The price of maintaining a group is meetings—two hour long, soul sucking meetings.
We’d landed in the mid-afternoon, a little later than two. I’d sent everyone a text on their League phone saying what we’d done and that I planned to email them a report of what we’d found.
I got replies from just about everybody that hadn’t gone—essentially saying, “Why didn’t you tell me?”
And that led to an online meeting where we all got to discuss what we’d learned and decide what to do about it now. Worse, not all of us were in one room. Most people were attending via online video, which meant that everybody had to attend via online video in effect.
Haley, Vaughn, and I sat at the main table in the middle of HQ staring at our monitors while everyone else sat in their dorm rooms, bedrooms, or in Travis’ case, his car.
It seemed really crazy when you considered how many of us were actually in Grand Lake. I could understand it with Daniel or Izzy, but Travis would probably have been warmer in HQ. Seriously, it’s possible to die from cold in a car during the winter in Grand Lake, and not just here—most of the northern Midwest.
So now it was nearly five, and Vaughn, Haley, and I had gotten through the whole story with digressions, speculations, and explanations, and we were trying to figure out next steps.
“What Lee recommended was that instead of visiting each of the possible sites, we should farm it out to other teams, preferably local teams. He told me to ask Mindstryke to find the right people.”
Travis nodded. “I get it. Yeah, local teams won’t raise as many red flags as we would if we stopped by. Plus, they probably already know people.”
His breath came out as clouds. Behind him, his car’s back window appeared to be covered with snow, or possibly frost. With the camera’s focus on his face, the picture was too blurry to tell.
“You know what bugs me about that? For all we know, local teams could already be compromised. Even if they’re straight, how many of them know as much as Lee, or the jet? We’re going to be putting them in danger.”
Over his connection, Daniel sighed. Shaking his head, he broke in, “This is my dad we’re talking about. He’s not going to hand it off to ‘The Amazing Doctor Herman.’ I’m sure he’ll find people he trusts, probably people who fought the Abominators or who have been in space recently.”
“Dan,” Travis sounded like he was addressing a child, “Your dad can’t possibly vet those guys from a distance. He’s only got so much range, and sure maybe he knows people, but Berlin and the Ukraine, or Libya? I’ve got my doubts. Besides aren’t we all supposed to die if the board helps us?”
Without showing any frustration this time, Daniel said, “No. I think it’s okay if we ask for help, but if they direct us through everything or try to keep us out of danger, then we’re in trouble.”
Travis frowned, and began, “Are you sure—“
Haley broke in, talking over him. “Travis, this is the best way. Why don’t you see that?”
More loudly than before, Travis said, “I’m not trying to make this hard. I said I saw his logic. None of us even speak the local languages, and I don’t want our team to get a reputation for sending other teams into deadly situations. You know what some people are saying about St. Louis.”
It wasn’t a majority opinion by any means, but some people on the Double V boards thought that the deaths of the St. Louis team had been our fault. With the news cycle turning past the initial awe at what we’d done, a few reporters had even raised the issue. Except for one talk show host, they weren’t confrontational about it though.
Still, it wasn’t hard to see that someone might choose to drive that one home someday, especially if it appeared to happen again.
I thought about it, and found myself worrying that it would make it harder to get cooperation at times like this when we needed it.
Before I could reply, Haley said, “I’m sure Daniel’s dad will think about that, but if he doesn’t, Daniel can say something.”
On the screen, Daniel nodded. “I’ll do it. Do you have anything else you want me to ask?”
Travis didn’t and not long after that, the meeting ended.
I leaned back in my chair, and took a breath. I was free for a little while. People were acting as if I were somehow responsible for running the investigation when any special knowledge I had ended with St. Louis.
No one had told me anything that would happen after that.
Beep. A text message. I checked my phone to find a text from Travis. It said, “Don’t forget to keep us aware of what’s going on.”
That was kind of annoying. It wasn’t completely undeserved, but it was still annoying. I put down my phone to find out it had beeped again.
Expecting to find another message from Travis about my faults, I only glanced at it, but then I noticed it was from Daniel.
“I think we can handle the site near Chicago. What about you?”