Mom angled the blade and pulled it back. Number Eight’s face turned white and he began to fall, trying to swing his cane back at her, but not with any real force. It fell out of his hand when he struck the concrete floor.
He tried to say something, but I couldn’t understand it. His eyes shut and he didn’t move.
Mom had stepped back as he fell, avoiding his body and stood over him staring down at it. Then she looked over at me, “Nick, are you okay? Do we have to get you to the hospital?”
I checked my HUD’s medical status and queried my implant. The HUD couldn’t show much. I hadn’t designed its medical systems to be a mobile hospital, just to plug wounds and do ultrasounds of the wounded areas, do limited comparisons to normal, and send them up to HQ where they could send them on.
My implant, on the other hand, reported back that I’d lost blood both internally and externally, but more internally. It also reported that it had closed up blood vessels that had been cut by the the cane’s blade and accelerated closing the hole in my skin.
The cane had missed my right lung only because of the angle and because my defenses still kind of worked.
My implant noted that the repairs were still fragile and that damage could still start me bleeding again. It had a list of modifications that the Xiniti had used with success on human allies. Some involved permanent changes to my DNA, others the direct creation of new structures in my body both biological and cybernetic.
I said no. I might not always, but this didn’t seem the time to make an irreversible decision.
“I’m okay,” I told her. “My suit has medical systems that stopped the blood. Right now, I’m close to normal.”
Mom looked at me, saying the same voice she always used when she thought I might be lying, “Close to normal?”
“I’m not bleeding, but I’ve lost blood. I’m not going to be at normal after that, but I’m not in danger,” I paused, adding, “I need to check on everybody else. They’re hitting Travis and Haley’s parents and Dad and maybe more for all I know.”
She blinked, “Dad?”
Seeing her expression, I said, “I’m checking on him first,” even though I felt like he had less to worry about than anyone.
Calling up Izzy’s camera view gave me a scene I was not expecting. She was in flight over the city and carrying my dad in the air with her left arm.
I could see his graying brown hair move in the breeze against the background of her blue costume. This was less unsafe than you’d think because I’d learned that her internally generated force field protected anyone she was carrying.
I’d moved myself onto my own private communication channel to avoid distraction as I went into the house, allowing people to pull me back to the main mission channel, if needed.
It was time to switch back on my own, so I did, hearing Jaclyn’s voice, “We think we got everyone. We need to know. Blue, can you pick out anyone else? More people kept on showing up during the battle and if we’re going to join Travis, we don’t want another attack.”
Izzy said, “I’ll do what I can. If there’s more magic, I can’t make any promises.”
Amy spoke over the comm, “Don’t sell yourself short. Most wizards stop at invisibility. It gets complicated to roll silence into the spell at the same time. You can get around it with a spell that affects the minds of everyone in range but the kind of wizard that has the range to affect you from there would already be ruling the world.”
Izzy came to a stop in the air, hovering a few hundred feet above my house. Dad looked down at the ground, shook his head and looked out at downtown Grand Lake. I couldn’t blame him. It was a long way to fall.
Izzy’s sonic abilities dwarfed the Rocket suit’s at all levels—at least in terms of power. Her screams could shatter walls or even buildings. Her ability to passively listen and actively use echolocation hadn’t been fully measured or understood.
Given time, she’d be able to locate every living object for blocks.
As she hovered, muting her comm so we didn’t have to hear any sounds she might make, Jaclyn said, “Rocket, what’s the situation down there? We saw your medical alert go on and then off again. A malfunction?”
“No. Number Eight’s cane had a blade in it and he stabbed through my armor. My medical systems handled the stabbing and my implant handled the internal bleeding,” I said, pausing before I added, “Oh, and Number Eight’s dead.”
“I didn’t expect that, but I get it,” she said. “If he can go through your armor, you had no choice.”
I considered not saying anything, but the group needed to know, “I was still out of it. My mom killed him. I think we need to get them out of the house. Maybe put them in the downtown office or HQ. There’s a dead body in my basement and I don’t think they’ll feel safe there. They’re going to have to disappear for a little while.”
Jaclyn let out a breath, “Your mom took him down? I can guess how. Look, we need to cut this short, but it fits with what Ronin was saying before you came on. They’re trying to kill us if they can, but she thinks they know Haley’s one of the team’s leaders. Choosing to target her parents and now you by Number Eight means that her self-confidence is also a target.”