“Ask him if he can use the underwater entrance,” I told Cassie.
I was pretty sure the Defenders’ jets could.
Cassie passed it along.
“Right,” Alex said, “I remember that from when I was a kid.”
Ten minutes later we were all in the hangar. The doors to the air lock opened and a Defenders podjet rolled in. Egg-shaped, except for the wings and wheels, it wasn’t much longer than a van.
I seemed to remember that it could operate in space, but couldn’t reach orbit on its own.
Anyway, when it came to a stop, a door opened above the wing, and Alex, Jenny and Brooke stepped out, jumping off the wing to the floor.
All three of them were in costume–Alex as some kind of cowboy/knight, Jenny in red, and Brooke in that silvery, alien suit.
Except there weren’t three of them. Carlos stepped out on the wing, touched his hand to the door, and the door slid into place and locked up.
Carlos wore a blue Los Angeles Galaxy t-shirt, and shorts.
It made total sense that he wasn’t in costume. He was eleven or something, and shouldn’t have been there in the first place.
Still standing on the wing, he took in the room–the tools on the wall, the League jet, Night Wolf’s car, Captain Commando’s motorcycle, the League moon rover, and half a dozen other pieces of equipment in various stages of repair. His jaw dropped a little.
“This is so cool.”
That was exactly what I needed to help keep myself calm before turning myself over to Ray–the knowledge that Technomage’s son, a kid who naturally communicated with machines, would have total access to everything in HQ.
Alex grinned up at the kid, “You bet.”
Then Alex turned his attention to the rest of us. “Rocket, great to see you again. You want to introduce everybody?”
I’d forgotten what it felt like to be around him. I felt good, amazingly peaceful even though I knew it wasn’t natural.
“I wish I had time,” I said. “Things are moving really fast. Ray’s people are about to start killing off hostages if I don’t show up soon. The Mystic can give you details.”
Carlos bounced once on the wing as if it were a trampoline, and jumped off.
In a lower voice I said, “Why’d you bring Carlos?”
Brooke laughed. Jenny groaned.
Alex stepped closer to me and said, “He’s the only reason we’re here. They’ve been keeping us busy, and out of trouble, but I happened to volunteer to take him to the San Diego Zoo, and here we are.”
“The way I remember it, his parents didn’t trust you at all.”
Alex nodded. “His mom trusted me just long enough.”
I didn’t have time to deal with this.
“Well okay, I’d better head out.”
The readout in my helmet said I still had forty minutes, more than enough time to get downtown from here. Haley could drop me off in Night Wolf’s car.
I’d decided to leave for the locker room, and grab my clothes when the sound of a horn filled the hangar.
I hadn’t even taken a step.
That was the alert for the forest entrance. All of the regulars–Travis, Haley, Jaclyn, Daniel, Cassie, Rachel (she’d appeared while we waited for the jet), and I ran for the computer on one of the counters in the hangar.
The remains of Justice Fist, and “Three” plus Carlos crowded in behind us.
Jaclyn got there first.
She logged in, and the screen showed a white delivery truck from a couple different angles. Unlike most delivery trucks, it didn’t have a sign on the side.
Chris sat in the driver’s seat, and Kayla sat on the other side of the cab.
“I’m letting him in,” Jaclyn said.
A little while later, the doors on the other side of the hangar opened, and the truck rolled in. Chris parked it in front of the League jet.
They’d have to move it if Larry brought the Rhinomobile.
Chris and Kayla were both in the grey coveralls that went with Man-machine’s armor.
Neither of them wore masks.
Sean stared at them. “What the fuck are you doing here?”
Daniel spoke directly into my head. Sorry, I can’t cover that one up without practically lobotomizing people.
I sent back, Haley and Rachel and I should go. Could you pass that along? I’d like to leave before Sean recognizes me.
I felt rather than heard his sigh.
Leave. It’ll probably be easier that way.