Older Enemies: Part 5

Guardian nodded, watching me as we talked, “How long will it take?”

“I don’t know. My bet would be two weeks at most. It might be as short as a couple of days, depending on where my friend is and how long it takes me to get to an ansible.”

“Oh,” Guardian let out a breath and shook his head. “I’m guessing this is a friend from your excursion into the Human Ascendancy. I’ve never gotten any details on that beyond hearing that it was harder than it should have been. Alright, get your friend. We’ve got an ansible at our Chicago base. That way, you won’t have to fly to Mars to use the Xiniti ansible.”

I felt myself blink, “You’ve got your own ansible?”

He shrugged, “You’re not the only one with friends outside the solar system. What can you tell me about the woman you’re bringing in?”

“She was trained by the Human Ascendancy’s Dominators before she joined the resistance,” I said.

Guardian grunted, “Then I hope she’s trustworthy. We’ve had a lot of trouble with the Human Ascendancy. I don’t know if the first Rocket told you about the war with the last Abominators, but they upgraded my powers and had their Dominators control me.”

Grandpa had told me a little about that. Also, it was in the old reports from that period. I’d read a few.

Taking a moment to check the parking lot around us, I decided that no one was close enough to worry me, “I can vouch for her. Her mother was killed by the Ascendancy and she’s fighting to overthrow them as basically her full-time job.”

Nodding, Guardian said, “Good enough. We can keep your captives then.”

“Great,” I said, thinking about how I was asking for the Defenders to keep Ana captive. On the other hand, we’d just destroyed where she worked. So as bad as imprisoning her was, at least we weren’t keeping her from doing anything.

Granted, that was a terrible rationalization, but it wasn’t as if we had another option. If we got her out of the armor and let her go, she’d be a loose Dominator asset. She’d work for them without any chance of making another choice.

Another thought hit me, “What do we do about these people’s lives? I don’t care much about the Amethyst Archer, but the other one… What if she’s got a cat or something? Or rent’s due?”

Frowning, Guardian looked at me for a moment, “You know her name, right?”

“Pretty well,” I told him.

His mouth twitched and I suspected he caught what I hadn’t said.

“Alright,” he said. “It’s not the first time we’ve had to pick up someone under the Dominators’ control. You’ll want to contact Lim and let him know. I think there’s a way that he can pay or at least hold her bills. Is that what you’re going after?’

I nodded, “Yeah.”

Then I added, “Sorry about whatever happens next. The way Rook described how he and the Nine were going to respond, it sounds as though they’re not just going to target us.”

Guardian grunted, “You heard what I told the reporter, right? I meant all of it. We’ve seen increased activity from them. They’re building to something. If it wasn’t you who got in their way, it would have been someone. The time to start a fight with them is before they’re ready.”

He stopped talking and frowned, adding, “I’m sure that you’ve heard the saying, ‘fools rush in where angels fear to tread?’ It seems like there ought to be another saying that makes the opposite point. I’ve been telling people for years that we shouldn’t just be fighting the Nine, we should be making a serious attempt to completely destroy them.

“Everyone agrees, but no one does anything. No one wants to start the ball rolling and maybe be the first head on the chopping block, and I didn’t want to go in alone without knowing if I had the community’s support.”

Then he smiled, “But your group went in, fought the whole way through, destroyed one of the Nine’s major manufacturing and design facilities, and did it because it needed to be done, without worrying about anything else.

“I’ve been trying to convince other superhero teams to do this for years. This isn’t a mistake on your part. This is a present. If I’d gone in and started a war with the Nine, I’m sure people would have helped in the end, but not before telling me that I’d made a big mistake and dragging their feet about helping me.

“But how will they react if the Heroes’ League starts the same war? A few groups might be angry at you, but most of them won’t be able to help themselves from coming in on your side. The League’s been too important historically to ignore. Plus, you kids have taken the lead enough times that you’ve built your own reputation.”

He grinned at me.

I’d spent years expecting him to show up and tell me that we’d screwed up, but now that I had his support, I had no idea what to do with it.

4 thoughts on “Older Enemies: Part 5”

  1. In the comments below the last post, people noted the contrast between the aftermath of this battle and their first with the Grey Giant. This makes the contrast a little more noticeable than it was then.

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  2. “you know her name?” “Pretty well”

    This is awkwardly phrased, and the question isn’t actually incisive enough that the Guardian should react to the evasion (which, it wasn’t really an evasion).

    1. I disagree. I think that Nick made the perfect comment. The question, “You know her name?” begs for a “yes” or “no” answer. By responding, “Pretty well”, Nick let the Guardian know that there was more than just a passing connection between Nick and Ana and that the answer was more than what could be conveyed via a “yes” or “no” answer.

    2. That it wasn’t an evasion is the key point, though.

      How do you tell someone that you know someone without saying it directly in a situation where you might be heard? It’s odd enough that it forces Guardian to think about what he meant and also not terribly revealing if overheard.

      Plus, Guardian trained with the Heroes’ League when younger and knew that Nick had to be a relative of the original Rocket when he showed up in the Rocket suit for the first time. Bearing that in mind, it’s not impossible that he might even guess that Ana is a relative.

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