A few people laughed, but Amy stopped moving, expression blank, finally managing to say, “That’s the plan.”
Samita stood up and walked up to the front. Dressed in a green blouse and khaki pants, it was one of the few times I’d seen her out of costume. With black hair and brown skin, she looked like she might be from southeast Asia, and her parents were. She’d been born in the US.
She stood in front of the group as Amy moved to the side and stood next to the wall. Samita’s eyes darted from one of us to another. In combination with the straightness of her stance, she gave the impression of a highly motivated student hoping for an “A.”
“You’ll remember that Amy recognized one of the men in Turkmenistan’s post-overthrow press conference as The Thing That Eats. We had to confirm that and decide what kind of action to take. We’ve managed to do both. Rod found an online group that tracks mysterious occurrences, and they have a list of villages that disappeared for no apparent reason. Not all of them quite fit Amy’s profile of what an attack by The Thing That Eats looks like, but starting in the 14th century, which coincidentally was the last sighting of it in Amy’s world, there have been people who claimed to have sighted it here.”
It sounded like the kind of conspiracy website that Jeremy would be into.
Samita continued talking. “We didn’t know for sure that it was the same creature, though. It could have been a duplicate. Amy told us that there are different versions of familiar people between her world and ours—”
Leaning back in her chair and giving a laugh, Cassie interrupted. “And so did I. I’d bet that most of the people in this room know about an alternate world duplicate of themselves or someone they know.”
Nudging Vaughn with her elbow, she muttered, “I’m still kind of pissed that I never met my evil double.”
Vaughn shook his head. “You didn’t miss anything. She was a jerk.”
My sister, Rachel grinned and caught Samita’s eye. They’d visited Infinity City, the city that exists in all realities, and met an alternate version of Rachel.
Samita didn’t respond to Rachel, but did tell Cassie,”I know.” Then addressing the rest of us she said, “Through the group, Rod and I found out that there was an account of one of those villages written by someone who survived. Unfortunately, it was held by Duncan Wiseman who is some sort of collector of occult items.”
Travis took advantage of her pause, asking, “So what did you do? Ask him if you could borrow it?”
Shaking her head, Samita said, “I wish it could have been that simple. We couldn’t ask him as ourselves because he’d have no reason to let us look at it. Amy and I also couldn’t ask him for it in our costumed identities because we’re students of Reliquary, and Wiseman is associated with the mainstream magic community. I don’t know if all of you know it, but they hold themselves apart from metahumans, and don’t get involved in our problems.”
“And there’s one other reason,” Amy added, pulling herself away from the wall she’d been leaning on. “Reliquary and Wiseman hate each other. Wiseman collects magical artifacts because he wants them. Reliquary collects them to take them apart and see how they work. You can see where they might not get along.”
Cassie turned in her chair to grin at the rest of us. “That’s why we broke into his personal museum. Amy and Samita handled the magical defenses. Marcus and the AI disabled the security system. Courtney impersonated Wiseman and handled the staff. Rod and I provided muscle.”
From the back, Rod said, “Not that it mattered. We didn’t fight anybody.”
Jaclyn sat up in her chair. “Wait a second. You brought Marcus in on this? He’s not even eighteen.”
Cassie shrugged. “Most of us weren’t over eighteen when we started all this.”
Meeting Cassie’s eyes, Jaclyn said, “But we weren’t facing wizards. The worst most of those guys could do was punch us. These guys can turn people into frogs or something. We can’t fight against that.”
“I can,” Amy said. “So can Samita. We went in warded. There shouldn’t be any trace of us, magical or otherwise. I know he’s your cousin, but we did everything we could to keep everyone safe.”
Jaclyn exhaled. “I’m sure you did, but you know how this goes.”
Before Amy responded, Cassie jumped in. “You’re right. Something could happen, but we’re doing okay so far. Marcus is the person least likely to be recognized. He was in the jet most of the time. Besides, it worked. We got the goods on the monster.”
From Jaclyn’s frown, I guessed that she wasn’t satisfied, but she didn’t say so.
“We did,” Amy said, stepping away from the wall to stand in front next to Samita. “The attack survivor knew magic. I don’t know how trained he was, but he figured out something none of the Bloodmaidens did. The creature is attracted to ambitious people. It might be able to take over others, but it can’t stay in them.”
From behind me, Daniel spoke up. “That’s not good news. We’re all more ambitious than most.”
Daniel didn’t say it like it was a problem, though. It was as if he were making conversation, or more likely, given that he was a telepath, making it easier for them to explain how they would handle it.
Amy gave a quick smile, possibly guessing that he was giving her an opening. “That’s the best part. Now that we know how it works, we can ward against it, and imprison him permanently. I think that we should go to Turkmenistan soon.”