Talking about it too widely could literally lead to the end of the world, so I felt like I had a decent excuse.
Still showing a hint of a smile, Lim stood up and tapped the globe on the table again. It stopped glowing. “If that’s it, I should let you go. I’m assuming that you got everything?”
I shrugged, “Everything I intended to take. Do you think anyone’s going to mind if I grab pens, t-shirts, or anything else from the swag closet?”
Lim snorted. “I might not wear it anytime soon if it were me, but it’s not evidence—unless someone committed a crime with the branded pens that no one told me about.”
I shook my head, “I just thought I’d like some stuff. I’d been intending to grab something earlier, but it got busy enough that I didn’t have time.”
Lim eyed the broken window and a hole that (my implant remembered) had been created by a stray energy beam. “I imagine. Nice work on the helmet by the way. You’re not the first to connect to an Abominator device with our tech, but I’m told by our techs that your program had a good design.”
Aware that Lim’s silence globe was off, I only said, “I imagine that’s going into a warehouse somewhere, too.”
Lim flashed his teeth. “Something like that, but don’t be surprised if it leads to more work later. There aren’t a lot of people experienced with Abominator tech and as of now, you’re one of them. Don’t be surprised if you get calls.”
I raised an eyebrow. “From the FBI?”
Stepping away from the table, Lim put his hand on my shoulder, “Maybe. Maybe other places. For now, I wouldn’t worry too much about it. All I’m saying is that even though the internship went wrong, it’ll open doors for you. If you don’t want them open, all you have to do is say no.”
I glanced over at the hole. “If I say no, will they listen?”
Lim paused, but then said, “Let’s hope so, but if not, I’m sure you can handle it.”
His eyes dropped to look down at my “clothes” and glasses. I’d kept the stealth suit on after we’d visited Dr. Hansen. Given that I’d be coming back here, I felt better safe than sorry.
We didn’t talk too much after that. He escorted us out of the office and Tara and I walked down the hallway out of Higher Grounds’ offices and down toward the Hardwick Industries section of the building. We stopped by the swag closet on the way.
I’d assumed that Hardwick Industries would be open because it wasn’t as if they’d been illegally using Abominator tech on behalf of the Nine, right? Well, I’d assumed that, but I was wrong. The place was dead.
We did see a couple people, but they were accompanied by serious people wearing jackets with “FBI” in big yellow letters. Their blank expressions hinted that they might not be having a good day.
Tara and I passed the spot in the hallway where we’d fought Art, Zola, and Ronnie. Tara and I both stopped to look at Zola’s claw marks on the walls and scorch marks both from Vaughn’s lightning and Ronnie’s lasers. There were more scorch marks on the carpet and body-sized indentations in the shattered drywall.
It was easy to forget how much damage we caused even in a small fight.
Tara and I looked at each other and started walking again. There wasn’t much to say. We were almost at the front desk and the whole reason Tara volunteered to spend a day escorting potential mad scientists to grab their stuff.
Emmy sat behind the desk, hand on her computer’s mouse, monitor open to a social media site. She appeared to be watching a video of baby ducks.
She started as we walked in, turning to look at Tara and me—though mostly at Tara because Tara wore her Ronin costume and a sword. At any rate, that was my guess. After a second or two, she did look at me again, stopped the duck video, and stood up.
“Nick, how are you?” Before I could answer, she looked down at the bag I carried. “You raided the swag closet?”
In addition to the Higher Ground t-shirts, sweatshirts, pens, magnets, ping pong paddles, and balls, there were also branded tote bags. I’d grabbed one as long as I was grabbing the other stuff. It seemed efficient.
She looked down into the bag, “Do you have a ping pong table?”