“How’d that work out?” Sean thought back to his own experiences fighting a dragon and an entity called The Thing That Eats. He could do without more of it.
Vaughn laughed, “I helped but not maybe not in the way they were expecting. We both controlled the weather and there we were evenly matched, but it’s not like the guy was alone. There were a bunch of nature spirits and the Dread Knights… You probably haven’t heard of them, but they’re scary. My team, Cerebus, I mean, had fought them before so they could keep them under control, but that left me going mano a mano with the weather guy—“
Sean interrupted, “What’s his name? You can’t just call him ‘weather guy’.”
Barely seeming to pause, Vaughn continued, “But I can. See, Cerebus doesn’t know his name either. They’ve fought him a bunch of times and he keeps on coming back in a different costume, different face, different name, but the same powers and he remembers the past battles. Oh yeah, he’s also always a he. When I fought him, he called himself The Stormmost—“
Interrupting again, Sean said, “Are you fucking kidding me? The Stormmost? That is the dumbest—“
“Yeah,” Vaughn said, “but you asked for it. And anyway, it doesn’t matter at all. Maybe he’ll stick around for a week, but next it’ll be the same guy only now he’ll be calling himself The Mother of All Hurricanes. That’s what he called himself in the 90s. In the 70s, he called himself Weatherbomb for a couple years.”
Sean walked over to the couch in front of the tv, “Anyway, you fought him and?”
“Right,” Vaughn said, “We’re in the air throwing lightning at each other and directing it away from ourselves, trying to slam each other into the ground with gusts of wind, when I realize something—he’s a wizard.”
“Dude,” Sean stared at the phone for a second, “wasn’t that the whole point?”
Sean could almost hear Vaughn shaking his head, “No. You’re missing the point. He’s a wizard. They’re magical geeks. He probably comes out of an apprenticeship with some old guy or like that school Amy almost went to. Those guys don’t do cardio. They study old books, learn languages and everything, but that’s it. And that’s what I’ve got over him—Stapledon’s physical training. That, and Dr. Nation’s experimental physical improvement program. It worked for me, at least.
“We were in the air, pretty much matched in power, but then I flew through a rain of hail and got my hands on him. It took one punch, maybe two, and he went limp.”
Adjusting the phone as he leaned back on the couch, Sean grabbed the remote from the next cushion over, “How did those guys not think of punching him? It seems kind of obvious.”
Over the speaker, Sean heard Vaughn sigh, “They thought of it, but they couldn’t get close to him. Plus, they’re not very physical themselves. Cerebus is a bunch of archeologists and they got their powers from Hades—“
“The Greek god? Like in the Hercules movie?” At the same time, Sean began to wonder where this call went wrong. He’d been calling Vaughn to ask the guy a question and he was nowhere near asking it.
“Exactly,” Vaughn replied. “Some version of Hades anyway. Anyhow, the group’s a bunch of archeologists with powers like the ability to speak to the dead and touch souls and stuff like that. They can do some crazy shit, but straight-up fighting isn’t really their thing. The Stormmost’s a wizard. He’s protected himself against soul poking and eldritch attacks, so they—“
Sean couldn’t stop himself from asking, “Soul poking?”
“Let’s not go there,” Vaughn said, “I don’t even really know what they’re talking about but what I do know would take way too long. The short version is that they can do stuff to your soul that’ll affect your body. You don’t want to mess with them, but mages can protect themselves. That makes the whole problem physical, not magical. If it were magical, they wouldn’t have needed me. So, the end of the story is that The Stormmost is in magical jail or something. The North American Wizards Council got involved. After that, I don’t know what happened. So, why’d you call? I know you’re in town again, but we’re all just about to get sent wherever they want to send us.”
“That’s the thing,” Sean said, relieved to finally get the chance to talk, “I told you about the investors we got. They’re going to fund Jody, Dayton, and I. They’ve got some pull with the government. So we’re going to have official superhero mentors during our residency and government service, but we’re going to get to start our own thing. I’m thinking we’ll bring back the Justice Fist name, but it’ll mostly be different people. You don’t have to join, but if you want to at least talk about it, the investors are coming by tomorrow.”
On the other end of the phone, Vaughn made a sound that might have been a groan, “I already said no to this. I’m not going anywhere right now. I’m in the Heroes’ League and you know what’s going on with my family, right? We’ve practically got a civil war going over Hardwick Industries. Uncle Russ is in jail, but he’s appealing and he’s got people in the family that are still on his side even though he was working with the Nine.
“It’s crazy right now. My parents are working to organize as much of our family and as much of the board as possible to put the right CEO in place. It isn’t easy. It’s so bad that they’ve got me making calls sometimes—as myself, not as Storm King. Plus, my sisters are doing everything they can. It’s a mess. I don’t have time for anything more than what I’m doing.”
Sean bit back a response that he knew wouldn’t make anything better, finally saying, “Look, I know you’re not leaving the Heroes’ League, but you guys already have a board and I know you know more about business than I do. Could you look over things before we sign the papers?”
The pause from Vaughn’s end of the conversation stretched long enough that Sean wondered if he was still on the line. Finally, Vaughn said, “I’m not a lawyer, but if you want me to look at what you’ve got, I’ll look. Plus, the League’s got lawyers we can call in.”
“Great,” Sean said, “I’ll send you the appointment.”