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After every party comes the cleanup.

I stood alone in League HQ holding six empty pizza boxes in my hands. I’d already put the leftovers in the refrigerator along with the pop.

David Letterman kept me company. Twenty feet tall on the Leagues’ TV, he joked about the president, the current presidential candidates, and how the next big super team would be eight year olds from Indiana.

It didn’t get much of a laugh, but I stared, dumbstruck, at the screen. Was that a reference to us? Hadn’t our fifteen minutes of fame run out yet?

I dumped the pizza boxes into the trash compactor, shut the door, and heard a satisfying crunching noise. The next time I opened the door, it would be empty. One of these days I would have to find out where it all went. Given the level of environmental awareness when Grandpa designed this place, I wouldn’t be surprised to discover it all shot into Lake Michigan.

While I pushed the chairs underneath the main table, I heard a low-pitched beeping. Looking up at the screen, I noticed a blue bar running across the bottom of the screen. The words “incoming call” floated from the right side of the screen to the left.

Crap.

I knew what that meant. It meant official. As in federal. As in a representative from our actual government wanted to talk to someone here.

I ran into the lab and put on the Rocket suit. I’d taken it off after everyone left.

With any luck, they’d give up before I finished. I had to pull on the arms, gloves, legs, chest piece, and helmet separately, each one with it’s own special connections.

The beeping didn’t stop.

I ran back out to the main console, clicked the “receive” button with the mouse and watched as the FBI’s seal appeared on the TV. Underneath the symbol were the words “Superhuman Affairs Branch.”

In a moment, the seal dissolved into a dark haired man standing in front of a wide desk in a cramped office. Piles of papers threatened to crowd out his computer and the big pile on the left appeared just about ready to fall over.

He was in his mid-forties and wore a blue suit. Just at the moment he became visible, he had been putting a gold colored action figure on his desk. I couldn’t see exactly what sort of action figure it was, but the idea of a FBI agent playing with C3PO in his spare time amused me.

I wondered how he would take it if I asked about it.

The fact that he was smiling also didn’t quite fit with my mental image of the FBI. Of course, my image of the FBI comes mostly from X-Files reruns.

“Hi,” I said, “I’m the Rocket.”

“Good to meet you Rocket,” he said. “I’m Isaac Lim, Super Team Liaison for the northern Midwest.”

His accent sounded like it was from one of the northeastern states. I couldn’t place which one.

“I’m calling,” he said, “to let you know that your team is part of our agency’s National Hero program.”

“I knew that the Heroes League was, “I said, “but what we’ve got here right now only barely qualifies as a team. Besides aren’t there some requirements for that? I think I remember something about five years of supervision and needing… I don’t know… a security clearance?”

“Don’t worry about it. You’ve been grandfathered in.”

“Well that’s good, I guess. What do we get out of that?”

He looked a little surprised at the question, but said, “The usual. Federal resources for your cases and sometimes equipment if you need it. You get paid when you’re on call. You also get guidance from an experienced field agent—me, in this case.”

“OK,” I said, “what do you get out of it?”

“We get heroes and in your case, we get legendary heroes back from beyond the grave,” laughing a little as he said the last part.

“More like replacement heroes,” I said.

“No,” he said, “I’m serious about that. The League was legendary. I idolized the original Rocket as a kid. Most supers are born with powers, but here was a normal person who could go toe to toe with them. You don’t know how much I wanted my own suit or how many hours I wasted daydreaming about it…”

He stopped, looking a little embarrassed. “Don’t mind me,” he said. “It’s been a late night and I ought to go home.”

“So should I,” I said, “but if we really do have access to FBI records, I’ve got a list of names and numbers I’d like you to check out.”

“Absolutely,” he said, and told me how to send him the file. Apparently our network had a secure connection to the Feds.

Then he signed off.

After I sent him the contact list, I wondered if I really should be trusting him with something like that so soon. It was too late to take it back though. Besides, I told myself as I took the suit off, he seemed to really like Grandpa.

Funny to imagine an FBI agent having a Rocket action figure in his office. It’s a strange world.
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About the author

zoetewey

Bio: Jim Zoetewey grew up in Holland, Michigan, near where L Frank Baum wrote The Wizard of Oz and other books in that series. Admittedly, Baum moved away more than sixty years before Jim was even born, but it's still kind of cool. Jim didn't attain his goal of never leaving school, but did prolong his stay as long as possible. He majored in religion and sociology at Hope College, gaining enough credits to obtain minors in ancient civilizations and creative writing—had he thought to submit applications to the relevant departments. He attended Western Theological Seminary for two years. He followed that up by getting a masters degree in sociology at Western Michigan University. Once out of school, he took up the most logical occupation for someone with his educational background: web developer and technical support. Simultaneously, he finished all but three credits of a masters in Information Systems, a degree that's actually relevant to his field. He's still not done. In the meantime, he's been writing stories about superheroes and posting them online at http://legionofnothing.com. He's still not sure whether that was a good idea, but continues to do it anyway. He's also not sure why he's writing this in the third person, but he's never seen an author bio written in first person and doesn't want to rock the boat.

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Cestarian @Cestarian ago

more plotholes "you've been grandfathered in" how does the fbi agent know he's the grandson and not simply the son? And why does MC not find that the least bit suspicious?

    zoetewey
    Author

    zoetewey @zoetewey ago

    Because the main character knows that his grandfather was working for the government as a superhero during World War 2? And if the government knew who he was then, it's reasonable that they'd know that Nick is the grandson and not the son.

      Cestarian @Cestarian ago

      There was no way for me to know that the government knew their identities, and that in and of itself is definitely a plothole because these guys were supposedly masters of keeping their identity secret. The FBI knowing their identities means everyone who is anyone in the government knows it too, which means certain villains would have a fairly easy time of finding out.

      Want to find out who the rocket is? Just grab an fbi agent and beat it out of him!

      Point being, it's not something the kind of extremists that mind-wipe and mentally block their own families from knowing their identities, would do. It makes little sense.

      zoetewey
      Author

      zoetewey @zoetewey ago

      Well, only if the government handled it in the stupidest possible way.

      The way I imagine it being handled is on a need-to-know basis. The agent who handles the team would need to know just like their handlers in WW2 needed to know.

      Very few other people would.

      That said, there would still be a risk, and that would be handled the way it is throughout the entire series. Telepaths would make it hard for people to tell the secret at the wrong time and hide it so that it's hard for other telepaths to find in people's heads.

      As a result, the risk would be small enough that the League would have confidence that it's being handled appropriately and wouldn't feel the need to mindwipe their former handlers.

      At least that's how I imagine it, but I doubt strongly that long digressions about world building improve the story, so I don't make them when I don't see the need.

      Still, as mentioned, telepaths handle the same problem later in the series and I explain it there because it matters there.

      Cestarian @Cestarian ago

      In the real world information can't be kept that way, if it's stored in some database, that database will at some point be hacked, this is more or less guaranteed. The FBI have authorities they need to report to and cannot refuse, and those people will leak it.

      Besides, even if they didn't information like this will eventually leak, the power juice was even a good example of that in your story, the FBI couldn't keep it a proper secret, how can they be expected to keep something as sensitive as superhero identities secret too? A need to know basis isn't enough, because there will come a time where the wrong person needs to know.

      zoetewey
      Author

      zoetewey @zoetewey ago

      Computer databases can be hacked, but the League was active in the 50s and retired by the early 80s, so that wasn't a big part of the decision making process.

      Could the wrong person be brought in? Could the secret be leaked? Sure, but the secrets that don't get leaked vastly outnumber the ones that do. Also, (and this is more important), people in that generation tended to trust the government.

      Also, telepaths make it less likely that things will be shared with the wrong person (though not impossible).

      Cestarian @Cestarian ago

      Allright that makes sense.