Haley and I sat in League HQ. The League’s twenty foot high TV screen showed nothing—just blackness.
Nothing had worked out.
OK, nothing might have been stretching it. We’d brought Marcus, Travis, Vaughn, and Courtney to one of Haley’s cousins, a doctor, who did what he could for them. Then we left, and they stayed.
None of them were unconscious, and if we got into the air, we might be able to detect Rook’s plane with the League jet’s sensors.
We couldn’t. So after a few circles around Grand Lake, we landed the jet, and went back to HQ’s main room, and sat there in a room the size of a basketball court, calling people and leaving messages.
Specifically, I called Daniel and Isaac Lim. Daniel, because I wanted to talk to him. Isaac, because we were supposed to contact the FBI if we ran into the Nine.
I’d gotten Isaac’s voicemail which told me to call another number if it was urgent. I did, and wound up explaining the whole story to an agent I didn’t know. He told me that Isaac, or possibly someone else, would call back.
And if they did, what would we do exactly? The Feds were already going to be looking for signs of Rook’s aircraft or for any other hints of where Cassie might be.
Chances are, they wouldn’t let us do anything.
Worse, they had a good point. I’d let the fight with Rook go on too long because I’d been distracted by whatever he was using to heal himself and his suit. I thought about that for a second, and then stopped.
That was the problem. I got distracted too easily, and maybe I should have gone for something more deadly when I fought him. I mean, he’d said he was going to look after my stuff after he killed me.
If that wasn’t a time to reply with deadly force, I didn’t know what was.
It seemed so obvious then in a way it hadn’t in the middle of the fight.
If I’d just gotten a little distance, I might have been able to hit Rook with the guitar without him even being able to hurt anybody. If I had, I’d have still been able to use the guitar against the other guys because he wouldn’t have broken it.
Plus, I might have been able to pay attention to Cassie. She’d called for help.
I wasn’t ridiculous enough to think that everything depended on me, but we hadn’t acted like a team until the very end. When Travis told us what to do, we’d done it, that had been our best showing of the entire fight.
Haley looked up from her screen at me. “I hope you’re trying to think of something, and that you’re not just blaming yourself.”
I didn’t say anything.
“Nick,” she said, “you are, aren’t you?”
I sighed. “Yeah, a little.”
“Nick, we all made mistakes. If Travis and I had stayed in the parking lot, we could have targeted Rook with a missile. That would have changed everything. I told Travis to wait, but he didn’t listen.”
“There were still a lot of things I did wrong.”
The mask covered the top of Haley’s face, only showing her lips and chin. It made it harder to read her expressions, but she seemed irritated to me. Either way, her lips tightened. “Maybe you did, but we don’t have time. We’ve got to be ready to go after Cassie.”
“If they let us. When I talked to him, he said he’d pass everything over to the Guardian and the Midwest Defenders.”
“Really?” Haley sat for a second. “Maybe they should do it, but I feel like we should be ready. They might need our help.”
“Yeah,” I said. “But they’ll probably refuse it anyway.”
She didn’t start talking instantly, but I could tell from her expression that she was about to say something.
As she opened her mouth, the speakers began beeping, and the words “The Mystic” appeared on the bottom of the screen.
I reached out, clicked my mouse, and took the call.
Daniel’s face appeared on the screen. He appeared to be sitting on his bed. There were no posters. It showed a blank wall.
“What happened? I just checked my communicator. What’s going on with the red?”
“You didn’t get my message?”
“I was in the middle of something and I didn’t know we’d gotten a red alert.”
“OK, well, the Nine have Cassie. No ransom demands. Nothing. That’s kind of good because I don’t even know what we’d do if they did, but her communicator’s off or destroyed or something.”
From the background, a female voice said, “What’s going on?”
I recognized the voice. I wasn’t sure who it was, but I knew it from somewhere.
“Who’s that?” Haley asked.
“I don’t know,” I said, and I was about to ask, but in the bottom right corner of the screen, a red dot started blinking.
Next to the dot appeared the words, “Captain Commando.” Plus, it showed the longitude and latitude.