“No. There’s no way I’m doing that,” I said.
“That was a joke. I wasn’t suggesting you let Mindstryke take over, but you need to listen to the guy. No one thinks about it when they start, but managing your image is a major piece of the job.”
Guardian pulled a couple pieces of pepperoni pizza onto a plate.
Flick leaned in toward the table and smiled briefly. “He’s right. Some of you have heard about what happened when I joined the Defenders. I think the most important thing I’ve learned in the past two years is how to handle myself in public.”
Continue reading In the Public Eye: Part 58
“Is there some way I could avoid being on TV?” I said.
“Are you nervous?” Haley asked. “Your grandfather was on TV all the time.”
“Was he your grandfather?” Flick said. “I wondered about the connection. I remember seeing him on TV as a little kid. He always seemed so calm.”
Flick didn’t seem all that much older than we were. I would have guessed mid to late twenties. At best she could have seen him at the tail end of his career unless she’d seen some old news footage. During a history class, I once saw him in a World War II era newsreel.
Continue reading In the Public Eye: Part 57
The house only blew up a little bit — at least by comparison to an atomic bomb, for example. It didn’t have a mushroom cloud, just gouts of flame pouring out the kitchen windows and doors. To judge from what it looked like afterwards, it must have blasted out a couple pieces of wall too, but I was too distracted by the flames and smoke to notice.
We had already gotten out when it happened. The explosion destroyed the kitchen, part of the dining room, and started most of the back of the house burning. Even through my armor I could feel the heat a little.
I hit the ground when it blew like everyone else, realizing belatedly that I probably didn’t have to.
Continue reading In the Public Eye: Part 56
The Hangman who had caught Marcus swung the rope end of the noose toward Water. He froze as it touched his neck, the rope tying itself into a second noose. However quickly he thought he could change, Water ended up in human form.
They’d taken us all out.
Well, all of us except me, and I’d decided to pretend otherwise. With any luck I’d get some useful information and maybe get the chance to surprise them.
Continue reading In the Public Eye: Part 55
According to “Double V,” the Hangmen were dead people given the chance to live a second time. I didn’t remember the article being clear on why.
I understood how the writer might have missed that detail. The Hangmen didn’t seem particularly talkative. In fact, they didn’t say anything at all as they got off the remains of the table and onto the (now heavily scratched) wooden floor.
Vengeance stood in front of them, knife hanging from his belt, rifle on his back.
Continue reading In the Public Eye: Part 54
This looks interesting, Daniel thought, but we don’t have time to follow it all the way through. I’m going to have him free associate.
Scattered memories of passing years — Martin Magnus conducting a ceremony in a dark room, and handing Bouman a cup. Letters and couriers appearing in the dead of night carrying secret messages… Using an expanding telepathic awareness to enter the mind of one official after another… The mayor’s inspection of a gun wielding assassin’s now irreparably damaged mind…
A recent memory — A red-haired man in a black suit and sunglasses sat in the mayor’s study upstairs. I could feel a mixture of anticipation and fear as the mayor looked across the desk.
Continue reading In the Public Eye: Part 53
The beam struck the floor in front of us and the carpet caught fire. Water slid forward and became a puddle, smothering it. Then he reverted into human-shaped water.
“Come any closer to me or my family and I’ll blast you,” Bouman said.
“Oh come on,” Daniel said. “This has nothing to do with your family. That has got to be one of the stupidest rationalizations I have ever heard. You’ve been manipulating people for ages and now you’re afraid to face the music. That’s the only reason you’re holding the gun.”
Continue reading In the Public Eye: Part 52
Walking through the house seemed to take forever. We had to go down three stories before we reached the first floor.
We couldn’t see out of the windows because the smoke reached higher than our heads. Wisps of it came through the edges of the windowsill and the bottom of the front door.
Continue reading In the Public Eye: Part 51
We descended toward the house. Daniel and his father floated down with no visible means of support as if they were riding an invisible elevator. The wind held Vaughn in the air, blowing his hair wildly as he rode it down. Marcus circled down, gliding like a hawk. I followed Daniel, my jetpack set to give slightly less force than it would take to hover.
OK, Daniel’s dad thought at us, Bouman’s in the basement with his wife and kids. He’s armed with some kind of gun, probably equipment confiscated by the police. I have no idea what it can do so be careful and keep the violence to a minimum. If we can manage to capture Bouman without beating him unconscious in front of his family, I’ll be happy.
A burst of thought from Daniel: We’re going to be attacked shortly… um… now.
Continue reading In the Public Eye: Part 50
“Marcus, too,” Daniel continued. “Really, they found each other. I’ve told them where we are.”
Moments later, they stepped out from behind the nearest house and into the light outside their garage. Marcus appeared almost like himself except for feathered wings. Also, though I hadn’t noticed it earlier, I realized that he wore a costume and had been all night. Gray like Travis and Haley’s, his costume flashed a rainbow of colors when he moved. On the left side of his chest were the words, “The Shift.”
Vaughn limped next to him, his left arm hanging in a way that seemed somehow off. Blood spattered the lower half of his face where he had no mask. A slit the width of a knife blade showed skin and dried blood on the right side of his neck. To judge from the amount of dried blood on his costume, it surprised me that any could be left inside him.
Continue reading In the Public Eye: Part 49