Tara paused, her expression unreadable, “But I don’t think it’s as easy as I’d guess from what we saw. From what I’ve read about the Dominators, they need more time than that to make what they’re doing permanent. Also, Bullet knew and liked the person who threw the dart and he wasn’t surprised to see her.”
“Her?” Vaughn’s smile widened, “People tell me I see women everywhere, but there was nothing in that voice that said woman to me. Well, it didn’t say ‘man’ either. It was kind of fuzzy.”
Lines appeared on Tara’s brow, “It’s hard to explain. It’s more little things. When Bullet landed and he looked in the direction of the voice, he looked downward and men are on average taller than women. That’s not always true, but it’s often true. That’s not enough by itself, but there were also bootprints in the snow at the right spot for a dart to be thrown at the angle we saw. The prints are for women’s boots.
“I think we need to see if there were any female superheroes operating around Milwaukee in the early 80s that were known for their aim.”
Then she sighed and leaned back in her chair, giving a tired half-smile, “I hope that’s enough to get started because I don’t like that version of me very much.”
As she said it, I was replaying the scene and she was correct. There were women’s bootprints in the snow next to the sidewalk. Between my implant and my imagination, I confirmed it. Assuming someone around five feet and six inches, the angle worked.
I connected to Double V’s superhero database and ran searches based on Tara’s criteria, remembering what I’d learned while working with Kals on Hideaway—Dominators weren’t limited to what they could do with their voices. Like Julie after Stapledon, they were faster, stronger, more agile, and had greater endurance than a normal person.
I threw that into the search too, and I didn’t find anyone. Expanding the search into bows and crossbows didn’t get me a name either, but it did get me three articles and a picture. The Brew City Protectors didn’t include a female archer, knife, or dart thrower, but in 1982 there were three different incidents where an archer assisted them. None of the newspaper articles pictured her, but TV news footage from a helicopter showed a woman in a dark, purple costume aiming down from the top of a parking garage.
When asked about her by a TV reporter, Bullet, Armory, and other members of their team had said, “Sorry, that’s private.” More interesting, they’d said the exact same words all at once. In the moment, it caused the group to break up into laughter. In retrospect, it was a clue.
I looked over at Daniel, “I think I’ve got something.”
Tara laughed, “That’s what Daniel just said.”
Daniel shrugged, “I was eavesdropping. I can share what you found if you want.”
“Please.” I sent the links to Cassie and Yoselin directly, but let Daniel copy what I’d seen and heard out of my head for everyone else. Despite what he’d said earlier, he didn’t share anything private that I noticed.
As he finished, Cassie looked over the whole group, “Looks like we go to Bullet next, wherever he is. The Feds have Armory. Even if they let Daniel rummage through his head some more, he’s been in their custody for a couple of days now. That’s enough time for the Nine to edit what he remembers or something, right Daniel?”
Daniel’s mouth twisted, “Unless they’re willing to completely destroy his mind, I think I could still get something useful out of it. I don’t think they’d let me look even if the Nine aren’t involved. Remember how careful they were to keep their higher-ups out of my range when we delivered him?”
I nodded as Cassie muttered, “That was so dumb.”
Even though her facial expression didn’t go blank, Tara did look down at the wooden floor before telling Daniel, “That might be the Nine’s influence.”
Nodding, he said, “I thought about that.”
“Anyway,” Vaughn said, “Going after Bullet seems like the smartest option, but I kind of like the idea of finding Master Martian. At least he wouldn’t have been there. That’s got to be the only way the mystery archer can’t affect his brain.”
“True,” Haley said, looking over at Vaughn, “but it also means he might not know anything. We need to go after Bullet.”
At that, Yoselin spoke up, “If we’re going to visit Bullet, I want to go. Going after the Dominators is the only reason I’m in this country.”
In an intense tone that didn’t quite fit with her high-pitched voice, Tara said, “If we’re going to see Bullet, I want to go along. We have unfinished business.”
When Tara’s brain went into overdrive, she tended to talk in a flat, expressionless voice, one very unlike her normal, optimistic tone. This wasn’t like either.
I met her gaze, “You’re not planning to hurt him, are you?”