Shadow and Voice led me over to the locker rooms to change. If you’re imagining a futuristic locker room, stop.
It looked like the locker room of every high school sports team in the United States—rows of toilet stalls with metal dividers for privacy. A roomful of metal lockers for each person on the team and wooden benches for people to sit. The far end of the room opened into a tiled room with showers.
I read the names on the lockers—Accelerando, Captain Commando, The Mystic, The Rocket, Storm King and the others—realizing, “There’s only one locker room?”
Voice, a thin, blonde woman, shucked her grey Stapledon uniform, laughed and grunted, “You got it.”
As she hung it up in the locker, Shadow said, “The original League only had one woman on the team, and Ghostwoman had her own bathroom. We’d been hoping they’d renovate the bathrooms when they redid the main room, but I guess that’s next year.”
“Or never,” Voice said, stepping onto a grey square. When she said, “Activate,” the grey square turned into liquid, running upward and coating her body. The grey turned pink except for a white circle that surrounded a sideways outline of a pair of pink lips opening next to three curved lines.
She looked herself in the mirror. “Nice.”
“That’s not what you said last Saturday.” Shadow had changed while I watched Voice. Shadow’s costume had stayed grey, but created smoky patterns on her suit’s surface. A human silhouette with a shadow appeared within a white circle on her chest. Dark black hair or a facsimile of it ran down her back.
Voice shrugged. “The real thing’s better than the drawing. I can’t complain. Ghost’s got it.”
Shadow grinned. “Told you.”
Voice flipped her off, but told her, “I’ll be back with everyone else.”
I hung my clothes up in an empty locker, conscious that I was hanging my clothes where the original League and their interns hung theirs. Ignoring the history, I asked Shadow, “I just tell it to activate?”
She nodded. “It’s that easy. After the first time, it’s keyed to your voice.”
I stepped on to the square, said, “Activate,” and felt something cool cover my body. After a moment though, it warmed up and I didn’t notice it any more than I noticed any other clothes I wore.
“If you look at blurry spots around the edges of your eyes, they’ll expand into a heads up display.” Shadow held up her right hand. “You’ve probably noticed the Rocket tapping his hand. You’ll want to experiment with it, but think of it as a mouse.”
“Thanks,” I checked myself in the mirror. The suit was gray like the staff’s suits, but this suit put the Heroes’ League logo in a circle in the middle of my chest. The material covered everything. Except for obviously being a woman, I was anonymous. Good.
The bathroom door opened. The creature that came through had long, thin limbs, gray skin and a nearly featureless face. Hairless and genderless, it stood over six feet tall and wore a Stapledon jumpsuit.
Shadow’s eyes widened. “Wow. That’s… That’s creepy. Please don’t be offended, but I liked the other one better.”
It shrugged. “This is what a Doppelgänger looks like in Dungeons and Dragons. If I was going to take the name, I thought I’d go all the way.”
Shadow shivered. “You look like you should be Voldemort’s cousin.”
It turned toward me and shifted into a woman’s form. The Stapledon uniform tightened around her new shape. “I’m going to change into one of the new uniforms.”
I left with Shadow and joined the group. While we were changing, Shift and Night Cat had come back, bringing Bloodmaiden, Red Hex, Troll and Captain Commando with them.
When Doppelgänger arrived, we were all there.
C looked over the crowd. “I’m glad you’re all finally here. Here’s the situation. The original League fought the dinos twice. The first time we managed to trick them into leaving. The second time, we’d done a favor for their rivals, an alternate empire of parallel universe traveling gorillas, and we called it in. We’re not getting help from that quarter twice.
“Now, that doesn’t mean we don’t have a plan. We do. Some of you know about Guardian’s ability to travel from one universe to another as well as opening portals within universes. Well, he’s scouting out all their alternate universe portals right now, but he’s not going to be able to destroy them alone. He’ll get tired first. That means he’ll need help, and you know who’s going to help? We are. We’re going to send the League jet to the coordinates he gives and have it destroy as many universe transfer platforms as it can.
“But that’s not all we’re going to do. For today, Nadia Stone, our embedded journalist, will be working with us. She’ll be sent to destroy as many platform sites as she’s able.”
I raised my arm. “I think I’ll be able to handle two, maybe four if I can rest.”
He nodded. “Understood. We’ll do that when Guardian sends us target locations. In the meantime, we’ve got one more thing to worry about. The dinos aren’t the smartest beings I’ve ever fought, but they breed and mature quickly. Typically, they send in a first wave of attackers, but they expect to lose all of them. It’s in the second wave that things get interesting. I expect that we’ll be seeing overwhelming numbers, and possibly overwhelming opponents.”
The Rocket raised his hand, “How are we going to use Guardian’s coordinates? I’ve never used the starplate to do that.”
C grinned. “No worries. I have.”