Chapter 19

               “So… are you completely invulnerable or some shit?”

                Hexcellent had been largely silent after they finished calming the civilians, letting a cleanup team get the robot scrap, and piled into the town car to hit their next destination. She’d mostly just been skimming her phone and throwing occasional, furtive glances his way.

                “No one is truly invulnerable,” Owen told her. How many times had he used those words? Not only to fans or interviewers, but to upcoming Supers who hadn’t yet learned how important a lesson that was.

                “Yeah, you say that, but those robo-douches were whaling on you the whole time you had them, and one hit you full-force with lasers that could tear through concrete and steel. That seems pretty invulnerable to me.”

                “I never said I wasn’t tough, that’s part of my power. Invulnerable implies beyond all means of injury, and no one has that ability. No matter who you are, no matter how strong your power, we all have a weakness.” Owen paused for a moment and considered her words. “Wait, how do you know what their lasers could do?”

                Hexcellent waved her phone, really just a big screen, in his face. “It’s all over the web. Those things did a shitload of damage before Heroes got there, and even then managed to put a few out of the fight. You went through them like Thai food through Galvanize.”

                Owen scrunched his brow in response.

                “Oh, right, you haven’t been here for Pan-Asian cuisine night. Just be glad we all have our own bathrooms. Also, the point was that you fucking wrecked them.”

                “I had the benefit of knowledge on my side. The others went in blind, but I got to know what they could and couldn’t do. That let me tackle them efficiently, without having to worry about them secretly being explosive or having enough firepower to bring me down. First response is always the hardest, most dangerous work,” Owen explained.

                “Yeah, I get it, humility, politeness, and blah blah blah. Did they at least get all of those things?”

                “They did.” When Owen had told Dispatch about bringing his down, she’d updated him on the rest of the threat. The second wave had been smaller and less organized than the first; by the time a crew was picking up the remains of his fight the rest had already been terminated.

                “What do you think they wanted, anyway? To rob the food court?”

                “Honestly, I think they were a test-run,” Owen replied.

                “Wait, that was a fucking beta-trial?”

                “It’s my theory.” Owen glanced out the window, marveling at how quickly they’d gotten the messes cleaned up and traffic flowing. “Those things were strong, but they had some serious design flaws. Add in the lack of a clear objective, and it points to someone seeing how his first batch of bots stacked up against the town’s Heroes. You’d be surprised how many tech-genius Supers use the exact same opening gambit.”

                “Oooh, or what if the robots sprang to life and got away from him. They surged out of the laboratory, hellbent on destruction of the human world. Titan, you may have just helped stop the robot-apocalypse.” Hexcellent reached over and patted him on the head, stretching her long arms to their limit. “Good boy.”

                “You just pretty much drift along in your own world, don’t you?”

                “I’m a quasi-celebrity. I think we can both agree that’s my right.” Hexcellent stopped patting as the  town car whispered up to a curb. Before she could reach the handle, the door swung open and a hand literally covered in tattoos reached in. It delicately took hers and helped pull her out of the vehicle as Owen emerged on his own side.

                He surfaced to see Hexcellent lip-locked with a taller man, bald head and face nearly as tattooed as his hands. After a kiss long enough to register as uncomfortable for all bystanders, the two finally parted.

                “What kept you babe?” The tattooed man had a slightly southern twang to his voice, the sort of lingering accent that belonged to people who tried to remove it from their voice. Owen might not have noticed it, but his time with Sally and her south Texas family had trained him to pick up on the vibrations.

                “Robots causing traffic,” she replied. Hexcellent turned around and pointed at Owen. “This big bastard is Titan, our team’s new Hero Liason. Titan, this is Spyda, my boyfriend.”

                “Pleasure to meet you.” Spyda walked around the car and grabbed Owen’s vast hand in an enthusiastic shake. The Hero was a bit taken back at how friendly this man who looked like an advertisement for biker gangs was being. Hexcellent seemed to read the expression on his face, even through the mask.

                “Spyda is a guitarist for a hardcore metal band. Don’t let the look fool you, he’s actually a fucking softy.”

                “But let’s keep that between us. Image and all to consider, I’m sure you understand.” Spyda released his hand and turned back to Hexcellent. “Darling, I hate to rush you, but the photographer doesn’t have much time left and we’ll both catch heat if the shoot isn’t done.”

                “Lucky for you, my hot ass is always camera ready,” Hexcellent replied. “Titan, you can hang out in the prep room if you want, we shouldn’t be more than an hour.”

                “You two go on ahead, I’m going to take a walk,” he said. “I’ll be here when you get out.”

                “Okay, see you then,” Hexcellent called as they head toward the front door of the large office building.

                “It was wonderful meeting you,” Spyda added before they vanished behind the frosted glass door.

                As soon as they were gone, Owen turned and headed up the street. He’d seen an internet café on their way over, and Hexcellent had gotten his interest piqued in whatever footage was already online. Back in his day they had to rely on the scrap footage put together from cameras sewn into the team member’s costumes. With a whole world watching, it would be interesting to look at an attack from so many different angles.

                Besides, his experience told him that this wouldn’t be the last rampage of robots from whatever low-rent techie had cobbled them together. Best to see as much as he could and be ready for next time. If these things had really brought other Heroes down, Owen had a feeling he would be called in a lot sooner when they resurfaced.