The vision of the room’s past dissolved into the equally disturbing present.
From off to my right, Haley said, “That was… horrible.”
Next to the upstairs stairway, Travis said, “It was definitely intense. Hey, Lieutenant, did you ever talk to the guy from upstairs?”
Travis began to move his hand near the railing, but stopped. Before she’d let us inside, she’d told us not to touch anything.
Lt. Van Kley stood next to the burned couch. Her face looked almost as gray as her hair. “I’ll never get used to that,” she said.
In a quiet voice, Daniel said, “Sorry.”
Van Kley shook her head. “It wouldn’t be the first time. Mindstryke has done the same thing often enough. Where is Mindstryke?”
“In space right now. And no,” Daniel said, “I don’t know why.”
Van Kley opened her mouth to ask something else, but the front door opened, and another police officer walked in.
“Lieutenant, there’s some cape out here who wants to come inside.”
She turned toward the door and began to ask, “Who?”
The policeman said “Some kid,” as Sean pushed the door open and stepped inside.
Van Kley stared at him. “I didn’t say you could come in here.”
“I just want to help. Besides, they’re in here.”
“I asked them to be here, just like I asked you to leave. If you do not leave, I’ll have to arrest you for interfering in a police investigation.”
He scowled, and then said, “Alright, I’ll go.”
Beyond a few guns and the smell of drugs, Haley and Travis didn’t find anything worth mentioning. We all left a few minutes later.
Just before opening the door to go out, Travis said to me, “As much as I wish you guys hadn’t pissed him off, I’ve got to admit he’s an asshole. I wanted to punch him for most of last year.”
More quietly he said, “I can’t believe you ever dated that guy.”
“He seemed nice.” Haley sounded tired of the subject.
Outside, a small crowd had gathered behind the yellow police line. A couple officers stood outside watching them.
The crowd appeared to be mostly neighbors — a mix of senior citizens, families and a few teenagers. I didn’t recognize them. There were a couple reporters, one from the Grand Lake Sentinel, the other from NBC News 10. The cameraman pointed his camera at us as Travis ducked his head to avoid hitting the top of the door frame.
I came out just behind him.
Sean and the rest of his team stood together, talking, a little to the right of the rest of the crowd. For the second time, I couldn’t help but notice how comparatively colorful and coordinated their costumes were. Travis and Haley’s costumes were both black and gray. Daniel’s was black with silver. The Rocket suit was basically gold with black lines.
By contrast, while they all had a white, V-shaped spot (plus the clenched fist logo) on their chests, their uniforms seemed to be the colors of the rainbow. Sean had green. Dayton, blue. Jody, silver. Julie, pink. Shannon, yellow. And the girl whose name I could never remember (Camille) wore orange.
They’d somehow missed the color red.
Still, it made me think of the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, or, possibly, the Teletubbies.
I walked down the front steps, and Sean glared at me.
Well, it’s not like I wasn’t used to it. It had been weirder when he’d respected the Rocket, and disliked me as myself.
Once outside, Travis and Haley drove off in Night Wolf’s car. Daniel and I flew away.
We started regular patrols up again that week.
We had tried them at Cassie’s insistence back in the fall, but aside from running into Man-machine one time, nothing had ever happened. Grand Lake didn’t have a big problem with crime — especially when things got cold enough that any self-respecting mugger would need to wear gloves, a winter hat, a thick jacket, boots, and possibly snow pants just to avoid frostbite.
In May, however, we had entered a season when a person could get away with having open windows.
And anyway, the person we were looking for wasn’t likely to have a problem keeping warm.
On Thursday night, I ended up going on patrol with Marcus. It would have been more fun to go with Daniel or Haley, but Daniel had a track meet, and Haley had to work. Besides Haley and I had planned to do something on Friday night anyway.
I kept police band murmuring at a low level in my helmet while I flew. Marcus had turned into a dragon-like form with wide, leathery wings. After about an hour of flying, we landed on the flat roof of an empty store to talk. The Rocket suit’s readouts showed the time as 9:16 PM.
The store stood next to a couple other brick buildings in the middle of an older neighborhood. We stood at about the level of the tops of trees. The trees were still bare of leaves, but I thought I saw buds.
Marcus shifted away from the dragon form as he landed on the roof.
Within seconds he’d turned into himself, but wearing a green costume. I wondered where the costume disappeared to when he wasn’t shaped like a person.
“Anything happening on police band?” Marcus asked.
“Not really. A couple people got caught speeding, and there was a noise complaint somewhere.”
“So, it’s a total bust. Isn’t that funny? You always hear about supers getting to these huge fights because of a casual night time patrol, but when we actually do it, you can hear the crickets chirp, you know?”
I didn’t hear any crickets, and I knew he didn’t mean it literally, but still…
“It’s probably a good thing,” I said. And it was, sort of. Any night where people weren’t being murdered was a good night, but, it would have been nice to have a lead.
Back when Haley and I had eavesdropped on Justice Fist, one of them had said that the Cabal’s gang had been going after the Lake Street gang. I’d suggested we follow Lake Street around through downtown, and the old factory district in the hope that something would happen.
“It’s good,” Marcus said, “but boring, boring, boring. I wish the Mystic were here to do his ‘find the greatest danger’ trick.”
“It’d be nice, but we’d be just as likely to end up feeding somebody’s goldfish as doing anything useful.”
Marcus laughed. “Maybe we should shake things up a little bit, and run instead of fly. I’ve been working on this cool new running form –”
I stopped listening to Marcus, and started looking into the sky. I didn’t have a danger sense, but something about the sound of the wind seemed wrong.
Illuminated by the streetlights, a man flew toward us and landed on the roof. He wore a red, Justice Fist uniform.
“Nice entrance,” Marcus said. “Who are you?”
“I call myself Red Legacy.”