Both reporters, Alissa and whoever the other reporter behind her was, didn’t seem to notice the Atoner’s comment because they were still looking past him where they were seeing Mistress Madness strolling out of the door. She stopped to check the lobby behind her.
Not seeing anyone following us out of the hole we’d made in the floor, she joined the rest of the group, smirking as she turned around.
I couldn’t help but think that it might have been wiser for her to hurry. Given what happened downstairs, I couldn’t be sure that part of the building wasn’t about to collapse.
“Hey everybody,” I waved my hand out toward the parking lot, “maybe we should move away from the building. I’m a little worried about the stability of the place—especially given that Rook tends to blow his stuff up.”
Through his facemask, I could see Dr. Transylvania scowl, “You’ve got good instincts. Let’s get out further into the parking lot. It wouldn’t be the first time.”
I had the feeling that Rook was about as popular with villains as heroes.
Another thought passed through my mind. Aiming my sensors at the building, I couldn’t see anyone inside with anything that I could do. I considered sending in a spybot if I had any left, but a second thought made me reconsider.
“Blue,” I wasn’t sure whether it was the right thing to ask even as I said it, “are you in any shape to scan the building? I’m not seeing anything, but you’re better at it. If the building’s about to fall in we should see if we can save anyone.”
She gave me a tired smile, “I already did. I think everyone’s out. They evacuated the building when we were fighting our way down. From what I’ve been seeing, the only people left are in Rook’s suits and they’re disappearing.”
“Seriously? It’s good that they’re not dying, but I thought we’d gotten both teleportation devices. I know we got the top one, but I thought you all had damaged the one down on the bottom level,” I looked from Izzy to Jaclyn.
Jaclyn shook her head and held up her hands, “Me too. Either they fixed it or they’ve got another in there somewhere.”
By this point, we were all walking into the parking lot. I thought about Victor and how he’d teleported most of our group with Abominator-derived powers after Rook had activated some sort of mental programming the Dominators had worked into him. That was also an option—one that I didn’t feel up to dealing with right now.
Bearing in mind what Izzy had said, I took a quick look around and there were people in the parking lot, all of them standing in clusters, most of them watching us. None of them were running to fight us, though. So, the Amethyst Archer’s commands must have worn off. That or she’d phrased them badly.
I wondered if Ana was still controlled.
Daniel responded to my thought, Completely and utterly. As long as we’re in costume, we’re the enemy. The only thing stopping her from attacking us and trying to rescue the Archer is her suit’s toast.
He’d been learning everything he could from his father about undoing the Dominators’ work since we’d found that one of my professors was unknowingly one of their many remote-controlled thralls. I didn’t even get to ask him about that before he answered.
I don’t even know where to start with her. My dad might be able to pull her out of it, but it would take a long time, and honestly, I’m not even sure he could. There’s been a lot of work done and it’s subtle. If we get rid of her biggest compulsions, it’s possible that there might be an entire additional layer or more below them.
Alissa, meanwhile, held out her microphone at me, asking, “Do you know that the building is about to explode, or are you just worried that it might explode?”
Then her eyes flicked over toward the building and her face tightened.
“Worried,” I said. “We don’t know anything for sure.”
“Can you tell me why you went inside?” She forced her eyes away from the building with a noticeable jerk.
“No,” I said, checking behind us. The building still wasn’t blowing up.
From a few feet behind me, Dr. Transylvania cleared his throat, “These questions are inappropriate at this time. You shouldn’t ask any more of them.”
The Atoner’s eyes widened visibly, even through the eyeholes of his mask, “Doc!”
Sighing, Dr. Transylvania said, “I wasn’t attempting to influence her mind except in the most ordinary of ways.”
The Atoner began to open his mouth in reply except that a noise reminding me of tearing clothing, except much deeper, began to come from the building, followed by a massive crashing noise that went on and on as the left side of the building—the part above the underground tower—fell in.
The ground shook. It wasn’t an earthquake, but it felt like one.
Dust exploded upward and outward from the inside of the building along with pieces of concrete, some landing on cars, shattering windows, and denting or at least scratching the closest cars.
We didn’t get hit. Despite holding two people in the air, Daniel still had enough control to redirect the larger pieces away from everyone. The dust, of course, got everywhere.
As Ape Nasty frowned down at his fur, everyone on the League’s channel saw that Guardian’s token was now active and heard his voice, “Just got away from our planned engagement. We’re coming in.”
“Too late now,” Cassie shook her head. “It’s over.”
Guardian didn’t even bother to argue, “We’re coming anyway.”