“Here’s a thought,” Daniel said. “Does anybody want to nominate anybody else?”
“Looking for a nomination?” Vaughn asked.
Daniel shook his head. “No. I’m willing to do communications, but keeping track of what people are doing, using prescience to sense future attacks, blocking them with telekinesis, attacking people, passing messages, and coming up with plans all at the same time sounds overwhelming. For me, just being in a crowd can be bad.”
“I think Nick could do a good job,” Haley said.
“I don’t know,” I said.
“I bet you’ve been in more action than anybody else.”
Marcus looked around the table. “Jaclyn and Travis would both do a good job. He’s been manager when I’ve been working, and he keeps his head on straight. It’s not combat, but it’s busy. And Jaclyn’s smart and thinks faster than any of us.”
Rachel took a breath, somehow managing to get everybody’s attention just as she started to talk.
“I don’t want to offend anybody,” Rachel began, “because I’ve only been part of this since I got home, but I’m not ready to nominate anybody. I don’t know what a good field commander would be like, and I don’t want to follow somebody just because they won a popularity contest.”
Travis shook his head. “It’s not a popularity contest. We need to get organized, or we won’t get anywhere. We’ve gotten lucky so far, but we’ve got real enemies now. We’ve got to keep up with them, or we’ll lose.”
Rachel looked like she wanted to reply, but Vaughn started in. “Who led the original League? Why can’t we copy them?”
“It changed a lot,” Daniel said. “I think they rotated it around.”
“During the war,” Cassie said, “my dad led the team, but he got busted down in rank near the end.”
My grandfather had ended up the ranking officer, but he still had Captain Commando leading the actual missions. He told me he liked the planning more.
“The way they did it doesn’t matter now,” Jaclyn said. “The army would barely admit my grandfather was on the team at the beginning of the war.”
“Exactly,” Travis said. “We need to figure out what works for us.”
Daniel raised his hand and gave a little wave. “There are some of us who want to, and some of us who don’t, but none of us are hugely experienced. I think that everybody ought to get a chance whether they want it or not.”
I looked at him. “Why?”
“Because the people who don’t want to could turn out to be good at it. Besides, what happens if all the people who want to command get knocked out? Who takes charge then?”
Haley nodded. “We’d train first, right? I’d like to try it, but I wouldn’t want to take over for the first time during a real fight.”
Travis’ expression looked a little stiff. “I’d hoped to get this settled tonight.”
Rachel shook her head. “Even plays have tryouts, Travis.”
We left it there. The meeting didn’t end, of course, because we still had to discuss the Executioner and the gang, but that didn’t end up being quite as controversial. We divided into groups. Marcus, Haley, Cassie, and I were assigned to come up with ideas for how to deal with the Executioner if the team got out of jail. Everyone else began to work on the question of how to deal with the gang.
* * *
Two hours later, the meeting had ended, most people had left, and I talked with Daniel and Haley. By comparison to having the whole team with us, HQ felt strangely empty.
Haley and I sat next to each other on the main table in the middle of the room.
“Well, I guess we’re seeing the main problem as protecting our parents, but also even knowing when they show up and start poking around. I’m likely to end up bugging nearly everywhere.”
“And we can’t be sure that they won’t have a way to detect bugs, so maybe we’ll have to get them somewhere else anyway,” Haley said. “The FBI watched them last time.”
Daniel nodded. “I’m not going to be much help. They brought clairvoyant blocking devices last time around. Who knows what they’ll bring if they’re actually after us?”
“Yeah.” I thought about that for a second. It wasn’t a thought I cared to follow very far. “What are people thinking about the gang?”
Daniel shrugged. “Vaughn thinks that he saw something about them in his grandfather’s books. He’s thinking that since his grandfather stole so many of the Cabal’s methods, he might be able to find something in the cave under Hardwick House. Aside from that, I think I’m going to be telepathically spying on them. Once we find out who their leadership is, we’ll go after it, I guess.”
Haley looked up at him. “You don’t sound like you like it very much.”
“I don’t think it’s a bad plan. I’m just tired from being in the middle of a room full of emotional people. People talk and they vote and they act nice, but underneath they’re churning. I just can’t stand it after a while. Anyway, I think I’m going.”
After he left, Haley and I walked toward the hangar and got into Night Wolf’s car. I switched the color to green, started it, and drove out the exit in the park. The door slid closed behind us, looking just like any other chunk of rock in the hill.
I took us slowly up the park rangers’ access road.
“You didn’t have to nominate me,” I said. “I don’t need to lead the team.”
She turned away from the windshield to look at me. “I think you could be good at it.”
“You’ve been doing it more than any of us. Well, except for Daniel. His dad took him along a lot.”
I stopped the car where the rangers’ road met the street and watched for cars — well, for headlights. The cars themselves weren’t visible until they got close.
“It didn’t bother you, did it?”
“What?” I stopped looking at the road to look at her. “No. I just don’t really think of myself as a leader.”
“It’s funny how different you are from Travis. He goes directly for things like that. School council, captain of the football team, quarterback… All of it.”
“Is he good at it?”
“I don’t know. The football team won a lot when he was on it, but it can’t just be because of him.”