Even from the sky, it looked like a huge house. Shaped roughly like an “L,” it had space for an outside pool and a tennis court, and rose three stories at the point where the two wings met. The short side faced the Pacific ocean.
In Michigan something similar could fetch a million dollars. In California, I didn’t dare speculate. The crazy thing was that in Michigan there would be space around it and probably some forest. Here, it crowded the edge of the lot and ten other houses of the same size stood right next to it.
I landed on the deck.
Glancing backwards toward the ocean, I wondered what exactly we would end up doing. I’d left my bathing suit back at the hotel. Despite what I’d said to my mom, coming to California and spending the entire time playing Guitar Hero sounded like a waste.
A door slid open.
Alex leaned out. “Hey, don’t stand there, come inside!”
I hadn’t seen him since my grandfather’s funeral. He’d come in disguise. His dad, Preserver didn’t have much of a secret identity and no one wanted to blow Grandpa’s even in death.
He looked like a surfer stereotype — blond, tanned, and good looking. He hadn’t shaved, and unlike when I did that, you could actually tell.
I walked into the house and took my helmet off.
“You want me to take that?” He gestured toward my helmet.
“I just landed. I don’t know what I want.”
I’d stepped into the dining room. That was one way to put it. A more accurate way might be “the really huge room that combined kitchen, family room, and dining room into one massive room almost the size of my house.”
The room’s ceiling reached to the second floor. The second floor’s hall actually turned into a walkway above the room.
Whoever had designed the place loved the look of wood. I wondered if the exposed wooden beams were in any way functional.
Alex brought me back to the situation. “How was your flight?”
“Which one? The plane flight or the one I just took over here?”
“The cross country flight was okay. The flight over here was… strange. I think I almost got pulled over by a cop.”
“The Blue Streak?”
“I don’t know. He was all in black except for the badge.”
“No. Before he started working for LAPD, he called himself Blue Streak. He still does in his off hours.”
“If it’s the same guy, he hauls. I’ve never seen anybody that fast.”
“Yeah, he’s quick, but that’s about his only power. Believe me, he needs that gun. Not like I should talk, but he’s got nothing offensive.”
I was about to ask Alex about his own abilities, but didn’t get the chance. Two girls around my age had gotten up from the couches in front of the television and come to join us.
One was tall with long, curly blond hair. It was probably unfair of me, but something about her said cheerleader. She smiled as she stood next to Alex. I’d never seen her before.
The other girl had dark, straight black hair, light brown skin and glasses — which gave her a more studious look, whether or not it matched her personality. I recognized Jenny even before she hugged me. “Hi Nick.”
“Wow,” I said. “It’s been… nearly a year.”
She’d gone to Grandpa’s funeral too. As the granddaughter of Multitude, alias Albert Nakamura, I’d seen her at the League picnics sometimes. Multitude hadn’t settled in Grand Lake or become part of the Heroes League, but he’d been part of the same unit while they were in Europe. The army didn’t send Japanese soldiers to fight in the Pacific theater.
If they had, he’d have been with the other guys longer, and maybe he’d have come to Grand Lake with the rest.
“Less for me. I’ve been seeing you in the news for most of it.”
“Seriously? I know we got covered but I thought they’d stopped paying attention a while ago.”
“Believe it,” Alex said. “The buzz has faded, but they still pull up your picture every time anybody connected with that conspiracy gets caught. Maybe we should move to Grand Lake.”
The blond girl, who I guessed might be Alex’ girlfriend said, “Between Jenny and Alex and the news, I feel like I know you a little already. I’m Brooke. You don’t know me, but you know my dad. I’m Guardian’s daughter.”
Guardian being the guy who’d chewed Daniel, Cassie and I out after we’d fought the Grey Giant. In short, she was the daughter of my least favorite superhero ever.
I don’t know how much of that showed on my face, but, she gave a laugh and said, “He likes you. Really.”
“I wouldn’t have guessed. Anyway, I didn’t know he was married.”
“He was married. If you want to talk to someone who really doesn’t like him, talk to my mom.”
I laughed. “It’s okay. It’s not like I hate him.”
“They divorced when I was three, but from the way Mom talks, all you need to hate him is to live with him,” she said. “That’s why he’s in Chicago and we’re here.”
I didn’t know quite how to respond to that and didn’t. Alex said, “Well at least you don’t have to put up with the stepmonster.”
“Mine or yours?” Brooke asked.
“So,” I said, “what were we going to do anyway?”
Alex took Brooke’s hand and said, “We can’t really go after anybody because there’s no one to supervise us, but how do you feel about vigilante pranksterism? Syndicate L is always good for a laugh.”