Rachel stepped inside and shut the door. “Did you happen to hear what Ray planned to do?”
Daniel shook his head. “I just got impressions. I didn’t get a chance to root around.”
We talked a little longer, but then Rachel said, “I should go. I said I’d meet Chloe in ten minutes. Call me if something happens.”
Daniel looked from Haley to me, and said, “I’ll go too. I was just coming over to warn you. Tomorrow though, we need to come up with a plan.”
Part of me felt like we should be making a plan now, but I didn’t want to. Sitting someplace quiet and putting it off sounded better.
Except, of course, that procrastinating on dealing with the minor issue of someone who wanted to kill me seemed stupid at best.
So when Daniel and Rachel left, and Haley and I found ourselves sitting together on my bed, we didn’t instantly start to make out.
We sat next to each other. I put my arm around her, and she leaned into me.
We didn’t say anything.
I wondered what I was going to do, what the team was going to do, about all this. Did I have the right to put everyone in danger to protect me? Not to mention opening up the possibility that my family might be killed one by one.
Well, assuming Ray and his team had any idea who my family were, and I desperately hoped they didn’t.
Unfortunately, for Ray’s purposes, the team worked just as well.
Was it coincidental that Prime’s replacement had directed his people to go after Haley during the fight?
I doubted it.
I wondered that they would have done if they’ d caught her. Used her as hostage, or killed her immediately?
Judging from “the Executioner’s” record, I couldn’t make assumptions.
“Nick,” Haley said, “your heart’s beating faster. What are you thinking about?”
“Everything. Ray’s going after me, and because he’s going after me, he’s going after everybody.”
“I think you’re just an excuse. He’s really going after everyone, but he found someone who will pay to kill you.”
“Could be, but that’s not much better.”
“I know, ” Haley said. “Maybe we could all disappear? If he knew we left town, maybe he’d go.”
“But then if we came back, he’d come back.”
“I know, but if we waited long enough, maybe Daniel’s dad and the Midwest Defenders and Isaac would be done fighting the aliens, and we’d get some help.”
“That might work. I worry that if they know who we are, Ray’s people might do something that we’d have to respond to — like killing our parents or friends or… I don’t know, something really bad.”
She turned her face and looked ahead, quiet for a moment.
“Maybe you should disappear for a little while.”
“To keep you safe. Didn’t you say your armor is in bad shape? How long will it be before it’s fixed?”
“I don’t know. More than a week, I bet. After those guys waled on the breastplate, I’ll be looking for broken connections for a while. I’ve been looking into a plan b.”
“I hope it’s not the stealth suit. Travis’ costume used the same material, and, well, you know.”
I knew. The suit’s material hardened to match the force hitting it, but it had its limits. I’d seen his costume on the way to the doctor. It had ripped.
“No, it’ll be better than that. I’m thinking Larry’s probably got a spare, and if not, well, I think that between Chris and Larry and I, we can put together something that could work.”
“I thought you had spares?”
“Not really. They’re all half broken or scavenged for parts, or too old to trust. I need to make spares.”
“Don’t skimp on the armor,” she said.
We stayed in my room, talking, and sometimes holding each other until midnight when she went home.
* * *
On Sunday, we didn’t have a team meeting. After a short (nine way) conversation on our League phones, we decided to post more roachbots around the city and hope they caught a familiar face.
They didn’t need me to do that, and so I arranged to meet Chris at the underground factory.
Larry’s spare armor had turned out to be too big (in height and width) for me to fit.
Chris and I sat at a desk in an office on the edge of the huge room. It felt unnervingly up to date. Chris had a CAD program running on what looked like a recent computer with a big, flat screen monitor.
Chris clicked a couple times, and a list with pictures of several different chassis appeared along the left side of the screen. “What do you think? We’ve got stuff from man-sized to mecha.”
“I can’t believe he systematized it like this. All my grandpa’s stuff was more… personal. After he was done with a design, he wanted to do new stuff.”
“I know,” Chris said. “It looks like Grandpa Cannon standardized a bunch of designs, and then he customized after that. From his notes, it looks like he could get a basic version up and running in a day.”
“That’s cool. Do any of them fly?”
“No. I think it scared him.”
I’d wanted to create something that could pass for a Rocket suit, but it didn’t sound likely. Inserting sonics would probably be too much trouble for the time we had. I needed something that would keep Prime’s people away from me.
“OK,” I said, “I don’t know for sure, but I’ll definitely need some really big guns.”