The explosion took everyone by surprise.
Even the hijackers, Shades noted with much dismay as he veered sharply away from the blast area. If the explosion isn’t their doing, he mused ominously, then whose is it? “What the hell was that!?”
“Holy shit!” Justin nearly lost control of his craft from the shockwave as he swerved past the scene.
The crane boom was in mid motion at the instant of the explosion, unceremoniously dumping the second crate on the deck of the Seeker, the hijackers tossed right off the deck of the now sinking platform like living crash-test dummies. The blast itself toppled three or four enemy craft.
Which suited Shades just fine, as his current tag-along was still tagging along, and he had enough on his hands with just that. Even as he tried to figure out how to lose an enemy that could shoot at him when he couldn’t shoot back, another craft came in from in front. Swerving back-and-forth in a desperate attempt to evade their shots, he was frustrated to find that it was having the same effect on his own aim.
As the other bore down on him, apparently thinking he wanted to play chicken or something, Shades recalled a trick he learned, and executed a move his friends had shown him out on the lake. As his two adversaries closed in on each other, Shade jumped his craft, plunging beneath the surface while turning sharply. Having found a new use for an old trick.
Shades resurfaced as the other two, having gotten too close to avoid each other, both fired belatedly as they slammed together, throwing both riders over their handlebars. As he looked around to see who would attack him next, he wondered offhand if John’s bandmates, Sandy and Becky, would give him points for style. Though he doubted either of them would ever have imagined him using a stunt move in battle. His sense of victory, though, was fleeting as he took in the rest of the battle, seeing they were still ridiculously outnumbered, and at this rate, they wouldn’t hold out much longer.
Justin had arrived at much the same conclusion: now that they had thinned out the ranks a little, with just him and Shades they didn’t stand an ice cube’s chance in hell. As he shot down a third craft, he could see the odds were still too heavily stacked against them. Every fiber of his being was telling him to drop this no-win battle and make a break for it, book it to one of the islands or something. But he knew that Max wouldn’t leave, not until he had done everything he possibly could— Shades, too, most likely— and found he just couldn’t bring himself to abandon him like that.
As Justin circled around, another craft pulled up alongside him, the pilot whipping out a power pistol. But although he was barred from carrying his guns in public here, Justin had taken to concealing his laser staff on his person, and now that he was at a close enough range to use it, he did. Before his opponent could aim at him, Justin took the barrel off his gun, then slashed again, cutting the guy’s handlebars off at the shaft.
Wondering for a second what the expression on the bastard’s face looked like under that visor as his black-clad opponent veered out of control and crashed into another watercraft on approach, sending both adversaries skidding across the water, Justin remembered the other weapon he had taken to concealing on himself. Kicking himself for not thinking of his original backup plan first, and checking to see that it was still tucked snugly in his pocket, much to his relief. Wasting no time, he swung around and made a bee-line for the Seeker.
Arcing in close, and trying his best to remember speeds and distances from their battle with Striker’s pirates, Justin pulled the pin on the EMP grenade with his teeth and tossed it at the Seeker.
As he sped away, he just hoped he could make it out of range in time. Which he did, whether by timing or by luck, but several pursuers were caught in the effective radius, their engines and weapons disabled by electromagnetic pulse. Even so, he realized, he was still outnumbered at least five-to-one, and the only thing that would save them now was a miracle.
Two miracles, he amended, seeing that they were now outnumbered nearly ten-to-one, since Shades’ craft was also caught in the pulse.