I put my seatbelt on, noticing as I did it that they hadn’t just sent “Burning Hands Man.” The driver was one of Prime’s reserves–a big, bald muscular guy.
Talk about overkill.
Even with part of the stealth suit under my clothes, I still had no chance against either of them.
Burning Man turned around, handing me a piece of black cloth. It had been folded over several times.
“It’s a blindfold. Tie it around your head and don’t get clever.”
It blocked the light pretty well. If I wanted to try to sneak peaks at passing scenery, I’d have to lean my head back till it was nearly flat.
Once the blindfold was on, they started driving.
Haley might have known exactly where she was just by the smells and the sounds. I lost track of where I was within minutes.
Within five minutes, the most I could guess was that we’d gotten on the highway. I only guessed that because driving downtown meant a lot of stops and starts.
After a turn, and a feeling of acceleration, the engine got louder, and the jeep didn’t stop anymore.
My guards didn’t talk, but one of them turned the radio to an oldies station. “Don’t Fear the Reaper” (I remembered playing it on Rock Band) would have been perfect somehow, but the first song I heard was by a band called “Flock of Seagulls.”
It was followed up by “Wham!”
I didn’t know much about either group, but something felt vaguely wrong about the idea of riding to one’s death accompanied by 80’s pop.
After a while, the radio and the sound of the jeep’s engine faded into the background, and the part of my brain that came up with messages of gloom and doom started working overtime.
I was sitting in the back seat of a jeep with two people who could easily kill me. I had no idea where I was going except that I’d be meeting with Ray, someone whose reputation demanded that he execute me at some point.
And what was I going to do about it? Hope that they didn’t have a device that kept Rachel out, and pray Lee showed up before things got really bad.
It wasn’t as if Lee hadn’t had us come with plans for what to do if someone got captured. Sending Rachel out to follow the captors was even part of it.
What sucked is that I didn’t know whether she’d managed. Her maximum speed while flying topped out around thirty. If she couldn’t catch the jeep at the beginning, she’d never catch up.
And then I’d be completely alone.
Rachel aside, what were the chances that Haley would be able to follow in Night Wolf’s car and not stand out? In something that looked like a vintage corvette? Low.
As I reminded myself that Rachel had successfully hung on to Rocket suit in flight, I felt the jeep slow, and turn, slowing more quickly as it did, and finally stopping.
After that, it started moving again, but I didn’t think it was going as fast, and the road felt bumpier.
A little later, the jeep came to a stop.
“Can I take off the blindfold now?”
“Not if you want to walk away from here. Keep it on until we’re inside,” said Burning Hands Man.
Doors opened. I took off my seatbelt, and one of them grabbed my arm and led me out.
It felt hot outside, and I couldn’t hear any cars at all. Between that and the car ride, I guessed we had to be out in the country somewhere.
Birds sang as we walked across… something flat. It might have been a parking lot or a driveway.
I heard a door swing open, and then we were inside, experiencing colder air, and the slightly stale smell of air conditioning.
“We’ve got him,” Burning Hands told somebody.
“That’s the new Rocket? He’s a kid.”
“So are the rest of ’em.”
“Yeah, well, bring him to the conference room.”
They walked me down a hall or two and took off my blindfold.
It looked like every conference room in the world except maybe on the cheap end–a long table with chairs, brown wood paneled walls, and a beige, carpeted floor.
No windows though. No pictures hung on the walls either.
It had a small refrigerator, the kind you find in hotel rooms or college dorms.
Burning Hands Man stood by the door. “Ray’s coming. I’ll be right outside. Don’t even try to leave.”
The air near his right hand shimmered.
Then he stepped out the door, and shut it.
I evaluated my resources. Aside from my suit and phone (which amazingly they still hadn’t taken), I had chairs, the table, florescent ceiling lights, 110 volt electricity from the outlets, and a refrigerator.
Like that was going to help.
The door opened, and Ray walked in. He looked the same as ever–a little shorter than me, and still wearing the Rolex he’d shown me at the Christmas party.
I’d half expected to find him in camouflage clothing, but he wore a blue button down shirt and khakis.
In an office setting, I supposed that might be camouflage clothing.
The pistol hanging at his waist would make him stand out though.
“Nice to see you again, Nick. We’re waiting on the local Syndicate L representative. He’s here, but he had to handle something.”