Courtesy: Part 24

In my HUD, the screens from Haley’s team showed similar scenes. The tendrils extending from the fleshy mushroom masses waved and jerked around spastically—so much so that I wondered if the shock of Daniel’s attack was making things better or not.

Sure, the Fungus Collective might not be able to concentrate, but on the other hand, some of those tendrils were as thick as small trees and many of the people on Team Hidden weren’t physically more powerful than a normal human.

Still, many were and Haley waved the group forward toward the center of the organism’s being. Weaving through the extended tendrils, they seemed to be doing okay. 

No doubt being in the center of Adam’s “Someone Else’s Problem” field helped.

I didn’t have time to keep on watching, though, because we had our own problems.

The nearby masses of mushroom flesh broke apart, turning into roughly human-shaped tendril creatures. Wobbling and sometimes falling over, they came at us as if they were the Keystone Cops.

What acting like someone’s drunken fungus uncles lost them in menace, they made up with sheer numbers. They came from all directions including forming out of the floor, the walls, and falling down from the ceiling.

They dropped on me or at least tried to. I didn’t notice in time to get out of the way. Anyway, there wasn’t a direction to go to that didn’t have fungus dropping from the ceiling.

I wouldn’t have been able to do anything about it if I’d relied purely on my physical reaction time. Thanks to integrating my suit and implant, I could react with a thought. I fired off a single boombot into the mass of tendrils dropping from above.

A boombot couldn’t pack much in the way of explosives, but the most recent batch included charges with configurable shaping. This one directed the blast parallel to the ceiling, blasting the fungus above me into burned bits of itself and scouring the rest of the ceiling and upper walls of mushroom.

It also left greasy burn marks across this section of the room, but I’d kept the property damage to a minimum so far.

I supposed there was still time for us to accidentally bring down the whole complex—City Hall, the county and federal buildings next to it as well as the parking garage.

A glance around the room showed that everyone else had also been busy. Two tendril monsters had fallen toward Daniel except that he’d telekinetically knocked them upward at the moment my boombot exploded.

Jaclyn and Izzy had punched an unknown number hard enough that they exploded into parts. The cars in that section of the garage were coated in ripped and splattered fungus bits. I found it interesting that, unlike the ones in the park, they hadn’t exploded into spores.

On the other hand, why would they need to do that at the center of the organism?

As for Justice Fist? They’d been efficient. Sean had used a bunch of ball bearing from a pouch in his uniform as a kind of chainsaw, turning the nearest tendril monsters into shreds. Dayton and Jody had pulled out knives—for Dayton two of them and Jody only one, but Jody’s was a blur.

While Dayton dodged, cut, and weaved, jumping off walls to change direction, Jody blurred, cutting off pieces of whatever he was fighting and moving out of the way before it could respond.

Their knives had an odd sheen around the edges similar to Cassie’s sword. I hadn’t made those knives or been asked for a design. I knew that Rook had reverse engineered them. Had anyone else?

Not that I could complain about them being useful in this situation, but, I didn’t love the idea of having one in Jody’s hands even if he was on my side.

As all that was going on, Amy stabbed a tendril monster with her spear causing it to shrivel up and harden, turning black in the spot she hit.

As she pulled back her spear and stabbed a new target, I found that two tendril monsters had grabbed me, getting a hold of my legs and arms. I used my laser to cut it in two, starting from a quarter of the way up its body.

Half of its upper body fell off, blackened and burning, and the rest of it fell the other way, some of the severed tendrils rolling away.

As for the other tendril monster, I stepped backward, pulling my arm upward, and yanking the tendril monster toward me as I changed devices, targeting it with a narrowcast sonic attack.

I’d only used it as an experiment because I didn’t want to get stuck using the laser all the time, but it worked better than expected. Unlike the laser, it didn’t instantly take the creature out.

It did turn the section where it hit into a dark, mushy circle leaking fluid. As it fell forward, I gave it a kick, separating its lower half from its upper half, spattering my leg and the floor with gray-green fluid.

Then Dayton stepped in, cutting it in two with his knife. The fluid splashed out onto the floor as Dayton jumped away toward another.

Bouman, Prime, Logan, and Yellow Mask didn’t move during any of it, staring into space as the less complicated creatures charged in.

I supposed it made sense. The Fungus Collective might well be struggling to keep control of them while Daniel’s attack rattled its concentration. Could we shatter it?

7 thoughts on “Courtesy: Part 24”

  1. Typo

    cutting it in two with knife.
    cutting it in two with his knife.
    (or ‘one of his knives’, or ‘a knife’.)

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