Sunday night, Marcus and I placed roachbots around the city, and sat back to wait for something exciting to happen.
It didn’t. We went home around two the in morning, having discovered that people really did sneak in after the beach officially closed to drink. They also got discovered by rangers, and then ticketed and fined by the police.
It seemed distinctly less fun than the stories I’d heard.
* * *
On Monday morning my League phone rang. I checked the ID. It was Haley calling from her phone.
I’d been using my phone to check email, so it wasn’t a lot of work to take the call.
I sat up in bed, and said, “Haley, are you there yet?”
“Nick, this is our second day here.”
That did make sense. I’d last talked to her while they were driving, and it did only take two days to get to Montana from Grand Lake. So if they’d left on Thursday, they’d have been there by Saturday.
“Oh, right. What are your plans?”
“Fishing and hiking, mostly. I think Mom and I might go shopping tomorrow, and then we’ll go to Yellowstone next week. There are a lot of little towns here with touristy shops—cowboy hats, fudge, souvenirs, turquoise jewelry, shirts with wolves on them… You know. I’m going to buy you something, but, I don’t know what yet.”
“I’ll be happy with anything,” I began, thinking that I hadn’t gotten her anything when I visited my grandparents at their cabin. The lake wasn’t a major draw for tourists, but I had seen souvenirs here and there. I wished I’d known you were supposed to buy stuff for people if you went on vacation without them.
She kept on talking. “It’s weird out here, Nick. I can smell bears, wolves, buffalo, antelope, deer, elk… Sometimes the smells are overwhelming.”
“In a fight between you and a bear, I’d bet on you.”
“I don’t want to find out, but I’m not worried about fights. Everything smells so good. I almost want to hunt, but I don’t really.” She paused. “How are you doing with Evil Beatnik? I haven’t been online at all.”
I told her.
“You think you’re all being influenced? Why haven’t you called Lee? He’s over thirty.”
“He left on a job last week. I’ve been checking the news to see if any governments fell, but not so far.”
“What about Larry, or your mom? I know she doesn’t want to talk about it, but for something like this, wouldn’t she help?”
“I don’t know. I don’t feel like I can say anything about this stuff yet, but Larry… I should have called him.”
“Or that kid… Remember King of Storms? He’s a wizard. Even if he doesn’t like Vaughn, I be he could protect himself from Evil Beatnik, and maybe he could protect everybody. And what about Jaclyn’s grandfather? I know Jaclyn’s been asking questions, but maybe he should be leading you—”
Sitting on my bed and thinking about it, I zoned out. Why hadn’t we thought of that, and why had Haley?
The answer was obvious. Whatever his range was, she was outside Evil Beatnik’s influence. We weren’t.
“Nick?” Haley asked. “Are you there?”
We talked for twenty minutes longer. When we hung up, I got out of bed.
* * *
Rachel and I got into League HQ by ten, allowing everyone in the family to pretend that we had summer jobs. We did, kind of. If a supervillain we caught had a bounty on his head, we would receive it. We hadn’t gotten anything off the Cabal’s people because they’d all walked away in the end.
On the other hand, Ray and his people had amounted to thousands of dollars between those of us who’d been there.
I spent it all surprisingly quickly as I rebuilt the main Rocket suit, and refitted a couple spares, but still, we were earning real money. The trick was making it available to us in our normal lives. Thus, fake jobs.
I stepped out of the elevator into HQ’s main room as Rachel solidified about ten feet ahead of me.
Past the trophies, momentos, and awards, Kayla sat at the table. In the very front of the room, the twenty foot tall screen showed four separate screens worth of information—transcribed police and fire department radio chatter, local news shows, an FBI database, and a web browser open to Double V’s website.
Rachel and I walked across the room toward the table.
As I pulled a chair out from under the table, Kayla turned to glare at the two of us.
“I’m not really part of this team at all, am I?”
Even in the dim light of HQ’s many screens, I could tell she was angry. “You held two team meetings without me and you didn’t even call.”
Rachel and I glanced at each other. I couldn’t remember Kayla ever freaking out like this.
Kayla continued as if she’d never heard me. Rachel could turn invisible. I was apparently invisible all the time.
“The only time any of you ever pay attention to me is when Cassie’s here! I’m doing a good job. I’m here when I’m supposed to be, but no one tells me what’s going on.”
Calmly, Rachel said, “No one’s trying to keep you out. You don’t work on the weekends, so you happened to miss getting together. We didn’t plan to have a meeting. We were all here at the same time, and it spontaneously happened.”
“You’re supposed to call. If I’m going coordinate all of you, I need to know what’s going on.”
She stopped talking, staring at the two of us, and then said, “Oh, fuck it,” and practically ran for the elevator.
“Stay here. I’ll talk to her,” Rachel floated into the air. “With everything that’s going on, someone’s got to be here right now.”
Then she flew upward, and disappeared into the ceiling.
Unfortunately, she was right. Seconds after she left, the screen of transcribed police chatter practically exploded.
Dixie Supergirl and Destruction Boy had attacked the county jail.