Bullet scanned the crowd, all of us sitting there and watching him, and continued. “For you to understand this, we’re going to have to step back for a second and review some things that everybody thinks they know, and then I’ll tell you which ones are really true.
“Everybody knows that the Heroes League claimed to be fighting aliens in 1970’s. Some people think the aliens were faked by the government. Some even think they were really aliens, but they were hired by the government. Either way, everyone knows there are superheroes who claim to be aliens even though they look a lot like humans.”
That was all too true. The “alien” heroes I’d seen on TV could have been faked by a good special effects department. All they needed were prosthetic foreheads, pointy ears, oddly colored makeup, and weird teeth.
They’d look at least as real as anything on Star Trek.
Bullet paused, checked his notes. “You know why they look like humans? They are human, or at least they’re close to it. Very few real aliens have ever been on Earth. One exception—the Abominators. Some of you might have heard the name. Most of you haven’t. The Abominators found Earth, turned humans into their soldiers, and seeded star systems all around this part of the galaxy with humans they’d modified. Then they used them to conquer other aliens—the real ones.
“They left our world fallow, and forbid any of their soldiers to come here to avoid messing up the unmodified stock.
“After a while, they managed to brush up against the Xiniti, a particularly murderous bunch of aliens, and the Xiniti slaughtered the Abominators—except for a few that managed to escape here. They were planning to use our planet to hide out, and breed a new bunch of super-soldiers, but it didn’t work out.
“The Heroes League ran into them, and the League brought in a bunch of younger heroes they’d trained to help fight. In the end, we won. Instead of destroying the planet like they usually did with Abominator worlds, the Xiniti decided they owed the League for their help with the last Abominators.
“And that’s why you even exist, and why this planet isn’t barren rock.”
He paused, looked all of us over again, probably to get a sense of our reactions.
I’d known a lot of it already. I checked the faces of people near me.
Well, maybe not right near me. I’d sat with the rest of the League, and we’d talked through all of this when Lee told me what he really was. We’d talked about it again after Cassie brought home that Abominator gun, and even checked into League records.
So, none of us seemed particularly surprised.
In the rest of the room, reactions varied, but a lot of people were freaking out. They weren’t rioting or anything, but I’d heard a girl behind me say, “That can’t be real,” and a guy say, “Abominator?”
Another girl said, “It’s true. Look at them. They already knew.”
By “them” she probably meant us. Could she read body language or was it some form of psi?
Bullet held his hands up. “Quiet everybody. We’re not even up to the good part yet. I’m just warming up to current events.
“Right now, the real aliens have formed an alliance, and guess who’s not in it? Us. They’ve set the Xiniti to quarantine the whole spiral arm. They claim they’ll someday let Earth become a member, but I’m not counting on it.
“You know why? Because they can’t see humans as anything but Abominator foot soldiers, and they never will. Even if they somehow warm up to us, our homicidal cousins out in space aren’t helping. Once they got out from under the Abominator yoke, they started wars with each other, burnt all the life off a few worlds, and have been constantly antagonizing the Xiniti.”
He stopped for a second, his mouth in a straight line. “Does that sound bad enough?”
Someone near us muttered, “Yes.”
“Well, good news. The bright spots in this whole outer space situation are that invading planets mostly isn’t worth the effort, and the Abominators pumped Earth up as some kind of holy place, so our cousins don’t want to burn us to a cinder.
“Sounds better, right? Well, it’s not. Owning Earth would be worth a lot to any faction that took us over. They might even be able to unite all our cousins into one force again. So, they’re quietly infiltrating, making alliances, bribing people, and taking over countries if they think they can manage it.
“We’re going to train you to find them and fight them.”