Jack Maniac seemed to get a big kick out of the name. He laughed hard enough that he wobbled in the air. “The Power? Don’t you think that’s a little fucking pretentious? What happened to the first Power?”
“I don’t know. It was available two days ago.”
“Two days? Oh that’s rich. Do your worst, kid.”
The dashboard screen showed Sean’s face. I had a hard time telling whether he looked more angry or embarrassed, but Jack’s power armor flipped over in the air, aiming him at the street.
Jack barely began to reorient himself before hitting Christine. He didn’t hit her full on, but his back brushed her, and his legs hit her chest (the Plymouth Fury’s gleaming, chrome grill).
The mech stepped back, trying not to fall.
Jack managed to get control of his flight, and circled around and up, ending with his back facing us, but flanking Sean and Justice Fiend. He raised his left arm — the one with the weapon mounted under his forearm.
Justice Fiend blurred, flying at Sean as something flew out of the weapon’s muzzle and exploded.
The dashboard screen and the air ahead of me both filled with fire.
When it cleared, Sean sat on the roof of the nearest building, an old, three story, brick warehouse. Justice Fiend stood between him, and Jack Maniac, but not for long. Jack turned, the flames burning under his feet tripling in size, and flew away.
Christine transformed into a car, and roared off, disappearing around the corner.
Sean stood. “They’re getting away!”
Justice Fiend muttered, “Dammit.”
Then he knocked Sean unconscious with a punch, and flew upward, leaving him on the flat roof.
“He just punched him?” Haley stared at the screen.
On the off chance that she still liked Sean in some way, I didn’t mention how much I preferred an unconscious Sean to the conscious version.
Haley drove the car down the street. “We should check if he’s okay.”
We didn’t get the chance. As we stopped in front of the section of roof I’d seen him fall onto, a human shape flew away, briefly silhouetted against the stars.
I followed it across the dark sky until the warehouse across the street blocked my view.
“I think he’ll be fine,” I said.
Haley accelerated, and turned down the street Christine had taken. A few cars traveled down the street. We could see their lights, but no sign of Christine or any kind of fight.
“Maybe we’ll see something…” Haley continued down the street, looking down the blocks as we went through intersections.
I began to doubt that we would after the first three streets, but as we crossed the fourth, I found myself hearing Daniel’s thoughts, followed by Haley’s slightly more anxious mental presence.
Daniel: I didn’t see where the Maniacs went, and Sean just went past me. He hasn’t seen them either.
Me: Where’s everyone else?
Daniel: Cassie’s on her dad’s motorcycle. Vaughn’s collecting Travis. I haven’t heard from Rachel, Jaclyn, or Marcus.
Haley: I think they went to the post prom lock-in at Harry’s Fun Dome.
Me: Rachel was doing something with friends tonight, but, I’m surprised she didn’t call back.
Daniel: Let’s not wait for them. If Justice Fiend’s fight with the Maniacs took out city blocks the last time they fought, we need to stop them as soon as possible.
Me: I want to change into the full suit. Otherwise I’m not going to be any good except as a sniper, and if we don’t have Jaclyn, we won’t have anyone that’s mobile and tough.
Daniel: Good point, but hurry. If I sense them clairvoyantly, we’ll have to move.
I stepped out of the car, put on my helmet, and pulled on the stealth suit’s rocket pack. Then I flew to HQ.
* * *
Someday when I revised our communications system, I needed to build a GPS into everybody’s alert device. It worked great with the Rocket suit.
I found them on the north side of Grand Lake. Illuminated only by the streetlight, they stood in the parking lot of an old, brick factory much like the others only this time on the north side of Grand Lake instead of the south.
To judge from the painted, wooden sign, it had most recently been “Smith’s Tool & Die,” but the building looked abandoned. No lights were on inside. Outside of Night Wolf’s car (now all black except for the gray, wolf’s head on the hood), and Captain Commando’s motorcycle, no vehicles sat in the parking lot.
Haley sat on the hood of Night Wolf’s car with her arms crossed. Cassie, Travis, and Vaughn were near her, talking among themselves. Daniel stood a little bit away from them all, eyes closed, concentrating on something.
I landed next to the car, touching down with a muffled click as my boots hit the concrete.
Haley got off the car, and joined me as I walked up to the group.
“Guess whose powers are being flaky?” Cassie asked.
Vaughn put his hand to his head, closed his eyes, and said, “I sense… nothing.”
Daniel opened his eyes and glared at them. “They’re not being flaky. Something’s going to happen. It’ll happen right here… or close to here. Anyway, it’s dangerous, and it’s got everything to do with Justice Fiend and the Maniacs.”
Travis held his right hand in the air. “Everybody calm down. Bickering isn’t going to help.”
“It’s been like this the whole time,” Haley said.
“The closer it gets,” Daniel said, “the more accurate I’ll get. Just give me the chance to concentrate, and I’ll–”
Justice Fiend flew out of the sky, and smashed through the roof of the factory. Jack Maniac followed him, axe ready, and disappeared through the roof’s new hole.
We all looked at each other. I didn’t know what anyone else was thinking, but I was wondering if we should go in. What followed happened too quickly for me to even move.
Loud crashes came from inside, and then Jack Maniac flew backwards out through the wall, landing in the parking lot, bouncing, rolling, and finally stopping in the street.
Not that it mattered. The street was as empty as the parking lots of nearest buildings.
Jack dropped something on the ground. I couldn’t see it well, but it looked like a metal ball.
It rolled in a wide circle around him, leaving a trail of metal, stopping just before its starting point.
Justice Fiend flew out of the factory, smashed into Jack and the both of them ended up rolling across the road and onto the sidewalk on the other side of the street. Justice Fiend pounded on Jack Maniac with his fists while Jack hit back with his axe and metal hand.
They didn’t seem to be doing much damage to each other, but chunks of concrete flew upward when they missed.
I missed the exact moment when it happened, but Jack managed to grab Justice Fiend, swing him around, and throw him into the middle of the circle. With a click, it closed.
Jack Manaic straightened up, recovering from the throw. “Gotcha,” he muttered.
Then he looked over at us. “What’s this, some kind of convention?”