I had the jet’s scanner zoom in on the storage building, specifically on the objects inside. Flat discs approximately the thickness of tires lay on top of each other, arranged in the shapes of cylinders.
From the picture, the building appeared to be about seventy-five percent full. It wasn’t hard to calculate either. The building was rectangular.
I wondered exactly what that worked out to in terms of discs.
I zoomed in further, trying to zero in on one specific disc.
From behind me, Vaughn asked, “So, what’s in there?”
“I’m trying to figure that out,” I said, trying not to sound annoyed.
I must not have done a great job of it though, because Vaughn said, “Sorry. I wasn’t trying to piss you off.”
Still adjusting the scanner, I said, “You’re not. I’m just having a hard time adjusting this thing.”
The picture wasn’t coming together. Some spots were blurry. Some spots were clear, but the devices appeared to be made out of multiple thin layers, and it clearly displayed more than one at a time.
From what I was seeing though, the ceramic I’d come up with protected the outside, and provided the internal structure. Plus, I felt fairly sure each disc had a anti-gravity plate on the bottom.
“Hey Mystic,” I said, “could you do that thing where you sense the biggest danger to the city? We probably ought to make sure this is it.”
Daniel sounded amused. “Already on it.”
“Good,” I said, and stared at the screen again. I didn’t want to fiddle with it anymore. Fortunately, the jet had an artificial intelligence that probably knew how to operate the scanners.
Taking my hands away from the controls, I said, “Heroes League jet AI? Hello?”
On the screen appeared the words: [You have my attention.]
“Could you adjust the screens so we have a good picture of the devices in that building, and if you happen to recognize what they are, please tell us.”
I had some guesses, but I wanted to save some time.
More words appeared on the screen.
[The devices in that shed correspond to devices commonly used in warfare among several spacefaring species.]
“So what do they do?” I asked.
[They don’t all do the same thing. Some of them are bombs. I’d estimate them to be capable of destroying life within a mile radius. Most are neutron emitters. They’re similar to your neutron bombs except that they can be reused and moved to another location once you’ve replaced the fuel source.]
People started talking, but I barely noticed.
I stared at the screen for little while, and then said, “Could you show me each type, layer by layer? Please identify anything you can.”
It did. I’d been right about the anti-gravity plates. They all had them. The bombs’ design also included tricks for enhancing the blast that had never occurred to me. The neutron emitter was… evil. It looked like it would do what it was supposed to—kill the people without damaging their stuff.
I turned around to look at everyone—easier in the Rocket suit than you might think, but still a little uncomfortable. “Hey,” I said. “I think I understand what we’ve got to do. The way I see it, these bombs have hugely complex designs that they can’t possibly have manufactured here—not entirely. They got the fuel and some of the parts from off-planet.
“The good news is that because they’re so complex, we can probably get rid of them by smashing them and they won’t go off. The bad news is that they’re using the ceramic I was planning to use on the next generation of armor, so they’ll be kind of hard to smash.”
“Easy,” Vaughn said. “Turn the jet’s guns on them. Boom, they’re gone.”
Two chairs down from Vaughn in the second row, Sydney said, “I don’t think that sounds like a good idea.”
At the same time, Rachel said, “No.”
“You know,” I said, “it might work better than you’d think. It’s just that there’s a small chance we might set the bombs off that way, and then we’d probably,” I checked the screen to find that the jet had written [undoubtedly], and continued, “uh… undoubtedly all die because the bombs would overwhelm the shields. That’s why I’d also avoid using Captain Commando’s gun, lightning, and stuff like that.”
Rachel interrupted. “This is going to work a lot better if you tell people what’s going to work than if you tell them what won’t.”
“It’s not that hard to figure out,” Cassie said. “My sword can chop them to bits.”
I thought about that. “Right. And I bet Sydney or Izzy could smash things. Haley could rip them apart with her claws… Camille controls gravity, so she could increase it and get the same effect as Sydney or Izzy. I’ll show you where to hit.”
“Rocket? Everybody? There’s a second spot.” Daniel stood up next to his chair. “We’re at the most immediate threat, but the other one’s just as big, and it’s connected to this one somehow.”
Next to him, Izzy took a breath. He’d probably already talked with her about it.
Cassie looked up at him, and asked, “Where is it?”
Daniel shook his head. “I won’t know until I get there. I could find it and report back.”
Izzy said, “I’ll go with him,” and stood up.
I looked at them, and thought for a second. “Ok. Do that, but I’m thinking we should wait until you call us before we start destroying things here.”
As I was about to turn to open the hatch, Camille asked, “Do you think we should destroy things here? Maybe the Defenders should do it?”
Talking at about the same time, Vaughn said, “You mind if I go with them? I might be useful there.”
As they realized that they were talking over each other, Vaughn and Camille stopped, and laughed.
Except then Vaughn turned back to me, “But seriously, do you mind?”