Adding more to my disquiet, my implant chose that moment to create a brief illusion of wires threaded through her brain and label it, “Human Ascendancy implant.”
That brought up a small storm of thoughts, questions, and feelings, starting with whether she was allied with the Ascendancy because they were not nice people. They were the Abominators’ former human slaves who decided to carry on their empire in the tradition of their masters.
That didn’t seem like the most likely possibility though. I remembered that her father had been the sidekick of a Russian super who’d been investigating Abominator tech, causing them to both go up against and eventually befriend Grandpa and Larry.
Most likely her tech dated from that. Taking a chance, I told my implant to send her a ping.
Her eyes widened.
I didn’t know what she was getting from her implant, but mine told me that it had gotten a reply using an older protocol—about forty years old.
I told my implant to open a communications channel—which might not have been the wisest thing, but I’d interfaced with lots of Abominator descended tech a year or more ago without issue. Plus, I’d been contacting the nearest ansible and keeping my implant up to date.
Aloud, she said, “I am here for the festival. What luck! I’m on my own. Maybe we can catch a show together?”
I smiled, “I don’t see why not, assuming our tastes match up.”
She gave a wide grin, and I heard her over the implant to implant channel, Assuming our tastes match up? Nice.
“We like some of the same bands,” she spoke unaccented English—at least to my ears. If I remembered correctly, she’d been planning to attend the University of Florida. Being the daughter of a major Cuban hero could only give her better access to education than the average person.
The way I heard the story, your dad and Larry were officially on different sides the last time they met up. It’s just that they both had a problem with Armory. Where are we?
Aloud, I added, “That’s true. I hope a few of them are playing at the festival.”
She winked at me, raising her left hand as she talked, “Don’t be negative. We might discover new bands that we both like.”
Over the implant, she said, There’s more going on than just Armory’s arms dealing. We’ve been tracking down agents of the Nine in Cuba and they came here. We think that the Nine might be one of Armory’s financial backers. We think they might share whatever Armory has under the arena.
With a grin to respond to what she’d said aloud, I said, “Discovering new bands might be fun, I’ll just have to clear it with my friends. We were coming together. I want to make sure that they’re open to letting others into our group.”
It really is complicated. More complicated than you’d think. I already saw another super around here that I don’t want to bring in. If say yes to you, but no to him, that could lead to awkward questions.
She grinned, “I understand. I want your friends to feel comfortable with me too.”
“Great,” I said, and thought back, Are you really working alone?
She took a sip out of the cup of coffee she’d put down in the booth. Yes and no. I’m not the only one here. Renewal is too close to Cuba for us to ignore it. I’ve got people I can call for help, but because I’m a hero of the people, they trust me to meet with you without assuming I’m about to run away. So no one is looking over my shoulder.
I started to eat my bowl of fruit again. Good. We’re here to stop Armory from selling to the Nine and other criminal groups, but we’re not acting directly as agents of our government. We’re on our own. That said, if you’re here to grab Armory’s stuff for the good of Cuba, we’re not going to help with that or even let it happen when we can see it.
She smiled. I understand. It’ll be like it always was. We help each other when we can and when it’s more important than either of our countries.
Aloud, she said, “I’m going to grab a little more food. Be back in a second.”
In my head, she said, I’ve been seeing you in the news ever since you started wearing the suit. The way I remember it when we last talked, you weren’t planning on following your grandfather into this life.
Hearing the clink as she grabbed a plate in the other room, I thought back, My friends were interested in reforming the League. Also, the mayor of Grand Lake went after us and he wasn’t the only one. It was as much about fighting to stay alive as saving people’s lives at first. It still is some days. Um… To go back to why we’re here… You don’t have any reason to think that sorcerer um… Sloan or his earth elemental is still around here, do you?