The good point about owning a “jet” created from the remains of alien spacecraft is that it does surprisingly well even in the presence of enormous explosions.
The engines, meant for sending the ship into orbit, shot us far out of the range of the blast. Its shields absorbed what little of the blast could reach us.
The ship’s inertial dampers did well enough that I felt a little pull, but kept standing as the ship shot forward, creating huge sonic booms.
Given that we were in northern Manitoba near Nunavut, the noise probably wasn’t bothering many people. We might have upset more polar bears.
Even though most people in Canada live in cities, northern Manitoba was the kind of place that encouraged US stereotypes. It was three in the morning so we couldn’t see much of anything, but I’d seen pictures of the area.
It was tundra—flat greenery with shrubs, and some forests—and mostly uninhabited.
With any luck, no one would notice the explosion. It wasn’t as if Rook’s headquarters had been in the middle of Chicago, or for that matter, Toronto.
Alex’s voice came over the comm. “Night Cat? Heroes League? Are you out there?”
I took my seat as Haley answered. “Everyone’s here, including Captain Commando.”
A couple voices gave a little cheer (”Whoo!”). They both might have been Jenny.
I clicked on my comm. “What about you? You were all pretty close.”
Alex gave a laugh. “Not as close as you guys. You were right on it. Wish I’d have been there.”
A memory of Rook’s arm appeared in my mind. “You didn’t miss much. Oh… We’ve got a bunch of hurt scientists and their assistants. They used to work for Rook. Can we transfer them over?”
“Can we trust them?”
“Well, kind of. They’re prepared to talk about what they’ve been doing. Rook was trying to kill them, so I wouldn’t expect a lot of loyalty. Seriously, I saw a couple of them die.”
Brooke broke in. “If you want to transfer them over, we’ll have to get close enough that the Mystic can give me a picture. Then I’ll open a doorway, and they can come through.”
A few minutes later, the Jet and one of the Socal Defenders’ podjets hovered above a small lake. In the distance, past the trees, something burned. I guessed it might be Rook’s place.
I wished Vaughn had come along. He could have left the ground wet from rain. As it was, we could only hope Rook’s explosion wouldn’t start a larger fire.
It didn’t take long to transfer them over though—maybe 5 minutes.
They stepped through the portal into the podjet with no real hesitation.
I wasn’t sure I liked that. It hinted at a little too much familiarity with teleportation. I hadn’t noticed anything that looked like a spot to teleport out of when I was in there.
On the other hand, I remembered, I hadn’t been in the middle section. What if Rook hadn’t folded space in there? What if he had a connection to someone else’s teleportation device?
Did the Nine have one, or worse, a system?
I hoped that it had a lot of limits.
Alex’s voice came over the comm saying, “The damage isn’t bad. Give me a few minutes.”
Before anyone had a chance to reply, the sensors beeped. I checked the screen. It showed something—actually several somethings—traveling toward us at nearly the speed of sound.
For all I knew, they might have been going faster before we noticed.
Three were roughly human sized, and the fourth had to be a jet of some kind.
Below the tactical display, a series of messages began to scroll.
[The “jet” coming toward us contains Xiniti technology as do the engines of one of the smaller flyers.]
[You shouldn’t need to fight them, but if you do, I recommend using this vessel’s maneuverability instead of assuming the shields can take it. They might not.]
Haley shot me a look.
“I don’t know,” I said. “This is only the second time it’s ever talked to me.”
Over the comm, a woman’s voice said, “Unidentified aircraft, this is Red Hawk. Please explain who you are, and what you have to do with the explosion near here.”
From behind me, Sean said, “Don’t talk with her. Rev up the engines and leave. What’s she going to do?”
“Unidentified aircraft, my team and I are special constables in the RCMP, and are authorized and required to enforce the laws of Canada.”
A man’s voice broke in, “What my teammate is saying is that even though we’re capes, we can and will call in military backup. We know you’re using alien tech, and the best thing you can do right now is let us know who you are, and why you’re here.”