With Dixie Supergirl’s hearing, I hadn’t dared to turn on the roachbot’s rocket. I’d decided to wait until I thought it had a good chance to get away without being heard. That meant hanging on to her utility belt until she got back to their lair.
That makes it sound so much more dramatic, and ominous than it actually was.
The roachbot’s GPS unit had continually updated me with its position. Even though the bot’s camera had sent a continuous blurry mess, I’d easily placed it on the map.
She’d flown toward Grand Lake University at a speed just short of the speed of sound, and landed at a collection of buildings the computer identified as “Grand Lake View Apartments.”
The bot placed them at forty feet in the air.
She’d passed Destruction Boy over to the Ice Twins for medical help, and taken a shower.
I’d waited till she started showering, and then shot the roachbot down the hall near the ceiling, and set it down on the top of the vertical blinds in front of the balcony window.
By the time Jaclyn appeared, Destruction Boy was awake and talking. Not that he was saying much. Mostly he complained about how much he hurt. Mr. Madness had also appeared—out of costume. He wore a red, button down shirt and jeans, and could pass as twenty-something grad student at any university anywhere.
“Nick, put this up on the main screen, and give us sound. I bet they’re about to debrief.”
I did it, and Vaughn said, “Hey,” as it displaced the news he’d been watching. Then he got a roachbot’s eye view of the room. “Whoa. That’s cool. We’ve got them, and they have no idea.”
The apartment looked exactly like what it was—cheap housing near the university. Think off-white walls, tan carpet, and a slightly claustrophobic feel. Had we been there, I felt sure we’d be smelling mildew and a hint of old cigarettes.
Destruction Boy lay in the middle of the floor next to tools, the Ice Twins’ powered armor (each one stood upright), a few laptops, sleeping bags, and furniture that likely came from the Salvation Army.
By the time Dixie Supergirl came back, we were all watching—including Rachel who’d just gotten out of the showers, and Kayla who’d been handling calls in the lab.
Whatever her real name was, she didn’t seem as impressive out of costume. She still stood almost a head taller than the Ice Twins, and she still had muscles, but she didn’t stand out. I could imagine running into her in a class and not noticing anything special. She seemed studious somehow.
Maybe it was the glasses?
Vaughn stared at her, “Wasn’t Dixie Superman some kind of major racist? I’m not sure, but she doesn’t look—”
Jaclyn held a finger to her lips. “Later.”
On the screen, one of two twin blond girls stepped away from Destruction Boy. “All we heard from Scott,” she nodded toward Destruction Boy, “is that he got hurt. What happened?”
Dixie Supergirl started to talk, stopped, and tried a second time. “What were we trying to do? Because if all we were doing is making a mess, it was a complete success, but if we were trying to help anybody, it was a disaster. None of those people were political prisoners. They were thieves and idiots who thought they could drive when they could barely think straight. We’re not revolutionaries. We’re not changing any kind of system. He’s using us.”
Her voice started uncertain, but grew more confident as she talked.
“Relax,” the Ice Twin said, “it doesn’t matter, remember? All that’s important is the chaos. Get enough of it going, and he’ll have real power again, enough for all of us to get what we want.”
“I’m beginning to think that he doesn’t care what we want. I think the world needs a real change, but I don’t think he wants us to change the system. He wants us to destroy it without rebuilding a better one.”
“That’s ridiculous, Izzy.”
The other Ice Twin, the one that hadn’t gotten up said, “I think she’s right.”
From the couch, Mr. Madness said, “I don’t see where revolution fits in this at all. We’re getting paid. Once we’re done, I’m heading back to grad school, and that’s the end of it. So let’s get on with it. What’s the next mission?”
On the floor, Destruction Boy said, “So you can get a degree in Latin?”
“And read dead people. Talk about useless.”
Mr. Madness’ face whitened. “Grow up.”
Dixie Supergirl looked down at Destruction Boy, and over to Mr. Madness, “Evan? Scott? Shut up. That was old the first time.”
Someone knocked on the door, and everybody stiffened.
Dixie Supergirl stared at the door with her mouth slightly open.
The Ice Twin next to her said, “Everybody, relax. We’ve got a special visitor—our leader.”
She stepped across the room, and opened it.