“Nick,” Jaclyn said, “call him back. They can take those devices you made.”
I knew what she meant—the devices I’d made that cancelled out the tones in Julie’s voice that allowed her power to work.
I called up the phone program on the computer, clicked to redial the Marvelous X, and got the receptionist.
As she said,”Hello, Michigan Heroes Alliance, how may I help you?” the picture on the wall screen changed. News 10 pointed their camera up away from the crowd, and above the river. Something gray flew toward them from the east.
About the size of a car and wingless, it slowed down as it neared the crowd, and stopped in front of the hill, hovering thirty feet above them.
“This is the Rocket,” I said to the receptionist. “I just talked to the Marvelous X. I’m calling back.”
“Just a moment, sir,” she said.
Mellow jazz came over the computer’s speakers. Hold music. Could I do something more than wait? What was Marvelous X doing now? We’d barely hung up a minute ago. There had to be some way to get a message to them without going out there and getting converted.
And there was.
Back when we’d visited the Michigan Heroes Alliance, they’d handed us a lot of papers and othe information. I vaguely remembered that they had a standard radio frequency for people to use on MHA organized missions.
The vehicle would be using it.
Over the computer’s speakers, Marvelous X said, “Hello?”
I hung up on him.
HQ had software for their network. I pulled it up, and attempted to connect with anyone in the area. Meanwhile, over on the wall screen, the people in the gray flyer appeared to be talking with the Ice Twins—sort of. The Ice Twin with the mostly white costume appeared to be doing most of the talking.
“Did you hang up on him?” Jaclyn sounded incredulous.
“This is better,” I began, and that’s when I connected with the people in the vehicle.
Either News 10’s chopper had gotten closer, or they’d zoomed in. The gray flyer had an open top (or an invisible force field), so I could see inside. I only recognized two of the six people inside—Psy-Kick (in the green karate uniform) and Future Knight (very shiny powered armor).
A woman in the second row touched her hands into the console, and they melded with the keyboard. Instantly, I could hear her voice over the speakers. It sounded artificial. On the wall screen, her mouth didn’t move.
“This is the Rocket. Get out. They’ve got someone who can influence you even if you’re older than thirty, but I invented a device that can—”
“Rocket, we’ve got this. Stay away. I can’t assume you’re not influenced. Out.”
She hung up.
I thought about calling them back. I thought about punching the table. Neither one happened.
“And?” Jaclyn asked.
“I called them directly, and they hung up on me.”
She let out a breath, and frowned.
Behind her on the wall screen, the gray flyer slowly lowered itself to the ground. The crowd backed away as all the heroes stepped out. Future Knight pulled out his goo gun, sprayed them into immobility, and handed the gun to Julie.
She sprayed him with white goo, and turned toward Evil Beatnik. He smiled at her, and the people gave a shout—not that I could hear it.
They hadn’t lasted long. I thought back to the spring when Isaac Lim had said that the only people the Michigan Heroes Alliance had access to at that point were the second raters. It felt like that still might be true. It might not be fair, but if they’d listened to me, things would have gone so much better.
Assuming we had to be at risk due to our ages had worked as well for them as going after Dixie Supergirl had for Sean. Idiots.
“Alright,” Jaclyn said, “looks like we’re going in.”
“You’re going to fight all of them?” Kayla glanced at the screen. Hundreds, possibly thousands of people filled grassy area next to the river, and that was discounting Justice Fist and the Ice Twins.
“No,” Rachel shook her head. “We’re going to have to come up with something better. Before Bongo Boy showed up Evil Beatnik could influence, but he couldn’t command people. When I went home with Lucas, all it took was for me to remember that I never did that normally, start to ask why I was doing it now, and I was free. If we get rid of Bongo Boy or even his drums, we might be able to turn this into something we can win.”
Vaughn nodded. “Right. When Jaclyn started talking me down, it didn’t take long before I saw through it. But what about the Ice Twins’ crew?”
“You saw the video. They’re not into it. If we can get half of them to give up, they might all stop.”
It didn’t sound likely, but it sounded better than a straight fight.