“Meet Patriot Jr.,” Agent Lim said. “His father is Patriot, one of the Liberators. He’s in the Young Liberators, and of course, the two of you know him.” He nodded toward Troll and Red Hex.
“This is the new Captain Commando,” Lim gestured toward me, “and the problem was that those guys,” he pointed at the guys on the ground, “were trying to kidnap a couple people, but it’s over. She stopped them. We’re cleaning up.”
“Nice work,” he said, and smiled at me. “Who are they with?”
“No idea,” I said, “I’m hoping Agent Lim will figure it out.”
Lim said, “The people in TP helmets might get lucky, but we’ll all have to wait for their report. In the meantime, Captain Commando, I’ve got some questions for you. Let’s talk over here.” He pointed his thumb to the side of the alley.
We walked on to the driveway of the brick building to the right of the alley—the one with the “No Trespassing” signs.
Then he asked me questions. Could I tell him exactly what the guy with the power juice test had been doing in front? Could I identify the kids he’d tried to kidnap? Had they said anything unusual? Could I remember the van’s license number?
I couldn’t give him much.
“Well, maybe the TP guys might catch it. Are you okay with them scanning you?”
I shrugged. “It’s okay, but watch out. You remember the mental shield the Mystic gave the Rocket? He set it up on everyone this summer.”
“No kidding. Not a bad idea, but it’s inconvenient now. You can go. I’ve got a couple things I need to tell my people.”
Lim walked over to the agent looking over the van’s tire tracks.
I walked toward other supers, watching as one of the men I’d hurt was loaded into an ambulance. The guy who’d been waiting around corner of the building was awake and moaning.
The other guy hadn’t woken up. His ambulance had left while I talked to Lim.
Sam and Rod stood next to each other—sort of. Rod sat. In troll form he was still taller than Sam. His thighs were thicker than some tree trunks I’d seen.
Patriot Jr. stood a few feet away, talking into a cellphone.
Sam asked “Did he tell you anything?”
“He asked me a pile of questions. I told him what I could.”
“We’re trying to figure out what to do next. What do you think?”
“I don’t know. I’d say wait for Lim, and see what they’ve got. He’s been straight with the League even when he hasn’t been much help.”
“Hey,” I continued, “can you do magical stuff? The Mystic can see the past sometimes. What about you?”
Sam gave a very quick shake of her head, and nodded just a little toward Patriot Jr.
She knew something and she didn’t want to share it. I said, “So what are you planning to do next?”
“Go home, maybe. There’s nothing more we can do here,” she said.
In a deep voice, almost too deep to understand, Rod said, “Too late for Vincent Sucks.”
Saliva gathered around the edges of his mouth.
Looking past the nearest buildings, Vee Club’s parking lot was almost full. Strangely, despite all the people walking toward the club, few of them even glanced in our direction. I didn’t know whether to put that down to Sam’s magic or big city boredom with capes.
Through the chatter of FBI agents and a distant sound of music coming from the front of Vee Club, Patriot Jr.’s voice carried. “—met the new Captain Commando. She’s kind of cute, but also kind of butch. You know what I mean?”
“Also kind of butch?” I wanted to hit him, and maybe I was overreacting, but I’d gone through all of high school with rumors that I was a lesbian (which might have been okay if I was).
“He’s a jerk,” Sam said.
Rod gave a half laugh, half snort, and made a rumble that sounded like, “Yeah.”
Patriot Jr. stopped talking. I thought he’d heard them, but then he said, “A disturbance? I’m there. There’s nothing left to look at here. The whole thing’s going nowhere.”
“Hey Commando,” he said, “you want to come along?”
And a few minutes before, maybe I’d have considered it. It wasn’t as if I really knew Sam or Rod. Plus, hanging around with a good looking guy versus Rod in Troll form was a clear win.
“No,” I said.
He flew away without a backward glance.
Around the same time, agents started picking up their phones, and beepers.
“We’ve got to go,” Lim shouted over at me as he ran for a car. “Big problem downtown! Don’t worry about anything here. No cameras. The guys you took down won’t recognize you.”
“Yeah? Who were they?”
“Don’t know yet! We’ll call you if we learn anything.” He opened the door, and drove off, followed by the rest of the agents.
Sam said, “Look at this.”
She held up a broken piece of beige plastic, grinning like it was some kind of treasure. “I found it next to the man who fell into the road. If it came from the van, I’ve got all I need to track it.”