Daniel and I sat in my room. He sat in the chair by the desk. I sat on my bed.

While hanging out with Daniel had never been completely normal, it felt as normal as a Saturday night used to be. Some things felt a little different. For example, the poster over my bed showing the original Heroes’ League called up entirely different feelings now.

Looking up at it reminded me that I should already be further along with the vehicles than I actually was. Meanwhile, the dots on Red Lightning’s chest made me wonder what exactly the hieroglyphics meant. It was probably in the report—which meant I had one more thing to add to my “to-do” list the next time I stepped into HQ.

“We’ll have to bring in everyone,” Daniel said, “but what I think we should do is bug Magnus’ house.”

“That would tell us some things,” I admitted.

As things were, it wasn’t clear whether Magnus’ was the villain or the victim of last weekend’s fighting. On the one hand, he had lost current and former employees, and friends. On the other, he could have used the fighting as cover to off people he didn’t want talking. Either way, the deaths had to be connected somehow.

“Do you know how cool it would be if we broke this thing? We wouldn’t be a bunch of kids who inherited everything. We’d have our own reputation,” Daniel said.

“It’d suck though,” I said, “if it’s a reputation for butting into other people’s business. It’s not like Chicago doesn’t have the Defenders plus a few independents.”

“Screw ‘em,” Daniel said. “They missed it.”

I was pretty sure that that wasn’t how it worked. From what I understood, it was polite to let people know if you were going to do work in their town—at least if you could find them. The Defenders’ headquarters was a big building in downtown Chicago so we didn’t have much of an excuse.

“I know,” Daniel said, “we’ll tell them, but we don’t have to have them looking over our shoulders the whole time.”

“Which begs the question of what exactly we’re going to do about it,” I said. “We could figure out a way to electronically bug Magnus or just, I don’t know, station you on the roof for a few hours?”

“Sounds like fun times,” Daniel said. “But count me out for now.”

I barely had time to notice my own surprise when he continued.

“Don’t count me out forever. Just for the bugging part. I assume that that’s your thing, not mine. I’ll be in whenever you need me, but I’ve got another project going on too.”

“Another project?”

Daniel smiled. “I’m going to expose the Mayor.”

“For what?”

“I don’t know. My Dad’s been saying the Mayor’s corrupt for ages, but he’s never been corrupt enough for my Dad to make a special project out of it.”

“This is about the meeting,” I said.

Daniel leaned forward in the chair. “He was trying to find out something about Vaughn back there in his office, but it wasn’t for himself. It was for someone else. I want to find out who’s got enough power over him that they can enlist him to ask questions.”

I sat up on the bed. “Can you do that?”

“I don’t see why not,” Daniel said.

“What I meant was, are we really allowed to just overthrow the government or something?”

“Right,” Daniel said. “As I said, I don’t see why not. Besides, it’s not as if I’m going to try to lead the city in revolt. I’m going to expose the mayor’s connection with anything he’s done that’s illegal. After that, it all goes to the courts.”

“Are you talking to your dad about it? I don’t want you to end up in trouble.”

“Do you talk to him before doing anything? I don’t either. We’re vigilantes. Technically almost everything we do is illegal.”

Daniel sounded irritated. I’d noticed that he got that way when we'd talked about asking his dad for advice before. I also know that he isn’t as strong as either his father or grandfather as a telepath and I’ve sometimes wondered if the two facts were somehow connected.

“I don’t feel inferior to my father,” Daniel said.

We sat silently for a moment. I tried to think of nothing in particular.

“You want to go downstairs and play video games?” I pushed myself off the bed.

Daniel said, “Why not?"

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About the author


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 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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Sobek @Sobek ago

technically they are allowed to overthrow the government if they are corrupt enough, its in the constitution.


zoetewey @zoetewey ago

I'm not aware of where the Constitution says that, but that does motivate me to reread it.