I brought the van to a stop in front of them. Daniel sent a quick telepathic hello at me almost at the same instant I noticed him, not saying anything about all the other stuff flying around in my head just then.
I felt grateful for that.
The van didn’t have side doors in the middle of the van, so Daniel and Izzy had to crawl over Haley’s seat. The van’s second row of seats didn’t have windows, but on the other hand Daniel was clairvoyant, and Izzy had some kind of extra-powerful sonar. They could deal.
A little quickly, Izzy said, “Hi,” to us and pulled on her seatbelt—not that she needed one. She did need a winter coat though. She wore a green, fleece jacket that could handle anything Berkeley, California was likely to throw at it, but stood out in the Midwest.
On the other hand, Izzy could probably survive in Antarctica wearing that jacket.
Daniel smiled at both Haley and I, greeting us each by name, and setting down his backpack on the floor next to Izzy’s. His winter coat was black and looked a little thin. He’d likely bought it with downhill skiing in mind. Bulky coats got in the way.
I wondered if Izzy had an actual costume in there. I also made a mental note to warn them to grab their backpacks if we were attacked. The van’s new defenses didn’t work well with loose objects.
Izzy unzipped one of her backpack’s pockets and grabbed a tissue. Then she wiped moisture off her glasses. They’d steamed up.
Once Daniel had his seatbelt on, I accelerated, moving the van into traffic. “We’ll be heading toward the north side,” I said.
I’d explained almost everything about Chancy Harris and his business to Daniel over the phone on Friday. He’d undoubtedly passed it on to Izzy. Well, I assumed that anyway.
I did, he told me.
Good, I thought back at him.
So what’s behind this sudden interest in Izzy’s and my sex life (which, by the way, we don’t have), anyway?
I checked the GPS, following the recommended route toward Chancy Connections’ office, and started driving back toward the highway.
Nothing special, I told him. It occurred to Haley that Izzy’s pretty much invulnerable, and you’re well… pretty vulnerable. Especially where she’d potentially be providing the force.
I felt a flash of mild anger followed by amusement and a sense of resignation.
I didn’t intend to share that with Haley, but can’t blame you for the fact that she overheard. I didn’t ask you if anyone was there. Besides, it’s not all bad. She wants it to work for us. Who knows, maybe she’ll figure it out? I know I don’t know what to do.
As our connection faded, I heard Haley saying, “So what are you majoring in?”
Izzy hesitated for a second and said, “Well, I want to major in journalism, but Berkeley’s only got it as a graduate program, so I’m majoring in anthropology.”
Twisting a little further than I would have thought comfortable, Haley said, “Anthropology? I’m surprised you didn’t choose english or creative writing.”
Izzy didn’t have any of the hesitation I’d heard earlier as she said. “You don’t have to major in writing to get into the journalism grad program, and I wanted to know about more than just writing. Anthropology teaches you about cultures, and how to learn about people. I think I’ll be a better journalist if I can do that.”
Haley nodded. “I hadn’t thought about that. It wouldn’t surprise me if you were right. So, why do you want to be a journalist?”
“Well,” Izzy paused, “it sounds silly, but I want to change how our society works. All you need to do is look around to see that it doesn’t work for everyone, but it’s easy to ignore it. I want to make it harder to ignore. I think that if more people knew how the world worked, we’d have to have a conversation about what we really want to do.
“There are too many secrets. You know that the government’s got it’s own power impregnators, but did you know that they’re letting some superheroes’ kids use them in exchange for not opposing their use? People should know.”
Haley looked over at me, and then back to Izzy. “I don’t think anyone ever told me that. What are you going to do?”
Izzy took a breath. “Nothing right now. I don’t think I should tell anyone while we’re in the middle of all this, but it can’t go on like this. Power like that shouldn’t be in the hands of a small, hereditary elite.”
Daniel said, “You’re right, but we’re going to have to be very careful about how we break it to people. Besides, it might be different next year. My dad told me that he heard that there are private power impregnators becoming available. Nick, weren’t you fixing ours?”
“Well, yeah,” I said. “I’ve pretty much got it working again. I’ve done all the tests I can do without running it on a person. It was surprisingly easy to alter it to make it work on people outside Red Lightning’s family.”
After that, talk turned to why I’d been doing it, and I ended up telling Izzy the entire story about Courtney’s search for a way to make her powers permanent, as well as all the stuff that had happened because of power juice last year—including the Cabal’s remnant and how we fought it, and about how Ray became empowered, and what happened to him afterward.
It wasn’t just me explaining it either. I was driving through Chicago and needed to concentrate. Haley and Daniel both took turns.
That killed the forty-five minutes it took to travel to the north side and find the old brown, brick building where “Chancy Connections, Shipping Consultants” rented office space. Then talk turned to the matter at hand.
As we circled the block, deciding what we should do, Daniel said, “Someone’s up there.”