I wasn’t aiming the majority of goobots at her—just one. I’d aimed the rest at the other Cabal soldiers in the balcony and they worked, kind of.
As the lasers burned through the woman’s costume and into her body, one hitting her thigh and the other her torso, the goobots exploded into sticky gray stuff, hitting her as well as the two men next to her.
She collapsed into the balcony, held up by the goobots’ goo, and I stopped burning her with lasers. At the same time, the two Cabal soldiers were trying to avoid the goobots. One of them succeeded, jumping off the balcony in my direction, pulling a few bricks along with his foot—the one spot that did get hit with goo.
The other Cabal soldier wasn’t so lucky. He jumped up too but didn’t put enough power behind it. The goo connecting him to the balcony didn’t break when he jumped, allowing him to shoot into the air until he reached the limit of the goo where he stopped in the air, fell, and then swung downward above the sidewalk and then upward and back, never getting close enough to the bottom of the balcony or the sidewalk to grab anything.
It was perfect. Too bad I hadn’t planned to do that.
Mind you, even as it happened I didn’t have time to time to congratulate myself. The Cabal soldier that hadn’t managed to hang himself upside down from the balcony was more on my mind. That guy had aimed himself toward Daniel and even though the smart choice would have been to let him pass over me it wasn’t the moral choice or even the smart choice in the long term.
When you’re the guy in the powered armor, giving overpowered thugs the opportunity to turn you into a paste was in the job description. Of course, making it easy for them wasn’t a requirement at all.
I flew upward, grabbing the guy’s feet on the way up and then flipping over, swinging him around and letting him go sailing toward the sidewalk, sending goobots after him, so that as he smashed into the sidewalk, throwing bits of concrete into the air, the goobots exploded, holding him to the sidewalk without much room to move his limbs.
I had no doubt that he’d get out, but it wouldn’t be easy.
Giving the rockets more fuel, I aimed myself in Daniel’s direction, connecting to the jet via my comm, “Are you close? Getting out of here sooner rather than later will help keep us from dying.”
Tara’s voice answered, “We can’t get closer or we risk getting hit by more of them. We’re cloaked. Fly north. We’ll send you coordinates.”
“Got it,” I said, following Daniel and Master Martian, and seeing notifications that everyone had received the coordinates. Checking everyone’s position showed that Haley and Yoselin had gone south at first, but looped around to the west and were flying north parallel to us.
Below us, people who’d run inside the first floor shops to avoid the fight were coming out, some of them with phones in hand and pointing them up at us or typing frantically. Traffic on the lower half of the block had turned into an impenetrable snarl as a white delivery truck had hit a red sedan at some point during the fight.
It might have been possible to get around that problem if it weren’t for the six-foot-deep, human-sized crater in the road next to the delivery truck. In combination with the backed up traffic and cars parked on both sides of the road, the hole meant that the truck had no room to maneuver and that a tow truck wouldn’t be able to pull the delivery truck out until the traffic on the south side of the block cleared.
Fighting the part of myself that felt bad about the damage, I reminded myself that we weren’t responsible for the damage. That was the Cabal and the Nine who’d assigned them to attack us if we contacted (and then kidnapped) Master Martian.
My comm sent a notification to my screen that showed, “Liberator HQ calling.” Ignoring the feeling that they ought to be calling Tara, I took the call.
The rough voice made me guess that the caller was an older male, but I didn’t recognize who it was. I guessed that it had to be someone on the Liberators’ staff.
“Rocket?” The caller never slowed down enough for me to reply. “We’re getting reports of damage and the Cabal from your location.”
“Sounds right,” I said, “but we’re changing locations and leaving as soon as we can.”
“Do you need help?”
“Yes, but we’re fighting the Cabal and probably the Nine. If you send anybody that can’t take that kind of punishment, they’re just going to die.”
As if to punctuate my point, a Cabal soldier plummeted from the sky in front of Daniel, smashing in the roof of a parked Volkswagon Beetle.