Having already reformed the suit’s helmet, I watched as the suit attempted to connect to several different networks, finally only connecting to one–the Castle Rock Compound’s network.
Once connected, notifications began pouring in to my phone, lighting up in the corner of my HUD. I caught a few names as the numbers climbed–all of them students, most of them League members or friends. They were probably trying to contact me after I had sunk into the floor.
I considered opening up my queue and reading them. One of them might have been Haley.
I didn’t get to. The entire top of my HUD lit up. The Castle Rock Compound was under a red alert.
Even under normal circumstances that made sense. If Denver’s superpowered criminal community had gone nuts, it was easily possible they’d attack the compound. When you considered that Adam or someone manipulating Adam had caused both the criminals to attack and encouraged the red alert, it led to another train of thought–someone was trying to keep us in here.
I wondered how far I could go along that line of thought when something else caught my attention–the League roster. Marcus and Sydney’s names were gray–presumably because network connections to the outside had been severed–but the squares next to the names of the League members in the Stapledon program glowed green.
Haley’s square glowed along with them.
Not thinking about it, I tapped her square, starting a call.
The phone rang, but she didn’t answer. I gave it a few more rings than I normally did, and as I moved my hand to shut off the connection, she answered.
Her face didn’t appear on the screen. In the distance, I heard her voice. “See? The noise stopped. It’s not a weapon. Sometimes it just makes noises, okay?”
Something big grunted, and higher pitched voices started to laugh.
“Um… No. Please don’t take it. I’m a little worried that–”
The deep voice growled.
“Okay. Just don’t break it. My boyfriend made it, and he’d be unhappy if you broke it–just like he’d be unhappy to find out I’d been captured by a troll and a bunch of goblins.”
She cleared her throat.
The deep voice growled more loudly.
“Okay, fine. Here it is.”
An odd thumping noise followed, the kind of thumping that might take place if a phone had been placed in the hand of an enormous creature that had never seen a cellphone and didn’t have the sense to keep its hand away from the microphone.
I set the HUD to track her signal, muted my end of the connection, and said, “I can find Haley, but she’s been captured by a bunch of goblins and a troll. Are all trolls as tough as Rod?”
Samita made a sound that couldn’t have been more than four letters long. That was enough of an answer.
“Anyway, we need to hurry. The troll just made her hand her cellphone over, and it sounds like he might crush it accidentally any second now.”
Amy grabbed the big iron door and pushed it open. “Lead on. We’ll follow.”
I walked past her, out the door, and out of the room. “Do you seriously think we can take a troll?”
She grinned. “I can. Fighting monsters is what the Bloodmaidens were created for.”
I stopped to the side of the door, waiting as Samita and Vaughn followed me out. “I thought you said they’d been created not to fall asleep when fighting.”
Amy eyed me.
Vaughn grinned at her. “Fighting is what tiggers do best.”
Samita pushed past him, muttering something.
Letting the door shut behind Samita, Amy asked, “What the hell is a tigger?”
Vaughn grinned a little wider. “It’s like a tiger, but with two g’s. It’s a character in a children’s story, and it’s always saying that everything is what tiggers do best.”
Amy stared at him. “What do they actually do best?”
Vaughn cocked his head. “I’m pretty sure they bounce.”
She shook her head, and took a step forward. “Your children’s stories are strange.” Then she asked me, “Where to?”
This floor wasn’t much different from the bottom of the hole, but thanks to Amy’s spell I had better view of it. Rock walls led in every direction, opening into too many hallways to search. Fortunately, my HUD placed an arrow pointing down a hall to my left. I followed it, waving my arm for everyone to follow me.
I checked in on the phone, turning up the volume.
I couldn’t hear anything. The connection had been closed. I checked the HUD. It could still detect the signal.
OK, that probably wasn’t bad, but I began to hurry, taking longer steps, and quicker ones, leaning a little on the suit.
Amy kept up with me easily. Vaughn and Samita weren’t running, but they were breathing a little harder. We passed rock wall and rock hall, one after another, all of it empty.
The GPS showed that we had 100 feet to go as we came to an opening into a larger room. I stopped, but it barely mattered. There was no door. The large room was more of a wide hall that ended in a staircase.
Haley stood to the side of the staircase, arms bound behind her back by manacles. The troll sat on the staircase, staring at its palm, meaty arms at rest.
What I assumed had to be goblins stood in front of it–short with skinny arms, they stared in our direction, sharp teeth glittering in the low glow of the stairway’s lights.