I caught a glimpse of the Cabal soldier and Prentkos gaining altitude and then hitting the top of the arc and beginning to drop. He’d been traveling the same way the strongest of the Cabal’s soldiers always had—jumping half a mile or more at a time.
It made me regret that we couldn’t cover the entire city with spybots. I placed the ones we had near roads where you could run at hundreds of miles per hour on outskirts and located them thicker near my parents’ house—with the effect that this guy could avoid notice until he got close purely by accident.
Prentkos had probably called him in somehow.
Letting those thoughts go, I watched as the Cabal soldier and Prentkos disappeared through the trees followed by the sound of shattering and ripping wood.
I’d sometimes wondered if the Cabal had a system to control where they landed. This argued that they didn’t worry about it because they didn’t care what they hit.
This soldier had hit a two-car garage that might have been a carriage house in the late 1800s. The undamaged side had been painted in red and gold that in someone’s imagination resembled what it used to look like. They’d hit the front left corner, turning the damaged side into a mix of paint, old, splintered wood, and a crushed, white jeep.
Car alarms were going off for all the good that would do.
Of course, they didn’t stay on the ground. The soldier jumped off again, still carrying Prentkos before I even arrived. This time, though, he jumped eastward, aiming toward the freeway that ran through, the same freeway we’d fought the Grey Giant on the first time we went out as a group. More importantly, it was full of cars in the early afternoon, ranging from business people out for lunch to semi-trucks to parents who’d picked up their kids from kindergarten.
In short, it wasn’t the kind of place you wanted to see those guys land.
Connecting to my suit’s comm with my implant, I said, “It looks like they’re going down the highway. I’m going to try to keep him off. We may need the jet.”
That was a worst-case scenario because the jet’s main gun would incinerate them both, but it might still be less deaths than if he took a chunk out of the freeway.
In the meantime, the Cabal soldier had come down again, this time landing in an alley, leaving smashed concrete and a circle of cracks before shooting into the air again, this time closing on the highway. Passing over the neighborhood of century-old houses, some of them with cars in the driveway, I was relieved that no one had been hit or even a house. It might be nothing to a two-thousand-year-old soldier, but your average person would be facing a nightmare of insurance companies, hotel stays, and hiring contractors.
I had to end this before he used the freeway’s relatively clear shot out of town, but he wasn’t making it easy. According to the suit, I was flying at more than 300 miles per hour, which wasn’t a situation in which the bots were at their best.
As they hit a road between the freeway and a row of old brick factories whose glory days had passed before the 1950s, I went with my other option, a weapon I tried not to fire in populated areas—my laser.
The Cabal soldier crouched in the road, preparing to leap again while a blue pickup truck screeched to a stop in front of him, the driver screaming out the window. That’s when I fired.
The laser burned blue, searing through the soldier’s lower back, thigh, and lower leg. The man’s black uniform offered no obvious protection.
Falling to his side in front of the truck, he let go of Prentkos who seemed to be better enough to pull himself out of the soldier’s grip and hit the pavement on his own terms. I missed the details, but he rolled into a crawl and dragged himself off the road and onto the grass and dirt parkway between the road and the sidewalk.
This would have been perfect if it had occurred to the bearded man in the pickup truck that his way was being blocked by a 2000-year-old man who had no issues with the idea of turning him into a bloody paste. Unfortunately, it must not have and he kept on screaming. The Cabal soldier sneered at him, beginning to pull himself up.
Not wanting to find out what would happen next, I dove, flipping over, turning around, and landing between the two of them with an agility that was more to the credit of my programming skill than my acrobatic skill.
Now behind me, the man in the pickup took the hint and began to back up and go in the other direction. To my left, Prentkos pulled himself up to watch us mid-crawl. Ahead of me, the Cabal soldier’s face grimaced in a mixture of pain and some other negative emotion. I wasn’t sure what hate looked like but the man’s glare might have been in the vicinity.
I pointed the laser at him, “Don’t move. Whether I shoot you in the heart or the balls, you’re not going to like it.”
I didn’t know if any of the other members of the Cabal’s army ever mentioned how effective lasers were against them and their regeneration, but his limp and the holes in his body had to be a clue. He didn’t charge me.
With no warning, Kayla’s voice came through my comm, “Major Justice is shouting at us about how you need to stop and let him handle this.”
At about the same time, I saw a podjet become visible in the sky above me while a woman on a surfboard dove toward me at a higher speed than I’d have expected if she wanted to talk.