I sent everybody a red, and a message. Then I ran back to the lab, and started to put on the Rocket suit.
I’d spent a lot of time fixing and modifying the Rocket suit that summer, but I hadn’t spent much time figuring out how to get it on faster. You know how the armor comes from all directions and attaches itself in the Iron Man movies? I needed that.
The portable briefcase version wouldn’t have hurt either.
The comics do the movies one better. Stark stores the armor in the marrow of his bones, and it forms around him. Don’t ask me how that works, but it’d be nice.
I had to strip out of my regular clothes, put on the bottom layer of the stealth suit, step my feet into the boots, lean back into the main body of the suit, and snap the front of main body and upper legs shut. Once everything else was done, I put on the helmet.
It’s awkward, more awkward without anyone to help.
Once everything was on, I had to run down my check list, making sure that each armor section showed up without error, all weapons responded, and the rockets had fuel.
I could have saved a little time by skipping the check list, but Rocket suit problems aren’t the sort of thing you want to discover in the middle of a fight.
The reason why most teams have someone like Kayla back at HQ became even more obvious as I put the suit on. When you send a red alert (even if you do send a message), everyone’s going to call you back with questions. If you’re putting on armor while they call, you can’t answer the phone unless you get out, or finish and transfer the call to the suit.
Either way, the call will probably go to voicemail before you can answer.
I didn’t even try.
Kayla and Rachel met me as I stepped out of the lab.
“I’m so sorry,” Kayla began. “I never get that angry.”
She seemed like she was about to say more, but Rachel started talking. “That had to be more Evil Beatnik than you.”
“Don’t worry about it,” I said to Kayla. “I’ve got to go. They hit the county jail. It’s up on the screen. People have been calling, but I was busy getting into this—”
“Let’s go,” Rachel said.
I glanced back as Rachel and I stepped into the Grand Lake exit tunnel to see Kayla running to the computer table, and starting to make calls.
She seemed OK.
* * *
You know that line people always say about not making the same mistake twice? We didn’t have to because Sean did it for us.
Rachel and I approached from the air. Even from a distance we could see smoke. When we got closer Ojibwa County Correctional Facility only looked worse.
A five story tall, white cylinder, the county jail held people with no or weak powers who had committed relatively minor crimes—retail fraud, burglary, drunken driving, and so on.
A section of concrete wall lay in chunks next to the building. Stretching from the roof to the ground, the hole had to be at least twenty feet wide.
I couldn’t know what they intended, but if they were hoping overjoyed prisoners would stream out of the jail, it hadn’t worked. The prisoners I could see cowered in their cells, staying as far from the edge as they could.
Presumably serving their sentences sounded better than jumping twenty feet (or more) and landing on a pile of broken concrete.
Dixie Supergirl swooped out of the sky, flying inside through the hole, shattering the door to the cell. Crashing noises came from inside the prison.
Destruction Boy flew after her.
My helmet beeped, and Jaclyn’s voice came over the speakers.
“OK. Here’s the plan, the Rocket and I go in after them. Shift and Ghost, be ready in case more are hiding in the crowd. Otherwise be ready to surprise them. Storm King, zap them if they fly out without us.”
This time clearly, we had a plan.
I dived toward the hole in the jail, noticing Jaclyn’s purple blur below me, passing around the fire trucks, police cars, and onlookers in the parking lot in front of the jail.
As I mentally readied myself to fight, another (green, blue, and silver) blur streaked ahead of me in the air, stopping in the cell where Dixie Supergirl had broken the door.
The Rocket suit magnified the images. Sean, Dayton, and Jody stood next to each other wearing their Justice Fist costumes. Clearly made to match each other, they reminded me again of the Power Rangers.
The prisoner whose room they’d invaded shrank away from them, huddling in the corner in his florescent orange jumpsuit.
Before either Jaclyn or I caught up with them, Sean launched himself through the shattered doorway, and into the prison.