In a few minutes the bullets will be shredding through both sides of the structure. Through his vantage point I can stop the thieves and save Jason. Hopefully.
Mom and dad left early the next morning. Jason was asleep, but I heard the front door click shut. Most people would think it’s heartless to leave without waking us. But we said goodbye the night before, and our family was never big on goodbyes. I’m kind of glad they left like they were just going on another ordinary mission; it makes their return feel feasible.
After breakfast, Jason and I head to The Hive. We take the subway. It’s less crowded than I thought it would be this early in the morning, though it doesn’t smell like cherry blossoms. I’m always hesitant to grab onto one of the poles but it’s more inviting than the only open seat on the train. The orange plastic is covered with a sticky film of some substance.
“It doesn’t really feel like we’re a team,” I say. The train lurches forward after the doors attempt to close three times.
“I guess it just takes time,” he replies. I shrug.
It’d be better not to talk about it when others can hear.
Are you nervous?
No. I doubt anything will even happen.
Something will have to happen eventually.
Dragonette and Ingot are already inside. “Typical, the boys are late,” Ingot says. She’s sitting on the couch; her voice echoes through the room. It’s unclear if Dragonette is staring at me or Jason.
“You’re just early,” Jason says. He takes a seat near her.
I walk over to the window and peer outside. From this height I might be able to see Mach approaching, but I doubt he’d run here. Pine Ridge is a big city, second only to New York. Watching everyone bustle down below gives perspective on just how many people we have to protect.
“So, what do we do, how does this all work?” Dragonette asks.
“Well we’re not short of money, that’s for sure,” Ingot says.
Before they left, The Guardians Society revealed their main source of funding. They all set aside money in an investment account one of them managed before the crime fighting began. No one was ever able to guess who the finance wizard was on the team. It’s strange to imagine a vigilante stockbroker. They gave us two hundred million dollars to work with.
“Can’t we just get the computer to tell us where there’s crime?” Jason says.
“I think The Guardians Society made their own missions. There were only a handful of them, so they had to pick out what they thought was the most important,” I say.
Dragonette clicks around on the main console. A few of the window panes shimmer and transition to computer monitors. Three different mission scenarios play out on different hexagons.
“So it looks like there’s been a series of robberies in Europe, some suspicious technology smuggling on the west coast here, and sabotaged oil fields in Nigeria. No real villain activity,” Dragonette says. Jason and Ingot rise from the couch to inspect the footage.
I walk away from the window and Mach whizzes through the door over to the monitors, nearly knocking me over. I clench my fists and contemplate giving him a wicked headache. It wouldn’t help if one of our teammates was incapacitated before the mission started.
“Can you get more on the second scenario?” Ingot asks. Dragonette pulls up the full brief on the technology heists and movements. “Weird, they’re moving around crates of next-next-generation processors, and some huge power cells.”
“I think INTERPOL should handle the first one,” says Mach.
“I say we take number two,” Jason says.
We catch the next flight to northern California. I’m not sure if The Guardians Society had an official means of transportation. It could be worth the investment. With the time difference, we land at eight that night. Our rental car is waiting in the lot.
California is a new destination for us. I’d always envisioned a place full of sunshine and salty air. This is a little different. It’s much greener and the air hangs heavy with a dampness. We’re going to work up a sweat in no time out here. I’m already feeling hot after crossing the parking lot to get our car: a blue sedan.
Ingot boots up her laptop and goes over the mission files again. If me or Jason drove it would raise the price of rental insurance, so Mach drives. We should have opted for something with a little more room; I’m crammed between Jason and Dragonette.
“Who exactly are we dealing with?” Jason asks.
“Looks like small time thugs, nobodies really. The only reason anything came up was a few firms in Silicon Valley reported thefts,” Ingot replies.
“Punch buggy,” Mach exclaims before reaching over to hit Ingot on the shoulder.
“I can crush you where you sit,” she says.
“What exactly are your powers?” Mach asks.
“Must’ve been useful in art class.”
Ingot raises a hand and the roof starts to warp.
You’ll kill us.
“Ow, I was only trying to prove a point. Who says you can jump into my head?”
“Seemed like more than proving a point to me,” I say.
“Can you guys shut up until we get there?” Jason says. The rest of the ride is quiet.
We roll up to a warehouse under the cover of darkness. Warehouse is an overstatement. This place could pass for a house with a tin roof. The forested area we hand departed from has given way to an expanse of sand and low shrubs. Each of us gets out and changes into costume. It would have been awkward to see a sedan full of metakids.
Is it alright if we communicate over telepathy?
Ingot glares at me, Count me out.
Mach’s thoughts, and body, move too fast for me to transmit them. So it’s just me, Jason, and Dragonette.
This is the last location some of the stolen technology was tracked. One of the firms was smart enough to install a beacon in a few of their chipsets. Ingot managed to find it on the command console back at the base.
Why don’t we charge in there, take them out, and recover the parts?
Jay, I’m not sure if that’s the best idea.
None of them are metas. Dragonette’s thoughts flow like the lava I’ve seen in nature videos.
Exactly, let’s just go.
It was too late to stop Jason. His super strength allows him to cover a lot of ground by jumping. Mom wasn’t happy the first time he left a crater in our yard. He jumps ahead and lands on the roof of the warehouse causing the metal to buckle. Ingot manages to warp the structure and keep it from collapsing. Jason rips a hole in the roof and drops inside.
“We’ll have to practice a few teamwork exercises,” Mach says before racing inside.
You guys coming?
I can’t believe you just did that. We had the element of surprise on our side.
How many are inside?
I don’t know, like twenty or something. They’ve got some big guns.
Dragonette, Ingot, and I enter to the sound of gunfire. Jason is pinned down behind a few shipping containers, and Mach is nowhere to be seen. The concrete floor is cold even through my boots. We duck into a small office just off the side entrance.
“Got any ideas?” Dragonette asks.
“Why don’t you just mind wipe them or have them shoot each other?” Ingot asks me.
“I don’t want to kill anyone, but maybe I can try putting them to sleep,” I say.
I focus my thoughts and reconnect with Jay. The guards are still firing at the shipping container. In a few minutes the bullets will be shredding through both sides of the structure. Through his vantage point I can stop the thieves and save Jason. Hopefully.
You guys distract them and I’ll finish them off.
Jason, no, just wait a few seconds and I’ll take them out.
Building a bridge into their minds is impossible. I know it’s harder to jump from one person to another, I could never connect to Kevin Bacon, but there’s just no chance here. Jumping across is like changing the channel on a TV, and in this case I keep getting static.
Stay put, we’re coming over to help.
“Guys, I can’t control the guards. We need to get out there and help,” I say.
It’s too late. Jason launches himself over the container into the shower of bullets. I scream out his name while Ingot and Dragonette watch in confusion. The guns turn and open fire at him after he lands. I burst through the door and shout his name again, and try in vain to stop the guards. Bullets smash into his chest and torso. None of them penetrate his skin.
The shock freezes my thoughts. Jason grabs one of the guards by his neck and hoists him into the air.
You can’t get into their heads? I’ll do you one better.
He plants his other hand on the guy’s head. I’m left to watch, powerless, as Jay rips the head clean off his shoulders. Where I expect to see blood, there’s none. He lets the body drop to the floor and it starts sparking.
“Robots,” Ingot says.
“Can’t you warp their metal?” Dragonette says. Ingot nods.
I regain my composure now that I know Jason isn’t dead and he didn’t just murder someone. It’s still scary to think he would be so willing to take a life. Ingot bends her knees and focuses on the robots. Two of them fall apart into a pile of scraps.
“Nice going,” Dragonette says.
“Uh, I didn’t do that,” Ingot replies.
Mach materializes next to Jason to fend off the remaining guards. He had been moving fast enough to disassemble the other two. Within a minute the gunfire ceases and the robots lay in a heap of destroyed parts.