Sean couldn’t place the man’s accent, but he knew the man’s first language couldn’t have been English.
Ignoring that for the moment, Sean said, “Thanks, I’d like to think we have great potential. Come on in,” and waved them forward, continuing to hold the door for them.
Dayton walked past, saying, “Thanks, man.”
Martin Greatson walked past without saying anything, ignoring everyone—including the lawyers, and walked with quick, efficient steps toward the wide windows, staring out at the city.
Sean looked over at Dayton and Dayton shook his head, muttering, “I don’t know what’s up with him either.”
After a few seconds, Martin turned away from the window to say, “Come here, all of you.”
Mr. Winslow and the other lawyer began to stand up, but Martin motioned them to sit down. “Not you,” he said, “the boys.”
Sean felt his mouth frown but reminded himself that he only had to put up with this guy for a little while. Off to his right, Jody chuckled. Dayton kept up the easy smile he normally wore, but Sean thought he saw his mouth twitch.
Whatever the three of them thought, they walked across the wooden floor to look out the window.
Now that it was nearing noon, the mirrored glass of the city’s newer skyscrapers gleamed with the sun’s light while the older, brick and concrete buildings from the Grand Lake’s eighteenth-century boom stood in their shadows.
“What do you see,” Martin asked.
Jody glanced over at him with a small smile, “Stuff the Hardwick family owns.”
Nodding, Martin said, “Land, wealth and power. Vital things.”
He turned to Dayton, “What do you see?”
Dayton stared out the window, “The lakes, both of them. My dad used to take us waterskiing when I was a kid. We used to have a small cottage on Lake Michigan which was pretty expensive for its size. My aunt sold it after my parents died. It was too much work and too expensive to keep up. Still, great memories, you know?”
“Family,” Martin said. “Also important.”
He turned to Sean, “And you?”
“A lot of things, places we fought people, sometimes the right people and sometimes the wrong people. We fought the Maniacs downtown and the Cabal up north by all those factories. We had a fight over in that junkyard that we lost, but that was better than if we’d won, considering that we were fighting the Rocket and the Mystic.”
Martin’s mouth widened in a wolfish grin, “Battles. I’ve fought many and I’ve made many mistakes. If you survive, you learn better. What have you learned?”
Shaking his head, Sean said, “I don’t know. I guess, maybe that I’m not always right and a lot of shit is more complicated than it looks.”
Martin laughed, “A good start. Now, here’s what I see—reinvention. You see the older buildings replaced by the new even as the older buildings replaced small shops and before that wooden shacks. I’m an old man, but I continue by never staying the same. I adjust. I learn even now.
“I’m here to find people, strong people, the first citizens of a humanity that will reinvent itself.”
Out of the corner of his eye, Sean noticed Jody grinning. He caught Jody’s eye and gave the smallest shake of his head that he could. He didn’t want to find out what would happen if Jody decided to take Martin down a peg.
Dayton tilted his head to look down at Martin, “I’m not sure what you mean by that. Could you explain it?”
With the smallest nod, Martin said, “You and others have powers. Someday everyone in the human race will have powers, starting itself on a new journey. In that sense, you’re unlike the many out there without them. You need to make the most of them. For now, that means keeping the worst of our people in check. For the future, perhaps you’ll be more than that.”
“So you should know,” Martin stepped away from the window, “that I approve of this place and I approve of you.”
He turned around, walked across the room, and out the door, shutting it behind him.
At the sound of the elevator doors closing and the hum of its descent, Dayton said, “Well, that was pretty strange.”
At the dining room table, the lawyers laughed. Mr. Winslow pushed his chair back and said, “He’s eccentric. Please don’t judge the company by him. He won’t be part of the team we’re going to assign to help you. To be honest, I’m not sure you’ll ever see him again.”
With a shake of his head and a grin, Dayton said, “I can’t say I wasn’t a little thrown by the guy. Why do you keep him around? I can imagine you losing potential investments if he randomly shows up and asks him what they see out the window.”
Mr. Winslow sighed, “I know. Fortunately, as I was telling Sean and Jody before you arrived, this is the first time I know of that he’s done this. We’ll be reporting it to our supervisors. However it’s handled, it will be handled by the board.”
With that, both lawyers got out of their chairs and walked toward the door. “Again,” Mr. Winslow said, “our apologies. We’ll be back at 2 pm, assuming this hasn’t scared you off.”
Sean looked over at Dayton and Jody. Dayton gave him a nod. Jody shrugged, “Whatever.”
Sure only that he wanted to be alone with his team, Sean said, “We’ll be here.”
The lawyers left and the door locked behind them with a click.