Chapter 60


               The sun was halfway through the sky before the emergency response was officially considered stabilized. After clearing off the civilians, the weakened and tottering overpass was finally allowed to collapse. Several of the Heroes who’d been using their efforts to keep it aloft did the same, mentally or physically strained by the considerable effort. Sadly, the end of the bridge did not mark the end of the day, as there were still hundreds of cars stuck on a road going to nowhere, all of which had to be turned around and rerouted. Every Super who could still work pitched in, some going so far as to physically lift cars with passengers still in them and taking them to another street. A few days later a picture of Titan carrying a sedan on each shoulder would surface; a single still snapped by a fortunate photographer. As the morning finally came to a close, however, none of the responders were thinking about pictures or press. They were all just exhausted, even the ones whose bodies rebuked such sentiments could feel the weariness in their minds.

                “Team,” Galvanize called through their earpieces, gathering their collective attention. “I just got word that the last stranded civilian has been relocated. What follows is a lot of clean-up and debris removal, but our team is being released with the city’s thanks. Meet back at the SUV and let’s go home.”

                His people didn’t need any more encouragement than that, making their way across the concrete dusted landscape and over broken bits or homes or cars. It was a depressing place to walk through; made better only by the fact that each Super knew that it could have been much worse if they hadn’t been there. Houses could be rebuilt, cars replaced, overpasses reconstructed. Those people who’d been trapped, on the other hand, were each one of a kind. While everyone was spent in some capacity, it was the good kind of worn out, the sort that came with a sense of accomplishment.

                “Where’s your little buddy?” Hexcellent asked Titan as they arrived at the car. It had been moved more than once on Titan’s back as they made room for evacuating the other stranded motorists, but he’d been sure to keep the team apprised of its location.

                “Turned him over to the Heroes that were collecting gang members a few hours ago.” Titan didn’t mention that he’d been sure to tell said Heroes about how much Eli had helped, even after the primary evacuation was done, and that he was not to be treated with hostility. Thankfully, the Hero Titan talked to had been on the job long enough to understand a good asset when she saw one. If it had been a younger Hero, Titan would have had to put a little fear into them to get the point across, and that was just pointlessly exhausting.

                “Too bad he rolls with the bad guys. That power of his could come in pretty handy doing our line of work.” Hexcellent popped open the door of the SUV and slunk into a seat, resting for the first time in hours.

                “He’ll catch a decent break for all the help he gave us. Who knows, after that he may make himself into a useful member of society.”

                “I don’t know who you’re talking about, but I can guess it’s not me.” Zone came trudging forward from around a small alley, his whole body coated in the white chalky dust caused by collapsing concrete.

                “Nah, someone with an actual future instead of a downhill slide of crappy endorsement deals and hosting local cable television shows,” Hexcellent replied, her voice oddly cheery in spite of the words she chose.

                “At least I won’t be fifty and still trying to sell that goth sex-symbol vibe,” Zone countered.

                “Good enough for Elvira, good enough for me,” Hexcellent said with a shrug.

                “So glad to know that if I ever lose track of my team, I can just follow the sounds of verbal abuse,” Galvanize said as he and Bubble Bubble approached. “I’d tell you to keep it in doors, but honestly I doubt anyone is paying us much attention by this point. Most of the press has packed up and gone now that the thrilling part is over.”

                “If they’re going to take what they want and run off that quickly they could at least leave us cab fare on the dresser.” Everyone turned to Bubble Bubble whose pale, freckled skin immediately began to blush as she realized that she’d spoken out loud what had clearly been intended as internal dialogue. “Sorry, I’m just… I’ve been making energy spheres for hours. I’m pretty wiped upstairs.”

                “Don’t you dare apologize, that might be the best thing to come out of your mouth since you joined this team,” Hexcellent said. “Though, yeah, I think we’re all drained enough to have goofy-brain.”

                “I actually still feel pretty wired, despite my body screaming for sleep,” Zone said.

                “Happens to most people after a really big job,” Titan said. “Even though you’re tapped out, your brain is still on high alert. My teams and I used to go to a bar afterward. A little beer and relaxation helps shift your gears down, letting you actually get the rest you need. But I’m sure you lot have some sort of meditation yoga vegetable enema way to decompress after one of these.”

                “I know that was meant to be a joke, but it’s so close to the truth that now I’m depressed,” Hexcellent said. “Can we do the bar thing instead? Pleeeeeeeeeeease?”

                “Absolutely not,” Galvanize replied. “You know how Mr. Greene would react if pictures of us drinking, let alone in costume and in public, surfaced, don’t you?”

                “What if you did it at one of Mordent Holding’s restaurants?” Titan asked. “I looked these guys up, and they own a bunch of bar and restaurant chains. After a big, publicly visible thing like this, if we went and downed a few at one of their places it might make for good advertisement. Get it on the news; bill the place as a watering hole for local do-gooders, all that stuff.”

                “That is an oddly business savvy suggestion, coming from you,” Bubble Bubble pointed out.

                “Former small business owner.” Titan thumped his chest with unabashed pride.

                “I will consent to calling the idea in while we head back,” Galvanize said. “If Mr. Greene gives the okay, and we all want to go, then I’d be alright with it.”

                “Oh, we all want to go,” Zone said. “I haven’t been allowed to drink anything with that many carbs and calories in so long that my mouth is literally watering at the thought.”

                “I would like the second the sentiment, though very pointedly not echo Zone’s exact word choice,” Bubble Bubble said.

                “Then it will be up to Mr. Greene,” Galvanize replied. “Everyone pile in, and be quiet while I make the call. This is already a long shot, so let’s make it as good of a pitch as we possibly can.”