We didn’t have long to think about Guardian’s statement. Even as I wondered whether or not he was going to chew us out when he got here, a hole opened in the air above the parking lot. Guardian floated out, muscles showing under his silver suit as it shimmered in the sunlight. Flying along with him came Daniel’s father, Mindstryke in a black costume with the Greek letter Ψ on the upper left of his chest.
Flick jumped out of the hole to the right of Daniel’s father, landing on the sidewalk going down the middle of the parking lot. Small, blond, and wearing a light blue costume with large, metallic gauntlets, already glancing around the parking lot to understand the situation. She’d been one of our teachers at Stapledon. Even though her power didn’t put her in the top ranks of heroes by itself, she’d made the most of it.
The last of the Midwest Defenders to exit Guardian’s portal was Dreadnought. Almost as large and muscular as Guardian, she was considerably stronger. Her costume was odd, making me feel like it should have been in a Jack Kirby drawing. A black and yellow circle covered much of her chest, black stripes extended from it, standing out against a red background. I didn’t know what significance any of it had to her. I’d only ever met her once.
By the time they all landed on the ground next to us, fire trucks were pulling into the parking lot. Along with them came police cars—literally a mixture of SUVs and sedans, all of them labeled “Will County Sheriff.” There were a few of the blocky, armored trucks, commonly called “boxes,” for superhero containment.
Following them came a red and blue helicopter with a stylized “7” on it—probably a Chicago TV station.
Alissa and the other reporter looked at each other and at the Midwest Defenders and started shouting questions. I couldn’t make out one from another and Guardian may not have been able to either because he waved his hands in the air and shouted, “That’s enough!”
In the quiet that followed, he added, “I’ve seen Rook’s video. Nothing about it surprises me. We knew that the Heroes’ League was going in. They let us know in case they needed backup. I’m glad to see that they took it seriously enough to call in the Probationers as well.”
Guardian stopped to take a breath, continuing with, “I’ve been getting reports from across the country saying that the Nine are gathering their forces and entering some new stage of their plans. I’m not going to talk about what we think it is for security reasons, but remember this—this fight was coming. No one knew who would happen to hit it first, but it was the Heroes’ League.
“I’m grateful it was them instead of someone with no experience.’
He stopped again as people got out of the police cars and firetrucks, waving them in our direction, “I’m going to be opening portals for people to get in and out of here. We’re going to have to get the employees care that paramedics can’t handle. Please leave us alone. I’ll be willing to talk after this is over.”
He turned to me, “Rocket, please ask the people in the parking lot to come over here for assistance and ask to them not to leave.”
“Sure,” I said, “but you’ll want to get people to the other building as well. The Probationers plus Blue and Accelerando took out a bunch of people that you won’t want to escape.”
“Thanks, Rocket,” The Atoner walked up to Guardian. “We left Lone Eagle back there to stop them in case they woke up.”
Guardian looked over at Dreadnought and Mindstryke, “Go over to the warehouse and check on her. Let me know if you need anything.”
Dreadnought gave him a nod and jumped, flying from the office building’s parking lot to the front of the warehouse, and walking through one of the new holes in the warehouse’s walls. Daniel’s dad flew after, giving us a wave as he went.
I gave the rockets some fuel, sending me 20 feet into the air where I hovered, “As you may have heard Guardian say, those of you who exited the building during the fight will want to come over here for the convenience of the emergency personnel. We’re going to need to give you a quick look over in case you’re hurt. Also, the sheriff’s deputies will want to take a statement.”
Everyone seemed to take it well enough. People started walking in toward us and no one got in their cars and tried to drive away.
Guardian nodded at me and began opening portals. People walked through circles of shimmering air and into the parking lot. Some appeared to be normal humans in green combat gear and carrying guns. Others wore scrubs—mostly in green or blue. A few wore the multi-colored costumes that superheroes used. I didn’t recognize any of them.
We stuck around for the aftermath, sometimes helping organize the crowd, but mostly standing around together, talking, and watching.
Guardian walked up to me as Daniel had stepped away to have a private conversation with Izzy. Half-expecting him to chew us out for not doing more, I nodded at him and hoped I was wrong.
He pointed over at Ana and the Amethyst Archer, both of whom were on the ground and sleeping thanks to Daniel, “What are you planning to do with them?”
“I was hoping you’d know. The one in armor needs to be deprogrammed somehow. The other one is the person who did the programming. She’s formerly known as the Amethyst Archer, but I’m pretty sure she’s one of the Dominators or so closely related to them that it makes no difference. Both of them have to be somewhere where the Nine have no influence—which means not the government.”
Stopping, I watched as Guardian frowned and then said, “We can take them. It won’t be for long, but we can do it. The Amethyst Archer will be the easy one. No one wants a suspected Dominator in their jail. The other is a civilian. That will be harder. There will be questions even if we tell them the truth and, honestly, we don’t want the team to become superhuman jailers. We’ll be able to do it for a little while though. Do you have a plan for freeing her?”
I’d thought of one while we were standing around, “The Mystic didn’t think he or Mindstryke could handle it. We’d need someone who knows the methods the Dominators use. I know someone. She’s not close by, but I know I can get a hold of her.”
Kals was somewhere out in space recruiting people to fight against the Human Ascendancy, but the Xiniti had an ansible near Mars. I’d be able to ask her as easily as if she were on Earth. She wouldn’t be able to get here instantly, but a couple of weeks might work.