This looks interesting, Daniel thought, but we don’t have time to follow it all the way through. I’m going to have him free associate.
Scattered memories of passing years — Martin Magnus conducting a ceremony in a dark room, and handing Bouman a cup. Letters and couriers appearing in the dead of night carrying secret messages… Using an expanding telepathic awareness to enter the mind of one official after another… The mayor’s inspection of a gun wielding assassin’s now irreparably damaged mind…
A recent memory — A red-haired man in a black suit and sunglasses sat in the mayor’s study upstairs. I could feel a mixture of anticipation and fear as the mayor looked across the desk.
“You haven’t heard anything from Magnus?” The man said.
“Not since he left the Cabal, or I’d have reported it.”
“He’s wanted to know how the League made Red Lightning’s powers permanent for years.”
“Don’t we all,” the mayor said.
“We’ve got leads. During the Chicago operation, we found some interesting things in Magnus’ offices. They managed to get Red Lightning’s grandson to pass on some stuff he owned and it’s authentic. It includes some revised formulas for the ‘drink of the gods’ which improve on the original. Think about that for a second.”
“That ought to cause a shake-up. Senior leadership’s always said that couldn’t be done.”
“Almost all of the senior leadership’s more than a thousand years old. They’re overdue for a surprise. We’ve also got pictures of friends of his that almost have to be other League grandchildren. We don’t know their names yet, but that’s your job. Find out who they are and do anything you have to do to find the League’s records.”
“Are you talking about killing them?”
“I’m saying do whatever works.”
The mayor sat in the study for an hour after the man left. Could he justify it? They were only kids. Kids with freakish abilities, but kids nonetheless.
On the other hand, if he failed (or refused) his own boys would likely grow up without a father. Besides, he could do so much more good if his powers were permanent. The needs of the city outweighed the needs of the few.
Daniel jerked us out of the mayor’s head and back into reality.
The mayor’s body tumbled to the floor.
“We could be in there for hours,” Daniel said. “There’s just too much to go through.”
“Couldn’t you record his memories or something? Then you could carry it along.” I asked.
“That’s not recommended,” Daniel said. “Take too much into your brain and you end up with a fused personality, or worse, a kind of possession.”
While we’d been distracted, Water had changed back to normal form. He leaned over the mayor. “Yeah, one of this guy is enough. If you’re planning on getting him out of here, we should go soon. It’s getting worse out there.”
Now that he had said it, I realized that he was right. I heard more shouting, machine guns, police sirens, and shattering glass than I had earlier.
“Where’s the mayor’s family?” I asked.
“Out the window on the far end of the basement,” Water said. “I heard them while you guys were poking around inside.”
“I’ve got him,” Daniel said. “Let’s get out of here.”
The mayor floated into the air, flattening out as if he were on a bed, and moving up the stairs. We all followed him.
I found myself walking behind Water. “With all the bullets flying around, I’m surprised you changed back,” I said.
“I get sick of it,” he said. “There’s a lot to like, but it’s nice to breathe sometimes. Besides, I change quickly.”
With that we were up the stairs and walking into the kitchen. Marcus stood next to the stainless steel refrigerator. “You got him? Great. We’ve got to get out of here. I think I heard someone upstairs.”
“I still think you’re hearing things,” Vaughn said. He stood next to the granite counter, using his right hand to spread mayonnaise on wheat bread. He used his left hand to steady the mayo jar — but didn’t seem to put much force into it. It probably still hurt.
“You’re making a sandwich?” I said.
“I didn’t have supper,” Vaughn said. He put two slices of roast beef and a slice of swiss cheese on the bread.
“I didn’t take anything,” Marcus said, ” but they’ve got completely untouched shrimp pad thai and some kind of coconut milk based curry in the fridge. The kind with beef, green curry paste and those small eggplant?”
I hadn’t had supper either. My stomach growled.
We really needed to get out of there. Maybe we could get pizza or hit the Chinese buffet down on Washington Avenue later?
“Could you guys stop thinking about food?” Daniel said. “Between that and all the people outside I can barely sense — crap –”
He stared up at the ceiling as boards, plaster, and the chandelier rained down on the dining room table.
Vengeance jumped through the hole after them, using the edge to swing over the debris, and landing to the side of the table.
The Hangmen stumbled through after him, three hooded men with grayish skin. They landed in a clump, breaking the table. A jagged sliver of wood punctured the leg of one of them. It didn’t bleed and the Hangman didn’t seem overly concerned. He just pulled it out.
The walking dead are like that, I guess.