Chapter 209

                The thing about trailers was that they ultimately had little more than shaped sheets of metal for walls, and to a man who’d burst through concrete a barrier like that barely even registered. To his credit, Alex had been working on his mental muscle, as he got Roy up to an impressive speed before hurling him bat-first into the trailer with glowing windows. Normally, Roy wouldn’t have risked putting his weapon in front without knowing what was inside the trailer, but between Will’s sweep of the place and the time limit of their situation, it felt like a risk worth taking.

                Everything came at Roy in a flash; he was moving too quickly to take in fine details. Just an outer wall, a brief glimpse of the interior of a trailer and a very surprised looking Sim woman, then they were outside again as Roy’s momentum carried both of them. Despite the disorientation, Roy didn’t hesitate, he hit the ground running and slammed the Sim off her feet. She was obviously armored since she was still in one piece, with some sort of yellow energy glowing around her arms. Rather than find out what that energy did, Roy stooped low and pressed his bat against her torso before she could raise her arms, pinning her to the ground with the weight of the dense weapon and his own incredible strength. It was a cleaner capture than he’d dared hope for, they wouldn’t even need to fly Camille around if she could get over to them fast enough.

                Roy was turning his head to call to her when he caught a flash of movement from the corner of his eye. That was the only warning before an oversized fist smashed into his skull, catching him so off-guard that he lost his grip on the bat, and sent Roy hurtling several feet through the air. It didn’t hurt, he noticed that before landing, but it still had enough force to uproot him from the ground. That probably meant if the other two caught one of these blows, they were done for.

                Scrambling to his feet, Roy surveyed the battlefield and quickly realized their mistake. Will’s scan of the trailer had made them think they only had one opponent; however more Sims were pouring up from a hole in the ground under the trailer’s shredded remains. A secret basement, and in a trailer no less. There was zero chance that kind of addition had been legally permitted, but it was the least of their issues at the moment.

                A big male Sim, presumably the one who punched Roy, was helping the yellow energy woman up from under the bat. She still looked dazed and unsteady, a small mercy that gave them a few precious seconds to work with. Three more Sims had emerged, staying clumped up and advancing on Alex and Camille. None of them were showing signs of what powers they had yet, although given the difficulty of the trial they probably weren’t going to be pushovers. Roy forced himself to stay calm, to spend an extra moment or two thinking before he sprang into action. They weren’t getting more than one try at handling this fast; he needed to make it count.

                 Right now there were two variables already defined: a strongman Sim and one with energy-based abilities. Alex and Camille could handle that; one enemy apiece was practically easy-mode at this point in their training. The other three, however, had yet to show their powers. That made them unknown and dangerous. If this were real, if the woman shaking off his last blow were trying to end the world, then that made the answer easy to figure out. Roy had to give his friends room to work in, even if it meant going up against enemies that might be able to hurt, even kill, him. He could take those blows; the world wouldn’t withstand nuclear annihilation. Hit and get hit. That was what a strongman did.

                He was tempted to yell out his plan to the others, then Roy remembered that Alex’s “non-telepathy” sure came with a lot of telepathy. Instead, he thought his plan as hard as he could and locked eyes with Alex, who gave him a quick nod. That done, Roy hunkered down and launched himself across the trailer park. Running would be a waste of time, and besides he’d already been a human cannon ball once today. May as well keep the theme alive.

                Roy whipped through the air, slamming into the back of one of the unidentified Sims and shoving his knees into its spine. He didn’t know if it would be able to get back up and fight again, but judging from the crunches he’d heard on impact and the lack of movement below the waist, it seemed like a small risk. The other Sims didn’t take to losing their friend kindly, however. The taller one’s eyes started glowing and less than a second later Roy felt a burst of pain across his chest as he was struck by ocular lasers and knocked off the third Sim’s body. Shit, it had been a while since anything down here hurt him. Part of him, probably the Hershel part, wondered if they’d been saving the strongest Sims for this exact trial to make sure Roy had to fight with real stakes on the line.

                As he leapt to his feet, Roy was relieved to see that despite the pain, there was minimal injury where the lasers had hit. Patches of his uniform were burned away, yet the skin underneath was only reddened slightly, like he’d gotten a sunburn. It still stung, but that was just pain. Roy could ignore it until the work was done. Unfortunately, when he glanced up from his chest Roy noticed that the other Sim, a shorter woman who’d darted away at his landing, had slipped around to his side. She was fast, had they managed to replicate super-speed in a Sim? Then she opened her mouth, and Roy realized that speed definitely wasn’t her power.

                Her voice hit him like a symphony of knives across the brain, a screech that made his stomach turn, eyes blur, and sense of balance vanish. It sent Roy staggering, only years of training and a mile-wide stubborn streak kept him on his feet. Sadly, that just made him a bigger target for the blast of eye-lasers that hit him in the stomach. If he’d eaten breakfast, Roy would have lost it on the ground in that moment. He was getting it from both sides, neither Sim doing real injury yet still managing to take him out of the fight. And standing there, being hit by their simultaneous attacks, Roy did something that only a few of the watching Heroes, the ones who really knew what they were looking at, took notice of.

                Roy grinned like the cat who’d caught the canary. Because Roy knew something these buckets of future scrap didn’t. They weren’t taking him out of the fight, he was keeping them distracted. It might not be a job that came with glory or dignity as he got smacked around, but it was still vital to the mission. Because while they’d been caught up with him, Alex and Camille had been given ample time to take care of the other two. He didn’t dare glance over there, he couldn’t risk diverting the Sims’ attention, but Roy didn’t need to. They were his team, his friends, and he trusted them to finish things off just like they’d trusted him to hold the line.

                Then, without warning, the voice stopped. Roy glanced over to see the Sim staring wide-eyed with her mouth open, nothing coming out. Right… he always forgot that Alex could block sound. That was all she managed before Camille slipped up behind her, laying one hand on the Sim’s neck and sending it to the ground in a heap. Never one to waste time, Roy took the opportunity to rush the last Sim while he was charging up for another eye-blast. The shot never got off, as Roy grabbed him by the back of the neck and shoved his face into the ground. All those lasers would hit now were earthworms and dirt. Camille stepped nimbly over, touched the Sim’s scalp, and that was that.

                Finally able to get his bearings, Roy looked over the remains of their battleground. Both the strongman Sim and the yellow-energy Sim were down, although the strongman Sim was still conscious, trying to move along the ground using only its neck. Apparently Alex had cut some important bits that functioned like a spine. As for the energy-Sim, Roy didn’t know if she was dead or alive, only that she was still and not a single blip of energy ran across those hands. They’d done it.

                “Will, our target is down,” Alex reported. He looked a little worn, and there were some dusty patches on his uniform where he’d clearly been tossed to the ground, but he didn’t seem injured. With Camille around, none of them had to worry about that. “Was that the one? Did we win?”

                “I can only presume that we’d have been told if that was the case,” Will replied through the comms. “It must be one of the other targets. You should start moving north to lend aid. Although it’s not going to be easy to get there. Your fight drew the attention of nearby Sims, all of whom are converging on your location.”

                Roy walked over where he’d landed after Alex’s first throw and picked up his bat, giving it a brief test swing as was his habit. “Bring ‘em on. We’ll plow our way through and get to the others with time to spare. Ain’t nobody stopping this team.”