I shut the van’s back doors behind me, ran around the van, onto the sidewalk and up the stairs.
This was not good for the stairs. The worn, lightly stained wood cracked on my first step. I didn’t go all the way through, but only because I noticed.
I couldn’t say it surprised me. Four hundred pounds in combination between the suit and myself, plus the ability to create tons of force meant that I lived in a world made of cardboard.
I took the next few steps a little slower, hearing Daniel’s voice in my head. Don’t worry about it. He’s waiting for us.
That didn’t make me feel much better, but at least I could go up the stairs without worrying that I’d step through them.
When I arrived on the third floor I stepped into the hall, noticing a sign on the frosted glass door across the hall on my right. Unsurprisingly, it said, “Chancy Connections, Shipping Consultants.”
To judge from the style of the door’s metal frame, I guessed that this place had last been renovated sometime in the 60’s or 70’s.
It was a small office. It held no furniture except for one large, wooden desk and several chairs, four of them lined up against the wall.
A small, balding man stood behind the desk. I couldn’t place his age, but he looked older than fifty. He wore a brown suit, and watched us warily, only moving his eyes as I entered.
I stopped directly behind Haley, and next to Daniel. Izzy stood on Daniel’s other side.
The man nodded at me, and said, “I trust that’s all of you.”
“If it’s not,” Daniel said, “we’ll be as surprised as you.”
Giving a thin, and very brief smile, the man said, “As I’m sure you know, I’m Chancy Harris, the man you talk to if you want your possessions to disappear without a trace. What I’m wondering is where you heard about me. Did the first League tell you about me, or did you find me on your own?”
I felt Daniel touch my mind then, and distantly felt Izzy and Haley’s.
Don’t tell him. He’s fishing.
Not planning to, I thought back.
Haley spoke before anyone else had the chance to reply. “Did you help the first League against the Abominators?”
My heart beat faster, and I felt Daniel’s alarm, and less closely Izzy’s. Whatever Haley felt was washed away by everyone else.
Except she thought Relax fairly loudly as Chancy said, “Once, and it was a bitch. I had to teleport them onto a battleship from here. Compensating for differences in speed and direction is always a pain. With that much of a difference, I was down for a day. I could get them up there, but I couldn’t get them down.”
“Where was the jet?” I asked.
Haley turned her head back toward me. “Damaged in another battle on the same day.”
“That was it,” Chancy said. “So what are you here for? Is this about St. Louis?”
That was an amazing connection to make.
“Kinda,” Haley said. “Is there a connection to St. Louis?”
Outwardly he seemed calm as he said, “There’s no connection. I do some work for aliens. Some come here because they can guarantee that no one will bother them here.”
Haley’s thought passed over through Daniel’s connection. His heart rate just increased. He’s worried. Even if he doesn’t think there’s a connection, he knows something.
I thought, How did you know he’d helped the League?
I felt a sense of amusement, and maybe a little pride. I didn’t, but my Grandpa mentioned a teleporter near Chicago who helped them. When Chancy mentioned the first League, I guessed it might be him.
In a tone that I can only describe as calm and sympathetic, she said, “I can hear your heart beat faster. What do you know?”
Chancy glanced down toward his desk, and I tensed—that could have meant anything.
“I can’t talk about it,” he said. “That’s part of what I sell—privacy. I make my clients’ possessions disappear. I arrange that anything they order gets to them without leaving a trail that puts them in danger.”
“I understand that,” Daniel said, “but do you think it’s right to put your client’s need for privacy above our need to find out what’s going on? We think that the aliens responsible for what happened in St. Louis landed within the last year, and we’ve tracked down one of the groups that landed, and it’s connected to you somehow. If you’re helping the beings that decided to destroy St. Louis, you’re putting everyone at risk. If you’re not, well, then you’ll help us cross a name off our list, okay?”
Chancy held his hand to his chin, and said, “No. I can’t do it. I said I wouldn’t, and I’m sure they’re not responsible.”
Izzy spoke for the first time, her voice full of restrained emotion. “This is bigger than your reputation. They didn’t report it in the news, but the St. Louis explosion included weapons with ability to destroy life, but leave our possessions behind. It was a test run for human extinction. Genocide. Can you let that happen because you assume your clients aren’t guilty?”
That got him. He looked at each of our faces in turn, searching for confirmation, maybe?
“It’s true,” Daniel said. “They kept it out of the news so people wouldn’t freak out.”
Chancy picked his phone up, and made a call, muttering into the phone. After a moment, he said, “They’ll see you.”