Chapter 27

               Owen walked into the living room the next morning to find two men he’d never seen before talking to Galvanize. The taller of the two had dark hair and the kind of wiry frame Owen associated with easily excitable computer guys. The shorter one had brown hair and a rounder build. They both were sporting crisp white lab coats, and the taller one held a clipboard in his hand. At first, Owen took in this sight with curiosity bordering on interest, but everything inside him turned to panic when he was struck by an overpowering realization.

                He wasn’t wearing any kind of mask.

                Instincts kicked into gear, he spun around, ready to dart down the hallway and pray they hadn’t noticed him, when Galvanize’s voice rang through the room.

                “Titan, good morning! Come over here and meet the docs. I doubt you’ll need them, but you’re going to see them around from time to time.”

                Owen tried to steady himself. These men were probably on staff, meaning they’d signed the kind of non-disclosure agreements only large corporations and sociopathic villains could conjure up. Galvanize wasn’t an idiot, he’d already shown a lot of deference to Owen’s need for privacy and hiding his identity. If he was calling them over, then there had to be some sort of safety system in place. Still… it wouldn’t hurt to double check before he turned his face back toward them.

                “Morning all,” Owen said, keeping his back facing the group. “Galvanize, I came down without my mask on. Is that going to be an issue?”

                It wasn’t Galvanize who replied, but one of the men in lab coats instead. “Titan, you have nothing to worry about. My assistant and I have been signed to so many contracts and clauses that leaking even a fraction of what we’ve dealt with here would bankrupt ourselves, our families, and at least six generations of children.” He was probably exaggerating, but the man had a kind tone and a bit of humor in his voice. Owen could see himself getting along with this fellow. Besides, if they were going to be around a lot he’d have to get used to it eventually.

                “Six generations, huh? These bastards really don’t mess around.” Owen turned and walked over to the two men, the docs as Galvanize had called them. He shook their hands, starting with the taller of the two. “Nice to meet you both, I’m Titan.”

                “Edgar Willoughby,” said the tall man. Owen recognized his voice as the one that had spoken already. “But I absolutely insist you call me Edgar. This is my assistant, Thaddeus Kirkland.”

                “Please, just Kirk,” said the shorter man. “Thaddeus is a family name.”

                “I understand how that goes, Kirk,” Owen replied.

                “The docs here work for Mordent,” Galvanize explained. “They do a lot of stuff, but one of their responsibilities is taking care of us. We’re all subjected to weekly physicals to make sure we’re still in tip-top shape.”

                “Precisely,” Edgar agreed. “We can’t very well have one of Mordent’s wonderful PEERS going out to help someone only to slip a disk or blow a joint. As those entrusted with rescuing people in peril, their health is of the utmost concern.”

                “Plus we have to make sure they haven’t slipped up on their body-fat percentages,” Kirk added.

                Edgar threw a quick but disapproving look to his assistant.

                “What? We check it. You and I know it, and the PEERS sure as heck know it since it’s in their contracts. Titan is exempt, but I’m sure by now he’s realized there’s certain conditions put on the rest of his team.”

                “Its fine, I figured that out just from the fridge,” Owen said. “No way four young people doing this kind of work willingly refuse to stock any beer. At least one them was bound to enjoy unwinding with a drink if they had any say in it.”

                “Yes, well, while the superficial aspects are less intrinsic to the accomplishment of their duties, we are still required to monitor them,” Edgar admitted. “And on that note, I believe we are due in Hexcellent’s room within the next few minutes. Galvanize, we’ll see you in about half an hour. Titan, it was a pleasure to meet you.”

                “Quite an honor,” Kirk added.

                “Same here,” Owen said.

                The two men headed off down the hallway Owen had just emerged from, presumably on their way to Hexcellent’s room.

                “I know what you’re thinking, but they really are nice guys,” Galvanize said once they were gone. “Last year I seriously messed up my ankle while helping out with a multi-car pile-up. The team was due to make an appearance and participate at a sporting event two weeks later. Mordent had sunk a lot of money into it, and the exposure was going to be huge, so they expected me there fully-functional ankle or not. They wanted the docs to give me a clean bill of health so I could make the show. Edgar and Kirk told them to blow it out their ass, that if I tried to do anything too active I would cause serious, long-term damage. Mr. Greene finally got the company to spring for a healer so I could be properly patched up in time for the event.”

                “Damn. This doesn’t seem like the kind of company that would take that shit lightly.”

                “I’m sure they wouldn’t, but the docs are way too important to let go over something like that. They’ve both involved in all sorts of Mordent projects, the kind of stuff so classified I probably don’t even know about the floor it’s on.”

                “And they use these valuable assets checking on four Supers’ fat levels?”

                “Edgar and Kirk demanded the right to be our physicians,” Galvanize told him. “Like most scientists, they’re fascinated by Supers. We’re the biggest mystery to come along in millennia, and people are dying for an answer.”

                “I’m sure they’re smart guys, but I’m not holding my breath on them cracking it,” Owen said. “We had hundreds of guys in lab coats trying to figure us out back in my day too, and they never made much progress.”

                “Sooner or later, someone will. I’m pulling for the docs. At least they treat us like people instead of experiments.”

                “That is harder to find than it should be,” Owen agreed. “So, what’s on the docket today besides you all getting checked out?”

                “It was supposed to be another splintered day,” Galvanize said. “However, after yesterday’s unexpected reveal, Mr. Greene decided it was best if we had some more team exposure. We’ll need to all be in costume and ready to go by nine.”

                “Not going to tell me what we’re doing?”

                “I’d rather wait until the whole team is here and deal with it at once,” Galvanize said.

                “That kind of thing?”

                “Unfortunately, yes.”