The next day I found myself in the last place I wanted to be when almost everyone I knew was in danger—work.
Chris and I had rented an old, one-story building in an industrial neighborhood in Grand Lake that consisted of old factories, dirt parking lots, a railway, and weeds. I didn’t know when the building we were renting had been built, but it had last been renovated in the 1960s. Made of red brick, dark windows, and a flat, slanted roof, its only sign of life was a small sign above the door that said, “Cannon & Klein Engineering.”
Surrounded by a dirt parking lot, the building checked all of our boxes. It was cheap enough that it could plausibly be rented to college graduates with moderately wealthy relatives, still looked professional enough that clients wouldn’t be scared away, and was far enough away from other buildings that no one would be killed if a supervillain bombed it or attacked us.
The closest building was a used appliance store. Clear windows made up the walls on three of the four sides, revealing washers, dryers, and stoves from the last five years. I’d never seen a customer or employee inside, making me wonder if it was permanently closed or a mob front.
Either way, I wouldn’t feel too bad if someone threw a dump truck at it someday—which, let’s face it, wasn’t impossible.
Stepping inside the door, I thought about the sign above me and smiled. It seemed like something out of Daredevil comic—Nelson & Murdock? Cannon & Klein? The business was more of a front than a job, but still, it was ours.
I walked through the unmanned lobby and into my office and started work on one of our very real, money-making projects. It wasn’t late—yet. I concentrated on knocking out as much as I could in the next four hours, doing my best to avoid putting anything revolutionary into it.
Around eleven, four hours after I got in, Chris leaned into my office, “How are you doing?”
Looking up from the screen, I said, “I think I’ve got the first draft. Let me know if I’ve missed anything. Everything’s in the project folder. I’m pretty sure it all looks normal, but since it’s ultrasound related, I don’t want to let anything really good slip through.”
Chris laughed, “I’m pretty sure we’ve only got this contract because Vaughn’s mom is hoping you will.”
Vaughn’s mom had figured out who had restarted the Heroes’ League less than a week after we’d done it. Between sharing Red Lightning’s resistance to mind wipes and taking the CEO position at Hardwick Industries, she knew more than she ought to and how to quietly exploit it.
“I don’t doubt it. My grandfather gave them a ten-year head start on everybody else in ultrasound tech—“
I stopped talking to look at my phone, instantly connecting my implant to it when I saw the notification claimed to be a “system notification”—which in reality meant something League related. The system notification included a red dot which meant it was important.
With the connection came instant knowledge that my spybots had detected a human shape running faster than 20 miles per hour—specifically more than 200 in this case—outside Grand Lake.
You could make a reasonable argument that this represented an inappropriate level of surveillance over the general populace by me purely because I had the ability to do it. My opinion was that all the surveillance I did was designed to detect things that supervillains could do and normal people couldn’t.
Also, in this case, the running object was heading loosely in the direction of my house. Not only that, but from the size of the runner’s stride, I could tell that he wasn’t manipulating time. He was fast because he was strong. Thinking back to how Uncle Steve’s former co-worker had died, I didn’t have time to wait.
Even if this person wasn’t after Uncle Steve, it was probably good to know what they were up to anyway.
“Gotta go,” I said, watching Chris’ eyes widen at my tone as well as the way that I jumped out of my chair and grabbed my backpack.
Squeezing past him, I said, “I’ll pick up my van later.”
Then I ran down the hall, opening the door to the backroom, a storage area where the hall’s beige carpet changed to gray concrete. Reaching for the door, I activated my suit, the stealth suit hidden in my clothes turning into a lighter version of the Rocket suit with my backpack contributing extra material.
Fully enclosed by the suit, I stepped outside the metal back door, my suit set to camouflage, and ran toward the trees behind the building. While the suit wasn’t invisible, it blended in well enough that it wasn’t easy to pick me out.
All the same, I felt better being surrounded by trees when I activated the rockets and shot into the air, aiming myself in the direction of what was still my home even if I didn’t sleep there anymore. Sending a yellow to the team, I compared my probable ETA with that of the mystery speedster. Unless he put on a burst of speed, I’d arrive sooner.
“Hey,” I said into my comm, “possible assassin.”
“I know,” Kayla said. “Changed your yellow to a red. They’re responding.”
“Got it,” I said, seeing my parents’ two-story house a few blocks ahead of me and aiming downward.