Minutes later, Haley drove Night Wolf’s car to the far end of the hangar and into the tunnel. Rachel rode in the front with her, and I sat in the back.
We came out in the forest. The “rock” closed behind us, and we followed the access trail out of Veterans Memorial Park.
Once we got to the road, Haley accelerated, moving ten to fifteen miles per hour faster than the speed limit at every opportunity.
We had thirty minutes left to get there, easily enough time, but given that her parents might be first in line to be shot, I understood it.
In the back seat, I took off my helmet, backpack, utility belt, boots, jacket, and gloves (not to mention the guitar). I detached the sonics, but I kept the thinnest layer of the stealth suit on, and put my clothes over it.
It wouldn’t give me the same level of strength or protection as the Rocket suit or even the full stealth suit, but it might give me a second chance if someone stabbed or shot me.
I left my communicator, and kept my League phone. With any luck they wouldn’t have anyone capable of telling the difference between it and any other cell phone.
Haley took the highway into downtown, cutting a couple minutes off our time.
I hoped so anyhow. It would justify the driving. Haley sped up once we merged into traffic, going much faster than ten to fifteen mile per hour over the speed limit.
I didn’t look at the speedometer. Glancing outside told me enough. We were passing the other cars like they were standing still.
I’d have been scared for my life if Vaughn were driving, but Haley had uncanny reflexes so even when the semi-truck ahead of us slowed down, she steered the car into the left lane before I had time to worry.
I wouldn’t have dared to try fitting the car between the two cars on our left, but she’d managed it.
As soon as we passed the semi, she crossed three lanes of traffic to go down the exit to Sykes Street.
“And all that without killing anybody,” Rachel said.
“I was in control the whole time.”
“I didn’t say you weren’t.”
The blocks around Fulton and Sykes Street weren’t the nicest in the city, but they weren’t terrible. Most of the buildings dated from the late 19th and early 20th century. Half were abandoned, their windows boarded up. They hadn’t been painted in the last twenty years at best.
We passed a Mexican grocery store, bar, a taqueria, a coffee shop, and a McDonalds.
On the bright side, the place wasn’t completely abandoned, but I doubted it would be photographed for the city’s tourism brochures any time soon.
Haley pulled Nightwolf’s car into a used car lot half a block down from Fulton and Sykes, and next to the McDonalds.
I had five minutes left.
Haley pulled the car between two rows of cars, and stopped.
“I’ll be outside,” Rachel said, and disappeared.
I squeezed between the bucket seats, and got into the front.
“Well,” I began.
I couldn’t see her full expression through the mask, but her eyes looked a little red.
She put her hand on mine, we leaned in, and kissed.
“Hurry,” Rachel said. Her voice sounded like she was inside the car.
I opened the door, and got out.
Then I ran for the corner.
It didn’t take long. Maybe thirty seconds at most. Once you get close to downtown, the blocks get shorter.
I still had four minutes before the deadline, time I spent standing on the corner wondering which of the four corners would be best.
I stood in front of the McDonalds, listening to the hum of car engines, and people ordering (“I want a cheeseburger, fries, and a large, orange drink…”).
Kitty corner from me stood “Bill’s Bikini Bar and Grille.”
It wasn’t open, but the bikini tops on the sign blinked off, and on.
Meanwhile, the brick buildings on the other two corners had been boarded up.
Even as I began to wonder about the time, a rusty, white jeep stopped in front of me. It had to be at least twenty years old.
The door opened, and a blond man with a pimpled face opened the door. I recognized him as one of Prime’s people.
“Get in. We don’t got all day.”
He stepped out, pushing the seat forward, giving me a straight shot to the back.
I climbed in, and remembered the last time I’d seen him, controlling an urge to cringe. He stepped in behind me, and shut the door.
It was the guy who’d melted the arm of the regular Rocket suit with his hands.