Chapter 77

                “Alright team, this is going to be a big week for us.” Galvanize was somehow awake and peppy on Monday morning without the aid of caffeine, a talent more than one person had theorized might be his actual super-power. Around him, the others looked more or less like half-risen zombies, save for Bubble Bubble, who seemed unusually chipper. Despite being pulled in for an “image consultation” with Mr. Greene after Sunday’s interview, it was evident she was still riding on high on her small victory and the hope that all was not entirely lost. Only time would tell if the strategy actually paid off, but Owen was content just to see life returning to her eyes; more than been there before, in all honesty.

                “The eighth annual Supers Care Charity Spectacular kicks off tomorrow at nine in the morning,” Galvanize continued. “Aside from dealing with emergencies, our schedules have been completely cleared out. No appearances, no interviews, no meetings, nothing. All Mr. Greene wants us to do is focus on the event, making sure we do our best to represent ourselves, and our sponsors, in a positive light.”

                “Translation: we have no excuses for skipping out early when we get bored and tired,” Hexcellent mumbled, not bothering to try and actually avoid being heard.

                “Mr. Greene simply wants to make it easy on us to focus,” Galvanize countered, treating her grumbling as though it had been a sincere concern. Owen had realized that this was one of Galvanize’s greatest tricks for handling the egos and whining of his teammates. When acting as though every petty complaint was a genuine issue, it essentially shamed the others into somewhat holding their tongues.

                Galvanize reached under the kitchen table, laden with healthy eating options brought in specifically for the Monday meeting, and pulled out a paper bag bearing a logo that said “SCCP” woven into a number eight. It only took a moment to put the meaning together, which gave everyone a clue as to what the packets Galvanize was pulling from the bag might relate to.

                “These are your schedules for the coming four days. It tells you where to be for the individual events and contests you signed up for, as well as directs you to places on site where we can rest and recover privately.” Galvanize began handing them out one at a time, each team member’s name scrawled in impressive calligraphy across their eggshell colored envelope. “None of this should come as much surprise to you, as we all chose our activities ourselves; however there are two exceptions I need to make you aware of. Mr. Greene felt it was important that we show a united presence, and as such requested that we be signed up for two team events.”

                “Anyone else worried by the fact that he’s just telling us this now?” Zone ripped off the top of his envelope and began hurriedly sorting through pages until he found what he was looking for. “Are you shitting me Galv? The tug-of-war?”

                “It was chosen because all Supers, be they Heroes, athletes, or PEERS, can compete. Plus it shows all of us working in tandem toward a common goal.”

                “Yeah… do you even need us to call bullshit on that?” Hexcellent jerked a thumb at Owen, who was examining his packet of documents far more carefully that Zone. “They picked it because it’s a contest of pure strength, which means Titan can do all the work and we won’t look like dumb-asses. It’s going to get us far, sure, but no one is going to be fooled into thinking we four did anything other than hold the rope.”

                “There will be entire teams on the pulling against us,” Galvanize protested. “Even Titan can’t handle the task alone.”

                “No, I probably can,” Owen replied, looking up from his pages at last. “I mean, depending on who they’ve got on the other teams, anything is possible, but knowing the Heroes of Brewster I’d lay pretty good odds that I can win that thing solo.” He glanced around at the others and gave a half-shrug of his shoulders. “Look, I didn’t ask for this crap any more than you did, but I may as well be honest about our chances of winning.”

                “What’s the other event?” Bubble Bubble asked, her own packet resting untouched in front of her.

                “A simple Q&A for those interested in going into the PEERS line of work,” Galvanize responded, clearly glad to be even momentarily off the tug-of-war topic. “Titan will be there to field questions from active Heroes who are interested in taking on Hero Liaison roles.”

                Hexcellent snorted, then snickered, in a combination so perfect that everyone at the table instantly knew she’d practiced it. “Which means Titan will get peppered with questions for half an hour while we sit around with our metaphorical dicks in our hands. The dudes could probably literally do that, too, and no one would even notice.”

                Galvanize began to reply, but stopped himself. He took a moment to look around the table at the faces of his team, and then sat down at one of the only open chair remaining at their breakfast table. “Look, the simple truth of this is that Titan is far more famous than the rest of us. You know it, I know it, and Mordent certainly knows it. So they want to put him out in front of the cameras as much as possible, with us right there alongside him to make sure the logos get seen. I’m not saying it’s going to be great, but it’s only two events. The rest of the time we get to do our own things.”

                “Galvanize, chill,” Hexcellent told him. “No one’s actually pissed about the extra events. We know Titan is a fucking legend, and at this point hanging out in his shadow can be kind of fun. We just didn’t want you trying to sell us shit by pretending it was chocolate.”

                “Not how I would have put it, not even in the slightest, but I second the general sentiment,” Bubble Bubble said.

                “I’m in for whatever the team wants,” Owen told them. “Technically, Mordent doesn’t have the right to sign me up for events I don’t agree to, so if you all aren’t feeling these two then I’ll drop out. Pretty sure they won’t try and force you four to handle them without me.”

                “No, we should do them.” Zone lowered his packet, and, in a rare display, actually looked Owen in the eyes. “Who cares if it’s really all about you? That’s business as usual for us corpies. At least there’s the chance some good will come of these. And besides, I think we might not entirely hate the idea of spending a little time together at this thing. You know, as a team.”

                Owen scanned the table, watching for dissent but finding only agreeable smiles and nodding heads. Personally, he wished they had asked him to call it off, at least the tug-of-war, because he had a feeling that SAA members and Heroes weren’t going to take well to losing to one washed up Hero and his team of corpies. But what his team wanted, Owen would deliver.

                “Tell Mordent we’re good to go,” Owen said, looking over at Galvanize. “And ask them if I’ve gotten any mail yet today. If we’re spending most of week out in public, I’d better get my new uniforms pressed.”