Inside the police department looked like most institutional buildings — beige walls, tile floor, cubicles — but with the obvious addition of men and women in blue carrying guns.
We ended up standing inside a conference room. “We” in this case meant new and old Heroes League members, the Midwest Defenders, the FBI representatives, PsyKick, Larry, and a few police.
It was a big conference room — two, actually. They’d taken out the divider between two rooms as we came in.
The tables had been pushed to the wall and the sleeping bodies placed in the middle of the room. All the rest of us stood around the edges while Daniel, his dad, the Fed with the psychic helmet, and PsyKick deep probed their minds.
We had nothing to do. Daniel’s dad had asked us to be as quiet as possible before they started.
For a while, I watched the telepaths, but watching three men stand motionless while a fourth (PsyKick) sat and meditated was not interesting. After that I looked around, read the motivational posters, and decided that I felt more tired than motivated.
Next to me, Haley leaned against the wall, doing nothing at first, but then started quietly drumming her fingers against the wall.
Ahead of us, the Fed wearing the silver helmet looked up her. Then he held up his left hand, pointed at it with his right, and shook his head.
Haley pulled her hand away from the wall and looked up at me, her face wearing a mildly annoyed expression.
She shook her head.
After a few more minutes, I had a bright idea. I adjusted the pitch of the speaker so that it went above the range of human hearing.
“Can you hear me?” I asked.
She moved so that her back faced the telepaths and the bodies. “You sound like a hamster,” she whispered.
“Best I could do,” I said.
She glanced over her shoulder.
No one seemed to have noticed us.
“We ought to do something again,” I said. “I don’t know when, but it looks like this whole thing with the mayor is wrapping up. Do you have any nights off next weekend?”
“I don’t know,” she said. “Travis always seemed to get nights off when he was at home. I’ll talk to my dad. Even if I don’t, there’s always weekdays.”
“Assuming we both don’t get grounded because of tonight,” I said.
“I’m safe,” she said. “Both of my parents are working till two.”
“Lucky you,” I said. “My dad’s probably up reading and waiting for me. I’m surprised he hasn’t tried to call me yet.”
The readout above my helmet’s eye holes showed the time as 10:23 PM.
“You two are dating?” Travis said.
The last I’d seen he had been standing across the room next to Jaclyn, Cassie, and Vaughn. I didn’t even notice that he’d moved until he stood next to the two of us.
“None of your business,” Haley said.
“Hey,” Travis said. “I approve. I mean, the Rocket’s a hell of an improvement over that guy you were dating last year.”
Turning his face toward me, he said, “We’re talking total asshole.”
“We didn’t date very long,” Haley said.
“You know how much of an asshole? She ended up scratching the guy. You know, with the poison dewclaw?”
“Travis,” she whispered, but it was a loud whisper. Then she gave a quick kick to his foot.
“Like I said,” Travis continued, “he was a total asshole. Anyway, I’ll leave you two.”
Everyone in the room seemed to be staring at us as he walked away.
“Sorry,” Haley said.
“Well,” Daniel’s dad said, “We were done anyway.”
Guardian stepped away from the wall and said, “What have you got?”
“A lot. We should go over it in private.” Daniel’s dad turned to the agent next to him. “Sid, did the helmet record everything?”
Sid nodded. “Every last bit. The kids should consider themselves cleared of any possible charges. We might have questions for them later but obviously we know what was really going on now.”
“Good,” Daniel’s dad said. He turned to us. “You can go if you want. If you need a lift, the Rhino can take you back.”
“Call me when you need me,” Larry said.
“It’ll be soon.” Daniel’s dad examined the bodies. “As long as Sid’s recorded everything and PsyKick can testify he’s seen the same thing as everyone else, I’ll dismantle Bouman’s suggestions and wake these people up. PsyKick?”
“My mystic powers have revealed unto me the mayor’s deceptive tactics as well.”
Daniel’s dad said, “I’ll take that as a yes.”
Then he turned back to the bodies.
Daniel walked over to Haley and I.
Switching back to a normal voice, I said, “So what did they find? Anything we missed?”
“Some more, yeah. My dad had me show him what I found earlier and then he explored a little further, but he didn’t pass any back my way. They’re going after Magnus and the Cabal though. I could tell Dad was looking for the day to day operational stuff. You know, the way they communicate, the kind of resources they have, where they live, names of people involved…”
Out of the corner of my eye, I notice Cassie and Vaughn joining the group of us with Jaclyn, Travis and Marcus close behind them.
“We’ll get in on it, right?” Cassie said.
Daniel shrugged. “I’d like to, but I get the feeling Dad’s not too wild about it, and even if he were, I know that Guardian isn’t. So I’d bet against it.”
“That’s not fair. We’re the only reason they even know about it. I should go over there and…” She stopped and watched the middle of the room. Daniel’s dad stepped back as Water helped Fire to her feet. She hung on to his shoulder. On the floor, Earth and Air blinked at the lights and looked confused.
Mindstryke turned toward me. “Rocket, you’ll want to get out of the room before I wake Tomahawk here. Bouman wasn’t powerful enough to get that much of a response without something to work with.”
“Wait,” I said, “so Tomahawk really hates me?”
“I wouldn’t say that,” Daniel’s dad said, “but let’s call him a sore loser.”
“I guess I’ll go then.”