“Tonight?” Vaughn cocked his head. “It’s not like I’ve got anything going, but don’t you think they’re going to be extra watchful with Nick getting interrogated and the Nine involved?”
“For that matter,” I added, “if they’re making something or worse, making the True, they’re going to be extra worried. I don’t know what kind of security they’d have, but something alien seems likely.”
Stephanie nodded. “That’s why we should go tonight. It feels like things are escalating. They might not slow down until after everything is over.”
I thought about it. She had a point. I wasn’t sure that going there tonight was the only way to find out what was going on. It seemed likely that they’d be less watchful if we waited, but it wasn’t clear how long we’d have to wait. Bugging the place so that I’d have access to every room would take time too. I wasn’t sure if I could do that in a way that would be much less risky than going over there tonight.
With that in mind, I nodded. “Let’s say we do it. We’re going to have to get in and out without being seen. More than that, we’ll probably want back up in case they detect us and have enough people there that we can’t get out without a fight.”
She nodded. “That sounds about right. Of course, we don’t want to bring in so much backup that we tip-off that we’re there either. I don’t think we’ll need that much anyway. They’re trying to get out from under the Nine’s thumb, so they aren’t going to be calling on them and pulling in Rook or any of their big names.”
That wasn’t wrong as far as it went, but, “That’s not the whole story,” I said. “They’ve got access to creatures made from the libraries in the birthing chambers and maybe direct access to working Abominator technology. When we fought Art and Zola, they were teleported out once they got to a specific spot. I don’t know exactly what that was, but if it’s Abominator tech, it’s something that the company isn’t specifically studying. And if they can teleport Art and Zola out, they might be able to teleport other people in or teleport us away. Also, if they’ve got more tech we don’t know about, we can’t plan around it.”
Vaughn shook his head. “If they’ve got personal teleports, who knows what they’ve got.”
I nodded. “That’s my worry. I’m not saying we can’t possibly do this because I think we can, but even if they’ve only got that, we’ll be in a challenging situation once you throw in a bunch of Abominator designed monsters and a big fight.”
Stephanie listened and nodded along until I was done. “That’s all true, but that’s why we’re going to avoid a fight. You know what my tech does. If I want to, I can make it so anyone that looks at me freezes and can’t move or gets looped in their head until they can’t see me anymore. This can work.”
There were still holes that needed to be filled in for whatever we were about to try, but I decided to go along with it then. We couldn’t plan for everything and if we wanted to make what we’d already done matter, it would help if we had direct evidence of Higher Ground’s leadership doing despicable things. That meant we’d need access to the files Stephanie knew were in Sandy’s office. The way things seemed to be going, it wasn’t impossible that they’d move them.
If they became paranoid, this might be the last night they’d keep them there.
* * *
An hour later, we were floating above the waters of Lake Michigan in the Heroes’ League jet. We weren’t the only ones in the jet. In addition to Vaughn, Stephanie, and me, we’d brought along Tara, Haley, Sydney, and Marcus. Kayla had come into HQ to monitor what was going on remotely with the idea that if things when wrong, she’d be able to call in more help. With the exception of Sydney, everyone we’d brought along was stealthy.
Haley sat at the controls of the jet, looking at the lights of the old hotel on the beach. “Do you want me to get in close or do you want to fly in from here?”
Wearing an armored black costume with patterns outlined all over it, Stephanie held her face mask and goggles in one hand. “I can’t fly.”
Haley shook her head. “You won’t have to. Vaughn or Nick will carry you down.”
“I’ll just hold us both up with a gust of wind,” Vaughn clicked his palm and material extended upward from his black uniform, covering his face.
Frowning, Stephanie said, “A gust of wind?” She looked over at me. “You’d hang on to me with your actual, physical hands, right?”
My helmet formed over my face and the HUD lit up. “Yeah, but Vaughn can hold a lot of weight in the air with wind.”
“No,” Stephanie pulled her mask over her face and adjusted her goggles. “I don’t want to be held in the air with more air.”
Deciding not to point out that my rocket pack wouldn’t be keeping us in the air with anything more solid than Vaughn, I told Haley, “I guess fly over the main buildings and we’ll float down. There are entrances on the roof.”