Chapter 215

                Thomas’s teeth were gritting as he focused everything he had on keeping the dome intact. This gang, army really, of Sims was being smarter than the previous ones had. They were keeping their distance, testing the defenses, and sending in only a few small groups at a time. Some had even set up on other building’s roofs and started sending ranged attacks toward Shane and the dome. Individually, each strike was tough, but combined they were starting to test the limits of what Thomas’s energy could endure. While he was holding strong for the moment, eventually he’d get worn down. When that happened, Will would have no protection from ranged attacks.

                “Wow, they are really coming after us.” Will glanced up from his console, toward the orange barrier that he wasn’t able to see through. “There are a ton of them out there. You’re not going to be able to hold out for long, are you?”

                “I’m not done yet,” Thomas said, nearly spitting the words as he endured yet another round of ranged assaults hitting his dome.

                “But you will be soon. And perhaps I’ve done all I need to. Maybe we’re better off if I close up shop and we flee to a safer location.” Will’s hand started toward the top of the console, clearly intent on shutting it down.

                “This guy has slipped past our people once already. Until he’s down for the count, we need you. Don’t worry about the Sims out here, that’s for Shane and I to deal with. You just focus on guiding Vince and Chad to the one trying to blow up the world.” Thomas didn’t actually feel as hopeful as he sounded, but he said the words anyway. Being stalwart in the face of hopeless odds was part of what Heroes did, and it wasn’t like they were beaten yet. So long as he and Shane were still standing, there was hope. Granted, he didn’t know how things could turn around, but supposedly there were others coming. Once they arrived, the options would widen considerably. Thomas just had to hold out until reinforcements got there, and he was determined to do just that.

                He would keep Will safe until victory, reinforcements, or a brain hemorrhage arrived.

*             *             *

                “That is a shitload of Sims.” Roy didn’t quite let out a whistle, but it was close as he peered from the alley toward the swarms of Sims converging on Will’s location. “Do we go in swinging?”

                “No, the ones on the ground aren’t the real issue. Our big problems are the Sims shooting down onto Thomas’s barrier.” Alex pointed up to the nearby roofs, where occasional blasts of energy could be seen firing off toward the bright orange glow of the dome. “If we can take those out, Shane can probably keep holding the alley.”

                “Wait, Shane’s been holding the alley by himself? I assumed Thomas was pitching in too.” Camille was somewhere between impressed and doubtful as she surveyed the thick crush of mechanical bodies once more.

                “Every now and then when one gets close, but Shane hasn’t let many come near enough for Thomas to even hit,” Alex told her. “This might be the first time he’s gotten a trial that played to his strengths. But not even he can deal with all these enemies sniping them, so we need to get rid of the ranged attackers. I can levitate us to the roofs, however they’ll probably start fighting back as soon as they spot us, or double down on trying to break Thomas’s dome.”

                “So you need a distraction?” Roy asked.

                “Less distraction, more target. We need someone to make too much trouble for the ranged Sims to ignore so that they have to start going after that threat instead of us or the dome. It won’t be a very pleasant job, since the brunt of a Sim army will be attacking you.”

                “You can stop selling, I’m already in.” Roy gave his bat its usual test swing as a big grin slipped across his face. “Hershel may be the smart one, but I’ve got a PHD in kicking up shitshows. If you want trouble, there ain’t no better Super you’ll find to cause it. Just give me the word and I’ll get this party started.”

                “I guess whenever you’re read-” Alex didn’t even finish the sentence before Roy hunkered down in a squat and then leapt into the air, letting out a squeal of what sounded like excitement in the process.

                He flew forward without any real trajectory, over the heads of the Sims who were turning to stare at the lone figure barreling through the sky. When Roy landed, he came down right in the center of the Sim formation, crashing onto a couple of units who crumpled into broken electronic bits under his boots. One swing of his heavy bat knocked all of the nearby ones away, and with a little bit of breathing room Roy decided it was time to address his audience.

                “Hey there shitheads. My name is Roy, and I came here to get revenge on every fuckin’ clock radio that ever woke me before I was ready. Y’all can line up orderly for your ass-kicking or come all at once, it makes no difference by me.”

                While the Sims were thrown into chaos, Alex and Camille snuck away from Roy’s launch point, making their way toward the ranged Sims’ roofs. They’d asked for a distraction, and Roy had damn well delivered, but that was still a lot of opponents, even for him. If they didn’t hurry, Roy might go down before the job was done, and once that happened they’d have a much more difficult task ahead of them.

                If Roy was worried about losing his fight with an army, it didn’t show as he leapt toward the nearest group of Sims, raining down blows that shattered artificial limbs and sent more than a few Sims limply to the ground.

                “Maybe y’all think this is a voluntary thing, but you’re wrong. I’m here to fight each and every one of you fuckers, so fight back or don’t, it’s all ending the same either way.”

                Whatever momentary shock had rippled through the Sims, it wore off as they watched Roy ready for another attack. The three nearest him lurched into action, two taking swings while another’s hands glowed with electricity. They all connected, although the ones who got into melee range paid for it with their limbs. It was enough to push Roy slightly back; as he came to a stop he lifted his bat and gave them the widest smile he could manage.

                “That’s more like it. This might be fun after all.”