On the off-chance that Lim would have a chance to look at the video, I started it all uploading. At the same time, I found that I didn’t like the coincidence at all. Lim was unavailable on the night where it happened that we were going into Higher Grounds’ offices?
Lim had a habit of being sent into situations where he couldn’t talk. That wasn’t unusual. It seemed inevitable when you considered that a big part of his job was acting as a government liaison too superheroes. All the same, knowing that the Nine had infiltrated the FBI made me worry.
For all I knew, he might be on the run. Deciding to let everyone know, I said, “Lim’s busy. He told me to watch out. I’m a little worried about him actually. It seems weird that he’d be busy and telling me to watch out when we’re fighting here. It makes me think he might be on the run from the Nine himself.”
Haley frowned. “I don’t like the sound of that. It makes me wonder how many more of us they’ll target tonight and maybe tomorrow.”
“Well,” Tara said, “we know they don’t know who you are because then you’d be dead. Their standard operating procedure is to kill superheroes investigating them as quickly as possible.”
We all stared at her.
She shrugged. “I’ve never read that anywhere, but it’s obvious if you follow the news.”
Cocking his head to look at her, Vaughn said, “It is?”
“It is to me.” Tara took a quick look through the trees around and pointed in the direction we’d been going. “If we walk that way, we won’t come out too close to the hotel. We still might have to fight Protection Force or the Nine, but that could happen anywhere and I think we’ve got our best chance to get away on the beach.”
Haley looked up and then sniffed the air. “Let’s go if we’re going to. I don’t have any better ideas.”
“Fine with me. Do you want me to keep this up,” Vaughn gestured upward where the winds continued to roar. “I can, but like I said, it’ll drain me. I won’t be worth much in a fight after that.”
Tara’s brow wrinkled. “Let the winds go, but be ready to bring them up again if we need them.”
Giving everyone a small wave, I said, “That would allow me to keep a spybot above the trees. I can’t right now.”
Tara took a few steps toward the beach. “Then let’s go.”
I sent up a spybot, sending it ahead of us, but also above the trees as I’d said. With the winds dying down, Protection Force’s people had begun to fly in circles above the cleaning around the buildings. A few more flew over the forest. Others still had landed on the ground and were looking into the forest.
I felt sure there were more now than the ten we’d already seen. Getting out without fighting sounded better and better. It was too bad that being both fast and quiet didn’t work together.
We all followed Tara and Haley through the woods with one or the other of them holding up a hand to stop us or point out a half-buried branch. It would have been nice to have either or both along on Hideaway. I wouldn’t have wanted them to go through it, but I’d been the best at information gathering there.
Over the comm, Kayla said, “People are getting ready, but no one’s in position to get to you right now. Shift and Railgun are still getting Hologram to the doctor. The only person ready to help is Captain Commando.”
Cassie’s strengths were like Tara’s—straight-forward fighting. The fact that she had an Abominator gun and contained her own Citizen’s Mark struck me as both a plus and a distinct minus.
I spoke into my comm. “She doesn’t have to come yet. We’re trying to sneak out. There’s no reason to bring her in unless everything blows up.”
Tara said, “I’ll tell you when she should go. How’s she getting here?”
Kayla didn’t answer instantly. “I think she said she’d teleport.”
Cassie had said something about calling in a favor to get to us. A teleport would work.
As neared the beach, my spybot detected at least five dark shapes floating in the air above the beach. I thought back to what Tara had said about Protection Force having the people Hardwick knew he was paying for as well as the people he didn’t.
Three of them were down the beach, close to the former hotel. Three more circled over this end of the beach, one of them directly ahead of us.
It didn’t take Tara to predict that if we fought, all of Protection Force’s troops would swarm us.