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.
From what I could tell, the mayor lived very well. I couldn’t really tell expensive decorations from cheap, but the house looked expensive. It had larger rooms than I would have expected in an older house, but on the other hand, it was an old mansion. The wooden floors showed no signs of wear and the furniture appeared heavy on wood and leather. Paintings hung on the walls, mostly depicting local scenes — the old lighthouse in Grand Lake’s harbor, Hardwick House, City Hall, and the city skyline.
Behind the kitchen, we found the stairway to the basement.
“You’ll want to stay back,” Daniel said to Marcus and Vaughn. “He’ll be able to sense you if you get much closer.”
“Are you sure he doesn’t sense us now?” Vaughn asked.
“Not completely,” Daniel said. He peered at Vaughn. “But at least he’s not in your head. If you feel anything, get out of here.”
“Right,” Marcus said. “If I suddenly start thinking the mayor’s a nice guy, I’ll try to remember that I’m wrong.”
I heard a splash.
A human shaped mass of water stepped out of the kitchen sink.
“Whoa,” I said and asked Marcus, “Weren’t you going after him?”
“I lost him,” Marcus said. “In a sewer, all the water looks the same.”
The Elemental began to walk toward us.
Marcus stepped toward him and changed. Blades sprouted from his shoulders, chest, legs and hands.
“You’re called Water, right?” Marcus said. “You and I, we both know what’s going to happen next, don’t we?”
His fingers lengthened into long, wide blades.
The Elemental hesitated and then stepped forward, readying his right hand for a punch.
Marcus moved faster than I could see. Using both arms to cut, he chopped through the right leg and the chest simultaneously. The body fell apart with a splash and a gurgling scream, turning into a big puddle in the middle of the kitchen.
“Snicker-snack,” Marcus muttered.
The water reformed into a blond haired, college aged guy who from his looks could have been a model. He took a long, gasping breath. “Oh my god, that hurt…”
“You’re the Heroes League, right?” He said. “Until just a second ago, I thought you guys were mind controlled by terrorists.”
“Part of the League,” I said.
Almost simultaneously, Daniel said, “The mayor’s a telepath. He planted that and I just took it out.”
He stood up and it finally registered that he wore ancient Greek clothes like everyone else on his team. “That bastard. We’ve been protecting the guy for a few weeks now… Ever since all that shit about you guys hit the news.”
He eyed Vaughn. “You’re what? The new Red Lightning?”
“I call myself Storm King.” Vaughn sounded irritated.
“So was it all fake? The news reports? Everything?”
“I wouldn’t say fake,” I said. “I really did punch the mayor, but he was trying to break into my mind at the time. So they weren’t fake as much as… selective.”
“Jerks,” Vaughn said.
Water turned toward me (as if I had any kind of authority). “What happened to the rest of my team?”
“They’re sleeping,” I said. “The Mystic left them back at our headquarters. I don’t think that any of them are badly hurt.”
“Good. Then let’s go downstairs and get this guy.”
“It’s just going to have to be the Mystic and I –” I began.
“Once I change I’m immune,” he said.
“He’s right,” Daniel said. “A telepath’s got to catch him in his normal form while he’s vulnerable.”
“Uh… How about changing right now?” I said.
His body bulged, grew, and turned transparent. Beneath him, the wooden floor creaked and sagged.
He began walking toward door to the basement.
“Wait,” Vaughn said, “what are we supposed to be doing while you’re down there?”
“I don’t know,” I said. “Mindstryke or C said we’d probably have to race Vengeance to get the mayor first. So, stop him, I guess.”
“Oh yeah,” Vaughn said, “because I did so well the first time.”
Marcus said, “Don’t worry about us, go get that man.”
Daniel and I followed the avatar of the element of water through the door and down the stairs. We stepped into a big room half the size of the first floor.
During the 1960’s, some prior occupant of the house had finished the basement. Wooden paneling covered the walls. A bar stood in the far corner of the room, complete with stools.
On the floor in front of the bar, two boys moved Thomas the Tank Engine around a circle of tracks on the white carpet. Neither of them could have been older than seven.
A tall woman with long brown hair grabbed their hands and began to pull them away from the toys. “I told you to come here,” she said and pulled them to the wall next to her.
The taller one waved toward Water and shouted, “Hi,” and strained against his mother’s grip to run across the room.
Water said, “Hi Alex.”
Mayor Bouman stood next to the bar, his hand on a lumpy object I didn’t recognize.
“Why are you leading them here? Attack them!” He pulled the lumpy object off the bar. It could only be described as a raygun. I’d seen villains from the 50’s holding ones like it in my grandfather’s files and old issues of Double V.
The avatar of the element of water said, “You douchebag.”
White light burst from the gun.