We descended toward the house. Daniel and his father floated down with no visible means of support as if they were riding an invisible elevator. The wind held Vaughn in the air, blowing his hair wildly as he rode it down. Marcus circled down, gliding like a hawk. I followed Daniel, my jetpack set to give slightly less force than it would take to hover.
OK, Daniel’s dad thought at us, Bouman’s in the basement with his wife and kids. He’s armed with some kind of gun, probably equipment confiscated by the police. I have no idea what it can do so be careful and keep the violence to a minimum. If we can manage to capture Bouman without beating him unconscious in front of his family, I’ll be happy.
A burst of thought from Daniel: We’re going to be attacked shortly… um… now.
Men and women rose from below and surrounded us, but they didn’t attack.
I didn’t count how many, but it couldn’t have been more than ten. About half of them wore dark blue Rocket suits.
When my grandfather left the army, he left the suits he’d used during World War II with the government. They’d paid for them, right? The government left them alone for a while, but reverse engineered them in the 1980’s. Despite their efforts to update the design, Grandpa estimated the government version had to be twenty years behind his — and not just in technology.
Most supers, hero or villain make an effort to wear the designs that look inspiring. The government agents wore navy blue costumes (whether Rocket suits or not) with “FBI” written in big white letters across the chest.
I found it interesting to observe what they’d updated and what they’d kept from Grandpa’s design. For example, back in the war, the Rocket suit didn’t have sonics, but did have mountings to attach weapons under the arm. These suits had mountings (mostly using them for guns), but completely lacked the amplifier system that Grandpa had put into the original suit. Also, to judge from the shape of the helmets, they probably had night vision and better communication systems.
If they had radar, I’d be jealous.
On the bright side, the way things had been going, we’d probably end up with at least one wrecked suit by the end of the night.
I just hoped it wouldn’t be mine.
If it were one of theirs though, they probably wouldn’t miss a few pieces. The helmet for sure and maybe an arm to check if they also had control buttons in the palm.
As I began to consider edging toward them (the leg joints were an interesting departure from Grandpa’s design), their leader started to speak.
Brush cut and apparently in her forties, she didn’t wear a Rocket suit, just the armored bodysuit common to government supers.
“Don’t move! FBI!”
Easily cutting through the shouting below us, her voice included a humanly impossible cascade of tones, ranging from a deep bass to soprano.
“Mindstryke. Tell the Rhino to call off his attack.”
“Sorry, Agent Brown, but hell no. Bouman down there has telepathic hooks into too many minds. The sooner we deal with it, the better.”
To the rest of us he sent, When I give the word, drop and get into the house. I’ll handle them.
Agent Brown said, “Can you support that? I’ve got orders to bring anyone threatening Bouman in.”
“I’ve got six unconscious heroes who have something wrong with their heads, but I don’t have time for you to independently verify it.”
We dropped. They didn’t follow.
I don’t know whether Daniel’s dad stopped them, or whether they were scared and didn’t try to get around him.
Aside from being the son of a member of the Heroes League, Daniel’s dad was definitely on the A-list on his own merits. Daniel’s telekinetic output reached one thousand pounds of force on a good day. His dad’s output could be rated in tons.
I may have heard automatic weapons fire from above me as I went down, but if I did, it ended quickly.
Still, Daniel’s dad didn’t follow us down.
We flew down to the house and Daniel shattered one of the windows in the tower on the far end of the house. We all climbed inside.
Books lined the walls, almost all of them about law, government and public policy. The desk in the middle of the room displayed pictures of the mayor’s wife and children. The screensaver of the laptop on desk showed even more pictures — mostly beach scenes.
“The mayor’s in the basement,” Daniel said. “The Rocket and I had better go.”
“What are we supposed to do?” Vaughn turned toward him. “Stay here and surf the internet?”
“I don’t know,” Daniel said. “Just don’t come down. Bouman’s a telepath. If you get in range, we could end up fighting you.”
“Then why is Nick going down? He’s not a telepath.”
“Use his codename,” Daniel said. “Anyway, the Rocket’s got protection.”
“I thought you were going to fight the mayor, not have sex with him,” Vaughn said.
“Oh, funny,” Daniel said.
Marcus laughed. “Guys,” he said. “Guys, let’s get moving. Mystic, just tell us when you think we’re too close. We’ll stop, right uh… what are you calling yourself again?
“It was on the news,” Vaughn said. When no one else said anything, he said, “Call me Storm King.”
“I’m ‘The Shift’,” Marcus said. “As in third shift. Or shape shift.”
From outside, came several bursts of automatic weapons fire.
“Let’s go,” I said.