Super Social: Part 6

There were other metahumans out there in the Cabal’s league in terms of strength and toughness, but the Cabal’s toughest soldiers had all of that plus regeneration—the quick kind.

My heart started beating, and I quickly scanned the area around us, all 360 degrees of it. More cars were stopping, and even more slowing down, but not in the kind of way that made me nervous. No one was running to join us or crossing the distance in a single jump.

That was the other thing about the Cabal—they’d agreed to leave us alone for a year last spring. It was now the end of the summer. By their own promise, they were free to kill us now.

Setting my suit to send my voice to the comm, but not my suit’s speaker, I said, “He’s part of the Cabal, but he’s not trying to kill me—yet.”

Ahead of me, the man raised his hands above his head. “I’m not here to fight. I’m on a contract. That’s all.”

“Okay,” I said. “How about giving me your name and address in case we need to talk later?”

He frowned for a second, but then said, “Philo Schwarz,” and gave his address. He lived downtown in Grand Lake.

I replayed the recording I’d made of him to make sure I got a clear record of it. It sounded good.

In the silence that left, Marcus asked, “You said that you were going down the highway when suddenly you couldn’t move, and the next thing you knew, you were lying here. Do you remember anything else?”

Philo raised his head from the side of the van, aiming it at Marcus. “Nothing.”

Marcus sighed, “Well, what about your cargo? Was the van empty or did they take it?”

Philo made a noise in his throat that was almost a growl. “We were carrying money for a bank. It’s all gone, and whoever did it was moving too quickly for me to see it.”

“That fits with my idea that it was a speedster,” I began.

“I can smell at least three different people.” Haley’s voice came over the comm.

“Three?” I checked the screens inside my helmet. She wasn’t anywhere I could see. “And where are you?”

“I landed on the other side of the highway.” I gave a second look at the spybots feeds, and there she was in the grassy median between the north and southbound traffic. In addition to her gray and black costume, she wore one of the small jetpacks the original League members had used to respond to calls inside the city.

I wondered how long she’d been using it. It shouldn’t matter (they were designed for durability), but I hadn’t done any recent maintenance on any of them since an initial once-over last year.

“I’m working off smell, but the speedster is a guy, probably in his twenties. He drinks a lot of energy drinks, mostly fruity flavored. And he sweats a lot.”

She sniffed. “The other two are both women. I think one is in her twenties. She… smells a little like the speedster, but more of money, metal, and coffee. I’m not sure, but think they’re together. The other one is in her forties. She wears too much perfume, and I think I smell power juice.”

I tried to put all those details together in my head. They didn’t create anything resembling a clear picture. “Do you know where they went?”

She sniffed again. “No. It’s like they disappeared. I think they left so quickly that the smell was too spread out for me to get a good trail. Or maybe they flew.”

“Maybe it would be clearer on this side?”

“Maybe,” Haley said, “but I think they left from this side.”

She flew across to our side of the highway anyway, landing next to the van and sniffing around it without touching the van. After a little while, she said, “It’s definitely the same people. The older woman wasn’t on this side, but the speedster and the other woman? They were. I can smell them on the doors that were ripped open.”

“You can smell her on the doors? That’s good. She’d have to be moving quickly enough that he,” I pointed toward Philo, “didn’t see her.”

“Really?” Haley glanced at him. Then she said, “Oh. Because he’d be in Accelerando’s league.” She frowned. “That would be a disaster, but right now, it’s just looking like it might be true.”

I was trying to think about how to respond to that, but then Kayla’s voice came over the comm. “They’ve dispatched the police. You’ll be seeing them in ten minutes, maybe less.”

I looked at Haley. “I guess we’d better tell the police what you know.”

She turned, looking down the highway. I didn’t see anything, but maybe she could already hear the sirens. It wouldn’t be the first time.

Noting the dull gray rocket pack on her back, I asked, “Has anybody been doing maintenance on the rocket pack?”

“What?” Her eyes narrowed. “Oh, right. Chris has been looking after them.”

“Oh,” I said. “Huh.”

17 thoughts on “Super Social: Part 6”

  1. In case you’re wondering, sales of the second Legion book are doing better than I expected. There’s one review on the second book though. If you’ve read the second book, and feel the urge to give a review, that would be great.

    Also, if you’d like to vote for Legion on Top Web Fiction, but would also like to see the illustration of Lee that appears in book 2, you can do that…

  2. I’m guessing Rocket’s comm prevents anyone around hearing what he says when he want that. (Sonics was Rocket’s specialisation.) Does Haley’s comm work the same way? I read the story text that Nick and Haley have all their conversation over the comm, not out loud for general consumption. Might it help if that was clearer?

    Typo(s):

    “but I hadn’t done any recent maintenance on it”, should that be “wouldn’t have done”, or the ‘it’ changed to ‘them’?

    “It’s definitely same people. The older woman wasn’t on this side”, missing ‘the’?

  3. I’m trying to vote for LoN, but I can’t get past this week’s captchas. Usually I don’t have any trouble with them, but this time is just extra quirky.

  4. Is the Cabal not being pursued by mundane law enforcement? Aren’t they considered a criminal organization? I’m somewhat confused about Philo’s willingness to give his name and address. Even if there’s there’s nothing on him specifically, you’re think it would be an invitation for the FBI to tear his life apart looking for clues to the Cabal. Or if not the FBI, then the Heroes League if they consider themselves to be at war with the Cabal. Like if a guy copped to being a member of Al Qaeda. Unless Philo is already on the watch list and knows it.

  5. Yes, I tried audio. It seemed clear enough, but it still didn’t like the numbers I typed. I’ll try a different browser to see if it configuration is blocking me somehow.

  6. I have to call that mixed news…. When I try to vote using Firefox I get some badly obfuscated random letters and have tried and failed about 20 times to get in. When I tried IE it gave me a picture of a sign. That was easy to read. Anyway, vote finally registered.

    1. Weird. I’ve never had that issue, but I’m mostly using Chrome. That said, I’m surprised that there would be an issue with Firefox. I’ve used that Captcha system myself, testing it in the various major browsers, and haven’t had issues between one and another.

  7. Are you using a script blocker like noscript? Because that seems to make a difference for me.

    I use noscript because it lets firefox run a lot faster, and it takes longer before it starts acting weird or crashes.

  8. Another solid chapter. I like how the younger league members have stepped up to the plate, and Nick seems to be distracted by how well they have been doing in the absence of the older team members.

    The following paragraph made me mentally stumble:

    “I wondered how long she’d been using it. It should matter, but I hadn’t done any recent maintenance on any of them since an initial once-over last year.”

    I think you meant “It shouldn’t matter.” If that’s the case, you might also want to comment on why it shouldn’t matter. Are they self-repairing, or just extremely durable?

Leave a Reply