Jaclyn paused, and then said, “What happens next?”
Flick said, “Well, then we have to decide whether we take them in as soon as we can, or whether we watch them, and hope they’ll lead us to other people the Nine hired.”
The tone of her voice turned sarcastic as she said, “But that’s not the best part. The best part is the committee monitoring how we do it, and second guessing whether watching him without taking him in is really worth it. Plus with this we’ll get to discuss at any moment whether what we do will cause an international incident.
“Look forward to it kids, this is what you’re training for.”
Daniel turned around in his seat, and said, “But it’s not all bad. My dad said it’s better than the alternative.”
“It is. The government could run the whole committee instead of just having a seat. We’re taking their money, so they get to decide what we do with it.”
In a loud voice, Sean broke in. “Why are the Defenders even working with the government anyway? Half the politicians are corrupt, and bureaucrats aren’t much better. Plus, you’ve got wealthy donors. You don’t have to put up with it.”
I’d turned around to watch halfway through his speech.
Flick shook her head. “It’s not that simple. Working with the government gets us official support, and we stay in the loop about things we’d never learn about normally. Believe me—and I’m not going to tell you why—we need to know.”
Sean opened his mouth, stopped, and then said, “So I can’t even ask you why? What am I supposed to do?”
Flick looked directly at him, her face unusually serious. “You’re supposed to keep quiet about it.”
* * *
It didn’t take long to drop everybody off—Jaclyn and Rachel in Ann Arbor, and Flick in Chicago.
Sean and Sydney left when we got home. It was four in the morning.
I didn’t even want to think about that. I still had other things on my mind—lots of them. Blowing Rook’s arm into nothing was right up there, but memories from the whole night kept flashing into my head. Had we really escaped a nuclear bomb? I hadn’t checked radiation readings, but nuclear or not, whatever exploded the base had been big.
Plus, what about all the people in the base? I’d seen Rook’s birds kill his scientists, but the speedster still worried me. Assuming the goo held, I might have killed the woman in the eagle themed armor too.
All those movies where the villain’s base exploded utterly failed to take the body count seriously. Whoever they’d become, the people inside were people. Someone had to care about what happened to them.
Anyway, that’s what I was thinking about while I took a shower after getting out of my armor.
The water still felt good, but I was more than a little aware that if the ship hadn’t detected the missiles and turned on the shields, I wouldn’t be alive to feel it.
There had been a lot of opportunities to die too. Rook wouldn’t have left me alive if he’d won. We’d have died if we’d stayed in the base too long, or even been too close when it exploded.
We’d been careful, but we’d been lucky too. I couldn’t help, but wonder how long that could last.
We’d succeeded, and that said something, but Courtney, Travis, Marcus, and Vaughn had all gotten hurt earlier that night. No wait, I realized–yesterday.
I was going to sleep in every class I had.
Plus, Courtney knew I was the Rocket, and she was either going to keep on using power juice till she got caught, or found a way to make it permanent.
OK, I knew it might just be because I was tired, but I was getting worked up even though I knew better. Now was the time to go to bed.
Well, except that Daniel was here, and I felt like we ought to talk to Courtney now if we could. When would we have another chance?
I felt Daniel touch my mind. He’d heard me thinking. Not that I could be surprised by that. We were the only ones showering, and he was close enough that he’d have to even though we were in different stalls.
Nick, don’t worry about it. Courtney’s one of the reasons I’m staying.
I tried to remember if I’d told him. I didn’t think I had.
I caught it from both you and Haley. I wasn’t trying to.
I knew he wasn’t trying to. I decided to ignore it. It would just be easier.
So what do you think we ought to do? The standard League block?
I felt Daniel’s agreement.
We’ll present it to her like we did Kayla. It’s for her protection. It’ll prevent her from thinking about our identities or talking about them except when it’s safe. That’s all.
Seems reasonable, I thought, but what do we do if she doesn’t agree?