By the time the guy and his severed leg hit the ground, I’d already rolled away. Given what I’d seen in his fight with Jaclyn, I couldn’t rule out the possibility that he might be able to grab me, and crush the life out me.
I stood up, keeping myself out of arm’s reach.
Shannon walked up from the parking lot, holding the darkness around his head.
“You cut off his leg?” I couldn’t see her face behind the yellow and black mask, but it felt like she was staring.
“He regenerates,” Cassie said. “It’s not permanent.”
I noticed that the stump wasn’t bleeding anymore, and had already scabbed over. It might have been my imagination, but it already seemed to be growing a little. Even more creepy, the severed part had stopped bleeding too. Fortunately, it didn’t seem to be getting larger.
It would be just our luck if the guy could clone himself from his own severed bits.
“I can’t say I’m wild about it either,” I said, “but if she hadn’t, I think he could have killed me, or at least smashed my leg.” To Cassie, I said, “Thanks.”
The cloud of darkness prevented me from seeing his face, but the man on the ground tensed.
For no obvious reason, the man’s belt removed itself, and floated over to land next to me. The belts and guns of the other two (who I’d mentally renamed “Burning Hands Guy” and “Energy Absorbing Dude”) detached and joined them.
Daniel landed next to the belts, and did the same with “Spindly Woman,” moving her next to them.
We didn’t have handcuffs, but it wasn’t as if they’d work on these guys.
I called the police, and told them who we’d caught. The dispatcher told me that they were already on their way.
“It’s okay,” Daniel said, “They can’t move. I’ve gone into their heads. They’ve got anti-telepathic stuff inside the house, but they’re not inside anymore. Anyway, hanging around with You-Know-Who has made me better at filtering out stuff like that.”
I didn’t need to ask who Daniel meant. It had to be Lee, not Lord Voldemort.
From behind me came several thumps mixed with the clatter of smaller things falling. “Shit.” Lucas had pushed himself (along with bricks and mortar) out of the side of the chimney, leaving a hole.
Soot stained his arms and front.
He walked over to stand with the rest of us. “She grabbed my leg, and swung me in before I could even think about it. I’ve never seen anyone that fast. Was I out long?”
Vaughn stood next to Shannon. “Don’t think so. I didn’t even have time to notice you were gone.”
In the chaos, I’d kind of forgotten about him myself.
I thought about apologizing, but never got the chance.
Jaclyn came around the side of the corner house, jumped over the fence, and landed next to Cassie. She looked better than I would have expected after being thrown through a house. Her costume had ripped on her right thigh, and her cheek looked swollen, but otherwise she seemed alright.
“You got him?” She looked down on the ground, and then turned to Cassie. “You cut off his leg?”
“I didn’t have a choice. The guy was just about to smash the Rocket’s leg. It was maim or kill, so I chose maim. Besides, he regenerates. You saw it.”
“The Rocket’s armor couldn’t take it?”
“I got a warning that the next shot might destroy the helmet when he hit me.”
Jaclyn shook her head. “Really? I thought you might have a chance.”
“Not in a fair fight, I guess.”
“I thought I might have a chance,” Lucas said, “but he just shrugged off my lightning.”
Shannon turned her head away from the man on the ground., and told Vaughn, “I can’t believe we’re standing around talking next to a man whose leg just got chopped off.”
Vaughn shrugged. “We could move.”
“It will grow back,” Cassie said, with maybe just a little more emphasis than necessary.
Me: Daniel, have you gotten anything about who these guys (well, except for Spindly) are and what they were doing here?
Daniel: I’ve been looking since we took them down. I’ve got lots of stuff. They’re exactly what we thought they were. They’re the Cabal’s army only now they’re not fighting for the Cabal. They’re trying to take over organized crime in the area.
Me: In Grand Lake?
Daniel: I’m guessing for recruiting purposes. From what I’ve gotten out of them so far, it looks like the Mayor had some system for identifying potential recruits. They’ve got a list.
Me: Maybe we should see if we can find that…
Daniel: If we can do it before the cops get here.
Me: You might be able to find it while they’re here. Well, if they don’t see you, anyway.
Daniel: If I’m going to try, I should start now. They’re coming.
When the telepathic connection stopped, Daniel announced, “I’m going to fly over and check on the normals. I don’t want them waking up before the police get here.”
As he began to float upward into the darkening sky, another thought occurred to me. Just before the murder that started all of this going, Burning Hands Guy had mentioned someone named Prime.
Me: Hey, Daniel. Who’s Prime?
Daniel: Oh… That’s the best part of this. You know how the Cabal was run by a bunch of immortals? The Cabal’s army is organizationally descended from one of the Roman Legions. I don’t know which one.
Me: And Prime is?
Daniel: I don’t know who it is is, but I’m guessing it’s short for the lead centurion in a legion — Primus Pilus.
Daniel: No kidding. You’ve just witnessed the one and only moment in my life when knowing about the Roman Empire was a practical skill.
He disappeared over the house as I began to hear sirens in the distance.
Moments like that one made me wonder if my dad had a point about teenaged superheroes. We’d just fought what amounted to trained soldiers, and could have died at their hands. If they’d had a better plan, more people, or if we’d made more mistakes, the fight could have turned out completely different.
We’d taken damage. I’d have to go over the Rocket suit looking for cracks, and test the internal systems. Jaclyn probably ought to see a doctor just to make sure.
And then, of course, there were the many little things we were keeping from the authorities. We weren’t telling Isaac about the Impregnator, or letting the police find a fairly important piece of evidence, simply because I felt uncomfortable with it.
What right did I have to make that kind of decision?
I didn’t know.