The rhythm of Bongo Boy’s clicking drew me in, but not entirely—not nearly as strongly as he had with drums.
I could think—barely—I half wanted to stand there, quietly waiting for orders.
I pointed my right arm at him, set the sonics to choose the most resonant frequency for the wood, and narrowcast a big pulse of sound as he brought the two shards together with a wooden click.
With any luck the most resonant frequency wouldn’t be the same as Bongo Boy’s ribs, or incompatible with his pacemaker if he had one.
And if he did have a pacemaker, I prayed Vaughn wouldn’t zap him.
As the drum shards touched, the larger one exploded into smaller shards, and splinters. Bongo Boy shouted, dropped the other shard, and shook his bloody hand, shouting curses.
I didn’t want to look at it.
One bad thing about inheriting my grandfather’s rogues gallery was that between Man-Machine and Bongo Boy, I spent too much time hurting senior citizens.
On the bright side, my head felt clearer.
Evil Beatnik saw it happen.
He glanced back at Bongo Boy’s hand, and seemed to get angrier, shouting, “Get him!”
“Him,” of course being me, and people being commanded? Everybody but me.
The Ice Twins brought their ice-rays up, but not quickly. Near them, Dixie Supergirl had stopped laughing about the song, and had her fists clenched, her eyes closed. Destruction Boy struggled to push himself up to a sitting position. Remembering his last blast at me, I decided that bonding or no, guilt trips sounded like a great idea.
“HQ,” I said into the comm, “I’m ready.”
“1… 2… 3…” Kayla said, and I sent her call to the main speakers. A woman’s voice said, “I don’t know what happened to them. They disappeared. I don’t where. I don’t know if they were kidnapped, or if… if…” The woman gave an uncontrolled wail. “Candace, and Cassidy, if you’re out there somewhere call me, please!”
The Ice Twins ice-rays dropped. White shook her head.
Behind them, Destruction Boy managed to sit up.
An old man cleared his throat, voice magnified by my sonics he said, “I did my best by him. After his dad left him with us, his grandmother and I raised him like a son. Scott, come home, or call for help. Call the police if you have to, son. It’ll be okay.”
Destruction Boy looked around, confused.
Teaching Kayla how to splice together news footage had been worth my time.
I tried to think of my next step. She’d edited the voices together with the idea that we’d use them to help persaude the Ice Twins’ group to split up and go home. We didn’t expect to use them with Evil Beatnik right there.
He didn’t even try to sound like a hipster. “Don’t listen to him. It’s a trick! Hurt him.”
“Rocket… Can’t help.”
Vaughn had his eyes closed, and turned his head away from me—probably to avoid joining Evil Beatnik.
And I tried to think of the next step. We were supposed to get him alone. Since he had people around him, revealing his identity could go very, very wrong. And where was Marcus? He was supposed to have come in less visibly than Vaughn and I, and he’d sounded like he was here over the comm.
I tried to talk to him directly. “Shift?”
“Here. Need help?”
“I don’t know.”
For all Evil Beatnik’s shouting, I didn’t yet. They weren’t attacking. Not even the monkeys were attacking. Except for the one on Bongo Boy’s shoulder, they were acting like monkeys—sniffing each other, chasing each other, and climbing the trees.
One had managed to get the wrapper off a Snickers bar.
Evil Beatnik snarled, and began to walk toward me.
“Well, daddy-o, it seems like you have a problem.”
“This body I’m wearing? You like him, and I don’t. He’s a square, but he thinks he isn’t. He wanted to change the world, but now he’s got a comfortable life. I think he needs to learn better, but if I don’t get the chance to show him, I may have to kill him. What do you think about that?”
“I’m against it.”