Spacer Hades & Cerberus 42
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    At the time, however, all I could think about was the dozen guns which were no doubt swiveling around toward me, and it seemed wise to gain some altitude, since Albert was beyond my help and I couldn't see anything but spots. I veered precariously around what turned out to be a news chopper and kept going until finally my vision cleared.
    My teammates had been busy. A puddle of napalm ten feet wide lay burning on the street. Lucky was hanging onto the back of the spider for dear life, and it looked as if our enemies had decided to concede the day. The spider had collapsed its legs and was firing the rockets on the underside of its body. It passed me rapidly as I dodged out of the way and then tried to catch up.
    Things happened very quickly. I saw Lucky jump, staff braced in both hands. She looked as if she might be yelling. What looked like a small escape pod dropped out of the bottom of the spider and streaked away. I was about to chase after it when Scott stuck a pseudopod out through one of the holes Lucky had left and yelled, "We have to get it away from the city!"
    I flew underneath, avoiding the rockets, and saw the opening the pod had left; beyond it lay what looked like a control center, so I landed there and looked around. The weapons had a cybernetic interface I wasn't about to touch, but the flight controls were fairly standard. The power readings, I noticed with that fatalistic sinking feeling I get a lot these days, had spiked into the amber and were inching toward red as the source approached overload. It didn't take me long to figure out how to get us to go up, fast. Just how fast, I didn't quite realize until I punched it and the G's slammed me to the floor as we surged to barely-subsonic speed. From there I managed to nudge us to a slightly less than vertical flight path, and then more or less fell out through the hole.
    It was very cold, and there wasn't a whole lot of air. Free-fall isn't that bad if you can relax and don't let the ground hypnotize you. I passed some time calculating my current velocity and decided my powers had nothing to add to the process. Best to let gravity handle the whole affair, betting that a) I could make it back a slightly more breathable altitude before I passed out, and b) I'd be able to pull out of this dive without killing myself in the process. When I looked up, I saw a small, dark object shoot away from the steadily rising craft at high speed, and then a diffuse grey fog. Scott had bailed out.
    Then the object—a Plovian fusion core, Scott informs me—exploded. He had recognized the look of the technology while he was in there, being of similar make himself, and knew what sort of damage it would do if it exploded anywhere near a populated area, hence his warning to me.
    The light was black. When it imploded again, half of the spider had been neatly sheared away, just gone, and then came the second explosion. If it had been anywhere nearer the ground when it went, it would have taken out most of the city. As it is, Boston got off with the equivalent of a dental x-ray, and Scott, who was between me and explosion, blunted what would otherwise have been a pretty damaging dose for me. What was left of the thing went down well out to sea, where it will no doubt amuse and mutate the local wildlife.
    We made it back to earth and found that Albert had already been taken to the hospital. Lucky proved her name well-chosen; she plunged straight down into Don Aliese's basement. This time she restrained herself; he's under arrest. It would appear that, more or less unintentionally, she's singlehandedly destroyed the Boston Mafia in two days. We're getting really good press—her especially, which I find somewhat ironic. The footage the chopper caught of her bludgeoning the spider is impressive, I have to admit. I wish I thought it would be enough. I wish I could feel certain that, if it is enough, that'll be a good thing.
    Anyway, she took off before I could talk to her. Chandler's place, I guess. Am I angry, because she always seems to run from her problems to him? Or envious that she has somewhere, someone to run to?
    Since it doesn't look as if Albert's going to be awake and talking for a while, Scott and I went on home. I was seriously considering calling it a day when the door buzzed. It was Ellis and a costumed stranger with a duffle bag.
    "Senator. This is a pleasant surprise." Sort of.
    "Oh, hi, Needle. This is Hans Schmidtt, the Promethean," he introduced the man with him.
    "Pleased to meet you," a polite, German-accented voice murmured as we shook hands. He's a big man, not quite Phoenix's size, but large and well-built, with more sense of solidity; maybe it's just that he actually makes noise when he moves. His costume is tight, blue, with a flame on the chest, and it covers his entire body except for the top of his head, exposing a very blonde crew cut.
    He was supposed to have been here when Albert arrived, but had gotten delayed in his move from Denver, where he's been working for the past year with the Black Watch. He can fly, has plasma control powers and some military and tactical training. Sounds useful. Hard to judge him right off the bat like this, but he doesn't have an attitude, and I'll take what I can get these days.

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© 1999 Rebecca J. Stevenson