Jaclyn followed Izzy in through the door. Izzy said, “Hi” as she moved out of Jaclyn’s way, and met people’s eyes as she did it–including Daniel’s. I didn’t hear any anger in her voice either. She did talk quietly, but she always did that when we were together as a group. My theory was that she still didn’t quite feel comfortable with everyone.
All the same, the fact that she was here at all hinted that whatever they’d talked about last wasn’t irreparable.
She’s not just nervous about being with the group, Daniel thought at me. It’s more complicated than that.
He glanced over at her. What’s going on with us is complicated too, but I don’t want to go into that right now.
Jaclyn lifted up her print out of the plan, a small sheaf of paper. “We’re here to talk about this, right? What did you think of it?”
She caught my eye, “What do you think of it?”
“I haven’t gotten though all of it,” I said, “but it doesn’t seem bad for what it is. From what I’ve seen, it looks like they just assume that by the time they get here, it’s too late to take them down from a distance. That’s what I’d want to do–take them out far from here so that they blow up over the water. They’re going to be blowing up over factories and maybe even houses over here. Plus, I’m not so sure that there’d even be much of a reason for a battle. If they really don’t care about killing everyone–civilians or whatever–there’s no reason that they shouldn’t just skip fighting altogether. All they need to do is drop a dinosaur killer on us.”
Cassie folded her arms across her chest. “A what?”
“You know. A big asteroid like the one–”
Cassie waved her hand as if to stop me. “Got it. Got it–like the one that killed the dinosaurs. God, that sucks. You don’t think they’d give us a fighting chance?”
I shrugged. “I don’t know what they want the planet for, but it seems like humans are optional.”
She grimaced. “I get it. It’s just frustrating that they’d do something that doesn’t even give us the chance to stop them. By the time something like that hits, it’ll be too late.”
“It wouldn’t be the first time,” Daniel sat down on his bed. “There have been a few asteroid attacks. The public never found out about them though. Guardian opened up a hole to somewhere else and dropped the asteroid into it at least a couple times. I think they got rid of the other one another way. I don’t remember exactly how.”
Vaughn nudged me. “Does your roommate know about that? Conspiracy dude?”
I shook my head. “He hasn’t said anything about it.”
“Getting back on topic,” Jaclyn got that in before anyone else could reply. “Did anyone else get to the part where they blow up the entire shipyard?”
“No,” I said, and a few other people chimed in.
Nodding, Jaclyn said. “Well, you know they’re not supposed to have any of this stuff. We’re only supposed to have ships based on our own technology. I’m guessing that if they’re too close to losing, they blow the whole place to bits.”
“What about the people defending it?” I asked.
Jaclyn gave another wave with the handful of plans. “I want to believe there’s an evacuation alarm, but what really bugs me is how big a bomb they’d need to hide all the evidence.”
I thought about that. “Yeah. They might be able to get away with some smaller bombs if they just want to bring the place down, but if they want to make the evidence unrecognizable, that would be another thing.”
Izzy’s voice carried across the room, quiet, but clearly audible. “Do you think they’d risk killing people who live and work here just to hide this shipyard?”
“Sure,” Cassie said, “if it’s a choice between hiding the evidence here and risking the Xiniti destroying all life on the planet.”
Izzy shook her head, “That’s sick.”
Daniel nodded. “My dad and I have talked about it. It’s great that the Xiniti like the League, and will do their best to avoid hurting Earth, but this whole thing where they’re the gatekeeper between us and the stars is corrupting by it’s nature. We’ve got a perfect illustration here. We’re not supposed to have alien technology, but we have it anyway because we know our own technology isn’t good enough to defend us. The Xiniti look the other way because they know that other powers have the ability to prevent them from protecting us. We then go get alien tech that could cause the Reclamation Alliance to order our destruction. Why? Because so many members of the Alliance want us to be destroyed by outside forces. Meanwhile, we’re willing to risk killing some of our people to keep most of the planet alive.”
“No denying that’s fucked up,” Vaughn said, “but what are we supposed to do about it?”
Izzy stared ahead, took a breath, and said, “We can’t do much of anything. If we tell everyone how close we are to being destroyed every single day, we’ll have worldwide panic.”
Daniel looked over to Izzy. “Exactly. My dad thinks everyone would get used to it, but he’s not wild about what might happen before then.”
“Hey everybody,” Jaclyn pointed to her wrist, tapping an imaginary watch. “Let’s talk through the whole plan once. Then we can all go to bed.”
A few hours later, we’d managed to do just that. I even felt like I had the major paths in my head.
When we broke for the night, I decided to walk around the dorm. My original plan was to get a hold of Cassie. I’d finished a version of her armor, and I’d brought it along, but then I looked at the time. It was after eleven. She wouldn’t have a problem with staying up to look at it, but I wouldn’t want to stay up for hours to teach her how to use it.
Instead I grabbed a book and walked down to the lobby. I couldn’t quite describe it as nice. It had obviously been a rush job. They’d thrown some furniture and carpet over the worn boards, and cleared out a space where people could sit outside their rooms.
Potted plants gave the room some color.
Only a few people were in the lobby with me–less than ten. With no TV, it didn’t offer much that a room didn’t. A few people used their cellphones, read books, or simply sat in a chair thinking–or possibly sleeping.
I opened my book and read, disappearing into another world. I don’t know how long I read. I wasn’t conscious of it until I heard the door open–the outside door. Feeling the cold air, I looked up from the book, to see a couple of my least favorite people. Sean Drucker, still as tall as ever with curly blonde hair, walked through the door, holding it open for his friends, Jody and Dayton.
I say a couple of my least favorite people because Dayton wasn’t so bad.
As the light hit him, I realized that Sean wore a green and grey jacket with a small fist on the chest. I realized then that he was wearing a jacket based on his costume, colors and all. Sean didn’t have a civilian identity to protect, but it still seemed a bit over the top.
I decided to ignore them, and pretended I was still reading.
They stopped just past the door, and stood. Jody, the smaller and definitely meaner of Sean’s friends asked, “We’ve been out there now. I don’t know about you, but I’d say let’s go to bed.”
“Works for me,” Dayton said. Not quite as tall as Sean, he was definitely more muscular. He wore a black jacket with a fist on it, and Jody wore a red one.
They were all wearing light costumes? It seemed like the worst of both worlds–being identified as a cape, but not having the usual amount of protection.
Sean looked at the both of them. “I bet we’re the only ones here who tried any of the manuevers in the defense plan. Too bad none of us are in the good positions. I don’t think they’ve got any idea of what I’m capable of. Any time there’s a spaceship involved, I should be on the front lines.”