I don’t remember exactly who made the patrol schedule, but whoever it was never scheduled Haley and I on the same night.
I asked Cassie about it one night, and she’d said they tried to match people’s movement styles, like putting people who could fly together, for example. “And also,” she’d said, “We want you to patrol instead of making out in the car.”
That would have been completely unfair except that we actually had used Night Wolf’s car to get some privacy during the winter. We’d called it patrolling, but since we mostly stayed in the same place, it didn’t really count. To be fair though, the parking lot of Grand Lake’s beach, the access road to the city’s softball fields, and a number of spots around the city where a car could park unobtrusively had never been better protected.
On Thursday, a couple days after we’d fought the Cabal’s army, Travis ended up working unexpectedly instead of patrolling with Haley.
She called me, and we drove off in Night Wolf’s car.
Disappointingly, we actually did patrol, but it made for a nice break from repairing the Rocket suit.
I went in the stealth suit, complete with guitar, and I guessed that we’d end up driving around town.
I was wrong. Haley had other ideas.
“I’d like to try the grappling hooks.”
“There’s not much to try. You shoot them toward the top of a building, and they pull you up.”
“You know what I mean. You told me why you gave everyone two of them.”
“Well, that was kind of the dream, but I’m betting it’s more complicated than Spider-Man makes it look.”
“I want to try it. I think it would be a fun way to move around downtown.”
Just for the record, trying to swing from building to building in Grand Lake is not like trying to swing from building to building in New York City. At least from what I’d seen in movies, New York’s downtown buildings seemed to be at least five stories high, and a lot of them were higher. Not only that, but New York was a big city and had been a big city for a long time, so they had tall buildings all over.
At the time, they had 8 million people within the city limits.
Grand Lake was a second tier city. It had around a million, including the suburbs. Downtown had three or four blocks of office buildings that might qualify for swinging. North of downtown, the old factories, the university, and the area around the Morehouse Arena might also qualify, but the buildings became two or three story shops or houses fairly quickly past that.
It didn’t stop us from trying though.
So just a quick word about swinging between buildings. It’s a lot easier if your agility is better than human, and you’ve got some way to cling to walls. Bonus points if your senses are freakishly good.
All of which meant that Haley had an easier time of it than I did.
We parked the car near the arena, directly in front of Sid’s Tavern. Sid’s occupied the first floor of a five story building that had been refurbished to look like people imagined Victorian buildings had looked instead of how they actually were. Concrete gargoyles, and complex decorations had been added to the edges of the roof, the corners, and the front.
The arena didn’t have anything going that night, so Sid’s looked empty. Certainly the streets were.
Haley jumped into the air, landing with her right hand in the window frame, clawed feet grasping the bricks and molded concrete decorations below it. With her left hand, she pulled a grappling hook off of her utility belt.
I wasn’t. I wasn’t even sure how to start. I thought about hovering with the rocketpack, and swinging from there, but Haley must have seen my fingers twitch toward the buttons on the palm of my gauntlet.
“Hey, no cheating.”
I pulled both grappling hooks from my belt, pointed one at the fourth floor of Sid’s, and the other at the building across the street. Then I had both of the devices retract line until I hung above the street at approximately the same level as Haley.
After that we swung through the downtown streets, something made possible by the fact that the “grappling hooks” weren’t hooks and didn’t grapple. They were guns that shot out a long line with an adhesive tip. We could control whether it stuck or not, retract the line, or whatever.
I needed to come up with a better name.
Anyway, we swung through downtown, keeping at least fifty feet above traffic most of the time. On the whole, it felt somewhere between exhilarating and terrifying.
Haley stayed ahead of me, but that was okay.
We had a good hour of it between seven and eight. Avoiding getting the sun in our eyes made it a little more work, but it felt fun once I got the hang of it.
The police seemed to be amused. With the police headquarters downtown, it wasn’t much of a surprise that officers would notice, and comment on police band.
I don’t know if that’s how the sniper realized we were out there, or if someone had stationed people to watch the routes we usually patrolled, but whatever the case, they found us.
We were outside the main area of downtown, past the mix of modern and Victorian architecture and into the area near where we parked the car, an area that could be best described by “urban renewal” — converted factories and old shops. Some were empty and abandoned. Others were bars, quietly trendy clubs, and new restaurants.
I didn’t hear the shot. I didn’t even realize anything was wrong until Haley twisted in the air in front of me to avoid it, and then let out enough line to drop to the ground.
The stealth suit tensed at the impact of the bullets hitting my chest. I hoped they weren’t armor piercing rounds.