Chapter 37

               The first thing Owen did upon waking the next morning was to call Lenny and officially get the ball rolling to set up the power assessment with Gale. Much as a part of him was inclined to hold onto the hope of getting it canceled, after his stand against Greene the night prior Owen either had to do it or look like he was giving in to what the company wanted. That was a precedent he refused to set, for himself and for any new Hero Liaison that might ultimately get his job when Greene finally decided to toss him out.

                The second thing Owen did was try and reach Topsy to talk about the carnage his team had caused, but Topsy proved to be impossible to contact. He didn’t pick up his phone, didn’t answer e-mail, and even Dispatch couldn’t patch their communications together, saying he was registered as inactive for an indefinite period of time. If Dispatch couldn’t reach someone, it usually meant they were dead, held prisoner by someone who really knew what they were doing, or dealing with the DVA. Given what had happened, Owen’s money was on the last option. He’d been in more than one of those meetings himself, and truthfully he’d probably pick going toe-to-toe with an Armageddon Class over being in another one. All the same, he hoped the DVA was putting the fear of God into those kids, because from the damage he’d seen they clearly needed it.

                With his calls made, Owen suited up into his Titan outfit and headed down to the common area. With the previous night’s hecticness, he hadn’t gotten the chance to see what was on the schedule for the next day. He walked in to the kitchen area and found all of his team there eating breakfast. Galvanize took one look at him and gave himself a small thump on the forehead.

                “Titan, I’m so sorry, in all the confusion of yesterday I completely forgot to tell you: we’re off today. No PEERS team is allowed to work more than six days consecutively, unless there are extenuating circumstances on par with a national emergency. Mordent gives us Sundays totally off: no appearances, no promos, no emergency response work. As Hero Liaison, there’s nothing for you to supervise, so I’d assume you’re off as well.”

                “You guys get regular days off? That’s a pretty nice perk.” Owen was accustomed to the Hero system, where one simply didn’t go active or report to Dispatch if they needed a personal day. Most Heroes tried to take them semi-regularly, but it was often very difficult. Each time one went off-duty, they had to wonder who their friends and teammates were fighting, if everyone would be there the next day, and if they could have made the difference in keeping someone they cared about alive.

                “We’re not machines,” Hexellent said. “Supers, sure, but we still get tired and worn out. The last thing anyone needs is a PEERs rescue team too tired to do their job well, we’d just be in the fucking way. Probably why the DVA made that rule.”

                “If they didn’t, you know Greene would have us running all over the place three hundred and sixty five days a fear,” Zone muttered between bites of organic oatmeal.

                “I’m sure Mr. Greene would use our time wisely, even without oversight from the DVA,” Galvanize said quickly. “However, I know we all enjoy our day off and are grateful to have it. Personally, I’m going to head upstate a bit and visit some friends from college. What does everyone else have planned?”

                “Dicking around,” Hexcellent said with a shrug. “Maybe buy some new video games, hit up a comic shop, the usual.”

                “I’ve got an audition for a spot on a local commercial,” Bubble Bubble said. She was eating a bowl of what appeared to be fresh strawberries and drinking a cup of green tea, taking each bite with a practiced delicacy.

                “You’re not supposed to work,” Galvanize reminded her.

                “No, the company cannot compel me to work. What I do with my own time is my business. I booked this audition through a non-Mordent agent and Mr. Greene approved the role as image-acceptable.”

                “I guess that’s fine then,” Galvanize said. He didn’t look particularly fine with it, but without a point to actually object to he seemed resolved to not starting a fight. “How about you, Zone?”

                “Gym, training, then maybe heading down to the lake,” Zone replied. “My cousin’s renting a house out there and says it’s a good place to relax. Plus, why bother having a body like this if I’m not going to show it off?” Zone accentuated his point by lifting his arm and flexing his bicep, and it was indeed large and well-defined.

                “Try to behave yourself. After the last pregnancy scare you know Mr. Greene is keeping abreast of your extracurricular activities,” Galvanize cautioned. Zone gave a half-hearted nod and went back to eating his oatmeal, so Galvanize turned to the final member of the team.

                “How about you, Titan? I know you’re new in town, but is there anything you think you’ll do with your day off?”

                “You’re welcome to tag along with me,” Hexcellent offered. “You know I hate carrying shit, and Big Henry isn’t exactly crowd friendly.”

                “Much as I appreciate it, I think I’ll have to decline,” Owen said. “If I have a day off I should probably use it trying to dig into what’s been discovered about those robots attacks.”

                “That sounds more like a day working a side-job than a day off,” Galvanize told him.

                “Heroes are generally shitty at taking days off. We’re the type of people who need to be up in the action constantly, otherwise we wouldn’t have chosen this sort of career.” Owen left out the other aspects of it: the guilt, the fear, the constant unease. At least when a Hero was doing something, they felt there was a certain amount of control. After taking a decade off, Owen wasn’t really itching to get back to a life of leisure.

                “Try and rest a little bit, if you can,” Galvanize said. “I know physically you’re always in tip-top shape, but mental health is important too.”

                “Oh, don’t worry about that. See, I don’t have any real resources for research, which means I’m going to have to bum information off other Heroes. Since I don’t really know any, at least none that don’t actively distrust me, there’s only one way for me to make those connections and get that info.”

                “You going to tease us with this shit all morning or you going to tell us what mysterious Hero technique you’re going to employ?” Hexcellent asked.

                “Nothing fancy or mysterious. I’m gathering information the same way people have been doing it for centuries,” Owen said. “I’m going to a bar.”