Kayla blanked for a moment, wondering why Chris would ever bring his grandfather into it, and why he’d think his grandfather would be able to help. She barely remembered Chris from high school. She’d seen him with Nick, and in the robotics team’s yearbook picture.
She’d only noticed him when he helped Nick make her mobile armor.
She knew the real names of everyone who’d been in the original Heroes League now, and Chris wasn’t related to any of them.
She texted back, “Your grandfather?”
It took at little time before he texted back. “I know he was a supervillain, but he wants to help now.”
It took her a moment, and then it all fell into place. In the fall of her senior year, everyone had been whispering that one of the sophomores was related to Man-machine.
That was the year when Cassie had started acting all strange, and she’d been worried about that. Some sophomore descended from a supervillain who hadn’t been around for nearly thirty years paled before that.
She wrote, “K.”
It explained why she’d never been back to that other base. That wasn’t the Heroes Leagues. She’d been in a supervillain’s lair.
She stared at the screen, not reading a word on it.
Beeping knocked her out of her thoughts. Haley’s square blinked on the screen, and Kayla clicked on it.
Haley’s voice came over the speakers. “Control, is something wrong?”
“What? No. I… Nevermind. I didn’t know that Man-machine was Chris’ grandfather.”
“Really?” Haley sounded amazed. “I know we haven’t told you everything, but I thought Cassie would have told you that, and it was on the news. Anyway, I was calling to make sure it wasn’t going to be a problem. It’s not, right?”
“No,” Kayla tried to control her voice. How hadn’t she noticed? She felt so dumb.
“Good,” Haley said. “We’re all coming to HQ. We’ve got a spaceship. We’re going to watch how quickly the asteroid heading for Grand Lake is coming, if the Defenders need help, we’re going to be ready to take it down ourselves. Chris’ grandfather thinks he’s got a way to destroy it without letting all the pieces hit all over town.”
Kayla hoped he was right, and wondered if she should be calling her dad, and telling him to get the family out of Grand Lake.
A report appeared under the Defenders section of her screen. They were evacuating New York City. They had an hour before they thought the asteroid would hit, and thought they’d have to try.
“One more thing,” Haley said, talking quickly. “Call the Midwest Defenders, and tell them what we’re doing.”
Kayla nodded, knowing Haley couldn’t see it, but said, “Got it.”
“See you soon,” and Haley hung up.
Kayla froze. Haley hadn’t even waited for a response. Kayla knew she was being oversensitive, but it still hurt a little.
She clicked on the Midwest Defenders, connecting on channels exclusively used by Defenders groups, the military, and government agencies. Nick had pointed them out in her first week, telling her, “They get really cranky about which channels you use. Don’t call in on the public line. You’ll never get anybody.”
Interrupting her memory, a warm, male voice said, “Midwest Defenders, how can we help you?”
The voice sounded like an older man, but nice at least.
“This is the Heroes League’s control center. I’m supposed to let you know that we’re readying our spaceship in case you need assistance in destroying the asteroid aimed toward Grand Lake.”
The voice on the other end said, “The Heroes League? I didn’t know they were hiring staff. Good to hear from you, I’m Wade. If you’ll give me a minute, I can call someone and find out about the plans for the asteroid. Can you wait on hold?”
“I guess.” Kayla checked the screen. Haley was on her way. She didn’t know how Haley was getting there, but if Haley was in a car, the GPS showed her hitting ninety, and Kayla knew the speed limit on those roads wasn’t more than thirty-five.
After a minute, the man’s voice came over the phone. “Guardian and the rest of the Defenders are there evaluating the situation now. Their current assessment is that you have nothing to worry about. The asteroids will be taken care of before they reach Earth.”
“Thank you.” Kayla closed the connection, deciding she ought to call Haley. It might be over now, and it was shame if Haley went to all that trouble to arrive for nothing—especially if she got a speeding ticket.
Something beeped. She checked her contact list, and saw that the League jet’s square had begun to blink. She clicked on the square, wondering what the jet could want to say.
“Human,” the words appeared in a text message. “Notify an authority figure that I have detected indications that a cloaked vessel may be approaching this location.”
Not sure what the correct response to an AI’s warning was, she texted back, “Thank you.”
It didn’t reply.
She clicked Haley’s square. Maybe she could mention Haley’s speed when she told her about the “cloaked” spaceship.
She checked the map. It was pointless. Haley was already driving her car through Veterans Memorial Park. No, she was stopping. That did surprise her. Almost no one stopped to take calls.
Haley didn’t pick up her phone. She stopped the car on the park’s maintenance road, and ran toward Grand Lake, hitting more than thirty miles per hour as she ran through the forest.
Only when her dot reached the edge of the trees did Haley take the call.
“Control,” she whispered, “a spaceship decloaked over Grand Lake.”
“I know.” Kayla clicked through to League’s cameras to find a view of the ship. “Do you think it might be here for the gun?”
From what Cassie had told her, everybody wanted that gun.
“The gun’s in New York,” Haley said.