Kids don’t really know adults. What I remembered of Jaclyn’s grandfather from the picnics was a man who spent a lot more time laughing, telling funny stories, and coaxing me into racing Jaclyn. I think I only ever won one race. He gave me a forty-nine foot head start out of fifty feet and even then it was a near thing.
As a crimefighter though, he had the old school, “fight the criminals, and run from the cops” approach.
I wouldn’t have expected it, but maybe I should have. The Heroes League pretty much defined the old school as well as bringing about it’s demise. When you get popular, you don’t have to run from the cops unless you want to avoid signing autographs.
“Now I don’t know exactly what we would have done,” he said, “except that Captain Commando would already be out there. He never did wait for anything.”
He paused and thought for a moment.
“It seems to me that Daniel should be able to find them all if his powers are anything like his grandfather’s.”
“I’m weaker than he was,” Daniel said.
“Ah, your grandfather wasn’t any great shakes at the beginning. You’ll do fine. Mind you, if all of you come at them at once, they’ll run away. I’d say find them and then let one of you become visible. After that, the rest of you come out of the shadows.”
* * *
Twenty minutes later we all stood in the woods while Daniel scanned the area. All of us except for Jaclyn’s grandfather at any rate. Someone had to stay in HQ in case Vaughn showed up. Also, I don’t think he wanted anyone to have to protect him in a fight.
“I’m not getting much of anybody,” Daniel said.
“You ought to be,” Travis said, “we gave them the slip around here just before Nick finally let us in.”
I wondered whether the irritation in his voice was more for me or Daniel.
“They must have moved,” Daniel said, flashing me a mental picture of Travis with his mask stuffed in his mouth.
No question who Daniel was irritated with.
“No, wait,” Daniel said. “I’ve got all five of them. Red Bolt, Future Knight and Water are over on the edge of the park. Tomahawk and Fire are in the air above the park looking for people.”
“Hey,” Cassie said, “we can split up and attack them simultaneously. Everyone who can fly goes up and the rest of us attack the people left on the ground.”
“Right,” Travis said, “only use the ambush strategy C suggested. Also Mystic, hang back unless the fliers are losing. If we lose you, we lose any chance to communicate between the two groups.”
So that’s how I found myself flying into combat with Marcus, the person I knew least of everybody on the team while Daniel stayed on the ground.
I flew through the trees, a bunch of big evergreens, into the twilight sky. Marcus hung onto my leg, having transformed into a reptilian thing that most reminded me of a pterodactyl except that real pterodactyls never had tentacles. I had no way of knowing for sure, but I seriously doubted that they had had the same grayish skin that Travis and Haley’s hands had after their transformations.
“Hope you don’t mind,” he said, “I’d never keep up with you if I had to flap my wings.”
“No problem,” I said.
Real pterodactyls probably didn’t talk either.
We saw Tomahawk and Fire approximately the same time they saw us.
They had just passed the big swing set on the edge of the playground and were beginning to fly over the forest. Unlike when she’d appeared over the mayor’s house, Fire appeared to be a woman shaped fire.
Tomahawk looked just the same as the last time I’d seen him except much, much angrier.
He made a beeline for me, screaming something.
He said he’s going to rip you limb from limb and he really means it, Daniel sent, but I could barely make it out. We were probably on the edge of his range.
I don’t know that I mentioned this before, but Tomahawk could really haul, and it was obvious he intended to ram me.
“Let go!” I shouted back to Marcus.
“I’ll do it. That guy looks insane,” he said, letting go with the tentacle, transforming into a more dragon-like form, and diving.
I opened up the jetpack to full power and swerved right. Tomahawk shot past me, trying to turn, but failing, and ending up a quarter mile behind me and to my right before he managed to slow down, ending up above the houses next to the park. If Grandpa had ever put aerial defenses into HQ, he wouldn’t be far from them. I had to check on that sometime.
In the meantime, my best shot would be to get him over Daniel (or the Mystic while in costume) and let Daniel take the guy’s head apart, but if I couldn’t, I’d have to punch him until he went down.
I tried to get Daniel’s attention mentally, but couldn’t raise him.
Meanwhile, Tomahawk had turned around and started to rush toward me again.
I started to fly upwards, but then it occurred to me that last time I’d defeated him by putting myself into situations where agility and planning mattered more than speed. He’d be able to take care of a change in height easily. What I had to do was get him over the forest where Daniel was hiding.
Adjusting my route, I flew straight towards him, passing over the forest and reaching the edge of the park before I turned right to lead him over Daniel’s position.
Unfortunately, I’d misjudged how close I could get to him and still stay ahead. I felt him grab my leg and yank even as I began to fly over trees again.