There’s a handful of stringers at the airport, waiting to hear some news about Silver Streak so they can phone it in to the papers and maybe get paid this week. They’ve all bribed whatever doctors and nurses they could find, who promptly turned around, deposited the money in the chapel charity box, and went on doing their jobs. When the Concordance agents appeared in the air, it was manna from heaven. A dozen smart phones were thrust skyward, to capture the events as they unfolded.
The stringers are still outside when AEGIS arrives and promptly confiscates their phones. “Video evidence,” barks a junior agent, then glances sidelong at Ted Waters, looking for approval for his action.
Waters doesn’t look back. He’s scanning the area, and spots his quarry - a distinctive robot. The robot and its occupant see him in return, and bound closer. Leo undocks once near enough to do so, and approaches.
“What happened?” the agent asks.
Leo’s getting better at his Agentese. Every once in awhile he remembers Jason’s attempt at a “sitrep request”, and how he, Leo, had been so negative on the concept. More recently, his cavalier dismissal of Alycia’s request for some kind of structured report. That was more his dislike of her personally (and let’s be fair, that’ll take awhile) and less a dislike of the idea of reports. It’s strange, and Leo still feels the old impulse to resist authority. But it’s sort of nice to be able to account for what you did, to help AEGIS make sense of this continual stream of crazy in the Menagerie’s lives.
_Maybe this is what growing up feels like too.
“Three individuals, unknown but apparently with hostile intent,” Leo explains. “Concord, uh, got kind of glowy and boomy. The intruders reciprocated, I think. Ghost Girl and Mercury probably saved every life in the hospital, between 'em. Charade, Concord, and I did some damage. They tried running, but I got a little uh, punchy. They backed down, we did some talking, they disappeared.”
Waters glances at the smashed-up parking garage. “That?”
“Collateral from Concord’s blast,” answers Leo, thinking back to what he saw, or can only guess. “Further damage from the blue one inside. Mercury took care of 'em. The other two formed up, uh, like a merging together of body. Not like my combination tech, more like y’know, weird alien fusion. They split up when we punched 'em enough.”
“Anything else we should know?”
Leo shrugs a little. “They’re pretty upset with Concord about something. If they come round again, they’ll come for him. They know his secret ID. They talk a big game about protecting the universe, uh, but if you need a gut check, it feels like they were some hot-headed rookies someone sent on a big mission. Out of their depth, and they knew it, so they tried talking a big game to make up for it. Fluent in English, but that’s a standard accessory for that power package. Concord always had it. Not fluent in Earth social norms, apparently.”
“Good enough.” Waters takes a deep breath of the air, exhales, breathes in, exhales again. “Listen. The director is none too happy, but you got Rossum talking more than we ever did. So he’s okayed something for me. It’s Evening at Pops, and we’ll find out if one of them feels like singing. Whaddayasay?”
Leo remembers the nuclear power plant, and what came after.
You promised me. Tell me about my mother.
I promised a lot of things.
I promised nothing!
Perhaps we can hash out our family history after your AEGIS friends have us both in custody, my boy. Lead the way, Waters.
“Yeah,” says Leo. “What do you need from me?”
author: Bill G.