As Daniel stepped on the balcony, he broadcast to all of us, Something is going to happen as we leave, but staying would be worse. Be aware.
The first part of his statement was worth knowing. The last part was punctuated by another Cabal soldier crashing through the roof, landing in the living room, and partway through the floor. That brought the number of newly arrived and mobile soldiers to four. Knowing what the Cabal was like left me no temptation to stay.
If anything they’d be worse now.
They’d been dependent on power juice when we’d last fought them, but even then Ray and Prime managed to run some through the power impregnator. Knowing that the Nine seemed to be their new employers, I decided that I’d be more surprised if the Nine hadn’t completed the job.
Daniel shot sideways and to the right off of the balcony. Thanks to our connection, I knew that he didn’t even know why he did it—a gut feeling that it was the best way to go. Haley activated the rocket pack on the back of her costume and flew along the wall to the left.
Yoselin and I followed them out. Guessing that going straight out over the street would only make me a target and that the True might have orders to kill Master Martian if they couldn’t capture him, I turned right, following Daniel.
Even as I turned, I heard Haley shout, “True,” over the comm.
Showing all of Tara’s talent for predicting her opponent’s moves, the True had moved to stand on the right side of the balcony. All of them now in their combat fatigues, two of them aimed goo guns up at me while the rest pointed automatic rifles.
I could only guess part of their plan, but I spun to keep Master Martian out of reach of either gun and then at an unvoiced hint from Daniel threw Master Martian in his direction—something I wouldn’t ever have chosen to do without our link.
Daniel pulled Master Martian along with his mind as he shot down the block, illustrating the bad point of Tara’s ability—it needed data. Daniel’s ability to predict the future might be less exact, but it gave him the perfect moments to act out of character.
The only bad point? He might have been aiming for the future with our best chance of survival and completing the mission, but it wasn’t a sure thing.
My situation demonstrated that perfectly. As I threw Master Martian, I got hit by both streams of white goo, my spin wrapping them around me. It was only two strings, so it wasn’t as if I couldn’t move, but it didn’t help.
How badly it didn’t help become obvious a split second later when one of the Cabal’s soldiers ran out onto the balcony and jumped in my direction. Thanks to the goo, I had no way to fight the guy. Even aiming my arms in his direction wouldn’t work unless I was willing to aim toward the sidewalk and into the screaming pedestrians visiting the shops on the apartments’ first floor.
Yoselin, who’d followed after Haley had seen everything though. She aimed the bulbous shapes under her arms at the soldier, adding more force to his jump, sending him past me and over the strip mall on the other side of the road where he disappeared.
Meanwhile, the True on the ground aimed their automatic rifles at Daniel and Master Martian, peppering them with bullets which they had to know Daniel could block—meaning that they were doing it for another reason.
That reason became obvious as the next three Cabal soldiers ran out to the balcony, all of them turning in our direction—and that wasn’t all. The first one, a woman, began to glow, white light surrounding her all over, but intensifying into the shape of a sphere in front of her forehead.
Recognizing what was about to happen, I moved in between her and Daniel as a bright beam erupted in our direction. My suit threw up too many notifications and errors to keep track of, most of them telling me about damage to the suit, ending with:
[71% of protection remaining]
Meanwhile, I felt like I’d taken a swim in lava, and the suit’s air conditioning had kicked on. Still, I wasn’t dead. Of course, it was anyone’s guess as to what happened to anyone else in the path of the beam. Next to me, windows in the apartment cracked and shattered along with the green painted bricks.
A glance at my HUD showed that Daniel had dipped downward in time to keep his passenger from being turned into Kentucky Fried Martian.
The one bright side? The blast had burned away the goo. Noticing that, I aimed my lasers at the woman, giving her a taste of her own medicine, loosing a series of goobots as a chaser.