Then I rechecked the time, and understood where Courtney was—not here yet.
Only twenty minutes had passed since I started looking for the file, read it, and remembered the longer version of the story Grandpa Vander Sloot told me.
I still had forty minutes to kill.
Not having anything better to do, I walked over to one of the stools by the wall, and logged into one of the computers. I checked my email, surfed for a while, checking out out Double V’s forums. They had an entire section devoted to discussing the Heroes League.
Since we’d stopped St. Louis from being destroyed, and appeared prominently in the defense of the New York City and the surrounding area, the forum had only become more busy.
It was funny, and occasionally frustrating, at how little they knew about what was going on behind the scenes.
The classic example would be destroying the alien spaceship in New York. One thread was an argument about whether or not we should have taken out the spaceship when it first appeared. The argument being that if we’d done that we would have stopped the smaller ships from attacking spots all across the country.
Then it devolved into an argument about whether they were actually going after Abominator relics or if the alien making that statement had been lying.
I sometimes wished I could tell them the truth. It was Abominator relics. Also, if we’d gone after the alien mothership before the battle, we’d probably have failed.
It wasn’t as if we were some kind of organized force like some of them were saying. It was sheer luck that the Stapledon program been training there that weekend.
I was pretty sure the aliens’ attack on New York was an indirect result of us preventing them from destroying St. Louis. Bearing in mind all the attacks that happened after we found the Hrrnna, it almost had to be another result of our search.
I shuddered at that. We’d put the whole planet in danger without even knowing it.
All the same, Lim knew we’d been working on something to do with aliens. We’d been publicly attacked by alien robots after all. I wouldn’t put it past him, or maybe past someone above him to use us to reinforce Stardock, Earth’s only spaceship building facility just in case.
I wondered if he’d admit it if I asked him directly.
I doubted it. I wondered if he’d tell me what happened with the Abominator devices that scientific facility had. They’d had one of the genetic modification chambers Grandpa told me about when I asked him how the Abominators would have changed Simmons. I hadn’t quite realized it then.
Now? I stared at the screen, and opened a new tab, searching Google for clues there. I didn’t find any quickly, and decided to try again later.
I found news reports that at a lab near Medford had been damaged in the attacks, but they didn’t say where it had gone.
We had access to government databases, but I didn’t want to use them yet. They probably logged what supers searched for.
In their position, I would.
Anyway, the government probably had the device now. Cassie told me that FBI agents and the National Guard had showed up to handle the aftermath. She’d also mentioned that supers from MetaMax (a mercenary group) appeared about that time too.
A message appeared on my screen. It was from Kayla, and said “Courtney just walked in through the forest entrance.”
I took a breath, and typed back, “Thanks.”
Courtney was twenty minutes early. Part of me wondered if she’d come by to cancel it, or if, like me, she wanted to get it over with.
It wasn’t long before she walked into the lab—kind of. She stopped in the doorway, and stared back into the main room of the complex. I could understand why she might find it impressive. Filled with the League’s trophies, and the size of a basketball court, a TV screen took up most of the far wall.
I tried to remember if Courtney had ever been in League HQ before, and couldn’t think of any visits.
She looked closer to normal than I’d seen her in a while. Before she’d started taking power juice, she’d been overweight, but basically she’d looked normal. After she’d started using power juice, she’d either burned away or redistributed the fat, and even though I couldn’t point to exactly what she’d changed, her face had become attractive rather than normal.
Put bluntly, she looked like a model after Photoshop had been used. Even models don’t look like that in reality.
When she came in the door, she wore a sweatshirt with Ms. Marvel’s symbol and yoga pants. She looked like she might have if the pre-juice version of herself had lost some weight, but not at a post-production level of perfection.
She still looked better than she used to, but I couldn’t be sure why.
“Hey,” she said. “I’m early, but if you’re ready, let’s get this over with.”
I gave a quick smile, and got off the stool. “I was ready early too.”
She eyed the chair, its silver body and black straps, hesitated for a second, walked over, and sat down.
I followed her to the chair. As she started buckling the straps around her legs, I asked her, “You haven’t had any power juice in the last month, right?”
She shook her head. “No. You told me not to.”
“Great. You look a little different than the last time I saw you.”
“I know.” She pushed dark blond hair back so that I could fit the helmet to her head. “We barely saw each other this semester. After everything that happened last fall, I realized I’d gone a little too far. I adjusted myself to look more normal.”
“Okay,” I said. She was completely strapped in, arms, legs, head… “Are you ready?”
She closed her eyes. “Throw the switch.”
Trying not to think about Giles Hardwick, I did.