Grand Lake’s superhuman containment facility wasn’t much to look at. Few SCF’s were. Like the majority of them, the actual prison was located underground, so all we had to look at were concrete walls with barbed wire on the top. Two towers rose above the wall.
Originally located in farmland, the prison was now solidly in the suburbs. If it were daytime, we could have seen a grassy field the size of a city block, but it was night.
The highway ran along the outer edge of the prison’s property, headlights of cars passing constantly. Across the highway stood houses, windows aglow. A small forest stood far to the left side of the property. A jog in the highway bordered it on the right.
Behind us stood Grand Lake’s National Guard Armory, a long, low building that had once been a factory, but had been converted into storage and training facilities.
Ever since hearing about it, I’d never quite decided if I regarded placing a military base next to the local SCF as a good idea or an exercise in futility.
Haley and I had arrived in the van, lengthened and lowered into the sleeker “official Heroes’ League” vehicle look. I could have flown in carrying Haley, but she vetoed that. We also could have come with more people, but having Courtney and Camille escort Jeremy to HQ seemed like a better idea.
I parked the van in the (very well lit) parking lot. Haley and I walked through the front gate with only a cursory look from the guards. I was in the full suit. Checking for weapons was pointless. I definitely had some.
Our comms registered a request for identification and sent encrypted keys tied to the Stapledon program.
Once past the gates, we followed guards into a flat-roofed concrete building. The front door had been ripped out of the wall, and lay next to the entrance—a mass of smashed steel. Inside, the walls had been painted lime green, the same color as the inside of my middle school.
I wasn’t sure what that said about middle school.
The difference in the guards was interesting though. Outside the guards wore black jackets over Kevlar vests. Inside, they wore powered armor—Rocket suits without rocketpacks and enough additional bulky armor that I didn’t initially recognize the underlying structure was the WW2 Rocket suit.
They watched as I passed, likely noticing how much more natural and human my movements were.
A guard led Haley and I into a bare room. A blond woman in an orange prison jumpsuit sat in the chair. In normal clothes, she could have passed for a high school teacher. The guard next to her wore normal prison guard clothing—button down tan shirt and black pants. The guard behind him though wore black and tan powered armor.
“Hey there, Heroes’ League… Nice of you to visit. I’m Morgan, as I’m sure they told you. Normally when you’ve met me, I’ve been wearing the Eagle suit, but they frown on letting prisoners wear their armor. So, I’m wearing this snazzy orange number instead.”
She added, “I’d shake your hands, but…” Her voice trailed off as she raised her arms. She wore handcuffs.
Now that I could see Morgan more closely, I pegged her as being in her late thirties, maybe early forties at most.
“I’m surprised you’re here,” I said. “You don’t have any powers, right?”
Her guard, a balding twenty-something only a few years older than I was, said, “Policy, sir. Normal humans captured as part of a superhuman group are assumed to have powers until proven otherwise. Too many embarrassing incidents, sir.”
Morgan’s mouth twitched. “I’m not complaining. It’s one more thing I can tell you. The Feds came to an agreement with my lawyer. I’m to turn over evidence and help clean up this mess, and I’ll spend less time in the legal system.”
Haley watched her. “What will you be doing instead?”
“Can’t say,” Morgan emphasized the first word, “but I’ll have my armor back.”
The guard frowned.
Morgan laughed. “Anyway you’re asking the wrong questions. You’re supposed to be asking what happened here, and then ask why I was part of a gang robbing armored trucks in the first place. Be quick about it. They wanted me to talk to a bunch of Renaissance Fair rejects, but I chose to talk to you instead because I think you’ve got a better chance of doing something about it. Questions?”
Glancing over at Haley first, I said, “What happened here?”
Morgan grinned, “Excellent question. I was sitting in my cell wondering where my armor was, and how my life had gone so badly wrong, and feeling deep, deep remorse about the poor choices that had led to my imprisonment—”
Stopping to look at Haley, Morgan said, “Hey it’s my story,” and continued with, “—when suddenly I heard a ripping and tearing noise coming from above. Alden, the gang’s speedster and a metahuman guard from one of the banks came down, freed the rest of the gang and left with them. I wanted them to take me along, but then I saw that each time they freed someone one of their heads would change form into a big round head. Then they’d bite, and the people would go crazy and argue with themselves. After that I hid in my cell and they left.”
“Ok,” Haley said, “why were you robbing armored trucks in the first place?”
Morgan glanced at each of us before replying, “Because we’d been hired to embarrass the League. Just our luck to do it when the city’s being attacked by a giant, magic head.”