Misdirection: Part 2

It hadn’t changed at all from how I’d left things. Haley was still talking to her mom. The Cabal soldier was still standing on the sidewalk in front of her house. Other people from our team were standing near us—Marcus, Tara, Julie, Katuk, and Kals.

Jaclyn’s camera still showed the burning house, “Hey,” she said, “should Blue and I head over to the house? I don’t like the looks of having a Cabal soldier there just waiting.”

From above Jaclyn, Izzy said, “I don’t either.”

Haley looked up at the screen, staring at the section where her parents’ house showed, “We’ve got people on the way and I’ve been told by the Mystic to keep people in reserve because they’re going after Uncle Steve.”

She flicked the claws on her left hand in and out again.

“I don’t like it either,” I told them.

At that moment, something bright appeared on Haley’s parents’ screen. Johnny Destruction dropped into the frame from the sky. He looked like he did in every piece of video I’d ever seen of him—all black, faux leather clothes that were flame-resistant armor in reality. His hands and feet were shooting fire. He didn’t wear a mask or helmet, revealing a thin face and curly, red hair. His sideburns, unchanged from the 1970s, made it halfway down his cheeks.

He reminded me of a muppet, except his hair was on fire.

I vaguely remembered reading that flight was somehow a limited resource for him, but I didn’t know why or how it worked. Running quickly was his main mode of transportation. I didn’t think he was faster than Jaclyn, but he was faster than anyone we’d sent there.

Maybe Daniel’s prescience would make the difference.

Tara looked over to Haley, “They’re trying to get us to over-commit.”

Haley opened her mouth but didn’t say anything, clenching her fists. I thought about putting my hand on her shoulder but decided not to. Meanwhile, Kayla spoke over the comm, “Johnny Destruction has joined the Cabal soldier. They haven’t yet started toward the house.”

“Got it,” Daniel said, “I’ll try to drop Johnny. Cap and Night Wolf can go after the Cabal soldier.”

The Wolfmobile’s camera view showed the street they lived on. Travis was a few blocks down. Cassie’s camera confirmed that she was traveling parallel one street over. Daniel’s camera showed that he was traveling only a few feet higher and just behind Cassie. I wasn’t sure how this helped, but I didn’t doubt that Daniel was taking the best route he could predict.

Over the comm, Travis said, “Fine with me,” and Cassie grunted something that probably meant yes.

It barely seemed to take any time after that for Travis and the Wolfmobile to pull into the view of the spybot watching the Cabal soldier and Johnny Destruction. Travis had set the Wolfmobile to appear as a white Corvette as opposed to Nightwolf’s classic vehicle. It must have initially registered to the Nine’s people as somebody driving a sports car faster than the speed limit.

Even among the fanatics that edited the Wolfmobile’s wiki entry at Double V, changing shape and paint color wasn’t a known characteristic of the car.

That meant that when Travis roared past, not even slowing down to jump out of the door of the car, he took them unawares. He swiped at Johnny Destruction with his claws on the way past. It didn’t go through Johnny’s armored jacket, but it was a nice try at taking him down. If the venom had gotten into Johnny’s system, he’d have been out.

Travis did manage to sink his fangs into the Cabal soldier’s neck, something I don’t think we even tried the first time we fought them. It worked. The soldier fell down, hitting the grass off to the side of the sidewalk. As Johnny Destruction turned to point his flaming hands in Travis’ direction, Travis jumped up, flipping over and landing in the street.

Johnny didn’t have time to adjust, firing off gouts of flame at the spot where Travis had been and hitting the lawn and sidewalk next to the Cabal soldier. The grass turned to ash, turning it and the ground under it grey. The sidewalk blackened and cracked, throwing bits of concrete into the air.

The Cabal soldier, pushed himself up from the ground, his arms wobbling. Travis must have pumped a lot of poison into his body. It wouldn’t last, but even a small delay in his entrance into the fight could save lives. I didn’t know Daniel’s ultimate plan, but I suspected it was for Travis to distract the Cabal soldier long enough for Daniel to put Johnny Destruction and the soldier to sleep. Physical damage alone wouldn’t do it when you included their regeneration in the picture.

Johnny Destruction aimed more fire at Travis, burning and cracking the road, but missing him.

I liked the way this was going, but remembering what Daniel had said, I waited for the other shoe to drop.

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