I wondered what Lim thought we’d even be able to do. Sure, Izzy might be able to redirect part of a planetary bombardment on her own, but she wouldn’t be able to handle all of it. She’d be kind of redundant to whatever Guardian and the various Defenders units were likely to manage. The ones that couldn’t fly in space had ships made at Stardock to work with.
With a slightly sick feeling, I wondered what Haley hoped to do. The jet might be able to destroy or redirect asteroids. For that matter, Camille could control gravity, and I didn’t know what her limits were. If she was anything like Sean, her half brother, she might be extremely powerful.
Lim’s voice broke through my thoughts. “Everyone! Now! I’ll brief you when you’re done.”
And you know, the crazy thing was that some people were already in costume. They were mostly the sort of people who were so excited to be supers that they wore their costume under their clothes all the time. The rest were speedsters, or in the military. I suspected the military students were required to wear their costumes under their clothes.
The rest of the people in the room were thinking more or less what I was. There were more than one hundred of us in a mostly unheated hangar. It had a bathroom and an office, but there wasn’t much space in either. Most of us were in our civvies, and if we wanted to change into costume, we’d have to strip down to underwear first. I wouldn’t have wanted to personally, but most people didn’t have a choice.
Of course, I didn’t have to deal with that. All I had to do was ditch my coat and activate the Rocket suit, but I sympathized. The League had problems with too little privacy too. Thanks to the fact that the original League was all male except for my grandma, we only had one locker room and set of showers.
Blake, Cassie and I looked at each other.
Cassie snorted. “Come on, Nick. Start stripping.”
I gave a half smile. “Thanks, but no.”
Blake nodded toward a group of students and luggage. “My stuff’s over there. We gotta talk more about this after we change.”
“Yeah,” I said, hoping that we wouldn’t be going into combat very soon.
Cassie had put her stuff along together with the rest of us, so we walked together, but not quickly enough. Lim was still shouting at everyone.
It wasn’t that people weren’t moving. We knew what might be at stake, and some people were running toward their luggage. About that time, a wall of darkness appeared halfway down the back wall of the hangar. It went about thirty feet long. A second length of wall appeared next to it. The “Women” appeared above the first section, and “Men” above the second.
I laughed. At least someone was thinking. I even knew who. I hadn’t seen much of her, but I remembered that Shannon, former member of Justice Fist, had darkness generating powers. That showed a greater degree of control than I thought she’d had.
Almost in the same moment, a woman’s voice carried over every other noise. It was impossible not to listen to it. “You can use it if you want.” I recognized the voice too. It wasn’t Shannon. Her cousin Julie had the power to force people to follow any commands she made with her voice.
This was a more subtle use of her power than I’d seen from her so far too. She’d used it to get our attention without forcing us to do something. That was probably a good thing.
People started grabbing their costumes and running over to the impromptu changing areas. Of course, not everybody did. I didn’t need to. I turned my fake suitcase on its side, stepped onto it, and the Rocket suit enveloped me. As the systems came online, I realized that Cassie had stepped behind a beam and changed there.
She stepped away from it most of the way into her Captain Commando costume, pulling the mask over her face in front of me, and picking up her sword and the gun.
As she strapped the sword to her back, she glanced over at me, and said, “Looks like I’m not giving this back yet.”
About ten feet past her, a red haired girl who I’d seen before, but never talked to, pulled a necklace out from under her shirt, and touched the gem that hung on it. When she did, it felt like I’d stepped inside a light show. Everything behind her disappeared, subsumed into rapidly changing colors (red, green, blue, pink…). Meanwhile, as she hovered in the air, all sorts of visual noise appeared around her–hearts, sparkles, shining symbols that looked like letters in a language I’d never seen before.
Plus, I swear I heard music playing in the background.
When it was all over, she’d changed from wearing a fairly normal button down shirt and slacks to wearing plate mail armor, and carrying a spear. Mind you, it was visually complex plate mail. Instead of being dull gray metal, dark red gemlike material outlined every section. The same was true with the spear.
Her hair, in the meantime, had grown at least a foot longer.
So, that was crazy.
Everyone who wasn’t standing behind Shannon’s walls of darkness had to be staring at her. I know I was.
She blushed, and said, “Sorry.”
“No problem,” I said.
To Daniel, I asked, Did I really just see an anime transformation sequence in real life?
Magic is weird, he thought back.
I couldn’t argue with him. Over the past year, my weirdness threshold had gotten higher, but not, apparently, this high.
Probably at that moment, I should have asked her name, and gotten to know her a little, making her feel a little more comfortable in the process, but I didn’t. I noticed that people were beginning to gather at the front of the hangar, Daniel and Izzy among them.
I started walking, following Cassie. Anime girl followed after us.
Okay, I had to get her real name. Calling her “anime girl” was going to get old quickly.
We made it to the front with a lot of people. We weren’t first, but we were near the front. After a minute, Isaac Lim started.
“As you all know, some group launched several asteroids in our direction. We don’t know precisely when, but they were discovered this morning. We’ve sent several spaceships out to handle it as well as a number of superheroes, including Guardian. A number of our people, particularly Mr. Intuition, think that this is a trap or distraction of some kind, but since we can’t let any of the asteroids hit, we’re responding with almost everything we have.”
Lim paused looking at the crowd.
“The good news is that we’ve got every reason to believe we can stop the asteroids from hitting. The bad news is that even a shattered asteroid is a threat. We’ll be watching for that and for anything that our enemies try to do on Earth while many of our most powerful heroes are in space.
“You’ll be protecting New York City along with NYC’s regular hero teams, but you’ll also be here to defend Stardock. That’s why we’re going to have the more mobile teams go back there immediately, taking as many people as they can. The rest of us will join them as soon as possible.”