Daniel’s smile was visible under the black and silver mask over the top of his face, “Nothing special. You know what you could do if you could use your powers. We used blocking devices that you should already be familiar with—I know I am—the kind that prevents mental powers from working.”
Master Martian stared in Daniel’s direction, the tendrils on his head following his gaze, “You were in my head.”
Nodding, Daniel said, “For a little while. Only enough to put you to sleep and then wake you up. Your defenses on your memory and way of thinking are well designed. The point where your mind controls your body isn’t as well defended.”
Master Martian’s upper lip quivered, but he didn’t say anything.
What Daniel said about Master Martian’s mental defenses did bring to mind a question that I had been wondering, “Are you really a martian? Except for your green skin and the antenna on your head, you look human. Seriously, you barely look alien at all. You look like the sort of martian that might be on a TV show with a low special effects budget. If you were truly another species, I’d think that the Mystic wouldn’t have been able to figure out how to put you to sleep.”
He frowned, remaining silent, giving me time to reflect that suggesting he looked like the product of a low-budget TV show might not have been the best way to make friends.
“Hey,” Vaughn got out of his seat and turned around a chair to face Master Martian directly, “I know this has got to feel like a kidnapping and I’m sure you don’t like us at all, but we saved your life.”
Master Martian continued to frown, but he met Vaughn’s eyes, asking, “How do you know that?”
Shrugging, Vaughn said, “It’s just a guess. I’m figuring you didn’t hire those guys, right?”
Master Martian shook his head.
“Right,” Vaughn said, “so they had people out in front of your apartment watching you and they had all those Cabal guys ready to jump in. We’ve barely survived fighting those guys before. Whoever had them ready wanted to kill somebody and it probably wasn’t us. We didn’t know we’d be here until less than half an hour ago. Is there anybody you really pissed off?”
Remaining silent, Master Martian moved his eyes from side to side, getting, I assumed, a full picture of everyone inside.
Daniel spoke, “Is it the Nine? We saw people that we know work with them.”
Haley tapped on my armor and whispered a message to me through her communicator, “The Nine scare him.”
Master Martian continued to sit in the chair, hands and feet held next to each other by my cuffs, breathing slowly, but loud enough to hear over the hum of the engines.
Haley leaned forward in her seat, meeting his eyes, “What about the Nine scares you?”
His first words came out all at once, “I… I don’t know what you’re talking about. There’s no reason that they should care what I do.”
Izzy, who’d been sitting behind Daniel, but watching as the rest of us talked, said, “You’re lying. You don’t have to. We’re not going to take you to them.”
Turning around in her chair, Tara turned away from the weapons console, “Unless you’d like us to take you back to your apartment. I’m sure it’s much safer now and no one is looking for you. Cap, why don’t you turn us around?”
Cassie grinned, “Turning around. Washington D.C., here we come.”
Using the jet’s joystick instead of her implant, she pushed it as far to the left as it could go. Outside the jet, the windows on the left no longer showed blue sky. They showed streets and suburban houses, all of them in a blur.
Even though the jet’s inertial dampers meant that I didn’t feel the change in direction, I could understand how someone might get airsick from the abrupt change of scenery.
Whether Master Martian was responding to that, the idea that agents of the Nine might still be near his home, or the possibility of being handed over the Liberators, he said, “No! Don’t bring me back there. I’ll tell you what you want.”
I looked over at Haley. She said, “He means it—for now.”
Master Martian scowled and said, “I do,” as Cassie changed the jet’s direction again, aiming us into the sky, almost all of the windows showing blue.
“So,” Daniel said, “What do the Nine have against you?”
Sinking into the chair, Master Martian said, “It’s an odd story and in order to understand it, you’re going to have to understand something else. It happened in the Great Depression. I’m not even sure what year anymore. I was doing what I’ve always done—finding out secrets for those willing to pay for it. I was in Chicago—“
“Wait,” I said, “you weren’t around in the 1930s, were you? That would have been the first Master Martian and he died in the 80s. You didn’t show up until later.”
Stopping, Master Martian shook his head, “That’s what I need you to understand. That was me. I’m the one and only Master Martian. I budded a clone of myself and as I died, I transferred my consciousness to my new body.”