In the background, I heard Courtney continue. “His text said that he was corralling everyone else.”
Jillian stood a little taller than Haley, and she’d braided her hair—which went halfway down her back. Just like the last time I’d seen her, she wore a flannel shirt over a t-shirt.
Courtney backed in as Jillian stepped inside—Jeremy and I didn’t have a particularly large room. We each had a closet on either side of the door, forcing everyone to move into the main area of the room, and stand next to our bunks and the desks. Jeremy’s was covered with a mixture of physics textbooks, science fiction paperbacks, old anime DVD’s, and books about conspiracy theories. Except for my laptop and the textbooks I couldn’t get as ebooks, mine was nearly empty.
Courtney pulled out Jeremy’s chair as Haley sat on my desk. Jillian and I stood in the middle of the room next to the bunk beds.
All of this meant that I couldn’t ask Haley anything about the power juice. The big questions being whether Jillian had some on her or whether she’d already drunk it or what?
Jillian jerked her head around as the door pulled itself shut with a slam and gave a little laugh as she turned back to Courtney. “Sorry. I forget how the dorm doors shut themselves. I’m in a house this year.”
Courtney leaned back in the chair. “Lucky you. I’m still in the dorms. Still rooming with Michelle, and still stuck with more country music than I can stand.”
Jillian laughed. “I can’t believe you’re still rooming with her.”
Meanwhile, on my desk, Haley had pulled out her phone and started texting.
Courtney shrugged. “Aside from the music, she’s a good roommate. We work. She’s got people over a lot, but not when I can’t handle it, and I do a lot of my studying out of the room.”
Jillian eyed the door. “When is Jeremy supposed to be back? This is like dealing with my boyfriend but in reverse. When my boyfriend’s late it’s because of work.”
Haley stopped texting. “Your boyfriend’s not a student?”
Jillian shook her head. “He graduated a couple years ago, but not from here.”
Sitting up a little straighter, and not looking at her phone at all, Haley asked, “Where is he from?”
“All over,” Jillian said, “but most recently California. He’s done a lot of traveling.”
Trying to keep the same expression on my face and deliberately avoiding meeting anyone’s eyes, I thought about what she’d said. It sounded like she might be Kid Biohack’s girlfriend. The bit about traveling didn’t quite fit, but the California part did.
I needed to think of questions that would give me answers without giving her any hints about me.
Courtney checked her phone. “Jeremy’s on his way.” When she looked up, she added, “How did you meet?”
Giving an uncomfortable laugh, Jillian said, “Online. You know how that goes. We both use the CapeFan forums, and we were arguing with this massive troll. Afterward, we talked privately and the rest is history.”
Behind her, the door’s lock clicked and Jeremy opened the door. Gabriel and Caleb stood behind him in the hall. Gabriel was a skinny, black guy who was majoring in computer science. Caleb had light skin, stood a few inches shorter than Jeremy and his hair nearly covered his eyes. I had no idea how he could see. He wore an “Avett Brothers” t-shirt.
“Hey everybody,” Jeremy said, leaning into the room. “I was thinking we could go to the cheap theater. It’s all movies from the middle of summer, but I’m sure we can find something.”
Haley waved her hand at him. “Is it okay if I invite Camille? We can meet her at Nick’s van.”
That was smart. If Jillian turned out to be a problem, Camille could slow her down in a dozen not-so-obvious ways.
Jeremy blinked, and tilted his head back for a moment. “Uh… Sure.”
We went to the movies. The movie we ultimately chose? AFS-X, an action movie. AFS was the military designation for the modern version of the Rocket suit that Grandpa had left with them after World War 2 ended. AFS stood for Armored Flight Suit. The movie was about someone stealing an experimental version of the suit that could “change the face of warfare” due to its increased range. Range had always been the AFS’ greatest limitation.
Whatever. I hadn’t argued either for or against.
Midway through, my phone started vibrating in a pattern that indicated that the spybots had detected one of the speedsters. Sitting in the dark next to me, Haley pulled out her phone too. Courtney and Camille must have felt it too, but we couldn’t all go check this. Kayla hadn’t sent us an alert, so it wasn’t an emergency.
I left the theater, following the lights on the floor of the aisle, and finding myself alone in the hallway under the blinking light that said “3.”
I read through the string of messages. The robbers (who needed a name) had attacked an armored truck that had left a bank branch. Marcus had given my goobots permission to fire on any speedster they’d detected. Meanwhile, Marcus, Travis, Chris, and Sydney had responded. They weren’t fast enough to stop the attack, but they interrupted it while it was going on.
They’d actually fought people, meaning the robbers weren’t a faceless mystery anymore.
I considered ditching the group and flying to the scene, deciding not to only because Haley would be pissed if I left her.