Bits of light sparkled around the end of the barrel. I waited to see if it did it again. It didn’t.
Good. Then I didn’t have to put it back in the locker.
I put on a little speed, and joined everyone else by the jet. Haley had touched the door, and it opened, lowering to the ground, and altering to become a short stairway.
Sean looked down at the gun and said, “What’s that? You looked like you were talking to it.”
Not even waiting for me to answer, he reached out to take it.
“Fuck!” He stumbled backward. “It’s a gun! Did you do that?”
“Why would I try to shoot—”
I didn’t get to finish. Izzy moved between the two of us.
“What happened?” She turned toward me, but kept a hand up in Sean’s direction.
“He shot—” Sean began, but I talked over him.
“It’s an Abominator weapon. It’s sentient and communicates with Cassie somehow. In fact, I don’t even think it was trying to hurt him. If it were, I’m pretty sure he’d be dead.”
“It communicates with Cassie?” Izzy lowered her eyes to look at the gun. “How?”
“I don’t know. It just does. I’m bringing it along as a backup in case they block telepathy.”
“Which is likely,” Daniel said. “Everybody else seems to.”
“Are you going to buy that?” Sean asked. “Are you really going to buy that he didn’t mean to shoot me?”
“He’s not lying.” Haley practically spat it out. She’d turned around, and stood on the first step of the jet’s stairs.
Izzy turned toward Sean. “Haley’s right. He’s not, and we don’t have time to waste arguing about it. Let’s go.” She sounded calm, but not like she expected to be argued with.
Sean looked for a second like he wanted to argue, but he didn’t. I could think of reasons he might not. He might have been remembering how easily she’d beat him when they’d fought last summer, or that everybody (with the possible exception of Sydney) would be on the other side.
“OK,” he said. “I’ll go.”
We walked up the steps, and took seats inside the jet. I put the gun in its holster, and tried to think about what to do with it. Cassie’s belt wouldn’t fit around the Rocket suit’s waist, and I wasn’t sure I could fit the holster on the Rocket suit’s utility belt.
Whatever. I put it on the floor next to my seat, and clipped the belt to my chair. The jet had lots of little clips all over in case we needed to turn off the anti-gravity.
Haley sat in the seat next to mine.
She frowned. “Guardian still didn’t send anybody.”
“He seemed like he was in the middle of something.”
I started running through the jet’s check list for take off. Midway through, I remembered that I was supposed to send Guardian Cassie’s coordinates.
I stopped the check list, connected the jet to HQ’s communications, and backed up till I found a record of her call.
Haley watched me. She’d trained on the jet during the summer and knew the check list. As I connected to HQ, she said, “What’s wrong—” but then she stopped.
When I accessed the record with Cassie’s coordinates, she laughed.
“I know,” I said. “Don’t say anything. I’m doing it.”
I sent Guardian Cassie’s coordinates at the number he’d used to call me.
Then I went back to the flight check list, and finished it. Haley took part of it. That helped.
I decided to make another call. It would be worth it if our next fight turned out as badly as our last one.
I punched the number into the jet’s communicator, pressed send, and Alex answered immediately. It surprised me. He’d hated the Defenders phone in the past. I’d half expected to need to call Brooke, his girlfriend, next.
His face came on the screen, and it was obvious he sat in one of the Defenders’ podjets. He was in costume too—a white long coat over gray armor.
Jenny sat in the row behind him in her red Flame Legion costume. Brooke, covered in shining silver, sat next to her.
“Hey,” Alex said. “Did you send the coordinates yet?”
“What?” I’d never imagined Guardian would bring him into this.
“You need help. The adults are mostly busy. The ones that aren’t busy are bringing us along.”
I was about to ask which adults were coming, but I didn’t get to before something beeped in their cockpit.
Alex looked down. “Got them. Guardian just sent them. Wonder what’s up with the wait? Anyway, got anything special you need to tell us?”
“Not yet,” I said. “I’ll see you there.”
I sat back as the screen went dark, and wondered what else Guardian had set in motion. He couldn’t be planning to send them in with us. Brooke was his daughter after all.
With her teleportation, Alex’s healing, and Jenny’s ability to create duplicates, they’d do a great job pulling hurt people out of a fight though.
Or, alternately, as a corpse retrieval squad.
“OK, everybody, we’re heading out.” I pressed the button that opened up the tunnel to the lake. The first part had been pumped dry, but began to flood once we floated inside, and the airlock behind us closed.
As the water covered the top of the jet, I heard a popping noise.
My first instinct was to check the instruments for warnings, but then I realized that it had come from behind me. I turned around to see Flick. She wore the same yellow costume and unusually large gauntlets as she had when I’d last seen her—the night Sean and I fought during our first Stapledon weekend.
With a glance, she took in exactly who was in the jet. “Well,” she drawled, turning the word into two syllables. “This ought to be interesting.”