Chapter 24 – Freedom Squad Nanowrimo
After what felt like an eternity, Cori clambered out of the tube. She wondered if she had briefly drifted off to sleep. As the air hit her, her skin felt slightly sticky. Solaria had been right. A second shower was a requirement after spending time in the healing tubes.
Dr. Lord handed her a warm towel. She wiped off the residue from the tube. Strangely, she felt surprisingly clean afterward. She wondered if she had been wrong about the second shower. When she touched her hair, she decided that Solaria had definitely been right.
Nightstar was gone. She looked around, slightly surprised that he had left.
“Dr. Lord?” she said.
“Cori, call me Jake.”
“Okay, Jake. Where did Nightstar go?”
“While you were indisposed, the phone has been ringing nonstop. Nightstar was fielding calls, but after the mayor woke up, Nightstar went to meet with him. They talked, and as I understand it, the mayor left shortly afterward.”
“How’s the rest of the team?” she asked.
“Everyone’s reporting that they are ready for duty,” he said.
“What about you, Jake? Interested in putting on a uniform again?”
He chuckled. “To tell you the truth, Cori, I enjoy being a doctor more than a superhero. I always did. Besides there isn’t much that I can do that Ion and Snowfall can’t do better. Maybe if you got Poltergeist to come out of retirement, I’d think about it. Although, even if I decided to come out of retirement, we’d both have to convince my wife, Carol, before I’d put on a costume again. She lived through enough sleepless nights and had to take care of me every time a fight with villains laid me up.”
“Fair enough. Just thought I’d ask. For the record, you do make a good doctor. I feel great.”
“Alien technology helps. Oh, Starlight is back as well.”
“Excellent,” she said as she noted that Defiance was exiting his tube. “Can you do me a favor, Jake? Could you have the costume machine make Defiance a new costume?”
“Um, Cori, Bill is still an escaped criminal.”
“He hasn’t escaped. He’s right there in custody,” she said with a smile. “I’ll be across the hall using the showers in the gym. I’ve got to get this stuff out of my hair.”
She gathered up her replacement costume and headed across the hall to the gym. After a quick ten minutes of using the shower in the women’s locker room, she felt much more like herself. The healing tubes seemed to have refreshed her as well as healed her. That was good, because she realized that she had been far more exhausted than she had thought. Now though, she wished that she had a half hour to spend practicing yoga, but time wasn’t on her side.
The Ace of Spades was still out there.
She pulled up her gloves and made sure that her mask was on properly. She activated her telekinesis and let the glow that it made flow around her. She thought of Protector.
“I’m Rigel, team leader of Freedom Squad,” she said to herself.
It was time to find the Ace of Spades.
“Everyone to the Monitor Room,” she announced over her communicator.
A few minutes later, she walked into the Monitor Room. Her entire team was assembled, and she felt a surge of pride. On one side of the room stood Starlight, with his featureless white faceplate and black cape, cosmic power (whatever that meant) glowing from his yellow hands. Solaria stood beside him, ready to go as well in her red costume with a bright yellow sun on her chest. Snowfall grinned as if he was just happy to be on the team, which he probably was. He looked particularly chilly his dark blue and white costume obviously based on a winter sky. She approved of his colors.
Despite all the damage that he had taken in battle the last few days, Rockslide appeared quite solid as he took up the center of the room. He folded his powerful arms across his stony chest and looked down at Rigel.
She wasn’t sure if Rockslide had noticed Velocity wearing his black costume with race car inspired flame gloves, boots and chest symbol, as he sat in a chair fidgeting very swiftly. Ion and Nightstar both seemed to be trying not to smile as if they had just shared a joke, probably at the mayor’s expense, Cori thought. On the far side of the room, Protector seemed absolutely focused as he stood straight holding the gleaming Shield of Justice with its white scales.
This was Freedom Squad. This was her team.
“Where’s Defiance?” she asked.
She heard movement behind her. “I’m here,” said Defiance.
“Good,” she said, giving him as bright a smile as she could, “because you are the key to finding the Ace of Spades.”
“If have a way to catch the Ace of Spades, I’m going to help you anyway that I can,” Defiance replied. Anger flashed in his eyes.
“Good. Ion, would you mind taking care of any secret spying devices?” asked Rigel.
“My pleasure,” he said, extending his arms. A moment later, there was a popping sound and the lights went out.
A brilliant flame appeared floating over Solaria’s hand. “Light!” she said.
“Don’t do that,” said Snowfall. “You might set off the sprinkler system.”
“If you need light, I can assist,” said Starlight. He glowed brightly. “Will that be sufficient?”
“Yes,” said Snowfall.
Solaria gave Snowfall a quick pout lip and doused her flame.
Cori laughed softly. “Okay, everyone. Here’s the plan. I’m going to telepathically pull everything that I can from Defiance’s memories that will help me locate the Ace of Spades. The Ace has influence Defiance for the longest time, and I suspect that Defiance knows what he looks like somewhere buried in his subconscious. Assuming that this works, we will have to find him quickly. He’s a powerful mentalist and will probably sense me. There’s no telling what resources he’ll have available.”
“Wait,” said Ion, “we don’t have a Freedom Flyer. If he’s fled the state or something, it’ll be hard to catch him.”
“That’s why we are all going to the garage. We may not have a Freedom Flyer, but we have a Freedom Van and more than a few of us who can fly and carry things, like vans.”
Rigel looked into Defiance’s eyes. “Are you ready to do this?”
“Okay, clear your mind and don’t resist. If you need to think about something, think about finding the Ace of Spades.”
Rigel flew through Bill’s mind, searching for every memory he retained of Psionicist and the Ace of Spades. Images from telepathic communication as well as battles from the past mixed together. She saw Psionicist arguing with Defiance.
“If we work outside the law, we can achieve so much more. I know who the guilty are, not just the obvious criminals, but the stock brokers who have insider information, the politicians engaged in scandals. If you help me, we can make this country into a utopia. The guilty will be punished,” said Psionicist.
“What about people’s rights?” said Bill.
“Rights are meant to protect people from being falsely persecuted. I have telepathy. I will know the truth. The innocent are never falsely imprisoned in my world. Don’t you understand?”
“No, I don’t. If you determine who’s right and wrong, how do we know that you are telling the truth?”
Psionicist sighed. “I’m tired of watching guilty men pay for lawyers and go free. I’m tired of knowing who to arrest but having no evidence. There are others who are with me; others who understand.”
“I’ll stop you,” said Defiance.
“No, you won’t. I can’t let anyone find out about this.”
Cori felt a memory of pain and agony.
There were many more memories. A mural of suffering and confusion, of nightmares featuring the Ace of Spades, stretched out before her. It wasn’t until he was within the new super-prison that he was beyond the Ace’s reach.
She thought she had enough.
“Thank you, Defiance,” she said.
Rigel went over to a chair and sat down. “Okay, everyone. I don’t know how long this will take, but be ready to go.”
She took a few yoga breaths, breathing in through her nose and out through her nose, clearing her thoughts. When she felt centered, she let her senses fly outward, searching for the Ace of Spades.