Chapter 18: Detour
IAN and I cruised down I70 at the speed limit. A grandma with the signature blue-tinted white granny afro drove beside us in an old Cadillac, a pleasant smile on her face.
“So, what happens if Hunters find the warehouse?” Ian said.
“If our location is compromised, we clear out and move the cars to another location.” I shifted into fifth gear.
“That’s not the only house—or warehouse—you guys have?”
“No, we have several.”
“So have you ever had a location compromised and had to leave exotic cars behind?”
“Not so far. But we would if we had to.”
Ian looked at the Cadillac next to us, then back to our Taurus. “Hmmm…quite the powerful car, eh?”
“Oh, yeah. She’s a quick one.” I showed Ian my most generic smile, messing with him.
When I turned to look at the granny, her smile had been replaced by a frown, and she gripped the steering wheel hard. She looked at me and gritted her teeth, then took off.
I shifted down to fourth and eased into the gas just enough so that the granny would pull away from us. It had to be killing Ian.
“So…are you gonna actually use any of that power, or are you gonna keep driving like a granny?” Ian raised his eyebrows. “Oh wait. I’m sorry. Slower than a granny. She just smoked you.”
“Really? I drive like a granny?” I played up an offended tone.
“I think you guys are just messing with me.”
“Are we?” I raised an eyebrow.
He sat with a frustrated smile, considering my question. I was pretty sure he liked these little games I played with him. Pretty sure.
I took the off-ramp and slowed as we approached a red light.
“So…about the other night,” he said. “What happened to you?”
I kept my eyes straight ahead, hesitating. I still wasn’t comfortable talking about it. If I told him, he might never want me to separate again or he might tell somebody about the dark one so that Joseph would keep me from using my power. Would he really do that to me?
Just then, fate brought the perfect distraction up beside us—a Porsche GT2 RS. Two middle-aged rich guys dressed business casual hung their arms out the open windows.
I eyed Ian. “I thought you wanted to see what this car would do?”
He looked past me at the Porsche. “Nice. Why don’t you guys have one of those in your garage?”
“We can’t have too many cars in the shop that’ll get whooped by a Taurus, you know?”
“Oh, really? Well, let’s see it, then.”
“If you insist.” I put on a really cheesy fan-girl smile, turned to my left and called out to the driver of the Porsche. “Hey, does that have a turbo?” I sounded kind of like an idiot.
The guy looked over at me, frowning, then smiled when he saw me. “Twin turbos.”
“Oh, wow. I bet that thing’s fast.” I put on wide eyes and said, “Oh, hey, you wanna race? I have a little bit done to this thing.” I gestured at my car.
He shot me a condescending I’m-not-gonna-waste-my-gas-on-your-ancient-little-grocery-getter-car look.
“Oh, come on. I just wanna see how fast your car is.”
His shoulders slacked a little, then reluctantly, he half-smiled and nodded. “Alright.”
I looked forward, adjusted my grip on the steering wheel, and plastered a goofy smile on my face like it was a big deal.
A moment later, the light turned green and the all-wheel-drive Porsche shot off like a rocket.
I smiled at Ian, who looked disenfranchised since I hadn’t moved. Then I revved the motor and launched. My body pushed back against the seat hard. Ian’s eyes grew large as he grabbed the handle on the ceiling. I loved that rush almost as much as I loved the rush of separating from my body.
A few seconds later, we screamed by the Porsche.
“Whoa, this thing’s a beast.” Ian had a huge smile on his face. “That was awesome.”
My lip curved at the edge as I slowed the car back to the speed limit.
As the Porsche caught up beside us, its driver, who was completely disinterested in my car before, looked thoroughly interested now. “Hey, what do you have done to that thing? Pull over.”
I looked in my rearview mirror. “I think someone else wants you to pull over.” I pointed back at a cop car that had just come up behind the Porsche.
Ian did his best to hold back a laugh.
The Porsche driver deflated and his car drifted back, pulling off to the side of the street. I couldn’t help but snicker a little bit.
“Can I drive when we’re done at the gold refinery?” Ian said.
“Sure.” I changed lanes and took a right turn. “Just don’t scratch the car. Murph’ll kill you.”
It was a slow day at the gold refinery, so I convinced them to let me show Ian the process as they refined the first bit of our gold.
There was something mesmerizing about watching the molten liquid in process. Ian seemed to think so, too.
After we’d seen the first gold bar come out, we left to grab lunch. By the time we returned, the gold was ready, and we sold them the excess metals we weren’t interested in. Ian helped me load the bars into the car’s hidden compartment and we headed back to the safehouse.
On our way back down I76, Artie’s voice came over our radiophones. “Can’t find the right parts at LKQ.” His voice shook as my heart lost its calm cadence.
Ian gave me a puzzled look. “Was that really necessary?”
I nodded and trapped him in an intense stare. “It means they’re in trouble.”
Ian covered the three-mile distance in record time and brought the car around the last corner squealing tires. We came to an abrupt stop a block away on a side street, out of view of the junkyard. Seconds later, we were out of the car, racing down the street.
We passed the Koenigsegg and Ian’s eyes went wide with outrage. “He brought the Koenigsegg to get parts?”
I shrugged with a grimace. “Small parts today, I guess. And he’s kind of a crazy driver, too.”
His brow pulled together, pained as we turned the corner.
When we reached the back wall, he hoisted me over, then jumped up and came over it himself.
I glanced at him with a finger to my lips.
The clangs of metal on metal sounded from a nearby row of cars, but there were no forklifts nearby making the noise.
I pointed toward the backside of that row. “You go that way. I’ll come around from the other side.”
He nodded. “Be careful.”
I returned his nod then slipped away around the edge of an old brown Oldsmobile missing its tires and bumpers. At its edge, I got a better look through a row of cars. Something flew by a few rows in front of me and someone let out a grunt.
Picking up my pace, I stalked toward the sound.
The metal clanks and grunts grew louder.
As I rounded the last car, a Hunter ripped the door off a car and smashed it into Lena’s head insanely hard. Lena let out a scream on impact, then hit the ground, unconscious.
I gasped. It took a lot to knock out someone who had powers.
Artie came flying through the air from between two cars and kicked the Hunter square in the back. He hit the ground, sliding hard into a nearby Pontiac Vibe.
I rushed toward Artie as another Hunter came out behind him, weapon at the ready. Just as his finger twitched on the trigger, Ian came from the side, body checking him. He hit the ground hard and smashed against a car. He was out. No way he had powers. But the one who’d hit Lena definitely did, and he was already on his feet again, rushing Artie.
I changed direction to intercept him. He launched a kick at Artie, but I managed to latch on to his wrist and use my momentum to pull him off course. He missed Artie by a few feet before spinning out of control at my counterweight. I hit the ground and rolled away, back up on my feet a second later.
The Hunter lunged into the air from the ground, a metal pipe in his hand now. He was about to come down on me hard until Ian kicked him out of the air. The man slammed into the side of a Suburban, crunching its side, then crumpled to the ground. He wasn’t unconscious, but he wasn’t in any condition to get up right away either. Ian had used his powers despite warnings to only use them as a last resort. Joseph would not be happy about that.
When I turned to check on Lena, Artie had already scooped her from the ground. He ran for the back of the junkyard. I grabbed Ian’s arm and yanked him that direction.
Up ahead, Artie jumped the fence, clearly using his powers. What was it with everyone wanting to pull more Hunters today?
I jumped on the hood of a Honda, then to its roof, and leapt for the fence. Something grabbed my foot, slamming me onto the trunk of the car. My head reeled for a moment, my vision shaky and awkward.
The butt of a black rifle came at my forehead.
A foot connected with it before it could reach me, and the gun jerked off to the left of my head.
Ian disarmed the man then threw several punches at him. By the time I’d gotten to my feet, Ian had locked the Hunter’s arms up and headbutted him. The man fell unconscious to the ground.
As my equilibrium settled, my vision leveled out. “Come on.” I jumped over the fence and Ian followed, landing beside me. We ran the block and turned down the side street toward our car. Artie and Lena’s Koenigsegg disappeared around the corner down the street.
I checked for Hunters as we reached the Taurus. “No need to split up. They haven’t seen the car.”
Ian nodded and we climbed in.
Artie’s voice came over our radiophones. “Time for an evac.”
We kept a good watch on our tail all the way back to the safehouse, making sure no one followed us. Ian came to a sliding stop just inside the garage. A second later, we were at the Range Rover.
Artie pulled Lena from the back seat, carrying her toward the van. Her head had stopped bleeding, but a huge gash still showed across her scalp under her black hair.
Joseph and the others were already waiting inside with the engine running.
Artie loaded Lena into the back across the long bench seat, then climbed in the side. Ian and I were right behind him, closing the door as soon as we were in. As the door latched shut, Joseph peeled out of the warehouse toward Winter’s Edge.
I looked back to see the warehouse doors closing, then noticed a pressure at my feet. It was my backpack. We were nothing if not efficient.
But efficiency wasn’t necessarily going to keep Lena alive.