One nice thing about allowing the Rocket suit to be controlled through my implant is that I didn’t have to move to try to contact South Beach Surfer. Before my implant, I’d have had to tap my the gauntlet’s palm with my finger or worse, use the Rocket suit’s mouthguard and tap with my tongue.
For the record, texting with your tongue is tedious beyond my ability to explain.
With the implant’s connection, all I had to do was think to try to connect to her ID in the Defenders comm directory. Once the connection was made, I thought to her, “Help me with these people. We’ll sort this out afterward.”
It couldn’t be translated into audible words as soon as I could think of it. That might have explained what happened next. It’s possible that she was concentrating too hard on what she was doing to process the words or that the translation was confusing.
League members understood me perfectly, though, so it seemed more likely that she didn’t want to listen.
A blast of air threw me sideways, tilting the truck behind me, but not flipping it over. With the wind’s angle changing from sideways to straight down from above me, the wind stopped pushing me and tried to pin me to the ground instead. As I rolled over and began to push myself up, I couldn’t help but notice that the Cabal soldier had turned around, grabbed Prentkos, and jumped away. The pickup roared away at the same time.
It didn’t surprise me that she ignored them, but I still didn’t feel good about it. Judging from the number of text messages on the channel, the rest of the team agreed with me—not that I tried to check the texts. If they wanted my attention, they’d flag me.
Not even bothering to try to contact her, I pushed myself up to a crawl. If I wanted to hurt her, my best shot would be the laser and I didn’t want to do that. This was either a misunderstanding or mind control. Neither one justified the death penalty.
Over the comm, Kayla said, “I’ve redirected part of the team to your parents’ house. We’re hoping to talk the Duhfenders down with the rest of the team.”
“Duhfenders?” I braced myself as water shot out of the storm grate to knock me sideways. It almost pushed me enough to lose my grip on the holes I’d punched in the road.
“Storm King’s name for Major Justice and company,” Kayla’s tone made me almost certain she was shaking her head as she said it.
Thinking about my chances of getting out of her wind if I jumped and fired the rockets full blast, I said, “Figures.”
“Bad news,” Kayla continued, “Major Justice didn’t like my answers to his questions. He’s going to try to call you now.”
I might have groaned in response, but I didn’t have time. Major Justice’s call appeared in my HUD. I took it because I didn’t have any better ideas and knew that if I stalled long enough we’d outnumber them.
The first words I heard out of Major Justice’s mouth were, “Surrender! We outnumber you and we’ve seen what you’re doing. You nearly killed both of those men.”
“No,” I said, watching the podjet above me lower itself to about 100 feet above me. The door slid open to reveal Mime sitting in the doorway, arms held as if he were aiming a machine gun down at me. I wondered if he created a real thing or if I were lucky enough that the beliefs of the observer affected what he’d brought into being. On the off-chance that might be true, I chose to imagine it as a Nerf machine gun.
If he created it for real, I hoped mimed guns didn’t ricochet and misses disappeared. The people passing on the nearby freeway didn’t deserve to be blown away.
“No,” I repeated. “They were here to kill someone I’m protecting. The Cabal soldier will be healed by tomorrow if not earlier. Give the other guy to any psychic you’ve got and you’ll find out his mission. At least you could do that if you go after him right now.”
Up in the podjet, a figure moved, maybe looking in the direction where Prentkos and the Cabal soldier had disappeared.
Major Justice, if that was him, said, “Too late. They disappeared. Surrender to us. Explain everything you wouldn’t before and we’ll check it out.”
“That’s not going to happen until we know we can trust you and we’re not seeing any signs of that so far,” I said. “What we are seeing is that you’re interfering with our business without any right to.”
Major Justice laughed, “I’m a vigilante. You’re vigilantes. Butting into other people’s business is what we do and now that you’ve shown that you’re impervious to reason, we’re going to take you down and take you in.”
Mime pulled his trigger finger toward himself, his hands shaking as if they were hanging onto a firing machine gun. A few of whatever missiles an imaginary machine gun fired hit me. Others hit the street around me, throwing bits of asphalt into the air.
My armor could take the punishment, but for the record, they weren’t Nerf missiles. They hit with enough force that I felt it.
Deciding I couldn’t stay in one place for a moment longer, I darted sideways toward the other side of the road and the freeway, guessing that there had to be a point where the winds stopped. I only needed seconds of that.
I was right.
The winds buffeted me on one side and then switched to another, trying to knock me over again, but this time I was expecting it. The Rocket suit could generate tons of force if I wanted it to and I used it, bracing myself whenever it hit.
By the time I hit the other side of the road, I’d moved outside of the blasting wind. Knowing I had seconds or less, I gave the rockets fuel and shot forward across the ground, aiming for South Beach Surfer and her surfboard, thankful that the freeway was above the ground inside the city. Any bullets aimed at me would hit far below the cars.
If I could take South Beach Surfer out, this would become easier.