Misdirection: Part 1

Once the Cabal soldier crossed the street, he stopped, standing on the sidewalk as if he were waiting for someone. It kind of worked. It wasn’t as if he were wearing a purple, orange, or green skintight jumpsuit, the kind of thing that screams, “I’m a supervillain!”

Bearing in mind that many of the Cabal had been Roman soldiers, he wasn’t wearing either a toga or carrying a shield. That would have been out of place in a suburban, upper-middle-class neighborhood. He wore a grey coat and blue slacks that to my eye had the heaviness of materials used for armor. I doubted that a Cabal soldier needed armor, but no one wanted to run around naked and I supposed that was less likely with tougher materials.

At any rate, he didn’t stand out. With his short-cropped hair, square jaw, and muscular build, he passed for someone with a bodybuilding hobby or maybe a bodyguard.

Anyway, he stood in front of the long, white, McMansion Haley’s parents owned without instantly making the neighbors feel like they had to call the police.

A quick look at the map in my HUD showed that Daniel, Travis, and Cassie weren’t far away—maybe a mile, something only possible because the Wolfmobile didn’t have to stop for traffic lights or traffic jams. The driver could slide out the wings, turn on the rockets, and fly over obstacles. With the anti-gravity assist I’d added, the car remained stable for longer in the air and was less likely to hit traffic lights the way I had on my first time with the car.

Cassie’s motorcycle couldn’t fly, but she didn’t have any compunction against riding down the sidewalk. She wasn’t as far behind as you’d have thought.

Next to me, Haley had called home with her comm, letting it interface with the phone system, faking a call from her cellphone, “Mom, who’s home right now?”

She’d changed, growing a little taller and muscular, and was extending and retracting the claws on her left hand as she talked. She looked up at the screen, watching the Cabal soldier as he stood before her family home, “Dad’s home too? Okay. This is bad. The man in front of the house is here to kill you. How do I know? Uh… The police told me not to go home. They’ve called in the Heroes’ League. They’re on the way.”

Even without super hearing, I could hear Haley’s mom’s voice grow louder. Haley said, “Don’t leave the house. Go upstairs and into your bedroom… No. Tell Dad the shotgun won’t do any good. No good at all… Do you remember the Cabal from when I was in high school? Yes, they’re still around. This is one of the bad ones—the kind that bulldozes everything. Shotguns won’t hurt him.”

It might not have been the best moment for it, but I couldn’t think of anything else useful to do. I tapped the abilities that Kee had been teaching me to use. Though I could still hear Haley talking to her mom and then Daniel over her comm, my mind simultaneously existed elsewhere. Kee had told me that I wouldn’t really understand it for at least one thousand years, but the best theory I had was that I was using some version of what starships used to travel faster than light and what ansibles tapped into to send messages in real-time across space.

Overlying, the concrete walls and giant screen ahead of me, I saw stars stretching and blurring and among them I saw my sister Rachel flying. She wore her Ghost costume, all in white except for the black backpack—which wasn’t really part of her costume. She’d used it as luggage for her trip abroad to France in university and now for her current interstellar internship.

She turned to look at me, “This isn’t good news is it?”

“Sorry, no. The Nine are using a guy from the Cabal plus their own people to kill Uncle Steve, but maybe also Mom and Dad and the whole League’s parents. If you can come home, we need you.”

Her jaw dropped a little, “Uncle Steve? How did he get involved in any of this?”

I began to explain and she waved it away, “Never mind. I’ll get home somehow, but I’m going to need help.”

She turned toward a shimmering object shaped almost like a human being except that parts of it shifted between white and translucent, making the shape too inconsistent to be sure. After a few seconds, Rachel turned back to me, “It won’t be in minutes, but it might be in hours. Or days. We’re close to the galactic core. It’s complicated, but I’ll be home as soon as I can.”

“I can’t ask for more,” I told her.

She stared as if trying to see what was behind me—which she might have been able to do. Seeing home from half a galaxy away would pull at a person. We’d talked but not all the time since she’d left. It was harder at first than it was now.

“Stay safe,” She said. “Oh, and the Ghosts can tell that you’re stronger. Try not to attract the wrong kind of attention.”

“You stay safe,” I told her and faded fully into our reality.

2 thoughts on “Misdirection: Part 1”

  1. I have brief moments where I don’t feel like marking the start of a new section by making it a new chapter. When I do that however, a chapter has been known to stretch to 30 or even 60 parts. Long chapters like that make this harder to read, so I try to restrain myself.

    Still, I was tempted to just keep going with the last chapter title today.

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