Isolation: Part 1

They didn’t arrive to attack us that afternoon or even that evening or night. It was a little disappointing after all the warnings. We went on high alert for the night, taking turns staying up and not leaving HQ.

We could have all slept and let HAL watch for intruders, but we decided it was better to have two people awake, armored, and ready for action. Besides we had a lot of people. No one had to stay up that long.

Haley’s and my parents stayed in HQ along with Uncle Steve, but they stayed out of our way.

Were there discussions and tears about Travis? Of course, and not just by Haley and her parents.

I may have shed a tear or two of my own while listening to Haley and wondering if I should try to contact Rachel as she flew home.

Knowing how much of a crapshoot contacting someone traveling faster that light could be, I didn’t. Besides, it had to be bad enough knowing that we were in enough trouble that I’d called for help. Knowing that Travis, an ex-boyfriend, had already died and that she wasn’t able to do anything about it would be worse.

They’d broken up a year before Haley and I got together, but they’d managed to put together a friendship once the team got going.

The only event of the evening worth writing down was that Guardian called. He called my comm directly.

“Rocket,” he began, “I’ve been talking to Defenders units, independent heroes, and more. Major Justice has been calling everyone to raise up a force to handle you. I wanted to bring in the Defenders on your side, but I can’t. Mindstryke said that if we intervene, it will make things worse, not better. I’m sure you know why I can’t.”

I didn’t know everyone on the League’s board, but Guardian might have been one of them. Daniel’s father, Mindstryke, acted as the board’s legal counsel, so he was definitely on it. Other people came and went as needed.

They didn’t keep us informed of every board member’s status for the same reason that Guardian couldn’t intervene. The board had been informed by the Mentalist that it couldn’t help us until the time was right (maybe never) or we’d all die.

Knowing that the Mentalist was more capable than we’d been aware, I didn’t doubt that they got regular updates.

“Here’s what I can tell you,” Guardian continued. “They’re getting a lot of noes. Major Justice has friends, but all of the big Defenders units called me to complain about his calls. You won’t be seeing the best of us show up on your doorstep tomorrow, but I don’t know what you will be seeing.”

He let out a sigh, “I’ve been seeing evidence of another team, maybe more than one. It’s got funding, training, and it gets used quietly. From the reports we’ve gotten, it’s used both inside and outside the United States. I’ve been guessing that it’s a less publicized version of the Probationers. They’ve been used against military targets in Africa and the Middle East, against terrorist groups, and organized crime.”

He stopped talking and I heard steps. He might be pacing. I considered breaking the silence, but he started talking before I could.

“I don’t know it’s government,” he said, “but it feels right. The targets tick all the boxes. It’s no one that we’d miss and the groups that got hit would have been watched by the military, intelligence or law enforcement agencies. I don’t know that Major Justice would be able to call on them, but he got his start making weapons for the military super units. He’s got the contacts.

“Plus,” he continued, “let’s be honest. We both know that you trashed one of the Nine’s more important manufacturing facilities a month ago. You’ve put yourself at the top of their list of supers to handle. If you can’t be handled by the Dominators, all they have is force—which means they might find a way to hand off the government’s super secret squad to Major Justice.”

I looked over the room. Vaughn, Haley, Marcus, Jaclyn, and Haley’s and my parents were playing a card game. Tiger curled up into a giant fluff ball, napping behind Jaclyn’s chair. 

I hadn’t even known we had playing cards down here. 

Kals, Julie, Camille, and Sydney were talking at a table while Daniel and Izzy held a deep conversation two tables away. Adam and Amy were talking too. From their expressions, I wasn’t sure how friendly it was.

“Wow,” I told Guardian. “That’s not even something that was on my bad things that might happen bingo card.”

Guardian laughed, “Well, I may not have more contacts than you in the superhero community, but a lot more of mine are the heads of current teams. I hear a lot more than most people, and don’t take this wrong, but you hear less than you would in a more established group. A lot of information gets shared at the weekly Defenders briefings, some informally.”

“Right,” I said. “That figures. We’re not a Defenders unit.”

“That’s right,”Guardian told me, his voice getting louder as he talked, “but it also gives you freedom I don’t have. I need to keep teams all over the country happy. You can just do what you need to without getting permission. Count on me to pass on anything I think you’ll need.”

“Thanks,” I said, finding this new wrinkle in our relationship interesting. 

As we hung up, I wondered how much of this newly helpful Guardian I’d see. If you thought about it, he’d just passed secret information my way, the kind that at least had the potential to get him in trouble with somebody.

11 thoughts on “Isolation: Part 1”

  1. I didn’t doubt that the got regular updates.
    I think “the” is meant to be “they”

    Every place has playing cards. They’re cheap, portable, versatile and familiar.

    I’m surprised it took this long for Nick to notice the Guardian isn’t busting his chops anymore. He’s been treating Nick with more and more respect as the Rocket’s been proving himself worthy.

  2. ‘her Travis’ – maybe that was meant to be ‘her friend’ or possibly just ‘Travis’? I didn’t think Travis was Rachel’s. If they’re in a relationship I missed it.

    Eight people in one card game is a bit much. It can be done, just seems odd.

    1. The number of people in the card game did pass through my mind as I wrote it. I’m figuring that Nick isn’t looking particularly closely and that they’re all playing cards, but that it could be two groups of 4 as easily as an 8 person game.

      As for Rachel’s relationship with Travis… That was mentioned at the beginning of book 2 (in the first storyline with Ray) and again in the Infinity City story. They were already exes when the story started.

      In short, it’s been years since I last mentioned it and probably years since you last saw a reference to it.

  3. Nick must have a bunch of fabricators and 3D printers and stuff lying around — how hard would it be for someone to whip up a deck of cards? Heck, they might even be made out of spare nanobots from a team member’s suit.


  4. They didn’t keep us informed every board member’s status
    informed of?

    lot of noes
    “noes” doesn’t seem right.

    1. Thanks. I’ll look at that.

      With regards to “noes.” It seemed weird to me too. From what I read when I searched on it, “no’s” and “noes” are both acceptable as the plural of no—supposedly.

  5. Knowing that the Mentalist was more capable than we’d been aware, I didn’t doubt that the got regular updates.

    Did you mean ‘they got regular updates’?

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