Chapter 86

                Owen’s team was a touch more subdued as they pulled into the parking lot, arriving early for the Supers Care Charity Spectacular’s second day. After having a chance to get accustomed to their activities, they’d realized that, setting aside, it wasn’t really all that different from things they usually did when not on rescue calls. Shake hands, pose for pictures, and make nice with the public. Besides, one day of sitting in those tents as guests walked by was all it took to remind them that they were secondary attractions. Between the sports stars and Heroes filling the ranks, few people even noticed that a team of corpies was present. While this should have been disheartening, it curiously had the opposite effect. Being out of the spotlight, for a change, took some of the pressure off and allowed them to enjoy themselves.

                It had been a good call to spend a first day getting settled, and Own mentally tipped his cap to whoever had scheduled things out in such a way. As the crew unloaded from the SUV, however, Galvanize stopped them to deal with the one potential sore spot looming on their day’s horizon.

                “Alright everyone, you’ve all got your schedules and know where to head, but I want to make sure we’re all clear on where to be at three this afternoon.” Galvanize pulled out a printed map of the fair grounds and pointed to a moderately-sized outdoor pavilion on the eastern side. “The panel starts at half past three, so we need to be there early to get ready.”

                Hexcellent stretched her hand in the air and waved it about, like a kindergartener racing the clock in an effort to get permission to use the restroom. “Can I be excused from that?”

                “On what grounds?”

                “On the grounds of BOOOOOOOOOOOOO.” Dropping her arm from the air, Hexcellent cupped both hands around her mouth as she started to jeer, adding a bit of volume to her already impressive voice.

                Galvanize, to his credit, stood patiently and waited until her booing slowly began to wane, and then faded out altogether. Only after silence had once again reasserted itself did he speak, and it was with the same calm voice he’d asked the initial question. “Was that you booing me, or an impression of what you think the crowd will do to us?”

                “Either or. Pretty much take your pick,” Hexcellent replied.

                “Despite what you might think, there are an abundance of Supers out there who want to use their abilities in less… martial capacities.” Galvanize’s eyes flitted to Owen who kept his own face neutral. What Heroes did wasn’t always pretty, and sometimes it was downright horrifying; there was no pussyfooting around that. It was the unfortunate truth that, bad as what they sometimes had to do was, it was necessary.

                “The chance at fame and money doesn’t hurt either,” Bubble Bubble added. “I’m sure we’ll get a fair amount of people who actually want to talk with us.”

                “Thank you, Bubble Bubble,” Galvanize said.

                “Of course Hex is right too, we’re bound to get a few assholes, be they there for us or for Titan.” Bubble Bubble patted her massive teammate gently on the arm, not even making his elbow wobble.

                “It’s a Q&A at a charity event. Anyone who can’t conduct themselves appropriately will be removed from the pavilion,” Galvanize told them. “Some of the burlier players from the SAA are also volunteering their time as security.”

                “Guess we better hope they’re tougher than anyone who starts shit.” Zone made his way around the SUV more slowly than any of the others, giving his joints as much of a break as possible.

                “I think things will be fine,” Owen said, breaking into the conversation at last. “It’s only a half-hour panel, we’ll take a few questions, snap a few photos, and maybe at the end a couple of Supers will leave here ready to apply to be PEERS. Galvanize is right, this is a charity event. No one is going to make a scene.” Owen wasn’t entirely sure he believed that, there were those who still had extreme opinions about the Hero known as Titan. Either way, he was sure his team would be fine, though. If security couldn’t handle a problem, then Titan would.

                “Anyway, that’s not until this afternoon,” Galvanize reminded them. “For the morning, we’ve still all got our own work to do, which means we should get moving. Remember: On time is ten minutes late.”

                This phrase was met with muttered grumblings from the rest of his team, Owen included, as they spread out and left the parking lot. The others were no doubt going to work more booths for Mordent, toiling their days away until the inevitable panel. Owen, however, was off to something slightly different.

                When signing up for his activities all those weeks ago, one particular option had caught his eye. A booth had been set aside for recruiters, sometimes ones that were Heroes, to talk with potential recruits about Sizemore Tech’s Hero Certification Program, trying to convince those with the right skills to try and apply. It was something he’d done many years before, and in truth would have enjoyed doing again. Just jumping in didn’t seem right, given how his reputation had changed, though. Instead, he’d reached out to the booth’s organizer and set up a meeting. If it went well, he might pitch in. If not… well Owen hadn’t ever really expected to be able to go back into that world anyway.

                Despite the early hour, there were already at least a half-dozen high school kids clustered around the front of the tent. They whispered as he passed by, a sound Owen was quickly growing accustomed to, but didn’t seem terribly shocked to see him walking around. By now, word had doubtlessly spread that Titan was on the premises. Moving past them, he walked all the around to the back, where a white tent was set up. Later in the day, this would be the air-conditioned break area for the recruiters to lounge in while not talking to prospective students. Currently, however, there was only a single occupant inside as Owen pulled back the flap.

                “Titan, good to see you back in a mask.” The man who was standing there was tall, nearly comparable to Owen himself, with wide shoulders and muscular arms. This was especially impressive since a head of white hair and noticeable wrinkles betrayed his advanced age. With one large step he closed the gap between them and took Owen’s hand in a firm shake.

                “Dean Jackson, it’s always a pleasure.” Owen shook the hand right back, then took a seat on a couch clearly made for the outdoors and settled in to his meeting with the dean of Sizemore Tech’s Hero Certification Program.