I could see how Major Justice or the Nine might have come up with the idea though. Having people barrage you with requests that you surrender, some of them people you know… Well, it didn’t feel good.
Knowing that it had to be a ploy took a bit of the edge off, but I wondered if they’d done this before and to whom.
Then another thought hit me, “If you all are getting deluged with texts like I am right now, forward them all to Hal.”
“Whoa,” Vaughn said, “do you think they’re all the Nine’s puppets?”
Finding him among the group, I said, “I have no idea, but even if they aren’t, Hal or Tara might be able to find a pattern. Even if they didn’t just hand us their database of tools, they did show us who they can influence.”
Tara smiled, “Which might allow us to find common contacts and narrow down who the Nine is using to infiltrate the superhero community. It’s a good idea.”
Her approval was a relief—she was smarter about that kind of thing than I was.
Meanwhile, the messages continued.
Completely covered in his Storm King costume by then, Vaughn shook his head, “Wow, this last one I got kind of hurt. There was a girl with water powers? We almost got together… Anyway, her last message was kind of personal.”
Cassie, now also in costume, laughed, “That girl? She’s got no filter. When she’s angry she says anything.”
Adam stepped out of the shadows next to Kayla’s cubicle, “Was that Sofia? I never saw her get angry.”
Vaughn flicked his eyes in Adam’s direction, “Then you didn’t know her very well.”
Marcus grinned, “Or she only got upset with you.”
Still herself instead of Bloodmaiden, Amy raised an eyebrow, “Maybe we should compare notes?”
With a glance down at the comm on his wrist, Vaughn said, “You can do that, but right now all she’s going to say is surrender.”
“I don’t want to interrupt,” Adam said, “but I know where they are. You don’t see them in your spybots, right?”
The different spybots and cameras all showed on the big screen on the wall. None of them showed anyone—which had been worrying me. Major Justice had made it sound as if they had people waiting next to HQ’s exits.
At this point, all they showed was the November morning darkness. Dawn wouldn’t be until after 8 AM.
Watching Adam, I said, “I don’t see them.”
He grinned, his face visible with the hood down, “That’s right. You know why? Major Justice does work for the military. He made a chameleon cloaking material for them and they’re allowing him to borrow enough of what he made that his whole crew is invisible.”
I asked, “How did you find that out?”
He crossed his arms over his chest, “I have fairies in the right places.”
Haley looked up at him, “Do you know how many people we’re facing?”
Shaking his head, Adam said, “Not really. Fairies aren’t great at counting. It’s got to be more than 5 or 10, but it might just as easily be 30 or 1000. To them it’s all just ‘lots’ of people.”
I raised an eyebrow at him, “That’s an important difference. Is that the way it is with all fairies or are there smarter ones out there?”
He stared at me, “Of course there are smarter ones out there, but I try not to ask favors of those fairies because I end up owing them favors. You don’t want to owe favors to fairies. It’s never as easy to fulfill them as it seems.”
Part of me wanted to as him more about that, but the whole team was joining us now, everyone in costume or close to it.
Fortunately, Cassie brought up the other line of questions I’d been thinking of before I had the chance, “We need to hit them before they hit us. If we sit here and wait, they’re in the fight.”
When she said “they’re,” she pointed in the direction of Haley’s and my parents and Uncle Steve. They were sitting together at their cots, talking, but sometimes watching us.
We all went silent at that. Allowing Major Justice and the Nine access to them opened up whole new avenues of bad possibilities. Of course, they weren’t defenseless in here and both Chris and Kayla would most likely be with them.
“You should attack with as much force as you can,” Kals said. “Katuk’s supposed to keep me away from harm. We’ll be down here with them.”
Haley looked up at me without saying anything. I could guess what was going through her mind, but then she said, “That will have to be enough. Everyone’s right. We need to attack. Nick, can you tweak our suits so we can see Major Justice’s team?”
I said, “Maybe.”