Glancing at the screen, I saw Travis, Haley, Marcus and Cassie crouched at the forest entrance, in costume and looking nervous.
Picking up the phone, I said, "Hi."
Travis said, "We can't get in. What's going on in there?"
"Sorry, a couple of them got in and we got into a fight and I put it on high security, but I didn't know it'd shut you ou--"
"Right," Travis said. "Just let us in."
I tapped the keyboard, making a few more errors than usual because of the armor's gloves, but finally managing to move the security level to medium, and open the door.
The forest entrance was a hole in the ground covered by doors of reinforced concrete. Grandpa had designed a system that kept the doors constantly covered by leaves and dirt, both of which fell in as the doors opened. Moments later, the four of them jumped in -- well, except that Marcus turned his arms into wings and glided to the floor of the tunnel.
Within a few minutes everyone stood in the main room in front of the video screen. Well, most of us stood. Air and Earth slept on HQ's olive green carpet.
We were talking about the fight with those of us who had been involved explaining our parts in it.
"What made you think to pick him up?" Jaclyn asked me.
"Something Daniel said once. He told me about a giant in Greek mythology who was impossible to defeat while he touched the ground."
"Antaeus," Daniel said. "He was a son of Gaea and Poseidon. Hercules picked him up and strangled him."
"That's kind of what I was thinking of," I said. "Except for the strangling."
"It's a great idea," Jaclyn said, "but if it didn't work, you'd have been holding him in the air while he tried to rip you apart."
"I know," I said. "I hadn't really planned that far ahead."
"But it did work," Haley said. "Good job."
Off to my left, I heard Travis ask Daniel, "So, did you get anything out of them?"
Daniel said, "Yeah. Everything I could. The mayor made them think we were mind controlled by some kind of telepathic terrorist."
Jaclyn laughed, "I wonder how he came up with that?"
"But can you prove it?" Travis asked. "If we brought in another telepath, could he see what you saw?"
"Oh yeah," Daniel said. "I didn't remove anything. I didn't mess anything up, and it's obviously not my style of work. Mayor Bouman's stronger telepathically than a normal person, but he's self-taught. You can't see it from the outside, but it's really crudely done. I'm stronger than he is and I've been trained, so my style would be considerably more precise."
Travis nodded. "Good. Glad we're covered there. So Nick, when were you going to release that recording?"
"Uh... I wasn't. I talked to Daniel's dad and he said to wait until we had more evidence."
"Well, why the fuck didn't you tell me earlier?"
"I don't know," I said. "Too much stuff going on."
"Nick," he said, "when you agree to do something and then change your mind completely, you tell somebody."
"I'm sure he didn't mean to," Haley began.
"Hush," Jaclyn's grandfather said.
I'd forgotten he was there.
He stood behind the group of us, upright, his cane parallel to the floor as if he really didn't need it. With his costume on, the orange suit with a white "C" fading into his chest, I could imagine him thirty years younger.
"You have one man missing. Your enemy has sent powered heroes out to find you. Now isn't the time to assign blame. Now is the time to get them first."
"What about proof?" I said. "Don't we have to have something on them?"
"You're not policemen, you're vigilantes. The Mayor's not asking if he has the right to do what he's doing. He's attacking you. Worry about what's going to happen afterwards, afterwards. Right now, you need to take him down."
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Bio: Jim Zoetewey grew up in Holland, Michigan, near where L Frank Baum wrote The Wizard of Oz and other books in that series. Admittedly, Baum moved away more than sixty years before Jim was even born, but it's still kind of cool. Jim didn't attain his goal of never leaving school, but did prolong his stay as long as possible. He majored in religion and sociology at Hope College, gaining enough credits to obtain minors in ancient civilizations and creative writing—had he thought to submit applications to the relevant departments. He attended Western Theological Seminary for two years. He followed that up by getting a masters degree in sociology at Western Michigan University. Once out of school, he took up the most logical occupation for someone with his educational background: web developer and technical support. Simultaneously, he finished all but three credits of a masters in Information Systems, a degree that's actually relevant to his field. He's still not done. In the meantime, he's been writing stories about superheroes and posting them online at http://legionofnothing.com. He's still not sure whether that was a good idea, but continues to do it anyway. He's also not sure why he's writing this in the third person, but he's never seen an author bio written in first person and doesn't want to rock the boat.