Over the team connection, Travis said, “That’s got to be the Cabal. Big? Strong? Messy? That’s their MO.”
In her dark grey costume balanced on the top of a building downtown, Haley said, “At least it’s not that guy who burned everybody.”
I felt Daniel’s queasiness at the memory of the burned bodies the man had left behind. I couldn’t criticize him for that. I tried not to think about it very often myself.
Travis’ eyes widened, “The burning hands guy. Shit. Whatever happened to him?”
I shrugged, “No idea. He brought me to the battle at the old radio station where Lee made the Cabal promise to leave us alone for a year. I haven’t heard about him since.”
From the bedroom of her apartment, Cassie shook her head, “We lost track of that guy?”
Over her comm, Izzy said, “I wonder if the killer could be my grandfather? I don’t like the idea, but it’s possible. I don’t know that he’s dead. My grandmother never talked to him after she left.”
Dixie Superman, one of our grandparents’ foes, had been as powerful as Izzy. He was a refugee from an alternate universe where the post-Civil War South had never integrated back into the US and was occupied by the military more than 100 years later.
The best argument against his involvement was that the victim was white.
“I hope not,” I said. “I feel like running into people from the original League’s rogue’s gallery leads to punching senior citizens.”
Cassie laughed, “Like Armory, Man-Machine, and Evil Beatnik’s sidekick—whatever his name was.”
“Right,” I thought about that for a second. “There are a bunch of really strong people out there. It might not be the Cabal, but they’re a great candidate. Does anyone else have any ideas?”
From an office chair in front of a shelf of old books, Amy, her red hair and body shorter than that of her alter ego, shook her head, “It doesn’t sound like anyone from my universe. The Elders made magical constructs like the Bloodmaiden construct I inherited, but theirs wouldn’t have left any bloodstains.”
“I don’t have enough information,” Tara said. “There are too many strong people to narrow it down.”
Trying to avoid imagining Amy’s contribution to the discussion, I paused as Izzy responded.
“I’m going to deep scan the area to see if I notice anything else and use my suit’s camera to record what I can.”
Then she zoomed in on the damage—the blood, the footprints, the bits of splintered door, and shattered glass. We all watched. I think I may have heard Vaughn, Cassie, and others commenting on it. I found myself thinking about what we were seeing. Given the Nine and the Dominators, it didn’t have to be a group of supervillains under the Nine that did this. It might have been a hero or even an unlikely civilian with powers who got the command to go kill one day.
I was reminded of Prentkos, a Polish speedster on a European superhero team. He’d been in Rook’s base in Canada. I’d left him stuck in goo. Shortly after that, Rook had released nerve gas in the base. I wasn’t around to see if the man had died, but I’d sometimes wondered if I’d accidentally killed him. To be fair, he’d been strong enough to damage my suit, killing me by letting nerve gas inside.
When I looked him up in the Double V super database, I found that he was currently serving in Europe. I’d looked him up last year and that was still true. Either he’d escaped and that team now had someone friendly to the Nine as a member, or their version had never left. Certainly, there wasn’t any record of him being gone.
That might be worse because then the Prentkos I’d met might be a clone.
The original might have no idea that the Nine are using him. On the other hand, both the “original” Prentkos and the one I’d met might be clones put in place so far in the past that no one knew a switch had been done.
That last option seemed possible, but unlikely.
In my mind, Daniel responded, That’s a better possibility than anything I’ve come up with. I’m beginning to wish that we’d thought to have Izzy bring me over there. I might have been able to clairvoyantly sense the past. The only reason I haven’t said anything is that it’s probably too late. Too many people have been there in the last day, many of them with strong emotions. The past fades too quickly even without all of that.
At least Izzy’s filming it, I thought back. That should give us something.
Aloud, I said, “We might want to look into Prentkos. The Nine might have cloned or mind-controlled him.”
I’d have said more except that my comm registered that someone was trying to call me. A thought to my implant told me that I was receiving a call from the Midwest Defenders Chicago base.
I took it.