“Wow.” I rolled that one around in my head, wondering why anyone would bother to hire someone to embarrass us when they wouldn’t have to wait long for us to do it to ourselves.
“Who hired you, and why?” Haley watched Morgan, nostrils flaring and probably getting more information than Morgan realized.
Morgan shrugged. “I don’t know. I wasn’t in on everything. Hank Haseman. The guy with the square force fields? I’m sure you remember him. He was the man with the contacts. He knew who to call, and he handled the money.”
“That’s a lot of trust,” I said. “You didn’t know who had hired you and you let Haseman handle the money.”
Morgan grinned at me. “I know you met me when I was working for Rook, but don’t think that all of us on this side of the law are narcissistic killers who only stop robbing each other when we’ve found a delicious baby to eat. Haseman is well regarded on my side of the street. He pays well, doesn’t fight to kill, and specializes in setting up scenarios that minimize the chance of super involvement.”
Haley took two steps, turning to stand to Morgan’s left. “Your last job was anything but quiet.”
Morgan nodded. “We overreached. We’d had to hide when you outed Alden, but the client was pushing Hank to go big. We thought we might be able to take at least one truck’s money. Between that and tying up traffic, it would have been a nice mess for you to clean up. You got there more quickly than we expected compared to previous response times, and then that thing showed up. It’s enough to make you think someone jinxed the job.”
Haley glanced over at me. I shrugged.
“Anyway,” Haley said, “I know you don’t know who hired you, but do you have any guesses who it might have been?”
Morgan raised an eyebrow, watching her out of the corner of her eye. “Guesses? Sure, I have guesses. It’s got to be someone who thinks long term. They kept on telling him that this was ‘phase one.’ He asked what phase two might be once. They never told him. They only ever said that ‘he’d know it when he saw it.’ So, yeah, long term thinkers? You’ve tangled with Syndicate L, the Cabal and the Nine. Me, I’d bet on the Nine, or maybe Syndicate L, but I’d rule out the Cabal because they’ve been on the run for a couple years now.
“Plus, a couple of those guys showed up. That didn’t feel like a plan coming together. It was chaos for everyone. Besides, I’ve heard how they handle problems. They don’t hire people. They show up one day and start crushing skulls in their hands. That’s why if you pushed me, I’d have to pick the Nine or Syndicate L, but with a finger on the scale for the Nine. The Nine have a plan. Syndicate L only cares about you if they make money by taking you out. From what I’ve heard, every time Syndicate L has tangled with you, they’ve lost money.”
Haley moved to stand in front of Morgan. “That’s not the same thing as ‘I don’t know.’ You practically just told us it’s the Nine.”
Morgan shook her head. “No. I just told you that of the players that I know you’ve fought, the Nine are the best candidate. But they’re not the only players. The Chicago Outfit got kicked out of Grand Lake by the original League. Plus, they had ties to the Executioner, and you killed him.”
Before either Haley or I could protest that Sean had killed him, Morgan continued, “And even if you didn’t, if they want into this community, they aren’t fussy. They’re just looking for an excuse. Oh… And there’s one more possibility that maybe you haven’t been thinking about, but you should be. When the invaders named places to look for Abominator technology, the leader named coordinates in Grand Lake. Then part of your team fought aliens near those coordinates.
“A lot of people want Abominator technology, and you’re on their radar. The Nine want them, but the Nine compete with groups all over the world every time Abominator tech appears. Sooner or later, you’ll run into them.”
Morgan leaned back in her chair, “And that’s it. That’s all I have on this.”
I felt my mouth twist. “What about your headquarters’ address? Where have you been hiding all this time?”
“More than one place,” Morgan said. “We were in a couple hotels, a rented house, and a few abandoned factories. I left the addresses with the police.”
I tapped Haley’s shoulder with my finger. “How’s she doing?”
“Great. She hasn’t lied once.” Haley turned around to face me. “Do you want to go?”
“I guess.” I could have made that less ambiguous, but I didn’t have any questions left. I gestured toward the door and the night outside. “What about you?”
“I’m ready,” Haley started toward the door.
At almost the same time our comms started ringing. When we answered, Kayla said, “Almost everyone is here, but we’re missing Lucas, Kid Biohack, and Sydney.”