We ran into the office, eyes on the security camera monitor, a flat screen hanging on the wall that showed all the entrances to the building.
Lee stood at the backdoor entrance.
Chris beeped him in.
When we got him downstairs, I asked him, “How’d you know I was here?”
“Mystic powers, and also, I called Larry, and he gave me the address.”
We stood together next to the elevator. “So,” I asked, “why are you here?”
“I talked to other people back at HQ, and thought I’d catch up with you. Nice job on the raid yesterday.”
“It could have gone better.”
“Raid?” Chris asked.
“We found out where Ray was and blew up some of his stuff. That’s how my armor got messed up.”
Lee nodded. “But you all got away, and you managed to destroy the Power Impregnator which could only have pulled people into their group, so it worked.”
“But,” Lee continued, “that’s not the main reason I’m here. I’ve got a few things that I’ll need from you. First it’s time to call in the people from California. Ray’s going to strike soon. You’ll need to get them in before it happens. The same’s true of any of the kids in Justice Fist. You’ve got a contact. See what you can get out of them.”
“OK. I can do that as soon as we’re done.”
“Great. Then I want to talk about what you’re building. What’s it got?”
I went over its features including the weapons, possibly going a little too long.
“Got it,” Lee said. “Armored. Fast moving on the ground. Can’t fly. And it’s got weapons that might stop them for a little while. Good enough. Who’s the second one for, him?”
He gestured toward Chris with his left hand.
“No. I was thinking Kayla. You heard she’s going to be acting as, I don’t know, some kind of coordinator. When we took on the mayor, a bunch of people got into HQ. Something like this might get her out.”
“Yeah. Not a bad idea. Think you could make hers into a backup communications center?”
I hadn’t thought about it. “Maybe.”
He turned to Chris. “So what kind of suit are you going to use?”
“If you guys need me, I thought I’d stick with the big one with the missiles. I used it last time.”
“Skip it,” Lee said. “Build another one like Nick’s. They’re not going to be stupid enough to stand around in a big group again, but with two or three of those, we’ve got some possibilities.”
“I don’t think Kayla’s going to be interested in fighting.”
“Is she interested in not dying? Once she’s in that thing, she’s a target. She won’t have much of a choice. When you’ve got one built, train her in the basics. With luck, she won’t have to suit up.”
I thought about arguing with him, but I didn’t, and he left.
Modular or not, it still took us hours to put them together. We stayed up till 3 am on Sunday, and I came back on Monday morning. Chris had a summer job (mowing lawns for a landscaping company), so he wasn’t back till after supper.
We worked until two on Monday and Tuesday. By Wednesday afternoon, I’d finished what was left, installing League communicators in all three of them.
Dead tired, I biked home after that, leaving a voicemail asking Chris if he could show Kayla how things worked.
* * *
I slept in on Thursday.
I didn’t wake up until ten in the morning which for me felt like all day. I lay in bed for half an hour more, still feeling tired, and wondering when Alex, Brooke and Jenny would show up.
I hoped I wasn’t leading them into a trap. I’d explained our speculations that Syndicate L might be paying Ray to kill me, and the three of them might be a bonus. Alex told me, “You need us. We’re coming. Don’t worry about it. Besides if it’s Syndicate L, that just makes it better.”
I didn’t ask how that made it better.
A warm wind blew through the window, long since fixed from when Justice Fiend had trashed it.
It felt good, like the summers that I’d had every year of my childhood. I thought about calling Daniel and seeing if he had time to get together and hang out and relax for a couple hours.
I sat up in bed and reached toward the cell phone on my desk, the one my parents paid for.
It started ringing.
I flipped it open. The phone’s screen said, “Chris Cannon. Answer? Ignore?”
I began to click “Answer,” but then my League phone started ringing. I flipped it open to find that Daniel and Haley were both calling me on separate lines, and that they’d both set their calls to yellow alert.
Not quite sure whose call I should answer first, I hesitated.
A high pitched pinging noise came from under my bed. I’d put the stealth suit, my helmet, and the guitar under it. While not the most secure place to keep something like that, I felt safer with the guitar in reach.
The pinging noise came from the League communicator I’d added to the outfit.
Pulling the jacket out from under the bed, and grabbing the jacket’s left sleeve, I tapped on the face of the communicator. The screen showed that the League had received a voice mail from Lt. Van Kley.
I listened to it, keeping the volume down so it wouldn’t carry into the hall.
“Heroes League, this is Lt. Van Kley of the Grand Lake Police Departement. I’m requesting your help in apprehending the people responsible for the disappearance of several members of Justice Fist and their parents.”