“Is it just me or have things gotten really quiet?” Keanan asked. “Aren’t there any emergencies?”
“No, there aren’t, do your homework,” Jessica said, not looking up from the pile of papers in front of her.
The team that was still nameless despite a multitude of suggestions from Cinder was set up in what was their room in the tower. All teams get one, and the rooms were filled with useful things, like desks, computers with high access levels, and sofas. Cinder was currently using the computers to cheat on his chemistry homework, or that’s what he was pretending to do. Jessica had noticed that he had finished his homework hours earlier, and now was just reading chemistry stuff.
Gaslight was sitting in the corner teaching herself Latin, or at least what Jessica assumed to be Latin, it sounded right. Gaslight never brought homework when they were on call, but she still had excellent grades, so it didn’t matter. Keanan was in the middle of the room struggling with his history homework. Prysim had neglected to give him much history for his databases, or a way to just add Wikipedia to his memory.
As a result, Keanan disliked history as much as Alecia did, who had now been missing for a week. At this point Alecia wasn’t graduating, Jessica, who still was however had to deal with the paperwork involved, this pile was a scholarship application. Being a hero wasn’t very well paid, the only reason Jessica was receiving money currently was because she was currently employed as a handler for the team.
Cinder had a part time contract with a chemicals manufacturer; that was apparently making him quite a bit of money. Most people with powers like his didn’t go the hero route; there were better opportunities elsewhere. The real money in hero work was marketing, and they hadn’t been at it long enough to be worth the effort.
“What’s up with that anyways, it’s like there has been no crime?” Cinder asked looking away from the computer screen, yawning as he did so.
“Time for a lesson in politics, cost-benefits analysis, and psychology,” Jessica said. ” Come up with a theory and we can discuss it.”
Cinder looked thoughtful, Keanan looked troubled, “I think I know what my mom would say.” He said.
“This should be good,” Cinder said as Gaslight looked up and started paying attention.
“She would say everyone is waiting for the other shoe to drop. Jack got killed by someone who is active in this city, I’m here, and my mother is no longer following established patterns, the fairies disappeared a week ago, and so has Fey. Someone needs to make a move just to see the current status quo, but no one wants to be first.” Keanan said.
“Good, not quite right. What you said only applies to the higher level operators, but why aren’t we dealing with small time crooks?” Jessica asked.
“Because there aren’t any left?” Cinder asked.
“Why aren’t there any?” Jessica said.
“They all evacuated when Jack came to town, so the amount of crime in the city dropped. When the small time guys try anything, we’re coming down on them harder because we have more resource available. Small time crime is universal, so they’re staying where they went.” Gaslight said. “Crime is down because Jack got ripped apart by wolves.”
“Basically,” Jessica said. “Crime is down, we’re bored, do your homework.”
Silences reigned for a solid five minutes, interrupted only by Gaslight sounding out words. This time it was Jessica who broke it, throwing her pen down in frustration. It wasn’t that the application was difficult, it just appeared to have been written by the department of redundancy. She was running out of ways to say why she needed the money. “I wish I could just do sport in college. Adrian and Justin are getting imported to Europe to try and kickstart a league over there. But no I have powers and can’t do bloody sports.”
“Why is that?” Keanan asked.
“Because the speedsters always win.” Cinder said. “It gets boring when you can’t see the players without a high-speed camera.”
“Fuck it, Keanan drop the homework lets fight,” Jessica said standing.
“Language,” Gaslight scolded.
The training rooms in the tower were large cubes, the walls covered with metal panels that could be easily replaced and recycled when they were inevitably destroyed. Koi had put on the visor of her orange costume on the way down, having already been wearing the rest. She took a position at the far end of the room while Keanan changed into his battle form.
Shatter had said that his battle form was his real body and his human form the fake. It was hard for Koi to imagine most of the time, his personality fit the face well. Even when he was shifted, it was hard to imagine since his voice didn’t match his massive form.
Watching Keanan shift to Shatter however was a different story. It was something jarring to watch. Keanan seemed to get bigger and stretch as Shatter emerged like a butterfly out of a chrysalis. Koi had once asked him what happened to his clothes since they weren’t destroyed or part of the glamor, but he would have them on when he shifted back. Shatter had said it was best not to ask those kinds of questions when it involves magic.
Shatter charged even before he had finished shifting, leaving bits of Keanan behind to dissolve into the air. Koi grinned she let the adrenalin flood her system, as she rushed forward to meet him. The first strike was Shatter’s as he barreled into her like a freight train. Shatter was equally durable on all parts of his body, meaning as long as he had some momentum it didn’t matter which part of him hit Koi; it would always hurt. Shatter had more mass and when he was moving that contributed directly to the force of his hits, when he was in motion he was stronger than Koi.
Koi jumped up put both hands on Shatter’s outstretched arm and pushed up. She used the upward momentum to knee Shatter in the head. From the point of impact a small spider web of cracks formed across the pink ceramic of his smooth face. It was his equivalent of a paper cut. Koi’s leg went numb, quickly developing pins and needles.
Koi did a pivot as soon as she got her feet back on the ground to face Shatter, who was able to turn and face her before he had even finished moving. That was the advantage of levitation over legs. Koi found herself laughing; this was so much better than paperwork.