“He came back a few minutes ago,” Ben whispered. “Not said anything, hardly moved, he’s just sat there.”
“We don’t know why or where he went,” Liam murmured.
Dusty stood and walked over to Rider. She was rushed by a dog, sprinting from the shadows. Its light brown coat was mottled with white and black and its massive ears were held against its skull. Rider’s hand shot out, grabbing the dog before it reached Dusty. It growled at her but reluctantly sat back beside Rider.
“Sorry,” Rider mumbled, still thinking.
The dog pushed against his side, licking his chin. He flinched away from it but began stroking it, which was obviously what it wanted. The dog warily watched the four of us. She was clearly a guard dog and was protecting Rider from people she didn’t know. His touch seemed to make her feel more relaxed, though she remained cautious. Rider grinned, seeming to have come to some conclusion.
“How did I not realise before?” he asked himself.
Standing up quickly, he ran his fingers through his hair. The dog barked up at him.
“Later,” he said to her. She snorted in response. “Ha, I’ve solved it.” He turned to look at us. “Okay, so Azazel came to tell me to come home – again – but in telling me that, he hinted at a plan that Vance’s cousin, Cat and the others are hatching. It’s something to do with a nuclear bomb, though what kind I’m not sure. Everything Azazel says is wrapped in riddles; he does it on purpose to confuse people, but growing up with him means I know his little tricks.”
“Okay, I suppose you want to tell the military?” Ben suggested.
Rider laughed. “You can; they wouldn’t believe me.”
“We’d need evidence,” Liam pointed out.
“I’ve given you the information, do with it what you will,” Rider shrugged. The dog barked sharply again. “Later, Ashanti, calm down. Do you want to go home?” She whined. “Then be patient.”
“What does she want?” I asked. Rider met my eyes properly for the first time.
“She wants to go outside,” he told me.
“You can understand her?” I enquired.
The dog, Ashanti, looked between Rider and me curiously, with her head tipped to the side. Rider noticed too but didn’t say anything.
“I’m still bored,” Dusty complained.
“Find something to do then,” Liam said.
“Do you think I’d be allowed to go shopping in LA?” she asked. It was a question mainly pointed at me.
“You’ll have to ask L-” That was when I remembered he was dead. I felt tears form in my eyes. I wiped them away and stood up. ”I’m sorry,” I said, and left the room.
I just walked wherever my legs took me, but after a while I realised I was subconsciously heading for the lab. I slid one of the doors aside and walked in. Passing all the scientists, not one of them paid me any attention; I was a common occurrence in the laboratory.