Not all of the Rook suits were the kind I’d fought back in Grand Lake. Most seemed to be stripped down. You wouldn’t want to be tapping on a keyboard with enough force to smash a tank.
You’d run through a lot of keyboards that way. I knew that from experience.
Anyway, the stripped down models seemed to have smaller guns under the forearms. Sub-machine guns, maybe?
That wouldn’t be a big threat to the Rocket suit unless they had special ammunition—which I couldn’t rule out.
Still, I wasn’t nearly as nervous of them as I was the guys in the heavier versions of Rook’s suit—one of which had to be Rook.
That was my guess anyhow. He was sitting in the middle of the room in front of the widest console—kind of like Captain Kirk only evil and wearing powered armor shaped like a big, black bird.
Admittedly, not a very close resemblance.
I took a step back in my head. What was the plan? Find Cassie, and get out. Taking on Rook and all the people in his control room singlehandedly wasn’t in that plan.
The last I’d heard from the gun, Cassie was in the labs. I’d told her I’d meet her there. Since she wasn’t with the Rook suits, the lab she was near had to be the next room over—assuming she wasn’t sneaking between them somehow.
The best thing I could do would be get out of here.
I started to run.
“Rocket,” Rook’s voice echoed through the place. “Don’t run off. We’ve got a lot to talk about—like how I’ve got a nuclear missile aimed at your jet.”
That stopped me.
I clicked on my palm to open communications with the jet except that my helmet readout showed “SIGNAL LOST.”
I wondered how he’d managed it. My roachbots had worked seconds ago. Could he be blocking signals only once they passed the building’s walls?
I hoped so.
I’d stopped near the doors. Rook held up a claw and waved me in.
Part of me wondered if I could just run, but I couldn’t put it past Rook to nuke them anyway. Rook probably didn’t realize where the jet’s shields came from. It might actually survive the hit. I didn’t know for sure because I hadn’t tested that, but spaceships could throw some serious energy around.
Unfortunately even if the jet would survive, I didn’t know how well Jaclyn and Izzy would take the radiation.
I didn’t have a choice.
Before I turned toward the doors I said, “Tell Captain Commando where we are.”
The gun sparkled, and the doors slid open in front of me.
I walked in.
Across the sea of monitors and blinking lights, people in Rook’s armor pointed their weapons at me. Two of the people in the heavier armor stayed on each side of me, but twenty feet ahead.
No one came within reach. Maybe they were overestimating my hand to hand combat effectiveness, but I’d take it. Grandpa’s reputation did me some good.
On the back wall of the room, a screen showed a map of the dome. Three-fourths of the outside ring showed blinking red dots, and even as I looked two more dots started blinking.
If Jaclyn and Izzy could keep that up, we’d have a chance of winning.
Rook held up his claw before I came into reach.
I stopped, standing in front of his console, the two soldiers in heavy armor on either side of him.
“You have to call them off!” He pointed up at the screen. His voice didn’t have any of the slightly off-kilter feel he’d had earlier. Now he sounded angry, and maybe scared.
I checked the suit’s communicator readouts. Jaclyn and Izzy’s comms barely showed a signal.
“Can’t,” I said. “You’ve insulated this place too well against radio.”
“Dammit!” He pressed one of the buttons in front of him.
Outside of the room, fans started blowing. Rook turned his head and screamed at a someone in one of the lighter suits of armor.
“We waited too long! If we’d have done it when I said, they’d never have gotten this far. Get back from your console!”
Rook lifted an arm, and fired. Bullets hit the console shattering the casing, and making sparks fly.
The guy in light armor backed away, tripping, and falling on his chair.
“Sorry! Sorry!” The man pushed himself up, and backed away, hands in the air.
I hoped that the gas’s release was as obvious to Jaclyn and Izzy as it was to me.
I didn’t have time to think about it though.
Rook turned back to me, and, “I’ve released the nerve gas. Now, tell the jet to back off, or I shoot off the missile!”
That was the moment it really hit me that he would kill Haley and everyone else in the jet if I didn’t do something. Plus, Jaclyn and Izzy might already be breathing in the gas.
“Uh… You’ve got to turn off whatever is blocking radio communications. I can’t do it otherwise.”
He raised his head to look me in the eye, stared, and said, “Right. Right. I barely think about it any more.”
His gaze traveled downward, stopping where I’d attached the Abominator gun’s holster to my belt.
“You’ve got the Abominator relic? That disappeared months ago. Take it off your belt, and drop the gun to the floor.”
“I’m not going to do that.” The words came out of my mouth before I had time to think.
“Then say goodbye to your friends.”
He raised his claw, and reached toward the screen.