Mateo and I looked at each other. My helmet covered my face, but Mateo’s frozen expression hinted at the same dread I felt.
Not letting Working Man wait, Mateo took the call, “Blue Mask here. Are you okay?”
In a hoarse voice, Working Man said, “We’re alright. What’s your situation?
Taking a breath, Mateo said, “Good. The vampires left in Book Tower are dead including an alien. We didn’t kill them all, though. We’ll have to discuss what’s next there.”
With a tired laugh, Working Man replied, “I’m not worried. We got a lead on the group directing the police and media and hunted them down. We’d have called you in, but we didn’t know how far their communications expertise extended. V8 couldn’t know for sure that everyone with access to our comms was uncompromised or we’d have brought you in. From what I’ve been seeing since, it looks like Book Tower saw heavy fighting, more than I’d have expected you to handle.”
“We had some help,” Mateo said, his tone calm and even as if he didn’t expect to be reamed out for it.
“Saw it,” Working Man said without any hint of anger. “The troll and the wizard. I heard one of Unity’s hamsters was with you too. Bring them back to home base for debriefing. We’ll meet you there.”
“Understood,” Mateo said. “We’ll bring everyone over. It’ll be at least 30 minutes.”
The call ended with Working Man saying, “I know it. See you there.”
After the words, “Connection Closed,” appeared on my screen, Mateo said, “I know I skipped a few things. I didn’t want to go into the deal over the comm and I really didn’t want to go into who helped us.”
Amy raised an eyebrow, “You did tell him you had help. I heard that much.”
“He even seemed to notice Troll and Red Hex,” I said. “I half-expected him to explode right there.”
Mateo shook his head, “He may have seen them, but I’m pretty sure he didn’t recognize them. He’s up on supernatural heroes and villains if they’re a known big threat or if they’ve ever come to Detroit. If they’re not a threat here, he doesn’t pay attention. It’s a blindspot of his and he knows it. I’m the one who’s supposed to keep track of that sort of thing. He knows about Bloodmaiden. Expect the explosion when we get back to base.”
On the one hand, it’s not as if Working Man could punish me much. Theoretically, he might assign me to clean the base (including bathrooms) for the rest of the internship. Aside from that, it wasn’t as if he could prevent me from being part of the Heroes’ League without his approval.
In a worst-case scenario, I might have to do this internship all over again with someone else. No denying that would be annoying. It would set back the timetable for finishing my required period of post-Stapledon service by three months.
What we’d done didn’t seem bad enough to repeat an internship, though. Beyond that, Isaac Lim and other higher-ups in the Stapledon program gave me more credit than I deserved due to the original League. They might allow it to count anyway.
On the other hand, in a world where supers needed help from other supers more than they needed government approval, Working Man’s disapproval would count. If I left him angry, it might mean that teams that were friendly to him might not make helping ours a priority.
We wouldn’t have any idea how much that might hurt us until it did. And it did matter. We were already seeing how much the old boys’ network hurt Tara by preventing her from finding an internship until the League gave her one.
It didn’t take much to guess that there were already people out there pissed at us because of that. I just didn’t know who or how many.
For that matter, if I really pissed off Working Man, he might fire Mateo. He hadn’t threatened to, but Mateo was the guy most in charge of me, which meant that whatever I did was on him.
Come to think of it, if Working Man did get upset about us letting the vampires go, that had been Mateo’s idea.
Oh boy. If it came to that, maybe I could take the blame.
Amy looked over at me, “I don’t know exactly what you’re thinking, but if it involves self-sacrifice, don’t. You don’t know what Working Man’s going to say yet.”
I looked over at her, “How did you come up with that?”
She stared up at me, “I’ve known you for a few years now, and I’m more aware than most people of how far you’ll go to help. Plus, remember how I pick up powers from people I stab? I stabbed the xosk, so right now I’m a little telepathic.”
“Okay, then. I guess we’d better go back to base,” I said.