“If we’re going to fight people,” I said, “and especially if we’re going fight people we know, I want to go back to my lab and get my regular armor before we do anything else.”
Samita nodded. “That seems wise. With Amy’s wards up, it might even be a safe haven from the fae.”
“Let’s run with that,” Amy said. “But let’s not stick around too much longer. I don’t want to fight these guys twice if I don’t have to.”
I glanced around the room. Neither the goblins nor the troll appeared to be particularly active. The troll still snored. The goblins mostly lay on the floor. One of them whimpered.
She had a good point. In a game of Dungeons and Dragons, I could imagine killing them all off to make sure that they didn’t tell anyone that we’d been through. In my actual life, I didn’t like the idea. It was too bad Daniel wasn’t here. As morally questionable as reaching into their minds might be, it would be kinder than murdering them in cold blood–not that we would.
Well, not that I would. Amy’s ancestors sounded like they would have been completely on board with that.
We walked toward the stairway. Haley, now fully transformed, her hands and feet ending in gray claws and her mouth full of sharp teeth, stepped in front of Amy. “I’ll take point.”
Amy let her. I followed them, wondering if Haley should be going first. Of all of us, she was the only one not in some kind of armor. On the other hand, she had the best senses of all of us plus reflexes not many supers could match.
All the same, if she found herself fighting someone who could, we all might find ourselves wishing we’d said something. I considered it as we walked up the steps, but ultimately stayed quiet.
Near the top of the stairway, she turned and held up her hand, palm toward us–obviously meaning we should stop. Then she crawled up the side of the wall and on to the ceiling–which was smart. I probably wouldn’t be checking the top of the hallway.
She stopped, unmoving at first, but then she turned her head in each direction, staring into the darkness for a moment, and then finally dropping to the floor, landing in a crouch.
I didn’t hear her hit the floor, and wondered how she did that.
Haley waved us forward as she stood up, stepping into the hall.
We followed her, reaching the top of the stairs and walking into the unknown. I automatically checked in each direction as I did. The lights were off, but between Amy’s gift of sorcerous sight, and the suit’s HUD, this hallway struck me as familiar.
I didn’t know why at first, but then it hit me–we were at same level as the tech and magic labs. A map of the floor had appeared in the far right of my HUD with a dot showing our position. The HUD had pulled it off the Castle Rock Compound’s server. It wasn’t a hack of any kind. The standard network protocols for superhero bases made maps available to visitors with appropriate privileges.
Interestingly, the stairway we’d exited didn’t appear on the map. I’d have to investigate that later, but it made sense. I didn’t remember seeing the stairway before. We probably weren’t cleared for that. I wasn’t sure how they’d kept it hidden though. It didn’t even have a door.
When we were all standing there, I expected Haley to start moving forward, but she turned back toward us. “Someone’s fighting. I don’t know who yet, or what, but I think it’s the the fae. These smell different from the goblins–more like animals.”
“Where?” I aimed my helmet’s sonar past her, turning up the sensitivity. I didn’t get much at first–white noise that didn’t quite sound like the background noise around it.
Haley began to open her mouth, but as she did a wave of sound appeared in my HUD. I couldn’t make it out at first, but increasing the volume and replaying it gave me the sound of a dog-like yelp followed by a human scream.
As the playback ended, Haley said, “Near your lab. We need to get there now.”
Winds lifted us up, hurtling us down the hall. To me, it felt like what waterskiing would be like if you were waterskiing down a river at night and you’d lost your skis, but for some reason couldn’t let go of the tow rope.
On the bright side, there was no danger of drowning, but there was a danger of smashing into a rock wall considerably faster than you’d want to be going if you did that.
I instantly had considerably more sympathy for Samita than I had earlier, but it did me little good.
Vaughn’s winds gathered us into a small group, making it easier for him to guide our flight, I assumed. Rock walls became a blur and though we did slow at corners, we never stopped. My stomach felt like I left it behind each time we turned. I was used to that when I practiced evasive manuevering in the air, but it’s a lot different when you have no control of how you’re flying.
The two good things that could be said about the flight was that it did bring us there quickly, and that even if the roaring winds lost us any chance of surprising our opponents, the force of the blast made it irrelevant.
A solitary figure lay against a wall, surrounded by two wolves the size of ponies. A third lay on the ground further down the hall.
The wind struck the wolves, throwing them into the air even as Vaughn dropped the rest of us on the ground. Haley flipped twice and came up standing. My armor scraped the wall, but I was okay. I didn’t see how Samita came down, but she was standing when I saw her, and Amy landed under her own power, standing between us and the still tumbling wolves. Vaughn landed next to her, electricity wreathing his hands.
The wolves darted out of sight, possibly into a hallway.
I turned to check the man, realizing that it was Sean. Blood was seeping into his jeans from a bite on his thigh. It looked to me like it might not be that bad if we could bandage it. It was seeping after all, not spurting.
“They only got me once,” Sean said.