and Travis jumped immediately, easily passing over the cars, and ducking behind the store. Courtney ran around the side of the gas station. I turned on the rocket pack and flew after them.
As I landed, I heard the sound of glass shattering behind me.
I turned to see two of Rook’s flunkies pulling themselves out of the marina supplies store’s front window. A third flew out, wings outstretched, but then detoured to the roof.
He’d probably noticed Rook.
Vaughn, meanwhile, had landed next to me.
“I slowed them down,” he said, taking a breath. “I blew them into the store.”
He took another breath.
I pulled the roachbot controller off my belt, and started in with “plan b.” I didn’t have the guitar anymore, but I’d stored a lot roachbots in the van. Plus, I’d put in exit tunnels for them.
Thinking about Vaughn’s breathing, I asked, “Are you okay?”
“I’m pretty sure they broke some ribs with their guns. What’s the plan?”
Vaughn nodded. “Great. I love being bait.”
We stood next to the far side of the store. It had to have been a gas station too at one point. It sat near back of its lot, surrounded by parking. The gas pumps were long gone.
Two of Rook’s people flew over the gas station, landing directly in front of us, and bringing up their arms.
They had guns hanging under their forearms just like the Rocket suit Grandpa had used during World War 2.
“Don’t move,” one of them said. His voice reminded me of the guy who tried to sell Courtney on using the Nine’s power impregnator. What was his name? Right. Davis.
“No problem,” Vaughn said. “I am not moving at all.”
“Good. Now tell the guy and girl behind the store to come back out here. We saw them try to hide. What did you think they were going to do? Ambush us?”
Vaughn shrugged, “Nice one guys, you totally saw through us, and you’ve got to be pretty smart to see through the Rocket, right? Rocket, what do you think?”
“I—” I began to talk, but Haley interrupted me. Her voice came through my helmet.
She said, “Rocket, could you move a little to the right?”
I took a step to the right.
The flunky that had to be Davis said, “Don’t move!”
He pointed the gun at me, and might have shot me then–if it weren’t for the missile.
It hit him in the chest.
Screeching through the air, it didn’t explode, but it did carry him backward (and slightly sideways) through the plate glass window in the front of the store. He landed on his back, partially wrapped in a banner that said, “Sweet Deals for September.”
At almost the same moment, Travis jumped off the roof, landing behind the other flunky.
Then he ripped the guy’s left wing straight off.
No one on our team was as strong as Jaclyn, but Travis came closer than anyone else. Plus, like Haley, he had claws made out of some weirdly hard and malleable substance.
One of these days, I was going to get up the nerve to ask Haley for a sample.
So ideally, the fight would have ended there.
While the flunky’s wing sprayed fluids everywhere, he twisted around quickly, his own claws outstretched, and sunk them through Travis’ costume and into his chest.