Tara and I parted after that, each of us heading to our own rooms. The week flew past. We had two matches with each of the three teams, losing more than we won. That was okay. It was actually the plan. We’d come up with strategies and tactics for fighting each team, and devices or spells that might help.

Tara wanted to test how the other teams would respond to similar tactics that didn’t use the new equipment.

It had the side effect of getting them used to less effective versions of the same idea. Combined with losing, it might lull our opponents into thinking we weren’t much of a threat.

I explained as much to Haley on Friday night, the night before the tournament. We were sitting in my lab with the lights on low, deliberately next to the wall and out of direct view of the door.

Haley glanced in the direction of Stephanie’s lab. “Are you sure you can tell me this? It’s not as if I’m going to tell Travis, but Izzy hears everything.” (more…)


In the first sinking moments of understanding what she’d asked, I thought I might be able to get away with pretending not to know. Then realism set in. She’d realized who was missing from the common areas simply by walking through them and remembering our normal habits—whatever they were.

Lies would be useless. She’d probably be able to match up everything we’d ever said in her presence.

In the face of that, I had no choice.

Sighing, I led with, “It probably doesn’t matter anymore anyway. You know how Turkmenistan’s been in the news lately? Most of the Heroes League was involved with a plan to bug the presidential palace, steal files, and set the regime up for embarrassment or overthrow. We weren’t going to go forward without permission. Unfortunately, someone gave all the stuff we’d collected up through the fourth of July over to Gordon and Stephanie, and they gave it to the Coffeeshop Illuminati, and now, well, who knows what’s going to happen?” (more…)


Tara nodded. “And how do we win?”

“Well,” I thought about her question, trying to guess  what she was going for, “the obvious answer is that the specific strategy and tactics might be different for each team. That’s not the answer though. Our best quality as a team is that our capabilities could be completely different at the end of the week than the beginning. I might modify my suit or bots. Amy or Samita might use new spells or new magic objects.

“We’ll have to train against the other teams all week, so we may have to come up with ideas, and then not try them out until the tournament–which means we really won’t know how well they work.”

Tara grinned briefly. “That’s what I was thinking too. But we’ll have a better idea of what might work than you think. I can remember every move the third and fourth years have made in a fight I’ve seen.” (more…)


“Huh.” I stared into the distance as I wondered how exactly we’d handle a faerie invasion, and also, why they’d bother.

I happened to have aimed my staring vaguely in the direction of the door, and so I was watching as Samita and Tara walk though the magically guarded doorway.

Technically, I heard Tara before I saw her. Her voice cut through the silence, a torrent of words with barely any space between them. She was very excited about whatever it was. (more…)


“The tournament will work like this. You’ve got four teams. In the first round, there will be two fights and the winners will fight each other in the second round. It’s quick and simple, and it will have to be. We’ve got the VIP’s for the afternoon, and not longer than that. With luck, it’ll be exciting and get everyone back here in time for supper.”

Lee’s mouth quirked in a half smile. “Does anyone have any questions?”

Patriot Jr’s hand shot up. “I’m not trying to second guess you, sir, but why these groups? There are enough upperclassmen alone to fill the exercise, but you sprinkled in a few second years. I’m not complaining. They’re powerhouses, but why?” (more…)


It wasn’t going to be the good kind of awesome though. It was kind of awesome you get when all the people who hate you go into one corner and you wonder what they’re going to do when they come out.

To be fair, it wasn’t everyone who hated me. Jody wasn’t on their team.

Not yet anyway.

Over the loudspeaker, Lee said, “Blue Mask. Group 1.”

That was interesting, I thought as a guy who could almost have passed for Zorro walked up to their group. “Almost passed” because he had a blue mask. The inside of his cape was lined with blue as well—upping the number of capes I’d met who actually had a cape to two.

He carried a rapier.

I barely had time to process that when Lee said, “Slugger, Group 1.” (more…)


I half expected Turkmenistan to erupt in torrents of blood and destruction by Sunday night, but it didn’t. Nothing happened. That didn’t mean I wasn’t trying to stop it though.

I considered sending an email explaining everything to Agent Lim, but didn’t when it occured to me that anything that went to Lim’s email address might be permanently archived by the government. Instead I sent him an email saying that something of potentially international importance had come up, and that he should talk to me or Dr.Nation as soon as possible. (more…)

Between the blue t-shirt that appeared to be a pajama top and the wrinkles in his khakis, Dr. Nation was the closest to disheveled I’d ever seen him. He’d obviously come straight from bed, and thrown on anything in reach.

It could have been worse, I told myself. He might have come in a bathrobe.

Dr. Nation leaned over Stephanie, and picked up the glowing metal weapon, aiming its face away from him and us. After a moment, he turned it off.

Then he checked Gordon’s face. It was red where he’d hit the rock wall. He touched his hand on Gordon’s arm, checking Gordon’s pulse, nodding and giving a small smile as he found it. Then he looked at Haley. “How long does your poison generally last?”

She pursed her lips. “That’s hard to say. It depends on how big they are, and how much I put into them. With the normal amount, people are out for at least ten minutes.”

Nodding slowly, he asked, “And did you give them the normal amount?”

Haley grimaced, and said, “I… think? It was a bit of a blur.” (more…)

It was at this point that a mental block fell away, and I gained a new memory. It had my full attention. Mostly because I had no choice in the matter, but at the same time I wondered how the block had been put there, and if this past event was somehow relevant to our current situation.

It was from almost a year ago. A few of us had gotten together at the end of the summer for one last DVD Night in the Heroes League HQ. Cassie’s idea. Before the start of University.

By “a few of us”, I meant me, Cassie, Daniel, Haley, Vaughn, Jaclyn, Marcus, and Travis. No one from Justice Fist, Kayla was busy, and my sister Rachel hadn’t come – I think she’d been performing somewhere. So the basketball court sized room with the huge TV screen felt a little emptier than on some previous occasions.

We’d watched “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home”, had a good laugh about the part with transparent aluminum (considering what we used in our League vehicles), and were getting ready to go home. That part I remembered. Then the Rocket showed up.

That part was new. (more…)

My mind raced. Was there a technical fix for this? Set Hal to follow where the email went and delete it from any system that had it? That would create a mess by itself. If it turned out that the recipient had already printed it out or removed the computer from the internet, we might not ever find it.

Haley glanced back at me, but since I was still trying to think about technical solutions, I didn’t say anything.

She frowned, and addressed Stephanie again. “Can’t you stop them? You know these people, right? If they’re trustworthy, they’ll understand it wasn’t your information to give.”

Stephanie’s face twitched. “Do you want to leave a bunch of murderers in charge?” (more…)