I followed Mateo down the road to a shed made of corrugated metal that stood next to a long one-story building made of concrete. If I hadn’t known that it let to Unity’s base, I’d have assumed that it was part of the factory it was closest to. Maybe it was—officially.
While the outside featured weeds and a driveway that was cracked concrete, the inside featured a smooth path that led downward into a well-lit arched tunnel that reminded me of tunnels in the Rocky Mountains, but less wide.
It ended like it had started at the shed—with steel doors that opened wide to let us in. I assumed they had to be operated by the staff because Mateo didn’t need to swipe a card or do a retinal scan.
The metal doors opened into a concrete parking garage (complete with yellow lines and exit signs) filled with decidedly normal cars. This wasn’t the only set of steel doors in sight. I guessed this might be the staff’s garage or maybe even the garage everybody used for their civilian vehicles.
Either way, the elevator on the far side of the room opened as we approached, leaving our bikes with the rest of them.
It went up several floors, stopping to open its doors and let us out into what looked like a command center—a real one, unlike the one I was used to in the bunker under my grandfather’s house.
Here, people in red and blue uniforms sat at workstations and stared up at giant screens showing the police surrounding the base, a map of the base with its defenses, and screen after screen of entrances and exits from the base.
Nanosecond met us as we stepped out of the elevator. Wearing a multi-color blur of a costume based on a material my grandfather once used for C, his team’s speedster, she stopped next to Mateo.
She might not have been trying to leave me out, but I had to step around him to join the conversation.
“Good news,” she said, “we’ve heard from Chromatic and your people. They’re coming this way in a police SUV. They plan to drive straight down the tunnel we sent you down.”
“They stole an SUV from the police?”
She cocked her head, frowning, “I don’t know. I was assuming they’d found a cop who hadn’t been mind-controlled.”
It made sense. As a team, Detroit Unity was more a group of street fighters than most big teams. Chromatic had wings and could fly, but he was more of a glider.
At the same time, it didn’t feel quite right to me. Working Man had called us more than twenty minutes ago and told us to meet him here, but we’d beaten him and he’d gone radio silent in the meantime.
It felt off now that I thought about it.
I had my implant start a call to Working Man over my suit’s comm. Even as I listened to a recording of a phone ringing, one of Unity’s staff broke in with, “They’re in the tunnel.”
Then he pointed over at one of the screens. It showed a police SUV coming to a stop in the parking garage below the complex. Chromatic, a red, green, and blue scaled dragon-like humanoid stepped out along with a police officer, Athletica, and three humanoid hamsters in karate uniforms. I didn’t remember their names, but I did know their origin involved a pet store and an industrial accident.
I didn’t see Working Man at all. Unease rippled through me and I asked, “Where’s Working Man? He was with Athletica when he called us.”
Nanosecond frowned, “I don’t know. Our people all got separated in that ambush. I don’t know who’s in what group.”
As she spoke, I noticed more movement on the screen. Chromatic, Athletica, the karate hamsters, and the police officer weren’t the only ones to get out of the car. A mist seeped out the door and along with it came a flying head with its ears beating in the air.
Chromatic waved them all into the elevator.
Not able to muster words to describe everything that was wrong about this situation, I pointed at the screen intending to say something along the lines of, “Look at the vampires that have mind controlled your people and have been invited into your base!”
At the moment, all I managed was, “Gah!”
They did look.
Mateo did use his words, saying, “They’re going to open the doors on the first floor.”
I felt almost certain he was right about that.
Nanosecond must have agreed because she turned into a blur and ran the short distance down from the elevator to a door that opened up into a stairway.
By some measurements, I think more quickly than a normal person, but I don’t move or talk faster. So while I thought that Nanosecond running alone downstairs to face the group might be a bad tactical decision, I only managed to say, “Hey,” before she disappeared.