Agent Thorton slammed on the brakes when he saw the body flying out the hole in the building and bounce twice off the pavement. The 16-ton Stryker vehicle fishtailed as it slid to a stop.
“Everyone out,” yelled Lieutenant Caldwell from the gunner position to the Enhanced behind him as the rear ramp lowered.
The Bravo company commander frowned when he counted the seven training recruits as they dismounted. When the emergency distress beacon alerted Bravo company, he ordered every Enhanced at the celebration to the Strykers. He knew Cortex was not there, he had activated his EComm . And now, Justice was also missing. He was their only true heavy hitter. He just hoped it did not come to that. He hated her but Jury would have been helpful, but she left the Celebration for the airport earlier with Director Lehrer. At least he still had a mentalist with Nightmare tagging along.
When he ordered Net to ping Justice’s EComm, the GPS coordinates returned to Cortex’s location. He would find out later what Justice and Cortex were doing on this side of town, but now he needed to secure the area. It looked like a war zone on the street with injured all over the sidewalk and a body in the middle of the street.
“Lady J,” said Lieutenant Caldwell, “sorry, Archangel, I need Turbulence in the air for recon…. “
The top of the Stryker suddenly exploded in a fireball. Then the sky rained death.
* * *
“RPG!” shouted Net as Stryker rocked back and forth, the gunner’s position taking the direct hit.
The crowd on the street fled, including the Metro officers, leaving many of the injured laying on the street as green tracer rounds ignited and zipped down from the rooftops. Archangel, Michael, Turbulence, Solid Copy and Trauma took cover behind the Stryker. Michael watched the others run into the nearby building as bullet ricochets popped around them.
Michael reached up and grabbed Agent Thorton as he climbed out the driver’s hatch. The agent was coughing as grey smoke poured out of the Stryker vehicle. He could hear Trauma and Turbulence calling in the rear for Lieutenant Caldwell. The sound of gunfire continued to echo between the buildings . He had no idea how many shooters they had or which buildings they were hiding on.
“Are you okay,” Archangel asked shouting over the sound of the automatic gunfire raking the side of their cover vehicle.
Thorton, leaning against the Stryker coughing, gave a thumbs up.
“Net,” Archangel called over the EComm. “This is Archangel.”
“Go,” Net responded.
“Anyone hit?” she asked.
“Not a scratch. We’re hanging out in the building just northwest of you.”
“Copy. Can you get into the city web servers?”
Net laughed. “Does a bear shit in the woods?”
“Grab any closed-circuit TV feeds in this area. Try to find out how many shooters we have. And warn the other Stryker. Tell the rest of Bravo we have heavily armed assailants with automatic weapons and explosives. They need to keep the civilians out of the area.”
“Got it,” Net answered.
“We need to get into that building,” Archangel said to Michael, pointing to the building 100 feet in front of them. Michael immediately noticed the large hole in the side of it two stories up and a body laying in the middle of the street next to it. It looked like someone blew the furniture all over the street. That must be Cortex or another mentalist.
Several bullets ricocheted off the Stryker as Archangel pointed. Michel pulled her back as the gunmen sprayed the area, glass shattering and brick facades exploding into powder.
Michael glanced behind him as Trauma and Turbulence pulled Lieutenant Caldwell and laid him next to Thorton. He looked in bad shape, burns slashed across his head and blood seeping from several deep cuts. Trauma started working on him, telling his body to close the wounds and heal itself.
“I’ll do it,” Michael said.
“No way,” Archangel replied shaking her head. “We have no idea if you are bulletproof.”
“I’m not going to run,” Michael said with a wink. Suddenly a man-sized portal appeared in front of Michael. He turned his head another portal opened up in front the door. The portals linked together. With an increased shift of mass to the foot and a hard kick, Michael easily snapped opened the locked steel security door.
“How?” Archangel asked with her mouth wide open. “When?”
“You can thank Jury later,” Michael smiled as he jumped through his portal. He would find Justice and Cortex as the rest of the group battled the gunmen.
* * *
“We can’t stay here,” Archangel said as she sent a lightning bolt strafing across the rooftop edge. Several bricks dislodged, crashing down on the street but she knew the gunman was not hit. At this range, he had the advantage.
“Solid, how’s your flying?” Archangel asked as she ducked down before the gunman returned fire. “I’ll coordinate from here. Once we get the shooter, we can move on his friends.”
“I’ll get him,” Solid said confidently.
“Scimitar, get on the roof and provide cover for Nightmare. We need to hit these guys from multiple angles.”
“Copy,” Scimitar replied.
“On our way,” Nightmare said.
“I know I’m not as fast, Solid, but…” Archangel said too late.
Solid Copy shifted his form to Turbulence and launched in the air as the green tracers chased him.
“Wei, no! Change into me!” Archangel screamed as the tracers found their target. She could only watch helplessly as Solid Copy’s hand exploded in to red mist and chunks of his cheek peeled off as he was struck. He had Turbulence’s power, but also her weakness.
He immediately lost momentum and tumbled slowly as he fell back to the street. The last thing Wei would remember was the rapidly approaching asphalt.