With this post we start what I’ll probably call “Book 2” if I ever decide to break these up into books. What I’m going to try to do in this section is write a series of short episodes that build on each other, trying to do things with a similar speed to the Heroes League story, but with some of the interconnectedness of the “In the Public Eye” storyline. We’ll see how well it works out.
So after you’ve secretly saved the city from a telepathic mayor and uncovered some kind of ancient conspiracy, you might wonder what would change in your life after that.
Speaking only for myself — not much.
At least it seemed that way at the beginning. The people at school who hadn’t ever spoken to me continued not to speak to me. I continued to split my time between hanging out at the geek lunch table and hanging out with Cassie, Kayla, and Vaughn.
The one thing that did seem different is that somehow of all things I’d done in the last month, the fact that I’d gone out with Haley once somehow did manage to hit the high school rumor mill.
The way I heard it later, a barista at the coffeehouse we went to happened to go to Haley’s school, but her cousin Julie went to my school. Julie happened to be there visiting her cousin when Haley and I went out together and snapped a picture of us with her cellphone, passing it on to a lot of people.
I had no idea why. I didn’t even know who she was.
“Her,” Cassie pointed two tables down.
A lot of girls were sitting at that table.
“‘Her’ doesn’t help much,” I said.
“Julie’s the one standing up,” Kayla said.
Julie put her tray on the table, pulled out a chair and sat down.
“She was standing up,” Cassie said. “She’s the one in the blue top.”
“I know who she is now,” I said.
I did. I’d seen her before, but never noticed her. She was blond, attractive (but not unusually so), and her shirt seemed to be in a style I’d seen on a lot of girls this year. Undoubtedly the style had a name, but I wasn’t the person to ask about that.
“What I don’t understand,” I said, “is why she’d care.”
“You could bug her house and find out,” Kayla said, laughing. That change I wasn’t particularly liking. Kayla now knew everything about the current League, or, if she didn’t know everything, she knew enough that I hadn’t noticed anything she was missing yet.
It left me with some sympathy for the original League’s policy on mindwiping.
Vaughn put his tray down next to mine and then pulled out his chair one handed. His right arm still hung in a sling.
“It’s not that hard to figure out. Haley’s brother was a football star over at South High. Haley was a good gymnast, and you’re a total geek. What could you possibly have in common?”
“Yeah,” I said. “I guess I can see that.”
I could see it, and it made me just a little nervous. Even though my life hadn’t changed much, I had begun to see some spillover between my two lives. Take Haley, for example. She’d taken my hand on the way into the police station. Not having much other information about us, the press had spent a lot of time talking about that. What happened if we ever broke up in real life? How visible would it be when we were in costume? Even if that never happened, it made it more dangerous for her if someone wanted to pressure me.
And then there was Kayla, Cassie’s best friend from I don’t know what age. Would she be tagging along from now on?
I really hoped that she could keep a secret.
* * *
After school, I didn’t even bother to go home. I walked straight to Grandpa’s old house, leaving footprints in the slush. Late November never seemed capable of committing to being winter. At the moment, we were feeling a little bit of a thaw.
I took the elevator in Grandpa’s workroom down to Heroes League HQ, turned on the lights and walked up to the main table in the middle of the room. I sat in front of one of the screens at the table, entered my name and password, checked email, and waited for Isaac Lim’s call.
It came a little after four.
The FBI’s seal appeared on the screen, resolving into Isaac Lim leaning against the front of his book-and-paper covered desk.
“Nick, how’s it going?”
“Fine,” I said. “Nothing much going on.”
“Heard from Magnus lately?”
“I never did call him back,” I said. “He hasn’t tried since.”
“I wish you had. We’re so close on these guys. The West Coast Defenders caught a bunch of Cabal people the other day and catching Magnus would help complete the picture.”
“What picture is that exactly?”
“I don’t know. It’s wide open. Are they the whole conspiracy or was it bigger? Bouman seemed to think it was bigger, but he was small fry. He wasn’t in the middle of it.”
“Don’t get me wrong,” Isaac said. “You guys did good. Not many supers discover something as big as you did and live to tell about it, but we don’t have them all yet.”
I couldn’t argue with him. We had done well. Now it seemed like every day brought another super adding a piece to the puzzle. The West Coast Defenders found a Cabal group in Oregon just last week.
We hadn’t been involved since the initial bust, of course. Who would trust teenagers with something like that?
“What blows me away,” Isaac said, “is that those books from Magnus? They really work. We can identify people with potential and give them powers temporarily. Nick, it’s the beginning of a new age of humanity and you started it.”
“Yeah,” I said, and struggled to think of anything to follow it up with.
Isaac seemed like a decent guy. Everyone I’d met from the FBI seemed decent so far, but, somehow I couldn’t quite be enthusiastic. The idea of the goverment being able to identify people with the potential for superpowers and control the substance that gave them temporary abilities… Um…
Seriously, what could go wrong with that?