The van rolled down the ramp and into the parking area under the building. I wondered if we’d have to go upstairs to get his attention, but ultimately didn’t have to.
He slid down the fireman’s pole in the corner.
That seemed like a good sign. I didn’t know The Thing That Eats particularly well, but it didn’t seem particularly whimsical. Being possessed by a ancient supernatural entity didn’t seem likely to leave you in a good enough mood to want to try the pole.
He walked toward the van and I pushed the button to open the door. As he stepped inside, Haley stepped back into the main area, holding out her hand to help him in.
He took it, and there was no flash of red from her ward.
“Good,” she said, slipping back into her seat.
He looked from her to me, and back to her as he sat down. “What?”
She turned back. “You’re not infected. I had to touch you to know for sure.”
Below his mask, I could see his jaw tighten. “I saw the security guard run off carrying Alden, and I got your message. So he’s going to turn into that thing too, now?”
With the van’s door shut, I pushed the button that opened the tunnel out, adding, “Most likely,” as I drove into the darkness past the ramp.
In the rear view mirror, Kid Biohack slumped, but didn’t stay that way for long. He watched as we passed through the newly constructed tunnel that started in the League office and into the older, abandoned, city sewer tunnels
“I hope they don’t still use these things.” He stared at one of the larger puddles and the curved concrete walls.
Haley twisted her head around. “They don’t. The original League used to have some influence in the city government. They’ve been declared dangerous. No one uses them.”
C, Jaclyn’s grandfather had been one of the city’s civil engineers and knew the right people to keep the tunnels abandoned. What we’d do when he died, I didn’t know. Maybe we’d talk to Agent Lim, or maybe Vaughn would have enough power through his family’s businesses to do something.
We’d solve that problem when it came up.
Nothing worth mentioning happened during the rest of the ride. I did agree to let Kid Biohack walk through the offices with his Internet connection working and even record going down the fireman’s pole after this was all over. Why not?
A few minutes later, we rolled into the hangar. Close to a football field in size, it contained the League jet (which was really a spaceship). Gray and bullet shaped with small wings, it looked like it should be on the cover of a 1950s or 60s science fiction magazine. The Wolfmobile, a black car shaped much like a 60s Stingray Corvette, was parked next to the jet. Captain Commando’s red, white, and blue motorcycle stood next to the car.
All along the walls were counters and equipment for repairing vehicles, including a car lift, replacement parts, a fork lift, and equipment that was too large to fit anywhere else. This included a sailboat and a couple jet skis—which I’d always found interesting considering that the only place the base exited directly into water was the underwater airlock.
Kid Biohack stared at all of it. “I’ve seen bigger bases, but I had no idea you guys had all of this.”
I parked next to the motorcycle, “I grew up with it, so it’s normal to me.”
I didn’t tell him that we had additional levels of the same size further down. I did take a look past the jet at the entrance to the airlock. That was where Samita had put the wards because that was where we’d agreed that I’d land. That way if the creature had escaped during the flight, it would have the wards in front of it and the water behind it.
Basically, once the wards were triggered, it would have nowhere to go.
Even as we got out of the van, people were already gathering—Jeremy, Kayla (wearing a headset), former Justice Fist members (Sean, Dayton, Jody, Julie, Shannon, and Camille), descendants of the original Heroes’ League that were still in Grand Lake (Travis, Marcus, and Vaughn) and unofficial, new members (Chris and Courtney).
With Haley, Kid Biohack and I, that put us at sixteen people even if Jeremy and Kayla weren’t going to be fighting.
One more straggler pushed her way in—Sydney. Like everyone else who had one, she was in costume—though not fully. She wore one of the nanotech based costumes I’d designed (gold and white), but hadn’t surrounded herself with a layer of metal.
Grinning, she gave Haley a hug as we joined the crowd. Just like Kid Biohack, she didn’t activate Haley’s ward and didn’t turn into The Thing That Eats in response to the unexpected pain.
Good news. We now only had one person left unaccounted for—Lucas.
At about the same time I thought that, I realized that I had a call. Tapping my palm, I took it, and heard Lucas’ voice. “Hey Rocket, I’m almost there. The ER was busy tonight, so I didn’t leave as soon as I wanted. I’m landing at the forest door.”
That meant he’d be coming through the main room. “Hey, everyone. Lucas just got here. Those of you who don’t have wards should probably take cover. I’ll meet him, and those of us with wards will take him out if he’s infected.”