Larry zoomed in on Lim’s feet, and realized why Lim and Cheryl hadn’t run away. Their feet were surrounded by the concrete.
He supposed that qualified as earth somehow. Could be elementals weren’t fussy about the difference. He shook his head. It didn’t matter. What mattered was that Lim and Cheryl were hostages until he took Sloan down.
He was about to tell Alexis more when a deep voice from behind them said, “Rhino. Come down to the hangar, and bring your friend.”
Larry checked the helmet screen. The creature behind him appeared to be made of concrete, and vaguely human-shaped.
As he watched, it sank into the sidewalk next to the hangar, leaving an odd indentation that reminded him of a face.
“I don’t think we’ve got a choice. We’d better go.”
Talking softly, Alexis asked, “Are you sure? I might be able to come at him from above before he even knew it.”
“I’m pretty sure the ground’s got ears. I doubt we’d get away with it.”
Alexis, or at least his helmet, angled toward the indentation in the sidewalk. “A good point.”
They started walking. Larry didn’t stop, but he didn’t hurry either. He figured as long has he moved steadily forward Sloan wouldn’t complain.
Larry wondered if that would give him enough time to think of a way out of it. It didn’t take much to guess that Sloan would try to get them to surrender—or step out of their armor—which was basically the same thing. He tried to think of something to do, but nothing was coming.
He thought about what he knew about Sloan. The guy hadn’t been trained as a wizard. He’d found a book and trained himself. Last time they’d met, Larry had caught hints that Sloan had made a supernatural deal that had gone wrong. He wished he knew details.
There had to be some way to use that.
And then they were at the hangar.
They’d crossed the distance, coming to a stop when Sloan held up his left hand (with a flourish). “No further!” It reminded Larry of stage magicians he’d seen. All Sloan needed was a hat, an infinite number of scarves, and an assistant.
“Sure, Sloan. Been a while.”
“Rhino.” Sloan’s voice sounded less impressive when it came from his mouth than when an earth elemental used it. It wasn’t nearly as deep, for one. “Before you try to attack me,” Sloan continued. “Take a look at your plane.”
Larry turned turned his attention to the DC-3. Something had ripped it in half just behind the wings. The body of the plane had been stretched in a way that reminded him of chewing gum.
“Huh,” Larry said. “I always thought it needed a little more leg room. Can’t say I like how it’s in two pieces though.”
Sloan frowned. “You’re less funny than you think you are.”
“I guess so. Hey, sacrifice any kids to volcanos lately? I never understood what was going on with that.”
Sloan’s frown deepened into a grimace. He showed teeth.
“Seriously,” Larry said, “an entire school bus of kids. Did you need the rest of them in case you missed with the first one?”
A humanoid form began to grow out of the runway, not stopping until it was twice the height of the Frog suit. Chunks of black tar made up the body, mixed with gray rocks, concrete, and brown dirt.
Over a cracking sound mixed with a strange slurping noise, Sloan shouted, “You have no idea what you ruined that day, you idiot!”
“Yeah? Was it you gaining complete control over a volcano that would have allowed you to threaten most of the Northwest? Because I’m against that.”
The earth elemental punched him, striking so quickly that it knocked Larry and the Frog suit backward. They flipped three times, ending up on the other side of the runway, next to a stand of palm trees.
Larry shook his head. He’d remembered one thing about Sloan. The mage could only control one elemental and its abilities at a time—which meant that if it was fighting him, Sloan couldn’t do much else.
With any luck, somebody would think of something while he was fighting. Preferably before the elemental killed him.
Larry clicked, and the Frog suit righted itself. Even as it did, the elemental loomed, punching again. This time, the suit hit the stand of trees, cracking bark and causing the helmet’s HUD to blink.
Larry clicked a button, and the suit righted itself a second time. This time, he made it leap sideways almost instantly, moving as the elemental’s fist hit the tree behind him.
It shattered and fell over onto the runway. Larry landed twenty feet to the right of the elemental. Not waiting for its response, he fired off a missile at it.
The missile hit the elemental on its side. Rocks, dirt, and bits of concrete flew everywhere, some of them hitting Larry’s armor.
It didn’t take the elemental out, though. It roared in pain, and leapt toward him.
Larry didn’t like his odds.