Haley glanced toward where we’d seen the dragon fall. I wondered how soon we’d see him again.
“OK,” she said. “As long as I’m being useful. I’m not likely to do much good against that by myself.”
“We’ve got to go to the garage, and it’ll be faster if we fly.”
Haley frowned, muttering, “Great.” But she still stepped forward and put her arm on the shoulder of my suit. The hardness of her transformed nails made a slight scraping noise.
I picked her up, started the rockets with my tongue, flying straight up with the idea that it would be easier to avoid arrows and Vaughn’s winds. Haley pulled herself closer (which would have been hugely distracting if I could feel it through the suit), saying, “I hate this.”
The wind pushed and pulled on me at first, but by the time we were about one hundred feet from the ground, I no longer felt it. With the winds no longer shielding Haley from arrows, I twisted in the air, aiming the Rocket suit toward the garage, or at least the elevator that would take us to it.
Haley said something that I missed. It didn’t sound happy.
In moments we’d shot past the shops, and into the elevator. Three times as long as the van, and twice as wide, the elevator was obviously meant to handle as many vehicles as possible. Despite that, it moved surprisingly quickly, sinking downstairs almost as soon as I pressed the button.
Given what could be happening upstairs, it still felt too slow.
We watched the rock wall pass through the elevator’s front windows.
Haley bit her lip. “I hope they’re OK without us.”
I nodded. “Me too.”
The doors opened, and we ran for the van. It was only three rows back from the elevator, and next to the red rock wall. I’d left it in “rusty white plumber van” mode, and it looked worse than the glossy sports cars on either side.
Haley jumped over each row rather than run between cars. I jumped over one row, set the rockets to hover, and let my own momentum carry me over the other two.
I landed behind the van, and scrambled around the side toward the driver’s side door. Haley landed behind me and ran toward the other side.
I didn’t have to unlock the van. The door unlocked itself as the Rocket suit neared, and adjusted the driver’s side seat to fit the suit’s size.
Entering from the passenger’s side, Haley stopped as she entered, standing next to her own seat as my seat sank, and widened. “That’s cool, and kind of creepy.”
I shut the door, and sat down, watching as the dashboard’s screens began to glow. “I’ve got more of the new stealth suits in the back. You’ll have to wear one for everything to work. There’s nowhere to change but the back though.”
She frowned, but then stood up. “My clothes aren’t much more than rags anyway, and I know you’ve seen me in a bikini.”
Between the fights with the goblins, and crawling through shattered rock, her jeans and shirt had multiple rips.
It didn’t take long before she’d changed, and was back in the seat wearing a gray jumpsuit with the Heroes’ League’s stylized “H” logo. I backed out of the row and drove into the elevator. As the elevator’s door shut, I started the tranformation sequence, reminding Haley to, “Keep your arms close to the seat!”
“I remember,” she said, and she had remembered. Her arms were on the armrests.
Aside from that, though, the Catmecha’s tranformation when two people were about to go into combat was different from the transformation when then seats were full and there was no fighting.
Haley’s seat was moved behind mine. When we were in place, webbing surrounded us, keeping us in our seats, and protecting us. With the webbing came connections to the Catmecha’s systems. The exact amount of energy available in the fuel cells appeared along with details about how many bots the mech held and where, the armor’s current status, and its speed.
Haley, I knew, would be getting the same information, but focussed on the mech’s weapons. It would be appearing on a screen that had been created in the webbing in front of her.
“Wow,” she said. “It feels like being inside a video game.”
“It does, kind of.” I stopped there, watching the system run through its checklist over my HUD. The Catmecha was ready. Ahead of me, the elevator doors opened and I directed the mech outside, wishing I’d had the ability to put an AI inside. As unpredictable as Hal was, he made running the jet easier.
Any wishes I had about the ideal version of the mech were swept away by the elevator doors opening. I had the mech walk out, using my HUD to check nearly 360 degrees around the mech.
Goblins were waiting for us outside the elevator. They had bows at the ready, arrows nocked, but when they saw the mech, they turned around and ran.
I gave the mech some fuel, feeling its smooth gait as I initially directed it down the road, but once I got past the shops, I slowed the mech down, getting an overall look at the situation before I got into it.
We’d only been gone for a couple minutes, but in a fight, that could be an age.
Ahead of us, the dragon roared.