Of course, maybe I’d get lucky and a killbot would work. The way the night had been going, that was nothing to count on. Also, given that purple glowing tinge to Victor’s skin, I had no idea what he could do, but if he existed out of phase, the only way I’d be able to touch him is by using what the Cosmic Ghost’s taught me to power up the killbot somehow.
Of course, that wasn’t something they’d taught me how to do. I could only affect things within a short distance around my body. The only way I’d get any use out of the killbot was to try to use it as a knife.
You never knew. It might work.
I might have stood there thinking about options until Cassie complained, but I didn’t get the chance.
Victor, the all-new, barely clothed, Greek god version of Victor, smirked at Rook. “Lucky me. I’m being graced with the presence of one of the Nine. I’d ask what I owe the honor to, but I know. You’re here to protect your investment.”
Holding up his hands as if he were receiving the applause of a crowd, Victor grinned at Rook. “And I’m your investment. I’ve got the Citizen’s Mark, something the Nine have been wanting for ages. So I can use everything the Abominators ever made. And that’s not all. I’m smart enough to figure this stuff out by myself and you know what that makes me? It makes me the most valuable person on the planet.”
In my head, Cassie said, “Holy shit. He’s got a Citizen’s Mark?”
“I guess,” I thought back. “Who could ever expect that giving someone with the potential to be a mad scientist access to Abominator tech could go horribly wrong?”
Rook raised his helmet, pointing his beak toward Victor and staring for a few seconds. “What’s wrong with you? The Heroes’ League is here. We need to coordinate and take them out.”
Victor’s grin widened, turning his face into a grotesque caricature of normal, leading me to wonder what Victor had pulled out of the birthing chambers’ library to modify himself. “What’s wrong is you. I’ve been talking to the other eight and I’m told that if you die, there’ll be an opening.”
Rook adjusted his footing, putting his right foot behind and to the right angle to the left. I recognized it from training as a position that at least in hand to hand fighting made it harder to kick a person’s feet out from under them. It wouldn’t do anything against ranged weapons, but it put you in a better position to fight.
Also, if you had learned how to fight, it made a decent security blanket.
Either Victor hadn’t spent any time in the martial arts or controlling his new Abominator designed abilities left him with no time to pay attention to details like that. He didn’t react.
To Rook’s credit, he didn’t attack. He talked. “There’s a time and place to challenge me for my position. This isn’t it. Screw up the Nine’s hold on this place and you’ll be serving them by means of your dissection. You’ve heard of the Dominators? They work for us and if you think it never occurred to us that you might want to rearrange our org chart, you’re wrong.”
My HUD noted that Rook had transmitted a sound outside the range of human hearing.
Victor blinked and stopped smiling. “What did you do?”
He pointed his finger at Rook. Victor’s body began to glow brighter by the moment and then fizzled out.
Over the comm, Tara whispered, “Night Cat, Storm King, move! He’s going to target you.”
As Victor stared at his hand, Rook said, “Now, be useful. There are people hiding around us who have been attacking our people. Get rid of them.”
From what I could see through the bot, the camouflage function on their costumes worked. The bot couldn’t see anything more in the area around them but trees and brush. Victor, however, could see more.
He pointed into the forest and purple energy sparked across his body. Haley disappeared from the radar in my HUD. He followed it up by doing the same with Vaughn and then Tara.
As they disappeared, I stared into my HUD, watching the radar to see if Haley’s signal would reappear. He couldn’t disintegrate them. He had to be whatever had teleported Art and Zola out.
It felt as if she’d never reappear, but she did. She was 80 miles out above Lake Michigan. Her altitude was roughly 100 feet above the water. Her first words over the comm were, “I’m okay, but it looks like I’m closer to Wisconsin.”
“The mini-rocket pack you have doesn’t have enough fuel to get you back here. You should probably aim for Milwaukee or something. Maybe they can pick you up in the jet?”
Vaughn and Tara appeared within a mile or two of her.
Tara didn’t talk about her situation at all, saying only, “Rocket? Cap? You’re next.”
She wasn’t wrong. Even as she said it, Victor was turning in our direction. I opened myself up as the Ghosts had taught me pulling in energy and converting it into protection. It was protection against people using out of phase weapons, though. I hadn’t been told that it worked against involuntary teleports, but it might and I didn’t have any better ideas.
I tried to move in between Victor and Cassie because if it did work…
A flash of purple came out of the woods, reaching Cassie before I could. I heard her gun’s voice. It said:
And the purple field that had enveloped her shattered.