Never Go Home: Part 6

Against the sea of stars behind her, Kee seemed to shrink into herself, saying nothing, “I don’t have an easy answer. Back when we were young, when Lee, Nataw, and other friends of ours first came into this universe, we loved to travel, he more than most of us. I think he may have been the last of us to give up traveling simply for the sake of travel–if he ever did. I think he still did even after our people divided up into factions. As one of the first members of the Live faction, the smartest thing he could have done was hide, but he kept on moving instead, never staying anywhere long enough to be found.”

Watching her face for any reactions, I said, “A lot of people would see that as a pretty good tactic for hiding.”

She gave a small smile, “But for him, I’m sure it was just an excuse. He loved new worlds, new cultures, new ways for life to exist whether it was on a planet, on a star, or in deep space. You remind me of him a little, but for you, it’s more delight in understanding a new thing than discovering a new place.”

There, she stopped, saying nothing for a little while and staring past me as if watching something. If she were, it was nothing I could see, whether in another place or her own mind, but then she added, “The problem is this—the Abominators caught him and he escaped. Whatever happened when he was in their custody couldn’t have been pleasant. Knowing him, and knowing that he seldom killed anything, it’s out of character for him even to kill his captors. The fact that he never mentioned it to any of us in the Live faction worries me. We were and are his friends.

“My worry is that if he meets you, all he’ll be able to see is years of torture and bits of himself inside beings that should not have them. If he is on Earth and you sense him, stay away. If he’s close, leave, pretending that you didn’t notice, and he might not either.”

I felt myself frown, “Is that likely? The impression I got from Lee is that his people weren’t here.”

She nodded slowly, “I’ve been to Earth and while I was there, I sometimes had a sense that one of us had been there. I did see a sign or two of Lee, but only because I knew him and knew what to look for. This was something else. I never figured out whether it was one of our people, kin such as the Cosmic Ghosts, or perhaps someone else like you. The Abominators put enough of us and the Ghosts into your race that it seems possible that someone might be born with enough of the right elements to use them but it’s never seemed likely. You’d have to live for more than one thousand years to began to learn how to use them well.”

Thinking back to my fights against The Thing That Eats, against a mercenary with an Abominator relic, and against the Xosk last summer, I said, “I’m already using them and I’m nowhere near one thousand years old. You know this. We’ve had literal training sessions this year.”

Then she gave a full smile and laughed, “I know! You’ve been unusual in so many ways. We used to let our young go out on their own and name them when they came back. Many were behind where you are at this age, but none of them experienced the guidance of a full-grown adult, the Bloodmaiden’s magic, or had the Cosmic Ghosts in their ancestry. I don’t truly know what you’ll be capable of in time, but I know you need a great deal more time to learn—even in your regular life. I should end this now.”

“Wait,” I said, knowing that she was about to let my consciousness return to my body, “would it be okay if someone else looked at the godkiller device fragment? Someone who isn’t me?”

The stars began to fade away. The last I saw of Kee’s face was of her shaking her head. I heard her voice clearly, “No. It’s deeply unwise to turn it on at all.”

Then I came back to reality—the main room of the Heroes’ League HQ, a big, underground, concrete bunker, organizational nerve center, and a room containing massive amounts of memorabilia that belonged in a museum.

Chris looked at me, his forehead lined with concern, “Are you okay?”

I shook my head, “I’m okay. You know how I told you about Kee? I just had a visitation.”

He glanced past me to Kayla who was walking toward us, “That explains it. You looked like you were about to fall over for a second and then you straightened up as if nothing happened.”

I turned back to Kayla, “I’m okay. Don’t worry about it.”

She stopped and began to turn around, “I heard. You’d better be. I’m opening up the base for Chancy’s teleport in 45 minutes.”

Turning my attention back to Chris, I said, “Bad news. Kee said you probably shouldn’t look at the Abominator tech either. There’s too big a chance that it’ll attract stray Artificers.”

Chris frowned and looked toward the lab’s closed door, “Well, I guess we could do paperwork then. There’s no harm in showing it to me, though, right?”

I thought about it. “I don’t think so. Not now that I’ve turned it off.”

We spent most of the next hour talking about budgets and doing paperwork for the business. Oddly enough, years of being the only person on the team concerned with the day-to-day running of the base helped me with the basics of running “Cannon & Klein Engineering.”

I did manage to squeeze in a short tour of the godkiller fragment and it didn’t light up, call up ancient, eldritch beings, or do anything more than sit on a workbench looking broken.

“And that’s it,” I told Chris as he peered in through the broken side, “that’s all. It’s dangerous. Done.”

He put it down, “I don’t recognize anything in there. It’s a little depressing that they were that far ahead of us thousands of years ago.”

“On the other hand,” I said, “we’re alive. The Abominators are dead. We’ve got that on them.”

5 thoughts on “Never Go Home: Part 6”

  1. So, any one else wondering if the new supervillain engineer who has been copying Nick’s recent tech may be Chris?

    1. I’ve thought about Chris being the thief, and I know Jim originally started the series to be a collection of tropes, but I’m hoping it’s not the case since the villain reformed (or villain descendant doing good) is also a trope and I like the character even if we don’t see much of him.

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