Uncle Steve sighed as he saw me come through the door, seeming to relax a little even if he went back to watching Number Eight within seconds. Mom, for the record, didn’t look any less nervous. I turned toward the silver wall, standing directly in front of my mom, but ahead and to the right of Uncle Steve.
I got in position even as Number Eight slashed a foot-long hole in the wall. I hadn’t noticed before, but a six-inch long blade extended from the bottom of his cane. I supposed that made it a knife or spear cane because that was too short for a sword.
Half of the rent closed up and I found myself grinning inside my helmet. No wonder he hadn’t made it through yet. What made me lose the grin was noting that half of it hadn’t sealed up again and showed no signs of doing so—meaning that the “weird polymer” my uncle mentioned had limitations.
I made a mental note to get a sample later.
“Hey,” I said, watching them through the 360-degree sweep of my helmet, “if you get out of here, I can hold him off at the door.”
Uncle Steve glanced back at Mom and then at Number Eight who had stuck his cane’s blade into the rent and begun to cut down. “Yeah,” Uncle Steve said, “good plan. How is it outside?”
I used my implant to check the spybots around my house. I couldn’t see everyone, but two Cabal soldiers had entered the fight after I went into the house. Rogue Croc, the scaled, green-skinned Cabal descendant was down alongside Magicka, the sorceress who’d summoned the crows. Amy had taken on Rogue Croc’s scaled green skin, grown larger muscles, and was fighting the two Cabal soldiers with Jaclyn.
Captain Clone and Marcus were both out of view, but GPS showed Marcus moving around the neighborhood in short sprints, stopping for a series of small movements, followed by another sprint—as if Captain Clone might be trying to get away. I couldn’t see details since on the map Marcus was little more than a dot.
I didn’t like that there were more Cabal soldiers as backup, but overall we seemed to be winning. I quashed the urge to check in on Travis, Cassie, and Daniel. I didn’t have time and Haley, Tara, or Kayla would be calling us if we needed to help them.
“I wouldn’t go outside,” I told Uncle Steve, “but you can go into the rest of the basement. Just stay away from windows.”
“Go first,” Mom told him. “They’re after you.”
Uncle Steve’s mouth tightened, likely not wanting to leave my mom behind. Before he argued, I said, “She’s right.”
That decided him. He stepped through the hole I’d made in the scazz and out into the laundry room. Mom followed him but hesitated before going out. I was about to tell her to hurry up and leave, but then I saw what she saw.
Number Eight had slashed all the way to the floor and even if the first foot was already healing up, he was using his cane to push open a hole he could see through—and see targets through.
I stood in front of the door, backed up to make it harder for him to see through the hole, aimed a killbot at him, and fired.
It went straight for his chest, hit his white, dress shirt, and fell to the ground. The impact knocked him back a step and he let out a breath, but he didn’t drop the cane or get stuck in the silver goo as it reknit itself smaller.
That would have been too convenient. Instead, he slid his back foot a little farther back, keeping his balance holding the sharp blade of his cane between the two of us, and teleported through to the other side of the hole.
He shouldn’t have bothered to point the blade at me. It had no chance of getting through the Rocket suit. On the other hand, anyone who chooses to fight you has a reason to believe that they’ll win. Rook created technology for the Nine and I knew that he’d figured out killbot technology. It wasn’t a big jump to guess why he thought he’d win.
I knew what I had to do as little as I liked it. I aimed the laser at him and fired. A beam of white light came from the barrel on my forearm, hitting the wall of silver cubes, but missing him. The beam didn’t bounce off the cubes like it might have in a cartoon, but melted the cube where it hit while reflecting harmless light throughout the room.
The moment he disappeared, I looked for him, half-expecting to discover him behind me in the laundry room already stabbing Uncle Steve. He wasn’t. I’d been successful enough at blocking his view that he’d appeared to my left, thrusting his cane’s blade at my chest.