I couldn’t call Amy at nearly midnight. Well, maybe I could, but she’d left with Vaughn. Even if they weren’t officially dating anymore, what they were doing looked exactly like dating—which meant that any texts I made might interrupt nakedness.
I didn’t want to be that guy.
Tara’s voice, high pitched but steady sounded in my helmet. “They teleported away with Abominator technology.”
Chris and Sydney stood in front of the office building, each of them looking in opposite directions next to the bodies of the tentacled beasts they’d killed.
Chris asked, “Are you sure?”
“It’s possible,” I said, “but there are plenty of people out there who can teleport.”
With a note of finality, Tara replied, “It’s Abominator tech. There are messages from… Sensor Array 5? Is that Abominator technology the original Rocket found?”
“More or less,” I thought back to the hours I’d spent reconnecting it to the current network and getting my grandfather’s programs to work on modern computers. It would have been much harder if he hadn’t ported all his programs to C in the mid-70s.
The implant flooded my mind with information I hadn’t had back when I did the work. I ignored it. I didn’t have time for that.
Tara didn’t either because her next comment was, “If there’s nothing left, you should get out of there before the press appears. Tomorrow we’ll review the footage and see what we can turn over to the police.”
That was new. “Were we filming? I know I was, but I didn’t know that Railgun or R2 were.”
Chris, walking toward me in the Rocket suit, nodded, the golden armor glinting in the spotlights aimed at the building. “We were told it was best practice.”
“It is,” Tara said. “Defenders units across the country do it. It helps avoid lawsuits and the police like you better when you’re handing them evidence on anyone you catch.”
She had a point.
A giant being of gray metal as Railgun, Sydney looked up toward Hardwick Industries headquarters. “You know what? I think I’ll run around the building on the way home.”
“Just leave,” Tara said. “I’m seeing a van that says NBC News 10 pulling into the parking lot near the police. They both look like they’re coming this way.”
Talking to the press could get embarrassing. Talking to the police could cause other problems.
We went back to League HQ the same way we came. Sydney jumped or ran, taking giant steps. Chris and I flew back, staying in sight of her just in case.
When we got back, Chris and I took showers first because Sydney wasn’t sure if she wanted to take a second shower tonight within an hour of the last one.
As we dressed in the locker room afterward, Chris looked over at me, “Sometimes I feel like an embarrassment to the Rocket suit. Tonight, that guy flipped me over before I knew it. I’m not even sure how he did it. He just moved so fast and I was falling over. He wasn’t even very good. He moved so quickly I couldn’t dodge him or hit him. It’s embarrassing.”
I pulled on my t-shirt and shrugged. “I’ve been punched into the ground in a clip that made national news and every time we fought the Cabal, it felt like I screwed up somehow. I don’t feel up to it most of the time either.”
Chris sighed and pulled a backpack out of his locker. “I get that. Your grandfather’s a lot to live up to, but so are you. You’ve saved the world at least a couple times in the last three years. I think that even if you aren’t quite what he was, you’ve got a great start. I want to see what you do when you’re back in this suit and I’m back in the lab.”
Not wanting to follow up on that line of conversation, I said, “You should make yourself your own suit. All I’ve got on you is time. You shouldn’t have to feel like you have to live up to anyone but yourself.”
Chris smiled. “You shouldn’t either, but it’s okay. I’m doing it for the same reason you do—the world needs the Rocket even if it’s my version of him. Anyway, keep on thinking about that business we’re going to start, okay?”
Then he left and I followed him out. Sydney was looking at her phone at the table near the kitchen. The door to the showers and locker room was on the same wall as the kitchens and elevator.
She looked up at me as I watched Chris get into the elevator and disappear. “He’s right.”
I stopped and turned to look at her. She smiled and continued. “I don’t know how much the world needs the Rocket, but patrolling is better when the suit’s out there. People stop and listen to whoever’s wearing it. I think it’s the way it’s old timey tough without being… I don’t know—too tough?”
She put her phone on table. “You know my brother–“
That was an understatement. During my first couple of years in costume, if anyone could be considered my nemesis, it would have been Sean.
She continued, “When I first met you, I was ready to dislike you, but you’re nice and you make Haley happy. So I don’t. And I’ve seen you enough in the suit that I think you’re good in it.”
Not sure what response to make or why she’d think it was important to tell me so, I said, “Thanks. I’m trying—at least I will be one of these days when I put it on again.”
She picked up her phone and got up, giving me a nod and then frowning. “I think I’m going to take another shower. I end up stinking whenever I do anything with all that metal around me.”
She left for the locker room and I pulled out my phone. If I texted Amy about the blood now, she didn’t have to respond until tomorrow. I supposed that if she did respond while doing something with Vaughn, she couldn’t be having too good a time anyway.
I wrote, “Have blood from supervillain. Can you use it?”
The reply came back seconds later. “On my way.”
I hoped I hadn’t interrupted anything, but it was good news that she was coming now. From the way they talked, the people we fought almost had to be employees of Higher Ground.