Good point, I thought back at her. I don’t know what we should do with all of that, but the only thing your people suggested was that we should do something about whoever was selling equipment to the Nine and Syndicate L. They didn’t mention anything about the equipment.
Daniel gave off a hint of amusement that felt like a gentle breeze in my head. If they don’t have some kind of plan for it themselves, I’d be surprised. I’m betting that they’ve got other people on the island to clean up after we do whatever we do.
I felt Cassie thinking even if I didn’t hear it. Now that you say it, yeah. I’d bet on it.
You know, I thought at them, when they sent in Larry last time, they sent him in because they half-expected he’d sink the island.
I’m pretty sure they don’t expect that of us, Cassie thought back. You’re careful and so is Daniel. I’m the only wild card in this group and even I don’t have a reputation for accidentally blowing things up.
I thought back to Daniel’s comment, If they’re planning to swarm in and grab everything they can, maybe we should make sure it all gets trashed. It’s not that I distrust our government, but if Armory’s got alien tech and it gets back to the Nine, that’s not good.
Crap, Cassie’s thought pierced my mind like a bullet. Now you’re making me paranoid.
Daniel’s sigh was both verbal and mental, But after everything that happened with the True, it’s a depressingly realistic kind of paranoid. Let’s table this for now and come back to it while we’re planning. For now, I think we should go see at least one band and leave after that.
Neither Cassie or I needed to ask why. He’d left enough of his thoughts unprotected for us to feel his worry that if they were watching us now, taking in a show fit our cover better than leaving.
As we all thought about that, Cassie stepped out of the women’s bathroom, “You know who’s playing? Vincent Sucks. I feel like they follow me around.”
Daniel and I both laughed, but neither of us said anything more, knowing that if Armory were paranoid enough to bug the area outside the entrance to his lab, we’d be giving away more than we wanted to.
We walked down the long, concrete hall, back toward the more public areas of the arena and watched a Jazz trio in one of the bars, followed by a forgettably famous band from the 90s in one of the arenas.
It was past midnight by the time we got back to the hotel, smelling of alcohol and our own sweat. That didn’t mean that the night was done—far from it. I had to lead in the rest of the roachbots, one at a time, scouting out the lab, and then placing them for maximum effect in surveillance.
I was tired, but at least I hadn’t drunk very much. I’d spilled more on myself than I let inside. Using the implant to connect to the bots made the process less about physical than mental control in any case.
Daniel and Cassie stayed up for a while, but it was all my job after that. I stayed up for a few more hours, flying, crawling, and sometimes drilling the bots into place. By the time I was done, it was three in the morning. I stared out the windows into the city. Crowds still stood out in the streets, laughing and talking. The arena glowed with lights and signs with the names of the bands scrolling across the marquee.
I thought I saw Vincent Sucks scroll past. We hadn’t seen them, but that was fine. We’d been in the green room for one of their concerts back in the summer when we’d fought the dragon in the Castle Rock Compound. That was the summer where I’d realized that for some being a super meant hobnobbing with celebrities and actually being the kind of people we were pretending to be.
I’d known it already, but staying in the compound made the line between feeling separate from the rest of humanity because of your abilities and thinking it made you better than the rest more obvious. I wasn’t sure where I was going with that line of thought, but my implant notified me that my comm had notifications for me.
I’d turned them off while I’d been placing the bots, but now there was no reason not to look at them. Most were part of on-going conversations that I’d been expecting, including one from Chris about the company we were forming. Vaughn wanted to be an investor. I decided to put off thinking about that until morning.
One, however, wasn’t part of an on-going conversation and centralized all of my fears in one spot. It was a message from Kid Biohack.
I opened it, seeing him sitting in a chair in the main room of a suite every bit as large as ours except where ours was spare and modern in style, his was ornate. He didn’t have his mask on and as I looked at him, I remembered when he’d seen my face.
It was after the fight with The Thing That Eats. He’d been freed from its control and everyone who’d been in the fight—all of our team plus friends from Stapledon slept in the League’s HQ. We’d allowed him in for what there was of a victory party with everyone else. He’d been blocked just like the rest of us. Allowing him to sleep over and watch movies hadn’t seemed like a risk then.
Feeling a pain in my gut that I knew wasn’t real, I started the message going.
“Rocket,” he looked up into the camera, “I thought I saw you in the arena on Renewal Island today. You seemed busy, so I left you alone.”