I swallowed. I’d met a woman who used eagle themed powered armor. She’d been a professional mercenary who worked for Rook directly, and indirectly the Nine. She’d been in Rook’s headquarters when we broke in to rescue Cassie. I’d assumed that she’d survived the headquarters blowing up, but hadn’t expected to see her again.
I hadn’t beaten her as much as escaped from her, so this wasn’t good news.
With any luck, she’d been hired to work for these people instead of still working for Rook. I’d blown up his hand the last time we’d fought. He’d probably be looking for revenge.
Slowing down for a stoplight, I said, “Do you know where they’re staying?”
Jillian met my eyes in the rearview mirror. “I know where Alden’s staying, but not… You’re not telling me I should turn them in, are you?”
I waited as the stoplight turned from yellow to red. There were no cars on the cross street. Theoretically, but not legally, I could go. I didn’t.
I said, “Well, I’m pretty sure you’d qualify as an accomplice if you were at a crime, and if you heard about any crimes after they were committed, you’re probably an accessory after the fact. Come to think about it, we might be accessories after the fact if we’re helping you avoid the police.”
In the far back seat with Camille and Caleb, Gabriel pushed his glasses up his nose. Scarecrow straight in his seat, he said, “You should turn them in. No good comes from getting involved with people like that. You’re going to ruin your life.”
Next to him, Camille whispered something to him. He stopped talking.
Jillian’s eyes widened, and for a second I thought she might break into tears again. Before she did, Courtney squeezed her hand. “Do you remember the video of the guy who took power juice and broke his arm? Right at the beginning when it first came out? I was in the video too. I was his girlfriend and I tried power juice too, some of the first batches his uncle made.”
Jillian twisted to look at her. “I know. Your roommate told me. You look different than the video.”
Courtney nodded even as she began to talk. “I know. Even with only power juice, my power lets me make permanent changes, but I don’t take power juice anymore. It’s illegal, and when I tried to find one of those machines that would make powers permanent, I nearly ended up making a deal with the Nine.”
Jillian blinked. “How do you know it was the Nine?”
“Rook was in Grand Lake last year,” Courtney said. “One of the guys who tried to sell me access to a machine worked for him. You never know who you’re getting involved with when you get into this, and everything keeps on escalating.”
Jillian didn’t say anything.
The light turned green, and I pulled forward, one of a small line of vehicles. As the van got up to the speed limit, we were traveling with long, white privacy fences on both sides of the street, Alden appeared next to us.
I wouldn’t have recognized him in his costume—which was striped white and black starting from the center of his chest. It left no skin uncovered. I only recognized him because, well, how many people in the city could keep up with the van on foot? Also, he was about the right height.
Plus, the way Jillian snapped to attention and said, “Alden!” as he went past helped a little.
He must have wanted to talk to Jillian or something because he reached out and tried to open the door. He tried all the doors, more than once in a blur, but I’d locked them. It would take a lot more than superspeed to get past them.
It got worse. Something hit the top of my van with a thump. I didn’t know for sure who it was, but my bet was Kid Biohack.
I wasn’t wrong.
Alden stopped trying the doors and ran down the street, not having anywhere to go but straight forward for a very long block. With a push that I could feel, Kid Biohack jumped off the van and landed only a few steps behind Alden.
I couldn’t see details because Kid Biohack was a silvery blur while Alden was a black and white blur, but Kid Biohack must have grabbed Alden somewhere. Otherwise, Alden would have been gone.
After a few moments, it became easier to see because even if Alden was still moving, Kid Biohack wasn’t. Kid Biohack had his upper left arm, and even as Alden punched and kicked, Kid Biohack wasn’t moving.
That was all for the best because we weren’t moving either.
What you’re supposed to do during a superhero fight is drive away. The government pays for public service announcements that tell people this. They tell them in order to avoid situations like the one we were in.
Someone, or maybe several someones in each lane of a two lane road had stopped to watch or take pictures of the fight. Heck, someone had probably started live streaming it.
Haley had her hand on the door. Keeping her voice low, she said, “One of us should get out there—”
She might not have been wrong, but it didn’t matter.
A booming noise came from the sky above the factory to our left. There, a white privacy fence blocked my view of the yard, but the lights from the yard lit up winged powered armor with an eagle’s hooked beak. One outstretched arm pointed toward the fight below. Below the arm hung a wide barrel of a gun.
I missed the moment when the gun fired, but whatever ammunition it used, it knocked Kid Biohack through the nearest fence, ripping the metal fence and bending the slats inside the wire, leaving him somewhere in the yard.
Then before anyone could move, a woman sheathed in swirling yellow energy swooped down, grabbed Alden and flew away.