As ideas went, it was incredibly wrong. There were some that might say it was so wrong that it was right, but on a gut level, knowing what I did about my armor, his armor, and Johnny Destruction’s power, I would never have done the same except in a desperate situation where it was the only way to protect someone I cared about.
In short, the exact situation Travis was in.
His claws sliced into the armored costume protecting Johnny Destruction’s neck, but his claws were actually claw-like as opposed to being long knives that extended from his body.
They couldn’t slice Johnny’s head off. They bit into the armor, pulling chunks of it off and yanking away pieces.
Johnny Destruction’s fire aura grew and he tried to get out of Travis’ grip. I could see Johnny’s arms strain, but Travis was stronger than the Rocket suit.
I fired the Rocket suit’s lasers as I flew, hoping that they’d punch through before Travis’ suit lost integrity—which it would.
It was already broadcasting errors as the heat rose. I wouldn’t have been conscious at that temperature. Travis was, partly because of the suit, partly because even if he couldn’t regenerate at Cassie’s level, he still had something in him fixing things.
Izzy reached them next, forcing me to stop firing the laser because even though the shield around her body held up against it, her energy was finite and she was using it to avoid being burned while fighting Johnny Destruction.
Over the comm, Haley shouted, “Night Wolf, let go! She’s got him!”
I wasn’t sure that Izzy did have him, but she was closer.
Travis’ reply had the roar of a fire in the background, but he spoke in a low rumble, “No, I’ve got him!”
Travis’ claws bit into Johnny’s neck, severing his head. In a motion that told me how little I knew about Johnny Destruction’s biology, the head shot out of his flaming aura with a trail of fire behind it, landing in the middle of of the asphalt parking lot and rolling a few times before it stopped. It didn’t move again after that.
At the same time, the aura of fire expanded, exploding in all directions.
I’d almost made it there by then, changing course as the body began to explode, aiming myself toward Haley who had a fast enough reaction that she leaped for me as she saw me coming.
A wave of heat hit us, but nothing that our suits couldn’t handle.
It would have been the stuff of kids’ television shows if it weren’t for the string of messages and medical alerts coming from Travis’ suit. Starting with the heat messages, the messages progressed to medical alerts, then at the moment I picked Haley up, the messages stopped.
Haley noticed at the same time I did, asking, “Travis, are you there,” over the comm.
I had a sinking feeling in my stomach that didn’t come from the speed of our ascent as I turned right and upward to get closer but not too close.
“Go down,” Haley shouted and I began to descend in time to see Izzy fly out holding Travis’ body. He didn’t look alive.
His costume had been blackened as had the skin I could see from where we were above him.
“Izzy,” Haley asked, her voice calmer than I expected, but still rising, “is he…”
She paused, searching for a word or not wanting an answer.
In that moment, Izzy said, “I’m sorry. I don’t hear a heartbeat.”
“The medical machines back at HQ,” Haley said, “Control, call in medical help.”
“I already did when the Rocket got hurt,” Kayla said, “They’re still here.”
Izzy let out a breath and shook her head, “I’ll get him back there.”
We had alien medical devices back in HQ. We’d even given Haley’s second cousin access to them and training in how to use them. I didn’t know how miraculously far ahead of us alien technology was, but this seemed like time to find out.
I thought about the Xiniti implant and how it had offered healing through becoming even more invasively part of my body. I wasn’t sure I wanted that for Travis, but something like that was the only chance for him, I couldn’t say no on his behalf.
“Rocket,” she said and here her voice caught, “please take me back to HQ.”
Her costume had an anti-gravity aided rocket pack, but like most of the team, she’d opted for a smaller, lighter, and slower version.
Though I doubted that even alien tech would do any good, I aimed us toward HQ and the forest entrance. The rest of the team could handle any cleanup needed.
We were above the forest when the next alert came in. My spybots had detected movement near Daniel’s parents’ house. Pictures showed four True and a Cabal soldier exiting a van near the house.
Jaclyn said, “On it,” almost as the alert appeared and Izzy said, “I’m almost done.”
Even though I wanted to stay with Haley, I found myself thinking of Daniel’s family. His dad was in Chicago with the Midwest Defenders unless something was happening. His younger brother and sister were in high school and wouldn’t be home yet.
Only his mother and grandfather would be home. His mother’s ability to go into people’s dreams could reach worldwide, but her only offense was a pistol. His grandfather had been the Mentalist, but Alzheimer’s or some disease unique to psychics clouded his mind.
They wouldn’t have a chance.
“Go,” Haley said, “I can make it from here.”
She pushed away from me, descending toward the trees. I released more fuel into the rockets, unsure that I could make it in time even now.