Major Justice stumbled, but then recovered, putting his arm out and grabbing Arete’s shoulder, steadying himself, but putting more force into the gesture than seemed necessary.
Arete stumbled, turning his head and opening his mouth to shout something. His words made no sense to me, but my buzzer went off along with the buzzers of everyone on my team including Justice Fist—plus Major Justice.
It was too bad Major Justice hadn’t used one whenever he’d first encountered Arete, but using one now might mean Arete’s influence was waning.
Arete’s jaw dropped as Major Justice moved his arm away from Arete’s shoulder, either because he was surprised that Major Justice had a buzzer or because of what he’d left attached to Arete’s armor.
One of the devices Major Justice designed for the military was a shaped charge, a small dome-like object that stuck to whatever you placed it on. A little smaller than a human palm, it wasn’t a weapon you would use in combat (too unwieldy) as much as a tool you’d use to create a hole in a wall.
You could use it in combat if your opponent wasn’t expecting an attack and if the upper part of their costume included a section styled to resemble the breastplate of Greek hoplites—hard and flat, a good surface to stick a charge to.
The charge exploded the moment Major Justice’s hand was a foot away from it. Though the device was destroyed, most of the explosion’s force went into Arete’s armor and body.
Whatever Arete’s armor was made out of, it was strong enough to stay in one piece, but not strong enough to prevent the explosion from piercing the armor directly under it. Flame shot out of every opening, burning Arete’s flesh. His head fell off, a chunk of Arete’s blackened and burned spine coming with it.
Then he fell to the ground, his burned insides spilling out the bottom, his pants literally on fire.
I didn’t feel any need to look more closely, but the Rocket suit’s 360 degree view took in all of it peripherally, recording it for later, assuming I ever wanted to see it.
All of that had happened in less than two seconds, but it was far from everything that had happened. After Arete had said whatever it was he said to Major Justice, Kals broke in over the comm to shout, “That’s a trigger!”
I didn’t have time to ask what it was used for because even as the smoking pieces of Arete’s body were falling to the ground, one of the men on Major Justice’s team pointed a massive rifle at Major Justice.
I hadn’t paid much attention to him because on a team that could have passed for rejected G.I. Joe characters, he didn’t stand out at all. Muscled like a professional bodybuilder, he wore camouflage and carried a gun with multiple barrels, the biggest of which probably fired grenades.
I noticed him moving but knew that even if I fired off killbots with commands directly from my implant they wouldn’t get there until after he pulled the trigger.
Fortunately, Major Justice’s survival didn’t depend on my personal reaction time. It depended on Jaclyn’s and she moved quickly enough that the gun changed before I had time to fire off killbots or ping her with my implant.
In a flash of purple, the gun’s barrels stopped being straight, bending into right angles. The guy, whose codename later turned out to be BFG, dropped his gun, possibly questioning his identity and purpose in life. If so, he handled his rootlessness well, he swung at Jaclyn.
Thanks to my limited powers, I could see his fist move toward her without ever reaching her. Jaclyn blurred, stepping to the right and punching him, throwing him back twenty feet. BFG pulled out a grenade.
What he planned to do with it, whether it was throw it at us or put it in his mouth, I never found out. Jaclyn closed the distance before it left his hand.
She pulled it away and threw it into the air where it exploded harmlessly several hundred feet above us. Then she pummeled BFG unconscious.
If anyone on Major Justice’s team or among the other assembled heroes cared, they didn’t say anything. Besides, if they did care, they only had to look at Izzy to know that we had someone just as powerful waiting in the wings.
Jaclyn carried BFG back to his team, “I did the least damage that I could to make him stop, but you need to get him out of here. All he is right now is a distraction.”
When no one responded, she glanced over at Major Justice who was still staring off into space.
Over the comm, Kals said, “I don’t know what’s wrong without examining them, but I might be the only one who can help on this planet. I need to get out there—“
Katuk’s voice interrupted, “That would be unwise.”
Both aloud and over the comm, Izzy said, “Something is moving underground.”