Giving myself as much speed as I could while still having a hope of stopping close to my house, I asked myself what the best way to handle this was. Coming to the conclusion that the best place to fight the guy was far enough away from my house that he couldn’t burst inside before I could react, I checked his position.
He was still heading toward my parents’ house. If he traveled at the same speed, he’d run through a park a few blocks away—which struck me as a better option for fighting him than the other options: home, an elementary school’s playground, or a church parking lot.
Using my implant, I summoned one of my floating pods. If I were lucky, I’d be able to upgrade my stealth suit to a real rocket suit before the guy got here—assuming it was a guy. The spybots only picked up a human-shaped blur. I might have to up the recording frame rate later.
The park amounted to an open area with a playground and three baseball fields in a cluster on the far end. Running straight through the middle wouldn’t be a challenge for the speedster. Even if the baseball diamonds had been in the way, I didn’t hold out much hope that the chain link fence would provide much resistance.
A quick look around the park gave me hope that I’d made a good decision. No one was playing baseball in the middle of the day in November. Even the playground was empty.
I landed on the far end of the park’s bathrooms, sending out spybots to monitor the park and readying a few more in the trees for the moment that the speedster entered the park.
Checking the pod’s position, it would be close, maybe close enough that I couldn’t use it for fear of revealing my position. Noting that it was moving at full speed, I decided to give it a shot. I could always tell the pod to stop if it appeared they’d arrive too close.
A quick look at my HUD via my implant gave me an overview of the team’s positions. No one was close. Jaclyn and Izzy had already started the moment they got a red alert, but Izzy was in California and Jaclyn was in Ann Arbor. It would be ten minutes. Cassie had made it to her bike and was on the road, but still miles away. Like Cassie, Daniel and Haley were both in the air, but neither one was close.
The closest person appeared to be Amy, but she wasn’t the fastest flyer. Still, she was nearer than anyone else. I might not be alone in this.
I didn’t have time to think much more about that because my pod notified me that it had arrived and began to descend, releasing materials above me that affixed to my suit, the nanotech reassembling into better armor, weapons, improved strength, and more bots of all kinds.
We weren’t fixed when the closest spybots showed that the speedster was heading toward the park. Hoping that I wouldn’t be regretting this at my uncle’s funeral, I let the suit finish assembly. As the last quarter knitted itself together, the speedster entered the park, a grey blur that threatened to blow through the place before I could do anything.
Except, I wasn’t a complete idiot, I’d set goobots near the entrance to the park. Before the blur made it even ten feet down the black, asphalt trail, the bots shot forward and exploded all around him. With speedsters you didn’t leave any holes. You hit them from all directions if you could.
I’d programmed them for something like this ages ago and watched it through multiple streams to my implant, some from the goobots themselves and others from spybots covering the park. From them I saw the goo expand at the speedster from all directions, overlapping threads expanding to fill the area, some even shooting above the speedster’s head.
He tried to dodge them anyway. He didn’t manage to dodge all of them, but a lot more than I’d have expected.
Jumping into the air, he shot upward, avoiding most of the goo, but far from all of it. It coated his right leg from the knee down. His left leg got it worse, starting from the middle of his thigh and covering everything down to his boot.
He fell to the ground outside of the gray, gooey, vaguely circular mess, and swung into the asphalt which cracked from the force.
I could use the word “he” to describe him by then. Not only had he slowed down enough to be obviously male, but I actually knew the guy. Well, sort of.
I’d been assaulted by him before. In fact, I’d hit him with one of my earliest batches of goobots.
Back when we’d tried to rescue Cassie from being kidnapped, he’d been in Rook’s Canadian base. I’d hit the guy with goobots and left him there. Shortly after, Rook had flooded his base with nerve gas, leaving me to wonder if I’d killed the speedster indirectly.
Except… Prentkos (Speed in Polish) turned out to be alive and serving on the European Union’s biggest superhero team. Even weirder, though I recognized the guy’s square face, this version of Prentkos looked younger than he’d appeared on the EU’s website. In their pictures, he had threads of gray in his hair. What hair this man’s mask didn’t cover was all brown. In addition, his skin didn’t have any of a middle-aged man’s creases. I pegged him as being around my age.
I didn’t know what that meant outside of the obvious possibilities—time travel, cloning, or… selling out his morals for immortality? None of those options was a good thing.
Worse, even as he began to pull himself up from the ground, he pulled a small spray can from his belt and aimed a mist at the goo.
It began to dissolve.