Payback screamed and fell over, his body outlined in electricity.
The air smelled of ozone, and smoke.
When the lightning stopped, I could see Payback more clearly. His chest still moved, but he wasn’t doing much more than that. His right arm looked uncomfortably red and blistered.
From behind me Vaughn shouted, “I got him, right?”
I turned, watching the grass flatten as he landed.
“Oh yeah, he’s down.”
Haley stepped next to me and looked down at the body. “He needs an ambulance.”
“Let him bleed,” Cassie said. “Did you see what he did to Accelerando?”
I checked the road.
Jaclyn walked across the grass toward us. She didn’t appear to be hurt.
The police car had a broken windshield and a human sized dent in its hood.
Fortunately, it wasn’t the only police car there. They’d apparently assigned four cars plus two of the bulky, armored trucks people referred to as “boxes” to the immediate area. Having blocked the road, police were waving away the few civilian cars I could still see, but the crowd of reporters weren’t listening.
All the local TV stations seemed to have parked a van by the side of the road plus a few stations I didn’t recognize at all, and, if that weren’t enough, vans that just showed the names of national networks — ABC, CNN, NBC, CBS, FOX…
Keith’s experiment and hospitalization (in combination with the release of the power juice) had caused reporters specializing in metahuman affairs to converge on Grand Lake. When they heard the words “masked felony” come over their police scanners, how could they not show up?
All of which meant that with the exception of Los Angeles, this had to be the best covered incident I’d ever been involved in — and not just on the ground. A police helicopter hung in the air above a nearby factory, its side door open, revealing a man sitting behind a big gun.
Three other helicopters hovered over the road, staying outside the the line of fire. I recognized News 10’s copter of course, but had never seen the others.
In the dark, I noticed something else moving through the air.
Partly because of the dark, I didn’t immediately recognize it, but realized after a second that it had to be a car. The two lights on the front were headlights.
“Rocket,” Haley whispered, “that’s Dayton’s car.”
At the speed it moved, it didn’t take long for the rusty Geo Metro to land in the grass just ahead of Jaclyn.
Dayton, Jody, and Sean stepped out. All of them wore school clothes.
Jaclyn turned to face them. “What are you doing here? Get back behind the police cars. We haven’t secured the area.”
Even in the twilight, I could see Sean grinning. “Then we’ll do it. Watch and learn.”
The expression on Jaclyn’s face (the part the mask showed at least) said a lot of things. Most strongly it said, “I’d never expected that you were this stupid.”
Aloud she said, “I don’t know what you’ve seen on TV, but powers alone don’t –”
Sometimes you don’t think the moment can get any worse, but reality goes beyond your wildest expectations.
Before Jaclyn had gotten distracted by Payback, she’d been trying to figure out where her latest punch had sent Spike.
Spike chose that moment to reappear. I heard his steps on the metal roof of Radotron’s building. As I thought to turn around, he jumped, and flew over me, landing next to Skewer.
Skewer pushed himself up out of the grass as Spike landed. How long had he been playing dead?
Jody took off running, moving from where he’d been standing to directly in front of Spike almost instantaneously.
I couldn’t say it with complete certainty, but he seemed like he might be in Jaclyn’s league.
He attacked Spike in a blur of fists, doing no damage at all.
Skewer punched him in the side of the head and Jody went down.
Skewer’s hand changed into a blade and he began to bring it down at Jody’s chest.
I didn’t even see Jaclyn start moving, but she blocked the blade with her left arm and punched Skewer in the face with the right.
Skewer fell backwards.
Spike’s fingers changed to blades, but he never got a chance to strike her.
Both Spike and Skewer rose into the sky.
On the ground, Sean smirked, but didn’t say anything, obviously concentrating.
I wondered what he intended to do with them. Neither of them were unconscious and either one seemed likely to be capable of ripping a box apart.
Sean slammed the two them against each other in the air.
Neither of them fell unconscious, but they didn’t seem to like it.
I couldn’t hear precisely what they were saying but they were shouting at Sean.
He slammed them against each other several more times.
Inside my head, Daniel’s voice said, “What an idiot.”
Coming from the same direction as the car had, he flew toward the floating bodies as Sean drew them apart from each other, preparing to smash them together again.
The words, “Stop it,” echoed in my brain and probably the brains of everyone within Daniel’s range.
The bodies stopped moving.
Then Spike and his brother’s bodies fell limp, changing back into normal human beings. Except for being flesh instead of metal, they didn’t look much different. Spike looked short and muscular. Skewer looked taller and skinnier.
As they touched the ground, the police and reporters swarmed across the lawn.