Kid Biohack’s right hand twitched, but despite what I expected, he didn’t blow up at Travis. He smiled and said, “I know that wasn’t the ideal introduction, but it’s not entirely my fault. My powers make me a little impulsive sometimes. I’m sure some of you have the same problem.”
He smiled at Haley. She didn’t smile back.
“I don’t know how it is for you,” he continued, “but my muscles and tissues respond to chemicals my body secretes, allowing me to make myself faster, stronger, tougher and more agile. No one’s found a limit as to how far I can push them. It’s all a matter of controlling my body to create the right combination of chemicals. People even write into my website to suggest ideas.”
I felt my eyebrow rise, and wondered if he saw any hint of that through my mask.”You’re pretty open about how that works.”
“You should see his website.” Vaughn shook his head. “They can’t give too many details on his muscles because they don’t take well to poking and prodding, but they’ve got some scientific report detailing how they’re different from normal muscles. It’s pretty crazy, but Rocket, you might understand it better that I do.”
Travis crossed his arms over his chest. “Aren’t you at all afraid of what your enemies could do with that?”
Kid Biohack raised his hands in a shrug. “Well yeah, but you can’t think like that. Have you ever heard of open source software?”
Travis glanced over at me as he said, “No.” At almost the same time, I said, “Yes.”
Nodding in my direction Kid Biohack said, “Of course you’d know, but for the rest of you, here’s what it is: some computer programmers publish the hidden code they use to create computer programs openly where anyone can see it. Then anyone who knows what they’re doing can submit ideas and improvements. And sure, people will try to hack the program, but other people will have ideas about how to prevent it. Right now, we’ve got an amazing group of people submitting ideas. I’ve gotten further in the last few months than I have in years.”
He said it all with the enthusiasm of a convert. My first thought? “Hidden code?” It wasn’t hidden. It was just compiled into a format easier for computers to read than humans. My urge to correct him vied with my suspicion that it wasn’t worth the trouble, and lost.
Travis shook his head. “I’m not going to tell you how to run your life, but I need to tell you a couple things. First, you told people you were coming here to join the Heroes’ League. We’re planning to expand, but we’re not taking anyone who shows up. We’re not even taking every super we know. We’re taking people that we need. You’re stronger, faster, and tougher than a normal person, but so is half the team right now. You can adjust which one’s your strongest, but hell, I took you out tonight. You’re going to have to offer us something we don’t have.”
Haley frowned, and looked like she was about to say something, and honestly, so did I. Travis didn’t run the League. He’d only been as involved as I was this last year.
Kid Biohack gave a smile, and started speaking at almost the same moment Travis stopped. “I think I do offer you something you don’t have. I can adjust my strengths to match what the situation demands, but even better, no one knows what my limits are. You’ll be lucky to pull me in now when I’m at the beginning of my development.”
The corner of Travis’ mouth lifted, but he didn’t break into a smile. I felt like he might be close. Travis said, “I’ll keep that in mind, but what we need right now is more along the lines of a gesture of good faith.”
Kid Biohack nodded. “Anything.”
“You’re not streaming this, are you?”
“He can’t.” I don’t think I sounded frustrated, but I had mentioned this to everyone. “You can’t broadcast out of one of our vehicles or buildings unless you’re in the League or on the guest list. He’s not either.”
“No kidding?” Travis glanced toward me, and then back to Kid Biohack. “So, no streaming, but did you record any of that?”
Probably guessing what Travis wanted, he hesitated, but then said, “A little.”
“Delete it,” Travis said. “Immediately.”
He opened his mouth, closed it, but finally said, “Seth gave up all the delivery locations. I need that.”
Looming over him by more than a foot in height, Travis said, “We’ll get you all of that, but delete anything you’ve got on us since getting into the van.”
Kid Biohack raised an eyebrow. “Van? Oh, you mean the limo? Fine, I’ll do it.”
Kid Biohack put his hand to the side of his mask, tapping his fingers a few times before finally saying, “It’s done.”
“Great,” Travis said, “We’ll send you the location data. I can see you on my comm. For now, though, you should go. We’ve got a few things to talk about over here.”
Kid Biohack nodded, and walked toward the front door, stopping there. “A pleasure working with you. I’ll see you soon.” Then he stepped outside.
Haley fixed her brother with a stare that I’d only seen during arguments. “We aren’t really considering him for membership, are we?”