Glass and plastic broke on the machines at the nearest work areas. Some of the people who had been running stopped to turn around to look at the suit, recognizing the sound of a recorded bullfrog. Taking advantage of the moment, I activated the music playlist I’d put together last night.
I started with Three Dog Night’s “Joy to the World,” also known by its first line, “Jeremiah Was A Bullfrog.” At this, more people stopped to stare at me, throwing their hands over their ears before they began to run again.
I understood. I’d pumped up the volume as high as I could. While the noise wasn’t bad inside the suit, chances were good that people could hear me upstairs in the arena. Not only wasn’t that a bad thing, but almost the entire point of coming here.
Over my implant, Cassie said, I can hear you over here. What is that?
I told her, adding, I made a frog-themed playlist. Lots of kids’ songs. Also, lots of muppets and Crazy Frog. I’m supposed to be noisy and irritating. It felt right.
She paused for a moment, Crazy Frog? You’re doing great. Oh, and by the way, there are powered armor guys on the move. Watch for them. I’ll let you know when we’re done and don’t forget to call for help if you need it.
Believe me, I won’t forget. With that, the call was over. I checked out the room, choosing my targets.
My first priority? The three that looked finished. First, because that would cause them more problems. Second, because someone might be able to use them against me. With two jumps, I crossed the room, landing next to the three finished suits and the room’s exits. That’s plural because of the four normal-sized elevators, the stairs, and a cargo elevator, but that’s not all.
At the end of the room, there was another elevator sitting open. This one stood tall enough for any of the three twenty-foot-tall mechs to step inside and ride upward. That explained the size of the doors on a section of the building that must have been above me.
As for the three mechs, I went for the one with the North Korean flag painted on it first. Making a quick scan of the area, I satisfied myself that no one was close enough to be hurt if the mech fell over. Then I jumped upward, activating the rockets to allow myself to hover in front of the head. A blast with the sonics confirmed my suspicions that this was the pilot’s seat. I pointed both arms at the head and adjusted them to affect the head’s outer armor. When I felt confident it had been weakened enough, I found a handhold and ripped open an armored panel.
Aiming the sonics inside, I set them to frequencies I’d found effective against computer parts.
Once I felt confident that the controls and their associated systems had been damaged in countless, subtle ways, I tipped the mech over, watching it smash tools and machinery, bounce a couple of times, and finally lay still on the floor. One of the mech’s arms had been twisted by its fall.
Good. If someone did try to repair it after we left, they’d have the obvious damage to distract them from the damage inside.
I repeated the process on the other two mechs, guessing that even though they didn’t have flags painted on them that they might be heading to North Korea too. As the third mech fell, I heard an elevator door open.
That was interesting by itself because the people had cleared out while I worked. None of the technicians or engineers seemed to be willing to risk death fighting a mystery attacker in frog-themed powered armor.
Looking toward the elevators, I saw a man walking out the door wearing a black t-shirt that said, security in large, block letters. Between the receding hairline, five o’clock shadow, and the potbelly that threatened to flop over his belt, he had more of the feel of a mall cop than a genuine threat.
The suit estimated his height as six and a half feet. Combined with his muscles, that made him a little intimidating—if I weren’t in powered armor.
At the same time, I knew I’d seen him before and whatever memory I associated with him wasn’t good.
I turned away from the three damaged mechs to face him, noting that I’d passed on to the second song on my playlist. The suit was now blasting the singing of Kermit the Frog from Sesame Street into the room.
Our eyes met—well, kind of. I met his eyes and he happened to be staring at the right spot to make me feel like our eyes met. The Frog suit had big googly eyes, so meeting eyes was not really ever going to be a thing.
His eyes widened, “Frog armor? Are you kidding me? Why? What the hell? Were wombats taken? I don’t know who you are, but I’ve fought the Rocket. You’re just embarrassing.”
I’d fought this guy? Could it have been my grandfather? Except even as I thought that, I knew who he was, and began to feel sick to my stomach. The first time Daniel, Cassie, and I ever went out as a team, we’d run across the Grey Giant, a thug who transformed into a giant with grey skin, massive strength, and near invulnerability.
He’d been out of our league, far out of it. The Midwest Defenders captured him before their leader took time out from his life to chew us out.
Jason Swan (the Grey Giant) grinned as his body turned grey and grew more than three times taller. In a much deeper voice, he said, “I’m giving you one chance to surrender. If you don’t, just like the song says, it’s not going to be easy being green.”