We were all kind of forced into this situation. Maybe some of the other metakids are eager to take up the mantle of their parents.
“Team Sassitude Gives Reporter an Ear-Full” reads the morning paper’s headline. Jason’s was the only outburst, but it was enough to make the front page. Mom and dad weren’t too happy afterwards. They never yell at us.
We don’t need a global crisis during our first week on the job. Everyone should take us seriously. Jason and I sit up in our room, waiting for dad to get home before we’re taken to our base of operations. The Guardians Society has their own headquarters, somewhere. All of the metas take extensive precautions to protect their identities and locations since there are so few of us. None of the known ninety-nine have died.
You should’ve kept quiet.
“Can’t we just talk, like normal people?” Jason is sprawled out on his bed, legs dangling off the edge. At this point we should probably have our own rooms and bigger beds. But we’ve never wanted either.
“What if mom hears us?”
“Doesn’t matter, they’ll be gone tomorrow anyway.”
Jason. There’s a little more emotion packed in there than I intended to send across. Jason almost sobs.
“Dude, why’re you so upset over this?”
“How can you not be upset? Our parents are leaving for who knows how long. They could die out there and we’d never know.”
“I mean, why aren’t you angry about this? They’re dumping all this crap on us without so much as a crash course. We’ve played game tutorials more thorough than this,” Jason says. He gets up from his bed and leans forward on the window sill.
I’m failing to think of a reply. I could reach into his head and find what he wants me to say. He’d know if I did it. So I just sigh and stare at the ceiling.
“Everyone else is going to the beach this summer, and then college. None of their parents asked them to guard the world while they go make peace with E.T.,” he says.
There’s a crunch in his direction. Jason had grasped the sill and crushed the bottom of the window frame in frustration. He lets the splinters fall onto our carpet. I hate to admit it, but he has a point. We were all kind of forced into this situation. Maybe some of the other metakids are eager to take up the mantle of their parents. Ingot and Mach seem old enough to hold jobs.
“I guess, we don’t have much of a choice,” I say. It’s an awful response, but it’s the only one I can muster.
“We should always have a choice,” he says, “but you might be right.”
Super strength probably lends itself to an increased temper, add an Irish heritage on top of it and Jason’s short fuse is brought into focus. We both look the part, but I suspect mom contributed some Italian blood.
I hate it too, but who else will protect them? I sent across images of the press conference, whatever I’d seen on the news that morning, and what I remember about an attack on our high school a few years ago. I’m not sure how sending images across works. Jason says it’s like dreaming: nothing can really be explained, but it all makes sense in your head.
We’ll try. It’s not often he sends something back.
I fall back onto my bed. Jason walks around and then leaves to go downstairs. Sometimes I’ll stay in his head just to keep up on what happens in the rest of the house. Right now I’ll leave him alone. He says he doesn’t always feel me in there, but I think he’s lying. Often times I know he’s lying.
Every thought pattern is unique. Jason’s thoughts flow smoothly which makes for easy manipulation. His memories serve as clear mirrors reflecting the past. When he’s angry things can get intense. Calming him down reminds me of the time I had to make a race car in shop class from a cube of balsa wood. Sanding down the rough edges until it all reached a desired smoothness. In this scenario there’s a chance something bad will happen if I fail to sand everything over fast enough.
We’re supposed to visit our base of operations today. Dad says it’s in the city, and we might have even been in the building before. I imagine this is what it feels like to someone on their first day at work. Excitement, apprehension, a twinge of fear, reluctance. An aversion to change.
Dad comes home a little while later.
“Desmond, let’s get going,” he calls.
“Do we need to suit up for this?” I call down to him.
“Only if you want.”
My clothes are fine for now. Jay is sitting on the couch watching a basketball game on TV, mom is at her desk. She’s always been the one to take care of family matters while dad goes out on missions. The Guardians Society only calls her when they really require her skills. Jason shuts the TV and we head out.
The rest of our group is already at the meeting spot. I was expecting something a little more grand. We’re standing outside of a fifteen story tall office building. It’s not all chrome and glass like some of the newer buildings. This is a concrete slab with black metal forming honeycomb frames around the windows.
“Welcome, to The Hive,” says the Mauve Avenger. I think he’s Mach’s father.
“You’ve got to be kidding,” says Dragonette.
“Our headquarters is an office building with an awful name?” Mach asks.
“Keep quiet. The whole building isn’t your headquarters,” Mauve Avenger says.
Floor twelve seems innocuous. Mauve Avenger punches in a code on the keypad for the door in the elevator lobby.
“This glass can withstand a megaton of force,” dad says, “all of the glass in the building can.”
“And all the glass on this floor is equipped with adaptive camouflage. Anyone looking inside will just see an ordinary office, complete with worker drones.”
Ratchet really outdid himself with the glass. Sleek hexagonal tiles coat the floor and walls, and the ceiling is covered in clusters of similarly shaped lights. There are few furnishings on the floor: a control panel and monitor, elevated sparring platform, complete kitchen, and a couch.
“Armory and sleeping barracks are at the end of the hall, though we’ve cleaned out most of the gadgets,” dad says.
I walk over to one of the windows and stare out at the city. The others chatter behind me about some of the unseen details of The Hive. There are no vehicles or gun turrets, and the armory has next to nothing inside.
“Nice view,” I look over and see Dragonette.
“Yeah, I’ve never seen the city from up this high,” I say.
“I guess when you can fly, this seems normal.”
“I wouldn’t know.”
“Right, I forgot. So your brother seems pretty cool,” she says.
I can’t help but laugh, like an outburst, “Oh man, just you wait and see.”