When it was clear that the fighting was over, I resigned myself to going back in and picking apart the technical details of the movie version of the Rocket suit. I stepped toward the door only to find Haley stepping out and shutting it behind her.
“What happened?” She asked, keeping her voice low.
Further down the carpeted hallway, staff members had gathered next to the door of a movie that was letting out. The staff members held brooms and clustered around a garbage can on wheels, thanking people as they threw away their empty drinks and popcorn bowls.
“The Heroes’ League prevented an armored truck heist, but couldn’t catch anybody.” I glanced in the direction of the people leaving the theater. Probably no one there could hear us, but on the off-chance that someone could, it was better to talk as if we weren’t ourselves members.
Haley must have noticed my look because she said, “Then time to stop checking the news and go back into the movie.”
She took my hand and we walked back in.
As it turned out, the movie wasn’t too bad at representing the technology and even did a good job showing what was fun about having a Rocket suit—flight.
I checked the movie’s credits, and it turned out that they thanked the U.S. Army and Marines, specifically noting their assistance with the AFS units.
When the lights came on, I noticed that Jillian had pulled out her phone and was tapping away on the screen.
I pulled out my own phone, typed out, “Power juice?” and sent it to Haley.
“Jillian uses, but isn’t right now.”
Jillian herself turned off her phone, put it in her pocket, and said, “My boyfriend’s coming to pick me up. I’ve got to go.”
Camille, who had been talking to Caleb and Gabriel, turned to her. “Do you have to? We can all take the van back.”
Jillian shook her head. “No. It’s complicated. Something bad happened at work, and he’s worried that it will blow back on me.”
Haley and I looked at each other. I didn’t know what she was thinking, but I was thinking that this didn’t sound like Kid Biohack. He hadn’t been in the fight, and while it might be that he’d stumbled into something else equally big, it seemed more likely that he hadn’t.
What seemed more likely based on her excuse and what had just happened is that she might be connected to the criminals we’d been chasing. Haley had said she’d smelled a younger woman who took power juice when we’d investigated the scene where they’d robbed an armored truck. But wouldn’t she have recognized Jillian’s smell today?
“That sounds like dangerous work,” Camille said.
Jillian’s face froze for a second. “Not really, but he gets worried. I’ll be fine.”
The corner of Jeremy’s mouth twitched. “Are you sure?”
Jillian shook her head. “You don’t have to worry about me either.”
The van held its regular complement of bots including spybots. I used my phone to fire off enough spybots to give me a good view of the parking lot and the doors. Whether Jillian’s boyfriend turned out to be Kid Biohack, one of the robbers, or a controlling, abusive type, I planned to catch him on camera.
A spybot notification appeared on my phone. It wasn’t from the ones I’d placed around the parking lot. This one was from the bots I’d placed at major intersections. An object was moving at greater than two hundred miles per hour down the road, and it was coming in our direction.
Marcus gave the goobots permission to fire, and they did. The runner never even slowed—though he did jerk in one direction or another.
After a few tries, the goobots stopped firing. A quick check of the log showed that Marcus had sent a stop command. He was right. There wasn’t any point in wasting ammunition. In the meantime, though, the runner hadn’t slowed down or turned away. He was still running toward the theater.
Whoever the guy was, he was confident. If this was Jillian’s boyfriend, the goobots gave a big clue that someone had seen him. A lot of people (especially criminals) would have aborted by then.
Marcus sent me a text in the general Heroes’ League group chat. “Ready?”
I texted back, “No. In civvies.”
“Crap,” he texted back.
The first runner left the main roads, disappearing off the spybots I’d stationed on the street, but not yet within the range of my newly released spybots.
Then the second runner appeared, and unlike the first there was no ambiguity. He used devices with standard hero protocols, and so he showed up on my equipment as Kid Biohack. His speed wasn’t quite as fast the speedster, but it was fast enough.
By the time we’d exited the theater, he’d nearly reached it. As a group, we walked out of the building’s glassy front doors, and into the night. Despite the black sky, the parking lot was almost as light as day.
The first runner didn’t appear on the spybots feeds. Whatever he looked like, he hadn’t alerted the local bots by running at superhuman speed.
Fortunately, Jillian had no problem identifying him. She waved at a dark haired man who walked up the steps in a green t-shirt, glancing behind him all the way. I wouldn’t have picked him out of the crowd as a supervillain. His short hair almost looked military. While casual, his clothes had no holes or signs of serious wear.
He grabbed Jillian’s right arm and pulled her toward him. “Jillian, we’ve got to get out of here.”
I don’t know what her reply would have been. She didn’t get it out.
Kid Biohack appeared, reaching the stairs in a blur, his silver costume shimmering in the parking lot’s lights. “Don’t touch her you—”
He blinked, staring at Jillian’s boyfriend. “You’re involved in all this?”