Lee leaned his arm on the monitor, pushing the keyboard backward to create more room to sit on the table.
“When I try to work out how to handle situations like this, I ask myself who’s got common interests? More often than not, I’m not the only one asking the question. For example, the League’s got common interests with Hardwick’s group and Justice Fist. They’re both probably running given what’s happened lately, but you might be able to pull in a few.
“As for Prime and the Executioner’s groups… Prime’s people want you out of the way of threatening their supply of new recruits, and they used to want to kill Red Lightning’s people to keep the juice’s secret safe. Ray’s people want to kill you, Hardwick’s group and all of Justice Fist too. So, there’s synergy there.”
“Synergy in that they both want to kill the same people, one of whom happens to be me.”
“Right, but that’s not the end of it. Ray’s group is small and understands modern weaponry. Prime’s is large and has a lot of people with powers. If they did get together they’d have a lot to offer each other — and a lot to argue about — which might be a nice lever for us if it comes to that.”
After that, we talked about plans for how to handle meeting Prime’s people next week.
An hour later, he left, and I finally got around to calling Isaac Lim back.
He answered on the first ring, and I put the picture on the big screen.
Isaac wore a helmet, green combat fatigues, and a thick, brown vest with “FBI” on it in big white letters. A sub-machinegun hung from a strap.
I could see trees, a couple trucks painted in camouflage colors, and a tent in the background. In the distance, I thought I heard shouting.
“Glad you called back,” Isaac said. “I’ve got to warn you that I might drop this call at any time.”
“What are you doing?”
“Can’t say, but if you remember another time you called me… Let’s say a ship or two got through and we had some landings. We’re dealing with them right now.”
“Don’t tell anybody.”
“I won’t. Uh… Why did you call?”
Even through the goggles on his helmet, I could see his eyes narrow. “What the hell do you think you’re doing challenging Prime? His people chewed through us like we were nothing, and I had powered agents in the field.”
“It wasn’t really my idea.”
“Goddamn it, I know. It was Lee’s. I told you not to trust that guy. What’s he trying to do, get you killed?”
“I think he’s trying to do exactly the opposite. I’ve known him all my life, and I think he owes Grandpa somehow.”
Isaac nodded his head. “Don’t assume that’s a good thing. I’ve been reading up on Lee/Gunther/Immortal or whatever we’re calling him today, and he first appeared with your Grandfather after some mission early in the war. Never did explain why. From what I’ve read, he’s known for keeping his deals. The bad news is if he doesn’t like you, he’s been known to keep them to the letter, and that doesn’t necessarily require leaving his clients alive. So, you’d better hope he likes you.”
“I’m pretty sure he does. Well, if that’s all–”
“One more thing, stall. We’ve got regular agents in Grand Lake watching Justice Fist and their families. After what happened to George Drucker, it had to happen. All our powered agents are busy up here and in the other landing spots. We’ve got most of the trustworthy supers in the northern Midwest up here too. Don’t expect much help if you call the Michigan Heroes Alliance. You’ll just get second-raters.”
“Wait, where are you?”
“Michigan’s upper peninsula. Don’t pass it on.”
“Well, I don’t think we can stall. We’re set to meet Prime next week Thursday. Will you be done by then?”
“If I’m lucky, sure, but I could just as easily be up here for a month.”
Isaac took a breath, and frowned. “I might just be getting paranoid, but isn’t it convenient that Prime comes when I’m dealing with one of the biggest incursions in years, guaranteeing you won’t get any help at all?”
“Are you suggesting Prime’s working with aliens?”
Isaac shook his head. “No, but something like it. I –”
A deep booming noise came over the audio. Isaac stumbled, the trees in the background shook, and the picture wobbled.
“Gotta go,” he said. “Good luck.”