Even hurt, Travis still moved faster than I could. He punched the guy in the face, throwing him backward. The guy hit a big root at the tree’s base with the back of his head, and he slumped.
It probably wouldn’t last long.
The force of Travis’ blow and the man’s fall had shattered the root. Chunks of wood lay around the man’s head.
I thought about how much force would be required to do that. Quite a lot.
Travis took a short breath, and grimaced. I wondered how many ribs he’d broken.
I thought about pulling him out and dropping him off at Night Wolf’s car except that would have left Haley alone on the ground. Daniel could have lifted him out with telekinesis, but he couldn’t while flying, and deflecting bullets away from himself and Vaughn. Vaughn could have done it too, but being blown by the wind wasn’t a gentle flight.
And anyway, Vaughn was busy alternating between hitting Prime’s forces with wind and lightning.
We didn’t have long though.
Ray and Gina had joined up with the new Prime, a group of men from the factory running through the woods to join them. Between the uncombed hair and jerky movements, they looked like they’d just gotten out of bed.
No, I realized, Ray had woken them up from their post-Impregnator nap.
We had to leave. Another moment more, and we’d be caught up in a fight we would lose.
Daniel, I thought at him, and he caught my entire chain of reasoning.
I sent everybody a red through the communicator system. I didn’t expect to see Cassie, Marcus or Rachel show up soon enough, but if Jaclyn did, that would help.
I’ll figure out a way to pull him out, Daniel sent back.
I would have talked to him more, but I’d realized that all three of the people Travis had been fighting were back in action. The man who Travis had knocked into the tree root had pulled himself up, and looked murderous. The man who he’d slammed into a completely different tree had jumped up into the tree with Haley.
The third guy, the one I’d punched after Travis kicked out the man’s knee, had stood up, leg still wobbly, and leaped at Travis.
Travis dodged a rush from tree root guy, ducked to avoid the third guy’s leap, wincing as he jumped upward to help Haley.
He never made it.
Another barrage of blinding lightning hit everywhere around Prime, and as it did, Travis flew toward Daniel.
That left Haley and I on the ground (if trees counted as ground).
I started the rocketpack, and flew up toward her, assuming I’d have to stop the guy who’d jumped into her tree.
I was wrong.
As I ascended, he fell.
She’d ripped a branch from the tree, and used it to sweep his feet out from under him.
I didn’t even have to explain what was going on. She saw me, and jumped from the branch she was on, putting her arm around my neck. Grabbing her with my right arm, I sent us both into the air.
As we went, Daniel’s voice came over the communicator, canceling my red alert and saying, “We’re done. Everybody go home.”
* * *
“I’m fine,” Travis said.
We stood outside HQ’s locker room.
He didn’t look fine. He hadn’t turned grayish, but he moved carefully. Besides I’d seen his chest during the guys turn to use the showers. The skin above his lower ribs on his left side had been red, and swollen.
“That kind of thing heals up when we go back to normal. Plus we heal faster than most people. Ask Haley.”
“No, no, no. You can’t count on it for this,” Haley said.
“And it’s not that fast,” Cassie said. “I never even noticed you had a healing factor.”
Jaclyn folded her arms across her chest. “You need a doctor.”
“Are you volunteering?” Travis tried to grin at her.
“Maybe in ten years.”
“Hey,” I said, “maybe we could get in the jet and fly you to L.A.? Paladin and Preserver are both there. We’d have it taken care of in less than an hour I bet.”
Travis shook his head. “I know he’s your friend, but from what I’ve heard Paladin’s a screw off, and I bet his dad is in space, or the U.P. with the rest of the Defenders.”
He had a point.
“Listen to me,” Travis continued. “If I have to go, I know what to do. The whole League used to go to one of my Grandma’s cousins. I’ll go there.”
“How old is he,” Vaughn asked. “Ninety?”
“No,” Travis said, and he tried to punch Vaughn in the shoulder, except he missed, taking a big, indrawn breath.
I ended up helping Marcus and Haley take Travis to the doctor, and didn’t get back to HQ for a few hours.
When I did, I intended to work on the Rocket suit, but I got distracted. The roachbot I’d left in the factory had been destroyed, but it had captured some sound and video first.
I fast forwarded through it, looking for interesting parts, and finding a conversation between Ray and the new Prime near the end.
“–completely incompetent,” Ray said. “Your people led them straight here, and they ruined the damned machine! We’ve still got the book, but only by luck.”
Even with the roachbot’s limited sight, I could tell that Prime towered over Ray.
They were alone in the building. All the equipment was gone — the microwave, the sleeping bags, even the remains of the Impregnator.
Prime looked down at Ray. “Don’t talk about my men like that or I will hurt you.”
“My ass,” Ray said. “You and I both know better.”
After that, they set the charges, and blew the building up.