The Rocket’s helmet pointed at the screen. “Those seem familiar somehow. Mystic, did Mindstryke or the Mentalist ever mention anything? C… Uh… Control? You’ve been reading the stuff you scanned. Anything ring a bell?”
Control and the Mystic watched as the creatures spread out, rifles pointed down the alley. The gateway behind them stayed open as they stepped away from it, revealing a silver and black platform similar to the one I’d seen in the League’s headquarters except that it was at least ten times the size. Past the edge of the platform stood more of the feathered soldiers.
All of them stared at the screen, but the Rocket spoke first. “I think we’re going to have to bring a lot more people in on this—the Defenders for sure.”
Control took a deep breath and tapped her keyboard. “I’ll start making calls.”
The Mystic closed his eyes, saying nothing at first. Keeping his eyes shut, he said, “It’s actually worse than it looks. It’s dark on the other side, but look at the flickers of bluish-white light. I think there are more starplates than just the one.”
Due to the angle, the gateway didn’t show much more than the platform, darkness and more feathered figures, but he was right. Near the top, a line of bluish-white light flickered.
The Rocket glanced over at the Mystic and in response to some unspoken communication, the Rocket said, “I’m going in. Well, kind of. You’ll see.”
The screen split. One side showed the alley. The other side showed the alley from a slightly different angle, but then it began to move. As the spybot dove toward the gateway, the side that showed the alley shrunk and moved to the top left.
The other side, the one that showed the expanding darkness? That grew to cover the entire screen.
The spybot flew upward, getting a wide view of the room. Thousands of soldiers stood in the dim light, and behind the soldiers, tanks, trucks and troop carriers. They weren’t models I recognized, but when you see an armored vehicle with a big gun and treads, it’s most likely a tank. A taller armored vehicle with a smaller gun or guns? That’s probably an armored personnel carrier even if it carries humanoid birds.
The room though? That was new, and calling it a room might not have been correct. It might have been the entire building, but if it was, it was a building the size of several football fields, holding at least eight of those monster silver and black circles. A door from the outside stood open near each circle and they weren’t small doors. All were large enough for troops to march through followed by their vehicles, straight up to a ramp that led them on to the platform and through the glowing gateway to Earth.
The Rocket controlled the spybot by tapping and sometimes sliding his fingers across his palms, sending the bot deeper into the building. “This is crazy. The spybot’s detecting British cellphone networks. Virgin’s British, right?”
Nodding, the Mystic said, “Right.”
Control turned her head toward him. “You’re not thinking they’re in England, are you?”
The Rocket paused. “Probably not—though that would be interesting. I was thinking that the cellphone signals were coming through the gateways. We just got Virgin, but now it’s passing a new circle and it’s detecting… Orange? Where’s that?I’m going to run the bot past all the circles and then we’ll know where else they’re invading.”
In a quiet voice, Control asked, “What are you going to do about the ones that are here?”
“Huh?” The Rocket looked up at the small window showing the invaders in Grand Lake. They were walking down the alley, the original four leading a group that swelled by the second as more marched out of the gateway. “Oh, crap. We should do something, but what I’m doing is actually more important.”
The Mystic stepped back from the tables of computers. “Don’t worry about it. I’ll handle it.”
The Rocket glanced over at him. “Alone?”
The Mystic grinned, holding up fingers as he talked. “Not alone. One… Two… Three…”
As he finished saying, “Three,” a figure stepped through the door from the hangar. A short man with long black hair, he wore a black costume with a thunderstorm on his chest, complete with a cloud, rain and lightning.
It had to be Storm King, the new League’s sane answer to Red Lightning.
He eyed me, waved and started walking toward the tables. “What have we got?”
Then he looked up at the screen. “Whoa. That’s bad.”
The Mystic floated upward. “And we’re going to stop the ones in Grand Lake. Ready?”
Storm King looked up at him. “I just came from downtown. I should have stayed. Which exit?”
The Mystic didn’t answer with words, but Storm King nodded. They both exited into the hangar.
A message appeared on the bottom of the wall screen saying “Alert: Extradimensional invaders reported in London and Moscow.”
The Rocket shook his head. “They don’t know the half of it. Control, I’ve got a list of all the cellphone networks I’ve contacted. I’ll pass it over to you and you can pass it over to Guardian, the Feds and everybody. I’ve got one more to check. Probably Moscow since I’ve already found the British gate.”
He tapped his palm with his fingers and the view shifted, showing another group of invaders lining up in front of a starplate.
“Uh oh,” the Rocket said. “That’s not Russian. I’m detecting AT&T.”
He tapped again and the spybot swooped downward through the gateway. The view disappeared in a burst of static, but reappeared almost as quickly as it had been lost.
The spybot flew out over the heads a group of invaders, the crests on their heads extended as they marched down an alley.
“Oh boy,” the Rocket said. “I’m getting a read on its location.”
The spybot flew upward, making a familiar skyline visible. The black, rectangular shape of the Willis (formerly the Sears) Tower dwarfed the skyscrapers around it.
As if I needed the confirmation, the Rocket continued, “Chicago. You know what this means? First, we’re not getting any help from the Defenders because they’ll be busy. Second, that building I flew the spybot through must not be the only one they’re using to invade.”