With that, we started down the stairs, walking down more than thirty floors. I don’t know exactly how many. Book Tower had 38 floors and I knew that we were close to the top, but not there.
The implant could have told me, but I didn’t care enough to check.
However long the walk felt, and it did feel long, we made it to the ground floor before the police took control of the building. As we made it down to the empty room by the front doors, a few police stood inside amid the concrete floors and walls, the ornate ceilings, and the exposed wires and cables from the construction.
Their hands moved toward their weapons as we stepped out of the stairway, but dropped away as they recognized us.
Mateo raised his hands as he stepped into the main room, “It’s okay, we’re not vampires. If we were, we’d be on fire by now.”
Sunlight glinted on the hilt of his sword and a few of the cops laughed.
He stepped forward, adding, “You’ll get our reports through the Motor City Heroes as usual. V4 and I will be available for questions.”
A tall, beefy cop asked him, “What’s the status upstairs?”
Giving him a smile, Mateo said, “Vampire free unless they made it to a closet before the sun came up. Watch out, by the way, it’s a Syndicate L base that the vampires took over. There’s more to worry about than vampires.”
The cop nodded, “That’s what I heard. For now, we’re just keeping people out. We’re not going in until the feds arrive.”
Leading us toward the door, Mateo said, “Sounds like a good plan to me.”
We walked out into downtown Detroit in the early morning. Cars drove past the police cars parked next to the sidewalk. Further down the sidewalk, officers were putting up yellow police tape.
Mateo walked over to his motorcycle, swinging his leg over the side and sitting down. I walked around his bike and transformed back, feeling the pieces of the V4 suit fall off me and reshape themselves into a motorcycle.
I felt a little naked standing there with only the normal V4 armored jumpsuit to protect me, but I knew there wasn’t much to protect me from.
Turning to Amy, Vincent, Samita, and Rod, I said, “I don’t know who wants to ride with whom, but that’s where we are now.”
Amy touched the bottom end of the Bloodspear to the sidewalk, “I’ll fly.”
She floated into the air, hovering at about ten feet while Rod and Samita figured out where to sit.
“Tell you what,” Vincent said, “V4’s got the longer bike. We’ll put more people there. I’ll ride behind Red Hex and Troll rides with Blue Mask. What do you think?”
It took a moment for everyone to get on, but everyone fit. Within minutes, we were cruising down the street and then the highway.
Detroit’s traffic moved faster than Grand Lake’s, closer to 90 than the official 70 miles per hour highway speed limit. For a long part of the drive through the city, the highway seemed to be in a concrete trough below ground level. Between that and the cars, it felt cramped. I knew it would become a normal highway soon enough, but I didn’t like it.
From the way Samita’s grip on my waist tightened, I suspected she didn’t either. She’d said, “I’ve never been on one of these before,” as she got on, adding, “They don’t have seatbelts. I mean, of course they don’t have seatbelts, but I wish they had seatbelts.”
Riding at close to 90 down the highway for her first time might not have been ideal. “I’m not hanging on too hard, am I?”
“The costume’s armor. Don’t worry about it,” I said.
Her grip tightened.
Behind her, Vincent shouted, “V4 knows what he’s doing. We’re going to be fine, assuming some asshole doesn’t forget to look when he’s changing lanes. Then we’re road pizza.”
“Does that happen often?” She shouted back.
“All the damn time,” he said. “People don’t look for bikes. I don’t know what’s going on in their heads.”
It wasn’t the moment to tell Vincent not to say things like that, but I wished he wouldn’t.
It didn’t matter in the end. The highway came up to ground level and the cars spread out. Twenty or thirty minutes later, we were pulling up to Motor City Heroes’ tower-shaped base.
It felt like an age since we’d left. It felt good to see it, dirt driveway and all. “It looks like a rook,” Samita said as we pulled in.
Assuming she meant the chess piece and not the bird, she was right. It did.
By the time the doors opened and we rolled into the elevator, it felt like the night had ended and we didn’t have to worry about fighting vampires anymore. That feeling lasted for a few seconds. Then the doors to the elevator opened and my stomach cramped up.
Working Man stood in front of us in his blue and grey costume, face hidden by his mask. On a gut level, I doubted that he was smiling underneath it.