Hardwick pushed back his chair, and stood up behind the desk. “Don’t threaten me, George. Ray’s got nothing to offer me that I can’t buy.”
Small flickers of electricity arced between the fingers of his left hand.
Mr. Drucker said, “Yeah? Good, but I wasn’t threatening. I came here to tell you what would happen if you side with these people instead of our kids. I’ll see you at the next meeting.”
He touched his hand back on the beam, and the metal flowed back into position, slightly more shiny in the spots Mr. Drucker had melted.
Then he left.
From behind me, Rachel said, “There’s a couple cases of testosterone poisoning. ‘Don’t side with the Executioner or I’ll show you my shiny hand powers…’ ‘No, I’ll show you my electric hand powers. Are you scared yet?’”
Hearing her voice, I nearly jumped. “Geez. You could have told me you were there.”
Rachel shrugged. “Sorry. Walking everywhere gets boring.”
She floated a couple inches above the lab’s concrete floor.
She’d probably phased through the ground after running an errand outside.
Turning back to the screen, I saw Hardwick sigh. I left the roachbots to record, but cut off my connection.
“I didn’t see all of it,” she said. “Anything interesting?”
“No. Not really. I already knew Sean’s dad didn’t like the idea of working with Ray. I hadn’t known what powers they had, but they aren’t exactly surprising.”
“No. They’re not. I’ll get back to the guitar.”
“Is this what you’ve been doing every day?”
“Now you’re sounding like Mom.”
“I didn’t mean it like that. It’s just that you’ve practiced guitar for hours already. That’s a really long time.”
“You’ve been working on the arm over there for as long as I’ve been practicing. Besides, I’ve working on my own songs, plus what I’ve been learning from Lee.”
“You’re taking guitar lessons from Lee?”
“He’s been playing music as long as he’s been fighting.”
“I hadn’t thought about that.”
“Haven’t you ever heard him complain that no one ever takes music lessons from him? I took him up on it.”
“So what’s that like?”
“A lot like martial arts practice, but with fewer bruises.”
She scowled. “You know how he’s teaching me to become intangible by reflex? At least once during my guitar lesson, he checks to see how well I’m doing.”
“That doesn’t seem fair.”
“Tell me about it.”
The computer beeped. The words Superhuman Affairs Branch ran across the screen.
I took the call.
Isaac Lim sat behind his desk. He’d moved the piles of papers to each side, but it still looked messy. Even the file cabinets had layers of paper on top of them.
“Skipping school, Nick?” Judging from the smile on his face, he found the idea amusing.
His stared at the computer screen on his desk. I guessed that he must be checking out the lab, and I was right, because the next thing he said was, “That looks interesting. Are you working on a new Rocket suit?”
“No. Repairing the old one. And how did you know I was skipping school?”
“We watch for it. Can’t be too careful right now.”
Rachel walked up and stood next to me. “Are you watching me too?”
“It’s harder, but yes. We’re watching all of you.”
“With everything going on? Of course we’re watching. We don’t want you to get killed. Believe me, you’re not the first legacy heroes to show up, and if we’ve learned anything, we’ve learned you need time to develop. You’re not the originals, and we can’t expect you to act as if you were. So, we watch.”
I thought about what he’d just said. “So what happened to the other legacies?”
“Depends. A lot of them are still out there. Not all of them are still active, but they seem to be happy enough. A few managed to piss off the wrong people, and they ended up dead.” Isaac held up his hands. “I’m not saying that you will, but right now we don’t want to take chances.
“But enough about that. I’m calling because of Prime. I got the information Travis sent, and we’re going to move in on them soon. I’m not telling you when, but stay away from the Baymont Inn till then. We’ll all be happier. And one more thing? The moment we take out Prime and his people, the whole picture changes for you. Hardwick has Ray and his team in to handle Prime, right? So he won’t need Ray after that, and Ray knows it. Chances are, Ray will go after you since I’m sure that’s the real reason he’s here in the first place. Depending on how things go, he might kill Hardwick and Justice Fist too. We’ll see.”
I stared at the screen. “And what are we going to do then?”
“You’re not going to do anything. We’ll take care of it. If you can find out where he’s staying, that would be great. Don’t go searching for him, though. You know what he’s like.”
I don’t know what our expressions looked like, but Isaac burst out laughing.
“You’re kidding me. You don’t want to go after him yourself, do you?”
“No,” I began. “I –”
Rachel said, “How do you know I don’t?”
“You might get your chance. Knowing what’s going on upstairs, I’ve been expecting people to scrub the mission all week. So far, they haven’t.”
Thinking of the spaceships, I asked, “What is going on upstairs?”
Isaac took a breath and leaned back in his seat. “That’s given out on a ‘need to know’ basis.”