The Stapledon program ended in the third week of August. My first classes started in the second week of September, so I had two weeks to relax—really more like a week and a half. I spent most of it sleeping.
Okay, that wasn’t true. It felt like I slept a lot, but that’s mostly because I wasn’t having to get up at six or seven in the morning to be out on the field running or fighting. So anyway, it was a wonderful week and a half. I spent it hanging around with Daniel, Haley, Vaughn, and Jaclyn. Cassie even managed to sneak up from D.C. for a few days.
We had a couple of movie nights with as close to everybody as we could get and then came school.
Grand Lake University’s classes started on Wednesday, making Monday the first official day students could move in unless they were freshmen or RA’s. That meant that Sunday was my last official day of freedom—sort of.
It wasn’t a day full of wild, crazy fun. Haley and Travis were with their parents. They’d flown somewhere for the weekend. Daniel was in Chicago even though the University of Chicago hadn’t started yet. He was hanging around with his dad at the Midwest Defenders HQ. Izzy was joining him there.
Midway through Sunday afternoon, I walked from my parents’ house to my grandparents’ house (which I’d inherited) and took the hidden elevator down to League HQ.
I still wasn’t used to the changes.
The elevator doors opened and I looked out into the main room of Heroes’ League HQ. The size of a basketball court, with the League’s accumulated trophies displayed on one end and a twenty-foot tall screen on the other, it used to have forty-year-old olive green carpet on the floor.
At some point during the summer, the League’s board had hired workmen to remove the old carpet and replace it with dark red carpet. They’d left uncarpeted paths around the sides of the room and through the middle. There, though, they’d smoothed out and stained the concrete. It almost looked like marble.
It looked good, and more to the point, it no longer looked like an extremely large basement storage room. It looked professional. They’d even moved the big pile of boxes to one of the side rooms.
I’d seen it when we’d had people over for movies, but I’d been distracted by seeing everyone then. Now it felt like another place.
Well, almost. I walked down the middle path toward the table in the middle of the room. Marcus sat there using one of the computers as well as the big screen on the wall. He’d thrown a bunch of things up on the big screen, mostly social media—Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and SuperTV’s web page.
Marcus stood up when I was near to the table. Slightly taller than I was with light brown skin, Marcus wore jeans and an Incredible Hulk t-shirt. A backpack lay on the floor next to his chair. It was probably filled with art supplies.
“Hey,” Marcus said, clapping me on the shoulder, “I am so glad you’re here.”
I shrugged. “I saw your text. What’s going on?”
“Well, you know how you fought a dragon during the summer? People started sending the League links to videos of the fight.”
“Huh.” I thought about that, staring upward at the big screen. “Where are people sending links to?”
Marcus looked up at the screen too. “A bunch of places—our website’s contact form, Twitter, the Facebook page… All of it.”
“When did we set all of that up?”
Shaking his head, Marcus said, “We didn’t. The board did. We’ve got access to all of it, though. They asked us to clear it with them before we say anything with the accounts.”
“No kidding.” The board seemed to be doing a lot these days. Of course, it made sense. All summer, the most junior members of the League were the only ones around—Marcus, Chris, Sydney, and Kayla.
Marcus nodded his head. “It’s been weird without everybody. So much stuff falls in your lap. Stuff like that.”
He pointed up at the screen. The YouTube video showed us fighting the dragon inside the compound, paying attention to some parts of the fight that I’d missed. I’d been nowhere near the part of the fight where people had been passing people out of the compound’s main park while goblins attempt to attack.
The fog didn’t entirely solve the problem, but Jaclyn was amazing, knocking back anything that made it through the fog. For that matter, Sean was great too, hitting the fae with cold iron constantly.
I even looked good. The visuals painted Haley and me in a positive light, showing us engaging in a hopeless battle so that the rest of the team could pass unconscious bodies back and away from the attackers.
It was interesting how much work the editors had gone to in order to keep people’s identities secret. No one had their identity revealed.
That had to be a clue as to who was releasing the video, but I had no idea where it pointed.