"I'm not letting them," Daniel said, "They figured it out for themselves. Future Knight has something in there that detects when people are lying to him. He caught something when he was talking to Nick and talking to Kayla blew it open for him."
"Wait," Cassie said, "what did Kayla tell him?"
"Nothing," Daniel said, "she just figured out who you were and lied about it. That's enough."
Travis nodded. "OK Daniel. Why is it wrong?"
"Because it's their brains. They're trying to do the right thing. If I just erase today, I might erase a lot more than that. The brain's not a computer. Everything connects to other things and I don't want to turn these guys into vegetables by mistake."
Travis raised his eyebrow. "Is that likely?"
I couldn't help but think that erasing a day from Future Knight's memory sounded a lot easier than what Daniel had done to my head. I didn't say so though.
Daniel shot a glance at me and frowned. "No. They'll probably be okay. It's just that this isn't just a question of whether I wipe a day from these guys' minds. It's a question of whether we're allowed to do this in the first place. Your memories are who you are. I'm permanently changing them."
"I'm not going to argue that," Travis said. "But right now these guys are going to turn us all in first chance they get, right?"
I didn't need telepathy to read the answer from Daniel's face.
"OK," he said, "I'll do it."
He turned around and walked back between the two unconscious men, sitting next to Future Knight.
"That'll buy us some time," Travis told me. "Maybe your bots will have time to get something good."
"I hope so," I said.
"Me too, because if they don't, we need a backup plan. You should see if your friend at the FBI has anything."
"Yeah," I said.
Almost everybody left after that. Daniel floated the bodies down the coast a few miles, escorted by Jaclyn. Cassie and Vaughn left together, followed by Marcus, Travis and Haley.
I sent a voice mail asking Isaac Lim to call me. He hadn't been all that happy with me the last time we'd talked, but it had sounded like he wanted to help.
I stood up from the command console, thinking that I should shut everything down for the night. Isaac would call me at home if he wanted to. Then I began mentally running through the lights I should turn off and tunnel doors I should lock.
Adrift in my head, I did a double take as I realized that Haley stood only a few feet away from me.
"Sorry," she said, "I didn't mean to scare you." She hesitated for a moment on the word "scare."
"I'm not scared," I said, " I just thought you were already gone. I thought everybody was gone. I was going to turn things off."
"I wanted to ask you something," she said, "so I came back."
"Sure," I said, "go ahead."
"You've seen me when I change," she said. "It doesn't creep you out, does it? The claws and the fangs?"
"I didn't know you had fangs."
I looked at her mouth. It seemed normal--except where it was quirked in an expression that might have been annoyance.
"I don't right now," she said.
"Sorry. No, I'm not bothered. I mean, it's what you do, right?"
"What I do," she said, "is turn into some kind of weird, half-human thing."
"It must be nice to have powers all the time, though. As it is, I'd need to have someone following me in a van if I wanted to change quickly."
"I don't want to change at all." She stopped talking, paused. "Well, that's not true. I like the change. I don't like looking like a refugee from a horror movie when I do it."
I felt like I should say something. I felt sure that someone who was actually good with people would pull out a line that would help her see things in a new and positive light.
Can you tell my dad is a psychologist?
Unfortunately, nothing came to mind, and I realized suddenly that she was looking at me as if she expected me to say something.
What I felt like I should be saying is, "You don't really look like a refugee from a horror movie." Problem was, she actually did. I just couldn't think of which one.
"Well," I said, "at least you can turn back, right?"
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Bio: Jim Zoetewey grew up in Holland, Michigan, near where L Frank Baum wrote The Wizard of Oz and other books in that series. Admittedly, Baum moved away more than sixty years before Jim was even born, but it's still kind of cool. Jim didn't attain his goal of never leaving school, but did prolong his stay as long as possible. He majored in religion and sociology at Hope College, gaining enough credits to obtain minors in ancient civilizations and creative writing—had he thought to submit applications to the relevant departments. He attended Western Theological Seminary for two years. He followed that up by getting a masters degree in sociology at Western Michigan University. Once out of school, he took up the most logical occupation for someone with his educational background: web developer and technical support. Simultaneously, he finished all but three credits of a masters in Information Systems, a degree that's actually relevant to his field. He's still not done. In the meantime, he's been writing stories about superheroes and posting them online at http://legionofnothing.com. He's still not sure whether that was a good idea, but continues to do it anyway. He's also not sure why he's writing this in the third person, but he's never seen an author bio written in first person and doesn't want to rock the boat.