When I opened up the pictures on my laptop, it was the speedster I’d seen first—the one that wasn’t glowing—the guy. He’d run back to his origin point, but there was no sign of the woman.
I stayed up for another ten minutes, waiting to see if she’d show up too, but she didn’t. When I woke up the next morning, there hadn’t been any further alerts. Maybe the north end of the route was where she lived.
Maybe she’d taken a cab back? I had no idea.
I remotely assigned my bot assembler to make more spybots. Ordinarily, I would have been able to send out the spybots after all my classes ended, but thanks to the Stapledon program, I had one more class. All the Stapledon students in the area showed up in costume to League HQ to be teleported to the Chicago Defenders’ training facility.
When training was over, I went to the lab to pick up the bots, clearing them off the counter so I could load them into one of the floating pods for delivery.
Haley walked in as I loaded the pod, standing across the pod from me. “You’re sending out the spybots tonight?”
“I don’t feel like I’ve got much of a choice. It looks like something’s happening there. I just hope I haven’t missed it already.” I slid the magazine full of spybots into the pod, listened as the pod unloaded the magazine, and pulled the magazine out of the pod’s dull, black, cigar-shaped body.
She took a breath. “I hope they’re not planning to do it this weekend.”
I looked up from the pod to look at her. “That’s the way it works in stories, but it’d be a ridiculous coincidence in real life.”
Haley peered down at the pod. “We’ve had those coincidences.”
I nodded. “Can’t deny that. Oh, that reminds me. Jeremy wanted us to go out and do something with him and his friends.”
Haley tilted her head. “That might be fun, but you know the coincidence thing? If we do, we’re going to be interrupted at the absolute worst possible time we could be when we do whatever it is.”
I shrugged. “Jeremy says he’ll make our excuses.”
Haley laughed. “I think the last time we went out with one of your friends who didn’t have powers, it was Courtney and Keith.”
“There was that waitress who didn’t like you,” I said, “and then Logan turned into a monster with a taste for humanity, but technically we weren’t interrupted by anyone that wasn’t already part of the date. We never ran off then.”
Haley gave a half-smile. “I think you’re pushing it a little. We weren’t planning for Logan to do that.”
“Not really,” I said. “But we had planned for someone to show up using power juice.”
Haley rolled her eyes. “You are pushing it, but if you want to, let’s do something with Jeremy. What’s he planning to do?”
I thought about it, and finally, spit out, “No clue. He didn’t say. He was offering based on the idea that all I seemed to be doing was Stapledon and bots.”
She glanced around the workroom. Most tables held bots in various stages of assembly. “He’s got a point. Did he give a time?”
I shook my head. “We didn’t get to that. If you want, I’ll text him.”
By the time we were done, I’d used the pod to release spybots, texted Jeremy, and made sure that everyone in the current League knew what I was doing and how to take control of the bots if they had to.
Chris sent me a message back. “Glad you’re back. That means I’m not the only one fixing shit. We should get together.”
Marcus texted me back to find out if I was truly okay with anyone controlling the bots.
By the time I’d hashed things out with them, Jeremy had texted me back. We were going to see a movie at the downtown theater on Friday with some of his friends. We could bring anyone we wanted too.
I didn’t plan to take him up on it. Most of the people I hung out with were in the League, and bringing normal people would only make ditching the group harder.
Friday came without much fanfare. The speedsters hadn’t appeared during the week, so we weren’t on any kind of alert. Kid Biohack hadn’t been in touch with the League at all during the week. Haley and I had gone to the cafeteria after teleporting out for practice (and it was funny how normal that was beginning to feel).
Jeremy had left me a text message saying that he was gathering people up and that we should wait.
Haley and I were sitting on my bunk, leaning against the wall and holding hands. I didn’t know what she was thinking, but I was becoming very conscious of her body.
She looked at me and grinned. “Sorry,” she said, and before I had time to ask her why someone knocked on the door.
The lock was designed not to let you leave without a key, so I had to get up and open the door. Courtney stood there. “Jeremy invited me,” she said, stepping inside. She wore a hoodie with the Avengers’ “A” covering the front. After all the minor modifications she’d made to herself last year with shapeshifting, she’d settled on keeping them, but added back the weight she’d had before gaining powers.
It worked for her. She looked more like herself.
Before the door shut, a hand grabbed it. It was Jillian, the friend of Jeremy’s who liked Kid Biohack. “Where’s Jeremy,” she asked as she pushed it open.
As Courtney said, “Not here,” Haley touched my shoulder, mouthing the words, “Power juice.”