Mindstryke of the Midwest Defenders (my best friend Daniel’s dad) had mixed feelings about the idea and he told me so over a video connection from the Midwest Defenders’ Chicago base.
“You never know what’s going on with a reporter. Do they have an axe to grind? Or just as bad, are they basically a stalker with a notepad?”
He shook his head. The Defenders had paid money to look good during video conferences. The window behind him looked out over Chicago’s skyline and Lake Michigan. It wasn’t really what was behind him, but you couldn’t tell the difference from here.
Face hidden by his navy blue mask, he added, “The only reason I’m passing this on is because good press can’t hurt. Your team’s last outing left people confused. Nearly an entire dorm of college students were turned into monsters. The pictures taken afterward showed their bodies sprawled everywhere as if they’d died. Worse, they were in the middle of occult circles drawn on the lawn.”
He frowned. “As you might guess, we can’t tell anyone the whole story. The government doesn’t want people to know it handed off everything to the North American Wizard’s Council and that they failed, leaving you guys to pick up the pieces.
“If that becomes known, we can count on someone pointing out that The Thing That Eats wouldn’t have been in Grand Lake if you hadn’t tried to capture it.”
“So, it’s mutual coverup time?” I asked.
He drummed his fingers on the desk. “More or less. Reliquary made it clear that he’d expose everything if anyone tried to pin it all on the League, but that goes both ways.”
I sat up in my chair. “Wow, I didn’t know he liked us that much.”
Mindstryke shrugged. “Two of his students are in your group, but never mind. The reporter is Nadia Stone. There’s good reason to believe she’ll be friendly. Even if she’s not a cape, she’s got powers herself and she’s been doing a series on capes called ‘A Day in The Life Of…’ None of the others have been hit pieces. There’s a good reason to believe this won’t be either.”
I raised an eyebrow. “What kind of powers?”
He met my eyes. “I’ll let her tell you. I’m not in the habit of describing other peoples’ powers without permission unless they’re well known or supervillains.”
I thought about that. “Okay, so what can we expect? Do we show her around HQ? What does she want from us?”
A beep came from Mindstryke’s end of the connection. He looked down, either receiving mental communication or, more likely, reading something on a screen.
When he looked up, he said, “Gotta go. Don’t worry about the reporter, but don’t be stupid either. She’ll be going for personal interviews, the kind that humanize you. Control who she gets to interview. Make sure it’s people who know when to stop talking. Accelerando would be great. Captain Commando or Storm King might not be, got it?”
* * *
That was back in October. It was November now and we’d progressed from fall’s piles of leaves to November’s bare trees and below freezing temperatures.
HQ had a better heating system since last summer’s renovations. I sat at the table in HQ’s main room feeling pleasantly warm, but staring at the computer screen.
I’d received an email from Nadia Stone at my official Heroes’ League address. It said, “Thanks again, and tell Blue good luck. Here’s the article. I hope you all enjoy it.”
I took a breath, forwarded the article to the entire Heroes’ League list including the staff and the board.
I clicked on the link and my browser opened up to “Superhumans Today,” an online magazine that I’d heard of, but never read. I poked around. The “A Day in The Life of…” series had been going since the early 2000s. I clicked through to a few of them. They weren’t interviews as much as long form essays that included interviews.
Our “A Day in The Life…” had the headline on the front page along with pictures that spanned our careers so far.
Then I bit the bullet and started reading.
A Day in The Life Of… The New Heroes’ League
By Nadia Stone
If there’s any name that evokes the image of old school heroes more than the Grand Lake Heroes’ League, I haven’t heard it. They were giants. They fought aliens, dragons, mad scientists, Nazis, and while they were at it, made time for supervillians.
Then they disappeared. Their representatives haven’t said what happened to all of them, but everyone knows that the first Captain Commando’s dead. Red Lightning disappeared in the 1960s so only the most paranoid believe he’s alive.
Two years ago, heroes with some of the same names appeared in the same gray, industrial city. After an explosion of violence that included mind controlled superheroes and the National Guard, we all learned that Red Lightning, Grand Lake’s mayor, and hundreds of superheroes and villains across the country were connected to a conspiracy that granted powers to normal people.
The conspiracy’s aims are still classified even if power juice isn’t, but it wasn’t the government that broke the story. It was the new Heroes’ League.
Who are they? How do they dare to take on the names of legends? One day can’t explain everything, but I can tell you this.
They’re all very, very young.