The Rocket turned around at the sound of her voice. “I’m pretty sure it’s got something to do with the original League defeating them the last two times. They did such a good job that the invaders feel like they have to crush us first.”
He cocked his head to the side. “It’s kind of cool in a way. For some value of cool that might include bombings.”
Night Cat raised an eyebrow, making it barely visible above the top of her mask. Then she said, “Bombings?”
The five of them gathered around the tables of computers.
The Rocket nodded. “The League could open gates for the jet, provided they had an interdimensional tracker on it. The dinos have the same tech, so we’re likely to see air attacks. The question is how soon. Storm King zapped their gateway, so we’ve got a little while before they bring it back up. I was thinking of picking up Red Hex, Troll, Ghost, Captain Commando and Bloodmaiden in the jet before it gets bad.”
Night Cat and Night Wolf turned toward the Rocket. Night Cat asked, “If they send bombers, what do we have while the jet’s gone?”
“Right now?” The Rocket paused. “The catmecha. Plus Blue’s here now. Storm King and the Mystic could be effective. Also, the Rocket suit if I’m not flying the jet. Plus Gravity Star and Railgun, if she can get in range.”
Still looking at her screens, Control said, “Accelerando just entered the base. She’s bringing C.”
Night Wolf blinked. “Okay. That’s good. Well, anyway, Accelerando could take out low flying aircraft by herself if she had to. I think we can take the risk, but Rocket, you shouldn’t go. We should send someone else. Shift can fly it.”
Night Cat glanced over at Night Wolf. “I’ll go with him. I’ve got experience with the weapons console.”
The Rocket shrugged. “That makes sense.”
He took Night Cat’s hand in his. “Good luck.”
She nodded. “You too.”
They looked at each other for a moment. She squeezed his hand. As they let go, Shift grinned. “I know this is serious and everything, but you know what’s cool?”
Night Cat looked up at him. “No. What?”
“This!” He opened his arms to include everything around them. “We’re about pick up two wizards, a troll, and the nearest people I know to Kitty Pryde and Captain America to save the world. You’ve got to admit that’s cool.”
Night Cat shook her head. “You know what? I don’t have to admit that, but where do I fit in?”
He paused, but then said, “You’d either be Batgirl or X-23. A guy could argue though that you’d be a combination of both the way Dark Claw in the Amalgam universe was both Batman and Wolverine.”
They started walking toward the hangar and their voices began to fade. Night Cat’s last understandable sentence was, “I got about half of that, but you don’t have to explain it, okay?”
Night Cat and the Shift walked past the big metal door and disappeared into the dim light of the hanger, still talking.
As they left, Night Wolf stepped over to where the Rocket stood. “So, what do we know about these guys?”
As the Rocket replied, Gravity Star stepped up to me, words tumbling out of her mouth. “Hi, you probably don’t recognize me, but, I’m Gravity Star. I was supposed to drop by for an afternoon interview, but well, you know. How is it going? With the invasion, you’ll be lucky to get any interviews at all.”
I put down my pen and pointed at my digital recorder, microphone already attached. “Mind if I record?”
She said, “No, I don’t mind.”
“I’ve been at this for a few years now, and there’s always time for an interview. It might not be with the team you’re there to meet, but they have staff, family, friends… You just have to use your imagination. How long have you been with the Heroes’ League?”
She stepped closer to the microphone. “Not that long. Remember when they saved St. Louis from being blown up by True Humanity? That’s the first official time I worked with them, but I was part of Justice Fist too. So two years ago, I helped them when they fought the Cabal—not back when they fought the Mayor and exposed the Cabal—later than that. I was part of a fight that didn’t get covered much because it was outside Grand Lake. It was between us and Syndicate L, the Cabal, and the Executioner.”
I’d done my research. “Was that the fight in the field near the abandoned radio station or the one where Ray Malone died?”
She grinned. I’d remembered correctly.
“The radio station. It was awful. People and guns were everywhere, and the worst people were the Cabal. They didn’t even need guns. They could kill you with a punch.” She stopped talking, shaking her head. “I’m so grateful they never got close enough to try. I would have died. The Thing That Eats controlled one of them last month and nearly killed Bloodmaiden. It only took one punch even though she was wearing armor.”
“Where you in that fight too?”
She shook her head. “Not the one where the Cabal guy punched her, but I was at the fight at Grand Lake University where The Thing That Eats infected all the students.”
She paused, frowning, and her voice began to rise after she restarted. “I know people think we shouldn’t have brought it here at all, but Reliquary told us to. He said the wizards had somewhere secure to keep it, and we weren’t allowed to go with him to hide it. So we weren’t there when it got away. I don’t really think it’s fair to blame us for that. We’re not wizards. We don’t know how to dispose of bad magic. We have to trust people who do.”
The Rocket and Night Wolf both turned to listen as she talked, aware of her rising volume.
Railgun put her hand on Gravity Star’s shoulder. She’d changed, letting the silver-gray metal drop off her and form into a cube on the floor. Now she wore a silver and blue costume with a mask that hid most of her face, leaving visible pale skin and long hair so blonde it was almost white.
“I’m Railgun.” She gave a short smile. “Gravity Star’s taken some of the criticism personally. I think we all have at least little bit.”
On the wall screen, the scrolling FBI alert had changed to “The following military bases are under attack. We request supers near these bases to assist in their defense…”