Lina couldn’t quite focus her eyes, so she put up a hand in the direction of the voice. She blinked a few times, until she could see the woman in front of her.
“Oh, it’s you.” She barely managed not to sneer at the power-company woman. She did turn her back on her, seeking out her people.
Jackson was on her left, Ethan on her right. “Dylan…?”
“Right here.” A woman – no, not any woman, that was Yolanda, that was the prostitute. Hunh. She waved at Lina from a few feet away. “His pulse is steady but his breathing’s a little shaggy and he’s unconscious. As soon as you fell down, so did he.”
She sounded a little accusing. That was okay, Lina felt guilty enough for a lot of accusing.
“He’s still breathing. He’s – ”
“I can’t get him to wake up, but he’s still breathing, yeah. What did you do?”
“What did you do?” the woman from the power company repeated. “What was that? That wasn’t what happened last time-”
“I employed some physics,” Lina told her, although she really wanted to do some studies of what she’d done before she was sure what she’d done counted as physics and not some weird sort of mistake. “And -” She glanced at Jackson. “We all worked together in a way we didn’t know we could the first time.”
“I need to study you first thing tomorrow. I need you in here to see exactly what you did and how we can duplicate it. You need to do that for me, again, and possibly several times-”
“What you need,” Jackson cut her off, “is to tell us when the next wave is coming, and then leave us alone to recover.”
“You can’t just – you have to tell me! You-”
“We fixed your problem,” Ethan snarled. “How many people died the first wave, because we didn’t know it was coming until it hit us? How many people more are going to die if you don’t tell us when the next wave is coming?”
“But you shouldn’t be able to – I mean – there is nothing in any of the projections that shows anything like containing the force in a non-destructive manner! It’s not possible! It should have knocked over at least part of the building, with you holding the force that close to the plant! There’s a chance it should have just exploded because the power was being pushed back into the source-”
“I didn’t push it back against the building,” Lina cut her off. They needed to get Dylan – what, to a hospital? Just home? She needed to be touching him, she thought. Maybe that might help somehow. “I-” She looked around, found that Jackson was handing her a small notebook and a pencil, and didn’t ask too many questions. “I did a spiral, like this, with the force shield, so it wasn’t touching anything but force shield and so that it was just running around in circles until it tired itself out.” She skipped what Dylan had done. She didn’t quite know, for one thing, and for another, she wasn’t sure if he wanted people knowing.
Wanted his dad knowing.
Wanted the Organization knowing.
“So,” Jackson cut in. “When is the next explosion?”
“I – I don’t know,” the woman admitted. “If our projections hold true, it should be in eight hours, but – well. I’m going to have to run all new projections. No sooner than three hours from now, I can guarantee that.”
“Call me.” Lina wrote down her number on the sheet with the spiral drawing and handed it to the woman. “Do not call sooner than two hours from now, and call only if you have an estimate it’s going to be different from eight hours from now. I – we – we all just ran our second marathon in less than twenty-four hours. We all need to sleep. We all need calories. And if we don’t know, it’s going to be hard to get people here for the next one.”
She frowned at that. Because it was far too good a point.
“We need people,” she reiterated. “We need a lot of people to hold this. I can’t do it on my own. I can’t do it on my own,” she repeated. “I can hold up maybe, I don’t know, a couple of pens on my own. This-” She shook her head. “So we need to know.”
Ethan snorted quietly. “Couple pens,” he muttered.
Lina, who had for a moment forgotten how they’d met, felt herself flushing. “Or so.” She made herself stare at the woman. “Let me know as soon as possible. We have a lot of phone calling to do. Understood?”
“You seem to think you’re in charge here,” the woman blustered. “Just because you managed to stop this one-”
“And the first wave.”
“And the first wave. But how do you know you can keep stopping it?”
“Lack of proof otherwise.” Lina smiled, although she wanted to slap the woman. “Look at it this way. You could assume we can do it again. Or you can scramble for another solution in possibly less than two hours. Which do you want to do?”
The woman nodded reluctantly. “We will – I’ll get you an answer as soon as possible. I’ll text it to you if it’s sooner than two hours from now. Do you have a back-up communications person?”
“First Jackson, who also will need sleep, and then -” then who?
“Then myself,” her father stepped up to the side of her. “Catalina, I have a couple of the people here gathering contact information for everyone and setting up a multitext feature. We can get in touch with anyone within fifteen, twenty minutes. Miss-” He managed to look down at the corporate power-plant woman. “Here’s my contact information.” He passed her a business card. “Contact me if you have an emergency in the next six hours; Catalina and her team need their rest.”
The woman took his card, read it, read it again, blanched, and nodded slowly. “Of course. And I do hope that this is the only way we’ll be hearing from your firm, sir…?”
“We shall see.” Lina’s father smiled sharply. “We shall see. However, I do believe that we can all come to an understanding, as long as the next few days go well. Now…?”
“Of course, of course. I’ll have my communications assistant contact you as well, to help you with your coordination.”
“You’re being quite considerate. The next time you might consider being that thoughtful before someone has to suggest a threat to you. After all, Catalina here and her team did all the work, not me.”
The woman flinched, a very slight thing, and nodded, faintly. “Thank you. Thank you, Catalina, and your – your team.”
“We’ll see you when you need us.” Catalina looked to Dylan. “For now, we’ve got to take care of our own.”