The security guard’s helmet tipped downward toward his leg. It was completely exposed from the front, displaying his brown jump suit. A pile of sparkling dust lay around his foot.
Lim aimed the gun toward the guard’s helmet, and the man pushed him backward and ran away. Lim landed on his back, but didn’t drop the gun. He kept it pointing upward at the security guards, not firing, but ready.
Larry, meanwhile had a security guard’s helmet in the Frog suit’s front claw. Since the guy had dropped Cheryl, he didn’t see any reason to keep hold, so he let go of the helmet, punching the guard’s armor in the abdomen at about the same time. The guard slid across the runway, and into the hangar’s open door.
Normally that would have been a mistake. By freeing Cheryl, he’d arguably challenged all of the security guards, but they weren’t paying any attention.
Armory pulled himself off the asphalt where Alexis’ shot had left him. He pulled himself up, but faced the spot where Larry had been standing before Alexis took his shots.
Larry knew he hadn’t turned invisible. He followed Armory’s gaze on the screen, and realized it was worse than he’d imagined.
The earth elemental had grown even more, and it wasn’t standing patiently as Sloan had ordered it to.
It had completely absorbed every bit of the runway in its reach in addition to the brown dirt around it. The creature’s tentacles extended into the ground, and were growing thicker.
Larry searched his screen for Sloan. The wizard lay unconscious on the ground, so it wasn’t under his control. He tried to remember what earth elementals wanted when they weren’t being controlled by sorcerers.
He couldn’t think of anything in particular. The last time he’s seen an earth elemental follow its own desires, it had set off a volcano for fun.
“Hey Armory,” he shouted. “I’ve got a bad feeling about this. Truce?”
Armory only said, “What, are you scared? It’ll fall apart without Sloan. Magic never lasts.”
That was when the second earth elemental came out of the ground. It appeared out of the dirt next to the first, but it was only nine feet tall.
The third and fourth appeared immediately after it, all of them reddish brown with bits of grey rock.
Larry said, “Yeah?”
A security guard screamed and began to run away, each footfall sinking deeply into the dirt. He got past the hangars, and hesitated as he began to run past where the elementals were growing out the dirt.
Larry wanted to shout at him, but before he could, hands reached out of the soil, and yanked the guard into the earth, power armor and all.
Armory held his arms parallel to the ground, and guns popped out. Larry counted at least four per arm.
Then Armory shouted, “No more running. Every one of you fires at the elementals!”
It looked good at first. The security guards opened up their armors’ forearms exactly the same way Armory had. At some unseen signal, they opened fire.
The sound of automatic weapons and the brightness of the explosions overpowered everything else. They were so loud that the screams weren’t obvious at first. Grenades blew pieces off the smaller elementals. Bullets tore chunks out of them.
Larry stood to the side of the main group, partly because he thought he might get a better view, partly because he wanted to be out of easy reach if Armory won.
He launched a missile toward the largest earth elemental’s torso. Amid all the other explosions, it didn’t seem to have any special effect, but it did blow a small hole in the creature’s asphalt body.
Deciding to move to a better vantage point, he began to lift up his leg—only to find out that not only wasn’t it lifting, but he was sinking.
He didn’t hesitate, he shot a missile into the ground near his feet.
The explosion blew him a few feet backward. Errors and damage reports ran across the bottom of the HUD, but he could move.
Armory’s team wasn’t so lucky. From what Larry could see at least half of them had been sucked into the ground. Armory himself fought hands that had grabbed his ankles.
Then painfully bright light shone around Armory’s lower torso, and the dirt turned partly into glass.
Armory twisted his legs and the hands shattered. Then he started to run, and what was left of the security guards left with him—or tried to.
Over the radio, Alexis said, “Where are you?”
“Still by the hangar, man, where are you?”
“I have been distracting the creature from above. Where are your companions?”
“Can’t say for sure, but I think they went back into the hangar.”