Even though the staring contest lasted all of two seconds, Ryan’s eyes watered and he wanted to blink. The huge alien burst into motion, a massive fist speeding right at Ryan. But he wasn’t there, static jumped through his muscles as his suit boosted his speed and reaction time. The alien’s attack passed through empty air.
The staff licked out, the one good end hitting the big, ugly face. The alien was stunned for a moment, but recovered quickly. The fight raged on every side, but for the moment the two of them were the eye of the storm.
Ryan knew what Theo was thinking, because he knew how his partner worked, but mainly because his friend was screaming it through the neural link.
“Attack. Now, while that staff is still working.”
Ryan didn’t know how, but he knew that would be a mistake. His greatest advantage wasn’t the staff, it was his speed. The alien wanted him to attack. It wanted him in reach. Ryan took a moment to look at the rest of the battle. The first thing that tipped him off was that he wasn’t getting swarmed, even though aliens were all around him. Then he noticed the aliens weren’t swarming the defenders either.
They had pushed out from their hole in the hangar roof and moved to one side, but then they’d stopped. The soldiers were completely outnumbered and running low on ammo. They’d stunned dozens of aliens, but two more had taken the place of every one they’d dropped.
Then he saw it. The aliens weren’t attacking, they were defending too. They had put themselves right between the soldiers and the alien antenna. It was sitting in a corner of the hangar, hooked up to some machines that’d been forgotten during the attack. Ryan’s suit magnified the image. Those machines were covered in blinking red warning lights.
The large alien looked back at the antenna and then at Ryan. Again, even though darkened glass covered his face, the alien looked right into his eyes. It knew he knew. Before Ryan could even think about warning Theo, the alien rushed him. Only the suit’s automated responses stopped him from being crushed. Electricity coursed through his legs, forcing his muscles to contract along with the suit.
His feet hadn’t touched the ground yet when the alien caught up to him again. A backhand hit his chest. Ryan felt his ribs bend. The pain was so bad he thought some might be broken. It didn’t help that he bounced along the ground, rolling onto his injuries over and over.
He was even farther away from the antenna, and the huge alien was directly between him and it. He’d need some help with this one.
“Theo, you there?” he thought.
“Kind of in the middle of something.”
That something was throwing an alien off his back into a group of three others.
“It’s the antenna. I think it’s giving off some kind of signal,” Ryan thought.
“I’m guessing it’s not a good signal.”
“No, probably not. I’m going to need your help getting past Big Bertha here.”
Ryan could almost hear Theo’s mental sigh. “I was hoping you’d be able to take that one solo. This is going to hurt.”