The metal looked wrong. Even rusted, the color shimmered between blue and green. Nick would have known the name of the metal, but I’d seen it before—in the engine room of the Heroes League’s “jet.”
Nick’s grandfather had scavenged the engines from an alien spaceship.
It put a new spin on everything in the room, and I had no way to read any of the clay tablets or anything. One of them might be the impregnator’s owner’s manual for all I knew.
Not that the writing on the tablets looked anything like the writing on the machine. Small, and largely corroded, symbols appeared in the middle of indentations on the device that might have been buttons.
And that wasn’t the only thing that looked like it had been made with alien metal. Pieces of the stuff were scattered around the room, some merely bits with writing on them. Others were complete devices—corroded, but complete.
Not that I recognized what they were for, or even had time to think about it.
When Rod stepped into the room, he went for the guards while Sam and I ran along the wall on the right side, heading for the storage room where they were keeping the people they’d kidnapped.
I heard gunshots, shouts, and cries of pain as we ran. Glancing back, I saw that Rod had taken down the four guards stationed next to the left of the doors.
All according to plan.
It was nice to be part of one that worked for a little while.
As we came closer to the door, I had an odd feeling, much like the kind I get when Daniel reaches out and starts talking directly into my head. It didn’t feel like Daniel though. It felt stranger, more controlled—emotionless.
Maybe Nick wouldn’t have been bothered by it. Daniel’s been his best friend for his entire life, and so he’s probably used to it.
I must have groaned, or said something because Sam turned around and said, “What’s wrong?” Her voice stayed level, but she sounded full of concern anyway.
“Nothing,” I said. “Keep going.”
You know what it felt like? It felt like walking into a room where people were listening to a radio station that wasn’t playing anything—no noise, but you could tell the radio was on.
I looked around as we walked, trying to figure out where the feeling came from. It needed to stop. We’d had Daniel put blocks in for a reason.
I didn’t figure out where it came from.
We reached the storage room.
Sam said, “All yours.”
“Everyone inside, get away from the door,” I said. “It’s about to get smashed in.”
I gave myself a few steps to get up to speed, and hit it with my shoulder. It hurt, but the metal door dented, and swung open, still hanging by one hinge.
They’d been using the bucket exactly the way I’d guessed. The room reeked.
“Everybody out,” I said, stepping backward, and out of the doorway.
No one followed.
“Quickly,” I said.
One of the girls said, “Come on.”
Then they all came out, and it was… weird.
The guys didn’t seem unusual. Two were black, and one was white. The girls? All four of them were blonde, and around my height. Their faces kind of looked like mine–not exactly like mine, but they all had thin lips and a squarer jaw than most women.
They looked like me in the parts of the face exposed by Dad’s costume.
Seeing them next to each other like that, they didn’t quite look alike even if they all fit the description.
Proving that it wasn’t just me, Sam’s jaw dropped a little as she saw them.
“What’s that?” One of the guys pointed at Rod.
Sam said, “He’s Troll. I’m Red Hex. We’re from the D.C. Heroes Association. Captain Commando’s with us.”
One of the girls said, “Of the Heroes League? For real? You look different.”
A guy said, “Hey, where’s your sword?”
I was about to suggest he mind his own business, except at that moment words appeared in my head.
Like this: FULLY CHARGED.
Technically, I knew it wasn’t even in English, but it felt like someone was walking around inside my brain with a loudspeaker.
Quietly, I asked Sam, “Did you hear something?”
Sam said, “No. What did you hear?”
“I don’t know.”
I turned away from the crowd, and back into the main part of the room where archaeological artifacts sat on worktables and on shelves around the edges of the room.
The voice came from the shelves. I started walking over there.
Sam said, “What’s over there?”
“Give me a second.”
Except I didn’t have a second. More guards burst into the room through the shattered doors we’d just used.