Turning off the TV and leaving the remote on the chair, Cassie walked over to the table in the middle of the room, asking, “From what little I’ve heard of Kid Biohack from you and the rest of the team, he loves any camera he can find, but he’s on the right side. From what I’ve seen from your recording, Yoselin might be trustworthy for what we’re doing, but she’s probably got plans for Armory’s stuff that we might not like.”
Daniel put his phone in his pocket and joined her at the table, reaching it at about the same time I pulled out a chair, “You were saying we might want to blow up Armory’s stuff. With the Nine there and Yoselin likely to grab what she can for Cuba, it makes even more sense. It could make for a good distraction on the way out.”
I sat down in the chair, noticing that it was surprisingly comfortable, “Are you making a guess or is that something you’re seeing in the future?”
Shaking his head, Daniel said, “We’re too far out from trying it and I haven’t had any random visions. Once we start planning, I’ll have a better sense of it.”
I nodded, “And for that, I’ll need to check what the bots have gotten overnight plus maybe a full normal day. It’d be nice to get some sense of when Armory’s around. Then we can figure out our plan. In the short term though, am I right in thinking we’re willing to take a chance on Yoselin and, I don’t know, bring Kid Biohack in as possible backup? Combat’s more his thing than investigation and espionage.”
Daniel nodded. Cassie shook her head, “I know I said it sounded like Kid Biohack’s okay, but he’s such a camera hog. I think he’ll be a great backup, but I hope he doesn’t turn this into a big media thing. The only reason I’m saying yes is that at the point we need him, we’ll already be making so much noise it won’t matter if the guy’s putting it all on video and telling the world how lucky we are to have him.”
Laughing, Daniel said, “It’s better than having no backup, but I can’t say I disagree. I watched a few of his videos this morning. I’m amazed that he can talk as much as he does during a fight.”
I sighed, “Yeah. I got to watch that in real-time once. So, I’ll call Yoselin and after she gets here, we’ll explain him to her. After that, we might have to hang out with him too. He managed to get the people he was with angry at him so he was wondering if we were open to him joining us.”
Grinning, Cassie said, “The three-way didn’t work out? Whatever. It might even help us sell our cover. We just have to do an extra good job of putting on our glitter dust.”
A hint of worry came through from Daniel’s end of our telepathic link, but his voice didn’t sound worried, “Maybe we could have him pretend to meet us for the first time?”
“Works for me,” Cassie said. “He will be meeting most of us for the first time.
* * *
It didn’t go as badly as you’d expect. I can’t say it was exactly how I’d have wanted to spend a day, but it could have been worse. Kid Biohack didn’t make any slips that blew our cover—not even with Audrey, the woman he’d described as still being into him. From the amount of time she spent touching him, I gave him the benefit of the doubt there.
We’d briefed Yoselin on our cover and vice versa. She was pretending to be the daughter of a higher up in the Cuban Communist Party—which wasn’t much of a stretch for her. I don’t know if the party would have approved of her portrayal, but she fit in with our “rich kid” characters.
Around 5:30, Kid Biohack got a call, learning that he’d been forgiven and could he come back to the group now? He left with Audrey within seconds, but not before thanking us and letting me know he was up for “anything” while we were here.
That was subtle for him, subtle enough that Aubrey didn’t even pay attention. I had no complaints.
Later that night though, Daniel, Cassie, Yoselin, and I left the last band we wanted to see and went up to our room. There, we went through the day’s footage from the bot feeds, learning that Armory spent most days in the office, meeting with his engineers, and working on new suits in his lab.
We also learned that Yoselin was right about the Nine.
This was the scene: Len Jones, also known as Armory, stood next to a mech. It was open, all of the outside panels off, exposing circuitry, cables, artificial muscles with similarity to my grandfather’s earlier designs, and the inside of Armory’s intricate joint designs. I could have stopped it right there for more examination, but didn’t because I was streaming it to everyone.
About six feet tall, Len was balding with white hair and a combover that didn’t hide it. He wore a blue coverall that might be for piloting mechs. As we watched, he turned as new people walked toward him. He had none of the slowness I’d have expected out of a seventy-year-old.
It raised questions, but not as many as his visitors. I’d have recognized them anywhere—John Kowalski, the first Captain Commando and Cassie’s dad, along with Tara, a friend from the Stapledon program and now a member of the League.
At any rate, that’s how they appeared at first glance. Cassie, Daniel, and I all knew better. We knew that Cassie’s dad was more than ten years dead, but that the Nine had cloned him. As for myself, I couldn’t have pointed out the differences between this woman and Tara, but I knew they weren’t the same person.
The Nine had come into possession of alternate versions of her too. I wondered how many they had these days.