Soon after that, we all went back to base. After asking Daniel, I stripped out of the full Rocket suit and showered. Haley had assured me that it was a necessity. I put on a real pair of jeans and a t-shirt because she’d also assured me that my nanotech-produced clothing also needed washing.
Daniel had assured me that the chance of anything happening in the next hour or two was extremely unlikely.
I stepped out of the locker room to find that we weren’t under attack. In fact, I stepped out to find that Daniel had stepped out of my lab and was walking toward the locker room. Between his prescience and the unintentional telepathic link we shared within a certain range, the convenience of his appearance was easily explained.
Over on the far end of the room from us, Amy appeared to be performing a ritual among symbols she’d drawn on the floor. Haley stood nearby, still in costume, watching. On the same side of the room, Kayla continued to sit at her desk, working and glancing in Amy and Haley’s direction.
“What did you want to show me,” Daniel asked, walking up and waiting for my response.
It was kind of him to ask. Thanks to the connection we’d developed as children, he might have been able to get it without me even knowing.
“Jody seemed to be afraid when he looked at me. I’d been watching him as he left and thanks to Artificer stuff, I could him walking away even though he was warping time. Something about his expression makes me think that he could tell that I could see him normally. It might just be a side effect of his power, but when Kee was pretending to be a human named Tikki, she had time powers. Anyway, take a look at my memory and see what you get.”
Even though I didn’t relive the memory, I felt something. Meanwhile, Daniel’s eyes seemed to stare at nothing and his mouth dropped open a little, but then he asked, “Do you mind if I look at your memories of Tikki?”
“Go ahead,” I said.
Though those memories didn’t flash before my eyes either, I found echoes of emotions that I’d felt on Hideaway bubbling up—fear, excitement, relief, and amazement.
When he stopped, Daniel took a breath, shaking his head, “I knew it was bad because I caught bits when you were thinking about it, but I’ve never poked around. I should have asked about it. I wish I’d been there.”
I shrugged, “Lee said the Human Ascendancy has problems with telepaths and I haven’t talked about it much.”
Daniel nodded, “Neither have Marcus, Jaclyn, or Cassie. I wish you had. That’s not something to bottle up. Anyway, I don’t see any sign that Jody’s anything like Tikki. You didn’t get the same feeling that you got off of Kee when you first met her and I don’t think Jody was sensing anything like that in you. From your memory, it doesn’t seem like Jody noticed anything until you watched him go. If I had to guess, it might be that you’re unintentionally warping time to see him and he can see or feel it.”
Then Daniel stopped, waiting for me.
“That’s possible,” I said. “I did consider it, but I was a little worried about why he could feel it. If we’re lucky, it might not be directly related to the Artificers. It’s just that everything seems to be pointing in their direction lately.”
Nodding, Daniel said, “I get it and I can’t promise there are no connections but if I try to feel for Artificers in Jody’s future, I don’t feel a strong connection. Again, the future’s always fuzzy, and Artificers are weird but I’d bet on him being a normal guy before anything else,”
I began to say, “Then I guess we’ve got nothing to worry about,” but I never finished the sentence.
Amy’s voice, amplified by some kind of magic, echoed through the base—“I found him.”
Daniel blinked, “We probably ought to go over there.”
I agreed and we started walking across the room, passing trophies from our grandparents on our right and Kayla’s desk and the group conference table on the other. We weren’t alone. Tara had stepped out of my lab. Kals and Julie appeared out of wherever they’d been and were walking alongside Katuk whose silver suit glittered in the light.
Dog curiosity piqued, Tiger followed everyone else, shedding bits of fur as he walked. I’d had no idea how much fur a dog could lose before we got him. Of course, he was larger than most.
Daniel and I arrived about the same time as everyone else, deliberately standing between Tiger and the symbols Amy had drawn in chalk and blood on the concrete floor. As the massive dog pushed in to sniff, I asked him not to touch the symbols and especially not to lick them. He tilted his head to look at me, didn’t reply, but also didn’t lick up the blood.
In the middle of the symbols was a crudely drawn representation of the city of Grand Lake and the smaller cities around it. She’d gone into more detail than I’d have expected, including not only Grand Lake, but Lake Michigan, the highway that ran through downtown, and other major roads. She hadn’t drawn buildings but used symbols that resembled our letters.
Amy held out her hand over a spot outside of Grand Lake. It didn’t seem to be part of any city, just a bit of countryside near a river small enough that I didn’t know its name. Then she let a drop of blood fall. It hit the concrete and didn’t spatter, staying together and glowing a dull red.
Thinking about my parents, my uncle, and everyone else’s families, I said, “We’ll need to scout it out, but I think we need to go in as soon as we can after that.”