“Molly. Molly. Come on, talk to me, Molly.”
“Shh! What part of radio silence don’t you understand?”
“I’ve never been that keen on silence.”
“Oh, don’t I know it. Can’t talk. We’re going in.”
Clint tried to get another word in before the line was cut. No luck. He leaned back in his beach chair. The kids down by the beach stared at him, their sand castle half-formed. He glanced at his exposed limbs. No, the skin-overlay looked natural enough. It was probably because he was talking to the empty air. Hadn’t they heard of bluetooth. Those guys just looked weird, ranting and waving as they walked down the street…oh, that probably was why they stared at him. That, and he tried to return a mis-thrown frisbee to its owner a minute ago and sent it zipping two beaches over.
He itched to be on the ground with Molly, but orders were orders. He supposed he was fortunate not to be more severely reprimanded after all the damage he’d wrecked.
Sound returned to his internal communications relay. He saw it was one-way, so he listened intently, closing his eyes and drinking in the urgent instructions barked out by the commanding officer. He heard the familiar smash of a door as they bashed it in, the hurried spreading of soldiers, the quick searching of rooms. Then the wonderful cry—”We found him” and “Don’t move.”
Hong Kong. Some twenty-something hacker who thought he could fix the world’s problems with a little information exchange. Molly had tracked him across networks and handles using bits and pieces gained from the captured super-villains, primarily the good Doctor, who had done some of his own backtracking to assure himself of the information’s validity.
The young man was talking frantically. “I didn’t do anything wrong! It worked. You should be thanking me. It worked! I did what no one else could have done. I took down all the super-terrorist networks. Let me go! You should be thanking me!”
Then Molly chimed in. “You didn’t do anything. It was Clint who took down those criminals, not you, hiding behind your computer. Take him away.” Clint grinned foolishly. He loved it when she got all defensive for him.
Well, that was that. Mystery of his exposed GPS transponder code solved. It hadn’t worried Clint much, but Molly had obsessed over it. Now she could finally let it go. It was just some kid who took it upon himself to rid the world of evil, ends justify the means and all that. Arturo hadn’t seen it coming, and if he hadn’t, no one had.
For his part, Clint was glad the whole thing was over. Molly was still repairing his OS from his near death encounter with the shock gun and repairing the rest of him from everything else.
The connection opened up again, two-way. “Got the slimeball, Clint. It won’t happen again.”
“Not with this guy, at least. I’m antsy. Am I off enforced leave, yet?”
“No. You might have survived Doc and the Yang Brothers and every other two-bit criminal this side of psychopathic, but you show up on the Island while it’s undergoing repairs, and the eggheads will have your head on a pike.”
“How about you? How about you join me? I’m tired of listening in while you have all the fun. Come be bored and depressed with me.”
“Bored and depressed…on the beach, in the sun, drinking daquaris?”
“Sure, why not?”
“I don’t know…. I look lousy in a swimsuit.”
“I doubt it.”
“Careful, Clint. You’re coming awful close to giving me a compliment.”
“Hey, I’m a hemisphere away. I can tell you you’re beautiful if I want to.”
“I’m just sayin’. So, you coming?”
“I have a few things to take care of here—”
“That’s a yes. I’ll see you tomorrow. Or yesterday. I’m not sure how the time zones work between here and there.”
Molly gave an exaggerated sigh. “Fine. I suppose you’ve earned it, what with risking your life to save me and all.”
“Never mind that, Molly. I know. See you soon.”
He disconnected, closed his eyes, and let the sound of the waves and hum of people wash over him. It was a pleasant, vibrant sound. He let it envelope him, soak into him. He was alive—for the moment. And it was wonderful.