Spacer Day of Fire293
  | Asymmetry | Role-Playing | Villains & Vigilantes | The Revolution | Story So Far | Day of Fire |





    "Well, come along then dear, I guess they're closing this exhibit," he told her. I realized that we'd seen him before; it was the curator from the Semitic Museum. Decided to show them all, I guess. "Miss Needle, Mr. Thunderbolt, good to see you again. Just... checking out the exhibit here. Come along, daughter. Let's go." He whispered to her, "Quickly, let's get out of here. We can always come back later."
    "That you can. We'd be happy to show you around," I told him. Smiles all around.
    The guard locked the hall door after them, shaking his head. "Whew. They were some freaky people, weren't they."
    "You have no idea," Thunderbolt murmured.
    "They know you from somewhere?"
    "You could say that."
    The guard paused nervously, then plunged ahead with, "Can I get your autograph?"
    Thunderbolt hesitated. "Sure. And this is to...?"
    "Make it out to my daughter."
    "And her name is?" The pen hovered.
    "Frank. I mean, uh—"
    Thunderbolt smiled and signed the autograph.
    We checked the place over thoroughly, then headed outside for another sweep. The Librarian and the Archivist hadn't quite gotten the message; their Bookmobile was parked at the corner, engine running.
    Thunderbolt headed over and knocked on the window. The woman had put her hair up into a bun with a couple of pencils pushed through it, and wore a pair of glasses that didn't flatter her. When she realized who was knocking she removed the disguise hastily before rolling down the window.
    "Um... yes?" she said with a fair attempt at innocence. I could almost see Thunderbolt sigh.
    "I know you've put a lot of work into this today," he told her kindly. "We know who you are. We're willing to let it go. Just leave for today. Trust me. We'll forget the whole thing ever happened, we'll forget we saw you, we won't even talk to the cops. Trust us; you don't want to do this tonight."
    She nodded slowly and said to the Archivist, "I think we should do what the man says... Daddy."
    "Well, we'll just be driving away now. Not at all the way they told us that they'd act in class," he added in a puzzled tone as they drove off.
    "He looked a little haggard," she noted, and they puttered off in their "getaway vehicle."

[Aside: WAMT Broadcast, Scott, Phoenix Talon]

    As we watched the Bookmobile leave, I got a call from Phoenix Talon.
    "What's the situation?" he wanted to know.
    "All quiet here, the Librarian and Archivist just left. They didn't take anything."
    "Did you hit 'em for me?"
    "No, why?"
    "They were the ones who got me."
    "Oh, sorry about that. No, all quiet so far. Haven't heard from Scott yet."
    "I'll call him and check in."
    A few minutes later he called back.
    "I'm getting the 'destroyed' response from Scott's phone, I'm going out there."
    "Ah, shit. We'll meet you there." I grabbed Thunderbolt and headed toward Vincent's place. This wasn't the worst day of my life yet, but it was making a strong play for the "most exhausting" spot.
    We all got there at roughly the same time. Phoenix Talon pulled up in front of the gate, where Pilar and her cameraman were camped out.
    "After Scott's arrival a few minutes ago and the FBI agents after that, we are now watching Phoenix Talon pull up to the front gate of Mr. Vincent's house. Phoenix Talon? Phoenix Talon, can we speak with you for a moment?"
    "Get lost," he snapped.
    "I'm afraid Phoenix Talon doesn't have time to talk to the press right now," Pilar rallied well.
    He scaled the wall in a matter of seconds and dropped down inside as I set Thunderbolt down and drifted toward the house. Outside was a real mess. Inside, a large gold Scott-shaped thing stood in the front room, which was a relief, because we knew it would wear off.
    Before we had a chance to do any more looking around, the roof exploded, strange lights played over the underside of the clouds, and Silverblood cruised out into the sky. It was followed by a human-sized being with large, batlike wings, wearing the tattered remains of a dark suit, holding another man in its talons. Silverblood fired energy beams at its pursuit, setting parts of what remained of the building on fire. Midas waved his arms, and a wave of molten gold flew from his fingertips, missing Silverblood and raining down on the street outside.
    Phoenix Talon sprinted back over the wall to see if the reporters were okay, and found them huddled under a burning awning, a nearby car covered in molten gold.
    "We seem to trapped here," she reported valiantly, "under a pile of molten gold—"
    He sprang down, grabbed them both. "Drop the camera, too much weight." Then he jumped again.
    Back in the studio, where communications had just been lost, "It certainly looks as if WAMT reporter Pilar Soma and her cameraman were killed in an exchange of attacks between strange variant creatures over the city...."
    "I told you to LEAVE," Talon growled at the two he'd just rescued and headed back into the house, where the transmutation had just worn off on Scott.
    "What the—where'd you come from?" he asked Thunderbolt. "Oh, hell!"
    The three leaving the scene were already out of my range, but I figured I ought to keep an eye on the fight, since they were heading over the city. Fortunately, Midas had stopped throwing molten gold around, and Kymrik seemed willing to leave the fight for another day; they weren't very well equipped to take on Silverblood, which made me wonder how much they know about its capabilities. They were going in opposite directions; I chose to follow Kymrik and his passenger, considering them the greater threat to the public—Don Vincent, if that was him at Silverblood's helm, has to live here and seemed less likely to perpetrate a slaughter—and called Thunderbolt.
    "I'm following Kymrik, he's heading off to what looks like vaguely northeast, looks like he might be coming in to drop Midas off. Silverblood went the other way, looks like they've decided to cease hostilities for the moment. I can't quite tell, looks like he's coming down somewhere. I don't know if you guys want to go out there and see what that's up to, I could use some help out here just because they might split up."
    "Scott's up and running, he's going cloud."
    "Oh, good." I looked around for the cloud moving separately from the rest of them. "I think I see him."
    Back at the compound, Phoenix Talon went looking for someone in condition to talk. Some had been turned to gold, some had been badly burned by gold, and a lot were in a whole lot of pieces. Thunderbolt scanned for anything that might be Silverblood's remote control; the building's electrical infrastructure had taken quite a bit of damage—they were lucky the doorbell worked—but he found a generator somewhere below.
    Phoenix eventually found a man in a lab coat who hadn't quite bled to death yet.
    "Who's driving Silverblood?" he demanded.
    "Silverblood's moving?"
    "Yes. Quite violently."
    "In a controlled fashion, or randomly?"
    "Define randomly. He attacked Kymrik and Midas and then flew off."
    "Maybe no one," the man whispered. "I don't know."
    "What's he likely to do?"
    "If it's one of the security programs, he's likely to try to return to his original base...."
    "Back here?"
    "No, no. Where he was built. If it's not one of the security programs, then it worked...." He coughed bloodily and expired.
    "What worked?" He glared at the body, looked around. "Is anybody else not dead?"
    No such luck.
    Meanwhile, Thunderbolt worked his way down to the basement and found a room full of elaborate medical equipment, sufficient to maintain someone with severe spinal injuries such as Vincent's. There were a couple of dead men on the floor bearing Kymrik's characteristic signature, blood everywhere, and Vincent's body on the bed, unmarked. A bunch of wires connected the body up to an EEG, which was connected to some far more esoteric machinery that had been too badly damaged to make much of. From there, the wires all seemed to lead through the wall near a sequence of doors suggesting a clean room, both of which had been broken down. The only thing in the clean room was the bundle of wires hanging down from the wall.
    I saw Kymrik swoop down and drop Midas off on a rooftop, then alter his form for greater speed, putting more of his body mass into his wingspan. Neat trick, but I was still faster. On the other hand, I didn't want him to see me, and given the darkness and my tendency to glow, I had to hang back pretty far to keep from being noticed (assuming I hadn't been already).
    I gave Scott a call an d let him know where Midas had gone.
    "Okay. You want me to check?" he asked.
    "Yeah, I guess so... I'm going to try to keep an eye on Kymrik. I really don't like this."
    "Okay. I have a question for you, though?"
    "What are you going to do to Kymrik if something comes up?"
    "Try to pause him for a few minutes," I sighed. "I should be able to hurt him, he's organic. If you want to switch targets that's fine with me...."
    "I don't think I can keep up with him."
    "There we go. You've got a better idea, please let me know." I wasn't thrilled with it myself.

[Aside: Everybody Else]

    Almost as soon as I signed off, Phoenix Talon called to let us know that he and Thunderbolt were heading out to the old TECH headquarters, having determined that Silverblood would probably come down there. Heck, this was practically teamwork we were doing.
    At least until I lost Kymrik. I paused for a moment, trying to guess where he'd gone, scanned the area, but that's the problem with shapeshifters.
    Guess I'll just wait for the screams to start, then, I sighed to myself, and gave Scott a call.
    "I lost him. How'd you make out?"
    "I lost him too, but he left something behind, I'm headed back to the cave to see if I can get it translated, as unfortunately it was in Greek."
    "Okay. I guess I'll stay out here and wait for something to happen. It'll take me less time to get to wherever the trouble starts." The day had not left me with any reserves of optimism.

[Aside: Scott]

    Nor was I incorrect in my prediction. Not long after I spoke to him, Scott called me back to inform me that Jack Ketch was at Harvard, going after that girl we thought would be a target back in the fall. Fortunately, we'd done all the prep work for keeping an eye on her then, so I knew where her room was.
    The Bookmobile was parked by the Semitic Museum now. They could wait.
    I slammed straight through the window and immediately learned that I was a bit late. Ketch had his truncheon across her throat and was slowly strangling her.
    I missed him. The only parts of him that were solid were his hands and one arm. Multi-state is so much cuter when Scott does it.
    "Ah, it's the glowing bitch. How you doing?"
    "Long time no see, Jack. Lucky says hi."
    "Where is she?" he snarled, yanking back hard on the truncheon—there was a crunching sound—and tossing his victim aside.
    "Maybe next time." Jack Ketch was not my job; saving this young woman was. I grabbed her and backed out the window.

| Top | Previous Page Next Page


© 2001 Rebecca J. Stevenson