Forget-me-not stumbled and dropped the transmitter into the grass as her head bashed against the bumper of a car, her helmet taking the blow. I got up as she put her hand against the car to stabilise herself, and kicked her in the gut., stumbling back as she rolled across the front of the parked car.
She scrambled for the transmitter on all fours. I brought my shield down, hard. Luckily for her the grass was soft and the dirt muddy. I could have chopped four fingers off in any other situation.
“Fuck,” she muttered under her breath, seething with pain. I quickly gave her a hard kick as I pulled up my shield out of the mud, freeing her hand and allowing her to fall to her side.
I walked over and picked up the remote while she nursed her fingers, covered in mud and clearly cut.
“I win.” I stated, looking right at her as I lightly shook the remote in my hand, smiling behind my visor.
She scowled at me.
“What the fuck is wrong with you?” she said. “You don’t fucking tackle someone with the trigger to a bomb!”
“Well, I don’t think the bomb has gone off,” I replied, walking over to another car and leaning on the front. “You don’t seem to act like one went off, and I don’t have any indication there was an explosion.”
She got up and marched over to me. “That’s because the explosion is silent, you fucking asshole.”
I sighed and put my finger over the button. She stopped in her tracks.
“Wait,” she said, looking at my expression and the trigger. “You wouldn’t.”
“I would,” I replied. “I know you wouldn’t. Did my research.”
She followed my hand as I waved my arm from side to side and pulled out a phone from my pocket. I pressed a few buttons to bring up Forget-me-not on the internet, and pointed the screen at her. Forget-me-not alternated between looking at my face, the screen and the trigger.
“I know you’ve never had a murder, and you’ve even had autographs. I don’t think you’d blow up seven guys. Hell, you should have killed them then and there. You had the power to.”
She gulped, taking a step back. I turned the phone off and smiled. The situation had changed completely.
“We’ve got to see if you actually did kill seven people,” I said with an all too friendly tone in my voice. “Go on, show me where they are. I’ll follow.”
She clenched her fist, shaking in anger. I sighed and waved the remote, finger gently resting on the button.
“You’re a fucking maniac, how the hell are you a he-”
“I’m not a hero,” I interrupted, getting off the car. “I’m not going to play nice, or coddle you, or give two fucks about those men. The only place this ends is with you being shipped off into a one way trip to the city, and all you can do about it is decide how many people die before then, okay?”
She turned and led the way, walking into the woods next to the convoy.
“Get moving, and don’t stop.” I finished.
The woods were tranquil and calm. Light didn’t bother to permeate the trees and there was a lack of sound that wasn’t the crushing of detritus underfoot. Forget-me-not was a few paces ahead, holding the hand I crushed with my shield. She had occasionally turned back to see if I was following, but stopped when I waved at her and pointed at the device when she turned for a third time.
We were getting nowhere. A few minutes of walking decided it for me.
“Hey, if you are leading me in circles I’ll press the damn thing,” I said.
“Don’t, we’ll be there in five mins!” she said as she turned around and looked at me, a frightened tone creeping into her voice.
I groaned, tossing and catching the trigger in the air as Forget-me-not gasped in shock. I wondered how Margaret and Samantha were doing. Samantha was cooped up in a cape psychiatry ward and Margaret was back in Oklahoma, with Maxine, Gunsmith and a few other adult capes in the National Heroes Network. Michael and Ricky crossed my mind as well; I’d been trapped in Texas for three years, days before I was going to meet them with Derek and Maxine.
“Hey,” asked Forget-me-not. “why’d we stop?”
I shook my head and groaned in frustration. “Fucking Texas,” I mumbled. “Why?”
Forget-me-not shot an odd look my way as I walked over to a tree and placed my had against it. She almost walked over before she caught a fresh glimpse of the device in my hand. Long, painful seconds passed as I thought about Ellen, Derek, Texas, Samantha and Taker.
“You m-mentioned Texas,” she said with a stammer, finally breaking the silence, maybe buying time to try something. “Y-you were there, right?”
“Yup,” I replied, feeling the memory version of a headache.
“You fought the Texans? Kelpie and Wendigo and Aim?”
“Not them, but I fought a few,” I replied, thinking of Corvus. I actually killed someone. How could I forget that?
“They are in the NHN you know,” said Forget-me-not. Even minor crooks keep up to date on this stuff? Really? I never did and I want to go back to those days. Those days where me and Michael and Derek and Ellen and Maxine and Ricky woul-
“You were in the city?” she asked, the cogs finally clicking. “That one area that got blocked off? How?”
“Stop talking,” I barely managed to myself, let alone her. I can’t do this.
I heard her creep closer as the leaves underneath slowly crunched. I turned to her with the trigger out.
“Stop. I’ll make sure they get blown to kingdom come,” I barely managed to say, still leaning against the tree. There’s only one person here, the forest is empty! Why do I want space to myself when she’s so far away?
“We’re here anyway,” she said, trying to trick me or something. I can’t trust her, not like this. The crunch of leaves underfoot made me react.
“Stay back,” I ordered again. “Shut up and stay back.”
She took a step back, hands in the air. She pointed in the direction, and I turned to look, seeing a metal door. A bunker in the woods.
“A bunker?” I asked.
“For worst case scenarios. Stuff like metahuman tech malfunctions or stuff, Kingmaker events, Great Lords, Fae, The Hunting Par-”
“Shut up,” I said again. A third time. “Open it and let them out.”
“J-just don’t press the button.”
There must be an indicator that tells her if the bombs or whatever have gone off. Maybe the fact the door was still on its hinges was a sign, or the lack of smoke, or something. That doesn’t matter, Forget-me-not was already pulling on the metal door embedded in the mound with a foot against the dirt next to it for leverage. The door swung open and she went inside.