Waking up the next morning wasn’t great. HQ had a bunch of cots and I’d slept in one even though I could have stayed in my bed upstairs.
Even on high alert, I couldn’t recommend it. I couldn’t blame the soreness in my body completely on the cot, but I doubted that it helped. Still, it was safer than being in the house—just much less private, considering that all of the cots were in HQ’s main room.
I’d barely pulled on clothes and sat down at one of the computer cubicles when we got the first call of the morning.
Kayla had slept over with us and was taking a shower, so it fell to me to answer.
The Justice Fist logo flashed when I took the call, meaning that this might be an official organizational call and not just a call from Sean.
I checked the call’s info. It came directly from the official line at 6:50 AM. I hit record on our comm software, deciding that the rest of the team should be able to watch it later even if they weren’t up right now—which most of them weren’t.
I took the call myself, using a function that superimposed a computer animation of the Rocket suit over me since they might be recording too.
The screen showed Sean, Dayton, and Jody, all of them in costume—Sean tall and thin in green and white; Dayton, big and muscular, in blue and white; and Jody, short and thin, in silver, black, and white.
All of their costumes showed the fist logo in the middle of their chests.
Sean spoke first, “Hey, you need to know this: Major Justice called us this morning. He wanted us to help him against you. We said ‘no’.”
“Wow,” I looked over the three of them. Dayton stared into the camera, frowning. Jody nodded, his head bobbing at an uncomfortably fast speed.
Sean’s lip curled, “Major Justice is a fucking tool. He told us that he had influence in the superhero community and the government and that if we went up against him, we’d be doing our careers no favors.”
Laughing by then, Dayton said, “We told him that he could suck it.”
Jody glanced at Dayton and Sean, asking, “How much power does that guy have?”
“No idea,” I said. “Our theory is that he’s working for the Nine without knowing it, but he’s the leader of a second string Defenders group. So the good news is that if he’s just a jerk, not that much. If he’s controlled by the Nine, he’s got even less, but they have a lot.”
Jody shook his his masked head, the silver fabric glinting in the glow of a ring light, “He’s a jerk for sure… Hope that’s all.”
Nodding, Sean said, “We’re still on your side. Just tell us where you want us.”
Giving a nod of his own, Dayton said, “I already thought he was a dick when I saw the first YouTube video of him talking about you.”
“Thanks,” I said, meaning it. “Did he happen to say anything about when he was going to be here?”
Shaking his head, Dayton said, “No, but he said we needed to decide right now when he called this morning. So I think he’s here or he will be soon.”
Stephanie hadn’t let us know that they’d arrived, but she also might not have had the chance. When you’re in the middle of infiltrating someone, you don’t want to get caught.
“We don’t have a plan yet,” I said, “but we’ll let you know how we’re handling it if we get attacked. We might manage to calm things down. You never know.”
On the screen, Jody cocked his head, “Are you going to let us in to your base?”
I shrugged, “I think we’d have to let you in—though you never know, we might all need to get out before it’s all over. It depends on what they do.”
With a grin, he said, “Are you saying you don’t trust us? You won’t let us in right now?”
Even knowing that they couldn’t see my expression, I still tried to prevent myself from looking irritated, “We’re under lockdown. We’ve literally shut every point of access to HQ and fully armed our security system. Turning it off will take a second—literally a good five minutes before we’re sure that everything has turned off.”
Sean eyed Jody, “We don’t need to get in there now. I don’t even want to. We’re better off out here.”
Dayton shook his head. I thought I saw a hint of an eye roll.
“Hey,” Jody said, “I was just joking.”
Suppressing an urge to point out that he wasn’t even remotely funny, I said, “Cool. We’ll keep you updated. With luck, nothing will happen anyway.”
“You bet,” Dayton said, giving a wave and the connection closed.
I sat in the chair, thinking about that. It was good that they gave us warning and not good that Major Justice was calling ahead for allies. Had any other Michigan hero said yes?
Also, what was up with Jody? Was that line of questions about trust a joke or something more? Some way to make relations between our groups worse?
I shook my head. Reading something sinister into Jody’s native dickishness probably wasn’t worth it.