Chapter 75: Talk

“This isn’t working.” Allspades said over the support group’s radio frequency. He was standing on the far side of the roof rom Porticus, his accompanying slider, and talking quietly enough to avoid being heard.

“Maybe,” Hawthorne said, speaking just as quietly. “But what other option is there? We can’t track him, and we can’t contact him. We know he’s still after Asclepios’ warehouses, so this is all we can do.”

“But we don’t even know where half of them are. And we can only cover half the one’s we know about. It could be weeks before he hits one of the ones that we’re patrolling”

“Then we have to draw him out somehow,” Burnout said.

“Will talked about that-at, but none of us know enough about him to find a way to signal him. I’m still the only one who remembers him, and I don’t remember him saying much about himself, or much of anything at all, really.”

“Which is what put us here in the first place,” Allspades said. He sighed and looked over at Porticus. The slider hadn’t said a word to him all night. Even the way he breathed was annoyingly quiet, and it was driving Allspades up a wall.

“Don’t worry about him. We just need to find your friend.”

Friend? If Red Racer was right, then even before he disappeared, Unimportant hadn’t been particularly close to any of them. Not that any of them were particularly close anyway. Burnout was the only one who’d even known Mach was a girl before she was paralyzed.

For all the talking they’d done, for as much as they’d complained about how their powers and lives weren’t mixing, Allspades couldn’t honestly say he knew anything about any of them.

“You called me blonde chick for the first year we knew each other.”

Allspades shrugged at the voice in his head. After Stalker told him that she was real, that Page was actually talking to him, her words had started making a lot more sense. Nowadays they could have actual conversations that didn’t dissolve into headaches and nonsensical ramblings.

“I’m a brunette, Mason.”

Allspades sighed. He had to admit, for as little as he knew about the others, he had grown to look forward to the meetings. When he learned that Mach wasn’t going to be able to be a hero, that the choice they’d all come to make had been stolen from her, he’d been angry and hurt. It hadn’t been as bad as losing his old team, but it was a different kind of pain, one he didn’t quite understand. He honestly didn’t know what would happen if one of the others vanished like she had.

“See? That sounds like friendship to me.”

He honestly didn’t know how they would have felt when they found out he left. Hawthorne had obviously cared enough to go after him. If he had known that losing Mach would make the room feel so empty, would he have been so willing to leave? Had revenge clouded his mind so badly that he hadn’t even considered what leaving would do?

“Well, to be fair, you also thought you were going crazy. I’m pretty sure I was keeping you from sleeping too.”

But even that wasn’t an excuse. With or without Page in his head, he’d chosen to become Knight again, he’d decided that his old life was more important than his new one. He was almost certain that he wouldn’t have made the same choice again, but there was still a doubt lingering in the back of his mind.

Maybe they needed a chance to talk, outside of the meetings, away from walkers and heroes and villains.

“Red, what do you remember about Unimportant?” He asked. “Is there anything you can think of that doesn’t have to do with his powers? Why does he hate Asclepios so much?”

“I don’t remember too much-uch,” Red Racer said. “But I think he said someone close to him had died. His friend overdosed on Asclepios’s drugs.”

“I might be able to narrow it down then,” a new voice joined in the group, one all of them recognized. Allspades felt his heart lighten at its sound.

“Mach!” Burnout and Red Racer shouted excitedly. “What are you doing here-ere?”

“I gave you all this frequency, remember? I noticed a lot of chatter going on and decided to take a look. Do you mind catching me up on everything?”

Red Racer hurriedly told her everything that had happened that day. In a little less than ten minutes, she was caught up to speed on Unimportant’s existence.

“That’s…a lot to take in, but I think I might be able to help,” Mach said. “Let me check something.” They heard the clacking of a keyboard over the line. “It looks like there are only two of Asclepios’s drugs that can actually cause an overdose; he tends to avoid it to make more money. If we can figure out what warehouses are holding them, we might be able narrow it down.”

“How can we do that?” Hawthorne asked. “Do you have some kind of chemical scanner we can pick up?”

“Yes,” Mach said. “Sort of. Do you remember the chem trails that I used to track the cars from Asclepios’ gas attack? If we can get a mecher the right chemical signatures, then they should be able to figure out what warehouses have that drug.”

“On it-it.” There was a sudden rush of wind coming from Red Racer’s microphone. Their radios picked up on it and quickly cancelled it out, but they had an idea of his goal.

“Will!” They heard him shout before he turned off his radio.

Allspades and the others waited for Red Racer’s voice to come back on the line. Allspades caught his foot tapping along with the breaths of the others.

He glanced over at Porticus, who was staring at him strangely, but the other hero never said a word.

“I got to Will-ill.” Allspades barely kept himself from jumping at Red Racer’s sudden return. “He said he’d tell Slipstream and see if anyone else could join in.”

“Glad to help,” Mach said. “But I should probably get going.”

“Wait.” With the silence that followed the one word, Allspades was pretty certain everyone was a little surprised at his interruption.

“I mean, it’s not like we’re going to be off the radio; at least not until we hear back. There’s no reason you can’t stick around, Mach.”

There were sounds of general agreement from the rest of the group.

“Okay,” Mach said. “I can’t say I don’t miss being able to talk with you all. But we’re going to have to think of something else to call me. Mach just doesn’t feel right anymore.”

“Don’t worry,” Hawthorne said. “I’m sure we’ll have plenty of time to think about it.”

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