“I’m so booooooored,” Kimmy yawned.
Ben had called a team meeting in the living room thirty minutes ago. She’d arrived twenty-nine minutes and forty-five seconds ago. Gwen had returned from whatever creepy things she did in her free-time twenty-five minutes ago. Terry had arrived from his physical therapy twenty-two minutes ago.
Ben was still a no-show.
Kimmy looked over at her two teammates, neither of whom were talking. After Terry had passed out in the training sim two weeks ago, he hadn’t been chatty. He was going to physical therapy sessions every other day as the on-campus doctors attempted to help him unlock more and more of his strength. It didn’t seem to be going well, as Terry returned from each session looking like he was going to vomit. They had all tried to cheer him up but it didn’t seem to be working. The Elemental didn’t seem to care that they had finished first.
Gwen, on the other hand, had always been as tacit as a gargoyle at a funeral, so Kimmy wasn’t surprised when she failed to offer some conversation.
“If you say ‘I’m bored’ one more time,” Gwen said in a low grumble, “I’m going to break your leg.”
“Pfft, whatever,” Kimmy retorted. “You wouldn’t even be able to catch me.”
“Wanna bet?” Gwen barked.
“Please stop shouting,” Terry muttered.
“Oh, look who decided to get chatty,” Gwen said, a hard edge in her voice.
It was at this point that Ben burst into the room.
“Oh uh, hey guys,” he said, looking surprised. “What’re you all . . . doing here?”
They all stared at him dumbfounded.
“You called a meeting?” Gwen began.
“Like thirty minutes ago?” Kimmy interjected.
“Oooooh . . . I, uh, lost track of time. My bad,” Ben murmured.
No one spoke for a minute.
“So . . .” Terry asked, “why are we here?”
“Oh right, uh,” Ben stuttered, “I have gifts!”
“I mean, we all have gifts. I run fast, Terry shoots lightning, Gwen is scary,” Kimmy rattled quickly.
Gwen rolled her eyes.
“Not what I meant,” Ben replied.
He pulled his H-Pad out of his pocket, and clicked on an app. With a sudden jerk of motion, the blank wall behind him slid away, revealing four mannequins, each decked out in a costume.
The first on the left was a golden suit, with black boots and black accents on the forearms and waist. On the chest was a large, stylized black “M.” It had a built in cowl, with an open mouth and top. The cowl had large, gray glassy eyes. Something within Kimmy sparked. She realized that suit was hers.
The second was black and looked to be made of a sturdier material than the first. It was etched in yellow. Two zig-zagging lines ran down the chest, making an empty lightning bolt. The suit had a deep hood, and a plain black domino mask was attached to the mannequin’s face. Kimmy could tell that one was meant for Terry.
The third suit was more inline with body armor. It was mostly black, but had accents of blue and gray. The chest, forearms, and knees looked slightly bulkier, as though they had extra padding. On the mannequin’s face was a mask the same blue tint as the suit. It looked a lot like Terry’s mask, although it had lifeless white lenses and flared out dramatically where the mask ended. It was most definitely for Gwen.
The fourth and final suit was far different from the others. It was a simple crimson bodysuit, which looked to cover everything but the head. At certain points (elbows, knees, hips, and chest) mechanical workings stuck out. Kimmy guessed it was for Ben, but she couldn’t think what use it would be.
The four of them stood, admiring the costumes.
“So, you wanna try ’em on?” Ben asked.
“Hell yes!” Kimmy shouted. She super-sped her suit off the mannequin and shot upstairs. In a second, she changed into the suit and shot back downstairs.
“This thing is awesome!” Kimmy said ecstatically. “It’s so flexible.”
“It’s a highly advanced friction-resistant fabric,” Ben answered. “You could push Mach 5 in that thing and it wouldn’t even begin to show.”
“This is waaaaay better than the orange morphsuit I used to wear,” Kimmy muttered.
“Have you turned it on?” Ben asked.
“Turned it what?” Kimmy asked, bewildered. “It turns on?”
“Yeah,” Ben laughed. “Just say, ‘suit power on.’”
Kimmy repeated his phrase.
Suddenly her lenses were cluttered with information. A speedometer, details about the suit, even her own biometrics.
“Hot damn!” she screeched. “This thing is awesome!”
“What about you two?” Ben asked, turning to Terry and Gwen.
“Well, I don’t – ” Terry began before leaping towards the suit with gusto. He disentangled the mannequin with the same excitement as Kimmy, albeit a bit slower.
He turned to Gwen with an inquisitive look on his face.
“I have a suit.” She said simply.
“Yeah,” Ben answered, “I know. Bluejay: the prodigal daughter of the Bird of Post City. I based this suit off of your old one. It should feel exactly the same . . . just a few minor tweaks and improvements.”
He pulled a box off his desk. “As well as a couple new toys.”
Gwen took the box from him and looked inside. In it was a sleek new utility belt and a metal cylinder, about a foot and a half long. She took the cylinder out of the box, and brandished it in front of her.
With a flick of her wrist, the top of the cylinder shot out another foot. She took a few experiment swings with the weapon. It felt light and balanced in her hand.
She inspected the device further, finding a small button around the handle of the weapon. She pressed it. Suddenly the weapon sprung open to a length of six feet. Gwen hefted it easily, giving it a twirl.
“So what do you say?” Ben asked. “Ready for a new start?”
Gwen grinned at him.
“You sure know the way to a girl’s heart,” she said.
Ben raised an eyebrow. “Potentially deadly weapons? Not what I expected but I’ll keep it in mind for the future.”
Gwen stepped toward her suit.
“What about you?” she asked. “What’s that lil’ spandex number do?”
“Oh, well, I’ll be happy to show you.”
A few moments later, Terry, Kimmy and Gwen were all suited up.
“Where’s the boss-man?” Kimmy muttered.
“Really? Boss-man?” Gwen asked.
“Yeah, what’s wrong with ‘boss-man?’”
“Nothing. It’s . . . just dumb.”
“Oh really? ‘Boss-man’ is dumb now?”
“I think it was always dumb,” Terry interjected.
“Whatever . . . ” Kimmy grumbled.
“He has been gone for a while, though,” Terry said.
“Maybe he’s building something new.” Gwen said sarcastically. “Wait, you don’t actually think he’s building something new do you?”
“I hope he didn’t forget us again,” Kimmy said, and all of them chuckled.
A loud bang stopped them.
“You good in there?” Terry called.
“Uh, yeah!” Ben called back. “Completely fine. Make some room. I’m coming in.”
They looked at each other in confusion. They could hear loud thudding steps coming from down the hall.
Ben walked around the corner. He was wearing a robotic suit of some kind. The body was a gunmetal gray. The chest had a thin glowing red “V” slashing across it under a bulwark of armor, and the arms and legs had similar accents of burning crimson. He had his helmet tucked under one arm. It was a plain gray helmet, like a motorcyclist would wear, only instead of a visor it had a darkened “V” shape on the face-plate. Kimmy guessed that when on, it would glow red like the rest of the costume.
“What do you think?” he asked, a smirk playing across his face.
They all stared at him a moment.
“That . . . is . . . AMAZING!” Kimmy exclaimed.
She sped over to him and began inspecting the suit.
“How does this work? Is it hydraulics? Nuclear? Ooooh, oooh, it’s solar, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, it’s solar,” Ben responded. “At least, that’s what charges it. It uses hard-light weaponry, takes a very sophisticated engine. I’ve been working on this suit for . . . well a couple years really.”
“Does it have a name?” Gwen asked.
“Yeah. Vulcan, version one.” Ben answered.
“Oooooh, do we have names?” Kimmy asked excitedly.
“Yes,” he said turning to her, “You’re Mercury.”
He turned to Terry, “You’re Jupiter.”
He turned again to Gwen, “And last but not least, Bellona.”
“What’s up with the Rome fetish?” Terry asked.
“We’re Forum Team. As in the Roman Forum . . . it was assigned by the school.”
“So when do we get to take these for a test drive?” Gwen questioned.
“Yeah, I wanna see if I can break Mach 2 in this thing!” Kimmy bubbled.
“Well, I don’t know when we’ll get a mission – ” Ben began.
As if on cue, Vesta broke in.
“Excuse me, sir,” the computer said, “but you have a new message.”
“Display on screen,” he instructed, “and don’t call me ‘sir.’”
One of the many monitors in the middle of the room began to glow with a message:
REPORT TO COMMAND CENTER FOR MISSION BRIEFING
“Son of a bitch . . .” Ben groaned.
“What’s that mean?” Kimmy asked.
“What’s it look like it means? We have a mission,” Gwen shot back.
“Gwen’s right. Let’s get over to mission control,” Ben said, already moving for the door.