Robin Hood the One Who Looked Good in Green Read online

  To his credit, Uncle Kent doesn’t give him the satisfaction of looking around the empty room.

  “They were up against the wall in the main cargo bay,” I add. “I saw them when I was here yesterday, remember?”

  Vinnie shrugs. “We must have gotten ten deliveries and pickups since then. They’re obviously gone.” He shoos us out the door. “I know you all have better places to be. And one of you should probably start looking for a new job!” The door slams behind us.

  “Now what?” I ask. “I haven’t seen any more ships arrive since yesterday. Have either of you?”

  They both shake their heads.

  “He knows something,” my uncle says. “All that poker playing has given me a pretty good knack for knowing when someone is lying.”

  “Why would he lie about boxes?” Will asks.

  Uncle Kent shakes his head. “I don’t know, but I’m going to find out. All arrivals and departures are logged into a database, including a record of their cargo. I’ll start there. You two go to school, and I’ll catch up with you later.”

  I hesitate, sort of feeling like I should be part of this. After all, the packages have more to do with me than anyone else.

  Before I can say anything, Uncle Kent shakes his head. “No. You’re obviously not the foreman’s favorite person.”

  I raise my chin. “Neither are you, remember? You keep making everyone float!”

  “Vinnie and I go way back. I know how to talk to him. Now get to school before you’re late again and then complain about being stuck in waste disposal for a week.”

  Okay, the man has a good point. I’m lucky I’m not down there already. “Good luck,” I tell him. “If you find the boxes, don’t open them until I get there.”

  “Wouldn’t dream of it,” Uncle Kent says. I look back to see him square his shoulders and knock on the door.

  Will and I slide into our seats about ten seconds before the afternoon buzzer rings. I’m relieved to see that Robo-teach has laid out two pieces of brown fabric on our desks with small lines marked on them. A new sewing project. Much better than another discussion about DNA and ancient history.

  Those of us old enough to wield a needle without impaling ourselves upon it have been sewing for years. With our limited access to new clothes, everyone needs to learn this skill. Today I’m glad for the mindlessness of the lesson. I can follow the lines with my needle and thread while letting my mind wander to more pressing things. He’s a good man, my uncle. This can’t be easy for him. He’d probably rather believe the foreman, since it would mean he could pretend the boxes never came, and my parents are still alive. But there he went, knocking on that door. I’m lucky to have him. Better than parents who would abandon their kid and then get themselves killed.

  “Ouch!” My squeal comes out sounding a little more like a six-year-old girl’s than I would like. I immediately press my finger to my lips to stop the drip of blood.

  “Do you need to visit the medi-station, Robin?” Robo-teach asks, wheeling over to me.

  I shake my head.

  “Good!” He spins back around. “All right, class, let’s all set our hats aside and get ready for the next activity. You’re going to like this one.”

  Hats? I look down at the fabric in my hand. Brown. Triangular. Soft. Then I glance around the class. Half the kids have already finished theirs and have plopped them on their heads. Pointy in the front, with sides that curve inward. It’s the hat in the photograph!

  Will laughs as he, too, sticks his hat on his head and beams. I just grumble. I don’t think it’s very funny. Everyone else is smiling, though. We never, ever get to wear hats up here. What would be the point? There’s no sun to shield our eyes from.

  “Hats off,” Robo-teach repeats.

  “Aw,” the girls complain, grabbing them off one another’s heads and giggling. I don’t know if girls everywhere giggle a lot, but our girls sure do. Once I heard two of them whispering, and when they saw me, they started giggling even more. Will says they have a crush on me, which is a weird way of saying they like me or think I’m cute or something. I’ve never had “a crush” on anyone so I don’t really know what Will means. Uncle Kent says someday I’ll meet my “person” and then I’ll understand. I’ve seen Will get all gooey-eyed when he talks to Malaya, who is only a month older than him, but I don’t really get it. I finish the last few stitches and tie off the thread.

  “Now,” Robo-teach continues, “I will be pairing you up by age for this next project.” Half the class hoots (including Will, who will get to pair up with Malaya), the other half groans (that’d be me, since it means I get to spend close-up and personal time with Finley).

  “Since everyone was so interested in the DNA process yesterday, we’re going to dive in a little deeper. I’ve downloaded my processing program onto the mobile viewscreens. You will each take turns collecting a hair sample from your partner, give it to me to upload, and then return to your seats to watch the results.”

  Everyone hurries to switch seats to be closest to their partner, but I drag my feet. I’m not in any hurry to see that guy’s face again. And what if the experiment pulls up something about my parents? I’m pretty sure I couldn’t handle that.

  “Ouch!” I squeal for the second time in ten minutes. “Seriously, Finley? That hurt!” I furiously rub the spot on my head where he just yanked out more than one piece of my hair. In response, he calmly pulls out one single strand of his own hair and says, “Saved you the trouble.” Then he delivers them both to Robo-teach.

  Grumbling, I plop down in front of our viewscreen to wait. Across the room, little Lissy shouts, “I’m related to a queen! I knew it!”

  By the time Finley returns, his data is starting to fill the screen. “I already know my family tree dating back three hundred years,” he brags, leaning back in his chair.

  This doesn’t surprise me. The commander prides himself on being the latest in a line of leaders (commanders, captains, chiefs, kings, presidents, you name it) going back fifteen generations or something. He and Finley’s mother are the first people to pop up on the screen, then lots of other faces, places, and documents. Finley’s barely paying attention until …

  He and I both lean forward.

  It looks like …

  He suddenly lunges forward and flips the viewscreen over. His face has gone very red. I don’t blame him. I’d be pretty embarrassed to find out my great-great-great-grandfather was a thief with a million-dollar bounty on his head.

  Actually, I probably wouldn’t care. But Finley obviously does.

  “Please,” he gasps, stabbing at the screen with his fingers until it goes dark. “Don’t tell anyone.”

  I consider this for a minute. Having something to hold over Finley could be useful. But he looks so distressed that I just shrug and say, “Sure, whatever.”

  “Thank you,” he says, his cheeks still flaming. “I owe you one.”

  Robo-teach wheels up to our table. “Find anything interesting, boys?”

  Finley opens his mouth, then quickly shakes his head. “Nope,” I say, “just Finley’s family history of do-gooders.”

  Robo-teach nods. “I’m sure you’ll be as good a commander as your father one day.”

  Finley gives a quick nod and stares at his hands.

  “What about you, Robin?” Robo-teach asks. “Have you been able to shed any light on your mysterious look-alike?”

  “Haven’t checked yet.” I turn the screen toward me and flick it back on. I can’t help noticing that next to Finley’s first name is his last name, Harlon. But mine only says Robin. Why have I never thought about that before?

  I take a deep breath and press on my name. I expect the photograph to come right up again, but it doesn’t. Only four words appear on the screen:


  I try again. Same message comes up.

  “How is that possible?” I ask Robo-teach. He shakes his head and starts scanning his own data from yesterday with the fe