Vaughn, Marcus, and Daniel, each of them too tired to fly, ended up riding in the back of Night Wolf’s car with Travis and Haley.
With the Rocket suit’s computer down, I didn’t feel comfortable with the idea of flying either, so I ran back to HQ. Jaclyn ran with me, making sure I made it. Even with many systems down, the suit still did most of the work, so I was okay. Besides, I’d rested a little while other people talked to police and reporters.
Taking off the suit turned out to be a near impossible without help. Systems that were supposed to unlock the armor’s sections wouldn’t release their hold.
Travis, Haley, and Jaclyn all helped remove pieces, sometimes with tearing noises that made me cringe.
Looking at the pile of parts afterward, I wondered what I was supposed to wear. I still hadn’t finished repairing the regular suit. It didn’t have too far to go, but I didn’t know exactly how long. I’d begun to worry that I’d have to just recreate the whole arm instead of fixing the melted one.
I didn’t even like to think about how long repairing the 80’s Rocket suit would take.
I could have used the classic 60’s and 70’s version of the armor, but it wasn’t just one suit. I had three similar (but not quite complete) suits with parts that could almost be easily swapped.
I didn’t even consider using the space version of the suit. With all the talk about various Defenders units going to space, I thought I might need it soon.
I could have used the underwater version, but I hadn’t fully checked that one over. And anyway, it wasn’t intended for land use.
In the end I decided I’d have to use the stealth suit for a while. On the bright side, I had a couple extra jackets, and, unlike any of the other suits, I could create replacements for the stealth suit quickly.
If I supplemented it with other gadgets that might be enough to tide me over until I could use the real Rocket suit.
I walked out of the lab to see most of the team standing next the main table in front of the wall screen, talking over what had happened. Haley walked with me. I hadn’t realized that she was there.
“Are you okay?”
“I don’t know. Mostly just tired.” I paused, then said, “What was Sean thinking? He didn’t have to do that.”
“Do you think he tried to?”
“I don’t know. I did kind of piss him off recently, but he wasn’t looking at me or anything as he did it.”
“If he knew who we were, he might.”
“I don’t think he does. He hasn’t said anything, and he’s not quiet about things like that.”
“No, he’s not.”
At that point, I came within earshot of the group’s conversation.
“What we really needed,” Jaclyn said, “was communication. I didn’t have any idea what Haley or any of her crew were doing. Not that I’m complaining.” She looked over at Haley. “I heard you did a good job.”
“She did,” Cassie said. “We wouldn’t have found half the people we did without her. Most of the time, they barely knew we were there.”
Marcus slouched in one of the seats next to the table. “Cassie’s right. I bet some of them still don’t know what hit them.”
“Thanks,” Haley said. “But it wasn’t hard.”
“But I still wish we’d known what was going on with you,” Travis said. “If it had all gone wrong, there were a lot of them back there. They could have killed you all and we wouldn’t notice.”
I thought about it and said, “Daniel might have known.”
“No,” Daniel said. “They were out of range most of the time.”
Like Marcus, Daniel sat at the table. He sat up, but he still looked tired.
“You’ve talked about a new communications system,” Travis said. “You should make it first priority. We’ll need it. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of these guys.”
I sighed. “I’ve still got to fix my own stuff.”
“I know,” Travis said, “but communication could save us all.”
“While you’re at it,” Vaughn said, “make it something Sean can’t nuke. I had my cellphone with me, and it’s dead. My parents are going to be pissed.”
Deciding to ignore the possibility that he’d accidentally done it himself, I nodded.
Ignored by all of us, the local Fox affiliate played on the wall screen. Unlike all the other channels, they had news at ten pm instead of eleven. I remembered seeing them show up after the fight.
We all went silent when they started showing the aftermath of the fight. From the way they presented it, you would have thought Sean won the fight by himself. They showed the piles of guns, and the unconscious bodies. I appeared, weaving a little in the Rocket suit before I sat down. Paramedics checked over Daniel and Vaughn in the background while they interviewed Sean.
“They’re lucky we showed up,” Sean said.
No one asked him why our team seemed so much more tired than theirs.
The next story was about how the Executioner team was finally going to trial.
According to the reporter, “The prosecutor’s office believes that even if they can’t link them to other murders, the alleged murder of FBI agents should be enough to send them to jail, or possibly to their own executions.”
We all went home after the broadcast. I walked with Rachel. Neither of us said very much, and even more than team communicators, I thought about going to bed.
Except I couldn’t. I had half my calculus homework to finish.