George Sadler was still in bed.
He’d messed up. He’d lost control.
It wasn’t the first time. It wasn’t even the worst.
But he’d lost control three times last night. The last time had sent two men to the hospital. Criminals, sure, but they were normal humans, and if that earth manip hadn’t blocked most of his flames, then there would’ve been more, and some of them would be dead.
And that would’ve been it wouldn’t it?
Last night, he hadn’t been a hero, he’d just been lucky.
Jack Rider slammed his fist into the punching bag. It didn’t go flying off the hook and into the wall.
“See?” Phil’s voice came from the other side of the bag. “That’s what I’ve been talking about; Control. Once ya got control over those fancy muscles of yours then you’re on yer way to bein’ a real hero!”
Jack stayed silent as he walked over to the bench for his water bottle.
“What’s got ya so down kid? Didn’t ya get to kick some tail last night? I heard there was a big ruckus downtown.”
“So no riots then? Didn’t get to contain any civvies?”
Jack stayed facing the wall. “There shouldn’t have been any riots. We messed up.”
Phil let out a bark of laughter. “You? You and your little therapy group might, and I mean might, be good enough to handle a couple prowlers, but you’re nuts if ya think you can handle a real threat. Asclepios has been around since I moved to this town, and he’s not gonna be stopped just because you little punks got after him.”
Jack turned back and stared Phil down. “We had the intel, we had the source of the gas, we had a diverse enough team to cover every base, except maybe magic. There’s no reason we should have failed.”
“Cocky punk,” Phil said. “You’re not working with that secret super team of yours anymore. These kids haven’t been working half as long as you, and you’re not exactly a vet. It’d take a lot more than you all can dish out to take on anything half as tough as a real monster.”
“Doesn’t matter. We had our chance, we fucked up.”
“Did ya now?” Phil asked. “Where were you when the real shit was going down?”
“We were stopping a robbery. Apparently somebody hired Asclepios for a distraction. We figured out where they would hit.”
“And how’d you manage that?”
“I’ve seen enough distractions to figure out where they’re distracting you from.”
“Ya call that fucking up? Look kid, no one got killed last night, and the one’s that got hurt are gonna walk again. The way I hear it, you kids had more to do with that than a lot of people a lot bigger than you. And you stopped the guys who started the whole thing off.”
“We could have done better. We should have done better.”
“Can it, kid. Ya may not be the best of the best, but last night, you were a hero. Now is that gonna be enough, or are ya gonna be a baby about it?”
Jack smirked and sent the punching bag into the wall. “Little bit of both I guess.”
Tina Kovac paced around her kitchen. Rachel had called her earlier; the coffee shop had gotten hit during the riot. They couldn’t do anything until Janet finished talking to the insurance company. She wouldn’t need to go into work for at least another day.
“The riots were not even close to the coffee shop. Some kid probably thought he could get away with it with the police so far out.”
Of course, that meant she had to figure out what to do today.
“I should be working on my armor…but the guns are reloaded and there is not much more I can fit on there. I need to make it more compact, but unless I get a look at something new, that is not going to be easy.”
She needed a project.
“Maybe I can figure out a way to update the car tracker. There has got to be a better way to separate the ion trails.”
Or maybe what she really needed was a distraction.
“Janet might need help at the shop. Rachel’s handwriting is terrible, I bet she cannot even read the inventory list.”
Tina started for the door, but she knew Janet would just throw her out when she got there.
Tina huffed and sat down on the couch. She almost reached for the remote, but she knew had not been able to enjoy television properly since she had been cured.
The events of the last night began to play through her head. She had done everything right, followed the clues as well as she could. There was nothing she missed, nothing she could improve on.
But it still had not been enough. The gas had been released. People had almost died.
In the end, the best she could do hadn’t been enough.
And she wasn’t sure how to get better.
John Andros bounced a ball off his wall.
His left arm was in a sling, and it would be for another few days at least. He had turned the tv on for a while, but every other station was talking about the riots, and the rest were on daytime television.
Either way, not worth it.
The ball thudded against the wall once more.
At least he had one free hand, if he couldn’t use both of them he’d probably go insane. And the painkillers were keeping him from travelling much further than the bathroom. He’d nearly fallen down the stairs when he tried to get his own water bottle.
The ball bounced against the wall again.
Asclepios hadn’t been arrested, of course. Even if they’d managed to prove the drug was his, they hadn’t figured out where he was hiding, or his real name.
It was the same story as always. If they ever caught him, they had 20 years’ worth of evidence to throw against him, but until then, it was all just collecting dust.
John stumbled over to his desk and pulled out a map of the city.
It was covered with notes and little circles. Most of them had been crossed out as he worked his way up the ladder, but it still focused almost entirely in his neighborhood. Only the warehouse existed outside the small section of Macropolis he called home.
He hadn’t had time to check the files in the warehouse, so he had no idea where to go next.
He breathed a deep sigh and looked over the closest neighborhoods.
“Back to square one.”
Lilliana Rosenthal had called in sick today.
She hadn’t been lying, not really. She’d made sure to tell her boss that she didn’t think she could even get out of bed. That was entirely true.
Fighting criminals into the night did that to people.
Unfortunately, it meant she had used up another sick day. She only had two left for the year, and the year was barely half over. She didn’t know what she’d do if she ever actually got sick.
She held her hand off the side of her bed and brushed her fingers against the small tree sitting in the corner of her room.
Before her eyes, a peach grew on the tree and dropped itself into her hand. Once upon a time, that had fascinated her. Nowadays it was just another part of her routine.
She looked at her clock and watched it change to 10:00. She had officially used up her sick day now.
She finally forced herself to get out of bed, but she didn’t bother changing clothes. She had nowhere to go today.
She flipped on the tv and watched the news going over the riot for what she assumed was at least the fifth time that day.
A small part of her felt at fault for the riots. She had been acting as the leader, even if they never really decided she would be. But she had been in the workforce for long enough to understand what had really happened.
They never had a chance to stop all the canisters.
Which was, of course, the point of the whole thing. They could have stopped them with another dozen walkers and a decent bit more information, but they had neither.
It was a no win situation going in, and, as much as she hated missing the other attacks, she thought they had come out ahead.
For now, that was enough.
Mitchell Chase took another deep breath and focused.
“She sells sea shells by the sea shore. Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. Toy boat, toy boat, toy boat. That good enough yet?”
“You’re getting better,” his sister answered. “But we’re not done yet. It’s not like you’re going anywhere today after all”
“Aw come on-on! We stopped the bad guy-uy, and I barely even got scratched-ed! Why do I have to be grounded-ed!?”
“Because you promised me you’d tell me before you did anything like this,” Rachel answered. “Not halfway through the night when you should have been home already.”
“But you were fighting too-oo! And it’s not like I was alone-one, we were working together-er! We even stopped one of those things from going off-off!”
“Half of The Council could have been working with you and it wouldn’t change a thing.You guys did all right for newbies, you even managed to stop a real crime. But that doesn’t excuse you. Now, go again, and hold it for longer this time. If it doesn’t become habit then you’ll get found out, and that’s not something we want to happen, got it?”
“Got it-it,” he grumbled.
Will Writer listened to the detective’s questioning.
“Okay then, Mason. Who hired you? You don’t have any use for those chips.”
“You know I have no intention of telling you. He paid good money for my services.”
“I also know that you won’t get to spend a penny of it.”
“Perhaps I am attempting to fund my retirement. A healthy interest rate over my sentence would make a good investment like that could go a long way. Wouldn’t it, detective.”
“You aren’t the kind to think that far ahead, Mason. And considering your record, it would be very far indeed.”
“And what are you willing to do to change that.”
There was a smirk in the detective voice. “You’ll get your time cut in half. Just as soon as you tell us everything you know.”
“I need it in writing.”
“You’ll have it. It’s on record.”
Mason handcuffs rattled as he shrugged. “I don’t know his real name. He contacted me all shadowy like, said he could assure a good distraction and he definitely was rich enough to afford me. He called himself Trump.”