I’m still looking over the paperwork when Hunch steps out of the elevator.
“Hey,” he says, “congrats on the new post, ‘Teke’.”
Considering that he’s in full costume, I don’t imagine he’s here to take me out to lunch.
He adjusts his mask. “Yeah, nice to see you’re getting used to yours. Um. Are you up for dealing with a hostage situation?”
“Oh.” I manage to knock over the stack of folders and spill papers everywhere as I go to pull my earpiece out of the desk drawer. “Are the others busy?”
“All the masked unit, yeah, and the guy has hell of powers, so we’d like to have an all costumed team,” Hunch says in a single breath, “but I can call PsychoBitch if you’re not up to it.”
“No,” I say, “that’s fine. Do we have a costume ready for me, or am I taking a generic?”
He nods his head towards the locker room. “Waiting for you.”
I get back in the elevator with him. It’s cramped, and our breathing echoes awkwardly against the shiny metal walls.
“It’s not a school, you know, it’s just a bank robbery gone a little megalomaniacal,” he says.
Fucking precogs, is it a point of pride or something to interrupt before you complain? I shake my head. “Why is that always the first crime they go for?”
“I don’t know if it’s the first,” Hunch tells me, “it doesn’t look like he’s a teenager, and it may actually be more of a publicity stunt than anything.”
“Great,” I say, “a supervillain with a plan. What could go wrong? Who’s on our team?”
“Arsenal and Vector Analysis are the snipers, Stranglehold and Paragon for backup.” Hunch shakes his head. “Not our Paragon, I mean. MiniCity-St. Claire Paragon.”
My eyebrows make my mask twitch when they move. “What’s he doing here? Isn’t he basically leaving Minnesota undefended?”
“Visiting family, it sounded like,” Hunch says, “and it’s not like he’s advertising, I mean, he grabbed one of the basic costumes. He’s just on call while he’s here.”
“Right, well, I can’t say he’s not entitled to some vacation time, but I wouldn’t have done it if I were him.” I shake my head, pulling on my costume. “Not that I would live in Minnesota, though.”
Hunch snorts. “His life in a nutshell.”
“Wait,” I say, “shit. It’s because it’s summer break, isn’t it?”
“I wouldn’t be surprised.” Hunch picks up his binoculars. “I doubt he’s more than a junior.”
“Great,” I tell him, “so we’ve got two kids on our team, then.”
Hunch rolls his eyes at me. “You’re not old enough to talk about them that way, kid.”
“You can maybe make that comparison with Paragon,” I say, swapping out my mask for the one that matches my outfit, and double checking my gear, “he’s done a lot.”
“Arsenal’s done a lot. Don’t tell him he hasn’t,” Hunch chides.
“He’s gotten mixed up in things he shouldn’t have and had to deal with them,” I retort, “don’t tell me that means he’s mature enough to handle where the loopholes put him.”
Hunch runs a hand through his hair. “He’s SWAT certified.”
“Right. Like I said. Loopholes.” I shrug and walk over to the bored agent leaning against the wall.
He glances at me, looking my new uniform up and down. It’s the swirly blue and purple you expect for psychic abilities, long coat trailing out behind me – I guess because it looks more impressive than a cape. I glance down at where it hangs loosely by my sides, and sigh. The various folds and ribbons and other annoying parts start floating around me. They’re slightly hypnotic – not in the sense of looking at them, although I’m sure that could be worse, but in the sense that once I set them, it doesn’t take much thought to keep the effect going.
The agent raises one eyebrow, snorts, and flicks his hand at the wall, opening up a window for me to walk through. Hunch follows me across. The rest of the team is on the rooftop already, looking through their binoculars; I grab mine out of the folds of my coat.
Robe? This sucked so much less when I could just wear the uniform. The flex armor is much tighter (to the point where they had to leave me with a change of briefs – matching, even – and I want to know why they keep my underwear on file) and itchy, all for the purpose of not looking bulky under the filigree.
The bank robber is wearing the normal mask. Not the normal ski mask, I mean, the normal domino mask. And some sort of spiky armor looking thing, although he moves too easily for it to be real armor, unless he has, “superstrength?”
Paragon – looking far less striking (but more professional) than he usually does on the news – nods at me. “Looks like my powerset. There’s irony for you.”
I flex my power, and a little purple target centers over the bank robber. Interesting. Not useful in the least, but interesting. I reach out, not grabbing him yet. I don’t want to spook him, especially while his pacing seems reasonably slow and relaxed. He’s not even pointing his gun – which has to be something he made himself – at anyone right now. I lean over the edge of the roof and, yeah, Amos is there, handing off his loudspeaker to someone else as he presses the phone to his ear.
Vector Analysis re-angles her rifle slightly, then turns to me. “Hey, Trav.”
Arsenal glances over at her rifle, flushing slightly, and an identical one coalesces in front of him. Well, probably not identical, actually. Probably whichever one he trained on.
“Hey, Vector,” I say.
She grins, watching the decorations at the hem of my coat swirl. “Nice costume.”
“Well, at least it doesn’t look like the old Teke’s,” I say.
She shrugs, looking back down. “Fair enough. Never was that into disco.”
I feel the bank robber shifting out of my field and wonder if he’s felt it, but he’s still moving slowly, so I just adjust it back around him. I have much better fine control, these days. There’s no reason he should be able to tell I’m here, other than guessing. Or unless he’s got some mirror powers, but at that point – WHC, techie, and mirror? – it seems a little excessive, even for a Villain With A Plan.
Then the gun goes up, and I wonder if I scared him at the same time I yank it out of his hand, pulling him closer towards the window. He struggles out of my grip as I try to keep the giant gun from hitting any of the hostages.
The target reaches for something on his belt and Arsenal pulls the trigger.
I drop my TK hard enough that even my coat stops swaying, take a deep breath, and bring it back up again, letting the decorations flare around me.
The bank robber’s on the ground, skin barely showing under the blood pouring out between his helmet and the armor over his shoulders. Someone’s inside, directing the hostages out, barely managing to keep them from breaking into a run.
“You okay?” I ask Arsenal.
“Relax,” he says, “guy’s a regenerator. He’ll be up and answering questions in no time.”
I wonder if I should say anything else about it, but Arsenal’s hands are steady against his rifle, still pointed at his target, just in case he gets back up before anyone can secure him, Vector’s gun pointed at a spot just higher.
He doesn’t fight when he wakes up again, though, holding his hands in the air while a medic pronounces him healthy enough to cuff. The nearest officer slaps them on, and the bank robber’s armor falls to the floor in chunks. He smirks as he’s led to the squad car.
Then we all go home.