“Basically,” Cameron repeated. She raised a brow and stared at Tyler, looking for the smallest tell. “So this is confirmed? The sensors are right, the Automatons didn’t figure out a way to screw with them anymore than they can already do?”
Tyler smirked and shrugged, declining to answer. Ionic kept typing away on her keyboard in hopes of finding the answer to Cameron’s question. They didn’t have much in common but they were in agreement when it came to Tyler. Cameron had a natural dislike of precogs and Ionic’s reasons were her own and she didn’t care to share them.
“What are the locations?” Matt asked, leaning over Kate’s head to get a better look at the screen.
She pressed a key and a map of Avocet popped up with blinking red dots. “At Rocket World,” Kate said.
“The amusement park?”
“Just because they’re criminals doesn’t mean they don’t like having fun,” Kate said as she made the map fill her entire school, zooming in in the process.
“Could also be a sign they’re screwing with us,” Cameron said. “Can you imagine if we all went there dolled up in our costumes, ready for a fight? I won’t have a problem escaping from tourists but…”
Matt laughed, dry and sarcastic, each ‘ha’ carefully spoken.
Kate spoke up. “We can have some Ion drones go check it for us. The close range detectors might work better.”
“That’s a good idea,” Ionic said, distracted with her own work trying to sort out the sensors.
She closed the map and opened half a dozen other windows so fast Cameron wondered if Kate happened to become a speedster under certain conditions. Shit like that could happen, who the fuck knew when it came to superpowers?
Cameron sighed and returned to her seat. God, they should have done all this before they called her. It was a waste of her time and she needed all the time she could get now that she was starting to get proactive again when it came to her revenge. The longer she waited to strike, the more time Missile had to decide whether or not she was a danger to him. He already thought she was a threat big enough to warrant being tailed.
Tyler came over, leaning against the wall beside her stool. “In…” He made a big show of glancing at his wristwatch. “Six minutes, Allison will find something.”
Ionic was hammering away as if the rest of them weren’t here.
“Came to taunt me?” Cameron asked.
He shook his head and crossed his arms. “You wanted to know.”
“Wanted to know what’s going to happen and when, not just one. Only knowing one is actually kind of worse.”
“I know the feeling,” Tyler mumbled. If he stood even a step farther away, Cameron bet she wouldn’t have heard him. She doubted he wanted her to. Not for the first time, she wondered what went on in the head of Tyler Lam. As it was, she was only left with guesses and people were far more complex than they appeared or acted. She could spend a lifetime with someone and still never truly understand them.
“Well, how about a hint then?” Cameron asked, hitting him in the shoulder to get his attention and draw him out of the introspective mood he fell into.
“Feeling impatient?” He tapped his chin, seemingly thinking it over. He stopped. “There’s no point in doing it now. By the time I finish explaining, Allison will find out and she’ll explain it to everyone.”
“Or you could have explained it right away to everyone and save Ionic the trouble of figuring it out giving the rest of us more time to deal with whatever is going on then we can all go back to our everyday lives. I wouldn’t have minded a few more hours of sleep.” She sighed wistfully.
He shrugged. What did it take to rattle this guy? Almost a year of knowing each other and Cameron couldn’t remember a time he genuinely lost his composure. It was probably easier to look calm when he already knew what was going to happen and when. He had time to prepare when it did happen.
It was Cameron’s hope to change that at least once before she eventually left the SAA. After Missile was dead and whatever help they may or may not have given was no longer needed.
“I’m getting nothing from Rocket World,” Kate reported.
Before the six minutes were up, every cell phone in the room rang along with every speaker. Screens flashed, blinking bright red. Not what Cameron wanted to hear with a massive headache with medicine that obviously hadn’t kicked in yet.
Cameron pulled the phone out and tapped the screen twice to end the noise. The red screen was replaced by a black one, text appearing line by line as someone in the building typed. Out of the corner of her eye, Cameron saw that Tyler hadn’t moved an inch, content to wait for everyone else to catch up with him.
“They’re fighting,” Matt said. He almost sounded like he was in shock.
She tried to keep her expression even. She wouldn’t give Tyler the satisfaction. “Yeah, that doesn’t happen every day,” Cameron commented, looking up from her phone. Kate was still reading and it didn’t look like Ionic bothered to read it at all. She must be close to a discovery. The six minutes were awfully close to being over.
“Care to shed some light?” she said it out of habit. She knew she wouldn’t get an answer. It made it clear and obvious to the others that Tyler knew and refused to share. Do it often enough and resentment would build, a rift would form in the team, and Tyler would become less trustworthy in their eyes. Maybe that doubt would save her the day Tyler realized who she really was.
“I would,” Tyler said slowly. “If I knew. I see the future. I don’t have an analysis power to go with it. We still didn’t know in the point in time I saw. We had some guesses. A deal gone wrong was the one that seemed most likely.”
Her luck wasn’t that good. The True Gods wouldn’t just decide to launch an attack against the Automatons when she needed them to most over a deal gone wrong. Was Creed giving her a helping hand? No, something so overt wasn’t his style. Creed didn’t get along well with the True Gods anyway, she remembered. He didn’t agree with their agenda. World domination sounded nice in theory but in practice, it’d be more trouble than it was worth and it wasn’t sustainable.
Yesterday she did pretend to be Creed though. She came to Park as Creed asking for his help in taking down the Automatons and then the next day the True Gods initiate a fight with them out of nowhere. There was a connection, had to be.
“Is there something you want to share with the rest of us, Cameron?” Tyler said. “You look like you’re thinking hard.”
She blinked. Now wasn’t the time to get lost in her thoughts. She shrugged and grinned, to hide her surprise. “Nothing concrete. So, Ionic, got anything yet?”
Tyler kept his gaze fixed on her. Her change in subject wasn’t very subtle. Damn.
“Yes, I think so,” Ionic said. She had stopped typing. “Those forty-two superhuman signatures aren’t actually forty-two superhumans. They’re mostly coming from one person. A power thief or copier.”
“Gladwell?” Matt said. Gladwell was the best known power thief out there. No one had an exact count of how many powers she possessed.
“My first thought as well but it’s doubtful, Gladwell’s was seen in South Asia three days ago,” Ionic said. “It could be, I suppose, but very few people are willing to work alongside her and the number of people she’s willing to work with is smaller. I don’t see any reason the True Gods would change their mind and recruit her help in fighting the Automatons, if the True Gods are indeed the ones in the city right now.”
“It is them,” Tyler said.
“Either way, it’s safe to assume it’s not Gladwell. My best guess on the identity is Replicator.” A life-size hologram of Replicator materialized in the gulf between Ionic, Matt, Kate, and Cameron and Tyler. Replicator was pretty damn short, more than a head shorter than Cameron. With the number of powers she had and her height, it was easy to guess she was young, probably a few years younger than Kate, who was fourteen and the youngest of them.
Replicator’s costume wasn’t so much a costume as slightly modified clothes. In the hologram she wore jeans and a black track jacket with spiked pads over her knees, shoulders, and elbows. Real armor probably wasn’t needed when Replicator was no doubt packing a form of super strength and durability, with those powers being so common.
Her face was concealed by a cheap, plastic skull Halloween mask, her shoulder length red hair was uncovered.
“We can’t confirm because electronics get shut down within a certain radius of the battle field,” Ionic continued. “We’ll leave immediately and come up with a plan of action once we discover who we’re up against.”
Matt rushed out of the room to get his sword. Ionic walked to the corner of the room she kept her armor and weapons. “Your electronics won’t get shut down?” Cameron asked.
“I think my equipment can handle it but we’ll see,” Ionic said, already pulling on her armor. “You should go and get ready. We need to leave immediately to prevent them from causing too much damage.”
Property damage, the reason superhumans avoided having big brawls on the street. Hero or villain, it was a pain in the ass to deal with. The villains that didn’t care were often the ones that didn’t last long. Heroes worked extra hard when lots of money was on the line.
Cameron left the room and teleported down the halls until she reached her own room. It only took maybe half a minute to put on her costume. They had all went through the drills until the time it took them to get ready was cut down to an acceptable time by Agent Hayes’ standard.
That had been a huge pain in the ass but it worked.
They met up on the roof where Ionic’s ship waited, primed and ready. It wasn’t fast enough to keep up with Ian on a good day but it’d get them there in moments.
Cameron was the last to arrive. They took off the second she stepped inside.
“How big is the no-tech radius?” she asked. “We’re not going to accidentally fly into it, are we?”
Ionic didn’t turn back to look at her. “Scared?”