A second look gave me a few clues I’d missed when I’d first seen what I’d thought was Adam. “Adam” had the same thin build and overall look, but he seemed taller than normal. It wasn’t by much.
Haley bent down, obviously getting a closer look. “Is she okay?”
Daniel stared at “Adam’s” face briefly. “I think so. There’s no way of knowing how she’ll take this later, but she didn’t kill anybody, or even hurt anyone. She relayed Artaxus’ orders to Hunter and the fae. That’s all. It’s not out of the question that being mind controlled might still traumatize her, but she didn’t do anything particularly terrible under his influence. She was more of a glorified gofer.”
Daniel checked around the room. Hunter and Courtney were the only people still unconscious. “I was going to leave her this way as evidence, but I think what’s in her head will be good enough. She remembers Atraxus telling her what to do. She remembers what she did as Adam, and unfortunately so does everyone else. Leaving her this way risks someone taking revenge.”
Haley raised an eyebrow. “Is that likely?”
Daniel shrugged. “We’ve got more than 600 traumatized people. It’s not impossible that someone might go off the deep end. She’s better off looking like herself.”
“Okay. Is there anything you need from us?”
Daniel shook his head. “You can’t help much, but if you stand next to me, it’ll block people’s view. That’s something.”
Haley and I stood to each other as if we were talking. Daniel closed his eyes, and said, “She’ll wake… Now.”
“Adam” opened “his” eyes, pulling “his” body into a sitting position, and then staring past us into the room.
“It’s over,” Daniel said, his voice even. “Artaxus lost. You don’t have to stay in Adam’s shape.”
Courtney let out a breath, and even as she did, her body changed back to normal-short black hair to shoulder length blonde hair, thin, muscled body to Courtney’s own body—which was fit, but on the curvy end of fit.
More interesting, her clothes changed as she did, swelling and shrinking as her body did. That was new. The last I’d known, she was stuck with whatever clothes she’d been wearing. More to the point, she’d been wearing clothes loose enough to fit whatever form she changed to.
I’d decided that now probably wasn’t the time to ask about it when my sister Rachel walked up.
She grabbed Haley and I, pulling us into a quick hug. “I thought I was leaving you both to die.”
She let go and stepped back. “How is your hand?”
“Perfectly normal,” I said. “Alex said it might feel weak, but it doesn’t so far. What happened to you? I know the dragon hit you, but I’m assuming you got healed.”
She nodded. “Alex healed me. You heard about how I got hurt, right? I was out of phase to everything except for the dragon somehow. He didn’t see me, but he broke my arm and a lot of ribs.”
Turning away from me, Rachel tapped Haley’s arm. “I see that you’re missing a bandage…”
Haley held out her arm, and then let it down. “Alex healed my arm after he was done with Nick’s hand. He said it was partly healed already.” She shrugged. “It might have healed itself in another half hour.”
Nodding, Rachel said, “That would be nice.”
“You know,” I said, “I’d have been tempted to design a robot hand if Alex couldn’t fix it. That might have been cool.”
Rachel began to open her mouth, but didn’t say anything. After a moment, she managed, “Do me a favor, and don’t mention that to Mom, okay?”
I was about to answer when Courtney’s voice cut in. “I was helping him. I can’t believe I was helping him. He could have killed all of you.”
We all turned toward Courtney then. I was about to tell her it wasn’t her fault when I felt Daniel in my head and knew that he wanted to reply. I let him. Rachel and Haley didn’t say anything either.
“You’re not the only one,” Daniel said. “I was ready to fight them if I had to. Izzy did. She might have killed Amy under normal circumstances. It’s not your fault.”
“On the bright side,” I said, “Artaxus lost. So you didn’t do a very good job helping him.”
Courtney blinked, and from her blank expression, I began to wonder if I’d said not only the wrong thing, but the worst possible thing.
Then she laughed, a surprisingly low laugh given her normal range. “Don’t become a doctor, Nick. Your bedside manner is terrible.”
Daniel’s mouth widened ever so slightly. “Can’t say I disagree.”
* * *
A few hours later, Daniel and I were back in our room. Everyone had been woken up from Artaxus’ sleep by then, and worse, everyone had been debriefed. We’d answered questions, and signed papers for both local supers, the police, and the FBI.
I was ready to go to bed, but since internet access had been restored, I’d decided to check my email messages on my laptop. I had a lot of them, but most of them were through my Heroes’ League email and addressed to the Rocket.
A few were sent to my personal email. One of them was from Adam. It was only thirty minutes old.