Uncle Steve nodded, “They’re the biggest that I know of. I’m asking you for help because my father was the Rocket and I’ve suspected that you’re the current Rocket ever since the suit’s first reappearance.”
“Huh,” I said, “that’s quite a guess if it’s true.”
Uncle Steve smiled while Vaughn managed a surprisingly credible poker face.
“It’s true,” my uncle said. “If anyone in the family knows that he was the Rocket, you’re the only credible candidate. Of all the grandchildren, you and Rachel were the only ones in Grand Lake. You especially spent a lot of time with him—to the point that it seemed like you were always here. Plus, he gave you the house. That’s an odd choice when you consider that he could have given you a trust fund for your education.
“Plus, there’s one other thing that no one else in our family would know. For reasons that I’m not going to explain and you’re capable of making good guesses about, I’ve seen the government’s list of people who have shown unusual potential with technology. It’s sometimes called the ‘mad scientist list.’ I know there are other names for it, but you’re on it. So is Ana. I don’t suppose you know where she is?”
Not seeing any point in denying it any further, I said, “Yes. She’ll be able to go home soon. The Nine brainwashed her and it was only reversed this morning.”
Uncle Steve blinked, “You can do that?”
I shook my head, “I know someone who sometimes can. I asked her to help.”
He nodded, “Good. When her parents found out that the Nine owned her company and that the feds had taken her into custody, they didn’t know what to think. They’ve been worried sick about her.”
“I’m sure,” I said. “The FBI said that they’d keep her family informed. I haven’t been checking on it. I didn’t know what else to do beyond calling in a friend to help.”
With a grin, Uncle Steve said, “That’s more than they’d have been able to do on their own. Joe and Charlotte will finally be able to sleep.”
“I hope. For all I know, she still might have leftovers of what happened in her head. She won’t be controlled, but she’ll still remember everything she did while under control. I don’t know what that was, but it wouldn’t surprise me if she regretted some of it.”
From the chair to my left, Vaughn said, “If you’re going to talk about private family stuff, I can go.”
I shook my head, “I don’t think so.”
Uncle Steve said, “No. I’m here to talk to Nick about whoever’s coming after me—if they’re coming.”
“On that,” I said, “do you know anything else? Anything more than that you know people who have died? I’m wondering if anyone at Armory’s lab seemed suspicious?”
Uncle Steve leaned back into the couch and laughed, “Armory hired some of the world’s most brilliant and least ethical engineers. A lot of them seemed suspicious and for good reason. They were criminals, even the ones that had never been caught.”
He shook his head, “There wasn’t anyone who was supposed to kill us all if we left. We designed and assembled armor. They didn’t want us to just tell anybody, but they didn’t say anything about killing us. I didn’t get anything more from them than I’ve gotten from normal, legitimate, businesses. Some of those people are crazy. Maybe you improved their can opener or something, That doesn’t mean that you want to own the design.“
Vaughn raised an eyebrow, “Did that happen to you?”
“Not exactly that, but closer than you’d think.” Uncle Steve’s eyes drifted toward the windows. When I assume, he didn’t see anything that worried him, he turned his attention back to me.
“Anyway,” he said, “there weren’t any people I remember that made me scared that they’d come after me. The place had professional security. You expect raving maniacs or drug users, but they hired regular security people.”
“Huh,” I frowned. “Then I think the best we’re going to do for now is set up surveillance cameras around Mom and Dad’s house. Then maybe we’ll make it so that something on you broadcasts your location and makes it easy for you to send a distress signal. I just wish we had something specific to watch for.”
I thought about calling Daniel in. If Uncle Steve were okay with it, maybe Daniel would pick up something from his memories that he couldn’t find on his own.
As I thought that, a woman’s voice came from the kitchen, “Do you mind if I listen in? I might notice something.”
I turned to see a woman standing in the entrance. Taller than Uncle Steve with long, dirty blond hair, light brown skin, and a strong jaw, she looked like a woman from a superhero comic. Even if her muscles didn’t bulge, they were defined. Where she’d gotten a blue, “Free Willy” t-shirt or why she’d bought it, I had no idea.
“Come on in, Tara,” I said. With Daniel not in the house, Tara was our best option. Though she didn’t have telepathy, she did have an incredible memory and ability to see patterns.
Uncle Steve looked over at her and his eyes widened, whispering “Do you know what she is?”