Amy looked over at Samita. They’d all sat together on one of the hotel beds. “I think that could work. Psychic teleportation should get us around any ward I’ve ever heard of.”
Brow furrowing, Samita’s face went blank. After a little while, she raised her hand to her chin and waited longer. A moment later, she straightened up and lowered her hand. “It should work. There are wards that prevent teleportation, but I think I’d recognize them.”
Amy grinned. “That’s good enough for me.”
Rod checked between the two of them. “Nice to see you agree on something.”
Sitting beside the three of them, Cassie laughed. “That’s getting a little old.”
She looked back at us from the other side of the screen. “He’s been saying that every time they agree. They don’t agree much, but they agree enough that he doesn’t have to say it. Not really.”
Rod shrugged. “They used to agree less.”
Cassie glanced over at him. “Whatever.”
Leaning back and propping herself up with one arm on the bed, Amy added, “I think that’s all we’ve got that’s useful.”
“Watch for it,” Samita said, “I’ll get you the email about HQ’s wards tonight.”
Haley and I said our goodbyes to them, leaving us sitting on the bed in my dorm room.
Putting my phone down next to me, I said, “I suppose I’d better call Lee now. Do you want to stick around?”
Haley looked up at me. “I might as well. If we’re all affected by this, you shouldn’t be the only one who knows.”
I nodded. “And someone else should know what Lee says about Chancy, and it probably ought to be you because you were leading the group of us who were still in Grand Lake last year.”
She took my hand. “I hope that doesn’t bother you.”
I shook my head. “No. It does remind me of everything that I apparently missed though. I was right here in Grand Lake, but between Stapledon and everything else going on, I was barely aware that all of you had almost evolved into a separate team.”
She glanced up at me. “We didn’t try to. I was hanging around with Camille and Sydney and a supervillain would appear. The police would call, and since Camille and Sydney had powers, it made sense to respond.”
Nodding along as she talked, I said, “You’re right. It does. I still feel weird about not even noticing. It’s kind of a big thing to miss.”
Giving a shrug, she said, “You were busy. Rook came. Cassie was kidnapped. The world was attacked by aliens. I know how you missed it. You were in the middle of everything else.”
“Yeah,” I said, shaking my head.
In the hall, a group of guys laughed about something. I missed most of what they said except for catching the word “dong.” That made me suspect it wasn’t an important conversation.
Haley looked toward the sound and shook her head.
I picked up my phone, found Lee’s name in my contacts, and clicked on it. Lee picked up the phone, said, “Hey, Nick.” The video came on, showing Lee’s face, his too wide smile and long, straight black hair. His face appeared to be illuminated only by the bluish light of his phone.
“Give me a second.” He reached off to the left, something clicked, and a light filled the room, or so I assumed. In addition to him, only the back of a red, leather chair and a white wall showed in the picture.
“I don’t need the light, and I forget to turn it on.” The picture blurred, showing a bit of the white t-shirt he wore. It advertised his studio—the Grand Lake Martial Arts Academy.
Then he centered it on his face again. “Haley,” he said. “You’re in on this too. What do the two of you want?”
I didn’t wait. “I’ve got a couple questions. We’ve got to get people in here to fight The Thing That Eats and since they use magic, I’m thinking that Chancy’s probably the best way to do it. Do you have a way to contact him? I don’t.”
Lee grinned. “I do, but this isn’t a Stapledon thing, so he’ll be wanting to get paid.”
“Oh,” I said. “Would it matter that we’re Stapledon students who are bringing in more Stapledon students to fight The Thing?”
“Nice try,” Lee smiled. “No, he’d probably point out that Stapledon isn’t handling this problem. The North American Wizards’ Council is. He’d probably open up a portal so you can escape with your families, but not to let more people inside.”
Haley and I looked at each other. Getting our families out didn’t sound like a bad idea, but Haley asked, “Do you know if he owes you or maybe our grandparents’?”
“Now that,” Lee raised his hand, pointing his index finger at Haley, “that’s a good idea. He owes me for not killing him a couple times and he owes your grandparents too. I can call him and lean on him.”
“Really?” It seemed too easy. “Then my other question was, what’s up with somehow being connected to you? Amy noticed it when she was making our wards. It appears that it makes it easy for me to hurt The Thing.”
Lee sat up a little straighter. “Oh, that. Funny coincidence how that happens. It’s useful. No denying that, but I should tell you something. If you ever do meet another creature like me, it might notice. Fortunately the chance of that is fairly low.”