“So,” Hicks said, rubbing his temples, “why, exactly, was this friend of a friend digging in national wildlife reservation at three am on a Monday?”
Before I could answer, Ken Watanabe, the Boston lawyer that Jen had sent us, cut in. “Mr. Hicks,” he said in his mostly Texas accent (with a creeping intrusion of Boston Townie,) “I fail to see how this is relevant to the conversation in any way.” Ken Watanabe was a slightly comical man with Asian facial features, short stature, and a penchant for cowboy clothing mixed with expensive suits. He was also Jennifer Kagemoto’s lawyer, which made me wonder how ridiculous he actually was.
“I’m just wondering,” Hicks said, “because that particular reservation isn’t open to the public at that point.”
“And that,” Watanabe said, “is why our friends wish to remain anonymous. Y’all are gonna harass them over minor infractions, despite the fact that they’ve been very helpful to us.”
“Much as I doubt that’s they were doing was minor,” Agent Barton said.
“Without any evidence,” Watanabe muttered under his breath.
“We have more important things to do,” Barton said, pointedly ignoring Watanabe. “And we need to contact these people. There’s a lot of very disturbing things that they’ve seen and we need to find a way to collect and collate the information, assuming it isn’t too late already.”
“I understand the gravity of the situation,” Watanabe said, “but I need to do what’s best for my client. That’s my job.”
“Maybe,” I said, “we should take a break?” We weren’t in an interrogation room, thankfully. Instead, we were in a little suite of apartments in what appeared to be a hotel. However, something about the perky female receptionist who’d had one hand under the desk when we’d checked in and the man at the bar who drank nothing but water seemed to suggest that the clientele wasn’t exactly normal.
“Yeah,” Hicks said. “Sounds like a good idea.”
“Ok,” I said to Watanabe as soon as Hicks and Barton were gone, “How likely is it that Hicks is going to nail someone if I give him the opportunity?”
“Hundred percent,” Watanabe said. “Maybe not immediately, but it’s in his nature. Barton’s too. You want to protect your friends-”
“Who are also yer clients,” Eliza said. “Or do business with yer clients.”
“That has no bearing on the situation,” Watanabe said. “If you’ll excuse me, I need to make a few phone calls.”
“Sure thing,” I said. He stood up, we shook hands. “I’ll see you later, I guess.” As soon as he had left, I said, “He’s going to call Jen, isn’t he?”
“Possibly not,” Eliza said. “They’re probably bugging him.”
“Like he doesn’t know that,” I said. We considered our problem. “Calling Jen was a mistake, wasn’t it?”
“Well,” Eliza said, starting to count off options, “we could’ve decided not to ‘ave a lawyer. That’d be just as dumb. We could have hired another lawyer and stonewalled, but time’s of the essence. We also don’t know any other lawyers in this country. We might be able to hire a lawyer for a second opinion, but I got a sneakin’ suspicion ‘e’ll end up with a bullet in the back of his head. Also, we don’t know any bloody lawyers in this bloody country.”
After a few silent moments of me considering Eliza’s wisdom, I said, “Fuck, you’re right.” Eliza mad a noise of agreement, then there were a few more moments of silence. Finally, I said, “So, you want to watch the news?”
“No,” Eliza said, “but it’d probably be better than worrying about what the hell will happen next.”
We turned on the news and began watching one of the major networks. There were several stories about missing journalists, a new defensive pact including US, Mexico, Canada, and several other countries, and a few scientists talking about how close a space object was getting and arguing whether or not it was a spaceship that contained life or an asteroid. Of course, the thing they mostly talked about was how Hawaii was under Dragon’s Teeth control and how nobody had heard anything about it since the invasion. I estimated ninety percent of the conversation was pure speculation.
Then, during a piece on the seedy world of super hero/super villain fight betting and fixing (I noticed that some Massachusetts heroes were mentioned, much to my distaste) when it was announced. “We interrupt this segment for an important message,” one of the anchors said. “We’re just getting word that two fleets of warships are heading towards the US coast. We now have footage.”
When it came on, my heart sank. “Shit,” I said. “I recognize those ships.”
“Yeah,” Eliza said. “Those carriers and landing ships were at Pearl Harbor, weren’t they? And there’s some English, Australian and Indian ships as well.”
“No,” I said. “I mean, I’m sure you’re right, but that ship the camera person is getting close to? That’s a ship that was at that Russian port.” I squinted. “And yep, those are Deets on deck. You can sail away now, camera person. I really don’t want to see you die.”
The anchors, who had seen the Dragon’s Teeth a second after me, and realized what they were only a few seconds later, had the exact reaction. As they clamored and begged for the sailor with the shitty phone and a streaming service to get closer, I began to realize I hated them. Then the close-in weapons system opened up. Despite being a hundred and fifty meters away from the ship, the roar from what appeared to be three six-barreled 20mm turrets was loud enough to cause the microphone on the camera to crackle. I saw a brief glimpse of red tracers, the deck splintering and the water going from calm green to roiling, frenzied-piranha white, then the feed cut.
One of the anchors said, “We apologize for the disturbing footage. We.. we will be back after the break.” As the camera switched to an overhead view, I heard what I assumed the producer shouting and the anchor say, “Dammit, I know! I know Rob! But I can’t. I just can’t.”
Then the door opened. In walked Hicks and Barton. “We’re leaving.” Barton said. “Now.”