Jeremy stood with his mouth open, but managed to start talking again. “Yeah. He’s in big trouble with the police. He’s one of the guys who’ve been robbing armored cars in town. Plus, last I heard, Alden was her ex-boyfriend. As in, she was giving information about him to the police.”
Sandra let her phone, and the hand she held it in, drop to her waist. “She didn’t tell me that. Jillian just said he got in trouble with the police. She didn’t say anything about robbing armored cars.”
She stopped talking and her eyes widened. “Aren’t those robbers all metas? Alden didn’t act like a meta. He never did anything weird or… What does he do?”
“Speedster,” I said.
Sandra glanced at me. “He never gave me any hint of it.”
Haley put her hand on Sandra’s shoulder. “There’s something you should know. If she comes back, she might not be herself. Alden’s been attacked by something… It’s been on the news. It looks like a kind of magic infection.”
“Like vampires?” Sandra looked between the rest of us, possibly for confirmation.
“Not exactly,” I began. Haley looked over at me. “But it looks just as bad as vampires. Maybe worse, actually.”
Jeremy shook his head. “If you’ve got somewhere else to stay tonight, you might think about going there. Jillian’s not safe right now. Watch the news. Her boyfriend got caught and then a guy who the creature bit ran off carrying him. It spreads by biting, she’s got to have it too by now.”
Sandra looked from him to us. “You’re serious? Okay. Some of my friends are renting a house. I can go there.”
A little while later we were back in my room. “I hope the news reports show the biting,” I said, sitting back down on my bed.
“They do,” Jeremy held up his phone. “I was checking them out while we were talking before we went over.”
Haley, who hadn’t joined me on the bed, stood next to the room’s window, pulling her phone out of her pocket. “We need to call everyone we were talking about earlier—all the people in Justice Fist. Maybe Kayla can help. I’m sure Sydney can get a hold of Sean… Maybe Camille will know Shannon and Julie’s numbers?”
Jeremy looked over at me. “Shannon and Julie?”
“Members of Justice Fist. We don’t see them much except at Stapledon, but they both had public identities like everyone else in Justice Fist. Shannon controls darkness. Julie can command people and they’ll listen.” I shook my head. “Julie’s power is nothing you’d want The Thing to have access to.”
Turning to Haley, I said, “We need to tell Courtney too. Really anyone we can think of with powers that we know.”
She looked up from her phone, frowning. “Kid Biohack.”
Jeremy grinned. “That won’t be hard. Just leave a comment on his YouTube videos.”
“Ha-ha,” I said. “For real, though, his devices use standard protocols, so I can email or text him. Actually, I think that’s true of everyone we’ve mentioned so far.”
I clicked on my phone, discovering that Samita had sent me the email about how to use the wards she’d set inside League HQ.
Jeremy sat down at his desk and opened his laptop. “You’re going to have everybody gather in your headquarters until this is over?”
I shook my head. “Only until Amy can get here and make wards for every powered person who doesn’t have them.”
“What about me?” Jeremy stood next to his desk.
At first I was about to say he wasn’t at risk because he didn’t have powers, but then I thought about it. Jillian knew him. If she didn’t come back to eat him, she might infect him with The Thing. If she did, he would know everything, and even if he was affected by the block, The Thing That Eats might not be.
“You should probably come too.”
He grinned. “This is going to be amazing.”
In the next few minutes, Haley and I wrote an email and sent it to everyone who had been in Justice Fist, all the members of the Heroes’ League, and anyone local with powers who didn’t quite fit those two categories.
Then I sent a citywide red alert to anyone with a comm that used standard hero protocols. That would cover heroes we didn’t know about—assuming the FBI hadn’t already informed everyone.
“I think that’s everybody,” I told Haley as we stood next to the window, looking out over the dark campus and the city beyond it.
Jeremy watched something his laptop. He looked up. “I don’t know what you’d do differently, but there’s got to be someone you missed.”
“Most likely,” I said, hoping I was wrong.
In the background, Jeremy’s laptop played NBC News 10’s theme song. Did they live stream online? Within half an hour, the sound of an alert went out over his laptop’s speakers. The city’s superhuman containment facility was being attacked.