A little more loudly than necessary, Jack said, “Jethro Tull is a group, not a person.”
Haley scowled. “Sorry. Just curious.”
Then she shut off the comm, and looked back at Flick. “I’m not going be able to talk to him much longer.”
“Sorry, hon, but you might like him better once he changes.”
To judge from Haley’s expression, she doubted that. “Once he changes into what?”
It wasn’t as easy to read Flick’s expression in the dim light, but her tone of voice made me suspect she was smiling. “A spirit of the forest. I’m not a wizard, so I can’t tell you exactly what kind, but he’s generally in a much better mood.”
Haley opened her mouth to speak, but didn’t get the chance. The Red Hawk’s voice came over the comm.
“League jet, you’re free to go.” She almost didn’t sound like she believed it.
I clicked on my microphone. “What about the Defenders?”
“They’re free to go too.” She paused. “I’m sorry for the delay. We’d received a report that someone had taken your jet and they were going to fly it to Ottawa and—”
Something started beeping, and I stopped listening, concentrating instead on the screens on the jet’s dashboard. The one with our position showed small objects descending from above—missiles, and a lot of them.
“Watch out! Missiles—” I began, but it became completely black outside. The shields were up, and I had no idea if anything I’d said made it through them.
When the shields were at 100%, nothing made it through. We could only tell that anything was happening by watching the shields’ energy absorption statistics. We couldn’t hear the explosions, or feel any hint of them.
We’d been hit several times with the accompanying energy spikes, but nowhere near dangerous levels.
The question was what had happened to everyone else. We might as well have been sitting at home–though I was still worried about Alex, Jenny, Brooke, and everyone with them.
After a few seconds, the shields stopped absorbing anything.
“You can probably take down the shields now,” I said, addressing the ship.
[With your permission, I’d like to thin the shields enough to scan the area first.]
“That would be even better.”
The radar (for lack of a better term, it was more than that) showed that the RCMP and the Defenders’ podjet were both still in the air.
There was no sign of missiles.
Our shields thinned and disappeared.
A transparent, bluish-white half-sphere floated above the RCMP vehicle, centered above one of the figures hovering near it.
Not so far from us, the Defenders podjet accelerated, and made a quick circle around the lake, engines glowing red. It didn’t have any shields visibly up, but with Alex piloting, they probably came down the moment the missiles stopped.
“We’re out of here, bro,” he said over the comm. “Well, unless you’re planning to hit the Nine again tonight. I’m up for that.”
An adult male voice in the background said, “What? Alex, no—”
“I’m kidding,” Alex said, obviously speaking away from the microphone. “He doesn’t have other plans.” To me he said, “You don’t, right?” Lowering his voice, he said, “Because if you did, I’d see what I could do.”
Haley clicked her comm on. “We’re done.”
“What did I tell you guys? We’re gone.” The podjet shot away, and disappeared, the engines’ glow fading into the night sky.
On the ground, below the RCMP ship, something glowed red. Small flames licked the remains of a missile that had either missed or hit the shield, and rolled off.
It wasn’t the only one either. Fortunately, the fires seemed to be dying.
Red Hawk’s voice came over the comm. “League jet, are you okay?”
“We’re fine.” Haley sounded genuinely relieved. “We weren’t hurt at all.”
“That’s good. You took… a lot of hits.”
I spoke into my comm. “I’m thinking we should move in case they’re planning to send a second round.” It wasn’t impossible. The ship’s computer had calculated that the missiles had been fired off ten miles north of Rook’s base.
Red Hawk said, “Good idea.”
I was about to close the connection when Flick spoke up. “Hey Red, this is Flick of the Midwest Defenders. I’ll send you a full report tomorrow—late tomorrow.”
Red Hawk laughed, her high voice making me wonder how old she was. I clearly didn’t know enough about Canadian capes.
“Don’t worry about it. I won’t be up early either.”
Flick laughed too. “Good. Call me when you do get up. I’ve got some ideas for how our people might coordinate a little better.”
After a little more of that, we left, heading south, and hoping we didn’t run into any other problems.
For a little while, it was just quiet conversation while the engines hummed. I watched the radar, and kept my hands near the weapons’ controls while Haley flew.
Then Jaclyn asked Flick, “What were they told about our jet?”
Flick said, “You noticed that? Nice catch. They were told that either you’d been dominated or that someone else took the League jet, and that they were going use the weapons on their government in Ottawa. Once I get the Mystic’s dad to clear Red Hawk, I’m hoping she’ll help me trace that story back up the chain. Then the real fun begins.”