My thoughts went in all directions. Could I maybe turn off my video when I made the return call and say, “Nope, that wasn’t me?” As much as that sounded tempting, I might actually need his help sometime. Bearing in mind his powers—the ability to alter his physical speed, strength, and toughness by altering his biology—and the fact that he could put himself into Jaclyn’s league in those areas, I didn’t want to hurt his feelings.
He was a bit of a bro, but he had a moral code buried somewhere underneath a need to be liked by as many people as possible. He’d fought his best friend after it turned out that the guy had been robbing armored cars.
Maybe we could bring him as backup? I didn’t want to. As much as we were here to put Armory out of business, we wanted to do it as quietly as possible. While I didn’t know for sure what Kid Biohack had specialized in at Stapledon, his only options were espionage/investigation, technology, magic, and combat.
I’d have put a few thousand dollars on a bet that it was combat without much fear.
Meanwhile, his image in the message kept on talking. I backed up to watch what I’d missed.
Kid Biohack laughed, “Of course, that wasn’t the only reason I didn’t. I’ve got a thing for Shanna. She’s an online model? Hawt. I was talking with her and her friend Audrey who’s also a model. They’re here for the festival. I know them from my online stuff. Anyway, it turns out that Bryce, who I thought was just her friend, is actually Shanna’s boyfriend and he took a punch at me. I didn’t do much to him at all. I just caught his arm and pushed him back. I didn’t want to punch through his head, you know? He’s just a normal guy.
“Anyway, Shanna and Bryce are a little angry with me and it’s getting awkward over here. So I’m kind of wondering, are you here for the festival or on a mission? Because if it’s the festival, great. Maybe I could hang out with you tomorrow? That’d give them time to cool off. If you’re on a mission, though, that’s even better. Because girls love that, right? I mean, maybe you don’t know that because you’re dating a super, but trust me, normal girls love the danger thing.”
If I’d had any temptation to bring him in, that killed it. If even hints that we were more than we seemed made it to the wrong person, we were screwed.
Then he grinned, “Audrey’s still into me, though. It’s the danger thing, I’m sure. Anyway, dude, call me back. If there’s danger, I’m your man. If there’s no danger, we’re still good and we can take in a few bands. Not only that, but I know where to find the best fucking sushi on this island. They rent private karaoke rooms. So, bonus, right?’
The message ended with a wide smile and a wave.
I closed the connection, sinking further into my chair and looking out toward the ocean. Past the island, darkness hid where the ocean met the sky. Walking out to the balcony and clearing my head by flying a lap around the island almost sounded like a good idea. It wasn’t and I knew it, but it would have been nice.
Pushing myself out of my chair, I walked to my room, stripped off my clothes, and went to bed. Tomorrow I’d have to figure out how to let Kid Biohack down gently.
* * *
I woke to hear Daniel’s voice in my head, Nick, they’ve got a buffet downstairs, but it closes at 10 AM. So you’ve got 30 minutes unless you want to get room service.
Where’s Cassie? I opened my eyes, realizing that the ceiling of my room was all mirrored glass. Interesting.
Downstairs and still eating, I felt Daniel’s amusement over our connection. Cassie ate a lot.
Missing the buffet and ordering room service seemed in character for the kind of people we were pretending to be, but there was an issue with that. I felt hungry. I’ll throw something on and run down there.
Leaving yesterday’s wadded-up clothes on the floor next to my suitcase, I pulled out a new pair of shorts and a t-shirt and put them on. Deciding to ignore the fact that I’d deliberately spilled beer on myself yesterday, I skipped taking a shower, pulled on my sneakers, and waved to Daniel as I ran for the elevator.
Stale beer smell combined with being unwashed while running for breakfast would be in character too.
Taking the elevator down to the second floor where the buffet was didn’t take long. I mostly had the elevator to myself and the people who did get on didn’t stand next to me for very long before moving to a different corner.
Whoever set up the breakfast menu had gone for a European feel—pastries, oatmeal, eggs, beans, sausage, bacon, fruits, different kinds of bread, lunchmeat, and a variety of beverages. At any rate, it was more interesting than your average US hotel’s combination of pastries, boiled eggs, and make-your-own waffles.
I took a little bit of everything except for the oatmeal and looked around for Cassie. After making one round of the main breakfast room, I stepped into the second room, checking the booths and tables for her without success. Since the rooms were half full, I had no trouble finding a booth for myself.
I sent her an implant to implant message asking, Done with breakfast?
Yes. She sent me a short video of the hallway to our room. Did you just get there? Go figure. I guess we’ll kill time while you eat.
That left me eating alone—which wasn’t that bad. It was a nice enough room. Between the white and silver tables, white and silver chairs, and the white-painted walls, it felt a bit bright, but it looked out on the city and the green lawns and palm trees around our hotel.
I was midway through eating my bowl of fruit when I felt the small wind of someone passing—except she didn’t pass. She sat down across from me. Dark skinned with short, tightly curled hair, she wore a pink tank top and jeans.
As she smiled, I realized I knew her. Her name was Yoselin. The last time I’d seen her was before my grandfather died. She’d come because her father Alexis wanted to talk to Larry and my grandfather, leaving me to entertain her for a few hours. It had been fun, but it wasn’t something I even talked about with other supers.
Her father was a Cuban tech superhero who was wanted in the US because of various Cold War incidents. Plus, the Dixieland Defenders hated him, especially the ones in Florida. I wasn’t sure why, but I wasn’t going to go out of my way to ask them.
“Charles! It’s been so long. We should catch up. I’ve been looking for you all over.”
“Hey,” I said, “it has been a long time. Are you here for the festival?”
It was nice of her to help me keep cover by using the name on my passport, but since I’d never told her what it was or even told her I was coming, I didn’t like where this was going.