Gathering: Part 5

Well, it’s later than it’s ever been, but it’s up.

After every party comes the cleanup.

I stood alone in League HQ holding six empty pizza boxes in my hands. I’d already put the leftovers in the refrigerator along with the pop.

David Letterman kept me company. Twenty feet tall on the Leagues’ TV, he joked about the president, the current presidential candidates, and how the next big super team would be eight year olds from Indiana.

It didn’t get much of a laugh, but I stared, dumbstruck, at the screen. Was that a reference to us? Hadn’t our fifteen minutes of fame run out yet?

I dumped the pizza boxes into the trash compactor, shut the door, and heard a satisfying crunching noise. The next time I opened the door, it would be empty. One of these days I would have to find out where it all went. Given the level of environmental awareness when Grandpa designed this place, I wouldn’t be surprised to discover it all shot into Lake Michigan.

While I pushed the chairs underneath the main table, I heard a low-pitched beeping. Looking up at the screen, I noticed a blue bar running across the bottom of the screen. The words “incoming call” floated from the right side of the screen to the left.

Crap.

I knew what that meant. It meant official. As in federal. As in a representative from our actual government wanted to talk to someone here.

I ran into the lab and put on the Rocket suit. I’d taken it off after everyone left.

With any luck, they’d give up before I finished. I had to pull on the arms, gloves, legs, chest piece, and helmet separately, each one with it’s own special connections.

The beeping didn’t stop.

I ran back out to the main console, clicked the “receive” button with the mouse and watched as the FBI’s seal appeared on the TV. Underneath the symbol were the words “Superhuman Affairs Branch.”

In a moment, the seal dissolved into a dark haired man standing in front of a wide desk in a cramped office. Piles of papers threatened to crowd out his computer and the big pile on the left appeared just about ready to fall over.

He was in his mid-forties and wore a blue suit. Just at the moment he became visible, he had been putting a gold colored action figure on his desk. I couldn’t see exactly what sort of action figure it was, but the idea of a FBI agent playing with C3PO in his spare time amused me.

I wondered how he would take it if I asked about it.

The fact that he was smiling also didn’t quite fit with my mental image of the FBI. Of course, my image of the FBI comes mostly from X-Files reruns.

“Hi,” I said, “I’m the Rocket.”

“Good to meet you Rocket,” he said. “I’m Isaac Lim, Super Team Liaison for the northern Midwest.”

His accent sounded like it was from one of the northeastern states. I couldn’t place which one.

“I’m calling,” he said, “to let you know that your team is part of our agency’s National Hero program.”

“I knew that the Heroes League was, “I said, “but what we’ve got here right now only barely qualifies as a team. Besides aren’t there some requirements for that? I think I remember something about five years of supervision and needing… I don’t know… a security clearance?”

“Don’t worry about it. You’ve been grandfathered in.”

“Well that’s good, I guess. What do we get out of that?”

He looked a little surprised at the question, but said, “The usual. Federal resources for your cases and sometimes equipment if you need it. You get paid when you’re on call. You also get guidance from an experienced field agent—me, in this case.”

“OK,” I said, “what do you get out of it?”

“We get heroes and in your case, we get legendary heroes back from beyond the grave,” laughing a little as he said the last part.

“More like replacement heroes,” I said.

“No,” he said, “I’m serious about that. The League was legendary. I idolized the original Rocket as a kid. Most supers are born with powers, but here was a normal person who could go toe to toe with them. You don’t know how much I wanted my own suit or how many hours I wasted daydreaming about it…”

He stopped, looking a little embarrassed. “Don’t mind me,” he said. “It’s been a late night and I ought to go home.”

“So should I,” I said, “but if we really do have access to FBI records, I’ve got a list of names and numbers I’d like you to check out.”

“Absolutely,” he said, and told me how to send him the file. Apparently our network had a secure connection to the Feds.

Then he signed off.

After I sent him the contact list, I wondered if I really should be trusting him with something like that so soon. It was too late to take it back though. Besides, I told myself as I took the suit off, he seemed to really like Grandpa.

Funny to imagine an FBI agent having a Rocket action figure in his office. It’s a strange world.

7 thoughts on “Gathering: Part 5”

  1. Well, they’ve got a team together. Now they just need to go out, fight crime, not die and hide the truth from their parents. A day in the life of a teenage superhero. I’m honestly not sure what’s harder – crimefighting or hiding the truth from your parents!

    1. Hey Jerden, glad to see you reading. In the case of this team, I’d bet hiding the truth from your parents is easier, but that’s mostly because of the block.

      Not that that’s without side effects…

  2. Well I broke my rule. Two arcs today. But I finished a chapter of mine in between, so I guess that’s OK.

    Really enjoying the flow of your story. Now time to go see if I can write a second chapter of my own 🙂

  3. I find it interesting that Nick is still a teenager, but is substantially more… “responsible” than his peers. He comes in before the meeting to tweak the security and he stays afterward to clean up. He is clearly attracted to the idea of doing the “superhero” thing, but that seems to be struggling against a sense that it is dangerous, and not really something to “play around with”.

    It is quite credible (teenagers vary in level of responsibility, so in any given group one of them is likely to be the responsible one) but it is interesting that the story is told from the perspective of the sensible one. So often tales like this are told from the point of view of the naive and overconfident beginner that this is an interesting contrast.

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