Laughing, Mateo said, “If I’ve learned anything in this job, it’s to count on the fictional ideas that screw you over turning out to be true. Besides, the mask thinks it’s true.”
I stared at the blue mask on Mateo’s face, “Does it talk to you?”
Mateo shook his head but didn’t say anything more—probably because of the Syndicate L people in the room. What were we going to do with them?
Nodding, I said, “Got it. What are we going to do with these people?”
He looked them over, “Good question. We’ve got cells downstairs, but we try not to use them if we have a choice. Standard procedure would be to call the police and have them picked up. We’ve got footage of them trying to break in and attacking us. That’ll be enough for the police to hold them at least. It might not be enough to charge them once mind control comes up, but it won’t be our problem.
“We don’t have the people to hold them and technically, we might be charged with kidnapping if we do. I don’t think they’d do it, but it’s better not to force them to consider it.”
He wasn’t wrong, but, “With everything going on tonight, do you think the police will take them?”
He shrugged, “I have no idea.”
We called them and they took the criminals away along with a copy of our footage of the attack. As we closed the doors to the tower, I asked, “Did the officers look nervous to you?”
Frowning, Mateo considered it, “Tired and nervous, I think. Did you notice how they didn’t answer when I asked them how the night was going? They left as soon as they could. We need to keep this place open in case Working Man needs someplace to retreat to, but I’m beginning to think he’ll need us in the field.”
I thought about my bed. I didn’t feel sleepy after that fight, but it was four in the morning. If I got some sleep, I’d be better prepared for all of it—especially if Barrington could get around during the day.
“Are you going to mind if I go to sleep?”
He laughed, “Go for it. I don’t promise you’ll get to sleep, but you should try it if you’ve got the chance.”
* * *
I woke to feel Mateo poking my shoulder and saying, “Nick, we’ve got a call.”
Grunting, I woke up and let the implant connect to the call. Working Man was in the center of the picture with Athletica and others behind him.
Working Man’s voice came through, deep but with a scratchy sound as if he’d been shouting. “They’ve got access to one of Syndicate L’s armories. They’ve been using civilians and police against us. We’re going around them so that we don’t have to fight them. Chromatic thinks he can break the vampires’ control over the crowds, but we have to get back to Unity’s base for materials.”
Leaning toward the screen, Mateo asked, “What do you need from us?”
Taking a look back at something in the darkness, Working Man didn’t say anything at first, but then he turned back to the screen, “Meet us at Unity’s base. They’re calling in their reserve members and local heroes from the suburbs. We’re calling in everyone—V8’s on her way. There are too many of them to leave anyone out of the fight—”
An explosion turned the computer screen white and red for a second, but then the darkness returned except that fire roared on the left of the screen. Shouts and screams dominated the background noise.
Working Man shouted over it. “Meet us at the base!”
Then the picture turned black, resolving into the Motor City Heroes logo. I reached out and activated my armor, feeling it coat my body and harden as Mateo turned around, “I’m going to check the news.”
He did, flipping from one local channel to another. A few were showing reruns of sitcoms and police dramas. Others showed infomercials, news, and TV preachers.
None of them showed fighting in downtown Detroit.
“I wouldn’t expect that vampires were that good,” I said. “That’s a complete blackout on all of it.”
Voice barely more than a whisper, Mateo said, “I know.”
“My gut feeling,” I continued, “is that it might be too good to just be vampires unless there are a lot of vampires. I feel like it might be the Dominators to get all of it that completely.”
Flipping from channel to channel, he said, “I’ve never fought the Dominators or the Nine, but whoever is running this knows what they’re doing. I’ve never seen vampires act on this scale. If they get away with it, they might be able to control the entire city.”
If they were this good at controlling the media, I wondered what else they controlled. It didn’t seem possible that they could prevent people from talking about it online, but I didn’t have time to check.
Mateo was already in full costume and I was close. Pushing myself off the bed, I watched notifications as the V4 costume finished assembling itself and connected remotely to my motorcycle.
I pulled everything I’d been working on off of the shelves. It looked like I’d need it.