“That would be bad,” Daniel said, straightening as much as he could in the cramped back seat. “But,” he continued, “you’d probably know if it were someone in your family were doing that kind of thing.”
Off to my right, Haley said, “I might not. You don’t really think he’d be there, do you?”
“I don’t know.” Daniel sounded thoughtful. “There’s got to be some reason he’s coming back every year and that’s as good a reason as any. What I think we ought to do is get together some night and I could try to find him.”
“By doing the ‘sense the greatest threat’ thing?” I said. “Which works if he really is the greatest threat, but what if he’s not?”
“I think I can try to sense what kind of threat he is.”
“Well, that would be cool,” I said. “Do we really want to go after this guy though? I mean considering his record of hunting people down?”
Cassie leaned forward and put her hand on the back of my seat. “I think he’s ideal. He’s high profile and if he has powers, they’re not important enough to show up in the database. All he’s got is weapons training and gadgets. If we take him down, we’ll have a helluva rep.”
I considered pointing out that lack of powers didn’t necessarily make you an easy mark, but didn’t.
“If we really are going to go after him, we’re going to have to make sure that our families and friends aren’t vulnerable. Thanks to the block, I know that our families aren’t, but I’m thinking about Kayla,” I began.
“You’re not going to go on about that again?”
“I feel like I should. The guy’s some kind of specialist in finding people’s secret identities and killing their friends. I’m not talking about just doing it to her. We should ask her or something and if she says yes… I don’t know, just make it so that she won’t talk about secret stuff except with us.”
“Daniel doesn’t even like doing that kind of thing. Do you?” From the corner of my eye, I saw her turn her face toward him.
“I’m okay with it if it’s voluntary. My dad never liked how the original League just imposed the block, but giving people a choice is different. Plus I wouldn’t be erasing anything. Just hiding it.”
“Okay. I don’t like it, but I’ll ask her.”
I felt the seat move as she let go and leaned back.
* * *
On Monday after school, I happened to be in League HQ when I heard the elevator hum.
I had been sitting in front of the counter in the lab, the monitor showing what most people would dismiss as a guitar hero controller. I knew better. Despite not being quite as obsessed by the idea as I had been when I came up with it, I still found it amusing enough to throw together a design.
The elevator door clanked open and I heard Daniel’s voice first, followed by Cassie and Kayla’s.
I got up and walked out of the lab, said hi to the group of them, and joined them as they crossed to the front of the main room.
“Will it take long?” Kayla didn’t seem especially nervous as she asked the question, but I can’t always tell that sort of thing.
“No,” Daniel said. “It’s not a complicated block. You’re not all that likely to share information you shouldn’t anyway, so all I have to do is strengthen that a little. Giving you a limited shield to telepathic scanning will be a little harder, but not that hard. I don’t know if you’ll even notice how long it takes.”
“Good,” she said as we walked up to the room’s main table. She pulled out a chair and sat down. Daniel pulled out the chair next to her and sat down facing her.
“Just close your eyes and breathe slowly,” he said.
“OK,” she said and took a breath. Daniel closed his own eyes and she slumped in her chair.
Cassie and I waited, not saying anything at first, but after a couple minutes I asked her, “How did she take it?”
“Without argument. I told her what Daniel was going to do and that we’d all had it done. I think she might even have been relieved. She’d been a little nervous about giving us away.”
“I still don’t like it.” Cassie folded her hands across her chest. “I just don’t see any other way.”
“Me neither,” I said. “One thing though… Daniel changed my block and he probably ought to do something similar to all of us. If he hadn’t, the mayor would have gotten into my head just like he did everyone else.”
“I’ll think about it. Just don’t bring it up for a while.”
“Don’t bring what up?” Kayla asked.
“And we’re done,” Daniel began to stand up and push back his chair.
Cassie grimaced. “I’ll tell you later.”
Cassie and Kayla left a couple minutes after that.
When the elevator door shut behind them, I asked Daniel, “Do you think we did the right thing?”
“More right than the original League. According to my dad, they didn’t even ask. They just went and did it.”
Replying to an unvoiced thought of mine he continued, “Yeah, I know I didn’t ask for your opinion either, but that was protection. With our parents, it’s a mental construct that distracts them whenever a family member appears to be doing hero stuff. That’s pretty serious.
“I’d say we’re doing great,” he said.
“You’re probably right,” I said, “but whenever I change anything on the suit, it seems like there are unexpected consequences. The brain’s got to be at least as complicated.”
“My dad and grandpa both showed me how blocks work,” Daniel said. “I can do one in my sleep. It should be fine.”