“I didn’t beat them. You were there. Everyone here was there. And when it comes down to it, Lee planned and directed the final battle with the Cabal.”
“I know,” Sydney said. “I fought, but I wasn’t involved–not the way you were. You let yourself get taken captive to help rescue our families, and Lee planned. Sean and I and the rest of Justice Fist followed.”
Camille shook her head. “Justice Fist. It was a nice try, but it was such a mess. You had Lucas, heir to millions or billions and already a doctor saddled with us, a bunch of high school kids who were full of hormones. And then there was Sean who didn’t like playing second fiddle to Lucas and also didn’t like how Julie and Shannon both were seriously crushing on the guy–not that Lucas pursued either of them.”
Sydney gave her a sidelong glance. “And you were flirting with all the guys.”
“But I didn’t mean it,” Camille said. “That’s important. And not with all the guys. Jody’s just not right in the head. I never trusted him.”
Sydney laughed. “I always thought of him as my brother’s best friend and a serial killer in training.”
“Serial killer in training?” I asked.
Sydney blushed. It was very visible on her pale skin. “I know it’s stupid. It’s just something I used to think. He’s creepy.”
“And simply, pointlessly mean,” Haley added. “He is. Back when I was dating Sean, I never wanted to be around Jody.”
Marcus looked from one side of the table to another. “Good thing Jody’s the fastest man alive. I mean that seriously. I don’t think Jaclyn’s as fast.”
I raised an eyebrow. “You don’t think it’s him, do you?”
Marcus stopped, half closing one eye. After a moment, he said. “No. Because the first time it happened was before you all got back from Stapledon.”
“Good,” I said, and quietly hoped that however the timeline worked, it didn’t allow enough time for Jody to run home, commit a crime, and run back without anyone noticing. That said, it didn’t really make any sense for it to be Jody. The way they described the jobs, and from what I’d seen, the jobs showed a certain precision and skill. What I’d seen of Jody was hotheadedness and poor decision making.
On the bright side, that meant he could help us. On the not so bright side, he might get killed in the blink of an eye by whatever speedster was behind this.
“I guess I’d better ready the spybots then.”
* * *
I spent the rest of Sunday gathering up spybots and manufacturing more. Thanks to repeated surveillance projects, I had leftover bots available that I only had to refurbish. Plus, I’d gotten better at creating bots than I used to be. At one point, I had to create them by hand. Ever since working out the basic technology for the self-repairing version of the Rocket suit, it hadn’t been hard to create mini-factories for the spybots. They didn’t have the necessary material to make them self-repairing, but in my lab, I had all the material I could want.
Better, I had a new delivery mechanism. Instead of having to place them individually, I could use the floating pods I’d created to resupply the Rocket suit during a fight. Powered by fuel cells and floating thanks to alien gravity manipulation technology, the floating pods carried enough repair material for two Rocket suits as well as weapons of their own.
I hoped to create pods that could essentially be absorbed entirely into the Rocket suit at some point, possibly even combining to form a heavy duty version of the suit.
I wasn’t there yet though. What I did was fill the floating pods with spybots and remotely disperse them across the city, concentrating on major routes into the city and major roads.
I couldn’t know for sure that they’d take them, but I did know that C, Marcus and Jaclyn’s grandfather, had been a civil engineer for Grand Lake for decades. The traffic signal timing that he’d worked out to make it easy to cross the city had to have been changed by now, but major roads in the city had been subtlely designed with speedsters in mind.
They had to notice that on some level–hopefully only enough that they’d prefer to use those streets.
Anyway, I spent the rest of Sunday night working on spybots and distributing them, followed by most of Monday testing them as well as testing patterns I’d come up with that allowed me to move the bots as little as possible while still keeping the speedster in sight.
By Tuesday though, the bots were entirely in place and recording. Therefore I could finally start moving into the dorm for the year.
Haley and I rolled up together in the white van that I’d modified to transform into a giant cat mecha last year. It had seemed like a good idea at the time.
The van blended in, only one of what felt like hundreds of cars, vans, and small trucks driven by students and parents, most parked on the street, a few parked on the lawn in front of the tall, brick dorm. People crossed the lawn carrying suitcases, bed linens, and small refrigerators. As Haley and I passed a knot of students who’d stopped working to chat, I recognized Jeremy, my roommate.
Wearing a t-shirt that made an obscure physics joke, he broke away from the group to say, “Hey Nick, did you hear that Kid Biohack is attending Grand Lake U this year?”