Road to Almost Nowhere
They all walked to the garage and climbed into the car Jack has waiting for them. A Ford camper van. Jack sat in the drivers seat with Rikki riding shotgun. The others sat around the table. Jack started the engine and drove out of the garage and up the driveway to the gate. The gate opened up and he drove through and it closed behind him. He drove up to the highway onramp.
"Which way did they go?" Rikki asked.
"Ailsa said they went north," Jack said. He turned right onto the onramp. There was a period of prolonged silence. The only noise was the road noise from the tires and the airflow over the camper with the noise of an occasional passing vehicle.
"What was it you said your Gift was?" Rikki asked, trying to break the silence.
"I didn't," Jack said, "but I guess I can tell you. It's superintelligence."
"Yes. It's been in my family for the past 7 generations."
"How does superintelligence count as a Gift?" Dan asked.
"My intelligence quotient was measured at 986." Dan's eyes widened in disbelief. "Oh, yes. The other members of The Order thought that too. Now they've introduced a system to determine superintelligence."
"Really?" Chyanne asked with mock interest.
"Yes. Very few people are qualified to have superintelligence."
"Do you know exactly how many?" Dan asked.
"Interesting," Dan said sarcastically.
"Quite," Jack agreed.
"That was sarcastic sir." Jack frowned. Some more silence followed. After a while Rikki decided to say his thoughts.
"This isn't going to work," he announced.
"But, you yourself wanted to undertake this mission," Jack told him.
"Yeah, but I mean they could've taken her anywhere."
"He has a point," Lotus said not looking up from the book she had brought.
"Thank you," Rikki said from the front.
"You're welcome," she said looking up. She then noticed that Luuk was staring at her with an "I'm in love with you" smile on his face. She frowned slightly and continued to read. Jack pulled over at the next stop. Everyone climbed out and stretched.
"So, where do we begin to look?" Jack asked.
"They obviously couldn't have gone too far, you don't want to go through multiple states with a hostage," Aoi said. "Not with all of the different jurisdictions. You'd only be making it worse for yourself."
"Yeah," Rikki said trying to think of an idea on what to do. He slowly paced back and forth contemplating with his thoughts. Dan and Luuk had gone into the gas station there for some food while the rest of them stayed by the camper. After a few more minutes went by, still no ideas.
"Still no ideas?" Dan asked as he Luuk walked back to them, carrying a bag of chips.
"No," Rikki said sighing.
"Excuse me, Jack?" Aoi asked.
"What?" Jack asked.
"How did Ms. McCracken describe the vehicle?" she asked looking toward the rest area entrance.
"An old white Chevy van," he said looking in the same place she was. Just then an old white Chevy van pulled off the highway and into a parking space nearby.
"Wow," Dan scoffed, hardly surprised. A man and a woman climbed out of the van and walked into the shop. Rikki wasn't sure if they were the ones who kidnapped Suzy.
"I want to question them," he told Jack.
"No, it's too risky," Jack warned.
"Well sometimes you have to take risks in order to get the job done."
"Fine," Jack said after a moment, "but we need to plan this out." Rikki was already making his.
"I'll inspect the van," he said. "Someone should go inside and distract them for a few extra moments."
"I'm not doing it," Dan declared.
"How is one person going to distract the both of them?" Luuk asked.
"You aren't," Rikki told him. "Lotus will go with you."
"What?" Luuk and Lotus asked simultaneously.
"You heard him," Max said.
"Wait, who said I'm doing the distraction?" Luuk asked.
"I said,"Rikki told him nudging him and Lotus toward the shop. "Now go make with the distraction."
"Fine," Luuk said angrily while Lotus spitefully muttered something in a foreign language. They went into the shop.
"This will be good," Aoi said with a wry smile. The others looked at her wondering what would happen this time. The two people in question were toward the back looking through the refrigerators for drinks.
"How will we do this?" Lotus whispered to Luuk.
"We keep them from purchasing," Luuk said grabbing the nearest item on the shelf, a package of gum and they walked up to the counter before the other two did.
"This is your distraction?!" she whispered harshly.
"No," he whispered back putting the gum on the counter. "This is." He grabbed her shoulders and kissed her right in front of the the suspects and the store clerk. The others watched from outside wide-eyed. Aoi was recording the whole thing on her phone. They continued to kiss for another few moments.
"We would like to purchase this, sometime today," the man said. They stopped kissing. They looked at each other.
"You're better than I thought," Lotus said to him.
"So are you," Luuk said. He put his money on the counter and grabbed the gum. "Keep the change," he said to the clerk. They walked back outside to the others. They stared at them. Then Rikki came back over.
"It's them," Jack said. "I remember from Ailsa's description."
"The number plate matched," Rikki said. They had found their suspects.
"Seeing as to how you're still alone, I'm guessing she wasn't in there?" Dan asked.
"No, they must have her somewhere else."
"Any indication where?"
"No." They were walking out to the van carrying some boxes of drinks.
"But you will. Let's follow them." The suspects climbed into the van and drove away. Jack followed. Dan had taken the front seat. Rikki noticed that night was falling.
"Can we get close?" Dan asked Jack.
"Not without breaking the speed limit," Jack said.
"Wait for a clear spot and pull up next to them." Jack pressed the accelerator carefully and got up next to the van. Dan looked into the van. He then teleported out of the seat.
"He can teleport?" Max asked.
"Yep," Aoi answered. Inside the van, the two were talking.
"I'm tellin' ya, I don' think that guy gave us enough cash for the girl," the woman said. "That was the hardest thing I've ever had to do."
"At least we got cash," the man said. They never heard the soft poof sound behind them.
"Hi," Dan said from the back, in the creepiest voice he could manage. The two looked back and screamed. From the camper, things didn't look well. The van started to swerve violently. Jack instinctively slowed down. The van shot back over to the right one final time right into the ditch. It slammed into the ditch and rolled many times before coming to a stop. Jack pulled to a stop on the hard shoulder. They jumped out of the camper and ran to the wrecked van. Dan teleported from the wreckage and fell over onto the ground.
"That was awesome!" he said trying to stand up.
"Yeah, congratulations. You now know what it feels like to be drunk," Chyanne said.
"Chyanne, stop it," Kilo said.
"No," Dan said pulling himself up. "It's alright."
"You alright?" Rikki asked him.
"Never better," he said with a still dizzy smile. He still was slightly off-balance.
"Sit down," Jack told him. Dan dropped to the ground. Rikki walked over to the wrecked van.
"Better talk to them quickly," Aoi told him. He walked over to the door and knelt down until he was face-to-face with the occupants.
"Where is she?" he asked them.
"Who?" the man spat.
"The girl you took. Where is she?"
"She's with him now," the woman said climbing out of the van.
"What, you can't get me out?" the man asked trying to pry himself from the twisted metal. That's when they all noticed it. The burning smell of gasoline.
"Get back!" Aoi said as she ran up to Rikki and she grabbed his arm and she pulled him away from the van just as it exploded sending fire and soot everywhere. The woman was knocked down from the explosion. They all backed as far from the van they could.
"You see that?" Rikki asked her as she helped him up.
"Nope. I could smell the gas."
"No problem," she said with a smile.
"What did she mean?" Rikki asked no one in particular. "When she said 'she's with him'?"
"Where'd she go?" Kilo asked.
"Over there," Chyanne said pointing. Rikki ran over to her. She was badly burnt on her back. He checker her pulse.
"She's dead," he said.
"We should get out of here," Rikki said wiping some soot from his face.
"Agreed," Jack said.
"Wait," Lotus said with a slight weakness. They looked over. There was a piece of metal about six inches long buried in her side. Aoi gasped.
"Oh, f-" Dan said but was interrupted as Lotus looked at the piece of metal just above her waist. She grabbed it and she slowly pulled it out. He groaned in disgust. The hole in her skin then healed back over.
"Healing," she said. "My Gift is healing." Aoi sighed with relief and she hugged her. They then all climbed back in the camper and Jack drove off. They all sat in mild contentment as Jack drove. Aoi had a wet paper towel and she was wiping the soot from Lotus' face.
"You gift is so awesome," she said to her.
"You should've known."
"No. I didn't."
"You didn't foresee it?"
"Because of my control. I didn't want to know. But I'm glad I do."
"By the way, what language was that, back at the gas station?" she asked as she wrung out the towel over the sink.
"It still sucks that we couldn't get any information," Dan said closing his eyes crossing his arms and leaning back in his seat.
"Actually, I found this," Rikki said holding up a beaten cell phone.
"You stole her cell phone?"
"Hey, she was dead anyway."
"I'll hold onto it," Jack said. "I'll send it to Will and have him examine it."
"But it's worthless," Kilo said.
"But my son is half-computer, remember?"
"Biotech. You weren't there when he told us," Rikki said.
"And how is the broken phone going to be any help?" Dan asked.
"It's a phone. People tell it many secrets," Rikki answered.
"I'm sure it will contain some helpful information," Jack said. "Don't worry."
"Whoever said I was worrying?" Rikki loved Suzy so much, because she was kidnapped it seemed like there was a part of him missing. A part of his life that she filled. He sighed and stared straight out into the blackness of night as they continued on the road.