Lim’s eyes narrowed. “I can’t tell you what to do, but I can’t ignore it if what you do helps our enemies either.”
Larry shook his head. “I’m not going to do anything to help the Russians, but if I’ve got to help my friend a little to get your job done, I’d say that’s okay. He’s not going to get anything he wouldn’t have gotten on his own–if I hadn’t been here–and he’s probably getting less. I don’t want to hand anything over to the Russians either. Hell, if it’ll make you feel better, Alexis and I are planning a mission to get Abominator artifacts away from the Russians after we finish this.”
Isaac’s eyes widened. “What kind of Abominator artifacts?”
“I don’t know. Nothing good, I bet. Alexis told me that the Kremlin sent a team up to the moonbase, and grabbed stuff. I don’t know what they grabbed. It could be anything.”
“What’s going to happen to them?”
“It depends what it is, but look, Joe and I told people about the Abominators. We’ve got good reason to believe the Abominators’ tech was made to corrupt people. We’re likely to destroy it, and if we can’t destroy it, we’ll hide it.”
Lim didn’t say anything at first, but from his stillness, Larry guessed Lim might be controlling his reaction.
Lim’s hand twitched.
He took a breath and then spoke. “I read it in the reports, but everybody who’s read the reports knows you’re leaving things out. You say that the Abominator tech was made to corrupt people, but I don’t see anywhere where you say how you know it.”
Larry held up his right hand. “Sorry, I can’t tell you. If I tell you, it might get to the wrong… people, but here’s what I can tell you. The stuff Red Lightning used to give himself and his army powers was Abominator tech. The power impregnator Joe made wasn’t Abominator made, but it used their ideas. You know how that ended.”
Lim’s mouth tightened. “I know, and it’s not as if I doubt Joe. The guy was my hero when I was growing up, but don’t you think that with the government’s money and people behind it, we could get around the problems?”
Larry didn’t hesitate. “Not a chance. I’ve fought a couple versions of the Rocket suit that the government made. I went through them like paper. The only way you’d do it is with a bunch of people like Joe, and they’re hard to find.”
Lim sighed. “I know.” He held up his hand to his chin. “OK, we do it your way.”
* * *
The next morning, Larry ran through a few last tests on the suit, and took it to the arena. He used the same hallway the men had used to deliver the suit—the dark one with steel beams, and a metal floor. It ran next to the outside wall, but there were no windows.
He wasn’t the only one in the hall. Golf carts, and odd little cars entered and exited by different hallways along the way, none of them going the entire distance with him.
He arrived at the arena twenty minutes early, and a small man in a tuxedo directed him toward a wide door. When he went through, he found himself in an open enclosure next to the fighting. Made of metal that had been painted black, the space was only twice as long as the Frog suit, and only a little wider.
It reminded Larry of the pens where they kept bulls at rodeos. He checked the suit’s time, decided he had enough that he didn’t have to spend all of it waiting inside the suit, and clicked the button that opened the suit up.
The first thing he noticed as the suit opened was how much more noise he heard. The crowd roared, and he heard a series of crackling noises that sounded like electrical discharge.
He stepped out of the suit as Cheryl stepped into the enclosure. She wore a pastel green suit with mini-skirt almost exactly like the pink one from the day before. He realized then that it had to be a uniform just like the men’s tuxedos.
He guessed that feminists didn’t have a big presence on the island.
“Hi,” she said. “I’m here to remind you of the rules. You should have received them as part of the sign-up packet, but since most of the contestants don’t bother to read them, I’m here to tell you in person. So, have you read them?”
Larry decided to be honest. “I’m not sure. I’m sure I picked the packet up, but I don’t remember much of anything.”
“You and everyone else,” she said. “The rules are simple. First, you can do anything you want to your opponent, but whatever you do can’t pass into the stands. There are some very important people out there, and we don’t want them to get hurt.
“The second rule is that if we do tell you to stop fighting, you have to stop immediately. The third rule is that you have to take your opponent’s surrender.
“If you violate any of those rules, we’ll call in security, and they’re… not nice. Any questions?”
Larry shook his head, beginning to say, “No,” but then he said, “Wait, when you said I could do anything to my opponent, did that include killing him?”
She said, “Unless he surrenders, yes.”
She stopped smiling, and frowned for moment. “That other thing we talked about. Find me after the fight. Here’s my number.”
She handed him her card. He took it and put it in one of the flight suit’s pockets.
“Good luck,” she said, and her smile seemed genuine. Then she left.
Not knowing what else to do, he got back into the Frog suit. He knew it wasn’t the right time to think about it, but she was kind of cute. Then he decided it would be best if he thought of something else.
Lim was right. This wasn’t a good place to meet people.