I wanted to put more stuff into this post than I did, but it would have been a lot longer…
Walking around at night can be relaxing, but I didn’t even get a block from HQ when my cell phone started ringing. Initially, I thought about ignoring it, but then I checked the number on the display. It was Daniel’s dad.
In addition to being a prosecutor and a superhero, Daniel’s dad is also responsible for managing a number of assets related to the Heroes League including Grandpa’s house, it’s connection to League HQ, and a few million dollars Grandpa intended to be used to stop supervillains.
In short, until I’m 18 I have to get Daniel’s dad’s permission every time I buy anything for HQ—ranging from toilet paper to thermite. You never know when you might need thermite.
I took the call.
“Hi Nick, I’d ask how you were doing, but I’d guess you’re feeling lousy right now.”
“Good guess,” I said.
“I doubt it will comfort you much, but this goes with public life. Sometimes you’re the hero of the day. Sometimes you’re not. The bad press gives me at least as much motivation as the good—it gives me the chance to show them just how little they really know.”
I stepped over a bit of sidewalk that had buckled because of the growth of a tree root. I didn’t say anything.
“Here’s my plan. Larry and I are going to make sure that the local media knows that we support you. If the mayor goes after you after that, I’ll try to raise issues about the mayor’s credibility and piggyback on the scandal. If that doesn’t work, well, we’ve got options.”
“You’re not going to unmask him as a telepath? Or, I don’t know, just stop him?”
“It’d be nice if it were that easy, and sometimes it is. But not this time. If I’m going up against the mayor, I want it to be an open and shut case. If I meet up with him, rip everything that he might be planning out of his head and accuse him of it, it’ll be his word against mine.
“So what I want is evidence that no one can argue with. Daniel and I are going to do our best to dig some up. What I want you to do is lay low.”
“I can do that,” I said.
At that moment, laying low sounded like a great idea. I was up for it. I was up for laying low till the end of my senior year and maybe college. Because seriously, before putting on the armor I’d had no idea that the city’s mayor was psychic, that my grandfather’s archnemesis was alive and knew where I lived, and that the FBI used superpowered teenagers against supervillains.
Ignorance really is bliss. Don’t underrate it.
“Glad to hear it, Nick.”
“Nick,” Daniel’s dad said, “you know why I’m saying that, right?”
“Uh,” I said, “because if I’m out of sight, I’m out of mind?”
“No,” he said. “It’s because tomorrow this is going to hit Reuters, the Associated Press, all three networks and the cable news channels. It may not be the top story, but it’ll be watched. After that we’ll have a mini-convention of ambitious, no-name heroes here to take out the Rocket’s crazy replacement. And then there’s Vaughn… People remember Red Lightning. The people who come to take him out aren’t going to be no-names. It’ll be a paranoid sonovabitch like Vengeance and he’ll be armed for bear.”
I could see my house down the block, living room windows bright with light, I wondered if Dad was home. He could be if the interview had been taped, but it would be easier if he weren’t.
“Even if I’d really punched the mayor for no good reason,” I said, “isn’t this way out of proportion? And Vaughn hasn’t done anything.”
“Nick, there are a lot of good people in costume, but we’ve got more than our share of crazies. That’s what happens when you have no choice but to hand off law enforcement to anyone who’s willing to do it in his spare time.”