"Oh...Hi." I exhale slowly, Will he EVER stop!? I take one step forward, putting myself in front of my team. "So, what's your move this time? Land mines? A toothy cow? A blimp?"
He smirks, an expression I'm coming to realize he uses a lot. "No. Nothing ridiculous like that. Hello, Jacoby."
Jacoby glares at him. "Bonnetfolly."
"So, if it's nothing, why are you here? Are you just taunting us? Because that's rather risky, what with the amount of people in this area who are actively trying to capture you."
His smirk grew into an amused smile. "I never said it was nothing. I said it was nothing ridiculous."
I roll my eyes. "And there's a difference?"
"There is, in fact. Is it ridiculous to inform you that five of your friends are in my clutches at this moment?"
I stop breathing. "No, I'm pretty sure you're bluffing. And that would be pretty ridiculous, not to mention cliché." But you haven't seen Ari since the cave-in. Or Iliara, or May, or anyone, really.
"Even if you did, what's the point?" Jacoby speaks up, stepping to my side. "They could escape, or be rescued. Aislinn's not going to surrender or anything just because you claim you have our friends."
I shoot him a grateful smile. Thanks, Jacoby.
Matt scoffs. "Really? You wouldn't? I thought you people were heroes." He looks at a device in his hand, possibly a watch. "Pretty poor heroes, if you ask me."
"No one did." I narrow my eyes. It's not like him to just sit there and wait for us to do something. He's got some kind of hidden backup. I just need to figure out what it is before-
Gloria's shout startles me. Behind Matt is Emmalee, dragging Gloria and Nikko behind her. Her helmet is off, and the look on her face is pure rage. She reaches Matt and whispers something to him, while Nikko tries to twist out of her armor-enhanced grip. Iris is clutching his other hand, death-glaring at our sister.
"These three got out of the cave-in. They didn't see the others." I catch the tense whispers. "You better pay me double for this."
"Emmy, let go of them right now." I say. My voice comes out as a trembling whisper. I've only seen that look on her face a few times, but when she looks that angry, you hide under the bed and pray you weren't the one to offend her.
She looks at me, and the rage momentarily gives way to triumph. "Hello, Aislinn. I'm guessing Bonnetfolly's toy didn't work, then? Pity."
"I'm serious, Emmalee. Leave them alone."
"See? You do care. You're very easy to anticipate, Aislinn. Now, are you going to cooperate or does this have to get unpleasant?" Matt raises an eyebrow.
I close my eyes, the world suddenly spinning. I try to think of a way out of this. Nothing. My mind is blank.
Suddenly, a battle cry shakes the very fog around us. My eyes fly open to see Etlo, who somehow managed to sneak around behind our opponents, take a flying leap at Matt. Emmalee's eyes go wide. She immediately drops Nikko and Gloria's wrists, activates her jetpack, and zooms away as fast as she can.
Matt isn't so lucky. His mouth drops open as he is tackled by the Aethermatron.
After a (very) brief scuffle, Etlo stands up, holding Matt a foot of the ground by his collar. "Was that awesome or what!?" He says, grinning auditory sensor-to-auditory sensor.
I laugh. "Nope. That was Crazyawesome! Good work, Etlo! Okay, Jacoby, Nikko, and Emily, go with Etlo to the Beacon and make sure Matt doesn't escape. Glo and Vytanni, come with me. We're going to go find everyone else."