Mateo began to open his mouth, but he didn’t get to say anything. Vincent started shouting at the retreating vampires.
“Hey, you guys are going to call off the cops and everybody, right? Because if I go back to Unity Base and find that we’re still under siege, you and I are going to have words.”
Barrington turned around and gave him a bow, “Your wish is my command, largest of hamsters.”
Then he grinned, “Besides, this wasn’t the only Syndicate L base we controlled in Detroit. While you were fighting us here, other heroes went to the other base and wiped out the vampires that were doing our political operation. All they’ve been saying to us for the last half hour is things like, ‘Send help, they’re killing us!’ And we’ve been in no position to help because we’ve been fighting you. So in a roundabout way, you already solved that problem yourself.”
He gave us a wave and followed the rest of his crew through the doorway, leaving us standing in the middle of the ballroom with the xosk’s dead body.
After they disappeared, Troll grunted, and even as the grunt ended Rod stood there instead. He wasn’t in his civilian clothes. He appeared as “costumed Rod”—a heavyset, bearded, blond man wearing a black trench coat and a mask over his eyes.
From what I understood, Samita had placed some heavy enchantments on the costume to keep him relevant when he wasn’t a troll.
The way Amy looked him up and down after he transformed made me suspect that Samita had added a few things for this fight.
“I’m sure you all had enough to do in here, but you missed a hell of a fight outside. I’m glad it’s over, but the troll part of me loves the chaos.”
Samita shook her head, “I’m grateful to be alive after all of it.”
Taking a breath, she looked over at me and then at Mateo, “Should we go or stay for debriefing?”
Mateo and I looked at each other. He had to be thinking what I was. They should stay, but after everything Working Man had said about not bringing in friends of mine, I almost wanted to sneak them out of Detroit. Given that they’d been the ones outside at the beginning of the morning commute in the heart of downtown Detroit, pretending they hadn’t been there wasn’t an option.
That said, Amy had been inside with us, and we’d never been outside when they were around. V4 had no connection to them. Maybe we’d be able to sell that.
Mateo said what I was thinking, “Stay.”
Then he sighed.
Samita looked between the two of us but didn’t ask any questions.
Then my mind jumped back to what Barrington had said about their political operation, “Do you think it might have been Working Man who took out the other vampires?”
Nodding, Mateo said, “I’d count on it. I know he likes the idea of having a team, but when the going gets tough, he withdraws or works with people he’s known for years—V8, some of the people in Detroit Unity, the Skunklord, I bet. It works for him, but sometimes you want to play Robin to his Batman. He’s been doing this for years and he’s one of the best.”
I shook my head, “I didn’t even know there was another Syndicate L base until now.”
With a slow smile, Mateo said, “Yeah. We probably didn’t ask the right question at the right time. Working Man wouldn’t make that mistake.”
Amy frowned, “Are the two of you worried that he’s going to be angry at you for bringing us in? You couldn’t have taken all of these people on without us. Even with us, it was a near thing. If you thought there was any chance I wouldn’t stick around for debriefing, you’re wrong. I’m sticking around to argue with him if he throws a fit about this.”
Samita eyed Amy, “Are you sure you want to do that? I do think we should stick around, but I don’t want to get them in more trouble by making Working Man angrier.”
Folding his arms across his chest, Rod said, “Bloodmaiden’s right, though. V4 didn’t do anything wrong by bringing us in. The rationale for not doing it is that we’re going to lead the Heroes’ League’s rogue’s gallery this way, right? Well, we don’t know V4. We know Blue Mask. That’s what we tell the press. Plus, Bloodmaiden’s been going after vampires ever since she showed up. Of course, she’ll help Detroit out. It’s easy to explain away.”
Vincent looked away from Rod and over to me, “Okay, now I get it. I’d wondered about you, but yeah, I see it now. Don’t worry about it. You’ve got my support and my brothers’ once they’re back to normal. Besides, Working Man’s not that bad. I mean, yeah, he’s kind of a hardass, but he’s not stupid. He’ll get why you had to bring people in. If he is worried about fighting the Cabal, yeah, I get that, but you didn’t bring in the League. When people think about the League, they don’t think about these guys. They think about the Mystic, Captain Commando, Accelerando, the werewolf twins, and the weather guy.”
Mateo sheathed his sword, “Thanks for the support, Vincent. I hope you’re right. Working Man’s not a bad boss, but he’s stubborn. If I’ve ever changed his mind on anything, no one’s told me about it.”
Our comms started beeping. Working Man’s ID showed as the caller.