“Really? How?” And also, I should have said, “What? What did you figure out?”
“I don’t think I should talk about it on the phone.” She sounded a little nervous.
“OK,” I said. That seemed a little paranoid, but honestly, given that Isaac said we were all being watched, it wouldn’t surprise me if the FBI were bugging our phones.
Not that she would know that, right?
“Can we meet now?”
I thought about it. “Sure. Where?”
“We could meet in the dorm’s lobby.”
“That could work, but I’m not in the dorm so it’ll be a few minutes.”
“Where are you?”
“The parking garage.”
She paused. “I didn’t know you had a car.”
“I don’t really. It’s an old delivery van. Cassie, Vaughn, and I bought it together and we’re sharing it.”
“Doesn’t Vaughn have a car?” She sounded amused.
“Yeah, but this was more for moving in, and hauling things to the dorm. Believe me, if you ever see it, you’re not going to be impressed.”
I looked behind me, checking the back of the van. We’d cleaned up. The van had gray metal cabinets that locked. I’d installed a few of my own security measures as well.
Aside from the curtain we used for privacy when changing into costume, it looked like a normal van.
We’d planned for this. The moment you admitted you had a car, you’d inevitably get asked for rides.
“Give me five minutes to get back to the dorm,” I said, and got out, setting the security by clicking a button I’d added to the dashboard during the summer, and shutting the door.
A few minutes later, I walked up the steps to the dorm. Courtney stepped out.
She wore an over-sized Grand Lake University sweatshirt and jeans. She didn’t need to. The lights above the dorm’s main doors showed me she still hadn’t reverted to her natural appearance.
She smiled at me. “I was thinking we could go over to Dykstra and sit on one of the benches.”
That worked. The Dykstra Administrative Building held GLU’s offices and the student union. The building would be closing at eleven anyway. Plus, if we sat on one of the benches outside, we’d be able to see anyone walking close enough to hear us.
After crossing the lawn and the service road between Dykstra and our dorm, we sat on one of the concrete benches on the plaza in front of the building. They’d held the student activities fair there during the first week of school.
It was a warm night. You never knew for sure what you’d get in September.
I turned toward her. “So…”
She looked both ways. No one came out of the revolving doors. “I’ve been keeping my ear out for people talking about power juice and PID’s—”
She gave a slightly embarrassed smile. “The devices that make powers permanent? They’ve been calling them PID’s on some boards I’m on. I mean, power impregnator device sounds stupid, but PID is okay.”
Just what the world needed—another name for the same machine.
“Anyway,” she said, “I went to this party over the weekend where people were talking about power juice, and I heard someone telling people he could make their powers permanent—legally.”
“Wow. Right there in front of everybody?”
She shook her head. “Not exactly. The party was… not something I’d have gone to normally. I told Melanie I wanted to try power juice again, and if she heard anything about it, she should let me know.”
I may have groaned then.
“Look, I know,” she said, “but she did hear about it, and she told me. I’m going to meet the guy this week, and find out how much it will cost, and then maybe go through with it on Saturday.”
Her voice trailed off near the end.
“That’s soon,” I said, and meanwhile my heart started beating faster. Could I test our machine before then? And was I willing to blow my secret identity to convince her not to use the other one?
“Well, it’s still the beginning of the semester, and the load can only get worse from here, so I thought if I am going to do this, I shouldn’t wait.”
“If it’s real,” I said. “It might be fake, or maybe they’re going to, I don’t know, kidnap you or something.”
She took a breath. “That’s where the favor comes in. I was hoping you might be willing to come with me in case something goes wrong. I remember last year you fought Sean, Dayton, and Jody all at once, and you’ve been taking karate lessons for years. I’d feel more secure if you did.”
I thought about it.