Ishmael had been using the time to hone his senses. For some time Jackson Hyde had been teaching him to suppress his ability to sense electric impulses since in the modern world it was too much for one person to handle.
But he’d been using the solitude to attempt to focus it. He was trying to blur out background noise and focus on specific locations. And that was when he realized a strong throb of bio-electricity was emanating above and behind him. He’d traced the signals as they raced through the tower and now they floated over him with an intensity he’d never felt before.
And this was when a girl flew into him from nowhere. Very fast. He collapsed on the floor and she, seemingly not bother stood to her feet and spoke to noone in particular.
“How about warning a girl next time?”
The machine answered back but Ishmael wasnt paying attention. He was busy being on the floor and confused. He stared up at the girl before him.
“You better have a good reason for being in here, Pinky, otherwise you’re in for a world of trouble.”
He realised she was pretty and this made him uncomfortable. Without realising he began to strobe the lights across his body.
Casey blinked. Her head was swimming. She knew she should be finding out who this character was, pressing for his reason to be here. But right now none of that was working.
Her mind was very peaceful and calm. She just stared at the pulsing of the being before her and was happy and serene as though she was floating in a bubble of tranquility. Casey shook her head. She knew what was happening and it took all of her willpower to do anything about it.
“You’re hypnotizing me aren’t you?” The alien creature didn’t reply. “Please… could you stop?” she asked very gently.
Ever so slowly the lights dimmed and her eyes seemed to rejoin the colors that had melted and her brain tuned back into the right frequency.
“Ooookay…” She floated down to the floor. “So you must be-“
“Call me Ishmael,” he replied shyly. Ishmael did not know what else to say. He knew that to be a good greeting but he felt tongue tied beyond that. He had seen women before in the street and even met some of Jackson Hyde’s friends. None had looked like this.
“Ha. Right. Cute. Okay ‘Ishmael’. How’d you get in here? What you looking for? ‘Cause, I got to be honest, right now you’re looking like the sole party in a superhero HQ right in the middle of a crisis which, let me tell you, paints you in rather a bad light.”
The girl said lots of words. She talked too much but Ishmael could not ignore her. Her mouth transfixed him. But he did not want to talk. He just wanted to find Jackson Hyde.
“Right, kid, look. I don’t want to get into a brawl ’cause heaven knows the computers here are amazing and generally only let in those with access, but if you don’t start communicating I’m gonna have to assume you found some way round them and that means I’m gonna have to start breakin’ ribs. Got it?”
Ishmael did not get it of course. What he did realize however was that unless he explained himself the girl may go on talking forever and, as pretty as she was, he did not like conversation even with Jackson Hyde.
“The computer cannot find my friend Jackson Hyde.”
“Yes, well that would make sense. So you’re Atlantean or something then?”
Ishmael frowned, the fins retreating into his arms. She saw resentment, barely concealed, in his face when he admitted “I am not Atlantean.” At least he was talking now.
“Okay, so you’re looking for Aquaman?” her voice was upbeat now, trying to put him at ease once more. Her smile was forced, however, “I’m afraid you’re going to have to get in line. Aquaman and a whole bunch of his buddies have all just vanished.”
“The Justice League? They are his friends.”
“Right. The League, the Society, and who knows else are gone and we are all that’s left.”
There was an unsettling silence for a while, just the dull hum of machinery. Under his breath Ishmael muttered.
“Not the only ones.”
“No, you’re right,” she replied, “there are…wait…wait. Have you seen other people? Here?”
Ishmael nodded and pointed back to the room where the teleporter tube still whirred quietly.
Casey moved quicker than he could keep track. Ishmael rushed into the room behind her but she was already gazing at the machine and swearing.
“Wait you’re telling me you weren’t the one who activated this?”
The aquatic boy shook his head slowly.
“Did you see who did?Who were they?” she didn’t turn from the machine to face him as she asked this, her mind was too busy processing multiple possibilities. Ishmael did not know so did not reply. His silence caused her to face him. Her skin must be warm, he thought, because her face was turning red. He quickly realized it might just be anger. Or panic.
“Do you know what this thing is, Aqualad?” she said pointing at the tube.
“Do you understand where this can go to?” she ignored him. He shrugged, all he wanted was to see his friend and go swimming. “Ishmael listen, this is important. The teleporter. This is set for the Watchtower. If someone… If a bad person has gone there then they may have made the Justice League vanish. They may be behind all this and now… now they have access to all the information and power they need to take over.”
But Ishmael interrupted. He had, despite her rambling, managed to unearth one important message:”The bad people know where Jackson Hyde is?”
“Yes. Maybe.” She did not smile. It was not happy news.
“Ishmael,” she figuratively held out her hand. “I’m going. You coming?”
They stood bathed in the light of the teleporter’s glow. Ishmael had only wanted to swim but now, now he was about to go to some place called ‘Watchtower’ (which did not sound like an ocean) and he feared he might be getting caught up in superheroing.
Things would be a lot better if he wasn’t still wearing all the heavy clothes, hat and glasses Jackson Hyde had left. But this was the last thing Jackson Hyde had given him. They were important. But so was finding him. More so than anything. And so Ishmael decided to follow the pretty girl.
That was when the communication system barked: “Watchtower to… anyone? We received the priority alert. Is anyone out there receiving?”