I put my dishes into the dishwasher, letting the door shut with a click. Despite the 80s look, which included big silvery plastic buttons surrounded by fake wood grain, it still worked. It worked better than my parents’ dishwasher in fact. Theirs tended to leave bits of food if you didn’t rinse the dishes before putting them inside.
It didn’t seem likely that 80s dishwashers were that much better (or longer lasting) than present-day appliances. I’d never taken it apart, but I wouldn’t have put it past my grandfather to stick alien tech or his own tech inside. It beat having to fix or replace the dishwasher.
I turned around to Vaughn, “That’s all of it. Colette’s dead. I never did get to ask her what Magnus was looking for when he kidnapped my parents back before I was born. My assumption is that if he’s part Artificer, he sensed it in my parents too.”
Vaughn shook his head, “Wait… Did she say that?”
“No,” I stopped, trying to remember her exact words. “She said that he was connected to them, but I don’t think she knew how. She did believe that he could use the device that Lee seems to have hidden on Earth or in some nearby alternate version of Earth? I have no idea where it is exactly.”
Vaughn stopped leaning in the doorway and stood up straight, saying, “You’ve got to call a group meeting or something. This is pretty big.”
I nodded, walking across the kitchen’s wooden floor to stand in front of him, “I know. I’m writing a report that I’m going to send to everyone. I’m almost finished, but I got hungry.”
“I saw. Spaghetti, again? That’s, like, the third time this week,” he grinned at me, but more in disbelief, I suspected, than amusement.
I shrugged, “It’s easy and it’s food. Also, it’s better than ramen.”
“Barely. What are we doing next?”
Throwing up my hands, I said, “I don’t know. It seems like our best lead is to go find all of the immortals that Colette mentioned to Haley. The problem with that is they’re immortals. They may not want to be found. They might have powers and they definitely have more experience than any of us.”
“Well,” Vaughn said, “maybe not more than all the past Bloodmaidens in Amy’s head. Thousands of years worth of experience there. Plus, the early Bloodmaidens fought immortals. That’s why they exist. Pull her in.”
“Good point,” I said. He’d dated her long enough to know more than I did.
Holding his index finger up, Vaughn said, “I’ve got one more. Those immortals that Colette told you about? You know there have to be a few of them that hate Magnus and might be willing to go out of their way to screw him over.”
I paused, staring at him for a second, “Maybe you should handle all of that. I mean, seriously. I handed the names and last known locations over to Hal to find them, but you’re already further on what to do once we find them than I was.”
Vaughn grinned, “It’s a gift. If you really want me to, I’m fine with it. I don’t want to do it alone though.”
“Would you be okay with working with Amy on that?”
With a small shrug, he said, “We’re fine. It was a little weird for a couple of days after we broke up, but we got over it. I kind of think you should be in on it too. That guy, Urin? He sounded like he was descended from Artificers too. Even if you’re not in the room, I feel like you should be around just in case. Well, unless Lee shows up. Where is that guy?”
“No idea,” I said. “I heard that he came in through the jump gate, but I haven’t seen him around. I saw Guardian after Colette died and he’d heard that Lee had left again. I didn’t see him at all.”
“Huh,” Vaughn frowned. “I wonder if he was in here to check on his mystery device?”
I opened my mouth, stopped, and finally said, “I’m not sure, but that’s the best guess anyone’s come up with.”
We stood there for a moment, neither of us talking, both of us thinking.
“So,” he said, “I’m surprised you’re alone. I’d have expected to see Haley at least, but I thought Kals would be here if only to see Cassie, Jaclyn, and Marcus. You all went through war together.”
“Yeah. Kals is in Chicago because she needs to talk to Guardian and a bunch of other heroes with interstellar connections. She’ll be here for a day or two once that’s done.”
“Cool. What about Haley? Are you two okay?”
I looked at him, “We’re fine. She’s still going to GLU. She had class this afternoon and another one from seven to ten tonight. The challenge for her was squeezing in League stuff.”
Vaughn shook his head, “Sorry. I’ve got to remember that just because I don’t see the two of you together, it doesn’t mean that you’re not doing stuff.”
“We are,” I said. “It’s just mostly on weekends.”
My phone rang. I pulled it out of my pocket and saw that the call was labeled, “Uncle Steve.”
“Sorry,” I said, and took the call.
My mom’s brother Steve was couch surfing at our house until his next contract started. Technically, he was in the guest bedroom and paying rent because he insisted. As an itinerant engineer who spent more time overseas than in the US, he did okay.
“Nick,” he said when I answered, “do you have a minute for your favorite uncle?”
Announcing that he was my favorite uncle seemed presumptuous, but he wasn’t wrong.
“Sure,” I said. “I’m just hanging out at home. I didn’t have big plans for tonight.”
Well, other than finishing the report for the League and coordinating a discussion about our response.
“That’s great,” he said, breathing into the phone. “I’m almost to your house. I don’t want to get your mom worried, but you know how I was working for Armory? I’m beginning to think that someone might be after me.”