Slipping off of my stool, I took a quick look at the factory dashboard on my monitor. I didn’t have any processes running that had to be manually stopped.
I was safe from whatever the nanotech equivalent of Mickey Mouse directing brooms to carry pails of water might be.
Compelled to be accurate, I said, “We did talk a few different times, but yeah, it hasn’t been much more than ‘hi’ and a couple technical things.”
Chris nodded as I spoke. “The links you sent me to your Rocket suit documentation were a lifesaver—probably literally. I understood a bunch of different things that I hadn’t been thinking about at all.”
I shrugged. “I grabbed a lot of that from my grandfather. I use a lot of his tests and minimum specifications with the newer versions of the suit.”
Chris grinned. “I know. My grandfather happened to be looking over my shoulder once and he was freaking out. He kept going on about how he’d noticed it years ago or how it explained some things or telling me about the fight where you grandfather must have decided that was important…”
Then he frowned. “I hope you don’t mind that I let him look.”
I shook my head. “I might have a few years ago, but he’s acting as a kind of advisor now. He probably needs as much information as he can get. I think I might have read that he was helping with Tara. It would have been in a League Board email.”
Chris shrugged. “I don’t get those, but he might be. He’s been busy with League stuff lately. Do you mind if I sit down?”
“No problem.” I got back onto the stool I’d just left and he sat on the one next to it.
“So,” he took a breath. “I’ve been thinking lately. You’re close to graduating college.”
Taking a glance at the monitor, I said, “Sort of. I’m a junior—so next year.”
He nodded. “Right. So what are you doing after graduation?”
I’d thought about that. “You have to do a couple years of residency and government work after graduation from Stapledon, but in terms of a civilian identity, I’m thinking I’ll set myself up as a consultant. Between Stapledon and my grandfather, it looks like I’ll have enough contacts to take a shot at it.”
“Make sense,” Chris kept his face blank, “but I’ve got another idea. You could do that for a couple years, but after that we could go into business together. Between the two of us, I bet we could come up with something that would really take off. That or, I don’t know, maybe I could join your consulting practice? I think if it were more than just you, you’d have a better chance of keeping your projects covered if you got busy. And that works both ways. I’m backing you up here right now, but when things get slow on the superhero end, you’d probably enjoy taking over projects I’m on.”
I thought about it. I wouldn’t mind working with Chris. In fact, past experience argued we worked better together than separately. “Sure. I like the idea. The only problem is that we’d probably both be busy at the same time with League stuff and maybe work too.”
“I thought about that.” He grinned. “I think you might like this idea. You know more inventor types from Stapledon, right? We pull in the interested ones and everyone gets an alibi as well as interesting work.”
It struck me that we might not want a link between the group of us, but might be some way to make it work. “I… kind of like the idea. There’s a security element we have to think about, but I bet we could work something out. Also, sometimes mad scientists or super-geniuses or whatever-it-is-we-are have some odd quirks. So if we did do something like this, we might have some weird personality issues to work with, but it’s worth a look. I’m still not sure what I really want out of my civilian life.”
Frowning, Chris raised an eyebrow. “Personality issues? That’s a good point. I was mostly thinking about how we work together, but other people might not work together as well. Yeah, we’ve got to think about—”
The speakers began playing the ringing of an old time phone. That meant someone was calling the Heroes’ League line and that it was someone we’d whitelisted to not go directly to voicemail.
I checked the monitor. It was the Grand Lake Police Department. I took the call on speakerphone.
“Heroes’ League, this is Lieutenant Hekman, the GLPD watch commander for tonight. We’ve sighted a superhuman and we’d like your help. It’s climbing on Hardwick Industries building downtown.”
“Climbing?” I looked over at Chris. He was taking deep breaths.
“Yes. It looks like Night Wolf or Night Cat, but it’s not either of them—too small for him and too big for her. It looks like one of those alien soldiers—human shaped with the claws? But this one isn’t in their armor.”
“We can look into it, but none of us are in costumes right now. It’ll be a minute.”
“Understood. We’ll be waiting.”
Chris sighed. “I’ll get back into the Rocket suit—unless you want to take this one.”
“Um… There probably ought to be two of us. I’ll take the stealth suit and stay in chameleon mode. That way there will be two of us, but it might not notice.”
In my head, I thought about Haley’s senses and mentally added a, “Maybe,” to the sentence.
“What’s going on? I just got out of the shower when I heard the alarm.” Sydney stood in the doorway in jeans and a t-shirt, her long blond hair still wet.