Was this a pull-off-the-bandage sort of situation? Because Dad seemed to be right on the edge of understanding everything. On the other hand, Mom had been captured by Ray and the Cabal when she remembered, very much a sudden change, and she’d taken more than a year to talk to us about it.
We needed cooperation right now and we were going to have to hide my family and maybe all of our families in HQ.
There was no way we were going to avoid bringing up awkward memories there.
I had the suit absorb my helmet and said, “Dad. I’m the Rocket.”
Dad stared at me and wobbled on his feet. Uncle Steve rushed over to him and put his hand on Dad’s shoulder, ready in case Dad began to fall. He didn’t. He opened his mouth without saying anything and then closed it.
Then he said, “I’m sorry. I…”
He stopped again.
I said, “It’s not your fault. Grandpa Vander Sloot was the first Rocket. In order to protect you and us, the Mentalist hid anything related to superheroes from your conscious mind, allowing you to not know and preventing any telepaths from catching it on a quick scan of your brain.”
Dad managed to gasp out, “That’s not right.”
“I didn’t like it either. All of the grandchildren had something very similar that wore off a while back. It wore off on Mom too. We’ve been waiting for it to finally break. I’m sorry. We looked into removing it sooner, but we were told that it could damage your brain. The best thing we could do was to let it fall naturally.”
I stopped, watching my dad’s face for his reaction. His mouth still half-open, he turned from me to Mom who’d walked up to him and held his hand, saying, “He’s right. I’ve tried to tell you before and you couldn’t hear it.
Dad took a series of long breaths and then said, “Where’s Rachel really?”
“On her way home,” I said, “but she’s in space. She’s got roughly the same powers as Ghostwoman in the Heroes’ League—except it turns out that that was Grandma Vander Sloot and she had more powers than she knew, including the ability to fly faster than light in outer space under some circumstances.”
Dad let out a breath, “This is a lot to take in. I’m going to need some time to think about it.”
At that moment, we all heard footsteps coming down the stairway. I stepped forward, looking out of the laundry room’s door to see Amy standing on the stairway on the other side of the room. Still in full Bloodmaiden armor, but holding Grunion, our family’s cat in her arms, she said, “The police are on the way. I think we need to get your family out of here unless you want to risk putting them under police protection.”
I couldn’t assume that the police were connected to the Nine, but I also couldn’t assume that they had no connection, “Yeah. Let’s get them out of here.”
Dad looked over at me, “Out of here?”
I nodded, “You were just attacked in your own home and we know the Nine were involved. The guy on the floor over there knew who I was. That means you’ll have to disappear for a few days, hopefully not longer.”
Dad stared out into space and then shook his head, “I’ve had to counsel people the Nine… changed. Let’s go.”
Sirens in the distance began to grow closer.
“Crap,” I said, “can you turn them invisible or something?”
Amy looked up toward the noise, “It sounds like I’ll have to.”
“Right,” I said, and setting the helmet to expand and cover my head, I ran back into the backroom where Number Eight’s body lay and grabbed his cane.
As I came out, I found that my parents and Uncle Steve were following Amy up the stairs. Once we got upstairs and stood in the hallway, I held out the cane for Amy to grab, “Could you make this disappear with them?”
She took it, but said, “The cops are going to be pissed.”
“I think I can work it out later. Besides, it’s too late for them to prosecute Number Eight. He won’t get out of a conviction because there’s no evidence except for this cane.”
Amy laughed, “I’m not worried. I’m surprised you’re not.”
“I am,” I said.” It’s just that I’m more worried that if I don’t figure this one out, we’re all going to die from Rook’s latest version of my grandpa’s tech.”
Dad glanced at the refrigerator with its old pictures of our family with Rachel and me as children and then over to Amy, “I can’t believe you’re still holding him. He doesn’t like strangers.”
Amy shrugged, “It’s okay. I speak cat.”
Grunion said nothing, staring at everybody with dark feline eyes.
Then Dad looked back at me, “Stay alive.”
Vaughn’s voice came over the comm, “Rocket, I know you’re supposed to stay where you are, but we need you. Bloodmaiden wouldn’t hurt either if she can get away.”