By Wednesday night I had a response from the Xiniti—yes. I could take the League “jet” to the jump gate and go through their logs. They’d be happy to help investigate. In fact, they were already doing so on their own.
Not that they told me so directly. Lacking an official Xiniti email address, I’d emailed Isaac Lim, and he’d sent it on through appropriate channels. I had no idea how much bureaucracy “appropriate channels” involved, but the impression I got from Lim was “too much.”
Whatever the case, I’d gotten my reply within twenty-four hours of asking Agent Lim, so I wasn’t in a position to complain. At least I wasn’t in a position to complain about that. I was in a position to complain about what they’d done with the Xiniti’s reply.
They’d given me a summary, translation, or an exact quote, but didn’t in any way indicate that it was an exact quote (if it was).
Here’s how it went: I got the email when I was in my dorm room working on problems for an engineering class. More accurately, I got the email when I was procrastinating on doing my homework. I’d done some of it, but the questions seemed incredibly redundant by the time I got eight questions in.
I’d logged into my Heroes League email account to see if there were anything interesting going on, and found an email from Agent Lim. When I read it, it included the following lines,
“Your request to visit the Xiniti station near the jump gate has been approved. They’ll be expecting you on Saturday. Any time will be good. You’ll be allowed to view their logs, but only while on the station. No material may be removed.
And congratulations on that by the way. They won’t let us look at anything. They just tell us to wait for the results of their investigation.”
I let out a breath. This was huge.
“What’s up?” Jeremy’s voice came from behind me. He was on his bed, watching a movie on his laptop.
“Nothing,” I said, logging out.
Jeremy paused the movie. “You said that about St. Louis. I’m not joking.”
“I know, but this isn’t as big a deal. I’m trying to find out why St. Louis happened, and something just made it a little easier.”
He wasn’t lying down on the bed anymore, and he’d put down the laptop. “So, you’ve got a lead? What’s happening?”
“No lead,” I said. “I’m going to be able to take a look at records that might lead to leads for most of the day on Saturday.”
He made a face. “No kidding? Don’t you have people to do that for you?”
I shook my head. “Maybe the big teams do, but in this situation, I bet I’d still find myself suiting up to go through logs.”
“Sounds like a pain,” he said.
Doing my best to sound like it was a pain, I said, “I’m betting on it. Actually I’ve got to call Haley now. It’s probably going to interfere with our plans a little.”
I picked up my cell phone and called her. She picked up immediately.
Once we got past saying hello, I explained the situation, “—got an email from Lim, and it turns out that the Xiniti will let me go through traffic logs on Saturday, but only on their station near the jump gate.”
Behind me, Jeremy gulped. Ugh. I’d been trying to keep my voice down.
I continued, “It shouldn’t affect doing something on Saturday night. Lee made it sound like almost no ships come through.”
Her voice came over the phone. The pop music in the background hinted that she was at home instead of working at one of her family’s restaurants. “You’re not going alone, are you?”
“No. Lee and Vaughn are coming along with me.” I hadn’t said those words aloud before, and it sounded a little strange.
Haley said, “Oh. Lee and Vaughn? That’s an… odd combination. Why?”
“Vaughn asked to come, and I asked Lee for help because, well, he knows more about what’s out there than I do.”
Haley didn’t say anything for a second, and then she said, “Can I come along?”
“If you want. Why?”
“You remember last time,” she said. “Nothing went right.”
I did remember it. Between the alien AI attaching itself to our ship and trying to convince us to sneak it through the jump gate, and the Xiniti destroying it, the trip had been more exciting than either of us wanted. Even though rumor made it sound like an extended make out session, it wasn’t.
“Vaughn’s kind of ADD,” Haley continued. “And did you ever think that Lee might have a talent for making people angry?”
I thought about that. She had a point. Lee told a lot of stories about people who wanted to kill him for some reason. He didn’t always mention why, but a surprisingly large number of people seemed to want him dead at any given moment.