Chapter 85

                “I really hope there’s some good news as well, and that you didn’t just call us all in to make sure we knew we were helpless.” Gale seemed unfazed by Jeremiah’s announcement, as did pretty much else in the room save for Deadlift. As the youngest Hero in the group, he’d let out an audible gasp of shock at the announcement, an act he was deeply regretting in the face of the other’s reactions.

                “Well, it might be good or bad, sort of depends on how things go, but we definitely know something.” Jeremiah clicked away the question mark, revealing a diagram of a single red dot with dozens of arrows pointing to blue ones spread across a new map of Brewster. “While running all the robots from one device might allow for incredible levels of cooperation, information relay, and strategy, it does still come with one giant weakness: namely that all of your robots are being run from one single point.”

                Aether nodded, quickly taking Jeremiah’s meaning. “Unlike before, when we thought each unit was self-contained, now we know there’s a central command system. Which means if we take that out, we end the entire threat with a single blow.”

                “I can always tell which teams employ their own Subtlety Heroes, even without the research,” Jeremiah said. “Aether has hit the nail dead on. Before, we were trying to track the robots points of origin or uncover their creator, assuming that once an attack started the only way to end it was to break them all to pieces. Now, we know there’s another option, as well some method of remote relaying being used to issue orders. One of my fellow Modus Operandi members is currently working on a device that will, in theory, allow us to trace the signal back to its origin point, assuming we can capture a robot that isn’t completely destroyed.”

                More than a few sets of eyes glanced at Owen who merely raised his wide shoulders in a mighty shrug. “Guessing there’s other Heroes who might be able to manage that.”

                “Speaking of Modus Operandi, when are we going to meet one of these other team members of yours?” Deadlift asked. “You all seem to be spearheading the research, but from what I’ve heard you’re the only one of the group anyone ever talks to.”

                “And that is for good reason,” Jeremiah said. “The less about a Subtlety Hero that is known, the better. We do our best work when no one is ever certain we’ve been there at all. That’s why I, as the most extroverted member, was chosen to be the face and mouthpiece of our group. It lets the others keep on task, while protecting their privacy as much as possible.”

                “Though if you ever really want to meet them, just hold an event with an open bar,” Gale added. “I’ve yet to meet the Subtlety Hero that won’t drink as much of the good liquor as possible if given half a chance.”

                “Cruel, but not inaccurate,” Jeremiah said. “At any rate, you can trust that the man in charge of making the tracking device has the skills to make it work, assuming it’s doable in the first place. This means that, when the attack does come, we will have Heroes functioning in two distinct capacities. Most will be tasked with bringing down the robots and protecting the civilians, but there will be a few of us whose jobs revolve around tracking their orders to the source. Once there, we’ll hopefully to able to put an end to these antics for good.”

                “Why are we assuming they’ll attack?” Owen’s voice bounced off the bare wooden walls, no doubt echoing down slightly to the smoked meat shop they were standing over even as the other Heroes turned in their chairs to face him. “Jeremiah said it himself: they’ve deviated from their old pattern. If all the other attacks were to refine their designs and figure out our weak spots, what does another fight gain for them?”

                “That, my giant comrade, is the billion dollar question.” Jeremiah reached out and turned off the projector, clearly his presentation had reached its end. “We know another attack is coming because most of the technology stolen during the break-ins was centered around weaponry or national defense. Not exactly the sorts of party favors one stocks up on if the battles are over. As to the why, that I genuinely have no answer for. If I knew, I’d be able to anticipate more and we wouldn’t be flying so blind. It’s possible Titan is right, with the pattern deviations there might not come any more battles. We may never see or hear from these damn robots again.”

                “But you’re betting otherwise,” Gale surmised.

                “I am. My team is. And we feel it behooves us to be as ready as possible when the time for action comes,” Jeremiah said.

                “Then why are there only the five of us here?” Deadlift asked. “Shouldn’t you be getting the word out to as many Heroes as possible?”

                “What word would that be, exactly?” Jeremiah countered. “That a giant, unpredictable attack may or may not be coming, and that if it does we have no idea when or where it will be from, nor even what the attacking enemies are capable of? I’ve just described every single day that a Hero wakes up to, nothing about that situation is novel. We five are here because our tasks will, assuming you all accept, be a different one. Should this strike come, I’ll be looking to you five to help me run down the device at the center of everything.”

                “You’re picking an… interesting lineup.” Gale scanned the room with fresh eyes, lingering on Deadlift the longest as she took stock of her allies.

                “Someone who can go through anything, someone who can lift anything, someone who can get anywhere, and someone who is functionally unstoppable.” Jeremiah ticked off their abilities on his fingers as he rattled them off one by one. “I dislike going into any situation without a veritable filing cabinet full of research and planning, but since I have to fly blind on this one it only seemed prudent to pick Heroes whose combined abilities were up to any conceivable challenge. Not to mention the majority of whom were seasoned warriors with excellent decision making skills.”

                “It’s not a bad team, at least for infiltration,” Owen agreed. “If you need our help actually finding the place though-”

                “Thank you, but no. That much we’ll have well in hand,” Jeremiah assured him. “I just need to know if, should chaos rain down on us, you’ll be willing to come help me end it. Which was what I hoped to accomplish with this meeting and making you all fully aware of the situation.”

                “It’ll depend on the exact moment you call; I doubt any of us will leave our people in the lurch,” Gale said, rising from her seat. “But if I can swing it, I’ll come by.”

                “Good to hear,” Jeremiah replied. “Perhaps you can pick up Titan, so we’re not stuck waiting for him to lightheartedly jog across the city.”