“Looks like Haley would like us in the main room,” I said, putting my phone back into my pocket.
“Yeah,” Chris said, checking his own phone.
There wasn’t much of a need to reply since she’d be able to see when we left the lab. She might well be able to hear our conversation about leaving or our footsteps as we walked out the door.
One of these days, I needed to test the limits of her abilities, and maybe everybody’s. One of these days knowing it might save our lives, or maybe just not kill them through ignorance. Either way, the Stapledon program had tested all of us–back on our first official weekend in the program.
I wondered where that information was kept and who had access to it.
That thought left my head as we left the lab. At one of the tables in the middle of the room, Haley had gathered as much of the current Heroes’ League as she could.
Travis sat upright in his chair, the Greek letters of his fraternity covering half of his green sweatshirt.
Blonde hair reaching her shoulders, Sydney sat a couple seats over from Travis–next to Camille. She laughed as Camille talked a mile a minute. Despite Camille’s darker complexion and black hair, I could have told from the similarity of their faces that they were sisters even if I hadn’t known it.
Marcus sat between Camille and Haley, leaning toward Camille and Sydney, and laughing along with them. He’d put down his pen and drawing pad.
I snuck a peek at the pad as Chris and I sat off to Haley’s left. Marcus had sketched a recognizable version of Sydney laughing.
Vaughn sat next to Travis, grinning a little as Camille talked, staring down at his phone, and sometimes tapping on the screen.
I couldn’t help but see the obvious. As a group, we were heavy on stealth and close combat, lighter on distance attacks, and except for Camille and Vaughn, we didn’t have much in the way of area effect attacks. Chris and I made up for that a little, but not much.
Travis gave Chris and me a nod, asking, “Do you have any ideas? We’ve been talking, and the best tactics we’ve come up with so far are to have Marcus, Haley and I scout around for it, and use Camille to pin it down for Vengeance and his people. We can’t let the thing get close to any of us given what happened to Reliquary.”
Chris glanced over at me. He obviously hadn’t heard what happened to Reliquary.
“Reliquary got bit by Thingy and started hearing voices. It looks like getting bit creates some kind of connection between it and you—unless you’ve got one of these.” I held up my glowing red gem. “Unfortunately, of all of us, only Haley, Vaughn, Camille and I have one, and we can’t get more because the North American Council of Wizards put up wards or a shield that prevents magic from going in or out of Grand Lake.”
Chris shook his head. “Crap.”
“But look,” Travis’ deep voice cut through all the other noise, and he was the only person talking, “I’ve been telling people that we can move the wards around. Put them in the hands of those of us who can handle hand to hand combat with the creature. The rest of you can take it down from a distance.”
“Do you have a plan?” I watched Travis as he shook his head. “Haley told me what Lee said. If it hides until it’s ready to take over, I don’t know what will change its mind. What motivates it? Do you know?”
I shook my head. “Food is my only guess. I wish Amy were here. She’d probably know more.”
Vaughn looked up from his phone. “She’s working on it. Mind if I put her on the big screen?”
Haley raised an eyebrow. “No, but I thought you said she was driving?”
“Yeah,” he said. “But I’ve been texting Samita.”
For a moment, Samita appeared, her face filling half of the twenty foot tall screen. Samita appeared as herself—brown face, black haired, and looking like the daughter of Pakistani immigrants. When she appeared with Rod out of costume, she used illusions of a few different people to hide her real identity, reasoning that they didn’t know each other.
The background blurred as the camera’s direction changed. Then Amy appeared. She was driving, her hands on a steering wheel, her eyes aimed ahead at the road. She gave a little wave with one hand and grinned as she appeared. “Hey, everybody. We’re driving through West Virginia right now.”
I had no idea where they were, but at that exact moment, they were crossing a river. Green painted steel beams were part of the background blur from Amy’s window. Past that was a brown river and a blue sky.
The camera didn’t show many more details, but from what I could see, I guessed that she might be driving some kind of sports car, that there weren’t any other cars on the road near her, and that she was driving very quickly.
“We’ll be in Grand Lake in another seven or eight hours,” she said. “Rod and Cassie are in Rod’s car. We’re going to try to meet near the Michigan border.”
HQ’s microphone system picked up my voice as I asked, “Why are you driving?”
Samita pointed the phone back at herself. “We called Reliquary’s FBI handler and he told us not to come. Maybe someone would have flown us up, but we didn’t want to get anybody in trouble.”
Amy added, “And we didn’t want them to know we were going. They kept on telling us that the North American Council was going to handle it.” As the camera pointed at her again, Amy frowned. “They have no idea what they’re dealing with. The past Bloodmaidens are nervous. The Thing That Eats is going to do something bad. They’ve seen it before when it was trapped in a city and they won’t tell me what.”