Hawthorne had been silent since they left the department store, but she hadn’t stopped staring holes into the back of Will’s head. He was leading them on a circuitous path around the city, practically taking them in circles at points. She didn’t know how, but he was leading them around the mercenaries. They were passing fewer patrols, and the few they saw were heading somewhere in a hurry.
Over the next half hour, they went through basements and over walls and down alleys and the number of patrols they ran into turned to zero.
Hawthorne heard their footsteps echoing throughout the alley. With each empty unlit opening they passed she felt a weight in her stomach growing heavier and heavier. She could hear her heart beating in her chest and even the slightest ruffling of cloth seemed to drown her in its noise.
“It should never be this quiet,” she said. “Even in the country, in the middle of the forest, there was always something making noise.”
“If we’re lucky, then it’ll be quiet for a little longer. We’re overdue for a disaster.”
“Overdue?” Hawthorne stopped walking. “Asclepios set off his riot bombs less than three months ago and we’re going through a small war. I wouldn’t say we’re overdue for anything.”
Will shrugged and slowed down, but didn’t quite stop. “You haven’t lived here long enough, and you’ve been a hero for even less than that. We managed to keep some of the worst stuff off the news, and nothing you’ve seen has come close to it. The city’s stirring, but it hasn’t woken up just yet.”
“Woken up?” Hawthorne started following again.
“Even city’s need to sleep. Macropolis has been through invasions, wars, and Eclipse more times than any other city in the last 100 years. She’s always had a habit of saving up energy for when she needs it the most. It’s been on the quiet side for years now, and this is barely a drop in the bucket compared to the old days. When she wakes up, it’s going to be big.”
“There are maybe 20 heroes fighting an entire army with no hope of backup, and that’s if you’re guess about the ones you haven’t seen it right, and we’ve probably already lost half of them.. This isn’t big enough?”
Will’s hand had drifted to the building at his side and started sliding along as he walked. “Not for her. It takes more than a few dead heroes and impossible odds to make a feast fit for this city. When Macropolis wants a show, she throws all the heroes she can find at it, and makes sure that they’ll barely win. She’s never been one to settle…”
Hawthorne waited. It sounded like he wanted to say more, but Will stopped talking. His hand slowly dropped from the building and he started walking faster.
Soon, he was running and Hawthorne was having trouble keeping up. She heard the gunfire first, but it was slowly being drowned out by a shout that sounded like a buzz saw trying to cut through steel.
The Council’s Headquarters was in front of them; the streets and sidewalks were littered with the unconscious bodies of mercenaries and a few heroes. Some of the mercenaries were still standing, training their guns on a target she couldn’t see yet. In a few more steps, the mercenaries dropped form her mind; her eyes were drawn to the tank attempting to make its way towards the Headquarters, slowly twisting its cannon to point straight at the front door.
The shout was Adamant, but he barely even looked human anymore. He had grown larger, easily breaking seven feet and metallic skin was cracked and layered in spikes and glowing red canyons. He was holding the tank back, but couldn’t take a step for fear of being knocked down. Burnout was overhead, trying to shout something over the Adamant’s scream, but Hawthorne couldn’t hear him. He was trying to aim a fireball at the tank, but there was no way for him to throw it without hitting Adamant.
“You need to stop the tank!”
She was surprised she could hear Will’s voice at all over the shout. Adamant seemed to be doing fine, but Will’s wide eyes convinced her otherwise.
She produced a few seeds from her vest. They weren’t prepared quite as well as the ones she used earlier, but they were all she could make this quickly.
Hawthorne charged forward. A few of the mercenaries turned towards her, but Burnout started shooting jets of flames over their heads, forcing them to duck. She tossed the seeds up, over the tank and reached out with her powers, willing their roots to grow into the cracks in the tanks armor.
For a short moment, Adamant’s shout was drowned out by the shrieking gears of the tank as the roots grew between and around them until they couldn’t move anymore.
Freed from the contest, Adamant drew his fist back and slammed it into the front of the tank, denting it.
Will started running towards him as he hit the tank again and again. The mercenaries inside crawled out the back and started running away, but he didn’t stop, and his screeching shout only grew louder.
Hawthorne couldn’t hear Will, but apparently Adamant did. The monstrous hero slowly turned towards Will, cracking the ground with each step.
He drew his fist back, but moved so slowly that Will was easily ably to avoig it by taking a casual step backwards.
He led Adamant, step by step, missed punch by missed punch, towards the Headquarters. Hawthorne followed as safe distance behind, and Burnout joined her without a word.
They were in the center of the lobby, and each punch of Adamants grew slower and slower. His shouting slowly died down until they could almost make out Will’s words.
Finally, Adamant ground to a halt mid-punch. Will stared up at his frozen face before slowly turning away and walking back to the entrance.
Burnout stared at the statue. “Is he-“
“He’ll live,” Will said. “But he won’t be moving for a few days. I’m guessing you didn’t get any more help while I was gone.”
Burnout shook his head.
“We didn’t run into anyone else either,” Hawthorne said. “Any other heroes awake out there are either too far away to help or in hiding.”
“Which means we have to put an end to this with the five of us,” Will said, turning towards the door.
A jeep screeched to a halt outside the building.
Allspades and Unimportant hopped out of the jeep and ran straight for the entrance.
“Will,” Unimportant said. “We need to get onto a zeppelin.”