First time reading? Start at the beginning here.
The sirens were soft and distant at first, changing pitch as they got closer. An army of police cars and ambulances swarmed the deserted city street, coming from all directions. The stillness and silence that had descended after Dave took down Tidal Wave lasted for maybe a minute before everything turned hectic again. The police went straight to Tidal Wave, but the paramedics barely knew where to start. There were so many injured.
Dave’s job at a time like this was to get out of the way and let the professionals do their thing. He assured the medics he wasn’t hurt so they could help the people who really needed it, and he told the police what they already knew: they needed to get Tidal Wave drugged or away from water before he regained his senses. Then he walked pointedly off to the side to wait for DSA backup. A downside of the costume was that people saw Dave as an authority. He could give them terrible advice, and they’d follow it to the letter, assuming White Knight knew something they didn’t. He had to watch what he said.
Yuna joined him on the sidewalk. Her arm was in a sling, and the paramedics had given her something for the pain. Her soggy cape flopped behind her, and her wet hair clung tightly to her skull. Dave was equally soaked, and in the chilly air, he had to struggle to keep his teeth from chattering.
“So your costume’s not an illusion this time,” Dave commented, figuring she would have made it look dry if it was.
She glanced down and rubbed her arms for warmth. “I can only get away with doing that for combat situations. They told me the parade was a publicity stunt.”
“Shows what they know,” he said. “Thanks for the save back there, by the way.”
She smiled. “Ditto.”
“Sorry you got hurt. You and Agent Lee will have to trade signatures on each other’s casts once you get yours.”
The comparison to Moreen seemed to please her. “You should sign it as White Knight. Then maybe I can sell it for something when it comes off.”
Dave wanted to joke that she could probably get fifty cents for it, but the truth was that plenty of people would shell out ridiculous sums of money for superhero memorabilia. The two of them lapsed into silence, watching as paramedics moved a police officer onto a stretcher.
“What was the point?” Yuna asked. “He didn’t steal anything. This wasn’t a turf war. So why did he do it?”
“I don’t know,” Dave said in a low voice. There were certainly supervillains out there who got off on random violence, but that had never been Tidal Wave or the Fox Woman’s style. The Tsubaki Syndicate was a well-oiled machine. When they turned violent, it was in defense of their drug and prostitution rackets. A public attack on a parade of all things made no sense.
But the Fox Woman was working with Blueblood and the Belmontes now. Could one of them gain something by what happened? Dave still didn’t see how. Blueblood had a well-known temper, but he was equally well-known for being greedy. He didn’t seem like one to waste resources on something so pointless. And Val… The Black Valentine didn’t shy away from public spectacle, but only when she was pulling off some ridiculously improbable heist. There was nothing of value to steal here, unless she somehow made off with the Crimson Phoenix balloon. But even then, it didn’t feel right. The collateral damage was too high. When Val took her gloves off, she was precise about it. He couldn’t see her orchestrating something that pointlessly hurt so many people.
Maybe it was dumb of him to think that way. He was biased when it came to her, and there was no point in trying to hide it from himself. He didn’t think her capable of this because he didn’t want to. He wanted to think of the woman he’d connected with, the one who’d saved his life, the one he was probably never going to see again unless it was during an attempt to arrest her….
He thought back to their kiss, and not for the first time, he mentally kicked himself for ending it. It had been the right thing to do, of course, but that wasn’t much of a comfort. He regretted the loss of possibility more than anything, and not just of what could have happened physically (though he thought about that a lot). He’d never get the chance to just sit and talk with her now, to joke and laugh and learn more about her. He’d certainly prefer spending time with her over sitting alone in his apartment.
“I don’t see anybody from the department.” Yuna’s voice jogged him back to reality. She was looking around the street with a frown. “I hope my handler’s okay. You’d think they’d have sent a team by now.”
Dave made a noise of agreement. With all the police here, there was no way the DSA could have missed the fact that something had gone horribly wrong at the parade. Men and women in suits should have been crawling all over the place, and Dave and Yuna should have already been pulled away to be debriefed.
Sudden movement down the street made Dave cut off. What the–?
Harris. In his bright Supersonic costume, he rocketed down the street at what must have been fifty miles per hour, swerving around parked emergency vehicles and parade floats. He tried to stop in front of Dave but skidded about three feet past him. When he finally halted, he leaned forward, gasping for breath.
“Supersonic,” Dave greeted, aware of the emergency personnel listening. “What took you so lo—”
He stopped as Harris turned around, blood running down the front of his uniform. “HQ,” he rasped. “You’ve got to get to HQ. They’re—”
He toppled forward, and Dave barely managed to catch him before he hit the ground.
“We need help over here!” Dave shouted, but a pair of paramedics was already running towards them. They directed Dave to lay Harris gently down so they could check him.
Harris grabbed Dave’s wrist. “We’re under attack. You have to go help.”
Dave swore and started to stand, but the sight of the bullet wound in Harris’s shoulder stopped him. It was leaking a lot of blood. How much had he already lost on the run here? The cold air seemed to cut through Dave right to his core. If the medics couldn’t save him—
“Go,” Harris said in a hoarse voice. “I’ll be fine. Other people won’t.”
Dave nodded and wrenched himself away. DSA headquarters was over ten blocks from here, and he had no idea how long ago the attack had started. He needed to get moving, so he made a beeline for the nearest police officer.
“I need to borrow a car.”
Poor Harris. I’m really mean to him, aren’t I? 😉
That’s the end of “Parade of Fools.” The serial will take next Monday off, and then I’ll return on Monday, October 9th, with part one of the aptly titled “Everybody Fights.”
Hey, want to know a secret?
You can pre-order Almost Invincible on Amazon.com now. Don’t tell anyone.