Dr. Transylvania could have bought a more impressive headquarters for the Probationers himself. He had the money.
Four stories high with gray concrete and steel beams being the most noticeable pieces of the interior, it looked like what it had been—a warehouse used by the postal service. Even though the building now held offices and laboratories, it still looked like an abandoned warehouse from the outside. It even had a worn post office symbol on the outside of the building, the eagle so light and worn that he couldn’t tell what color it had originally been.
He’d have bet on black, but after more than a millennium of life, he’d long ago stopped caring about logos.
He had more immediate concerns.
Staring up at the television in the conference room, he scowled and sat up straighter in his chair, hearing his voice raise as he said, “What do you mean we can’t go after them?”
The man on the screen sank back into his chair before the mortal realized that he’d been cowering and puffed himself up. In his mid-forties with thinning, blond, curly hair, Agent Spitz struck Dr. Transylvania as a scared, little man who was hanging on until he reached his pension.
In a higher voice than usual, Spitz said, “I mean that you can’t! You’re superheroes in the employ of the United States government. That means that you need to be available to aid the United States government. You know what the Nine is like. If you get their attention, it’s going to be an all-out war. We won’t be able to send you anywhere without the Nine sending out a team to assassinate you. You’ll be useless to us and I think you all need to think about what that means.”
From behind him, Dr. Transylvania heard the raspy voice of Ape Nasty, “Yeah, yeah. The bomb in my brain goes boom.”
The ape’s voice sounded as deep as its owner’s body was enormous.
A woman’s voice said, “He’s got a bomb in his head?”
Dr. Transylvania turned away from the television to nod at Mistress Madness in her costume which was silver with undertones of the colors of the rainbow. What was her real name? It didn’t matter. “Agent Spitz and Ape Nasty have history.”
The ape laughed, “I told him I’d rip his head off.”
Mistress Madness’ jaw dropped, “You put a bomb in his brain because he made a joke?”
Laughing, Ape Nasty reached across the table and touched her shoulder, “Don’t worry about it. I wasn’t joking. I meant every bit of it.”
Wanting to keep the conversation on track, Dr. Transylvania turned back toward the television, “We don’t want to be useless to the government, but isn’t it a little bit late to worry about whether we’ve annoyed the Nine? We just assisted the Heroes’ League in destroying a major base and manufacturing facility. Rook posted a video saying that the Nine had declared war on the Heroes’ League. Do you think that there’s any chance that we’re not included?”
Agent Spitz shook his head, “We see no reason to believe that they care that you exist. Your name was never mentioned in the video and you only barely appear in the news reports.”
Raising an eyebrow, Dr. Transylvania said, “Are you serious? I’ve seen news reports that link us with the Heroes’ League in an attempt to drag them down because they associate with us. Aside from that, I’ve had my own run-ins with the Nine before I got caught and we’ve fought them as a team. They already hate me and there’s no reason to think they don’t hate every one of us.”
Agent Spitz shook his head, “There is no way short of them targeting you and making it impossible for you to get anything else done that I will allow this team to go after the Nine again. That’s all. We’re done for today.”
From the other side of the table, the Atoner, still in his red and white body armor, said, “We completely understand. Thank you.”
The screen went black as (or shortly before) the Atoner finished. Dr. Transylvania turned toward him and said, “I hate that man.”
Nodding, the Atoner said, “Phil has issues. I’d have taken anyone else, but this is who we got.”
At the sound of Agent Spitz’s first name, Mistress Madness laughed, “Phil? The agent’s name is Phil Spitz?”
The Atoner shook his head, “It’s not that funny unless you think Spitz is just a funny last name.”
Mistress Madness said, “I do. It’s hilarious.”
Dr. Transylvania fought back a sigh. She’d only been on the team for a month and at 26 years old, she was practically an infant.
From the far end of the table, the team’s second newest member Morgan Spitz-White said, “Yeah, it’s a little funny, but it’s my name too. Remember that.”
In her forties, Morgan had years of mercenary work behind her. Dr. Transylvania knew she was almost as dangerous even out of her powered armor and he approved.
Mistress Madness nodded, “No offense meant. He’s not a relative, is he?”
Morgan shook her head, “I’d shoot myself. I don’t want to be related to a fed.”
Ignoring them as they continued talking, Dr. Transylvania turned to the Atoner, “I don’t care what he says, we’re going after the Nine.”
Taking a long breath, the Atoner froze, “That’s going to cause problems. We’re employees and he’s our boss.”
“He’s a fool. Mark my words, he’ll change his mind by the end of the day.”