Lim continued, “We’ll be using the strategies and tactics we practiced yesterday, so you shouldn’t have had time to forget them yet. There will be one additional wrinkle. We’re already evacuating Stardock just like we are the rest of the city. That means that if we do decide to blow Stardock, we won’t be looking for you to evacuate the people below. We’ll need you to watch out for each other. Don’t leave anyone in your unit behind.”
He paused, looked us all over, and then, when we thought he’d finished, he said, “There’s one more thing. Stardock isn’t the only alien technology in New York City. We fought the Abominators in the 1970’s, and we collected everything we could find. I’m not going to tell you where it is, but none of you should be surprised to discover that we’re studying it, or that we’re doing our best to reverse engineer it. When you fight, you need to use tools that can do the job. Our own tools won’t, so we’re getting better tools.That’s why we may redirect a few of you if we have to blow Stardock. Don’t hesitate if we call you in. Trust me, it will be important.
“That’s not to say that we won’t need you for more mundane tasks. A city like New York doesn’t empty in minutes. We’ll have people in harm’s way for hours. It wouldn’t surprise me if we’re still evacuating even when the fighting’s finished. We’ll need you to keep people safe, to keep things moving, and to deliver first aid before anyone else has a chance to get there.
“For now, be ready. We’ll deliver your individual assignments over your communicators.”
Then he pulled out his phone, and put it to his ear. I don’t know who he was talking to, but my orders appeared as texts in my HUD.
All flyers gather next to the hangar door. You’ll be part of the team that goes to Stardock first.
I started walking over there, finding myself accompanied by Daniel, Izzy, Vaughn, and Cassie. When we got to the front, I wasn’t surprised to find that everyone I’d worked with yesterday was there–Blake (looking nervous), Theo, Brittany, Brianna, Sean, and the rest of the glass cannons.
Even though they didn’t fly, I wasn’t surprised to find Jaclyn, Jody, and a couple more speedsters I didn’t recognize, one of whom wore combat fatigues and carried a rifle.
I was a little more surprised when Anime Girl and Jenny joined the group.
About that time, Isaac Lim joined us. “Your job is to get to Stardock, and be ready to defend it. You may not have to. We don’t know for sure that they’re after it right now. If we decide to blow it up, we’ll give you time to get away. If we decide to defend it, we’ll have Portal open up a gate to Jenny, and then we’ll send in people to assist you.
“In the meantime, we’re sending in the largest, fastest group of you that we can manage.”‘
He looked down at his watch. “It’s time for you to go, but there’s one more thing I have to say. We’ve been preparing you to protect society, and that’s meant working within the rules to the degree that vigilantes can–what I mean is, we’ve told you not to kill. Hurt people to catch them, sure, but we’ve told you to leave killing to the state.
“Well, I’m telling you right now, right here, to forget all that. We’re at war. You are acting as our soldiers. You are, right now, an arm of the state. If you have to fight, your opponents will be trying to kill you. Remember that. Some of you have seen the fight between those robots and the Rocket and Night Cat. If they hadn’t won, they would have died. We’re fighting the same people. Don’t hesitate to take out your opponents any way you can. They might not be machines. They might look like people, but they won’t show you any more mercy. Trust me on this. I’ve been fighting them for years.”
He stopped, stared at all of us, and said, “That’s all. Get out there. We’ve sent a message with Stardock’s location to your communicators. If your communicator doesn’t include GPS, which it should, follow a member of the Heroes League. Theirs do.”
Then he waved us toward the hangar door–which began to open.
There weren’t any planes on the runway. I couldn’t even see any visible. They must have been moved inside the hangars.
I didn’t see any people either. Apparently Lim’s people must have evacuated the airport while we were talking or something.
Behind me, a low female voice said, “Do you feel that wind? I don’t know how you people survive up here.”
I turned my head to find Anime Girl talking with Jenny.
Jenny laughed. “I don’t survive up here. I’m from L.A.”
I checked the temperature in my HUD. It was 42 degrees. That wasn’t bad at all, not by Michigan standards anyhow. This was pretty typical for early spring.
“You should come to Grand Lake sometime. A few years ago, we had spring break extended by a week because of a blizzard.”
Anime Girl raised an eyebrow. I could see it through her helmet’s eyehole. “You’re kidding, right?”
I shook my head (well, helmet).
“I’ll stay in Florida, thanks.” She gave a small smile as people began to step out of the hangar.
I scrolled through the team list that appeared in my HUD. Eliminating the names that didn’t fit, I decided I’d found hers.
“Are you Bloodmaiden?”
She frowned. “Yes, but that’s a mistake.”
Jenny’s Flame Legion costume covered her entire body including her face, but I could imagine her grin as she faked surprise, “You’re impersonating Bloodmaiden?”
Bloodmaiden grinned, matching Jenny’s fake surprise by sounding like a cheesy cartoon villain. “You’ve caught me! I’m actually Bloodmaiden’s worst enemy and I’ve taken her form to ruin her life.”
Then she stopped grinning. “It was a mistake though. It’s more of a title, and the question of whether or not it’s mine would spark a civil war back home. And home’s not really Florida.”
I didn’t say anything.
She pursed her lips. “There can be only one Bloodmaiden in the world. That’s why my twin sister’s home, and I’m here.”
Jenny glanced over at the rest of our team. They were taking flight. She said, “I don’t want to interrupt, but we should go.”
Bloodmaiden touched her gem. It was set into her armor at the base of her neck. Then she tapped Jenny with her spear. A blood red glow surrounded both of them, and they began to float upward. Their speed wasn’t great, but it was fast enough.
My sister Rachel stepped up in her gear–the new guns I’d made for her along with her all white bodysuit.
“Mind if I tag along?” She hadn’t been invisible, but I hadn’t noticed her.
“No problem,” I said. “Did Lim send all of the League members that are here in the first group?”
“Daniel’s carrying Travis and Cassie. So, yes.”
I frowned. “What’s up with that?”
Rachel put her hand on my armor. “I guess he likes putting us in danger. Now, let’s go.”
I started the rockets, and we took to the air.
The airport appeared to have been somewhere in New Jersey. We flew over water. To our right, I could see the Atlantic Ocean. Ahead of us lay Long Island.
The skyline rose up before us. How many tv shows had I seen it in?
Long lines of cars covered the bridges. Zooming in, I could see people walking across the bridges too.
With luck, there’d be a city to come back to at the end of the day.
Over the speakers in my helmet, I heard Daniel’s dad’s voice. Mindstryke was probably up there with the rest of the Midwest Defenders.
“Guardian’s reached the asteroid. It’s too big to gate out. He thinks he can handle the smaller rocks.”