On Monday, when I went back to school, I couldn’t help but notice that all the members of Justice Fist seemed to be tired.
I’d have put it down to them spending a lot of time by Lucas bedside, except I hadn’t seen any of them when we were there. And really, I only saw Jody, Dayton, and Sean. They were walking ahead of me in the hall. Sean had ditched the crutches, but he still limped a little on the leg where I kicked him.
He limped a little more that day.
I was a few people behind them, too many to have any chance of hearing a conversation, but they didn’t show any signs of having one.
I caught a glimpse of Julie at lunch. She sat with her friends, but seemed to be doing more listening than talking. It reminded me that I needed to get back to work on the device for blocking her voice.
I never saw Camille (whose name I usually couldn’t remember anyway), and Shannon, of course, went to Haley’s school.
I didn’t like it.
I remembered Vaughn just after using the Impregnator. He’d been unconscious, and seemed tired even after he did wake up. The next day when he’d actually tried to use his powers, he’d ended up drained, and all but babbling.
If they had all gone through the Impregnator, they would have powers all the time now, and if Red Lightning’s results were any guide, sometimes more powers. He’d only been a little more than a walking taser on power juice, but after the Impregnator, he was stronger, tougher, and he could fly.
Shannon probably deserved a little more power. Darkness wasn’t very effective offensively.
I wasn’t sure about the rest of them though — well, except for Lucas. He seemed okay.
Nothing happened that confirmed my worries until after school.
I was walking down the hall, backpack hanging on my back, trying to decide whether to bum a ride off somebody, or just walk home.
The next thing I knew, my feet were in the air, and I was falling backwards. If I’d learned nothing else from Lee, I had learned how to fall. The backpack didn’t help, but the stealth suit underneath my clothes did. I didn’t get hurt.
The books in my backpack made a loud slapping noise though.
As I stood up, someone asked if I was okay. I told them I was.
I just didn’t know why I’d fallen.
When I looked at the front doors though, I had an idea. Jody had joined Dayton and Sean, and stood there, looking back at me and laughing.
He hadn’t been there before. I knew he hadn’t been there.
“Not cool,” Dayton said.
Sean said something. I couldn’t hear it. He didn’t exactly look concerned though.
I walked out without stopping, and made it halfway down the steps before Dayton caught up with me. He towered over me. “Are you okay?”
I didn’t slow down to talk more about it, and he rejoined his friends. I started to walk down the sidewalk, and stopped, wondering if I should keep on walking when I knew that Sean, Jody, and Dayton would be passing me in a car soon.
A rematch didn’t seem likely to end well.
I stood, and looked toward the track. The school partially blocked my view of it, but I could see the team stretching in a circle in the middle. I’d enjoyed running long distance the years I’d done it. Part of me wished I was out there with them. Part of me wondered if exposing the mayor last fall had been a mistake. Ultimately, letting him recruit everyone he could into the Cabal wouldn’t have been a good thing, but handing the Cabal’s techniques over to everybody didn’t seem to be going well either.
Not that everybody could use them, but the selection of the people who could hadn’t exactly been improving my life lately.
When I turned away from the track, I noticed Chris Cannon’s Honda Civic in the parking lot.
I crossed the street, found an entrance in the fence, and went around to the car. Chris showed up not long after that.
“Let me guess,” he said, “you don’t feel like walking home?”
“That would be a good guess.”
Once we shut the doors, I said, “There’s a little more to it though.”
I caught him up on what had been happening in my life — Justice Fist, the Impregnator, the Cabal’s army, the possibility that the Executioner might come back, all of it — well, all of it except for Lee, and anything that pointed to the League’s identities.
“Are you sure I need to know this?” He asked when I finished.
I’d asked myself the same question.
“Yes. The Executioner tends to kill off friends of the victim first, and leaves the target for last.”
“So I could be –” He stopped talking, and I noticed that he was gripping the steering wheel hard enough that his knuckles whitened. Fortunately, he hadn’t turned on the car yet.
“Shit,” he said.
“I know. I thought I’d tell you ahead of time. They’re all still in jail, so you can start preparing now. Also, if Jody’s really responsible for tripping me, you might want to think about him too. Maybe we can coordinate somehow.”
“Yeah,” Chris said. He started the car, and pulled out of the parking lot a little faster than necessary. The Civic’s engine rumbled. He’d put in one that was considerably more powerful than the car needed.
“I can’t believe Jody just tripped you like that.”
“I don’t know it for sure. If it was him, he was moving so fast I couldn’t see it.”
Conversation lapsed, and the ride home was a little quieter than usual. It was understandable, but it still felt uncomfortable.
After he let me off at home, I walked down to HQ. Bored of fixing the Rocket suit, I worked on a couple ideas I’d had for weaponizing the roachbots.