And then things got weird. Well, they didn’t become instantly weird, but soon enough.
Amy had put a spell on me that allowed me to see in the dark, and more importantly to see through illusion. I hadn’t seen anything when I looked at Daniel because he wasn’t an illusion, but as he sensed my memories I sensed his.
As I connected, I knew without doubt that there were illusions in his mind.
It all came in a cascade of images, sounds and feelings. I felt his anger and fear as Haley and I disappeared into the floor, and his determination to find out what had happened. I heard Earthmover order everyone to their rooms, and everyone’s voices as he’d messaged the League. They’d divided into groups. Camille, Izzy and Cassie were in his, and like us, they’d walked the darkened halls of the compound’s rock warren.
That’s where I found myself following two memories at once. In one they walked toward the stairs to the basement, Daniel telling them, “Nick’s in this direction. I don’t know where, but we’ll—”
And then they were caught. Daniel only knew that he was in the middle of darkness, and that all the walls had disappeared. For all that he ran or flew, he never found the walls, and always he had a sense of something big watching him from the dark.
I could feel him reach out with his mind, and never quite connect with it.
Then the scene switched. They were in an office together—Camille, Cassie, Daniel and Izzy. Earthmover sat behind a rock desk on an intricate rock throne inlaid with gold.
That seemed wrong, and as I thought it, Daniel thought, I know. I don’t know how I missed it then—outside of the magic, obviously.
The more I looked, the more it looked like a medieval castle. It had a high ceiling with tall thin windows, a fireplace, and pillars decorated with gold and silver.
Weirdly his desk also had a computer.
I also noticed that whoever did the interior decorating had a thing for dragons (or possibly for Game of Thrones). Tapestries on the wall showed dragons burning towns, and dragons mating in the air. Interlocked dragons decorated the edges of the tapestries.
Saying it didn’t fit with what I’d seen of Earthmover was an understatement. For one, he seemed to go with a minimalist “make rock beautiful” approach. For another, he had a house down in the suburbs below the foothill like all the rest of the compound’s permanent residents.
Daniel knew that. I knew that. Everybody knew that.
In a deep, throaty voice that wasn’t Earthmover’s, Earthmover said, “I have an important mission for all of you. The reason I sent Nick and Haley away is that they’ve been possessed by demonic forces. They need to be kept away from the school. You’ll need to help me stop them if they escape…”
And then they were in the school’s halls again, but now they were looking for us.
With a cracking noise even that disappeared, and Daniel and I stood together against an infinite black background—just the two of us.
Daniel shook his head. “We were supposed to get you under control and then bring you to Earthmover, or whoever that was.”
He stared off in to the distance for a moment. “I don’t know what would have happened to you, but I was prepared to do it for the good of the school. I’m sorry. I should have seen through it.”
I shrugged. “No worries. I don’t feel right about throwing your father and grandfather at you like that.”
Daniel nodded. “I need to do something about that. Anyone could throw that in my face, and if I go berserk it will make me look bad and take the team along with me.”
He stopped, and took a breath. “It still didn’t feel good.”
Daniel stood there, saying nothing for a moment, and shook his head. “It’s okay. We need to get back to the real world now, and fix this mess.”
Then we were back. I lay on the floor next to Haley, gravity holding me down. Daniel stood next to Cassie and Camille, the shattered mess of store and hallway between us.
Daniel turned toward the two of them. “We’ve got to talk,” he began.
He barely got the words out when Cassie twisted, pointing the gun at him. Its muzzle grew bright, but it never fired.
Cassie stared down at it, her jaw dropping, her face illuminated by the gun’s light.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Samita let go of the pepper shaker she’d been holding. It zoomed across the floor, out of sight to anyone who could still stand, and then flew upward, giving Cassie and then Camille a shake to the face before either of them knew what happened.
Then it hovered next to Daniel.
At the same moment, I suddenly felt several times lighter. I knew exactly why when Camille flew over Cassie and Daniel to land in front of Haley, offering her a hand up.
When Haley accepted it, she pulled her into a hug, and then me, crying and apologizing the entire time. She let go in time for me to hear Cassie tell Daniel, “Congratulations. You’re the first person the gun hasn’t shot on demand. It tells me that it won’t shoot allies when it’s not sure I’m in my right mind.”
Vaughn had already pulled himself up, and grinned at her. “Then we’re safe forever, right?”
Cassie pointed the gun down. “It says it’s willing to shoot you any time you’d like.”
Then Amy and Izzy crashed into the hall behind us, shattering the walls around them.