Distant sirens grew louder, and I decided that I ought to start paying attention to the world around me again. The sirens meant that the police were on their way to pick up Jillian, Hank, Latoya, and Andronicus.
Checking around the area, all four of them lay on the ground, none of them showing any sign of The Thing That Eats. To judge from what happened to Andronicus the first time, they might be out for quite a while.
He was a special case though as he’d been controlled for hundreds of years, but he could also regenerate. Maybe for people who’d been controlled for a short time, but couldn’t regenerate, it would even out?
I tapped my palm with my fingers, pulling up spybot live feeds of GLU’s campus. Ambulances, a fire truck, police and paramedics inspected the bodies of the transformed students, all of whom appeared to be alive even if they weren’t conscious. A couple even woke up as paramedics placed them on cots and brought them to the ambulance.
Trampling over the circles Samita spray painted on the grass, two more paramedics carried Alden to a “box,” one of the small fortresses on wheels used to contain supers. They’d probably already drugged him, but a woman in an armored police uniform followed them, rifle in her hands and pointed at Alden in his cot.
A few more paramedics checked out Kid Biohack where he lay on the grass. His eyes opened and he sat up with a jerk.
The paramedics jumped back and armored police escorts aimed their weapons at him. Kid Biohack raised his hands over his head and talked to them. After a minute, they lowered the guns and I flipped to another camera…
Rod, now in human form, his face hidden by a mask and body by a black, leather long coat, stood next to Samita, Cassie and Camille, answering questions from the police.
The van stood behind them in the turnaround/parking lot. I wondered if I’d given anyone there the necessary permissions to even turn it on.
I thought about who I should check on next and realized the obvious—Haley. I should check on her arm and she’d know how Travis and Lucas were doing.
As I started the call, Lee stopped next to me. “On my way out,” he said. “Thought I’d leave before the cops get here. If I stay, I’ll have to be Gunther and fill out paperwork and stuff.”
“Okay,” I got out as he waved and walked away, disappearing as he passed the corner of the nearest house.
I tapped my palm with my fingers and a picture of Haley appeared in my HUD. She sat in a chair at the main table in HQ. She had both hands on the keyboard.
When we’d both said hello, I asked, “How’s your arm?”
“Better,” she said, holding it up so I could see it. It looked normal.
“I’ve been switching it between normal and gray, and it gets a little better each time. Right now, it’s not broken anymore, but it’s stiff and sore and I feel tired. I don’t think I’d use it in a fight unless I really had to.” She looked at me.
The screen in front of her would be showing her my face inside the helmet. “I know that you won, but what happened?”
I went over everything from when we left HQ—Alden infecting people in our dorm as well as Kid Biohack, how we’d surrounded them with circles and chased Jillian and Latoya to the city’s ward, how Vaughn had destroyed all the vampires near us, how Amy and I defeated The Thing That Eats and everything that happened afterward.
“That was a terrible idea! You could have died.” Her mouth stayed partially open even as she stopped talking.
Words came out of my mouth all at once. “I know that now, but you were there when we fought the Cabal students at Stapledon. She didn’t kill any of them. I mean, she hurt them, but mostly she copied their powers and they were okay later. They even still had the ability to heal and she took a lot more from them.”
Haley sighed. “I remember. I might have tried it too, but don’t do that again.”
“I’m not,” I said, and paused, thinking. “You know, we’ve got a big hole there. We can do first aid, but if there’s a serious injury, we don’t have anything. We ought to get a healer on the team, or I don’t know, at least see if Samita would let us have those bandages she makes that stop you from getting any worse.”
Haley frowned, “I remember them. I had to wear one the whole time we were fighting the dragon.”
“That’s right.” I thought back to that. “It seems like we keep on getting hurt worse. We came out of fighting the mayor with some scrapes, but we’ve had to bring people to the hospital or bring in Alex the last few times we’ve done anything big.”
She looked off to the side. “You’re right, but we don’t have to talk about it now. I feel like I could fall asleep at any time. You don’t have anything else to do. Come back to HQ. Alex is almost here. He might need help with Jody and Sean when they wake up.”
It turned out that I’d given Cassie access to the van last summer, so she could drive people back. That meant everyone on campus could get back to base. As for us, once the police understood that no one here had willingly helped The Thing That Eats, we flew back to HQ.
As late as it was, HQ turned out to be full of people—practically all the supers in Grand Lake. If that wasn’t true, it was certainly almost everyone I knew here. Once everyone who needed to be had been healed, we set up sleeping bags and cots. It wasn’t completely comfortable—Haley and I fell asleep together on a couch, but it was okay for one night.
Once the lights went out and everything calmed down, it felt strangely like home.