While under some heartfelt interrogation from her two best friends and one new one, Vanessa eventually opened up about the full extent of her feelings.
She was definitely a little shaken and had no desire to repeat such an experience, but she was fine to go out again tomorrow. In a shiny new suit and extra wary of anybody on the street moving towards her.
The next morning they all went through their usual morning routines. Stretching, power training, and a nice shower before attending breakfast/the morning meeting.
Which was when they got some rather eventful news from Jack.
“Rikki and Amy will be going out to schedule a meeting with another Hero today. She’s a solo-Hero that goes by the name of ‘Pulp’—specializes in subtly”, Jack announced. “She has offered to help us crack down on the White Boars. We haven’t got a official plan yet, but my bet is that it’ll involve infiltration and information gathering. Greg and Hugh will be out on regular patrol today. Which just leaves me, Shane, Elizabeth and Vanessa to attend the construction event.”
Greg simply shrugged his shoulders before going back to scarfing down cereal, evidently unconcerned that he would be missing out.
Vanessa raised her hand, almost immediately getting a nod of approval from Jack. “How often do Heroes work together outside of teams? I thought we’d see a lot more during our regular duties, but we haven’t even met one besides this “Pulp” lady.” Vanessa said, her voice tinged with curiosity.
“You haven’t met many other Heroes yet because we’re trying to gradually ease you into this lifestyle; it’s why you’ve been doing mostly just patrols until now. As you gradually go to more events and do cross-missions, like the one we may be doing with Pulp, you’ll get to know more of the local Heroes.” Jack explained. “Elizabeth might even take you to a Hero bar on her off days.” Jack laughed off the pointed glare he got from the statuesque woman.
Shane was content to keep to himself throughout the morning. Jack’s disapproval last night had simmered down to a request to talk to Lenny personally about the details of any potential interviews. The young man was also silently mulling over all the potential Heroes he would get to meet soon. He’d read up on all the local teams in Brooklyn, from the Atomic Conjurers to the Remedy Squadron.
Yes, Shane would probably be staying with the Pristine Strikers for a while even after his internship was over. But it never hurt to see who else was out there.
Things had come to a crossroads of sorts for Styx, his duties as a Hero clashing heavily with his personal feelings.
On the one hand; Styx wanted to swat his teammate that was doing another loop-de-loop above the car he was being driven in. To mock him he was sure.
On the other; It was probably illegal for fellow Interns to fight each other while in public, or at least frowned upon. So he resolved to control himself until Spectrum finished driving him to the construction site.
The humvee-esque vehicle, that seemed to be standard transport for the team, was at least a rather smooth ride. And after a few more turns into the business district, they finally stopped in front of a series of partially destroyed apartment buildings, thoroughly taped off by the police. Spectrum stopped and parked just outside the barricade, stretching and popping a few joints as he soon as he had locked the vehicle, Styx not far behind.
The first thing Styx noticed was the buzz of activity surrounding them. There were at least a dozen costumed figures dashing around the site, debris of various sizes being either lifted or floated to various dumping zones. And no small amount of reporters hanging around the sides of the site, some of them beginning to look in their direction.
But Styx payed them no mind, instead focusing on something a little peculiar about some of the people in costume; though he couldn’t exactly tell from this far away.
His musing was cut short as a tan skinned man in a grey suit, overlapped with a safety vest and wearing a hard-hat, approached them. “Gentlemen, right on time! My name is Derick and I’ll be your supervisor today.”, his voice was smooth and boisterous as he gesticulated excitedly. “You two will be working with Vigor for rubble removal and disposal over there. Spectrum will be tasked with removing rubble while Styx helps Vigor with the heavy lifting.” Derick instructed as he pointed toward a man in a red and white costume that was lifting up chunks of concrete and collecting them into a pile.
“Understood.” Spectrum said simply, his voice almost bored. “Come on, Styx. We’ve got work to do.” And without further ado he began jogging across the lot toward the mesomorph Hero, Styx not far behind.
Vigor was the strongman from Remedy Squad, a team of healers. Or at least abilities that allowed for healing in some fashion or another. They were one of the more “family-friendly” Hero teams in town, rarely coming out of fights with anything more than damaged costumes show for it.
‘He probably has some kind of enhancing power.’, Styx thought. As they approached, however, he finally caught sight of why he’d thought something was off about some of the people here. More than a few capes around had company logos slapped onto various parts of their suits; they were Corpies. Well, officially, they were called “Privately Employed Emergency Response Supers” or “PEERS” if you didn’t have the time. A decidedly controversial, if helpful, part of the Hero world that Styx didn’t have time to worry about.
Vigor gave them a smile and a wave as soon as he noticed them, his red cowl showing a row of almost unnaturally white teeth. “You the new guys here to help me with clearing all this rumble?” He jerked a thumb back toward the mostly collapsed building behind him as he lugged another door sized piece of rock. He then did a double take as his eyes passed over Styx. “Hey, aren’t you the rookie who strung up that Minotaur Super?”
“Yeah, he is. I’ll be eroding all debris you two collect.” Spectrum’s tone was decidedly neutral as both of his gloved hands were surrounded by orbs of indigo light. He raised both toward the already sizable pile of rubble and let them fly; both hitting the top and disintegrating a sizable portion as they “popped”.
“I’ll be helping with moving more of the chunks. Maybe even cut apart some of the more unwieldy ones.”, Styx informed, eager to avoid the subject of what he was currently most famous for as a Hero. He didn’t know how to handle that kind of attention, so he opted to give Vigor a simple nod and thumbs-up.
Styx connected to the shadows beneath the piles of concrete. Four slithered out before twisting and thickening into more suitable shapes—two blade hands and tendrils. Eyeing a few chunks of crumbling bricks, with a quick hand-motion Styx directed the shadows to scoop them up and began adding them to the already rather impressive pile Vigor had made.
Vigor shrugged his acceptance of the odd greeting before setting down his own slab and going back to work; apparently not bothered by the fact that his red costume with white trim was covered in dust.
Things went on for a few minutes like that; moving sections of rumble into a rough pile and pausing to let Spectrum erode it from top to bottom. Styx quickly fell into the familiar monotony of routine as they cleared almost half of all the rubble for the first building.
It was then, of course, that everything went to shit.
On Vigor’s ninth pass he stopped suddenly, head spinning so fast it looked like he might have given himself whiplash, before sighting on a terraced house down the street.
Styx was about to ask him what was wrong when the man suddenly lunged forward, the motion surprisingly graceful, and wrapped him up in a hug from behind.
“What ar-”, was all Styx got out before the report of an automatic-rifle firing several times shattered the hum of activity around them.
Though Vigor did manage a shout as soon as the shooting started, “We’ve got a sniper!”
There was stunned silence for all of half a second before the world around them erupted with shouting and the sound of people running. Some drifting to but most away from the duo currently being shot at.
Styx had immediately stopped struggling against the man’s clearly superhuman strength, thankful for the shielding from the hail of bullets. Vigor might not have been the toughest Super around, but it took more than regular bullets to take down a strongman of his renown.
This relief lasted until both men suddenly shot up into the air.
“Huh? Oh shi-”, Vigor growled out just before they were flung forward in a blur motion.
Styx had all of a second to brace himself before they both rocketed through the wall of a partially collapsed building and his world explode into a cascade of pain and noise.