Brain Gang, a short man with dark skin and short, black hair, stood in front of the group of us. He wore a green suit (with matching mask and hat) that to my eye appeared to include material similar to that in my stealth suit. The material on the outside seemed normal, but the suit appeared to be stiffer and just a little thicker than normal material.
I recognized Brain Gang’s name. I’d heard it from Grandpa. Either this was a descendant of the original Brain Gang, or the original was still around. Given that this guy appeared to be in his thirties, I leaned toward descendant.
The parking lot held no cars, and for good reason. If you were going to be training a bunch of college students, many of whom were still learning to use their abilities, would you want to have your car where a stray blast of energy could destroy it?
Brain Gang stood in front of the shipyard building on a stool. When the wind came up, he held on to his hat.
“You’ve all seen the plans by now,” he shouted. “They were made with two goals in mind. First to defend Stardock from alien attackers. Second, to evacuate the base so that we can blow it up if defense becomes impossible. We’ll first practice defending the base, and after that we’ll practice delaying tactics that will allow the civilians to evacuate and escape.”
So that was the morning. I was assigned to a group of armored flyers that included Izzy. I used “armored” in the loose sense. In the strict sense, I was the only armored flyer there. Everyone else came naturally armored. “Everyone else” included Brittany and Brianna (identical twins who turned into glowing energy forms, calling themselves the Aurora Bees), Solar Flare’s younger brother Theo (who hadn’t had powers last I heard, but must have been run through a power impregnator), and our unit’s leader, Patriot Jr.
Patriot Jr. struck me as the kind of guy who could make it big in modeling or Hollywood. He had the looks–square jaw, a body that was muscular, but not freakishly so. Unsurprisingly his costume had a red, white, and blue patriotic theme. This was even less of a surprise when you considered that his father’s had too. His father led the Washington D.C. Liberators, the city’s premiere superhero team.
He spent the time between exercises chatting up Brittany and Brianna, leaving Izzy, Theo and I to stand together on the roof of the shipyard building.
“Again?” Izzy shook her head as Patriot Jr. took some excuse to put his arm around Brianna for a moment and made a joke. “Tell me they know what he’s doing.”
“Oh, they know,” Theo said, his plasma sheath disappearing, leaving only his red and yellow costume. “I’ve known them for years. They make a lot of jokes about guys who hit on them because of the twin thing.”
Izzy shook her head. “They can add one more joke to the list. We’re supposed to be talking about how we did on the last exercise, and he’s supposed to be leading it.”
Theo gave a relaxed grin, “You could lead it.”
Izzy smiled and glanced over to where they were talking. “He’s the one who most needs to hear it.”
She was right. During the last exercise we’d started our attack late, and it was all because Patriot Jr. had been paying more attention to whoever he’d been texting than the position of the drones we were supposed to be fighting.
All the same, it hadn’t been a bad morning. Even if we’d spent most of it ragging on our fearless leader, you could consider that bonding. Plus, whatever tension had been going on between Daniel and Izzy appeared to have vanished. I’d seen them holding hands on the way out of breakfast.
Theo pointed toward the parking lot. “It looks like it’s not going to make much of a difference. I think we’re switching to evacuation plans. The glass cannons are back.”
I wasn’t sure where he’d gotten the name from, but it fit. The unit included Vaughn, Sean, Daniel, and other flyers who could dish out damage, but weren’t great at taking it. We’d trained together earlier in the morning. There were maneuvers where we basically acted as their bodyguards, and others where they covered us as we attacked. When you forgot the purpose of the exercises, they’d even been fun.
They landed near us on the roof, and Daniel waved at us. Both Izzy and I waved back, making me wonder who he’d actually been waving at.
Both of you, Daniel thought back at me.
Along with a couple other capes I didn’t recognize, Brain Gang floated up to the roof on a rectangular platform that appeared to be held in the air by multiple jet engines–small ones. I thought about it. Getting people up in the air on that thing without throwing them off would be a challenging project.
The platform rose above the roof and floated across it. When it landed, Brain Gang addressed all of us.
“You, all of you here, are one of the most important pieces of Stardock’s defense. We’ve got people with great hand to hand combat abilities. We’ve got people with great powers. You’re the only ones we have with mobility, and our best chance to prevent a threat from getting close enough to attack.
“Frankly,” he said, “I haven’t been impressed with what I’ve seen so far. You need to step up, because if you don’t the people inside this building will all die when we blow the place. So, here’s where we’re going to start. We’re going send down more drones. There will be too many, but it will be your job to take down as many as you can before they can come in range. Some will be troop transports. You’ll need to stop them before they can land. Ready?”
A few people shouted yes. The rest of us looked at each other. Sean and I briefly caught each others’ eye, and turned away.
This was going to suck.