Assuming the Nine at least influenced Protection Force, Rook might have been involved in preparing them. He’d have gone over available footage and police reports of fights I’d been in and possibly even information from Stapledon about my abilities. Even assuming that Stapledon was perfectly secure, I knew that our exhibition fights had made it online.
That and every battle we’d ever had in public. Cell phones and surveillance cameras made keeping secrets harder.
It struck me that my killbots were rarely used and most likely hadn’t come to Rook’s attention.
I imagined that he’d be both surprised and delighted if I killed all of these people. Knowing that, I decided to run through as randomly as I could.
I started out with a blast of sonics set to frequencies that damaged electronics as I charged them, veering right as I began to close and then left toward their backs.
At any rate, that’s what would have happened if they kept on floating in one place instead of responding to my movement. As I shot toward them, the ones directly in front of me shot upward while the rest shot upward and to the left.
If they did that right, they’d have found themselves above me with everyone able to fire downward. Not being a complete idiot, I didn’t let them. I aimed upward with them.
By the time I was done I’d gone right to flank them as they ascended. Unable to turn as quickly as I did without losing control, I found myself behind them as I continued to bombard them with circuit board shattering frequencies.
They kept on turning, aiming at me as they did without any obvious loss of control over their powered armor. Either Rook had hardened them against my sonics or it would be a little while before any damage I’d caused became obvious.
At the same time, the rest of them kept on turning and rising. I’d chosen to put my momentum into turning and so they ended up above me after all, firing whenever they had a good shot or constantly out of panic. It depended on the person.
The Rocket suit seemed to be taking it. Even if Rook had set them up with defenses against much of my tech, my armor seemed to be better. Knowing that they’d eventually get something through, I twisted and aimed myself upward, following them, weaving, and staying close while firing.
Not sticking with the sonics, I fired off a goobot at the two on the end, targeting the nearest one’s face. It worked better than I’d expected. The goobot exploded directly in front of the target’s helmet, expanding to cover the person’s face and upper chest in gray goo, tendrils expanding past him, hitting the next person, and contracting to pull them together.
They slammed into each other, neither in full control of their direction. They shot sideways and then redirected themselves downward, righting themselves for a moment as they skimmed across the tops of the trees, and then, for no reason I could see, turning downward, and disappearing into the forest.
Making a mental note to use the goobots again, I fired off another, covering a soldier’s helmet. Whoever this was, they didn’t have anyone close enough to get caught by the same ball of goo, and they had the sense to slow and begin to hover.
Though better than flying blind, slowing down in a combat situation wasn’t the smartest possible thing. I was still following the guy upward and on my way past, I tilted him sideways, sending him toward the forest where he disappeared.
Even in the moment, I wondered if that was the right thing to have done, but even as that thought passed through my mind, he’d disappeared into the trees.
In the meantime, the remaining Protection Force soldiers had done something smart, they’d changed formations. Instead of flying in a line, they’d spread out on either side of me. If they’d chosen to fire at me, it would have had the same problems as a circular firing squad.
That’s not what they did.
Four of them flew at me, grabbing at me. Two of them went for my arms, another for my legs, and the last flew straight at me, winding up his arm to punch at my head. If their suits generated as much force as the Rocket suit, the punch had a chance to take my head off or break my neck.
My bet was that their suits weren’t as powerful, but if they were close, I might not survive to congratulate myself on having the better design.
I gave the rockets as much fuel as they could take and added some spin. It would have been harder if they’d cut their engines, but they didn’t. They’d grabbed me with their rockets set to keep them in the air, but in the end their momentum pointed upward and I only added to it.
With the spin and the solid upward push, I shifted myself to put the punch at chest level and the person grabbing my right arm in between me and the person throwing the punch.
The puncher tried not to hit his coworker, but momentum isn’t easy to kill in the air and while he put his arm down, he slammed into the person hanging onto my arm, pushing all of us sideways.