I was about to point him out to Haley, but I didn’t need to. She and Travis had already noticed and had looked away from the screen to look at each other.
Haley’s fists clenched and I didn’t doubt that she was restraining herself from changing form, “We should go. Mom’s at home—“
Travis shook his head, “I’ll go. You’re running things here.”
Raising an eyebrow, Haley said, “No. I don’t run—“
“I’ll go,” Daniel said. “You’ve got a better chance if I do.”
“I’m coming too,” Cassie said, hand on her bluish-green gun. “Those guys go down hard.”
Haley’s face tightened, “Okay. Go then.”
I looked over at Daniel and felt his worry followed by his thoughts, Travis will die if he goes alone. Even now there’s no guarantee. If we send too many people with him there are larger-scale bad results. I don’t know what yet.
I looked at the bot views around my parents’ house and my dad’s office but saw nothing special. Even so, my heart started to beat faster.
Travis had already turned and begun to run toward the hangar, his clothes already morphed into his gray and black costume. Cassie followed him. She’d changed midway through the call. I wasn’t sure where her sword had come from, but it was on her back. Daniel flew after them.
Even as they left, Kayla muttered, “Oh, God,” and I turned to look at her, following her gaze up toward the screen.
Prentkos had begun to disintegrate. While accurate, the word “disintegrate” didn’t convey the feeling of what we were seeing. The word calls up clean, bloodless images of people turning to dust—possibly because Marvin Martian pointed a cartoon gun at them.
This image was one I wanted to wipe from my memory the moment I saw it. Prentkos started to disintegrate, expanding outward from the bloody spot on his neck. The skin around it began to thin and separate, dripping a dark liquid that might have been blood. As I watched, the skin puckered and turned papery, pulling away from the body, and revealing the inside of his neck.
It didn’t stop falling apart, but that’s when I stopped watching.
Jaclyn’s voice came over the comm, “I grabbed the… injector, I think. It’s not a needle, but it does the same thing. How good is this costume against biological contaminants?”
“It should be great. It’s got a good filtration system and it’ll seal completely if you tell it to. It’s got limits, but they’re pretty wide limits.”
“Good,” Jaclyn backed up to the front door and stepped outside, “I don’t know what that is, but I don’t want to find out that it’s contagious.”
In the background of her stream, I heard white noise. It might have been a fire as easily as a radio tuned to an empty station. Jaclyn ran away from the house, checking behind herself as she ran away. The house exploded, disappearing in a column of flame and smoke that turned into a cloud of smoke.
Jaclyn stopped, checking around the house, “I don’t see if anything else has caught on fire. Blue, do you see anything?”
Izzy replied, “No one else seems to have been hurt and I don’t think the fire is spreading. I’ll call 911.”
“I’ll do it,” Kayla said, “you might need to handle something there.”
As Izzy took a flight around the burning building, Tara stepped up to Haley and me, “I think that the remaining members of the group the Nine sent are going to try to attack your parents’ house again and that anything else going on is a distraction from that.”
“A distraction,” Haley asked, “like my family?”
Tara’s face had been all straight lines and no emotions, but with that, her lips quivered, “I’m sorry. I know you’re worried and I know they’re in danger. When I use my abilities, I see patterns and not much more.”
Haley held up her hands, “I know. I’m worried. You’re doing what we need you to do. Do you know who they’ll hit first or how soon they’ll attack Nick’s house?”
Tara stared out at nothing, “They’ll hit your parents first—within the next five minutes. They’re trying to draw our attention by placing the Cabal soldier we recognize there. They’ll make it worse to draw more of us in and then hit Nick’s parents’ house.”
Kals cut in, “That man in the house? He died from Abominator tech. The Human Ascendancy used it. They can’t just cut you with it. You have to already be taking the other part of the poison. The Ascendancy used to put it in the food of motivators or others that they thought might be too dangerous.”
She paused for a breath and then said, “They might have more Abominator tech.”
On the screen, the Cabal soldier crossed the street and started walking toward Haley’s parents’ house.