“It makes sense,” Haley pulled her chair out from under the table and sat down next to me. “It’s the right thing to do, but I don’t like it.”
Short with black hair and olive skin, Haley frowned. We’d been going out since my senior year of high school and after years of being together, I knew her well enough that I knew both what bothered her and that she’d be telling me aloud anyway.
“She and her boyfriend stole our plans and then handed it over to the Coffeeshop Illuminati. From what I heard, she’s the one with the connection to the Illuminati.”
Marcus sat a few chairs down on the other side of the table. “Really? I always thought they were kind of cool, you know. They’re all young from what I can tell, they’re not doing the traditional team thing and they’ve got a political perspective. Most teams don’t have the nerve. I mean, the Dixieland Defenders are almost all conservative and the Southern California Defenders are pretty liberal, but they don’t make it a cornerstone of their teams. These guys want to make the world better both for normal people and supers. They’re for ending poverty, protecting supers rights to use their powers and they’ve brought in heroes from all races and backgrounds to do it.”
Haley eyed her cousin, “And they’ve never come out against Dark Cloak. He actively helped that dragon we fought try to get a foothold for Faerie in our world. And I already mentioned how they flipped Turkmenistan’s government. I’ve sometimes thought supers should do more, but they didn’t spend much time thinking about what would happen after.”
Marcus shrugged, “Hey, I’m not saying they did everything right—just that they’re at least asking questions. Seriously, is catching supervillains the only thing superheroes should do? What if they took over a country like they did in Turkmenistan?”
Interrupting, Tara walked up to the table, mussed my hair, and asked, “Did you start already?”
Haley raised an eyebrow, but also smiled as Tara sat down. “No. We’re still waiting for everyone.”
Like Emmy, Tara didn’t have a problem touching people she felt comfortable with and Haley knew it. It was just Tara being Tara and it gave us a window into how the True might be with each other.
Then Haley started, twisting her head in the direction of the elevator on the far end of the room. “I take that back. Everyone’s here.”
I hadn’t heard the elevator, but it wasn’t close by. As I followed Haley’s gaze, the elevator door opened. Vaughn, Amy, and Stephanie got out—carefully.
The elevator barely fit two people.
On the other hand, the elevator only allowed people whose retinas had been scanned in to use it. I hadn’t ever scanned Amy’s, though I should have by now, and I wouldn’t have scanned in Stephanie’s.
Anyway, all of them were on the short and skinny side even though Vaughn had lost fat and added more muscle in the last two years.
Vaughn’s voice carried. “… I wasn’t trying to see how many of us I could squish in there. It was the only way we’d get down.”
Stephanie said something I missed and Amy laughed. After a little while they sat down at the table with us. Vaughn caught my eye. “Nick, you need to scan Amy in. That elevator’s not made for three people.”
Stephanie pushed her glasses back up her nose. “It depends what you use it for. If you’re hoping to get to know people, well, I feel like I know every crevice of each of you.”
Amy’s grin flickered, but she didn’t say anything. When she wasn’t transformed into Bloodmaiden, creation of blood magic and guardian of her nation, Amy sometimes showed hints of shyness.
Short and red-haired with pale skin, she sat straight in her chair, a legacy of being raised as a princess in a Victorian, steampunk fantasy world.
Catching Haley’s eye, Amy asked, “Is anyone else coming?”
Haley shook her head. “Sydney’s the only one of us who might be, but she couldn’t make it.”
Marcus frowned. He hadn’t been dating Sydney before we went to space, but even I’d been wondered if they would. Sydney had taken the news that he’d met a woman out there hard—even though it hadn’t worked out.
She’d been avoiding him.
“Thanks for coming, Stephanie,” Haley smiled at her. “I know it’s a long drive. I’m glad you’re here.”
Stephanie’s mouth twitched. “We’ll do better working together. You know how it is. When you’re away from home on a case, you coordinate with the local heroes. Plus, I know almost all of you. I know we haven’t always been on the same side, but we are here.”
Giving no sign that she disagreed, Haley nodded. “Nick talked to Agent Lim and he agreed that we should work together. We have to decide how best to help the two of you. Agent Lim also wanted us to find out what we could from Tara.”
Glancing over at Tara, Haley asked, “Did your parents ever tell you anything about how the True were created?”