By the time John had fallen ten feet there was a rush of wingbeats and he became a bird straight out of mythology. With a wingspan that had to be at least twenty feet and feathers so dark black they might look blue, the massive crow would have been a nightmare in daylight.
Fred's armor let him fall slowly enough that John the Thunderbird had to swoop up a bit to catch him in thick talons. Now, the pair could fly in relative stealth while anyone below focused any attention on Nimbus.
"Why would someone bring a sub into this bathtub?" John's voice echoed in Fred's skull.
Fred thought back at the shapeshifter. "They'd need a good reason." The lake was shallow, but from here they could get to Canada and the northern Great Lakes. For that matter they could go south and still be across the dividing line between Canada and the US. There were likely easier ways, but it was possible.
Fred focused on the water below, the lenses in his helmet letting him see easily. He could make out a large shape in the water that was most assuredly not man made.
"I've got a fix on Dynamo. He's holding his position about twenty feet above the target."
Fred looked up and saw the robot. Seven feet tall, and as broad shouldered as Dusk, the huge metal man could easily move through the air. The technology involved was a mystery to him, since there was no jet or turbine of any kind. No arguing with results, though. Through the mental link provided by John, he hailed Dynamo. "Any movement?"
"Negative. I have been able to asses that the submersible is manmade. It has a shallow draft and is shaped not unlike a manta ray. My sensors tell me the material it's made of isn't metal of any sort I know. There is a high carbon content. There appear to be four ports or doors of some sort on the dorsal plane. It surfaced approximately ten minutes ago."
"John, bring me over it and let go." Fred pointed.
Fred chuckled. "I'm sure. I can land lightly enough, so no one inside should be able to detect me. Worst case scenario, Dynamo can swoop in and grab me."
Once they were over the drop point, John opened his talons.
"You guys watch the water. Nimbus, patrol the shoreline."
Falling through the darkness and knowing he could his water as easily as he could this craft made him a little nervous. He remembered his first jump off of the shore of France. He was supposed to land on the beach, but a wind shear threw him off course. That wouldn't happen. What he was doing wasn't true flight, but he had more control than he would have with a parachute. Worst case the submersible would sink, leaving him in the water for a bit. Swimming in the armor was no easy feat.
He fell as quickly as he could, while still being able to ensure a soft enough landing. When he hit the surface of the craft he expected their to be a thunk. Dynamo was right, though. This wasn't a metal skin. There was a give to it, like landing on short grass. Even through the lenses of his helmet, it was difficult to see what he stood on in any detail. No rivets or seams could be made out.
A few feet away, a section of the surface dilated open, more like a sphincter than an iris. Biological. This whole thing seemed more organism than machine. A figure wearing a dark suit of armor with a silver symbol on his chest stepped up out of the hole. The symbol reminded him a little of the swastika with its outer arms curved rather than angling out. The armor looked like an advanced version of the Nazi mechsuits, one worn by officers. The helmet flared out from where the nose would have been, creating something like a bell shape. The armor itself was simple and form fitting. The joints were either very finely fitted or of an organic nature like the thing they stood on.
Fred's hands found the handles of his hammers. "Hi there. Do you have a minute for me to tell you about-"
The man extended an arm and a focused beam of blue light emanated from it. "No."
Fred couldn't move. His joints were locked and his body began to numb.
"I am Doctor Wendt. I think it is only fair you know my name before I kill you. Your friends will not be able to save you." The man's voice had a vaguely mechanical quality and little accent. "Don't worry, though. We will find a use for your body and those of the other metas."
Next - Showdown Over Lake St. Clair