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Authors: Michael Carroll

Super Human (9 page)

BOOK: Super Human
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Thunder started to pull off his right glove but Abby put her hand on his arm. “Don’t. Then he’ll have your DNA on his hand and he’ll be able to find out your secret identity.”
The agent rolled his eyes. “Secret identity? Are you
me? This isn’t a game, kids. Go on home before your mommies miss you.”
The colonel said, “We’re wasting time here.” He looked to the west. “And we’re losing light. Sun’s almost down. These guys haven’t made any demands that we know of. So what do they want? Thunder?”
Thunder closed his eyes for a moment. “There’s a woman, sounds like she could be in charge. She’s talking to one of the men. . . . Telling him that they have to keep waiting.” He opened his eyes. “They’re getting restless. Hungry too.”
“I don’t believe this,” Rosenfield said. “Colonel, we need to take charge of this situation. You’ve got half the able-bodied cops in the state hanging around here scratching their butts. We can’t even get hold of any grown-up superheroes because Max Dalton is our only point of contact. I say we storm the place.”
“And risk the hostages? No. If we knew exactly where they were, we might be able to take a chance on that. But we’re operating blind here.”
Thunder asked, “You’ve got blueprints for the power plant, right?”
The colonel nodded. “Of course. Our analysts are going over them in the truck. We’ve got several possible access points, but like I said, we’d need to know exactly where they’re keeping the hostages.”
“I can help you with that. I can tell by the echoes where everyone is. I might not be able to tell the difference between the terrorists and the hostages, though.”
Colonel Morgan looked to Rosenfield, who grudgingly nodded and said, “Worth a shot.”
Thunder followed the colonel into the truck, leaving Abby facing the FBI agent. After a moment’s awkward silence, he said, “And what good are you?”
“I’m strong and fast,” Abby said.
“So’s Tylenol. Difference is Tylenol takes headaches away; it doesn’t create them.”
Abby glared at him, then reached over her shoulder and withdrew her sword. “And I’ve got this.”
“You have a sword. Great. I’ll definitely call you if it turns out that the bad guys are Athos, Porthos, and Aramis.”
Abby didn’t know what those names meant, but she wasn’t about to admit that. “You want a demonstration, is that it?”
He smirked. “Be my guest.”
“All right. The demo comes in two parts.” Holding the sword by its blade, she offered him the hilt. “Take this.”
He grabbed hold of the hilt, and Abby let go.
The sword slammed to the ground, almost pulling Rosenfield over with it.
“Heavy, isn’t it?” She reached down and took it from his hand, then slowly walked over to his rented car. “The FBI is insured, right?”
Before he could answer, Abby swung the sword single-handed straight down on the hood of the car. The blade moved faster than anyone could see, but everyone jumped at the earsplitting
. Rosenfield stared. His mouth dropped open. “My car! You dented the hood!”
Inside her helmet, Abby was grinning. “Dented the hood? Oh please! Is that all the credit I get?” She reached out to the hood and peeled it back as though it was nothing more rigid than a cotton bedsheet. The metal creaked and snapped. The FBI agent’s mouth dropped even farther.
The sword had sliced straight through the engine block.
“Yeah. . . . You might want to get that patched up before you bring it back to the rental place,” Abby said.
“Willful destruction of government property,” Rosenfield muttered, his eyes still on the ruined car. “That’s a federal offense.”
“Sue me.”
Colonel Morgan climbed out of the truck, followed by Thunder. They slowed as they reached the car. The colonel whistled. “Bit of an oil leak there, Agent Rosenfield.”
The agent pointed to Abby. “She—”
“Never mind that. Thunder here has given us our first break. We know where every hostage and every perp is. And we can get in without them realizing. We need your explosives guys with us to blow the main doors.”
Rosenfield shook his head. “The hostiles would see you coming.”
“Not if we come from above, drop down onto the roof from a chopper.”
“Then they’d
you coming.”
Thunder smiled. “That’s where I come in.”
Roz lifted her head.
Something’s changed. . . .
The sun had set and the room was in almost total darkness now, but that wasn’t what felt different. She slowly looked around the cavernous room. The gray men were still watching her from the shadows. Max and the Rangers were still on the floor. Max was curled up into a ball, quietly shivering. Ox was almost motionless, the only sign of life the gentle rise and fall of his chest. Ollie and Lash were both flat on their backs. Ollie’s eyes were open, flicking rapidly back and forth, his breath rasping and uneven.
How long have we been here now? Three hours? Four? Why hasn’t anyone come for us?
That was when she realized what was different: The constant sound of the helicopters was gone.
They can’t have abandoned us. . . . They must be planning something.
Roz stretched out her legs and arms as much as the cuffs would allow her. With some difficulty, she got onto her knees, then pushed herself back onto her feet.
The gray men immediately raised their weapons.
“Just stretching,” Roz said, rolling her head from side to side.
If something is going to happen, I have to be ready to go into action.
She began to shift from one foot to the other. “I need to use the bathroom. Badly.”
If Titan is out there working on a way to get to us, he might be listening in. He’s supposed to have really good hearing.
“Look, what harm can it do? There’s five of you guarding five of us, and I’m the only one conscious. Two of you can take me to the bathroom and the rest will be more than capable of guarding Max and the others.”
One of the gray men took out a radio and muttered something into it. A minute later, she heard footsteps in the corridor outside the room.
“Do not turn around,” the woman’s voice said. “Eyes closed, head down.”
Roz did as she was told, and a leather bag was dropped over her head. But it wasn’t pulled tight: Looking down, she could see a woman’s hand unlocking the cuffs around her ankles.
“Try anything and we’ll kill your brother.”
“I understand,” Roz said.
She felt a hand grab her arm and she was led toward the door. She couldn’t see much as she walked, other than her feet. She was brought into a bathroom and led to a stall.
“Go, and be quick about it,” the woman said.
“I need my hands free to get out of my uniform.”
There was a pause, then the woman reached for the handcuffs. Roz took a chance: She telekinetically lifted the bottom of the leather bag enough to see that the woman stored the handcuff key on a loop on her belt.
After Roz was done, she was handcuffed once more and led back to the center of the large room. She was ordered to sit down, and then the cuffs were placed on her ankles. Roz used her power to raise the bag again, just in time to see the woman clipping the key on to her belt.
She tried not to smile: Anything she could see, she could control. She quickly unclipped the key, allowed it to drop to an inch above the ground. After the woman pulled the bag from her head and walked away, Roz jumped the key into the lock on her handcuffs, and turned it.
There was a slight
She checked the gray men—they didn’t seem to have noticed. She used the key to unlock the cuffs around her ankles.
All right. . . . I’m ready. If someone outside
planning to get in, I’ll be able to help.
Lance didn’t know how far he’d gone—the road signs were streaking by too fast. A bug slammed into his forehead.
That’s sixteen.
He was amazed that the bike had held together, but knew that it was only a matter of time before it had a puncture or hit a bump and one of the wheels buckled. When that happened, it was all over.
His whole body ached from the constant pressure of the jetpack on his back, and he thanked his younger self for spending all that time wrapping SureGrip Friction Tape around the handlebars.
He zoomed past a camper and then there was nothing ahead of him for as far as he could see. The freeway was straight and flat.
Maybe it’s worth trying the brakes now. . . . Might slow me down a little.
He slid his fingers onto the lever for the back brakes, gave it a tentative squeeze. It didn’t make any noticeable difference to his speed. He pulled harder. Still nothing.
All right. Front brakes.
Using the front brakes at such a high speed was incredibly dangerous—if the bike stopped too suddenly he’d end up as a mile-long red smear on the asphalt. He gave the lever the slightest pull. He could see the twin rubber pads move in toward the wheel’s rim.
Little more . . .
The rubber pads touched the rim and instantly disintegrated.
Oh man . . .
By staring down at his chest Lance had already figured out how to open the clasps on the jetpack’s shoulder straps, but that required using both hands. There was no way he was going to let go of the handlebars.
Another bug collided into his right cheek.
Seventeen. All I need is one to hit me in the eye and then I’m in serious trouble.
Ahead, the back of a police car was rapidly approaching. It began to accelerate as Lance neared it, and in seconds he and the police car were traveling side by side. The uniformed officer in the passenger seat had a megaphone. “Pull over!”
“I can’t!” Lance shouted, praying that the cop was able to hear him. “I don’t know how to shut this thing down!”
“Pull over!
“I wish I could!”
“There’s a roadblock eight miles ahead. If you don’t pull that thing over before you reach it, we’ll be forced to open fire!”
That’s not fair! This isn’t my fault!
But even as the words ran through his mind, Lance knew that wasn’t exactly true. It
his fault. He was the one who’d taken the briefcase, broken into the warehouse, and stolen the jetpack.
The police car was struggling to keep up with him. “You are traveling in excess of one hundred forty miles per hour, kid!” the officer said. “You have any idea how much that comes to in speeding fines? Now pull over!”
“Yeah, right!” Lance shouted back.
Then the police car fell behind. Lance noticed for the first time that the hard shoulder was lined with cars and trucks—the police had obviously cleared the way. He couldn’t help wondering whether there was a news helicopter overhead, broadcasting the chase.
The freeway crested a low hill, and when he reached the top, Lance could see the roadblock a couple of miles away. He would reach it in less than a minute.
Then a voice to his right said, “So what’s this? Science project? Couldn’t you have made a volcano like everyone else?”
He risked a quick glance: Paragon was flying alongside him.
“Help me! I can’t stop it!”
Ahead, illuminated by an array of portable spotlights, Lance saw the armed police officers duck down behind the line of cars spread out across all four lanes of the freeway. In seconds, Lance was close enough to see their faces.
Paragon reached out an arm and hit something on the side of the jetpack, then grabbed hold of Lance’s collar and lifted him off the bike, which slammed into the side of one of the cars, showering the area with spokes and lumps of rubber. Paragon floated down to the ground on the far side of the blockade and let go of Lance.
“Oh, thank God!” Lance collapsed to the ground, his head spinning. He felt like he was going to throw up.
The armored superhero hauled him to his feet. “Get that thing off.” Lance undid the jetpack’s clasps—it was infuriatingly easy now—and it dropped to the ground with a loud
A policeman with sergeants’ stripes yelled, “Awright, get these cars out of here and get the traffic moving again! And someone clear up these bike parts!” He strode over to Lance and Paragon. “Mind filling me in?”
Lance started to explain everything. He knew that there was no point in lying. But he had only reached the part with the car crash on Jade Avenue when the sergeant interrupted him.
“Skip it. Paragon, I’m going to leave this in your hands. He’s clearly a minor. You sort it out, send me a full report.”
Paragon nodded. “First chance I get.”
The sergeant glared at Lance. “And then we can decide how we’re going to prosecute.” He started to turn away, stopped, and handed Lance a white handkerchief. Lance looked at it.
“Uh, thanks?” Lance said.
“You got bugs all over you, kid.”
BOOK: Super Human
11.91Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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