Lim walked a couple steps more up the ramp, and joined me. “Keep on moving. I’ve got to get in there to thank everybody in person, and to assure them that their friends are getting the best medical care available—which is true by the way.”
I turned around, and started following Daniel for a few steps before turning back toward Lim to ask, “About those rights and responsibilities—“
Lim interrupted me. “We’re looking into it, but in the end you may have to flat out ask them. Of course, you may have a few more resources than most of us. Use them and you’ll have a head start.”
Nodding, I turned my attention to the ramp, wondering exactly what Agent Lim knew about my resources. I knew he knew about Lee, but did he know Lee had agreed to do the Xiniti a favor? Plus, the jet contained an alien AI. I didn’t see any reason Lim could know about that, but I couldn’t rule it out.
Walking into the well lit cargo bay, I found people securing the luggage with straps. We passed through that section, and into the main area inside the cargo plane. Much like other planes we’d taken as part of the Stapledon program, it looked as though they’d added in the seats only recently, and only temporarily.
Metal beams, cables, and insulation were visible on the ceiling above us even though plastic panels covered the walls to the sides.
I took a seat next to Daniel and Izzy, wondering if I should. It wasn’t as if flying in an airplane with nearly one hundred other people could be considered a date, but they’d only just gotten together in the sense of actually trying to make a go of it, and they might want to be sitting next to someone they could ignore.
Don’t worry about it, Daniel thought at me.
Pretty soon, it was obvious why. Jaclyn, Cassie, and Vaughn were near us. Travis and Rachel weren’t far away either, even if they weren’t next to each other.
Sean sat across the aisle, and back a row, next to Dayton and Jody. I didn’t hear much from them. I could guess why, and suspected it had a lot to do with how Sean had leaned over Dayton as I’d passed his row, and said, “Hey, Sydney called, and Preserver healed her. Thanks.”
He didn’t make a big deal about it—no tears, and he didn’t sound especially emotional, but I knew he meant it.
“Good,” I said. “I’m glad it worked out.”
I don’t know if that was the right response, but he seemed to be okay with it. At least he wasn’t angry which meant it went significantly better than any conversation I’d had with him in the last year.
Isaac Lim walked up the aisle by himself, and disappeared into the cockpit. Soon after the cockpit door closed behind him, his voice came over the speaker. Once he’d thanked us for serving he said, “Not all of us are going back on this flight. Some are still receiving medical attention in New York. A few of them are still battling for their lives. We’ll be doing everything we can. Good luck to all of you on your way home.”
With that, he left the plane, and the plane took off.
It wasn’t a direct flight. It went to Washington D.C. first, and about half the group got off the plane, some of them because they were located in D.C., and some to catch other flights.
Next we flew to Chicago, and that’s where everyone going to the northern Midwest took other flights.
I arrived back in Grand Lake around eleven, and considered myself lucky to have arrived home that early. Vaughn and I took the van back to school, and talked most of the way back. It was comfortable.
Sean, Dayton, and Jody had taken Sean’s car, and that was a good thing. As nice as it was that Sean didn’t seem to be angry with me, I wasn’t going to assume that that would last. Taking them all in the van would have been tempting fate.
When I walked into my dorm room, Jeremy, my roommate practically screamed. He’d been staring at the two monitors on his desk—his laptop, and the other, bigger monitor. His TV showed the SuperTV cable channel with it’s sound turned off.
He got up from his desk, grabbed my shoulder with one hand, and said, “That was amazing!” He looked like he was about to say more except it must not have been something that the block would allow. He made a noise that sounded somewhere between a gasp and gargle.
He let go of my shoulder, shaking his head as I stepped back to shut the door to the room.
It was all for the best anyway. When he’d reached out to grab my arm, I had to stop myself from stepping back to dodge, or from using one of the moves I’d learned that would have used his locked arm, and driven him to the ground.
Obviously, the flight home hadn’t been enough time to decompress.
After the door shut, Jeremy started talking more quietly. “Have you been watching SuperTV? Because people know.”
I glanced over at his TV. It was doing a frame by frame rehash of the mothership flying over Hoboken, New Jersey, then toward the Hudson River, and breaking up. Sean floated in the air, gritting his teeth as pieces fell off the ship. Amazingly none of them hit buildings or people, landing in streets, open spaces, or the river.
Vaughn appeared too, but not close by.
Then Izzy, Travis, Jaclyn, and I flew out, and the whole ship collapsed. Bits of the interviews we’d done were included, explaining what was going on, including how we’d taken out the ship’s engines and power sources.
It even showed the Hrrnna leader’s escape pod land, and showed footage as the police, FBI, and a few supers took it into custody.
“Know what? Know about the aliens? That’s okay.”
Jeremy shook his head. “No, about the cape academy the government’s got. Look, you’ve got teenage capes from all over the country, some of them well known like you guys, some of them no one’s ever heard of. It’s got to be a cape school, or some kind of cape army.”
Cape army? I watched as they replayed scenes of fighting. Even though it hadn’t felt like it, we’d moved like we were coordinating with each other. I hadn’t seen Travis or Tara when they were commanding, but, even from the TV, it was obvious that they were in command.
“Huh,” I said, “that could change some things.”
After that, I ran through the battle with him, explaining everything that I felt okay with him knowing. When it became obvious that I was ready to fall asleep, he stopped asking questions, and I went to bed.
I didn’t sleep very well.
I woke up three different times, each time from dreams. I don’t remember much of them, but I remember running through the halls of the mothership, knowing that it’s falling, knowing that I have to get out, but not sure where anyone else is.
I’m fighting hordes of Hrrnna, and I’m running out of ammunition. The bombs are exploding, and St. Louis is burning. There are no people left on the planet, but I’m still running.
The last time I woke up—around 6:43—I gave up, and waited for my alarm clock to ring.