Sean gave me a digital thumbs up on my message as I pulled the door shut behind us. The door locked behind me as HQ’s computer noted the zones of defenses going up behind us as we left.
The tunnel had once been used to dump either sewage or industrial wastewater into Grand Lake—maybe both. We walked across the faded brick, the tunnel’s height forcing me to lower my head.
Looking back toward Amy and me and then forward to Cassie and Jaclyn, Vaughn said, “Our best shot is to walk out looking confident.”
“Oh, really,” Jaclyn said, “and our confidence will stop them from attacking even though the Rocket said Major Justice was done talking and he called in everyone he knows?”
“The way I look at it,” Vaughn picked up his pace to keep up with her, “Major Justice is just done talking to the Rocket.”
Amy laughed and shook her head, “I love your optimism.”
He shrugged, “It’s worth trying. You guys thought it was okay back there.”
Cassie didn’t look back, staring down the tunnel ahead of us as she talked, “I thought the part where we went out here was a good idea. If you can talk to them, that’s a bonus. If you can talk sense into them, it’ll be a miracle.”
He let out a sigh, “I know. Stupid Dominators.”
We reached the door soon after that. This one hung above us, a manhole cover in a section where the tunnel widened into a square with the manhole in the center. The rest of the tunnel continued past us toward the lake.
“Ready?” Jaclyn stood in the middle, looking upward. “The Mystic said that this was the best spot for us to exit, but he didn’t know if they’d be waiting outside.”
“If they are,” I said, “we’ll at least have space to work with up there. This opens near the edge of the woods and the playground by the beach.”
Jaclyn raised an eyebrow, “The playground? Well, it should be empty.”
At seven in the morning in November, you’d hope so.
She reached out, put her palms on the bottom and pushed upward, moving the cover upward with no effort. Dirt fell in as she pushed it off to the side, took a breath and jumped up, landing nearby with a thump.
“Well, they haven’t attacked yet,” she told us, “but I don’t see any of them either.”
In a flash of red, white, and blue, Cassie jumped up after her, followed by Vaughn, Amy, and me.
The place looked exactly like you’d expect a playground to look on Saturday morning at 7 am in November. The swings swung empty in a light wind. The yellow, plastic slide had a thin, muddy puddle at the bottom, the combination of dew and dirt left by use.
We stood on a brick and concrete block at the edge of the woods. I wondered again how Daniel’s prescience worked. In the near future, he could feel what was about to happen, but past that it seemed like a game of Twenty Questions with his unconscious mind defining the words.
For example, if he’d actually used the word best to ask himself where we should go, he’d defined it either as an empty spot or one with an unknown number of invisible enemies.
Using the Rocket suit’s sensors, I scanned the area around us, adjusting the sensors in a way that I thought might make sound absorbing materials stand out.
Either I wasn’t doing it right or they genuinely weren’t here.
As Vaughn said, “Do you think we should try somewhere else—” I registered movement in the sky and so did Jaclyn.
“Hey everybody,” she said, “here we go.”
I zoomed in on the dark figure who I recognized as he descended toward us—Gordon. Still resembling a character in a Nazi recruitment poster, Gordon’s costume hid his blond hair and most of his face, but I could see his square jaw and cleft chin.
The costume thankfully didn’t recall German World War 2 military uniforms at all. It appeared to have been designed to recall the look of the moon and as a result was grey with a bright shimmer as he twisted his body, aiming toward us.
Surprising myself, I remembered that he’d taken on his late father’s codename (Moonglider) as a homage.
Coming to a stop in the air in front of us about twenty feet up, he said, “None of you move. Don’t go anywhere. Don’t try to go anywhere!”
Jaclyn crossed her arms over her chest and glanced over at Vaughn. Vaughn raised his hands above his shoulders, “Hey Moonglider, don’t worry about it. We’re not here to cause trouble. Major Justice wanted us to come out of the bunker and so we’re here. As you can see, we’re fine, right?”