I managed to avoid falling over after hitting the glowing shield but I wobbled as I moved my right leg back to stabilize myself. I still had to hold out my arms and wave them a little. It wasn’t a good look. At any rate, it wasn’t a look that communicated that I was an unstoppable force of justice that was only temporarily having trouble balancing in the basement laundry room.
Number Eight smiled and then turned around to the wooden door, ignoring me.
It said a lot for his confidence in the force field. If it turned out to be Rook’s design, Rook might not have told him that I’d gotten around Rook’s inventions in the past.
Number Eight picked up his cane and smacked it against the door. The wood splintered and pieces fell off onto the ground, some of the smaller bits flying backward into the force field.
I had a gut feeling that Number Eight had gotten some version of the same power set “motivators” did in the Ascendancy—voice powers, strength, and maybe also low-level self-healing. The teleportation thing wasn’t standard, but people on Earth didn’t come out of the Ascendancy’s breeding system either.
I decided to start with the most obvious choice—punching the force field. What it lacked in sophistication, it made up for in immediacy. If strength was enough to break the shield, I’d know immediately and wouldn’t have to take the time to come up with something clever.
I pulled back my arm, pushing forward with my leg and twisting my body to throw my first punch. Putting tons of force into the blow, it hit the shield and my hand slowed, but still sank into it, reminding me of the feeling of coming down on a trampoline. Streaks of lightning ran across the surface of the shield.
For a moment, I thought my hand might go through, but as the streaks of lightning disappeared, the shield pushed my hand back, resuming its normal shape. It didn’t throw me back this time. This was more of a polite push—though to judge from the statistics running across my HUD, a polite push that might have broken my arm if I weren’t wearing the Rocket suit.
He turned his head to grin at me and took another swing at the door, shattering the upper three-quarters of the door, revealing a scaled sheet of blue-green metal underneath.
Had the shield turned the kinetic energy of my punch into power for the shield or absorbed the energy without using it like any physical shield might? There were potential benefits and drawbacks to both designs. For example, a shield that converted energy into power seemed more likely to explode if it converted too much. On the other hand, barring that, converting energy into power might allow it to last longer.
How many types of energy could it convert? Light wasn’t the same thing as a punch.
I turned on my laser, aiming it at his leg because if it did go through, I wanted to be able to talk to him.
The laser didn’t go through, but the area around it where it hit changed color from a translucent golden glow to angry red and opaque, reminding me of pictures of molten lava. Threads of lightning extended from it, only disappearing halfway across the shield. In that moment, I felt more than 90% certain that it was using the energy instead of keeping it away from the target behind it.
I couldn’t have proved it based on the evidence in front of me, but if I’d created a force field capable of that kind of flexibility, I’d bet that it would suck energy. If I could find a way to recharge it on my opponents’ dime, I would.
The question now was whether I could overload the shield before the laser’s battery went to zero or Number Eight made it through the barrier. That said, the laser got a stronger reaction than the punch.
Instead of turning around to look at what happened when the laser hit, Number Eight started hitting the metal barrier with all his strength and as often as he could. The metal didn’t ring when he hit it. It thumped as if it were much thicker than the half-inch or less that my implant suggested it likely was.
On the off-chance it might help, I fired off a killbot, hoping that it might cut through the force field. It didn’t. It ran out of energy halfway through. Well, it was worth a shot—literally.
I didn’t fire it and sit there watching it though. I’d also aimed my laser at a different spot on the glowing sphere while the killbot was still trying to cut through. As part of the golden glow turned angry red filled with threads of lightning, Number Eight looked back at me, grimaced and pulled something out of the pocket on the inside of his suit coat.
It wasn’t ergonomic—at least for the human hand.
To my eyes, it appeared to be a blue rock with a knifelike spike shooting out of one end.
My implant identified it as an Abominator tool. Made out of a processed form of scazz, the same metal as the one blocking the doorway, it could be used to cut through metal. It wouldn’t cut through scazz with any great speed, but it could—though it would likely be destroyed in the process.
Knowing that all Number Eight needed was to make one small hole to get in, I turned on the sonics as well, hoping that they’d help.
Number Eight stabbed at the metal, hitting it with the spike again and again until it stuck in the wall. Then he pulled it back, revealing a small hole a little lower than his eye level.
At about the same time, the force field shattered.