Number Eight turned his head to look back at me as the force field went down, his eyes wide and his mouth open in an expression that said, “Oh, no.”
He turned back to the hole he’d made in the door and looked inside. I reached forward, trying to knock him away from the hole before he disappeared. I failed. I thought I felt his arm give and then my arm was flying through where his body had been.
From the other side of the hole, though, I heard his voice give a short scream followed by, “Wait till you see what I do to your mother, you little shit.”
Then I heard Uncle Steve’s voice saying, “I don’t think so,” followed by a sound that I can only describe as goosh except there were multiple gooshes gooshing simultaneously.
My mom said, “What is that?”
“A really weird polymer. I got it from a co-worker when I went undercover against an Italian supervillain on a NATO project with the AISI. I can’t talk about it, but I got this. It just lasts long enough to run away and, if we’re lucky, long enough for the Rocket to get in.”
Uncle Steve paused, “Can we open the room?”
Mom said, “I didn’t know there was a room until I found out they were coming. I think the Mentalist tucked it away in my brain. I couldn’t even think about it until I needed it. I can get in but not much more.”
Uncle Steve sighed, “Well, that seems a little short-sighted. Dad usually wrote that kind of thing down. Do you see a three-ring binder anywhere?”
In the background as they talked came grunting noises that sounded like Number Eight followed by noises that combined a thud with a goosh.
I, meanwhile, was checking my implant to find out if scazz had any known vulnerabilities—aside from being stabbed by a cane. From the implant’s account of the metal’s properties, the cane couldn’t be a normal cane. Scazz was, among other things, tough and not so much a metal as an alloy of metals, non-metals, and metalloids, combined by a method complex enough that I’d have to think about it later.
It didn’t translate into any kind of weakness I could turn into a practical method of getting in.
Unable to think of a clever way to get in, I went with a more obvious method. I aimed my fists at the hole Number Eight had made under the assumption that making the hole weakened the area around it enough that it might be easier to get through.
On the off-chance that they’d help, I aimed the sonics on both of my arms at spots outside the hole, giving them maximum power and a narrow beam. I’d have used the laser if the implant’s data dump into my brain hadn’t included the knowledge that the scaled shape of the alloy was used during wartime and was particularly effective against lasers and other energy weapons.
Sonic weapons weren’t commonly used in warfare and it didn’t have data available—or so it told me. To be fair, a lot of alien warfare took place in space, a place where sonic weapons wouldn’t work.
The upshot? It might be a waste of time, but it might not. I did it anyway.
If they didn’t work, it wasn’t visually obvious, but when my punch hit, some of the alloy did give way. I punched again, widening the hole.
At that point, I pumped up the release of energy in the Rocket suit’s artificial muscles and began to batter the wall the way a boxer might hit a speed bag. The hole grew bigger. I hoped I wouldn’t have to go into another fight after this one because I was going through the muscles’ fuel faster than I wanted to.
Still, I could fit my arm, shoulder, and head through, but nothing else. I needed to make it bigger if I wanted to go through, but I could at least see inside now.
To my right stood a wall of what appeared to be cubes of silver jello that appeared to have been sprayed diagonally from my side of the wall to the far side. They reached from the ceiling to the floor of what appeared to be a ten-foot-long room. The far side of the jello wobbled, expanding into the room and then retracting just as far only to be hurled forward again by another gooshy thud noise.
For an instant though, I thought I saw a glimpse of Number Eight’s suit and a flash of his cane along with strings that held the cubes of jello together.
Uncle Steve had said that it wouldn’t last forever, but I had a feeling that it would fall apart sooner than usual under the blows of Number Eight’s cane.
I changed up my tactics, punching around the hole on one side, aiming the sonics at two spots about a foot away from each other in the middle of the area I’d hit. After I did that, I stepped back and took a short run, and used my shoulder to hit in between the two spots I’d tried to weaken with the sonics. The first time, the wall didn’t break, but it did ring with a metallic screech that reminded me of a car crash.
The second time, I crashed through into the room, stumbling through the now shattered metal wall, landing on my side, hearing the noise as Number Eight smacked the silver jello again.