The street outside had been transformed into a battleground by Mafic and Felsic, making it difficult for the stolen SWAT vans to approach. Their reinforced wheels trundled over the thorn-covered metal vines that stretched across the street like spike strips, tearing off ragged chunks of rubber. In the air above, a massive clump of translucent white crystals dangled from similar vines. If Temple turned on the nullifier, it would cancel out Mafic’s powers and the hammer would fall.
They have to see that it’s a trap. I thought. Or maybe they just don’t care.
Temple’s voice boomed from the public address system mounted on the van. “You have spoken with my messengers. You know my cause is just.”
“Eat a dick, douchebag, you tried to kill my friend,” Lumen replied, her voice likewise amplified by her power armor.
The van’s engine stopped and the street fell silent. The only traffic sounds seemed distant and sourceless, somewhere out of sight. The back of the van opened and Temple stepped out, unarmored, with the microphone for the van’s megaphone held up to the cloth strip that covered his nose and mouth. Mafic, Felsic, and Seep conversed nervously inside the building.
His power doesn’t work through electronics. He’s not trying to control us, and he wants us to know it. Why?
“The loss of any single life is acceptable to safeguard the survival of humanity. My actions spared her from a much worse fate.”
I need information. “She was Randwulf’s next target?” I asked. My voice was small compared to the others, amplified as they were.
“Every metahuman is a target. The heroes, the villains, those in positions of power are most vulnerable. With Brandon Lim, I knew who the next victim would be. We were closer than ever when he allowed his thirst for vengeance to overshadow the greater good.”
“I found him,” Dr. Mind’s voice said in my ear. “Durian Park.”
“On my way,” said Guardian Angel.
“I’ll stay here and help clean up,” Dark Archon said.
Good, I thought, though I didn’t verbally acknowlege them.
“And Locus is the next target? He’s not here.”
“I’m not here for him. I’m here to surrender myself.”
I was stunned. Sirens echoed off the buildings from somewhere nearby. Reinforcements for the police line, I imagined. “Why?” I said.
“I am not your enemy, and you are not mine. We distract from the true goal.”
“Mafic! Felsic!” Lumen shouted into the building. The brothers stepped out into the street.
“What the hell is going on?” Mafic asked.
“He surrendered. Gift wrap him,” Lumen ordered.
Mafic and Felsic expressed their disbelief, but started wrapping him in metal vines without protest. Temple stood stoic throughout the process, or so it seemed- it was difficult to tell, given that almost his entire face was covered. He dropped the microphone for the van’s PA system and the cord retracted it into the van.
I approached him cautiously, scouting out the van with my wind sense. As far as I could tell, it was empty, and peeking inside confirmed it. He was alone. I turned back towards Temple, now ensconced in a metal shell, and tagged him with the parachute cord, leaving a black streak across his clothes. Up close, he seemed much smaller without his armor.
“I’m here,” Guardian Angel said in my ear.
We have Temple, but Randwulf is still after Locus.
“I’ll be right back,” I said to the members of Blackwell, and then to Guardian Angel, “I’m porting in.”
I teleported to him and immediately started falling. On reflex, I used the parachute cord to close the distance between myself and the ground and rotated so that my momentum would be parallel to the ground rather than into it, forcing me to run to avoid tripping. Durian park was one of the city’s smaller areas of greenery, but was (for some reason) known for very strong cellular and wifi connections. The city had run with the idea and, contrary to their philosophy with the other parks, installed free wifi hotspots and charging stations around the park. Most of the few people still in the park despite the increasingly cold weather had laptops or tablets out.
I wonder how long this will take to end up on the internet.
“Do you see him?” I asked once I’d slowed down. I looked up to Guardian Angel glowing gold against the darkening sky. The sun had dropped below the buildings here, so the park was in shadow, and I could feel rushing wind from nearby.
“No, but uh, I don’t know what he looks like out of costume.”
“Neither do I actually,” I realized.
“He’s not answering my calls,” Dr. Mind said, “I’ve triggered the emergency beacon on his phone. You should be able to track it from yours.”
I teleported the smartphone I’d been issued to my hand and opened the screen that would direct me to nearby emergencies. There were a few active– I noticed that where I’d left Temple and Lumen was flagged as high priority by the police. The nearest was in the park, near the opposite side of the park from us. “He’s on the east side,” I said, turning to look that direction.
“Oh shit, this is bad,” Guardian Angel said, and I soon saw why. Taking a few short ‘ports in that direction, I could see the crowd of people gathered on the grass, lying on blankets or sitting on lawn chairs. More people, much more than I expected given the weather. Guardian Angel caught up soon after and drew quite a few stares. I doubt anyone even saw me– benefits of a less ostentatious power.
At the edge of the park, a huge inflatable projection screen rippled, kept upright by a set of fans that blew air into it continuously. An outdoor movie showing- probably the last of the season. I scanned the crowd for the projectionist, a feeling of dread growing in the pit of my stomach.
I flicked out the parachute cord, tagging as many people as I could as I moved towards where the beacon was located. I wasn’t sure how accurate the GPS was, but hopefully it would be good enough to pick him out of the crowd. I attracted more attention when I moved through the crowd, and a few surprised exclamations as people noticed me, but more people were still watching Guardian Angel circling above..
When I reached where the beacon, there were still dozens of people around. I tagged as many as I could, while I scanned faces. There a few people who could have been him, but everyone was wearing coats or covered in blankets, making it impossible to tell.
A cheer went up from the audience, followed by a disappointed sigh as the screen flickered for a moment, then went dark again. Oh no, I thought, dread solidifying into a solid knot. The projector we found in Davy Jones’ vault.
“The screen! Take down the screen!” I said to Guardian Angel.
Guardian Angel turned in the air and dived towards the screen.
Here goes, I thought. “Locus!” I shouted to the crowd. I turned a few heads, but one man sat bolt upright. That’s him.
At that moment, the screen lit up, and the world exploded outwards.