The first part wasn’t hard to guess. They’d gotten their parents on the jet and that’s where it began to go wrong. The Cabal soldier that Jaclyn had been chasing made it to the jet and knowing that it was there, tried to destroy it even though it was cloaked.
The soldier had run at the jet and punched, happening to hit a spot that had thinned so that sensors could work. The Cabal soldier’s fist made it all the way through, slowed by the shield, and dented the hull. It didn’t take much to fix it later and didn’t affect the jet’s structural integrity, but the fact that it made it through at all was scary.
Worse, the punch moved the jet, hitting Travis. The armor built into his costume took most of it, but he still stumbled. Calculating the force needed to do that later, I knew that a normal person could have lost a leg.
Haley glanced at him, but she’d been far enough away that she didn’t have to move and their parents were inside. With that, the hatch closed and the jet shot straight upward. In the sense that it meant the end of the Nine’s attempt to kill their parents, it was a complete success.
In the sense that it left Haley and Travis with nothing between them and a Cabal soldier that was just as fast as Jaclyn and at least as strong and tough—plus, he regenerated? In that sense, it was an utter failure.
Oh, and for the record? For my own sanity, I’m going to stop calling him, “the Cabal soldier who can run really fast.” I learned later that his codename was Insurgent after a fast, armored car in a video game.
Insurgent ran straight at Travis who jumped out of the way, landing behind Insurgent and throwing a goo grenade at him. The goo grenade did exactly what you’d expect—exploded into the same grey goo used by my goobots, hitting Insurgent and the ground around him. It would have hit Haley if she hadn’t jumped backward and out of the way.
The goo covered Insurgent’s body in gooey strands connected to each other and the ground below. Some of that ground was literally grass and dirt—not good news—but about a third of it touched the factory’s parking lot. Assuming the goo didn’t break, Insurgent would have to drag chunks of asphalt along.
You might criticize Travis at that point, but I wouldn’t. Travis had to know that the goo grenade wouldn’t stop Insurgent forever, but he also knew that he couldn’t get through the Cabal soldier’s hide. Lowering his mobility meant that Cassie would have every chance to shoot him.
Unfortunately for him and for Haley, they weren’t alone.
One of the Cabal soldiers that Daniel or Vaughn had thrown out of the fight had come back. We learned later that this one had been codenamed Gish Yankee by someone on a Reddit forum devoted to discussing the Cabal. A trained fighter because he was part of the Cabal, he’d been run through some version of the power impregnator, activating latent psychic powers. He’d been the one preventing telepathic access to the minds of the Nine’s team.
In our later discussions, I learned that Daniel hadn’t even noticed him jump back into the fight. Neither had Cassie.
The first hint that anyone had that he was there was when Haley jumped to avoid the goo grenade. At the top of her arc, she thought that it sounded like she was about to hit something, so she held out her hands, ready to push off against a wall she didn’t see and it worked.
She pushed off instead of hitting and landed on the ground.
Daniel told me later that it wasn’t a force field. It was telekinetic force. The difference, as he explained it, was that a telekinetic didn’t create an object. They had to constantly choose to create force pushing in a particular direction. For most people, the difference didn’t matter, but it did to physicists and telekinetic psychics.
Not that I knew any of that at the moment. All I knew then was that I was tumbling toward the forest, that Haley and Travis were fighting people below me, that Johnny Destruction was behind me, and that Izzy was behind him.
I straightened out and turned away from the forest toward the open area between the forest and the parking lot where the jet had landed. Then I opened up with the rockets and lowered the overall weight they propelled through the air with the anti-gravity units I’d embedded in the suit.
At the same time, I could see behind me that Johnny Destruction was sending out a massive fiery plume behind himself while aiming blasts at Izzy. My suit’s sensors, though were giving signs that there might be something hard between us and whoever Travis and Haley were fighting. The composite between sound and radar showed a dome that didn’t appear to be hard in all places at any given moment.
I aimed for one of the soft spots only to have it begin to harden as I closed with it. I swerved to avoid hitting it head on only to see Johnny Destruction shoot through as if there were only air.