How do you answer a question like that? It’s not as if I could say the honest one, “About five minutes before you started having sex.”
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Haley’s hand reach out and turn off the monitor. Deciding she had a point, I turned off the roachbot controller.
“Not long,” I said, hoping Stephanie wasn’t one of those people who noticed lies as easily as breathing.
I supposed that technically I hadn’t been lying, but I’d want to start as soon as they asked what I’d seen, or if I had anything to do with what happened to the computers.
Leaving the roachbots’ controller on the table, I stood up. Tactically that wasn’t the best choice, but walking up to him holding it would be a lot like walking up to him gun in hand.
It wouldn’t make things calmer.
Gordon looked over at Stephanie, and she nodded back.
I didn’t have time to wonder what that meant. I’d noticed that Gordon had stepped into my lab, Stephanie following a few feet behind and to the left. This wasn’t important per se, but it did preclude certain tactical options.
If he didn’t fly himself and Stephanie out, he couldn’t start a whirlwind inside the room. That meant that killing us wasn’t foremost in his mind. He was effectively limiting himself to blowing us over or pinning us against walls.
I could work with that. Haley, I realized, already was. Stepping a few feet ahead of me, she could use her claws to hang on to the floor, and she might be able to jump forward and slash the both of them with poison claws before either had a chance to react.
Gordon met my eyes. “We were printing something out. Did you stop the printer?”
“I…” I struggled to come with a good answer. Technically, I hadn’t but I’d put it in motion by calling Dr. Nation.
Haley cut in before I could finish. Looking first at Stephanie and then Gordon, she said, “Vaughn was kidnapped by fairies, and tricked into sending files the League had collected to Stephanie’s email address. Now you’ve got them and you’re printing them out.”
Gordon’s mouth twisted, and for an instant both Gordon and Stephanie looked at each other. “I knew it was too good to be true.”
He shook his head. “You’ve got to understand, Stephanie didn’t know they were coming. We went to the Castle Rock fireworks display, and after we got back we got the email. We didn’t even know it was from Vaughn. He’s someone in your group, right?”
“He’s Storm King,” I said.
“The Red Lightning descendent. Yeah well, if I’d remembered that, I might not have opened it.”
Haley frowned. “He’s not his grandfather.”
Gordon shrugged. “I don’t have any way to know that. I always heard that your grandparents did the right thing when they put the first Red Lightning down. It surprised a lot of people when the New Heroes League showed up with a Red Lightning descendant. The first one seemed like a nice guy, but he showed his true colors in the end, right? Totally crazy. Are you watching the new one?”
I think my jaw dropped a little at that. “Like Haley said, Vaughn’s not his grandfather.”
Gordon rolled his eyes at that. “Come on, don’t tell me that—“
Stephanie reached out and squeezed his arm. “Hon,” she said, ”I think you’re forgetting something. It came to my email, and I opened it. I knew exactly who he was, and I wasn’t worried. It happens that way sometimes.”
I looked at her. I’m sure I looked confused. “What happens what way?”
Stephanie smiled at me, and brushed her black hair back over her shoulder. “Good question. I’ll tell you. I think it would be better if supers took a more active role in the world, and I’m not the only one. I’ve talked about it a lot, and sometimes it turns out that I reached people I didn’t even remember reaching. When I do, I get things like this—emails with files of information attached and I pass it along to other people who I think might be interested.”
There were so many pieces of information to unravel in what she’d said that I had trouble knowing where to start. Was she the person who’d started Gordon on his “supers over all” kick? Had she been talking to Vaughn? Who else had she been talking to? The most important thing was the last part. Did she mean that—
Haley interrupted my thoughts. “Are you saying that you’ve already passed the emails on to someone else?”
Frowning, Stephanie said, “Trustworthy people. It doesn’t matter who. Look, we’re all the same kind of people here, and I’m not talking about powers. You see problems and you want to fix them. You see people in danger and you want to save them. You see people who are hurting others and you want to stop them.
“So yes, we’ve passed them on. We’re not going to let it continue.”