Still hovering, Gordon stared at Vaughn, breathing without saying anything as if he were having trouble composing himself—or maybe he didn’t know what to say.
When he did talk, he barked out, “Don’t move,” as if we hadn’t gotten that message the first time.
Then he added, “I’ve called in my team,” which was interesting because I hadn’t seen him talking into a mic or typing anything.
Did he have a system that allowed him to subvocalize or some form of technological telepathy? On the other hand, I might be overestimating their technical abilities. He might have the equivalent of a panic button built into his suit—maybe on his palm.
My thoughts started a replay of my memories by my implant. In instants, it found a spot where one of Gordon’s hands brushed the palm of the other.
Even as I thought that it was nice to be right, I saw burning bodies approaching from both the ground and the sky. It was both surprising and not surprising at all to realize I knew both of them.
I’d known the burning man in the sky almost as long as I’d been alive. Theo was calling himself Corona in costume which wasn’t a bad name considering his power allowed him to cover himself with superheated plasma as well as to fire blasts of it at his enemies. Like his older brother Solar Flare, his codename was sun themed.
I’d never asked him if he had any trouble with the company that made the beer of the same name. On the other hand, for all I knew, maybe they sent him free samples.
The other person was named Meteor. Despite her codename, she couldn’t fly—though I imagined she could drop. Still, she could run at hundreds of miles per hour. So, metaphorically at least, Meteor still worked as a name.
I didn’t hang around her much at Stapledon, so I didn’t know her personal name.
In any case, I hadn’t know either of them were involved with the Coffeeshop Illuminati—which meant they might also have been mentally rewired by the Nine.
I also didn’t like the message their appearance sent. It might have been chance because they were both high mobility supers, but they were also people who had a realistic chance of taking Jaclyn out.
Theo didn’t hesitate to get close either, landing only ten feet away. He did tamp down the flame to a low, reddish burn as his feet hit the ground and he said, “Rocket, this is crazy. I’m sure they’ll work it out. I know you’re not the kind of guy who just goes off the handle and starts killing people.”
He was sympathetic. That was good. It meant the Dominators might not have gotten to him—unless that’s what they wanted me to think.
Meteor stopped near Theo and the flame around her body turned to small fires licking the outside of her costume. To my amusement, I discovered that whoever designed her current costume created a costume of a pitted material that resembled the surface of a meteor.
She said, “I’m sorry,” to Jaclyn and I half-expected her to attack at that moment, but she didn’t.
Jaclyn nodded, “Me too.”
In that moment, I remembered that they’d been on a team together when Stapledon did a public tournament for visiting VIPs.
From above, Gordon shouted down, “You’re getting too close. We all know them, but right now they’re the enemy. Step back and be ready to fight.”
“Relax,” Vaughn said, “we’re not going to do anything unless you attack. They can back off or they can stay close, but it doesn’t change what we’re here to do. We’re here to cooperate and we’re here to help settle this.”
Tactically speaking, letting Gordon force them away from us might be the better choice in that it gave us more time if they were ordered to attack. I wanted to tell Vaughn that, but I reminded myself that there was a reason he was handling this.
Next to Vaughn, Cassie looked from Meteor to Theo, “We don’t want to get you in trouble with Moonglider.”
Theo glanced back toward Gordon, “Moonglider is being a jerk. We’re here to talk with you and find out what happened. We’re not here to fight you. At least that’s what I was told.”
“Just do as you’re told,” the winds changed, moving Gordon closer to Theo, but only a few feet.
Cassie caught my eye, sending a message through my implant, There we go. They’re not united on this.
Vaughn waved at Theo, “I didn’t know you were with the Coffeeshop Illuminati. I thought you’d be with your family.”
Turning away from Gordon, but not moving back, Theo said, “I just started. My parents thought it would be good for me to get experience outside of the family team. You only call in a team full of plasma manipulators if you want to destroy everything in sight. I want to be more than that.”
Gordon’s voice rose, “If you don’t back off and stop talking to them, I’m going to recommend that you be disciplined.”
Theo turned toward Gordon, opening his mouth to reply, the fire around his body burning harder all of a sudden.
He stopped mid-breath, noticing along with the rest of us that Bullet was flying over the trees behind us, carried by the bullet-shaped cylinders of force that gave him his codename. He wasn’t alone. More than ten other people came after him, most carried by the cylinders as well.
Gordon’s brother Gifford flew in on his own, carried by the winds like his older brother. I didn’t recognize all of Bullet’s companions, but two stood out—one was Hunter, Gifford’s friend, who could generate animate life forms out of a substance his body secreted.
The other person that stood out was Stephanie.