Finding Ray didn’t sound like a good idea, but it sounded better than finding him after he’d killed everyone we knew.
Isaac Lim wasn’t available when I called about protection for our parents. I left a voicemail.
“So,” I said after hanging up. “How do we find Ray?”
“Don’t know,” Lee said. “I’m not a detective. Your grandparents handled that. My job was to come in at the last moment and save the day, or maybe just stab a few people. You know, the fun part. Investigating’s boring. You find out who checked into hotels and rentals. You call everyone you can think of and see if they’ve seen people matching Ray and his pals’ description.
“All your grandparents had their own way of doing it. Romy would float in invisibly and go through their stuff. Joe, he’d use those walking bugs of his. Cohen, he’d run through people’s minds, or go on a precognitive hunch. Chuck would sneak around, and talk to his contacts on the street. It worked out.”
Jaclyn said, “What about my grandfather?”
“Or my dad?” Cassie said.
“Nothing too strange,” Lee said. “Reg could run fast enough that most people couldn’t see him, so he could cover a lot of ground, or put down a lot of bugs. As for John, he liked the direct approach — dangle people out of windows, beat people, tie people to chairs… I remember one time he cut off his own finger, let it grow back, and said, ‘Now let’s try yours’.”
“Whoa,” Vaughn said, “what happened?”
“Don’t know. Long time ago, but he stopped after getting bad information. People will say anything they think you want to hear if you’re dangling them out a window. After a while, he learned how military interrogators do it, and started using the Rocket’s bugs when he didn’t have anyone to interrogate. It worked a lot better.
“If you want some advice though, here’s one thing I can tell you. Don’t let Ray see you. Don’t let him see you as yourself. Don’t let him see you in costume. And if you’re going to go looking for him, use the buddy system. That’s all I’ve got.”
He checked his watch. “Well, I should leave. Let me know what you come up with.”
Rachel looked over at Lee. “Do you think I’d be okay alone?”
Lee paused, and said, “Against almost anybody else, yes. Against him? Well, I don’t know if there’s a way to catch someone who phases through walls, but I’d guess that if there’s a device for it, he’s got one by now. I’m sure he’s got a plan to handle each of you, and all of you. That’s why we’re going to come up with something he didn’t plan for.”
After that, he walked into the hangar, and drove away. Larry left a few minutes later, leaving the League plus Chris to discuss the next step.
We finished eating, talking about options. If Ray’s people didn’t want to be bothered, they’d want to use someplace without people. In Grand Lake that meant an old farm, an old factory, or in the early summer, a cottage by a lake. Lake Michigan was still too cold for swimming, and the smaller, inland lakes didn’t get busy until school let out.
As we discussed where we might look, Chris said, “What did Lee mean by precognitive hunch?”
Daniel stopped eating and put his plate in front of him on the floor.. “It goes like this. I can kind of sense where I ought to be going and go there. If I wanted to sense the biggest threat to us, and just follow my intuition until I got there, I probably could. The problem is, it might not be Ray. We might not know enough to recognize it for what it was when we got there, and even if it was Ray, we might not be prepared to face him. So we’re better off doing our homework first, and using my hunches as a backup plan.”
“You can tell the future?”
Daniel shook his head. “No, just zero in on threats without really understanding what they are.”
“It sounds dangerous.”
“That’s what my dad says. I’m hoping to get more control over it.”
“Cool,” Chris said. “Well, I better go. My parents are going to start wondering where I am. I’ll see everyone uh… later.”
He left for the hangar. Each step of the mech clanked on the way out.
When the outside doors shut behind him, Travis said, “Dammit Nick, why didn’t you tell us he was coming?”
“Things got busy. It slipped my mind. Anyway, Daniel cleared him. He’s safe.”
“Bringing in anybody when we’re half out of costume is too big a deal to forget about. Especially someone who’s grandfather was your grandfather’s nemesis, and who recognizes some of our real identities.”
“Man-machine already knows who we are,” I said. “And he actually helped the League when they were fighting Red Lightning, remember?”
“That’s not the point,” Travis said.
“Nick,” Jaclyn said. “He’s right. You can’t just bring someone in like that. That’s a team decision. At the very least, I’m sure a lot of us would have chosen to be in costume while he was here… ”
She pursed her lips, and then said, “I hope he doesn’t think he’s joined.”
“No,” I said. “He doesn’t even want to. He was just helping us out. Besides, he’s not going to talk or anything. We talked it through and he’s got a block like Kayla’s. He agreed to it.”
Travis, Jaclyn, Cassie, and Vaughn all started to say something, but then Daniel raised his hand.
“I know this wasn’t the best way to handle it, but Nick won’t do it that way again, and he did cover all the bases. ”
From their faces, I could tell it wasn’t really okay, but it was close enough. Mentally, I thanked Daniel for covering for me. We’d arranged the block and all, but he’d known I wasn’t going to tell anybody until afterward.
No problem, he thought back at me, but you know they’re right, don’t you?
I know, I thought, but I’m not going to do it again. I can’t imagine anything like this coming up.
* * *
I slept in the next day, and then went to HQ to see if I could find any clue as to why the sonics in the right arm still didn’t work.
While running through my official email, I found one from Lucas AKA Red Legacy.
He wanted to meet.