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Authors: Michael Carroll

Super Human (28 page)

BOOK: Super Human
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“We’ve met,” Brawn rumbled.
Roz pursed her lips. “I know where The Helotry are going, and I know what they’re going to try to do. Exactly
how
they’re going to do it, I have no idea. But we’ve got to try to stop them. What about Thunder and Lance?”
Abby shook her head. “We were just heading into the town to see if we could find them.” She stepped aside so that Roz could see the armored Helotry soldier sitting slumped over on the edge of the road. “We were trying to question this guy but he passed out.”
“All right. Get in.” Then Roz looked at Brawn, and considered the size of the camper van. “Get
on
. Hope this thing can take your weight.”
The camper swayed and its roof buckled as Brawn climbed up. “Just don’t go under any low bridges!” he shouted.
Abby ran around to the passenger side and climbed in. “Let’s go.”
Roz floored the accelerator. “You sure we can trust him? Guy gives me the creeps.”
“We need him. Besides, he saved my life. You should have
seen
him. He beat up one of the armored cars with another armored car. That’s the kind of power we can use.”
“Abby, he’s a villain!”
“So’s Pyrokine, and we didn’t let that stop us from trying to recruit
him
.”
Roz considered this. “All right, you’ve got a point there.”
They passed through the center of the town. It looked smaller and much less threatening in daylight. The black shell of the burned-out car and several shattered windows were the only clear signs of the previous night’s battle. Even their army truck was gone.
“Helotry must have cleaned up their stuff,” Abby said as the truck slowed to a stop. “Me and Thunder left a good number of them lying around before we had to split up.”
“What about Lance? When did you last see him?”
“Just before Slaughter grabbed you something burned through the doors—but there wasn’t any heat, only light. Must have been Pyrokine. I kicked out the windshield and threw Lance out onto the street. We saw him staggering into one of the stores . . .” She opened the door and jumped out. “Lance!”
Her voice echoed around the square. After a moment she called again, “Lance!”
Brawn jumped down from the camper van’s roof. “This the guy you were talking about? The human?” She nodded.
The blue giant straightened up, filled his massive lungs, and bellowed,
“LANCE!”
Abby jumped. The echo seemed to go on forever. Hundreds of startled birds took to the air, dogs for miles around began barking and howling.
Brawn gave Abby a yellow-toothed grin. “That oughta do the trick.”
 
 
Hiding behind wooden packing crates at the dark end of the narrow corridor, Lance felt Thunder grab his arm. “What?”
So far they had discovered that the entire apartment building belonged to The Helotry. They had managed to sneak down four floors without being seen, but they still had three more floors to go, and the ground floor was packed with soldiers. Getting out without being seen would be almost impossible.
“I just heard someone calling your name,” Thunder said. “It was pretty far away too. Several miles.”
“Abby or Roz?” Lance was using the guard’s knife to prize open the lid of one of the crates.
“Neither. It was a guy.”
“Oh. Well, maybe he’s looking for a different Lance.” He inserted the small knife into the gap under the lid and jabbed at the hilt with the heel of his palm.
“Right. Because it’s such a common name.”
“There’s nothing wrong with the name Lance!”
Thunder grinned. “What’s it short for? Lancelot?”
“No, it’s just Lance. My folks just liked the sound of it.”
“You’re lying, Lancelot,” Thunder said. “I can tell by your heartbeat. Lancelot, like the Knight of the Round Table. Well, that’d make me King Arthur.”
“No way! If anyone’s King Arthur, it’s me. You’re . . . I dunno. One of the ones no one ever remembers.”
“So who’s Guinevere, then? Roz or Abby? It’s Abby, isn’t it? Your heart went into overdrive the first time you saw her.”
Lance felt his face flush. “Give it a rest!” He popped the crate’s lid and peered inside. “Looks like another one of the jetpacks they copied from Paragon.”
“Think we could use it to get out of here?”
“No. Paragon said the other one was a death trap. I don’t know how to control it anyway. But
this
might come in handy.” He reached into the crate and pulled out a metal cylinder about the length and thickness of his arm, and passed it to Thunder.
Thunder read the letters stenciled on the side. “Whoa, it’s heavy. N
2
O
4
slash H
2
O
2
... That’s dinitrogen tetroxide and hydrogen peroxide. This is the fuel the jetpack uses?”
“Yep. We’re taking it. If they don’t have fuel they can’t fly after us.”
“They might have another supply.”
“Good point.” Lance used the knife to slice through the jetpack’s straps. “
Now
I’d like to see them fly it.”
“Get ready,” Thunder said. “OK, next floor down’s clear.”
Lance slipped the knife back into the back of his jeans, then hauled the cylinder onto his shoulder.
With Thunder leading the way, they darted out from behind the packing crates, along the corridor and down a flight of stairs. They didn’t need to worry about moving quietly—Thunder had them cocooned in a bubble of silence.
They stopped before they reached the next floor. Thunder listened for a moment, nodded, and they continued down.
Thunder stopped on the metal stairway halfway between the second floor and the first. “Just had a thought. . . . How long has it been since we got out of the room?”
Lance slapped his palm against his forehead. “You’re right. The guard said he wasn’t due to check us for another fifteen minutes. It’s got to be that long already.” He sniffed. “Smell that? Fresh air! We’re close to a door. . . . Want to make a run for it?”
Thunder hesitated. “Even if we do get away, how are we going to find Roz and Abby? Can you drive?”
“Officially? No.”
“Unofficially?”
“Uh, that’d also be no. But how hard can it be? You steer the steering wheel the way you want the car to go, and you press the pedals or something.”
Thunder rolled his eyes. “Then it’s a good thing
I
can drive. Well, kind of. A bit.”
“All right then. . . . Can you use your power to tell us where the door is?”
“Yeah, it’s . . . Oh no.”
A voice from the floor above said, “That’s far enough. Stay exactly where you are or we
will
open fire.”
Lance slowly turned to look back up the stairs. Two of The Helotry’s guards were looking down at them, both with their weapons aimed.
There was a scuffle of footsteps and four more guards appeared on the floor below. “Hands on your heads!
Now!

Lance carefully lowered the fuel cylinder onto the step at his feet, then raised his arms. “OK, you caught us. But do we get points for trying?”
“Shut up, McKendrick!” Lance saw that it was Remington, the guard who’d threatened to choke him. “Any more of your mouth and I swear . . .”
“All right, all right!” Lance said. “But just so you know, this thing at my feet is one of the fuel cells from the jetpack you guys made. It’s a mixture of . . . Well, I can’t remember what it’s called.”
“Dinitrogen tetroxide and hydrogen peroxide,” Thunder said.
“Yeah, what he said. Anyway, it’s extremely unstable. You’ll notice that it’s resting against my foot. And that we’re standing on a metal staircase. If any of you shoot, all I have to do is give this thing a nudge. It hits a few steps down and it’s sayonara. You get what I’m saying? There’d be nothing left of this building but a crater with red bits in it.”
Some of the guards stepped back.
“Drop your guns,” Lance said. “I’m serious. I’m more than willing to blow the lot of us to kingdom come.”
The old woman’s voice could be heard from farther down the corridor. “Do what the boy says. You will allow them to leave unharmed.”
The guards reluctantly lowered their weapons.
Thunder said, “In case you’re thinking of changing your minds, just remember that even from miles away I can rupture that cylinder with a sonic burst.”
Lance and Thunder exchanged a glance, nodded at the same time, and they resumed their descent.
The guards watched them with stone faces and sullen eyes as they made their way along the final corridor and pushed open the outer door. Another dozen weapons were suddenly pointing at them.
Remington followed them out. “Stand down! Let them pass!”
The building was part of a complex of identical apartment blocks, with a small road winding away through a landscaped green area. The large parking lot at the front of the building was lined with two dozen jeeps.
Lance tried to walk as though he was a lot more confident than he felt. “Step aside there, ladies. The good guys are comin’ through!”
Thunder whispered, “Jeez, Lance! Don’t push it!”
“Think you can handle that?” Lance asked, pointing to the nearest vehicle.
Thunder walked around to the driver’s side, and climbed in. “Yeah, it’s an automatic.”
“Cool.” Lance turned to Remington. “Keys?”
The man scowled, then tossed a set of keys to Lance, who snatched them out of the air.
“Thanks. Have a good one, guys. It’s been fun. Next time we’ll hold the party at my place, OK?”
Through gritted teeth, Thunder muttered, “Will you just stop showing off and get in?”
After a couple of minutes and several undignified false starts, Thunder got the jeep moving. It surged away from the apartment complex.
Lance let out a deep breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding. “Oh man, that was intense! OK, Thunder. . . . Find us somewhere to hide. We don’t know how to get to the power plant but they do—we’ll wait until they pass and follow them.”
“Good thinking.”
“I don’t do any other kind.” He grinned. “They’re going to be so mad when they figure it out!”
“Yeah,” Thunder said. After a moment, he added, “Wait, figure
what
out?”
“That you were faking the old woman’s voice again.”
“Oh. No, that wasn’t me.”
“What?
Seriously?
Man, I was wrong—it was
double
-intense!”
Thunder suddenly laughed. “You realize we just talked our way out of the enemy’s HQ?”
Lance couldn’t help grinning. “Yeah. More than once I thought we were dead for sure.” He laughed.
“Hey, if they find us, we’re definitely toast.”
For some reason that made Lance laugh even harder. With tears in his eyes, he said, “They’re trying to bring about the end of the world and
we stole their jeep
!”
Thunder snickered. “There’ll be a bunch of them left behind going, ‘It’s not fair! We’re going to miss it!’ and they’ll all be squeezed into the other jeeps and some of them will have guys sitting on their laps!”
Lance was doubled over clutching his stomach. “Right! Or they’ll be going, ‘Now we have to get the bus! Oh, wait, there
aren’t
any buses because we infected everyone with a plague and they’re all going to die!’”
They both instantly stopped laughing.
Lance put his hand over his mouth. “Oh man.”
CHAPTER 28
Slaughter strode toward the main entrance doors of the Windfield nuclear power plant. In the parking lot behind her, six large trucks—now empty—were preparing to leave.
A guard saluted as he approached, and unrolled a large blueprint. “We’re just about finished with the alterations. You were right—the layout is a perfect match for the plant in Midway.”
She held the blueprint up to the light. “Excellent work.” She gave the man a cold smile. “Once this is done, we’ll break the Midway team out of prison.”
The man saluted again, glanced at the teenaged boy beside Slaughter, and resumed his post outside the door.
The boy was wearing an old pair of jeans and a T-shirt. He was barefoot, had close-cropped blond hair and dark brown eyes. As he followed her into the building, he said, “We’ve still got some time to go. So what’s the plan exactly?”
“We need to hook you up to the output from the reactor.”
“And it’s safe, right?”
“Of course it is. You’re the most valuable member of the team. You’re the last one we’d put at risk.”
He considered that. “All right, then. What about those kids back in Oak Grove? They’re not going to come along and mess things up, are they?” He paused for a moment, frowned. “There was something about that girl that . . .”
Slaughter placed a hand on his shoulder. “They’ve been taken care of. Trust me.”
He looked around the expansive lobby. Guards and engineers were filing out of the side rooms in groups of two and three. “So the Fifth King really
was
real, then?”
BOOK: Super Human
3.07Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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