C looked at me. “And you’re the reporter?”
I managed to get a few words out.“I’m Nadia Stone with ‘Superhumans Today’. I’m pleased to meet you, sir.”
C smiled. “I get a lot more sirs now that I’m old. Thank you for being here, Ms. Stone. I look forward to seeing your article. We never expected that you’d have such exciting material.”
“I can’t say I did either, but after a few years on this beat, I’ve learned to adapt.”
He nodded. “Good luck. We’re off to the lab.” He glanced around the room. “Everyone?”
Accelerando, the Rocket, the Mystic, Night Wolf, and Control followed him out as Railgun stepped up to Control’s keyboard. Storm King began to talk with Railgun and Gravity Star as the rest of them walked away.
I watched them as they walked with him across the room, disappearing behind one of the doors to the left of the hangar door.
I’ve been interviewing supers for years now. I’ve interviewed heroes I admired and criminals I’ve despised, but I wasn’t prepared to see C appear in the room. This was a man who’d been there at the Heroes’ League’s founding, who knew Civil Rights leaders like Martin Luther King, Medgar Evers and even Malcolm X. He’d fought alien invaders, Nazis, the KKK, literal demons, and invaders from alternate histories.
By all credible accounts, he and the Rocket were the strategic thinkers of the team. According to an interview with the original Rocket, it was C’s idea to organize the nation’s supers by state and encourage them to work together, but also with the government.
It would lead to the web of connections that had sprung into action to fight the current invasion—when age had taken his sight, leaving him unable to become directly involved.
He was a living legend, one of those few people whose actions affected the world in ways that people notice.
The members of the new League had laughed and joked with him as they’d walked. The deep rumble of his laugh carried across the room.
To them, he might well be Accelerando’s grandfather or great-grandfather and if so, he might not be the only member of the Heroes’ League they’d known.
We’ve all heard the speculation. It won’t be cleared up in this article. Old school hero teams live by the secret identity, and if you’re going to interview one, there’s an understanding that you won’t reveal anything that could hint at who they are. I don’t.
I wrote notes about what I’d seen.
As I did, Blue walked up to the table I sat at and pulled up a chair. “Do you mind if I sit here? I’d like to ask you some questions.”
“Please sit,” I told her. “I hope you don’t mind if I ask you questions too. It’s why I’m here.”
She nodded without saying anything and sat down. Was she shy? It seemed like a strange combination with the ability to drop soldiers with the power of her voice alone.
Then she asked, “How long have your been a fan?”
Not sure what she meant, I said, “A fan?”
She nodded. “Of C. I couldn’t help but notice that your heart rate went up when you discovered he was here and when he spoke to you.”
Unsure of how much I wanted to say, I stalled. “You can do more with sound than shout at people.”
“Yes,” she said, but nothing more, waiting for me to fill the silence.
“When I was seven, I saw him on television and I thought he looked like my grandfather. He didn’t very much, but my grandfather had died when I was five so I didn’t really know. When I was eleven or twelve, I wrote about him for a school project, and then I learned who he was and what he meant. He may not have been the first black superhero, but he was the first we know about… The more I knew about him, the more he impressed me.” I watched her face. She’d nodded as I talked, made small noises to show she was listening.
She smiled. “He’s more impressive, the more you know him. I don’t know him as well as the Grand Lake team, but he’s everything they’ve told me.”
I asked my own question. “How did you happen to join the Heroes’ League?”
Her face froze for a second, but then she said, “Everyone knows about the Stapledon program now, so I can tell you. I met them there, and I officially joined around the time we went to St. Louis.”
“That’s right,” I said, “I saw footage of you there. I’m not trying to make you uncomfortable, but that’s not the first time you met them. Someone who looked a lot like you was with Evil Beatnik when he formed a team of third generation supervillains and attacked Grand Lake. Were you Dixie Supergirl?”
She sunk a little in her chair. “Yes. You know what he can do, right? I was under his control.”
In the silence that followed, Storm King said, “We don’t hold it against her. A bunch of people think I’m related to Red Lightning, and they’re right, but I’m not a supervillain.”