“I…” She stopped, “I don’t know. After everything, I have an excuse, but I know I can’t really do that. What I really want is to talk to him. After they removed him from doing anything except for a couple of combat classes one year, I never got to talk to him about everything he’d done. He nearly got me expelled from Stapledon after I was harassed by children of his friends. I never got to hear him say why he thought that was right.”
Nodding along as she spoke, Vaughn asked, “Are you looking for an apology?”
Tara shook her head, the muscles around her mouth tight. “I know better. I’ve even thought it through… dispassionately. I know it’s a waste of time. I’m not going to get anything out of him, but I still want to go.”
On a gut level, sending Tara in to face someone who was at the center of the program’s old boy network sounded like a bad idea, especially when you considered that that old boy network had made it hard to impossible for her to get the internship and residency necessary to finish off the program. We’d taken her in for both the internship and the residency.
At the same time, assuming that we did some sort of good cop/bad cop thing, Tara could pass as the “bad cop” since Bullet might know what she was and guess she had a strong motivation to take him out. Plus, honestly? Even if Bullet was an ‘old boy,’ the superhero community was forgiving of heroes solving interpersonal problems with violence provided the damage wasn’t permanent. He’d know most people would look the other way.
Next to me, Haley said, “She should go.”
On the couch next to Vaughn and Yoselin, Cassie laughed, “I’d pay money to see that, but are you sure? I’d trust Tara to stay in control of herself more than I’d trust me in the same situation, but Tara, do you really want to see that guy ever?”
Tara turned to look at Cassie, her chair scraping the wooden floor, “Yes? No? It’s complicated. I feel like I have to.”
Wondering where we’d find Bullet these days, I said, “I think almost all of us should go. I’m thinking that there should be a visible team to go in and then a team that’s out of sight in case things go wrong. We’ve got protection against Dominator voice control, so they shouldn’t be able to take us instantly. I’m thinking the visible team could be Tara, Yoselin, and me unless anyone has a better idea.”
“I like it,” Cassie said, “but we don’t even know where the guy is right now. For all we know, he’s part of a big team, all of them may be mind-controlled, and we’ll have to land inside their orbiting satellite.”
Vaughn grinned at her, “That’s it. Think big.”
Next to him, Yoselin frowned, “It is possible.”
I shrugged, “True. With something like that, maybe we’d need to take everyone here just so that we’d have a fighting chance to get out.”
“And also notify the larger team,” Haley eyed me and then the rest of the room. “If it’s like that but not in space, Izzy and Jaclyn might be able to handle the rescue by themselves.”
“Yes,” Cassie said, “I’d say send them in to talk to Bullet instead, but if the Dominators got them, we’d be so screwed.”
Tara’s eyes widened for a moment. I caught her eye and she shook her head, “Never mind me. I just thought it through. Cassie’s right, but we could win. It’s just that there would be deaths.”
“Okay,” Daniel said, “I haven’t been doing deep scans or anything, but we’re all in agreement that we should talk to Bullet. Let’s get that started. Cassie’s been doing some checking and she knows a little more about Bullet now.”
Cassie’s eyes flicked in Daniel’s direction, “I’ve been checking the internet with my implant. Bullet’s not on an official team and he’s shown up in NYC, Washington D.C., Portland, Los Angeles, and a few other cities where he’s got friends. He’s been staying out of the Midwest, mostly. I’ve got no idea where he really is unless he’s been hiding out in Milwaukee and showing up everywhere else to throw people off track.”
Vaughn leaned back into the couch as she talked, “Could be he’s homeless and couch-surfing at legacy heroes’ houses?”
She shrugged, “For all I know, sure. Why not?”
I looked around the living room, wondering how many other discussions like this it had seen, “We can call him. He might not pick up, but our comms use the same protocol as everybody else. At the very least, he’ll get the message later.”
“He’ll answer,” Tara said.
I said, “I’ll call him,” and I did. He picked up on the first ring, “Rocket, good to hear from you. I was just thinking about the first Rocket. He was an amazing man.”
This wasn’t where I’d expected this call to go, but I ran with it, “He was. Did you know him?”
“He personally recruited my team to help against the Abominators. It was one of the great moments in my life.”
The sound of his pride carried through the phone system. I chose to build on it, “Is there some way that we can meet in person? I’ve got some questions about your 80s era team.