I couldn’t stop fidgeting. I knew it was driving Kade nuts and an angry Kade was a scary Kade, but I couldn’t stop. I didn’t know how he did it. I was really trying, but sitting, completely still and silent for hours on a rooftop was impossible. For anyone but him. Seriously, there were sparrows occasionally landing on him like he was a statue. I might not be able to stop myself from shifting position or scratching itches that kept popping up, but at least I wouldn’t need to wash bird crap out of my clothes later.
Another subtle wave of annoyance wafted off of him and I tried again to keep still. This mission sucked. After all the training I’d been doing, and admittedly failing horribly at, I’d hoped that the actual missions were going to be exciting, James Bond style. This was not what I’d signed on for. Not that I’d technically ever signed on, but…
The muffled pop of Kade’s shots through his rifle’s silencer startled me out of my reverie. Was something actually happening? It must be or he wouldn’t be shooting. I peeked over the edge of the building and saw the remains of several guys in black pajamas surrounded by twitching, broken robots…also in black pajamas. Oh. They were all robots.
Kade had stopped taking them out with his disturbingly accurate head shots and I was about to ask about that, when he grabbed my collar and yanked us below the building ledge. Something or things whizzed through the air where our heads had just been. That would have sucked.
“Did you see the one with the canister?” Uh oh, Kade was talking to me.
“Uh, no.” He sighed in frustration. This must be like a bad babysitting job for him.
“One of them has a canister with a blue-green, glowing substance in it. That’s our target. I will get the one carrying it to drop it and take out the rest. You just get that canister and head to the fall back location.”
“Roger that.” I gave him a mock salute. He just stared at me for a moment before sighing.
“Don’t screw this up, Eli.” Before I could lie about how great I was gonna do, he was already over the ledge, rappelling from a line he’d somehow grappling-hooked to the ledge when I wasn’t looking. I guess he’d come back for his rifle later.
I could hear him fighting below already, probably with his combat knife. I had fantasies where I could kick butt with a weapon like that, just as awesome as him, but deep down, I knew that was never going to happen. I wasn’t very athletic, possessed no great reflexes or hand-eye coordination and honestly I didn’t like working out or getting hurt.
Finally, I found my rappelling-handle-thing. I knew that it had a real name, but I hadn’t really been paying attention when Kade went over our equipment. If I had, I probably would have found it sooner. Fumbling for a bit, I hooked my belt safety latch to the rappel line and clipped the handle on. Holding it tightly, I awkwardly climbed over the ledge. How did he make this look so easy?
Willing my hammering heart to be calm, I squeezed the handle and almost screamed as I suddenly dropped. I released the pressure on the handle and came to a jerking halt, the belt latch catching me as my hands ripped free of the grip. Oww.
Flailing around as I hung off my belt connector, I finally managed to grab the handle again. Ok. Squeeze it slowly. Good tip. By gently and carefully depressing the switch, I found that I didn’t fall quite so fast and was less likely to splat onto the pavement below. Unfortunately, it also took forever to get down. Honestly, this was not exactly how I had pictured my first trip to New York City.
Feet on solid ground again, I clumsily unhooked myself and turned around. All the pajama robots were down, except for the one with the canister. It and Kade were moving too fast for me to really follow, but when he managed to land a kick to its torso, I saw the canister fly out of its hand.
Excited that I was actually going to get to do something, I ran to catch it, like I was a quarterback in an important football game. I didn’t get far. The robot spontaneously sprouted an extra pair of arms, one of which shot out to grab the airborne canister.
Alas, that was the exact moment Kade buried his combat knife up to the hilt in the thing’s face. His strike must have caused some kind of malfunction, because instead of grabbing the canister, it attacked it, piercing it with its fingertips. Glowing goo went flying everywhere, but mostly towards me. Well crap.
Unable to move out of the way quickly enough, I cringed as it splattered all over me. Gross. It was soaking through my shirt and oozing between my hairs into my scalp. I had managed to close my eyes and mouth at least. Thank goodness for small favors.
I could hear agonized screaming, not far away from me. Kade? What could make Kade scream like that? I was so dead. Bracing myself for whatever was obviously mauling my partner, I reached up and wiped the goop out of my eyes, blinking rapidly as I futilely attempted to clean my hands on my slimy pants.
I looked around frantically, but didn’t immediately see Kade among the robot parts. The screaming had died down. Maybe he got away. And just ditched me here. I couldn’t exactly blame him. I would probably have ditched me too if I could have. Wait. There was a lump by the robot with the combat knife in its face.
I approached it cautiously. It became bigger as it started to rise. Was this the thing that took out Kade? Suddenly it turned to face me and I couldn’t breathe. Oh. My. God. I was standing with my face mere inches from the beak of a six foot tall giant sparrow. It screeched angrily at me and the world began spinning as I fell backwards colliding with the pavement.