Chapter 28

               “As you all know, as of yesterday our team has been at a higher level of media awareness,” Galvanize said, eyes sweeping across his team as he spoke. Bubble Bubble was paying attention, though from the disinterested expression on her face it was clear this either wasn’t news or wasn’t news she cared about. Hexcellent seemed somewhat curious, despite her constant yawning. Zone was the least expressive of them all. Usually at some level of fuming and shooting dirty looks at Owen, today his anger seemed to have simmered down a few degrees. How long that would last was anyone’s guess.

                “Consequently, Mr. Greene feels it’s important that we appear as a team for the next few days. This might be an opportunity to catapult our brand awareness, and putting together a united front only increases our appeal.” This was not mere speculation on Galvanize’s part. Countless market research studies had proven that, while the occasional lone Hero could gain renown, people by and large tended to prefer to see their Supers in teams. It only followed that this mindset would apply to PEERS as much as it did to Heroes.

                “You’re beating around the bush,” Hexcellent accused. “What do we have to do?”

                “There’s a charity event coming up in a few weeks. It’s a joint venture of the Super Athletics Association, companies like Mordent, and individual Heroes. There are meet-and-greets, competitions, exhibition matches, and of course the SAA will have plenty of sports going on. Generally the only PEERS teams allowed to participate are those that have a substantial fan base of followers. Today, Mr. Greene informed me that we will be signing-up for it with his blessings.”

                Both Zone and Hexcellent groaned loudly, and even Bubble Bubble lifted an eyebrow and puckered her lips, an expression Owen assumed was distaste.

                “What’s wrong with doing a charity event?” Owen asked.

                “Nothing’s wrong with helping charity,” Hexcellent said. “But this means we have to be around Heroes. The nicest of them just ignore us, while some are outright dickholes. They even treat the players from the SAA better than us, because for some reason that’s considered a more respectable job.”

                Owen reflexively felt himself about to stick up for those in his profession, but his brain stopped his tongue before it could begin to wag. Only a week ago he’d thought of these people as pretenders, children playing dress-up and trying to grasp at a title they hadn’t earned. How would he have treated them, if he were on a Hero team working this event? Hexcellent was right; he probably would have just ignored them, at best. Instead of disagreeing with his team, he’d be better off finding out what they were in for.

                “What exactly is our role at this thing?”

                “That we are allowed to determine individually,” Galvanize said. “As I said, there will be plenty of events and activities we can participate in, though Mr. Greene has requested that you not sign up for meet-and-greets.”

                “Don’t think anyone will want Titan’s autograph?” Owen said, only half-joking.

                “More that he feels Titan is better seen larger than life for right now. If you’re on the ground, talking to people, inevitably someone will use it as a chance to protest or cause controversy. He thinks you should be doing things instead, reminding people about the power that made them adore you in the first place.”

                “That’s a pretty fair plan and assessment,” Owen said. It was exactly the sort of thing Lenny would have told him to do. Greene might be an anal-retentive overbearing jerk, but it was somehow slightly reassuring to know he was at least competent at his job. “Anything in particular he’d recommend?”

                “No, only that showing up other Heroes would likely lead to bad blood, so perhaps something cooperative or with the SAA would be best.”

                Owen briefly considered remarking on how if Greene didn’t want him showing up other Heroes then he was going to be pissed about the assessment with Elemental Fury, then he thought better of it. He was still hoping that little fiasco-to-be would fall through and become a non-issue.

                “Guess I’ll do something with the SAA,” Zone said. “Maybe join a baseball or basketball team. I’ve always been able to crush at sports; I should at least be able to hold my own there.”

                Owen nodded agreement, not wanting to stir up Zone so soon. It was unlikely that he’d really be able to play on the same level as SAA athletes, whose abilities had been specifically recruited and trained for use in sports, but now wasn’t the time to bring that up. At least in basketball or baseball Zone was unlikely to get injured. If he’d tried to play football, Owen would have had to step in.

                “I’ll see what they’ve got,” Hexcellent remarked. “My boys are damned versatile, just a matter of seeing what suits them best.”

                “As Hexcellent said, I too will see what’s available,” Bubble Bubble said. “Though I doubt my abilities are suited to anything particularly spectacular. Perhaps there is an administrative or service role I can assist in.”

                “Mr. Greene assured me that we would all be able to find events we were suited to,” Galvanize told them. “Remember, we’re representing Mordent and there will be a lot of eyes on us thanks to Titan, so whatever you do make sure you can do it well. This is a big break for all of us; we shouldn’t waste it.”

                “Gotcha, kick ass and take names,” Owen said. “So is there a website for this thing or something? How do we sign-up?”

                “They have a remote service for Heroes, however we’ll be going down to the organization headquarters to volunteer in person,” Galvanize said. “That’s why I gathered everyone in full costume; the press will almost certainly be waiting when we do so.”

                “Let me guess: Greene told them we would be there.”

                “Of course Mr. Greene did,” Galvanize said. “He wants us as much in the public eye as possible. Which means everyone needs to have their PR faces on as soon as we arrive. Anyone needs to do touch-up before we go?”

                His question was met by a combination of silence and half-hearted head shakes.

                “Right then, everyone head on down to the van. We have press waiting for us, we should at least try to be prompt.”