I digested that information in my head, and said, “I think the two of you should get out. Neither of you are immune to nerve gas, right?”
Jaclyn shook her head. Izzy looked down at me, asking, “But what about you?”
“The suit’s air tight, and the original Rocket fought gas using villains in the 80’s. Actually, he fought Dr. Madness as far back as the 50’s. So the suit should be able to handle it.”
“Should?” Jaclyn raised an eyebrow, and looked steadily at me.
“Will,” I said.
“We shouldn’t be leaving anyone here alone.” Izzy’s tone gave no doubt that she was serious.
“Look, the Rocket suit will protect me, but if I have to carry you guys I won’t be able to fight or run very well. Plus, the gun will lead me to Captain Commando, and even if she’s affected by the gas, she’ll probably heal.”
Izzy frowned. “You’re not going to have any backup.”
“This could work,” Jaclyn said. “On our way out, we destroy as many psi-blockers as quickly as we can, and then… Blue, how much of the roof do you think you could rip off at once? Because I could take a big piece out of the side.”
Izzy thought for a second. “Half, maybe. The whole thing if I had time.”
I nodded. “That would be great. It would dilute the gas, and the Mystic’s telekinesis works on anything in sight. Plus, with telepathy available, he can do a lot. Oh, and Ghost. I don’t think she breathes when she’s incorporeal. Yeah, do that and I’ll tell them over the comm.”
Jaclyn opened her mouth, but she didn’t get to speak. Rook interrupted.
He was laughing, and sounded a bit off—probably because of the painkillers.
“You’ll never believe what I forgot. The nerve gas. If we use it, it’ll get us too.”
He broke into laughter, and laughed a few beats longer and harder than felt right.
“Bob even told me that I might want someone else to handle the defense because my judgment was impaired. And do you know what? He’s right. Totally right. Now, I’m not actually listening to him except for one thing—we’re getting our suits on. So if you want to surrender, you’d better do it soon. Remember—surrender or die!”
He started giggling.
I contacted the jet’s comm system. “Night Cat, he’s got nerve gas. I’m staying to find Captain Commando. Everyone else is leaving.”
Haley’s voice filled my helmet. “What? That’s an awful plan.”
“They’ll explain. It’ll be okay. We don’t have much time though. So… Bye.”
Jaclyn pointed down the hall. “We’re going. I’m betting Cap’s in the labs. That’s that way. We’re heading for the outer circle.”
I felt a tug as they left, turning into two blurs, and then disappearing. The only signs that they had been with me came as distant tearing and crashing noises.
Why had Jaclyn guessed the labs? Duh. Cassie’s stuff. She had the sword on her when she got captured, and Rook would definitely want to look at that. We were lucky I’d shot him. If he’d been able to figure out how the blade worked, future versions of his armor would have had unstoppably sharp talons and beaks.
Honestly, he was dangerous enough already.
Alone in the hallway with Rook’s unconscious men and their smashed powered armor, I realized that if Rook gassed the place, he’d probably kill them.
I couldn’t see any way to prevent that either, not if I wanted to get Cassie out.
“Gun, is Captain Commando in the labs?”
“Tell her I’m joining her, and if she starts moving and goes somewhere else, tell me. Sparkle or something.”
One of the guys on the ground groaned, and moved his right arm.
OK. Those guys couldn’t do anything, but chances were that they weren’t the only guys around. Haley was right. Being alone like this wasn’t a good plan.
I started running down the hallway toward the middle of the building—the opposite direction of where Izzy and Jaclyn had gone.
The dome had curved halls that went around the entire building, and straight spokes that cut across from the outside to the inside. That’s the kind of hall I was in. Like all the others, the walls and floor tile were completely white.
Running in the Rocket suit ate up the distance quickly, more quickly maybe because I knew that I was alone. Chances were that Rook would have created at least one type of suit that was heavier duty than mine.
I just hoped he hadn’t armed many of his men with that model, whatever it was.
I began to reach the inner circles before I expected to. Running past a hall, I heard shouts.
Glancing to the right, I saw rows of beds and lockers next to open spaces. Barracks, probably.
I didn’t stop. The men weren’t a threat. They weren’t in powered armor even though they were pulling on face masks, and suits that reminded me of both jumpsuits and hazmat suits.
Rook must have warned them when he talked to us. I wondered if he’d warn them before nuking the place.
Trying to ignore that thought, I ran to the end of the hall, the closest to the middle of the dome I could get.
The hall came to a dead end.
I didn’t run into the middle of it. I stopped so that I could use the suit’s sonar to build a picture of what was around each corner before I turned.
It seemed like the sort of place that might have guards nearby. The hall ended in a lab, and thanks to windows that went from the floor to the ceiling, I could see into the room.
Spare parts for powered armor sat on the shelves, and partially constructed versions of Rook’s armor sat on tables. I recognized many of the machines from my lab in HQ, but the number of tables and boxes of parts made it obvious the place was for mass production.
I wondered if Rook had any connection to Man-machine or whoever made mechs for Syndicate L.
I’m sure I would have spent more time looking if someone in a bigger version of Rook’s armor hadn’t come around the corner.
Then I heard footsteps from behind me.