Hawthorne had already left by the time he reached the hospital room. Mach…Tina was still there, staring at the news. The newscasters weren’t talking, but Miss Mirror and Allspades’ names were on the scroll at the bottom, alongside Jaegers.
He forced himself into existence slowly. Tina acknowledged him with a nod.
He nodded back, but remained focused on the news.
Allspades had been blown the far side of the damaged block; it wouldn’t take him long to get back, but he would have to unbury himself first.
Jaeger squared off against Miss Mirror. The newscaster was talking now, but her voice was quiet and muffled.
John glanced over at Tina, but his gaze didn’t stop until it landed on Mitch, still sitting on the bed. He saw Tina nod slightly when he did. “What are her chances?”
“I don’t know,” she said. “15 years ago, there were only a few heroes who could take him on. He was faster than any runner at the time, possibly the fastest since walkers were revealed. His powers are gravity based, and the only gravity manipulator around had to put a lot of effort into overpowering him. He had a habit of messing with other people’s powers. He used the wake from his power to make it difficult for them to use.”
Miss Mirror had looked like she was putting up a good fight, but Jaeger was doing something to her now. She was floating but it didn’t look like she was in control.
“Not good then,” John said. “She’s tough, but she’s only been active a few years. She’s never fought someone who could affect her powers.”
Tina’s brow furrowed. She was clutching the wheels on her chair; her knuckles were slowly turning paper white.
“What do they need to know?”
“What?” Tina’s hands didn’t loosen, but the worry had faded from her face for now.
“They’re going to fight him. We can’t fight with them, but we can help.”
Mach slowly nodded. Her eyes closed.
John pulled out his phone and quickly called Burnout. He answered immediately.
“They need to be ready for his wake. Even if he doesn’t touch them, he can hurt them. And if they want even a chance of winning, they have to stop him from moving. Not just his legs, or his arms, they need to keep him as still as possible. They’ll have to trap him somewhere that Hawthorne can wrap him up before he can use his powers.”
Unimportant waited for more, but Mach stopped talking. Her hands were still clutching the wheels, but she was breathing more steadily.
Jaeger jumped over something in his path, breaking the trap he’d caught Miss Mirror in.
The newscaster’s voice finally came through clearly. “Another hero has arrived on the scene. We are getting confirmation on the identity now-”
Tina muted the TV. “She arrived faster than I expected.” She had released her wheels and blood was slowly returning to her hands. “Thank God.”
“Burnout should be right behind her.”
They stared silently at the news, but didn’t turn the sound back on. Hawthorne and Burnout’s names joined the others on the scroll.
John walked to the other side of the bed and sat down. He had had to watch his teammates fight before, but there was always something he could do to help. Against this opponent, with so little time, he was useless. A weight settled on his shoulders and he felt himself sagging into the chair.
“You’re not useless,” Tina said.
John’s eyes slid off the TV and to her.
“I own enough mirrors to know the look.”
“I don’t like sitting around doing nothing.” Tina raised an eyebrow at him. “I didn’t mean-”
“I know you didn’t. I don’t like it either. I used to be able to fight with them. I built the weapon that drove off Frankenstein, and now the best I can do is offer some good advice. I can’t even control the powers I have.”
“So how do you get through it?”
“If you had the powers you needed to help, you would. If I could still walk, I’d be right there beside them.”
“No. It’s never enough. It’s barely even a comfort. But I know that I would never forgive myself for not helping if I could. That’s the best I have.”
John didn’t have an answer for that, and Tina didn’t seem ready to give any more.
A blue sphere took up the entire screen. It looked like they were trying to catch Jaeger.
John stared intently at the screen, barely catching the slight movement out of the corner of his eye.
And then the sphere exploded.
“No,” Tina breathed. She bolted upright in her wheelchair and had to catch herself before she fell off.
Jaeger was already charging at Hawthorne.
And then the fight was over. He’d taken out all three of them in moments, and now he was dragging Burnout back to pile them together.
John couldn’t take his eyes off the screen. Even with everything he knew about Jaeger, he never expected the others to lose. They’d taken on a man capable of throwing buildings and using their own blood as a weapon. Compared to that, this should have been easy.
Unimportant started to fade and jumped to his feet.
He ran for the door. He’d never get there in time to stop anything. He wouldn’t even get there in time to see Jaeger leave.
Tina didn’t say anything when he passed. Her eyes were clouded over, and he could see the tears starting to form at their corners. Her hands gripped her wheelchair again, but she made no move to release the brake.
He opened the door, and something blurred past him.
Unimportant and Tina both looked at the now empty bed.
Tina looked back at the news. “He’ll get there in time.”
Unimportant didn’t say anything. He ran out the door and straight for the stairs.
Tina rolled out after him, but didn’t rush. There was nothing else she could do.