Connecting to my comm through my implant, I told him, “No worries. We see you. We didn’t know it was you, but we do try not to shoot when we don’t know what we’ll hit.”
I looked over at Cassie and she rolled her eyes at me.
Unaware of that, Lim replied, “Good. I’m contacting D.C. to get people there up to speed about all this. Did you recognize the missiles?”
I was about to say I hadn’t, but Hal did.
[They’re the same kind that fired at you while you were leaving Canada after rescuing Captain Commando.]
I froze for an instant, but then said, “The jet recognized them as the same kind of missile that was fired at us on the way back after fighting Rook in Canada. Our best guess is that it’s the Nine in some form, but we can’t prove it.”
Starting with a click, Lim said, “Given everything that’s happened today, I’d be surprised if it pointed in any other direction. Talk to you later.”
With that, I took the jet up to 60,000 feet so that our sonic booms didn’t cause problems.
It wasn’t a difficult flight. No one attacked us and we didn’t get any requests for help. I found myself thinking about what came next. I needed to contact Kee to see if my suspicions that Lee had hidden an alien superweapon on Earth were correct. Then I needed to contact Lee and ask him something like, “What the hell, man?”
To be fair, his very existence on Earth put the planet at risk for destruction, but I’d gotten used to that idea—sort of. This kicked it up a notch. Not only did it give the Artificers plenty of motivation to visit, but it might also draw out both the Live and Destroy factions into a fight that could leave our entire spiral arm lifeless.
Then beyond that, we had to free Ana’s mind, interrogate the Amethyst Archer, maybe find out her real name, and deal with whatever fallout resulted from bringing Kals to Earth for a visit.
After that, maybe we’d be able to find out why Magnus kidnapped my parents, who Urin had been, and why he had a drawing of Lee’s weapon. Worse, we might find out that he knew what it was and was looking for it himself.
I couldn’t guess exactly what he wanted to do with it, but world conquest seemed like the obvious possibility. Given that the weapon had been created by an alien genius with abilities that verged both in the direction of godhood and unnamable, eldritch horror, I might be thinking small.
At that moment, I found myself grateful for the distraction of flying. The blue sky, clouds, the constant checking as to what all was around us, and what was ahead kept my mind focused on the many things that I didn’t know and needed to.
Daniel had to have heard everything because I could feel his attention. It felt like the big speakers at a rock concert. Even if no one’s playing, you still know that they’re on.
I know it’s big and that we don’t know anywhere near enough about what’s going on here or what the Nine have to do with Magnus, if they do, but I think we can find out. I don’t know the details, but I know there are futures where we make it through all of this.
I thought back, I hope those futures become more obvious as we go because the only idea I have right now is to take one step forward until I have a better idea.
I felt Daniel’s understanding, I don’t think we’ve got another option.
It didn’t take long before we were flying over Ohio and descending. Letting the jet slow down, I told everyone that we would be landing soon.
Before we even made it into Michigan, an icon in my HUD began to blink. A look told me what I needed to know. I was being called by Dr. Transylvania. I didn’t give myself time to wonder why he was calling. I opened my comm connection, wondering how I should even answer this call.
I went with, “Hey.”
Dr. Transylvania went with, “Rocket.”
In that one word, I heard barely suppressed anger that I hoped wasn’t directed at me, “I’m surprised to hear from you.”
“They destroyed my storage facility!” Even though the comms compressed the words into a reasonable volume, it still felt loud.
Not sure of the best approach to go with when called by an enraged, reformed supervillain with a bad reputation, I went with calm and added, “Yeah, I was almost inside when it happened.”
He gave a sigh that turned into a growl, “Do you know who it was?”
“My best guess is the Nine,” I said, deciding not to point out to him that the federal government had taken it years ago and that it wasn’t technically his at this point.
“Whoever it is,” he said, “I’m going to get them.” Then he hung up.