Aaaand now the runaway train takes off. This week starts a whole new level of craziness, people. -nervous laugh-
We join Wolfgang, Liza, Bad News and Kaity on a rescue mission of Dallas from ze evil ones in this tale.
And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, here, have some homework.
And here be part 22. -bows out-
Burgling the boss
After we actually showed up to Jay’s place, I had to reconsider whether Wolfy actually did have a plan. Or, more accurately . . . a good plan. That didn’t involve a ton of shooting things.
He didn’t seem quite as sure of himself on how exactly we were getting in.
We stood by Bad News’s truck and Wolfgang’s Mustang, parked behind some trees just off of the Strauss property. Plug ugly house. Can’t imagine why anyone would use their riches to buy some twisted up giant piece of metal and plastic like that.
However unattractive it was, the house seemed pretty abandoned right now, at least from what I could see. No cars out front. No movement through the one wide window we could see.
Still, on the chance that there were people left to guard, I ruled out the option of just marching right up to the front door.
“It looks pretty dang empty to me,” came News’s voice over the radio on my arm, even though all he had to do to talk to us was just roll down the window. “How do you know there’s anyone still there?”
I looked back at him for a second, then hooked up my one little earbud wire-tap so all his messages wouldn’t be out loud for everyone to hear.
“Maxine said she’d be taking the ‘second shift’,” Wolfgang answered without bothering to hit the button on his radio I’d given him. “That she’d be watching to make sure things went okay from afar. So that would probably mean hanging out here. And really, there could be a lot more people around than it looks like. That big thing there?” he pointed towards the wing of the house nearest to us.
“That’s the garage. It’s huge. She could have half the staff of Silverwing just hanging out in there and all their cars would fit in that one garage.”
Ah, so that’s what’s closest to us . . .
I narrowed my eyes at the garage while I messed with a strand of hair that had fallen out of my ponytail.
After a second, I looked over at Wolfy. “Well, it’s just cars in the garage, right?”
“I . . .” he frowned. “When I looked in there, yeah.”
“Then that ought to be a good place to make our entrance,” I held up my metal hand. “Got a few lock picking tools stored in here, so I could get us into the side door.”
Wolfgang raised his eyebrows and looked from me back to the garage. “Okay then. That should work.”
I nodded, put my hand back down and started walking. We skimmed along the treeline going towards the house. It was a pretty open area. Even if there weren’t security cameras or guards we could see, with a tech genius like Jay Strauss, you never knew how you might be being tracked. The loud crunching of rocks and dry grass weren’t very helpful for the nerves either.
After a few minutes of sneaking along as quietly as we could, we got to the side of the garage. It was a little more confidence building to actually have a building to be sneaking along against instead of just ducking as we ran over an open field.
Wolfgang took the lead going around the corner and getting to the door.
He stopped next to the door and jiggled on the handle. “Yeah, it’s locked.” He kept his voice low. His eyes narrowed as he squinted at the lock. “Some sort of high-tech eyesore looks like it’s keeping it that way too. . .”
I edged in, leaning over to see what he was talking about.
Yikes, that was definitely an odd lock. Totally misshapen and sideways. What would the key even look like for that thing?
Not a traditional lock, obviously. Whatever weird key they have for this thing probably just presses a button of some sort to open the door.
It had to be some weird . . . long . . .
“Got anything yet, guys? I can’t see you anymore.”
Both of us jumped at Bad News’s voice coming through in our earpieces.
I winced and put my metal hand up to my mouth, replying into the microphone. “Just trying to get through the door. I’ll keep you posted.”
Wolfgang let out his breath and stuck one of his hands into his jacket pocket. I heard the jingle of his keys.
A sudden thought popped into my head. What if . . .? I looked over at him. “You still have that Silverwing keychain on you?”
Wolfgang pulled out his keys, confirming that he did. “Yeah, but what . . .” a look of realization dawned across his face. “Ohhhhh.”
I stepped back from the door, gesturing to the lock. “Give it a try, mate.”
He pulled the wing keychain apart from the rest, holding it out like a key and sliding it into the hole. It fit perfectly.
A slow grin spread across Wolfgang’s face. “Fantastic.”
One of his rare sincere uses of the word.
He tried to twist it but it didn’t move. There was a slight buzzing noise, then a beep and a click as the bolt slid back into the door.
“And we’re in,” Wolfgang whispered. He pulled the keychain back out and stuck it in his pocket, then turned the doorknob and pushed inside. The click of the latch echoed inside the big garage.
I edged after Wolfgang, shutting the door behind us as quietly as I could.
Well he wasn’t kidding about this place being enormous. It was almost as big as the whole Den. If not bigger.
Wolfgang looked over the cars and let out his breath. He hit the button to relay back to News. His voice echoed in my earpiece. “Franklin’s car isn’t here at least. We don’t have to worry about him.”
“Hallelujah,” Bad News’s response came back.
I couldn’t help but smile a little.
Wolfgang continued looking around the garage. There were two cars sitting in the corner that looked like they’d been there for a while. And then two others fancy cars parked slightly closer to us.
“You know whose cars those are?” I asked quietly, edging towards the exit door on the other side.
Wolfgang shook his head as he started after me. “Didn’t keep tabs on it. I’d guess that one of them is Maxine’s though. We should stay away from the main rooms.”
I nodded back.
We slipped through the door into a small, empty hallway.
Wolfy seemed to have a decent idea of where he was going from that point and kept the lead as we turned corners and made our way to a bigger hallway.
He looked back for a second and jerked his head down the hallway, then pointed to the right. I gave him a thumbs-up back and we started off again at a bit quicker pace. Though I did just a little better job of making my footsteps quiet.
We took the right turn, slowing the pace to go down the small flight of stairs. A pretty nice, open basement down here too. This Strauss guy had made a bloody ton of money at his job to get this huge of a place.
I looked around, taking note of the windows along the edge of the wall right before the ceiling. There was some textured tile along the walls, and it stuck out in a few spots, so that might provide for a quick escape. Climbing up to the window from those and getting out like that. And it looked like it was big enough for all of us to fit through there. Dallas at the very least.
Wolfgang’s elbow in my ribs pulled me out of my thoughts and I started to look back at him just as a voice echoed across the room.
“Can I help you two?”
I’ll admit I started a little at the noise. I snapped my gaze over to where it had come from.
A muscle-bound man with sunglasses and a suit and tie stood next to the door in the corner watching us with a frown. His arms were folded over his chest.
Ah, so that was the guard we were looking out for. And that door led to Dallas.
At least if the guard was there, it meant that he was still alive for now.
Wolfgang straightened his back and shot me a quick look of “let me handle this”. He pulled a smile onto his face and walked over to the guard.
“Hey, man. Nice to see you again. You were down here earlier, right?”
The man seemed unmoved by Wolfy’s show of pleasantness. “No, probably not. There are shifts.” He raised his eyebrows. “And you are . . .?”
“Wolfgang Dankworth.” Wolfy stopped in front of the guard and stuck his hands in his pockets. “Newer member from last year . . . part of the superhero thing in this area . . . I’d guess you might have heard about me?”
A bit of the guard’s surly expression melted away, but he didn’t say anything.
“You know . . . the flamethrower guy?” Wolfgang held out one hand and lit it on fire.
The guard jumped just a little. “Okay, yeah. I know who you are. Who’s the girl?” He looked back at me. I stayed where I was, folding my arms in a looser mirror of his stance.
Wolfy nodded back to me. “New recruit for Jay’s tech team. And a friend. I’m just showing her around the place. She was going to make some adjustments on the cell back there?” He pointed towards the door.
“Oh.” The guard eyed me for another second, then nodded slowly. “You do know there’s . . . a prisoner back there, right?”
“Knight? Yeah, of course.” Wolfgang snapped his fingers. “Oh, and Maxine said she wanted you to head over and guard the room with the switchboard in it. Just since we’ll be taking over here for right now and that needs guarding. I’ll come tell you when we’re done.”
The guard hesitated, his brow furrowing.
I started sauntering over next to them.
Wolf kept watching him with his eyebrows raised. He pulled his keys out of his pocket and started fiddling with them absently, rubbing his thumb over the Silverwing keychain. I could see his hands starting to tremble
But that seemed to do the trick. The guard nodded and headed for the door we’d just come through.
I watched him go, trying to mask my slight nervousness.
Wolfgang cleared his throat and motioned to the door before the guard was totally out of earshot. “Well, let’s go in and get that fixed then.” He raised his voice just slightly and it echoed around the room just as the guard disappeared beyond the doorway.
I puckered my lips and gave a slight, impressed whistle before heading over to the door. It had the same lock as the other one. I stepped back, letting Wolfgang come over and put his wing keychain in to unlock it.
The same buzz and beep sounded as at the outside door. There was a click.
Wolfgang let out his breath and turned the knob, stepping inside. I peeked in after him, taking a quick look around as I walked in. Same windows and tile on the walls. Perfect.
To the left was another door in a wall that was solid glass from chest height upwards. The wall boxed around into a small room. A cell.
Inside, curled up on the small cot in the corner, there was someone with a green hoodie and brown hair that was even messier than normal.
I grinned and contacted News over the radio. “We got him, Baden.”
A short victory whoop over the line made me wince. “Now you guys get your behinds back here before somebody finds you.”
Wolfy jumped over to the door and unlocked it with one hand, rapping his knuckles against the glass. “Dallas! Dallas, hey!”
Dallas’s head came up a little bit, his mouth open a little and his brow furrowed like he was wondering if he was hearing things. His face was paler and the circles under his eyes stood out even more now.
Wolfgang opened the door. “Dall! Hey c’mon, man. Don’t you know a rescue when you see one?”
Dallas sat straight up at that, staring between Wolfy and me with his eyes wide. “Wait, y-you . . .?”
“We came for you,” I stepped in, going over to grab the small chair he had in the corner and pushed it up to the edge of the wall under the window. “Now give us a hand and escape, will you?”
“I . . .” Dallas stammered a little bit as he pushed to his feet. “But they’re . . . Wolfgang, won’t this . . .?” he ran his hands over his hair in agitation, looking equal parts terrified and grateful to the point of tears.
“Yeah, whatever.” Wolfgang waved a hand dismissively. “Doesn’t matter about that. Is your research still around?”
Dallas swallowed. “No, they took it. Or I . . . actually I gave it to them.” His voice cracked. “I just . . . Franklin came in and I don’t . . . I don’t know how . . .”
I stepped up on top of the chair and frowned at the metal bar over the narrow window. That could be a little bit of a problem . . .
“They had to have destroyed it by now. They knew what was in it. And I just went with them and left a . . . a suicide note for everyone to find and I’m sorry . . .” Dallas dropped his face into his hands, muffling his broken words.
“Hey, hey, now. It’s not your fault, Dall. That son of a . . . gun was mind controlling you. It’s fine. We’re getting you out now.”
Ah, the famed Wolfgang comforting sessions. Lucky Dallas.
I examined both ends of the pole where it was bolted down and reached for the wrench in my pocket. It was a bit of a reach, but I managed to get to the bolts. With a few quick twists and a yank, the bar was off, leaving the glass of the window exposed.
I balled my metal hand into a fist and punched through.
No alarms sounded. After brushing away the sharper pieces to the best of my ability, I let out my breath and turned back to the boys. “Alright. Up and out, then. Let’s go. Dallas, you first.”
Dallas pulled his head up and stared at me. He opened his mouth to protest, but Wolfgang just grabbed him and steered him over to me. “Shut up, Captain Self-Sacrifice. You’re the one getting rescued. You go first.”
I grabbed Dallas’s hand and pulled him up onto the chair alongside me. As soon as he had his feet, I clasped my hands together and put them down as a foothold. “Okay, now just step on my hands, mate. Should be enough of a boost to get you out.”
Dallas gripped one hand against the wall and focused on setting his foot gingerly on my hands, muttering his thanks under his breath.
As soon as I was sure he had a good hold, I moved it up slightly. He shifted his grip on the wall and climbed up. There was a sharp intake of breath as he slipped through the broken glass of the window, but soon he’d pulled his feet through and was outside all the way.
He stayed on his knees and peered back in at us. “Do you want me to help you get out?”
Wolfgang shook his head, waving a hand. “We’ll be right behind you. Just go towards the treeline to the north. News and Kaity are waiting.”
Dallas hesitated yet again.
Wolfy cursed quietly and made a violent shooing motion with his hands.
Dallas started to stand. “Th-thank you both. Hurry, please.” And then his voice was replaced with the thudding of his shoes as he ran off towards safety.
Wolfgang turned back to me, running a hand through his cowlick. “Okay, I’ll help you out, then come after since I don’t need to boost.”
He gripped the edge of the chair and started to pull himself up.
Suddenly, my mechanical arm moved by itself. One fluid motion, up from my side and swung in an arc through the air, smacking Wolfy right in the face. Hard.
I yelped out a curse, gripping my arm to stop the motion.
Wolfgang stumbled backwards with a yell. His mouth hung open and he stared, looking like his eyes were having a bit of trouble focusing on me. “Did you . . . Liz, what was that?”
I jumped down next to him, still cursing and stammering. “I-I’m sorry, the bloody thing just moved by itself, I never . . .”
And before I could even finish my apology, my arm swung up again, smashing into the underside of his jaw. I could feel the metal connecting with bone.
I just about screamed. I’m not bloody doing anything! It’s never lost control like this before.
Wolfgang staggered backwards, his knees buckling under him as his back hit the wall. He slid down, still loosely holding onto his jaw as his eyes unfocused and rolled back.
I started to go for him, but felt my fingers curling into a fist again and stepped back instead. What was going on? How . . .?
I caught movement out of my periphery and turned my head.
A man with glasses stood in the open doorway of the cell. One of his arms was extended towards me and his brow furrowed in concentration.
Snippets of information I’d heard from Wolfgang flicked through my mind in a split second.
This was Jay. The guy with technology manipulation. He’d found us. And my arm was technology, so he was controlling it.
I cursed and backed further away from him, trying to block my arm from him with the rest of my body. I smacked the radio button. “News, they found us. We . . .”
I didn’t get any further before the radio shorted out in a shower of sparks. The lights in the room flickered overhead.
Jay tilted his head. “Are you going to come with me peacefully?”
I didn’t take the time to respond, running to drop down next to Wolfy’s slumped form. I kept my right side faced away from him and reached for his belt to try and get the gun.
Before I could get a grip on it, my hand whipped up again, this time smashing hard against the side of my own head.
Sparks exploded across my vision and the room tipped sideways. I fell sideways against Wolfgang’s arm. All the lights faded out.
The sound of someone clearing their throat was what broke through the haze in my mind. I blinked my eyes open, looking down at my hands tied in my lap. It took only a second for the memories to come rushing back in.
I stiffened, my head snapping up.
A woman with dark hair and bright red fingernails stood in front of me, one hand clasped around a pistol. Maxine. With Wolfgang’s pistol. Jay stood right behind her.
Wolfgang was already awake beside me. Mostly. He was still blinking hard and looking extremely confused. I would have elbowed him or something but I . . . figured that I’d done enough physical damage to him for one day.
We were both more or less in the same spots we’d fallen. Still in the cell. Still against the wall. But now propped up in sitting positions with our hands tied.
I felt blood on the side of my face and winced as I saw the ugly bruises already forming on Wolfy’s face and jaw. There was a lot else to wince about right now too.
They caught us.
We’re going to die.
At least Dallas went free, right?
Maxine still wasn’t talking. She wasn’t looking at me. It seemed she might be just waiting for Wolfgang to be a bit more lucid.
Finally, it seemed to her satisfaction and she took a breath, then spoke. “Seriously, I put up with a lot of things and ingratitude . . .? Dude . . .” Maxine shook her head sadly. “I gave you a promise of a future, I gave you superpowers . . .”
Hope flared inside of me at that mention. I looked over to Wolfgang, who’d clearly had the same thought. But he tensed his body and no flames shot out from him.
Jay rolled his eyes. “We’re not stupid.” He gestured towards something I hadn’t noticed clamped on Wolfy’s ankle. “Power inhibitors.”
I swore at him.
“Anyway,” Maxine continued, annoyed. She narrowed her eyes at Wolfgang. “See, we have this thing of watching after our members? The tracker keychains? I went to check on yours since our . . . tracker guy ran off and – would you look at that? – you’re down here with the kid who could destroy all of Silverwing. You’re helping him escape. And looking back, you know what?”
She bent down next to him, getting one bright red nail in his face. Wolfgang leaned back from it and looked at her down his nose.
“Checking the history of your tracker, you’ve been going to the SPI. You’ve been the one feeding the information! You’re the mole!”
Wolfgang’s face didn’t change expression beyond a slight raise of one eyebrow. “Well, better a mole than a rat, right?”
Maxine slapped him. He winced hard at the already aggravated bruises, but didn’t say anything.
My temper boiled. I ground my teeth and wiggled my hands inside the ropes.
Maxine pushed back to her feet. “You were going to be the new hero for the whole state, Dankworth!” She spread her hands, gesturing with the gun and looking down at him incredulously. “We’re all going to be heroes! All have a shot at a way better life! Would you really rather just throw all that away?”
She ran her fingers through her hair and let out a loud sigh. “And now you had to go and let Knight go?”
I detected something in her voice. Was that . . .? She was worried. Dallas had escaped, and she knew how much of a risk that was. A tiny smirk pulled at the side of my mouth.
Maxine seemed to sense it and whipped her gaze over to me with a scathing glare. She looked me up and down and curled her lip. “You could have so much better on so many fronts, Wolfgang.”
Wolfgang took a breath and shook his head. “Yeah. Except on the front of all that’s right and good. I’ve wanted to say this from the beginning, but you know? No thanks.”
Atta boy, Wolfy.
I kept my anger back and just widened my smile at Maxine. “Maybe he’d rather be an actual hero without the glory than a fake one with it.”
Maxine’s jaw set and she raised the gun. The sound of a shot echoed through the room and pain ripped up through my upper leg through the rest of my body.
I let out a scream, slamming back against the wall as my back arched. The pain radiated and grew, ringing in my ears. Warm blood started flowing from the wound in my thigh.
Wolfgang cursed loudly and moved his position over closer to me.
I barely made out Maxine’s words through the black edging in. “Warning shot.”
Which meant the next one would be the death shot for one of us.
I gulped in a few breaths, trying to keep my head clear.
Wolfy kept up a steady stream of curses and pleas for me to be okay. I felt his shaking hands touching the wound as he tried to staunch the bleeding, despite the fact that he was still tied at the wrists.
I arched my back again at the pain, groaning loudly.
“I have things to do,” Maxine continued, turning to Jay, like she’d done something as trivial as swat a fly. “Obviously, Utah needs a different superhero so I need to step up. We need to turn off Dankworth’s powers . . . get them both out of the way and . . .” she trailed off, looking over at both of us with a thoughtful look.
“What?” Jay asked.
“You have that giant, walk-in freezer down here in storage, right?”
“Yes . . .”
Wolfgang’s frantic movements froze.
Maxine looked over at us again, a smile starting across her face. “Well, if you’re up for a more creative punishment . . . there’s too limited of oxygen in there for two people to last more than an hour. And I happen to know that Wolfgang here is claustrophobic. And crippling fear like that overrides the nanites’ abilities.” She raised her eyebrows and looked back at Jay. “We don’t even have to turn Dankworth’s powers off.”
Her voice got farther away in my hearing and I barely registered what she was saying.
The shaking of Wolfgang’s hands he had pressed against my leg got worse.
“Oh, come on, no . . .” his voice cracked. “I mean . . . that won’t work, my claustrophobia’s not even that . . . that bad . . .”
“Well, you’ll be able to keep nice and toasty inside the freezer then, won’t you?” Maxine replied. “For an even shorter time, because fire sucks oxygen, remember?”
Wolfgang swallowed hard, pressing his hands harder against my leg as the blood seeped out. My vision faded out to black. I heard Maxine’s last words to Jay before passing out completely.
“Sounds like justice to me. Jay, take them to the freezer.”
-the timely return of THAT gif- because I know we’re all making that face along with Wolfgang.
Let’s see what happens next on Sunday, guys.