The Bite Mobile streaked across the moonlit sky, tailed by ANOS’s evil-ass aircraft. The sinister agency had deployed nasty-looking saucers, designed with harsh angles, pointed crags, and a distinct point that defined their tips. Like the fucked-up kid of a stealth bomber and a Gray Alien disc.
“FLYER, YOU ARE IN POSSESSION OF CLASSIFIED TECH—A DIRECT VIOLATION OF THE CHENEY-KOCH ACT. GROUND YOUR AIRCRAFT NOW.” The wing commander’s voice was clear as day.
“How can we hear them?” Eun glanced at Peter. “It’s like they’re in here with us.”
“Metasonics.” Peter squeezed a door grip for balance, mounted on the ceiling to his upper left. “It’s Atlantean tech—cancels out extraneous noise. WHOA!” The autopilot (it wasn’t really autopilot; Bitefighter had distributed his consciousness throughout the car) took them into a steep dive. Their black-booted pursuers followed doggedly behind.
“They’re keeping up.” Peter looked back as the car leveled out. “Figures—they’ve all got access to 115.”
“She’s pulling ahead.” Kora pointed at Dissona, who was now a fifty-foot tall, human-wasp hybrid with an octet of spider legs drooping from her belly. Saucers swooped by and blasted away, but Dee shot them with unholy munitions: pulses of light from her barbed stinger, or streams of acid from her black-lipped mouth. As if that wasn’t enough, her booming guffaws caused nearby craft to veer and whirl. Some managed to regain control, others spun out and crashed on the hills.
“Her laugh,” Peter hissed. “It’s weaponized.”
Dee let loose with a screeching titter. Once again, ANOS’s aircraft zig-zagged randomly.
“Ugh.” Eun made a face. “If we get any closer and the effect gets stronger…”
Peter tapped the center console. “Hey—BF. Need some help here.”
Bitefighter’s hologram appeared on the dash, sporting a World War I, Snoopy-style flying hat. He put his hands on his hips, stuck out his potbelly, and gave them all a double thumbs-up.
“Peter.” Eun’s voice rose with warning. “ANOS—they’re catching up!”
Before he could answer, a cable made of braided light emerged from the steering column. It snaked its way up his sweaty forehead, linking with a translucent iris that materialized between his physical eyes. Shining veins spread out from the contact, ensconcing his head in a web of luminescence.
His expression resolved, going from panicked and shook to steely and sure. He was now wearing a transparent green, techno-astral battle-helmet. Below its brim, his pupils lit with emerald light.
“Peter?” Eun whispered. “Are you—”
“Deploying chaff.” His words came out in a robo-toned voice. A moment later, ultra-hot metal streamed from the Bite Mobile’s sides. ANOS’s munitions exploded against it, dotting the sky with orange fireballs.
Peter’s eyes flickered and shone. “They have cutting-edge guidance—under normal circumstances, we’d be utterly fucked.” He yanked back on a waist-high lever. The car shot forward like a haloed comet, painting the sky with sparkling exhaust.
“But these aren’t normal circumstances.” Peter’s smile was lit by his helmet. “And this isn’t a normal car.” As they screamed by a cluster of saucers, the steering wheel’s top and bottom curves telescoped sideways, transforming it into a two-gripped steering device. Atop the grips were prominent red buttons.
“Eat my ass, Luke Skywalker.” Peter squeezed the grips and pressed the buttons.
Magic ordnance lanced from their undercarriage, filling the air with glittering equations. They impacted against Dissona’s carapace, blooming into frenzies of purple-blue sparks. Unlike ANOS’s bullets and missiles, the psychedelic rounds had an effect; Dissona arched back and roared in pain.
As the car flew by, she swiped wildly with her spiny-haired legs. Peter jerked the grips, barely avoiding her murderous limbs. Some of the saucers weren’t as lucky; they blew apart into smoke-laden fire.
Dissona let out another roar, inducing a trio of nosebleeds inside the Bite Mobile.
“Peter!” Kora shouted. “She’s cutting into my goddamn brain!”
“Sorry.” He flicked a switch, then pulled down on a ceiling-mounted handle. A clockwise twist elicited a crisp-sounding chank. Faint green light coated their hull, tinging the outside world in emerald haze. “That should do it.”
Dissona roared again. ANOS’s interceptors veered and spun, but the three teen-heroes remained unaffected.
“Danke,” Eun said. She wiped blood off her nose with the back of her hand.
“Don’t thank me yet,” Peter said tightly. “HOLD ON!”
As Dissona swung toward them and vomited acid, the Bite Mobile dove into a spiraling twist. The muck flew past and fell to the earth, splashing against a cluster of homes. Their shingles and siding burst into flames. Miniature figures poured from the doors, thrashing frantically and screaming in pain.
Dissona folded her wings and arrowed downward, heading for a clutch of San Francisco residences.
“She’s gonna kill bystanders!” Eun screamed.
“She already has!” Peter shouted back. But an instant later, he saw her intentions were far more sinister. As Dee buzzed by scores of rooftops, gallons of silk shot from her stinger, coating pedestrians in webby cocoons. Spiny legs began splitting through them, shortly followed by gross-ass bug-people.
Eun pressed her face against the window. “She just gave birth to an army of monsters!”
Kora pushed her perception a couple notches Slideways. “Orgoth’s balls,” she muttered. “Their souls are bound to their physical bodies.”
Dissona’s spawn—hell-fiend versions of spiders, mantises, and various other creepy-crawlies—had psychomagic cages above their heads, in which their human auras had been forcibly confined.
“She’s taken them hostage!” Peter raged. “Like goddamn Joker at the end of Dark Knight!”
“What’s the plan?” Kora scanned the legions of bug-creatures. They were tearing apart houses, cars, and lawns. It wouldn’t be long before they killed a civilian.
For the first time in a long while, Eun Yin was at a loss for words. “I…I…”
Peter’s neuro-linked eyes flashed with panic. “Eun? Eun?” Strategy-wise, Eun was on par with Sun freakin’ Tzu. If she was stumped, they were well and truly fucked.
She didn’t say a thing.
Peter felt a coil of stomach-twisting dread. “Uh…I’m sure you’ll think of something.”
Bitefighter caught their attention with a wide wave. He instantiated his whiteboard and wrote on its surface.
Mushrooms! it read. Feed em the good stuff!
“Mushrooms? Feed em…zen zaps?” Peter’s brow wrinkled in puzzlement.
Bitefighter threw him a big ol’ grin, pantomiming pistols and shooting twice: You got it, partner!
Kora leaned forward. “I’ll do it. Hand me the zaps.”
“You’ll be outnumbered,” Peter protested. “Like a hundred to one.”
“Let me out, Peter. I was made for this.”
Peter gave Eun a doubtful look. “Eun?”
Eun shrugged. “I got nothing.”
He faced front and stared at Dissona, who was breathing fire and swatting attack-saucers. “Fuck,” he spat. “You never split up—that’s how you die in a fucking horror movie!”
Kora, who’d seen countless slasher films due to Leona’s pre-fuck movie-watching, immediately understood. “Good thing we’re not in a horror movie.”
“Yeah?” Peter looked back at her. “Then what are we in?” He brought them lower so Kora could eject. Her flexi-sectioned belt scoped into its sheath, click-click-clicking as it retracted from her body. They were now skimming above the monster-infested suburbs.
“This is good.” She held her hand out. “Shrooms.”
Peter popped the glovebox and grabbed a tactical drop-bag. He tossed it back to her and she clipped it to her waist.
She met Peter’s eyes and shot him a grin. “This isn’t a horror movie—it’s an adventure, motherfucker.”
Then she leapt from the Bite Mobile, letting loose with her best war cry.
The open door folded down. Peter pulled into a climb, grinning like an idiot.
Hell yeah, he thought. Stranger Things, eat my dickskin.
We got you beat by a country mile.