“I’m sure,” Lee said. “Now that doesn’t mean I can’t help at all. All I’m saying is that The Thing can’t see me in action. I’ll be happy to give you advice. I wasn’t directly involved in creating our deadly toys, but I know that typically our creatures go to ground and try to grow in secret. If they can, they’ll hide until they can attack with overwhelming force. The sooner you find it, the better for everyone.”
“I already started on that, but without magic, I can’t automate my system for detecting it.”
Lee laughed. “I’m confident you’ll figure something out. In my experience, there’s more than one way to solve most problems. Anyway, if you want my advice, I’m only a phone call away.”
“Thanks,” I said, and we hung up.
“So it’s just us,” Haley said.
“It looks that way.” I tapped on my phone, turning on the lights. I still hadn’t quite adjusted to HQ’s new, professional look, but at least I knew to expect it. The crimson carpet in combination with HQ’s uncluttered display of awards and trophies still felt weird.
Vaughn squinted in his cot, covering his eyes, while Camille sat up in hers. She grinned at Haley. “I think I like all girl slumber parties better. They’re much less awkward in the morning.” Then she added, “We’re not going to leave catching Mr. Thingy to Vengeance, are we?”
Haley snorted, “No. I don’t trust him. He’s already shown that he’s willing to stab people just in case they’re evil. I think we have to be in this even if it’s just to make sure he only goes after… Mr. Thingy.”
Still lying on his cot, Vaughn said, “Mr. Thingy’s not bad, but I like ‘The Thing That Sucks’ better.”
Looking over at me and then back to everyone else, Haley said, “We should brainstorm. I’ll call everyone in Grand Lake. If you and Chris could think about ways to detect him and then maybe catch him from a distance without touching him, the rest of us can talk about the overall plan.”
“I’d like to work on the overall plan too,” I said.
“I know,” Haley said, nodding. “But I was thinking that you and Chris are the only ones who can talk tech. So you can do that and then we’ll all get together. You won’t be left out.”
We didn’t manage to do it instantaneously. It was Sunday morning which meant that some people would normally be going to church—Haley and I, for example. Mind you, we were skipping in this particular case. Fighting “ancient, supernatural evil,” seemed like an excellent excuse.
On the other hand, I thought as I stood in the lab, fighting an evil supernatural creature seems like the kind of situation where going to church might help.
Thinking about that a little, I opened up the inventory we’d made of recent inventions and the materials we had. The ideal would be that I’d come up with something that would help out of materials that were already in the building, and preferably materials we had a lot of.
Fortunately, I already had ideas along those lines.
Different versions of the same technology lay behind my “goobot” (which exploded a gooey substance directly in front of a target) and my grapple gun or “goo gun.” The goo gun fired off a gooey substance that could be used as a line.
We’d already used a version of it when fighting the Cabal a bit over a year ago by then. It didn’t catch them so much as immobilize them long enough that it was obvious that we could kill them easily. They surrendered.
As I thought about how the goo worked, Chris came into the room. Brown haired, and light skinned, Chris stood a little taller than I did. He’d had some kind of small growth spurt in high school, and passed me in height by an inch or so.
“It’s been a while,” he said, laying down his backpack on the counter next to the wall.
“That’s true,” I said. “I’m not sure when exactly I last saw you. I’m pretty sure you’ve been at a few movie nights over the last year, but I don’t think we’ve gotten to talk about much.”
“Yeah,” he said, rubbing the back of his neck with his hand. “It’s been a strange year. I ended up moving in with my grandfather, so he’s been helping with League stuff and even training me—which isn’t something I’d looked for at all, but it’s alright.”
I wanted to ask him why he’d moved in with his grandparents, especially considering that his grandfather had been my grandfather’s nemesis for years and had spent a year in prison after attacking me. Something in Chris’ tone made me think that he didn’t want to talk about it that much, though.
Listening to my gut, I said, “Anyway, I imagine Haley or Kayla told you about The Thing That Eats. We’ve got to figure out a way to arm ourselves to catch it, preferably from far enough away that we don’t risk being bitten and infected by its magic somehow. I’m planning to use the goo guns.”