Leaning back against the wall, Mateo closed his eyes. His lips may have moved, but if they did, I didn’t hear anything he said.
I did feel something though, a warm wind—except bearing in mind that I was covered by armor, it was impossible for me to feel anything of the kind. I had a suspicion of what it might be, but I didn’t have time or any realistic direction to explore it.
In front of me, Mateo pushed himself away from the wall, still walking stiffly for the first two steps, but normally by the third. He took a deep breath and smiled, “Ready?”
Amy shook her head, “No. You couldn’t do that in school.”
His smile wavered, “Actually, I could, but healing isn’t something I can do a lot. If it becomes a ‘known power of Blue Mask,’ in the V&V database, people will come after me for help like they do Paladin and Preserver. If I keep it secret, I’ll have it on missions when we need it.”
Her eyes narrowed for a second, but she said, “I’m no one to talk. If I’ve got enough power to work with, I can do things that I’m never going to admit to.”
In an even voice, Mateo said, “Like what?”
She laughed, “Assume they’re all creepy as hell and that I’ll use everything that isn’t someday.”
Vincent walked up the stairs, his claws clicking on the floor, “Nice. They’re okay, right?”
He waved his paw at Chromatic and then Nanosecond.
“Should be,” I said.
Amy turned toward him, “They’re alive. My spell will keep them bound for a few hours or until I let them go.”
“Good enough,” he said. “You guys ready? I don’t know what they’ve got up there, but Syndicate L’s main base is a few floors above us. It’s got to be vamp central.”
He turned to look at Mateo, “You’re looking better than you did last I saw you. After Nanosecond hits people about a million times, they usually go down.”
“I know,” Mateo walked over to us. “I took a rest. I’ll be okay.”
Vincent laughed, “I wasn’t that far away when you said you could heal.”
“Alright,” Mateo said, nodding. “I healed myself. Please don’t tell anybody.”
Shaking his head, Vincent said, “Don’t worry about it. We won’t tell, but my brothers and I might bring you along on missions more often.”
Mateo frowned as Vincent chuckled.
Stepping back from us, Amy looked up the stairwell, “I don’t want to interrupt anyone, but we’ve got a little more to do.”
“Yeah, yeah, I know,” Vincent glanced upward. “I don’t hear anything. We’ve got a second. Do we have a plan or are we going to run up there and wing it?”
Mateo glanced over at Amy and then Vincent, “We’re not winging it. I think Vincent and I should go a little ahead of the two of you and see if we can scout the area. Then once we know what we’re dealing with, we call you in and attack.”
Amy glanced toward the windows in the stairwell. From this height, we could see Detroit’s skyline, but not much of anything below us. Rod and Samita were down there somewhere.
She said, “I’ll call in Troll and Red Hex and see if they can make it up here. They’ve done everything they need to. We’re in and a little more help can’t hurt.”
“Do it,” Mateo said.
“I was just thinking,” I began, “that if we could wait until sunrise, we’d have the advantage. It’s 6:05 am, and we’re only twenty minutes from the sun coming up. It wouldn’t be that long to wait.”
Amy shook her head, “I don’t think we can wait. If we attack now, we’ll see all of them. If we wait and they have coffins somewhere else, they’ll leave before sunrise—“
“—And if we fight them now, they might not make it to their coffins even they get away from us,” Vincent said. “I like that.”
Nodding, Mateo said, “Me too. The sooner we get there, the better. Besides, Barrington can walk in daylight.”
“I know,” I said. “I was thinking that if we fought him alone, that would help, but maybe that’s what happens in the end. Attacking them when they think they have time to fight might be better.”
Moving his hand to his chin, Mateo stood quietly for a moment, finally saying, “I think we’ll do best if we move now. We don’t want them to escape and for all we know, they have captives they’re going to… convert. For that matter, maybe their coffins are up there. We don’t know enough and we can’t risk waiting until it’s too late.”
Stepping out of the group, he waved toward the stairway, “Let’s all go for now. I’ll tell you when Vincent and I should go ahead.”
Amy and I looked at each other for a moment, but we followed.