Uberdude had been the last of the super-villains to put up a fight, but it seemed to Cori as if the aftermath of the battle lasted forever. At some point, Protector grabbed her arm to help steady her. Now that the rush of combat had worn off, she wanted a pillow.
Instead, she had to spend her time talking with officials and answering questions. Poor Rockslide had nearly been locked up as somcame Homeland Security agents had confused him for a super-villain. She wasn’t sure exactly when the team got back to Freedom Squad Headquarters.
“Home,” Rigel breathed as she stepped out of the Freedom Flyer.
“I’ll take Nightstar to the med lab,” said Protector.
“I can walk. I’m just a little dizzy,” replied Nightstar. “I think the guy who kicked me used to trade martial arts bouts with Tiger Iron of the Wardens and Argent.”
“Then count yourself lucky,” said Protector.
“I always do, Alex, every day,” replied Nightstar.
Cori rolled her eyes.
Rockslide labored as he clambered out of the ship. He had several cracks and chips in his stony exterior.
“Rockslide, do you need anything to help you recover?” thought Rigel telepathically to the massive hero.
“Sleep,” he thought back.
She smiled at him in agreement.
The team went their separate ways once they were inside the base. Rigel decided that she better check the Monitor Room before retiring for the night. The Monitor Room door opened to reveal Starlight and several governmental-looking agents.
“Greetings, Rigel,” said Starlight. “These are official Terran authorities who needed to meet with you.”
An athletic brunette walked up to Rigel and extended one hand while flashing a badge with the other. “Rigel, I’m Agent Stacey King. We spoke briefly at the prison.”
“G’day, Agent King,” said Cori, “sorry to be direct, but my head hurts. What are you doing in my base?”
“We are fully authorized to enter this base. Your mayor himself…”
“Yes,” interrupted Cori, “he sometimes has a tendency to try to impress people by letting them run around Freedom Squad Headquarters. But why are you here?”
“I wanted to talk to you about what happened tonight and who escaped.”
“We got a lot of them.”
“Please, Rigel, sit down. Let me explain why I’m concerned. It has to do specifically with one prisoner. Have you ever heard of the hero Defiance?” asked Agent King.
“Of course, everyone has. He went mad, and they had to arrest him. It started a whole round of Congressional hearings in this country of yours.”
The agents paused and exchanged glances.
“You are the daughter of an American citizen and have a US citizenship yourself, despite the time you spent in Australia,” said Agent King.
“Country of ours,” said Rigel, “I just try to distance myself from Congress when I can.”
Stacy King smirked. “Understandable. Please sit down. I want to go over everything, but I’ll try and make it brief.”
Cori sat. She really didn’t want to deal with whatever this was until after eight hours had passed under her covers. However, these homeland security agents were serious. Certainly, anything this important would keep her awake long enough to hear it.
“Defiance, also known as William or Bill Hudson, was a trained archaeologist who gained metahuman abilities through unknown circumstances. For his own reasons, he named himself Defiance and became well-known as a superhero. Largely impervious with super-strength in the upper measurable limits of our scales and the ability to fly, he began dispensing justice while having several run-ins with the law. Defiance often clashed with law enforcement as he didn’t always feel the need to build a case or collect evidence before taking action. As a result, several criminals that he brought in walked out of courtrooms only a few months later. Despite that, we feel that he tried to do the right thing.”
“Unfortunately, he chose to attack a cosplay group who had decided to attend a comic book or sci-fi convention dressed as the villain team, the Destroyers. He put three college kids into ICUs. In the aftermath, he was confronted by a hero team-up of convenience, including Psionicist, the former Protector and your old friend, Poltergeist. You might hear it referred to as the ‘P’ team. Psionicist remains in a coma to this day. It was the Protector who put an end to Defiance’s rampage.”
Cori thought back to her father’s crime files. She remembered all the coverage of Defiance’s trial. After some crazy rantings at the beginning, he had said nothing, just stared blankly into the cameras.
Rigel raised a silver glove, “Wait, didn’t he rant about being set up, claim that Psionicist was a super-villain who was mind controlling him?”
Agent King nodded. “Actually, he claimed that Psionicist was the crime lord known as the Ace of Spades, an individual rumored in certain circles to manipulate criminal activities across the country for his own purposes. There’s no evidence that an Ace of Spades exists or has ever existed, but there are plenty of people who believe in him.”
“What about you, Agent King?” asked Cori.
She said nothing, but she thought loudly enough for Cori to hear. “He absolutely exists, and one day, I will find him, Rigel.”
“My concern is with Defiance,” answered Agent King in her regular voice. “There’s a good chance that he may go after Poltergeist, and I understand that you and he are close. He’s your godfather, isn’t he?”
“He is,” said Cori. She felt a pain in her chest. Daniel Hunter, known to the world as Poltergeist, was like an uncle to her, or probably more like a big brother. He was the first person that she had told when she decided to take on the costumed identity of Rigel, even before her father. He was the one who had provided her with a psychically reactive neospandex costume which could change color, texture and shape at her mental command. Daniel relied on technology for his invisibility and magnetic powers, but without the suit, he was a normal human.
“We will be watching him, but you may want to reach out and make sure that he’s taking appropriate measures to stay safe. “
“The other likely targets for him are Psionicist and the current Protector.”
“But why would he go after them?” asked Cori.
“He believes that they all have connections in some way to the Ace of Spades.”
Cori didn’t think she was going to be able to get to sleep.