Very much like the one he'd downed in the wash. Except this one appeared to have weapons. Might be larger, hard to judge with so little around it to scale against, or give a distance . . .
He hit the maneuvering jets and backed away.
Came out of the radar shadow of the rock and picked up the Space Force planes. Grinning and looked back at the comm. "Missed me! Hey, would you mind trying a nuke next? I've always wanted to see what one of those really looked like in space."
And we'd better see what one does to these things before we're out of time to experiment with other options.
He eyed the . . . Robo-space-squid is a bit much . . . Hell they look like H. G. Welles Martians.
Not going to go there. They're Squids.
He put his left index finger against the plex. Thought carefully about gathering energy six inches away from his finger.
The squid beat him to the trigger, spat out a pair of glowing globs . . . He hadn't gathered much energy, but he spread it out in a disk and got it in front of the globs . . . that sailed through it as if it wasn't there.
"Not energy? Not good!" He hit the maneuvering jets and tried a gravity dimple below them to divert . . . they rose.
"What?" Gravity pits above.
The glowing globs sank and hit the rock. Double bright flash, the radiation alarms blared . . .
Doctor Inferno stretched out his arms and sucked it all in.
Looked back at the squid. The radiation hadn't hurt it a bit. Nukes aren't going to work.
A deep gravity pit in front of it and it flew back . . . stabilized . . . slid off into the shadows as the slow roll turned the top side away from the sun.
Will shivered, and maneuvered around the rock again. A moment to orient himself, the rock's spin was going to be a problem . . . not to mention the debris cloud from the missile strike . . . but it was a very slow spin, so he could just make contact . . . right there felt good . . . and go to full throttle again.
"Is it safe to come out now?" Mike, calling from the back.
Oh shit! Did I absorb enough energy that the hull could deal with the rest of the radiation? I had the nose pointing that way, but the leading edge hit before I realized . . .
"Yep. C'mon out, we're back to pushing now." Will eyed them. "Got used to the zero G and 3D maneuvers did you?"
Kelly blushed. "Yeah. Sorry about the barfing, earlier."
Mike grinned. "I feel great now!"
Will looked them over. Frowned and flicked off the comm. "You two are not Supers."
Mike snorted. "They call us Very Normals. Most DSMD agents are."
Kelly nodded. "We're not Super at all, but we are Very Healthy, Very Strong, Very long lived . . . and all that. Somewhere back in our ancestry we've got some Supers. But I haven't a clue which one."
"Or ones." Mike shrugged. "They just say the healthy genes and such are getting diluted into the general gene pool, and that you Super types had a few unbelievable things that have mostly disappeared. And that pretty soon there won't be much difference between people with a few of the genes and the top thirtieth percentile."
Will nodded. "Genetics isn't my field, but even I know that Super attributes were generally caused by the combined effects of dozens of genes. Just one or two won't do anything extraordinary."
And I hope to hell that your bright-eyed health is a result of Energy genes getting a dose of radiation . . . and grabbing it so nothing else was damaged.
He eyed his chart. "We need about two hours of pushing to get this rock clear of the Earth, and the more often we get interrupted, the longer we'll have to push . . . and there's only about . . . three hours! Damn!"
He leaned over toward the comm. "Hey Captain Whatever! Have your people confirmed that we're helping, not hindering?"
"Listen you mutant menace . . ."
"What do your scientists say you ought to be doing to this damned rock? What do they want you to do with it?"
"By the time we get there? Blast the hell out of it so as large a percentage as possible will burn up in the atmosphere and shrink the size of the main mass so it will only devastate a region, not a hemisphere, and minimize the global effects."
"Damn. What depressing orders. Well, hopefully by the time you start shooting again, I'll have it far enough north and sped up enough that if it doesn't miss altogether, your tactics will make a lot of it miss, and rest hit the very high latitudes."
"We don't trust you."
"Noticed that." Will also noticed the missile lock light flashing. "What type are you trying this time? Really, this encounter of ours is going to be such an excellent source of space fighting strategy! Can't you just see all the term papers at the Space Academy the bright-eyed cadets will produce?"
"We don't have a Space Academy."
"I know. Isn't that a shame? But I'm sure that will change. Eventually." He backed off the throttle and shifted Abby a bit. Back to full throttle.
I've burned through three-fourths of my fuel. This could get even more "interesting" before we're through.
"And we don't have a missile lock on you. The Russians, however . . ."
Will shook his head. "I'm still old, dammit. Focusing on one problem and forgetting the rest . . . Damn! Looks like they really mean it. Thirty minutes to the first impact, with the next two back enough for maneuvering. This is going to be interesting . . . especially if the spin brings the sphere side around to face them."
Will cut throttles and shifted his push point to well around to the side and throttled up again.
I'll have to cut it close, or this hunk of metal is going to hit the Earth and make a really nasty mess . . . looks like I've got it on shore now, and it'll keep going . . . If I can get back to pushing!
He looked at the radar, the vector arrows . . . Russian missiles first, USSF Space planes second . . . Brits and Chinese in a race for third . . .