Jaclyn and Marcus had arrived first. I arrived second—but only because I grabbed the stealth suit instead of the full Rocket armor.
So instead of appearing almost knight-like in shining gold armor, I appeared in armor that looked like a black leather jacket with matching pants, and gray helmet. Plus, I’d worked out a way to hang my guitar next to the rocketpack on my back in a way that felt comfortable. Granted, it still looked like a guitar hero controller, but it was useful.
Ambulances, police cars, and a Metahuman Containment Cage (generally called “boxes” because of their shape) pulled into the parking lot as I landed.
Finding that Jaclyn had beat me to the scene didn’t surprise me. Finding Marcus with her did. She could run at Mach one, and she lived within the city limits. Marcus could shapeshift, and his family lived out in the suburbs.
I landed in the parking lot next to them. The stealth suit’s cooling system fought the heat. It was already above ninety degrees.
Jaclyn’s purple costume stood out next to the brick building, but it worked for her. A person with lighter skin would have looked stupid in the same shade.
“They’re gone,” Jaclyn said. “Not that I’m surprised.”
“And that’s why the revolution won’t be televised,” Marcus said. “It ruins the surprise.”
I turned to Marcus, “I’ve always wondered what revolution people are talking about when they say that. Where does that come from anyway?”
Marcus shrugged. “No idea. I’ve only ever heard it as a joke.”
“Uh… How’d you get here already? You’re usually close to last.”
He checked both ways before he talked, and spoke softly. “I hitched a ride with Accelerando. My parents are on vacation for a week—just the two of them—so I’m staying with her.”
Which made sense. They were cousins, and with both of her older brothers out of college and living in Atlanta, they had the space.
Even though Travis and Haley were also his cousins (on his dad’s side), they were leaving today for a family vacation, so he couldn’t stay there.
“Ok. So do you know anything about what happened inside after the signal cut off?”
Marcus shook his head.
Jaclyn said, “I overheard the paramedics. It sounds like everyone’s okay, but a little disoriented. They think someone piped gas into the building.”
“That sounds like Dr. Madness,” I said. “He started out with a madness gas, and moved on to other effects. Later on, he made devices that did the same thing telepathically. I wonder if the new one doesn’t have telepathy, or if the gas covered a wider area?”
“Mr. Madness,” Marcus said. “Unless you want to make him angry… What do you suppose is up with that?”
“I don’t know. Maybe he flunked out of his doctoral program and got stuck with a masters?”
A gust of wind blew, and I stumbled, but didn’t fall. Vaughn walked down the sidewalk toward us in a glossy, black costume that still made me think more of bondage gear than superheroes.
“Sorry everybody, I should have landed further away. What were you guys talking about?”
We told him.
“You know, Master Madness wouldn’t have been a bad name for a supervillain, but you know what would be better? If he did that, and his real last name was Bates. That’d be hilarious.”
Jaclyn rolled her eyes. “Hey Rocket, what about the Mystic?”
“Remember his vacation? He’s leaving today too.” Daniel’s dad had met his mom during his stint in military intelligence. Every year they went to Israel for a couple weeks in the summer.
“Oh. That’s inconvenient.” She looked at Vaughn. “Captain Commando?”
“On her way, but she’ll be leaving for vacation tomorrow.”
“Didn’t she already go on vacation?”
“That wasn’t a vacation,” Vaughn said.
Cassie’d gone to Washington for a checkup by the scientists who’d changed her.
“Ghost?” Jaclyn asked.
In my rush, I’d forgotten to wake Rachel up. Her League phone’s red alert should have done it though.
“Sorry. She’s probably uh… floating here at maximum speed,”—which wasn’t very fast.
“So aside from Ghost, this is all of us for the next two weeks. Huh.”
I thought about that, and probably so did everyone else. Another funny coincidence. Of course, these trips had been planned for months so Evil Beatnik couldn’t have just changed everyone’s plans. In Daniel’s case, his family went almost the same time every year. So, assuming that Evil Beatnik had only escaped last night, he didn’t have to use chaos powers to warp reality. All he had to do was listen to us discuss our vacation plans for the summer, and time his escape to coincide.
Of course, Evil Beatnik could theoretically have used his powers to influence our vacation dates months ago. That would argue for more planning than I wanted to think a chaos spirit did.
As we stood there in silence, paramedics pushed Terry Smith, News 10’s anchor, past us on a stretcher.
“The rain in plain falls mainly on the Spain,” he said, conversationally.
Vaughn watched as they loaded him into the ambulance, “We could call people from Justice Fist.”
“No!” Jaclyn and I said the word simultaneously. I’m not sure who was louder.
“Look,” Jaclyn said, “I like what I’ve seen of some of them, but I don’t trust them enough to put my life in their hands.”
“Of all of us,” Marcus said, “you’re the one who least needs to worry about that.”
“Hey,” Vaughn said, “I’d trust Sydney and Camille.”
Jaclyn made a face. “Outside of comic books, being ‘smoking hot’ is not a good enough reason to put someone on the team.”
* * *
We looked for the rest of Friday without finding them. I heard later that Cassie volunteered to stay instead of going on vacation with her mom, but Vaughn apparently told her to go—we had it covered. And so she went.
On Saturday afternoon, the Ice Twins’ team robbed three banks simultaneously. Dixie Supergirl ripped the door off her bank’s vault. At another, White froze the security guards while Blue made the vault’s door cold enough that it shattered with a punch. Destruction Boy melted anything that got in his way.
The police didn’t come. They were too busy hallucinating purple rabbits.