Three levels up, in a flurry of fire, din, explosions, and shouts. Bullets whizzed past his head; flame throwers singed his hair; shrapnel from crudely constructed bombs streaked over his body as he hit the floor. The picture-commands from Molly came in swift sequence, showing him his next action before he took it. Three precise shots of a first-generation pulse pistol to knock a chunk of ceiling onto two Gemini mutants, spin, a spray of bullets to send the Anarchists United foot soldiers ducking for cover, a quick spurt forward, launching off the struggling Gemini mutants, a spin kick into a Yang pupil, touch solid ground, roll for cover as a rocket raced down the hall, exploding against the hasty barriers of tables, cabinets, and electronics set up by who knows who.
In the momentary rest, Clint found himself disoriented. Where was he—or, more accurately, when was he? He focused so powerfully on the flood of picture-commands that for a second he did not know whether he was in the first timeline, which was happening, or in the second, which would happen presently. It was like watching a film with the audio out of sync and wondering which was ahead, the picture or the sound.
He let the moment pass him by, let the predestined decision go unmade. His head cleared. A anxious hush, full of muttering and maneuvering, filled the hall. It was time to move again.
He flung the empty pulse blaster into the hall—three shots was all it had, hence the first-generation moniker—using it for a distraction, and rushed out immediately after. An immense sense of disapproval came through the link. Molly did not like him making his own decisions. Well, at least when his life was on the line, he supposed. But when wasn’t it?
The bolt of a crossbow struck him in the shoulder just as the command to dodge came. The blow knocked him off balance. He caught himself before he smashed into the ground, rolled out of the path of a second crossbow bolt. The pain would begin when he had a chance to feel it. He sprang to his feet, unloading his gun on the Merry Men who had injured him. He was surrounded on every side, in the middle of the wide hallway, with little in the way of shelter.
Gritting his teeth, he unleashed a boom of sonic disturbance, a burst of high-pitched din so grating his brain wanted to shut down. It disoriented his enemies for a moment. He loaded the scorched earth device, his fingers fumbling, the circuitry jiggered up by his injury, but the gunfire started up again before he had finished. He crammed himself against the wall, holed up behind a dead body, and finished readying the device.
The commands from Molly had ceased after the noise bomb. He hoped it hadn’t whatever connection linked their thoughts. He hesitated a moment before firing, hoping she would give some indication of what to do next. If he fired this shot, it only left him with one, and this time he had no cover.
Suddenly, the image came—his body spread across the floor, dead.
He disarmed the device, quickly.
Another image—a great arc of electricity, crackling madly.
“What the—?” He had no idea what it meant. But before he could finish his thought, a third image, hallways, with men falling to the ground in convulsions.
He acted immediately. The dead man in front of him wore leather boots. He yanked one off, keeping low, cut a wide strip with his micron blade, and wrapped his extendable hand in it. An overpowering nausea of danger washed over him just then. He shot his arm into the hole in the ceiling, grabbed on, and hoisted himself into the air in the middle of the hallway, spinning like a twisted up swing. He fired recklessly as he spun, a pinata for the shooting.
Then it came, rushing through the walls and floor and ceiling, a great burst of electricity. Clint had no way of knowing its cause, but he’d bet the rest of his ammo that Doctor Destructo had initiated the shock, using the Island’s immense generators and his own brilliant mind for destruction. The men all around him shuddered and fell to the floor. He swung precariously, his hand sheltered by the leather, waiting for the charge to dissipate.
He wondered how Molly had managed, but she had had forewarning and she was resourceful.
He hung waiting until the command came, this time is words: All clear. He dropped down to the floor, the commands already returning.
He took the steps three and four at a time, jumping over limp bodies, dead or unconscious, he didn’t know. The silent, empty stairwell was disquieting, and almost disappointing. The hallway filled with rag doll men flopped about darkly humorous. Clint bit off a bitter laugh. The Doctor had twice now shown no compunction in slaughtering whoever got in his way in vast shows of power and cruelty.
Levels passing with quick, unhindered ease. He once saw some of the Doctor’s own men leaning Weekend-at-Bernie-like against doorways.
Two levels beneath the control room, Clint realized a simple fact. The elevator would no longer be guarded, and if it was, the better the surprise. He punched the button, stepped in, chose the floor, then thought better of it at Molly’s insistence. He waited and thought he heard heavy gunfire above, where the elevator would have opened.
“At least I’m expected,” he said. He bolted up the next round of stairs, stopping long enough to pull the crossbow bolt out of his shoulder. Luckily, it had hit mostly machinery. His arm responded sluggishly, but what was new? He’s been breaking down all day.