“Huh,” I considered that. “It seems as if whoever’s sending people after Uncle Steve might be using it to terrorize us? Because there’s no need to bother all the rest of you if they want Uncle Steve. They only need to go after my mom and dad—though I suppose going after everyone else’s might be insurance.”
Daniel nodded, “That’s what I was thinking, but there’s a wrinkle to it. I think they knew enough to target our families, but I don’t think they know why.”
“Magnus,” Tara’s face became expressionless. “He knows who you are. He’s made no effort to share it, but he has a reason to keep you distracted—the tablets Cassie translated.”
Shaking his head, Daniel muttered, “She has zero interest in Sumer, but she’s fluent in Sumerian…”
More loudly, he continued, “I think you’re right. I’m not sure why Magnus would want to let them know that targeting our families would help, but not tell them why. Whoever is coming has to have suspicions, but I suppose he can only reveal our secrets once.”
Uncle Steve let out a breath, “This is the Nine. They’re careful about who gets what information. It might be that they’ve been implanted with the information and can’t do anything with it, can’t even think about it, until some condition comes up.”
Tara looked at him and then me, “I can’t know whether or not that’s true from what little information I’ve got, but it seems possible, given what I know about the Nine and their methods. If we can, we’ll have to take them out as soon as they show up, so that no conditions come up.”
“Wow,” Vaughn stared out into space, but then shook his head and said, “This isn’t a red, but it’s got to be a yellow. We’ve got to send this out to everybody—maybe even Sean’s people. They might end up facing them and if we aren’t coordinating, who knows what happens…”
“Funny thing you should mention that,” I looked around the group, “I just got a call from Sean. He’s been working with Daniel’s dad and the Defenders because they think their investors, Future-men Capital have a connection to Magnus. They think this because Magnus used to be on the company’s board, used that connection to visit them, and then disappeared. Also, Sean wants Justice Fist to get on our training schedule.”
I felt Daniel’s surprise through the unintentional connection we sometimes shared.
Aloud, he said, “I had no idea my dad was working with them. He doesn’t tell me much of what he does with the Defenders, so that’s not unusual. Oh, and with regards to training with Justice Fist, I don’t get a feeling that it’s any worse than anything else we’re doing.”
Uncle Steve raised an eyebrow. Vaughn laughed, “That’s not much of a recommendation.”
Frowning, Daniel said, “It’s not simple. Right now everything has a chance of going badly wrong for us—including working with Justice Fist. There’s also a chance that working with them will help us a lot. It’s just that it isn’t so good that I can recommend it.”
I looked over at Tara. She shook her head, “Not enough information.”
Unable to think of a better idea, I said, “Vaughn’s right. We should tell everybody and I guess I’ll tell Cassie about putting them on the list. We might find that we have to coordinate with them sooner than we expect. I did tell Sean I would. Maybe we’ll get lucky.
“Oh, and one more thing, we should probably set up a cot for Uncle Steve.”
Daniel met my eyes and I heard him think, Just a second.
He closed his eyes, opening them a second or two later, “He shouldn’t stay here. I don’t know it for sure, but I think that having him disappear must be a trigger condition. Everyone in the League’s chances of survival go down drastically.”
Uncle Steve looked from Daniel to me, “Are you sure?”
“Daniel’s right a lot,” I said. “When he doesn’t feel confident, it’s one thing, but when he says something like that, I’d bet on it.”
Daniel met his eyes, “You’re going to want to trust me on this. I’m not my grandfather, but I’ve got as much talent in this area as he does.”
Uncle Steve stared up at him, “I want to make sure I’ve got this. You’re saying that if I don’t go back to my sister’s house, it gets bad for everyone in the Heroes’ League? Do you know how?”
Daniel shook his head, “I get a general sense of whether the results will be good or bad and if they’ll be bad, how bad. This is disastrously bad for a lot of us—everyone with parents in Grand Lake.”
Uncle Steve nodded, “Okay, what happens in the big picture if I go back then? How bad is that and who’s it bad for?”
Daniel closed his eyes, waiting a little longer than the last time before he opened them, “Here’s what I’ve got. There’s still a risk for everybody, but it’s less likely that everybody and their parents die…”
He stopped, not closing his eyes the way he sometimes did when sensing the future, but looking at Uncle Steve and biting his lip. I felt Daniel’s uncertainty and then a flash of decision.
“Here’s the thing,” Daniel said, “you’ve got a better chance of survival if you stay here. I don’t know why. It’s probably something like you stay out of the way, and escape in one of our vehicles after we die.”
Uncle Steve’s jaw dropped, “I know I asked you, but I wish you hadn’t told me that.”