I didn’t realize that even as I felt optimistic, the other shoe had already dropped. The tree in the front yard had started on fire and the mulch and one of the bushes in front of their house had started with it.
Haley started talking to her mother over the comm again, “You need to get out, but don’t exit where they can see you. Go over to the neighbors. We’ll figure out a way to get you out of there… How? The police are coming. How do I know? Mom. You don’t have time for this. Get Dad and get out. And be careful, okay? I love you too.”
Haley and I looked at each other. I couldn’t know what she was thinking, but I knew I was wondering how many people would be too many and cause inevitable disaster for Uncle Steve, my parents, and us. Cassie and Daniel weren’t there yet and without them, Johnny Destruction and a Cabal soldier were more than Travis could handle.
Even as I thought back to Daniel telling me that Travis would die if he didn’t come along, but that even if he did, he couldn’t make any promises, the situation changed again. Johnny Destruction turned toward where Travis stood in the street, aiming two streams of white flame at him.
Travis had already jumped away, landing in the upper branches of the already burning tree—which had to give him some cover even though all the leaves had fallen a month ago or more. Proving that what I’d heard about Johnny Destruction wasn’t quite accurate, the man started floating upward, flame sprouting from his feet and outlining his body. Even though it wasn’t as fast as he’d been going when he arrived, he’d be high enough to fire at Travis soon enough.
Travis jumped from the tree, landing on the grass next to the sidewalk on the side opposite Johnny Destruction. Johnny opened up with his flame, starting the middle section of the tree on fire. Travis jumped sideways to avoid the new blasts of flame, landing next to the street. Meanwhile, a small pile of leaves on their neighbor’s lawn started on fire.
Vaughn looked over at Haley and me, “You okay with me creating a storm so your house doesn’t start on fire?”
“Yes,” Haley and I both said at once, looking at each other and sharing brief smiles even as I hoped that sending Vaughn out wasn’t the tipping point to end my family’s lives.
Vaughn gave us a thumbs up and flew out one of the exits.
As he flew away, I noticed movement near my dad’s office. He saw clients in a concrete and wood-paneled, four-floored office building. To me, it looked as though it had been built in the 1970s. His office was on the second floor. The office building was on the edge of the parking lot that in turn was next to multiple apartment buildings with a similar concrete and wood panel aesthetic.
A long, blue van had stopped in front of the building and four people got out, all of them dressed in thick, gray bodysuits and helmets that covered their faces, belts full of pouches, and rifles on their backs. Though I couldn’t see their faces, they were all the same height and had the same build.
In short, they almost had to be True. I hoped they didn’t have a better reason for sending four of them to kill my dad than simply expecting superpowered protection.
I’d have left at that moment if I hadn’t seen movement in the pictures next to the ones of my father’s office. Learning that a super in costume wouldn’t get anywhere near my parents’ house, they’d driven a U-Haul truck up my parents’ block and stepped out two houses down. I hadn’t noticed that, but I did notice when people stepped out.
I tagged the first one as a clone of Cassie’s father not only because he had her father’s muscular physique, square jaw, and blond hair, but also because someone had chosen to have him wear a modernized version of the man’s costume—blue with a flag over his chest. Accompanied by two more of the True, that wasn’t all.
Following him came an at least seven-foot tall woman with green, scaled skin, and claws, another woman, this one in green and black robes and carrying a black, metal, staff. I had a bad feeling that this made her a magic user of some kind.
The last person to step out wouldn’t have looked out of place in an expensive restaurant—in the 1920s. He wore a dark suit and carried a cane. Judging from his face, I doubted he could be older than his mid-thirties.
“Oh, shit,” Haley muttered.
Tara said, “Send Izzy to help his father. She’ll be enough. Send Nick and a few others after his mother.”
“Going,” I said, setting my helmet to reform on my head and running across HQ for the tunnel that led to the forest exit.