It wasn’t going to be the good kind of awesome though. It was kind of awesome you get when all the people who hate you go into one corner and you wonder what they’re going to do when they come out.
To be fair, it wasn’t everyone who hated me. Jody wasn’t on their team.
Not yet anyway.
Over the loudspeaker, Lee said, “Blue Mask. Group 1.”
That was interesting, I thought as a guy who could almost have passed for Zorro walked up to their group. “Almost passed” because he had a blue mask. The inside of his cape was lined with blue as well—upping the number of capes I’d met who actually had a cape to two.
He carried a rapier.
I barely had time to process that when Lee said, “Slugger, Group 1.”
“Slugger” turned out to be a guy wearing a baseball uniform and carrying a baseball bat—a big, big guy, easily Travis’ size. He had a little bit of a gut, but the muscles dramatically upped his intimidation value.
As strange as he seemed in the middle a crowd of superheroes, he fit the scenery (an athletic field) better than the rest of us.
Something nagged at me about him. I’d heard of him somewhere. It took a moment, but then the memory came. A few years ago some guy calling himself “The New Jersey Batman” had gotten in huge trouble with DC comics when he’d started to sell merchandise. He’d been a big guy who went after supervillains with a baseball bat, and he’d had a sidekick.
As completely absurd as his costume seemed, I wasn’t sure I wanted to be hit by the bat.
Next to me, Amy looked him up and down. “They’re both magic. With the first guy it’s the mask and the sword. With Slugger, I don’t know. Magic seems to permeate him.”
Samita had pulled a mirror out of her pocket and had angled it toward them. “I haven’t seen anything like it either.”
“Huh,” I let myself trail off, but then continued, “Okay. So they’ve got three area effect people, two of whom are flyers, and a couple magic hand to hand combat guys. We’ve got two uh… wizards—“
Samita shook her head. “I’m not a wizard. I will be someday. Currently I’m an apprentice with some skill in creating enchanted objects, and a few spells.”
“Okay, anyway. We’ve got two people who are skilled in using magic—“ Samita began to open her mouth again, but I continued on, “—one magic based hand to hand guy, one tech guy, and a super-soldier.”
Group 3 stood about ten feet to our left, and I’d missed hearing most of their group announced, partly because we’d been talking.
A tall woman in a red costume that had stylized red and yellow flames running up her sides talked with Jaclyn. I knew that her speed powers were linked to flame, but I wasn’t sure how.
Next to the tall woman’s red, and Jaclyn’s purple Accelerando costume, Rachel’s white stood out—as did the two pistols at her waist.
As I began to look toward group four, Lee called out two more names. “Night Wolf and Mist. Both to group 3.”
Travis walked up, huge as ever, but with a predator’s smooth gait. A girl who appeared to be made of mist followed him up.
Past them stood group four. I didn’t recognize any of them except for Patriot Jr., who was easy to distinguish in his red, white, and blue costume. Next to him stood a woman in gray powered armor, a short guy who was covered in a glowing force shield, and a man in off-white and brown body armor who carried a bow.
I wondered who would be their fifth member, but then Lee announced, “Blue. Group 4.”
Izzy flew over the crowd to join them.
When she’d landed, Lee held the microphone to his mouth again. “And that’s it. Those of you who aren’t part of the exhibition fighting groups will now be led through the obstacle courses. Those of you who will be fighting should huddle up in the front.”
We did. I tried not to get too close to anybody. A lot of us were in no danger, but it would be easy to hurt anyone who was physically normal. By the time Lee jumped off the podium and walked over to us, I found myself standing next to Amy, Jaclyn, Travis, and Izzy—any of whom could have had similar thoughts about accidentally hurting people.
Lee’s eyes ran across the group. “Over this next week, all of your groups will fight each other at least once, most likely more than that. You’ll discover, if you haven’t already, that I’ve given each of your group’s strengths against each other and distinct weaknesses. You’ll learn to exploit them during the week, and fight during the weekend when they’ll be much harder to handle.”