Ernie frowned as Ariana Paxton listened on her phone. Nor saying much besides a lot of "Yes, Sirs" and "I understands" and a final, "We'll stand by for updates and new orders."
Harkness was on his own phone, but watching the head of Las Vegas DSMD.He lowered his phone as Paxton clicked off.
"I'm afraid it doesn't look good for the hostages." Paxton's lips firmed up. "They've been located. The plane Inferno stole has crashed. People are on their way, from the nearest safe place to land."
"When? Where?" Harkness looked upset.
Lost his two subordinates.
"They think their plane crashed last night. In very rugged mountainous terrain in Alaska."
"So are you lying to us, or are they lying to you?" Harkness stood up and frowned down on Paxton.
"I beg your pardon!" She was all stiff outrage.
"Agent Michael Mckenna called the Head of the Bakerfield DSMD, Derrick Leblanc half an hour ago, and said that he and Agent Patricia Winter were, apart from being rather cold, safe and sound on an island in the Arctic Ocean, where Doctor Inferno seemed to think he could blast his way into The Seeker's fortress."
Harkness gave her a not-nice smile. "Derrick says the call was interrupted by DC HQ, ordering Mike to leave his phone on and stay close to Doctor Inferno."
Ernie heard himself growl. "Just what are they sending to Borden Island?"
Ah shit! They wouldn't! For God's sake all that insanity was over a century ago!
Paxton flushed. "This is out of all of our territories. DC HQ has taken over. Turn on the news! Inferno's robot just took out a chunk of NASA's Langley Research Center. That Mutant is making antimatter bombs! And now he's trying to get ahold of a Space plane!"
"Calm down!" Ernie snapped. "Will has been living in a retirement home in Bakersfield for twenty years."
"His finger prints were all over the robot."
"Right where he was seen to have handled it after it was deactivated!" Ernie pulled out his phone . . . dead.
Scotch checked his. "Really, Paxton?"
"Orders from DC."
"DC is who I want to talk to!" Ernie snapped. "What are they planning? Why a cover story about a plane crash . . . They're going to attack the fortress, aren't they? Missiles, perhaps?" He squeezed the arms of his wheel chair, and fought down an urge to transfer that grip to her throat."
"You are going to murder two of your own agents because . . . why does Will need a Space Plane?" Ernie shivered.
"To deliver the other flying bombs to their intended targets." Paxton glared. "Think of the damage a hundred could do to a hundred cities."
Ernie glared at her. "Get your panic under control. Call the Space Force and ask them about that orange-peel protective capsule. Ask them if the isotopes indicate extra-terrestrial origin."
"Don't be absurd!" She sniffed. "You have no authority here. Or anywhere."
Scotch stood up.
"Nor you, Mr. Whitaker."
Scotch turned and opened the office door. Stopped abruptly.
Peering around him, Ernie spotted three guns. No doubt there were more he couldn't see.
"Miz. Paxton. You are stepping over a line that you are going to regret."
"Don't threaten my, you nasty little mutant."
Scotch turned back. "I am not little . . ."
Time to break this up.
"Oh well. If we can't leave . . ." Ernie shrugged and wheeled himself across the room to a scrawny potted ficus. Shoved himself up to standing, unzipped . . .
"DON'T YOU DARE PISS ON MY PLANT!"
Scotch started laughing, stepped back and flopped in a chair, bellowing with laughter.
And so did everyone else. Except Ernie. Although he did giggle a few times as he rolled around collecting weapons. Not easy, the way they were rolling around on the floor. He poked around and found a room with a locking door, dumped all the weaponry and locked up on his way out.
"Enough, Scotch! Let the poor fools catch their breaths." Ernie rolled up to Paxton as she hauled herself back into her chair.
"How . . . what . . ." She was looking dizzy.
"Scotch is best know for his ability to make anyone feel drunk. It is not his only ability." Ernie looked her over. "What grounds do you have for holding either of us?"
"You are Super Humans and the President has declared a Superhuman emergency. And issued a kill on sight order for William N. Furnace, AKA Doctor Inferno."
"Oh . . . of all the massively stupid . . ."
She raised her nose and glanced at the clock. "In any case, it's too late. Your friend is dead, and your space plane destroyed."
Ernie opened his mouth to say that it would take a nuke to harm his fortress, then shut it. Because Will only let Mike phone out in order to get the ice blasted. So he's at a safe distance, and hopefully can get in. And, ahem, his space plane out.
One of the Cops, no, those were Military uniforms under the body armor, crawled to his feet and pulled out a big fat military com. "Outer guard, back off a hundred feet and be ready to shoot." He gave them a cold glare. "Do that again and you're dead."
And rolled out, heading for the elevators. Ignored the fellow in the process of breaking down the door to the janitor's closet where he'd stashed the weapons.
They were taken down the elevators one at a time. Ernie first. Out the back door, where the marines had established a nasty kill zone all the way from the building to the open doors of a big armored personnel carrier.
They wheeled him up the ramp, then two Marines, grabbed him and heaved him into a seat. locked a shackle around his ankle, to chain him to the floor.
Ernie snorted. "Yeah, be careful. I'm almost as dangerous as I look!"
He glanced at the other prisoners. The Burngarner siblings? "Why the heck did they collect you two?"
Keri glared. Travis just looked glum.
"Well . . . sorry, but I'm mostly sorry you didn't give me a bigger dose of that stuff."
He looked the other way, and spotted Scotch stalking out, the Marines looking ready to shoot him if he twitched wrong. Or laughed.
Ernie waved him in.
"Relax. We can't change what some panic-stricken normies have done. If I'm right, they'll be begging for our help, pretty quick."
Scotch growled. Glared at the kids. "As soon as a pissed off Inferno hits? You better be right, Ernie."
Ernie shook his head. "Nope. Something tells me this asteroid that's due in, what? Eight days? I think it's going to come a whole lot closer than anyone is admitting.
So let's just see if they're taking us the right way or the wrong way. It won't hurt to be closer to Edwards Space Force Base.
Whether they like it or not.