I called the police. Then we put our costumes on, and went to investigate.
The cops seemed to find the idea of superheroes calling the police about a dead body more funny than I did, but they did finally identify the guy. He was a homeless person who lived downtown, bouncing between the city’s homeless shelters.
We told them about Prime.
While we were waiting for them, Haley had stood underneath the man, and sniffed thoughtfully a few times.
I didn’t know what she’d told the police, so I asked her when we got back to HQ.
“I didn’t learn much.” She looked apologetic, and she started listing everything she’d mentioned. ” His last meal was pepperoni pizza, and he must have been sleeping in the park downtown because he smelled like dirt and grass. The people who stuck him up there were taking power juice. I smelled at least three of them. They’d had pizza too.”
We all went back to our seats at the table — only now we were all in costume. It felt more official somehow, and maybe a little weird.
I took off my helmet (the air felt stuffy), and followed the security cameras’ feeds backwards until just before the intrusion alert. A white van stopped in front of the League’s office. Three of them stepped out of the back, and they didn’t look like gang members, or like the Cabal’s semi-professional soldiers.
They wore jeans and hooded sweatshirts. The sweatshirts were inside out, presumably to hide whatever was written on them. Not that it made a difference. The one holding the dead body wore red in the color of Haley’s school.
I couldn’t see them very well because of the sun had just set, but it seemed like they were nervous. The one with the body paused, looking up and down the sidewalk.
A grown-up’s voice came from inside the van. “Get on with it!”
A guy in a black sweatshirt floated upward, followed by the dead body. He pounded the spikes in with a hammer, each spike in one blow.
The hood fell back on the second strike.
Jaclyn said, “Haley, that’s Jeff Winters from your class.”
“Oh, no. ” She stared at the wall screen. “I should have said something. I’ve been smelling power juice at school, but I thought people were just experimenting.”
Apparently, they’d been recruiting.
I sent a copy of the video to the police. I sent an email with it telling them they might want us along if they planned to make an arrest.
After I finished that, I wondered what to do next. What had we been talking about before?
Then I remembered — coordinating with Justice Fist and calling Lucas.
As I started paying attention to my surroundings again, I heard Vaughn saying, “They’re sending us a message, and it’s got to be something like ‘stay out of our way unless you want to end up like him’.”
“They’re sick,” Haley said. “Killing someone just as a demonstration for us? He didn’t deserve that.”
Cassie shrugged, “At least it wasn’t anyone we know.”
Haley’s jaw dropped. “He was a person.”
“Don’t look at me like that. I didn’t kill him. I’m just glad they didn’t kill my mom. Or one of us.”
Haley looked like she wanted to say something more, but Jaclyn talked first.
“We’ve got to let Travis, Daniel and Marcus know what happened. Anyone want to do that?”
Cassie said, “Sure, I’ll call them.”
Jaclyn nodded. “Great, and wasn’t there something else? Right. Nick, you were just about to call Lucas.”
“Yeah, I was.”
“Vaughn and I are scheduled to patrol tonight, so we’ll be busy.”
Jaclyn got up from the table. “I don’t want to bug you about this, but are you working on communicators?”
“I will be. I’m hoping to start tomorrow.”
“Good,” Jaclyn said. “Because it would make nights like this so much easier. I can’t fly, and Vaughn probably shouldn’t fly close to the ground with all that wind. When we work together, I spend more time looking for him than anything else.”
“But man,” Vaughn said, “if we could talk to each other, that would be cool.”
It would be cool. “I’ll see what I can do.”
They left, and I called Lucas. We arranged to meet on top of the old piano factory on the north side. It was close to his house. Not that he said it, but after bugging the place, I knew.
I finished the call to find Cassie and Haley looking at me.
“Where are you meeting him?” Cassie asked.
“The old piano factory.”
“Do you mind if I come along?”
I looked over at Haley.
Cassie looked at each of us. “You were going to go out tonight, weren’t you? Don’t worry about it. I’ll go home.”
“We were,” Haley said, “but it’s okay. It can still work out.”
About twenty minutes later, I landed on top of the piano factory’s roof. It wasn’t entirely dark. A light wind blew. If I looked west, past factories, houses, Grand Lake University over to Lake Michigan, I could see a hint of light at the horizon.
Looking up, I only saw stars.
Lucas stood in front of me in his Red Legacy uniform.
“Did you come alone? I thought I heard other people in the background when you called.”
“No. Night Cat and Captain Commando are coming too.”
Moments later, I heard the thrum of Haley’s car and roar of Cassie’s bike. Not long after that they both came over the side of the roof. Haley came first, followed by Cassie.
“Hey, everybody,” Lucas said as they walked up the slope toward us, “you’re not the first call of the night, if you can believe it. Someone nailed a dog to the front door of the… ” Lucas smirked, “Power’s home, and that’s after he freaked out because someone called him to tell him to keep our noses out of the ‘Hidden Legion’s’ business. Am I right to assume they’re the people we fought on Wednesday?”
“You’re right,” I said.
“Looks like we’ve all stepped in something big.”
“Very big, but we can one up you with the dead bodies. Ours was a person.” Cassie said.
Haley looked over at her.
“He’ll see it on the news anyway,” Cassie said.
Lucas turned his head back to me. “They don’t play around, do they?”
“No. I guess they don’t. That’s why we called. We’ve been thinking we should coordinate better in the future.”
Lucas nodded. “Good idea, but it’s going to get complicated. You know my real identity, obviously. I realized that after your hospital visit. Thanks for healing me, by the way, but there are a few things you probably don’t know. Like just for example, my dad’s bringing in some guy to train us.”
“Who?” Cassie asked.
“I don’t know. All I know is that he’s experienced in fighting. Former special forces. Something like that, and he won’t just be training us. It sounds like my dad’s putting together some kind of army.”