Then I realized why I could see inside the van—the back door was open. All the doors were open. They’d been wrenched open by someone strong enough that reinforced metal, and whatever metahuman precautions the van’s designers had included, were useless.
That level of strength, coupled with my guess that a speedster had been involved, gave me a very uneasy feeling. If we were dealing with someone at Jaclyn’s level of speed and strength, we were going to have to be very careful. Actually, we were going to have to do more than that. We were going to have to have Jaclyn or Izzy along almost any time we went into action.
Most of us couldn’t survive even one punch from Jaclyn when she wasn’t holding back. Fortunately Marcus and I were the exception to that.
As we neared the van, Marcus said, “I’m letting go. Landing behind the rear end.”
“Got it,” I said, and dove toward the van as he let go.
His shape changed from winged, hollow missile to what I can best describe as a paper airplane. I made a quick circle of the van, not seeing anyone hiding in the grass around it, and joined Marcus as he widened his wings, slowing down and dropping to the ground.
I slowed the Rocket suit and landed next to him. I’d loosed a couple spybots as I’d flown around the van. Their feeds showed me that no one was exiting from the front as we walked toward the back.
In the corner of my HUD, more people’s accounts went active—Haley’s, for example. Another one, this one labeled “Control” also went active. That was probably Kayla.
Marcus had changed into one of his “go to” forms, a winged, angelic shape that in combination with his gray skin probably terrified fans of Dr. Who, and no one else.
Kayla’s voice came over the comm, “Rocket, Shift. Night Cat’s incoming shortly. Accelerando wants to know if you need backup. Gravity Star and Railgun are suiting up already.”
I stared into the van. There were two people exactly. Both wore black shirts and grey pants. One of them, the one leaning sideways halfway out of the driver’s seat, was wearing a bulletproof vest. The other one, a hulking brush cut monster of a man, was only wearing the uniform.
He lay across the back of the otherwise empty van. His head rose and his eyes tracked our movements as we walked closer, but his legs, arms, and the rest of his body never moved.
“I think we’ll take any help we can get,” I said, “but so far there’s no one to fight. Are you getting the spybots’ feeds?”
Kayla said, “Yes. Watch out for the civilians. It looks people are stopping to take pictures.”
I checked the edges of my helmet. The screen had a 360 degree view, and Kayla was right. They were stopping to take pictures. Cars were slowing down, and a few had already pulled off to the side of the road, pointing their phones at us.
Marcus laughed, turned around, and waved. “At least they aren’t following us.”
I thought about it. “I guess that counts for something, but a fight could kill half of those guys before they managed to restart their cars.”I checked my helmet. They were still inside. No one had yet ventured out of their car to walk across the grass.
As we neared the van, the man in the back said, “It’s no use. They’re gone, and you can’t do a thing about it.”
“Are you okay?” Even as big as the guy was, he didn’t have a seatbelt on and the van had rolled over at least one time before coming to rest.
He laughed. “As soon as whatever they did to my head wears off, I’ll be fine.”
Marcus cocked his head, and looked more closely at the man. “A telepath? Did you see him? Wait, why don’t you tell us what you did see? Was there one person? Two?”
The man frowned. “I don’t know. All I know is that I was driving down the highway, and then suddenly I couldn’t control my arms and legs. The next thing that happened was the van flipping over.”
“I’m surprised you aren’t more hurt,” I said. I couldn’t see any bruises on him, and the sonics showed no obvious broken bones.
For a brief moment, he smiled. “You’ll figure it out before the end of this conversation, I’m sure.”
Marcus raised a gray eyebrow. “Figure out what?”
The man didn’t say anything. I stared at him, wondering what we were supposed to figure out. Not long after that, I noticed that a necklace was hanging out of his shirt. An eagle symbol hung from it. The eagle had been used by many countries and cultures over time—the US, Germany, and the Roman Empire to name a few.
It was commonly carried into battle by Roman legions, and that was fine, but at least one legion had morphed into the armed wing of the Cabal, the conspiracy that had tried to kill us all a little more than a year ago.