For a moment, Lee and I must have been the only people who realized that Prime was dead.
He grinned as I looked up from the head, and saluted me with the bloodied blade. In that moment, someone shouted, and it seemed like everyone turned to see him standing in front of Prime’s body.
“Rocket, grab the head and dump it someplace!”
I leaned over and grabbed it, using the rocketpack to send myself into the air.
Trying not to think about what I was holding, I looked around for a place to put it, noticing lights shining at the next farm over. They had a pond. I remembered seeing it on the way.
Flying there took only seconds.
I dropped the head without slowing down. It was a big pond. It had a docked motorboat on one end.
The head splashed into the water. I didn’t stay long enough to find out whether it floated or sank.
I turned around and flew back.
As I flew, Haley’s voice came over the communicator in a general message to all. “Their reserves are coming. Everybody get out!”
Below me, people’s positions had barely changed from the way they’d been when I left. Jaclyn had taken advantage of the moment to pound the huge, bald guy I’d fought backward. He lay on his back, and struggled to get up.
“Night Cat, there were a bunch of them who were sneaking out into the field–”
“Night Wolf and I got them. Just leave, okay?”
I’d never noticed.
Thump. The first of the reserves had landed. They couldn’t fly. They jumped about an eighth of a mile at a time. Lee had described them to us as being a lot like Prime and others in his army — strong, tough regenerators, possibly with a few extra powers here and there.
Even with Cassie and Lee’s swords, and Jaclyn being in their league physically, we probably couldn’t take twenty of them.
We had a plan though — retreat.
Two more of them.
Just like the rest of the professionals, they wore black and carried guns, but they didn’t wear bulletproof vests, and were all obscenely muscular.
They’d landed on the edge of the lit up area.
I checked to see what the rest of us were doing. Marcus had morphed into a winged person, and was already halfway around the barn. Cassie put her sword on her back in time for Jaclyn to grab her, and jump over the barn. I couldn’t see Rachel, but that was par for the course.
Lee had disappeared already, which meant it was time for me to call in our reserves.
I clicked on my palm to activate my phone, calling Chris and Larry. “Any time, now.”
The rest of Prime’s reserves landed as I hung up, a rain of people I didn’t care to meet in broad daylight, much less a dark alley.
Or dark field.
The guy whose leg Cassie cut off started shouting at them. I couldn’t hear the details, but I did hear cars, and Cassie’s motorcycle starting on the other side of the barn.
One of them turned to shout at the group, pointing toward the road, which was not good. If they started moving, this wouldn’t work.
Then he pointed at me — that was very bad, but to be expected, given that I was hovering.
I touched my finger to my palm, preparing to blast away.
Except that was when everything began to explode.
Missiles streaked through the air, blowing up in the middle of them, the fiery blasts lighting up the whole place.
Ordinarily I’d have worried about killing people, but from what Lee had said, we’d be lucky to slow them down.
I clicked on the communicator, and asked, “Rhino, you guys got it?”
“Rocket,” Larry said, “go. We’ve got the mech. If we get in trouble, we’ll call.”
I gave the rocketpack fuel, and chased after the rest of the League.
* * *
We gathered in League HQ after the fight, waiting while people showered. Vaughn slept, still in costume (except for the mask) in one of the chairs. Daniel didn’t look much better, but he managed to start checking his email before falling asleep, head on the keyboard.
Travis ordered Chinese take-out for everyone.
No one had wanted pizza.
Chris and Larry came in ten minutes after everyone else. Chris parked the mech in the hangar with the League jet, and came in with Larry.
He walked past the big, steel doors into the main room, eyes darting everywhere, lingering on the trophies, the wall screen, the computers, and all of us.
He looked small somehow, and it wasn’t height. He’d caught up with me sometime in the last year.
Following Larry over to the table, he stood next to where Marcus was showing me a Youtube video.
Chris looked down at the screen. “Who’s that band, and what’s with all the stoves?”
“Hurra Torpedo,” Marcus said. “It’s their thing. They sing covers and bang appliances.”
“Do you think that guy knows his pants are falling down?” Cassie asked. She held a plate with four pieces of pizza on it.
Further down the table, Travis said, “I thought you didn’t want pizza.”
“I don’t, but I’m hungry, and it’s here, and the Chinese isn’t.”
Chris looked over at Travis. “Did you order extra? If you didn’t, I’m okay with pizza.”
At the sound of his voice, Cassie seemed to notice him for the first time. “I didn’t know you’d be here,” she said.