"B, b, but . . ." Kelly's teeth were chattering.
"Oh, sorry, come this way, and lets see if we can warm you up."
Will headed for the residence area in the back.
Mike was frowning as he followed. "So you and Ernie cooperated to build this?"
"Co . . . Oh hell no! Ernie--with help from the Army--captured my Rocky Mountain fortress, and the government wanted it dismantled. This was after the Iran mess, before the first Super War. So Ernie said he'd get to work on it. I'd built it in modules--to get it up there--so it was easy for Ernie to see how to cut it up into manageable chunks. He levitated them down to a flatbed truck for most of the distance, and leaving them on the shore of the mainland. Once it was all there, he levitated them for the last stretch up to here."
Will caught a glimpse of their faces and grinned. "You didn't know the Seeker could do large scale levitation? That old man was scary-strong at his peak. Mind you, he had to island hop, and probably did the one long stretch in winter with solid ice underneath."
"Anyway, I was busy elsewhere, and when I finally discovered the Seeker's hidden fortress, I was livid, and then amused, to realized it was my fortress."
"Yeah. He'd reprogrammed the locks, but I knew how they worked. Got right in. Mind you, he moved things around. And added the big hanger. I don't think he had precog, to know about Abby. But the hanger's big enough for anything VTOL."
He led them out into the dinging room and pointed to the side. "Basic hotel type rooms. Cleanup and I'll see if I can boil water."
Kelly bolted for the nearest door. Mike retreated with a bit more dignity.
Will got the water started and headed back out to bring down the supplies.
"Glenda? Have you got any news on the Asteroid?"
"The government is censoring everything coming out, but there are so many amateur astronomers with good equipment that the news is leaking. It 's going to hit in the north Atlantic. The impact will generate a tsunami that will devastate the east coast of North America, the Caribbean islands, and the west coast of Europe. We have no solid data on ejecta, and the effect of that much vaporized water on a global scale."
"I see. Well, I'd better get to work."
I have six days to get Abby ready to fly.
I built her tough, inside and out. But she's just sat here for decades. Cold, dry, sealed up away from the weather . . . who knows what will need fixing or replacing.
Five days in a "Super Proof" underground secret prison were exactly what Ernie needed. Five days to eat, sleep, exercise, and think.
And worry. And watched TV news on screen.
Super panic was in full bloom, with four more flying tentacle robots discovered. Words like "anti-gravity" and "anti-matter power source" were frequently in use. And calls for international cooperation, as the other four had been on different continents.
And generally ignored by the other polities. Everyone wanted Doctor Inferno's anti-matter bomb. Even if they did say "power source."
Kicked back in the common room and watching, Ernie shook his head. "Will doesn't have an anti-matter anything. He always went for reliability in his power supply. Small reactors. Pebble bed, I think he said."
The Burngarner sibs swapped glances.
Scotch snorted. "I wouldn't trust a word he says."
"I used to feel that way, too. But . . ."
"No buts, Ernie. Just because you two palled around in retirement, doesn't mean he isn't a criminal."
"Yeah." Ernie changed the subject. "I wish we could have internet access. I'm missing my favorite conspiracy sites. I'll bet they're having a great time. What do you want to bet they think the flying robots are the scouts for an invasion by space aliens?"
Scotch sighed. "Please. Doctor Inferno is quite enough to panic over."
Travis buries his head in his hands. "I can't believe, of all the rich old geezers on Vegas, you picked up Doctor Inferno to shake down for money."
Cari looked around the prison. Twenty-four cells on two sides of the common room. Screen on another wall. The forth wall, two showers and the massive door out. "Just lucky I guess." Practically dripping sarcasm. "Did you see this 'flying robot?' Describe it."
Will shrugged. "I didn't see it in action. Deactivated, there was no sign of how it floated. Optical cables, not wiring, in the top compartment, where Will might have removed the controls, or controlling computer.
"The tentacles were very fine metallic . . . they looked almost like a . . . don't remember what it's called. Jewelry, not a chain, sort of a mesh, I've seen necklaces . . . snake chain, that's what it's called. The tentacles were like that, a very, very fine and flexible thing, about an inch and a half diameter for close on to six feet.
"On three tentacles, the last six inches narrowed down and ended in a slightly hooked point. Two tentacles had two sizes of triple clawed grabbers, and the last tentacle had a wrecking ball."
Scotch frowned. "I don't remember seeing any sort of visual pickup. No lenses, no holes . . ."
Travis frowned. "Must have been in the part that old . . . man removed."
Scotch frowned, nodded but looked unconvinced. "It's definitely weird."
Ernie rubbed his nose. "If it is a controlled anti-matter reaction of some sort powering it . . . shooting it probably a really bad idea."
The Burngarners both nodded.
"Yikes." Travis frowned. "Even a tiny crack, and air getting in to complicate things . . ."
"Boom." Ernie sat back. "I wonder if they drilled a tiny hole in the one Will captured?"
A hum of motors, a thud, then the big bank vault styled door swung open.
He recognized two of the three people who entered. Lenna Faulkner was the Director of the Department of Superhuman Monitoring and Detention. "Pretty Boy" Ray Blalock AKA Crusher had once been a slender blonde youth--in appearance only. Super strength that only a few of the oldest Supers could equal. He was going gray, had a few wrinkles. The third guy . . . he vaguely remembered from the news. A presidential adviser of some sort?
The Director flicked a glance at the Burngarners, then focused on Ermie and Scotch.
"Gentlemen, we have a problem."