“That, and I suppose when you kill as many people as he has, the enemies add up.” Plus he wasn’t exactly nice about it. The few times I’d seen him fight outside of training, he’d pushed people’s buttons deliberately.
That’s the kind of guy who would end up on the run from his entire species, leaving them pissed off enough that they destroyed any planet they found him on. Granted, it wasn’t just because of that, but it put things in perspective.
Normally they committed genocide over the long term. When they found he’d influenced a planet, they did it immediately.
“Exactly. You need someone to balance out the crazy.” She sounded amused.
“Okay. I’ll tell you when we’re going as soon as I know.”
“Good,” she said. “I love you.”
“I love you too,” I replied, and wondered when we’d started that.
As I put my cell phone back in my pocket, Jeremy started talking. “Wow. That’s fucking amazing! You’re going to go to the Xiniti station on Saturday. And Lee’s the Immortal, right?”
He’d moved his laptop off his lap. The movie played on, unwatched.
“Well,” I said, “the Immortal’s not really his name. The only people who call him that are the Feds, and you guys.”
“You guys” being online cape hobbyists. Lee had a depressingly large following among the sort of conspiracy theorists who believe the government cooked up the idea of aliens or used the ’73 faerie incursion to cover up Watergate.
“Do you know his real name?” Jeremy jumped off the top bunk. He wore an old red and black Midwest Defenders t-shirt and white underwear.
I shook my head. “I’m sure I couldn’t pronounce it even if I did.” Plus, based on what I’d heard about Lee’s origin, I’d probably go mad.
Words tumbled out of his mouth even before I stopped talking. “It’s still amazing. Can I meet him? Even though I can’t tell the guys on the boards about it, it’d be the best thing ever. Some guys go on and on when they think they’ve found a representation of him in an old temple. It’d be so cool to be able to know I met the guy.”
“Yeah?” I thought about that. “The problem is that you know my real identity.”
At his blank look, I said, “Have the Immortal discussion forums been talking about fatal blender accidents lately?”
His confused expression told me what I needed to know. Lee was right. When he wanted to be, he was untraceable.
* * *
Saturday morning came sooner than I expected. I found myself waiting inside the League jet wearing the space version of the Rocket suit.
White and gold, the suit looked close to the standard Rocket suit my grandfather wore in the late 70’s. In space, the ability to manipulate sound wasn’t worth as much so he’d done more with lasers.
I’d had to work in a new League communicator into the design, but I hadn’t made any other modifications.
Once I got Cassie’s armor working, I’d be strongly tempted to do an entirely new version of the design.
I thought about that while waiting for Vaughn to put on his space suit. It would be so much better than anything we had now. Even a light self-repairing suit would be better for fighting in space than anything we had now.
Haley wore one of the League’s old space suits—white and form fitting, it could have appeared on the cover of a 1950’s science fiction magazine. Older than any of us except Lee, the suits still passed Grandpa’s safety tests.
She sat down in the chair next to mine, and put her helmet on the floor next to it. The multi-colored glow of the jet’s dashboard reflected on her suit.
Glancing toward the back of the jet, she said, “Vaughn’s almost done. Lee’s helping now. He was half-naked so all I could do was shout through the door. Putting them on isn’t that hard, but you’d think it was the most complicated thing in the—”
Then she turned back toward the back again. After a moment she said, “Finally. He’s out.”
Vaughn walked toward the front ahead of Lee, both wearing League suits. Vaughn had one hand inside his helmet, and spun it with the other.
“Well sure,” Vaughn said, “of course, the suit’s easy for you. The two of you have more practice with the suits than anyone. This would be the best place to make out ever, right? It’s not like someone’s going to start knocking on the window—“
He stopped when he noticed Haley’s expression. I would have stopped. I knew that expression pretty well.
Lee grinned, and sat down behind us. “The jet brings back some memories. I think the last time I flew into space was for one of the last Abominator fights. There were only four of us—The Rocket, Captain Commando, Ghostwoman and me. Everyone else was pinned down or hurt. It was one of those last, desperate gasps before everything goes dark.
“Thousands died that night. It was a pretty good time.”