Jaclyn stepped forward, “I don’t want to be ‘that guy,’ but weren’t we going to try to see what we could do to slow things down and give the Nine’s puppets some space so they could be flexible? That was the plan last night.”
“I know. You’re right. We were going to do that,” Haley said, “And that’s not the only thing we need to think about. Lim called this morning… If we go in and people die, the public could end up on Major Justice’s side just because they don’t expect us to kill people.”
Vaughn held up his hands, “Look, we’re being pulled in different directions. They’re all right, but we’re about to be attacked. We’ve got to do more than sit and wait. I think we have to go in.”
“Let’s fake them out and by that, I mean everybody,” Cassie said. “The public doesn’t want to see us kill people, but if we’re attacked and we defend ourselves, they can’t argue. So we send in a group—two groups. One of them is bait. They’re polite. They’re obvious. They get attacked. The other one is is hidden. They go straight for Major Justice, but they don’t hit him until he hits us. We film the whole time and release the whole thing.”
“Oh,” I said, watching Cassie grin. She seemed to be pleased with herself. “That’s a good idea. Team Hidden pretty much has to be Daniel and Haley plus some sneaky heavy hitters. Team Obvious tries to talk them down. Team Obvious needs to be able to talk them down, but also not get taken over and also not die if they attack. I volunteer for that, but someone else has to do the talking.”
Vaughn gave a wave, “I volunteer. You know me. I can bullshit him, and I’m not Team Hidden material. I’m definitely Team Obvious. I’m more durable these days, remember?”
I couldn’t argue with that. For Vaughn, Dr. Nation’s regimen for amping up latent powers had worked.
“I’m with Team Obvious, too,” Cassie said. “We’ve got to put a bunch of people out there so they believe it—Marcus, Jaclyn, and I don’t know? Amy? Izzy?”
“Not Jaclyn and Izzy,” I said. “The two of them could take out the whole team if they get controlled, but of them could at least stop the other if they’re separate.”
“Me,” Jaclyn said. “More people think of me as part of the team.”
“I think that’s enough people for Team Obvious,” Haley looked around the group, “unless someone has a good reason to go.”
Amy spoke, her voice holding a hint of her actual, vaguely British or Irish accent, “I should go. I’ve made charms that Team Hidden can use, but I think I’d add flexibility to Team Obvious.”
Haley cocked her head, “I think you’re right. Let’s get both teams ready to go.”
Eyeing Vaughn, I said, “If we’re trying to make contact without escalating things, what’s our line? Maybe we’re considering surrendering and we want to discuss terms? I’m not sure they’ll believe that given our last conversation, but that’s what they want.”
As Amy passed out the charms she’d mentioned, Daniel came closer to Vaughn and I. I asked him, “Do you sense any change in our chances with this plan versus staying in HQ?”
He shook his head, “I’m not sure. When I look at them in comparison to each other, I feel like there’s a better chance trying the plan, but when I sense the future in general and consider our chances with different plans, I don’t sense any difference in anything we try.”
Vaughn peered at him, “How does that work?”
Letting out a breath, Daniel said, “I think something else is happening right now that we can’t easily stop. I’ve seen similar things happen with natural disasters. I don’t get anything clear until it’s over.”
Vaughn held up his hands, “Are we having an earthquake or an early blizzard or something?”
Daniel stared out into the distance, “I don’t think so, but it’s not always a natural disaster. Sometimes I don’t know what happened. I just know it’s something big enough that nothing else comes out right until it’s over.”
“How often does that kind of thing happen?” I tried to remember any other time he’d mentioned something like it and couldn’t.
“Pretty much never,” Daniel said. “Maybe at most once a year and then it doesn’t always matter.”
Then he stared out into the distance again, “Right now it’s getting worse. I think this is the biggest one I’ve felt in a while.”
As he said it, I noticed a kind of low level hum. It wasn’t from inside HQ. It wasn’t even physical. At first, I wondered if I was getting some kind of bleed over from Daniel’s prescience, but when I let myself feel it, I knew that it wasn’t from our link.
It was something that I could sense. I’d felt something like it while doing exercises Kee assigned me.