In the distance, a muffled voice said, “Dad? Are you up there?” The voice sounded like it belonged to someone male and around my age.
Lim said, “I’ll be down in a second.” Looking back at the camera, he said, “Do you have anything else? I should stop working for the day.”
“Nothing,” I said. I’d never even thought about whether he had a family. He was old enough to have kids around my age, and it was easy to imagine he might be married, but it hadn’t come up.
“Don’t hesitate to get in touch with me if something important happens,” he said as we hung up.
From all the places I’d seen in the background when I’d called him—spaceships, naval vessels, wilderness, and cities nowhere near Washington D.C., I wondered how often he saw his family, and how much he could say about his job.
His family dynamic had to be the mirror image of mine. He was involved in top secret stuff, and probably everyone in the family knew it—no mental blocks preventing them from realizing what was going on under their noses.
In my family at this point, everyone but my dad knew what was going on. What would he think when his block finally disintegrated? Would he handle it like Mom had, and quietly process for months? Or, would it be more explosive?
I hoped not. I still wasn’t even sure how Mom had actually adjusted to it. She’d told us to keep her informed of what we were doing, and it made sense—if only because it meant Mom could handle Dad. All the same, I had no idea what Mom planned to do with anything we told her.
Nearly a year’s worth of time since coming out from under the block had to have taken the edge off of whatever she felt about it, right? Plus, in the conversation after our meeting with the board, she’d said she’d been talking to Daniel’s parents, and a little to Cassie’s mom.
I stood up, getting off the stool. I had a little homework left, but once I finished it, I’d be able to work on Cassie’s armor, and maybe get started on planning more. It had occurred to me that there might be situations where the whole team might need armor—a fight in space being a great example.
Working out armor designs sounded like a lot more fun than the alternative—trying to figure out which alien race had attempted to use True Humanity to wipe out humanity.
Lee, my best likely information source, was out on some kind of personal project this week, and wasn’t answering his phone. The good news was that he’d likely be at Stapledon this weekend.
I’d probably be able to catch him before or after class.
* * *
It felt like an impromptu team meeting. Jaclyn, Cassie, Izzy, Vaughn, Daniel, and I all managed to fit around the same table in the cafeteria. We were at one of the Stapledon camps. The place probably had a name, but I didn’t know what it was—probably something short like “Camp 2.”
That was better than my personal name for it which was, “That Underground Bunker in a Grassy Field Somewhere in the Midwest. Probably Nebraska.”
It was the nicest bunker ever though—carpeted floor wherever there wasn’t dark stained hardwood. Big screen televisions hung on the walls, showing the news.
Jaclyn interrupted my thoughts. “Who do you think we ought to bring in?”
“Everyone we invited to the movies,” Cassie said. “Shannon, Julie, and Lucas if he’s interested.”
Vaughn groaned. “Shannon and Julie I can see. They’re here. Lucas? Ok, I can see it. He’s smart. He’s a doctor, and a nice guy, but, he’s not in Stapledon. He probably isn’t even interested.”
Jaclyn nodded, probably remembering Vaughn’s mixed feelings about the guy. Lucas had been the “perfect” cousin when he’d been growing up. Vaughn had been the “troubled, drug abusing cousin.”
“We should still ask him,” she said. “He’s been friendly to us.”
Shrugging, Vaughn said, “You may as well. So… Sydney’s in, and we’re not going to ask Sean?”
I stopped eating a cheeseburger long enough to say, “I hope not. About Sean, that is. I see way too much of him already.”
Daniel glanced over at me, and then said, “No one under 18 technically signed up. The contracts don’t count unless you sign them when you’re over 18, but dad’s going to bring them to Sydney and Camille’s moms, and they can sign.”
Jaclyn turned toward me. “What about Haley?”
That I could answer, but mainly because I’d put Haley’s birthday into my calendar. “Haley’s eighteenth birthday is next week. She’s officially signing up then.”
Nodding, Jaclyn added, “Marcus told me his mom was signing for him. I don’t see how that works if she’s blocked. Is she?”
Daniel picked up his fork. “My dad didn’t say, but he’s never liked the block. I can’t imagine that he’d use her signature if she couldn’t understand the contract.”
“So,” Vaughn said, “no Sean, and no Dayton or Jody either?”
Izzy looked up from her salad. “Jody and Dayton are the two guys who hang around with him all the time?”
“Right,” Jaclyn said. “No Jody because there’s something not right with that guy. Last week at the speedster camp—“
She stopped. “I’m not going to say it, but definitely no Jody. Getting called out because of St. Louis was a relief.”
“Dayton?” Vaughn asked.
Daniel shook his head. “He’d never join if Sean and Jody didn’t. He’s too loyal to his friends.”
Vaughn nodded. “You’re right, but I wish we could bring them in somehow. Sean’s going to be really pissed when he finds out.”