“And why would we need to know how to listen a door ways?” Einherjar asked.
“Well, we aren’t fighting the villains overtly,” Atalanta explained, as she walked through the group. “It means that so far, we have been doing a lot of spying and sabotage.”
“It does not seem very honorable, to me,” Samurai said, resting her hand on the handle of her sword. “Or not very much like the Superhero Collective would do.”
“Yeah, well, we aren’t the Collective,” Strike pointed out. “And now they need our help in being recovered from wherever the Boss has stashed them.”
“So they were taken!” Wormhole exclaimed.
“As near as we can tell,” Atalanta replied. “There’s someone behind all of the major super villains pulling the strings. We only have him identified as ‘the Boss.’”
“Well where can we find him, how do we get to him?” Einherjar asked, following Atalanta closely as she made her way to a large conference table in the middle of the room.
“We aren’t sure about that, yet,” Atalanta replied with a frown. “From IT’s searching and what she’s been able to tell me, not even the government has much information on these individuals. Less on those who haven’t really ever made it to a prison to be identified. That makes up half of the people we’re looking for.” Strike moved behind her and began typing into a keyboard that stood on a raised platform from the wall. Nearly instantly the file copies of what they did have on certain villains came up. “Thanks,” she said.
“No problem,” he replied.
“Already, Strike and I have managed to take out Kenji Fujimoto, the assassin and Maestro, the other’s still remain at large, and it would seem that the only way we’re going to get much information on them is by taking it from their rival villains.”
“We know nothing of these people?” Gabriel asked.
“Not nothing,” Hexe corrected. “I might have some information on Sorceress. She attacked me when I first surfaced a few weeks ago. I can at et least tell you what she looks like, and that she spoke with sort of an English accent.”
“Anyone else?” Strike asked, motioning to Hexe to join him.
“How is it we know so little?” Einherjar asked. “Shouldn’t you know more, wouldn’t the Collective have left you some clue?”
“I never knew any of them personally,” Atalanta explained. “And from what we know, their information was very well protected. And currently, we don’t even have a lead on where their headquarters was, if they had one.”
“You have been active all this time, and all you can tell us is a list of names?” Einherjar asked.
“I have been active for less than three months. Most of the Collective has been around for almost a decade and the villains for that long, if not longer,” Atalanta explained. “We can’t expect instantaneous answers.”
“No, but I do expect a place to start looking,” Einherjar said. There were grumbles and nods of agreement. Atalanta surveyed the supers in the room, and watched a bit of hop die in their eyes as she looked at them.
“I’m not sure why I’m such an inspiration to all of you,” she said slowly. “But doing this is new to me. I think some of you came here with the idea that I would lead you into a glorious victory. But I can’t do that, at least not yet. If you want me to lead you, then I will, I will do my absolute best to. Better if I can. But the one thing I need you to understand is that I am in the same situation of not knowing, I am in the same place of fear and wondering. Now, it’s true that the longer we are active, the more people will come after us, and probably try and capture us the same way the Collective went. It’s true that when IT cracks Maestro’s computer we will have more information on wherever these villains may be and that will lead us closer to the Collective. But I cannot give you miracles, and I ask you not to expect it of me, or Strike or each other. We may be superheroes, but we are not gods. And we shouldn’t try to be.”
“Are you claiming we are hubristic?” the Medicine Woman asked after a moment of silence. Both Atalanta and Ameretat snorted.
“Not unless you have a strange fetish you wish to share with the class,” Atalanta said. The other woman flushed and sputtered while Atalanta grinned and added, “Classically, hubris is defined as humiliating a torturing for the gratification of he who would do so. More and more so though, it has come to identify with arrogance and pride. I would rather be neither and I would hope you would strive for the same. I would also say that if you wish to leave, now would be the time to do so.” No one moved, save to shift weight from foot to foot (or to stretch his wings out before settling them against his back). “All right then, if you want to leave for the night I suppose now would be an opportune time to leave.”
“But how will we contact each other?” Wormhole asked. “For when you do have information for us.”
“Well, I suppose we will bring any information here,” she said. “Not just Strike and I, but any of us, even if you think it’s small and useless, every bit helps. As for immediate communication—”
“I can take care of that,” Strike said, pressing a panel in the wall, making the side of it light up with a number pad. He pressed a certain number of digits, and then it opened, revealing a series of communication ear sets. “I worked for a while on these, they revolve around a secure signal based in the tower. As long as it stays active, we should be able to speak to each other uninterrupted.” He lifted one out and handed it to Hexe who was standing closest to him. He gave a second to Ameretat, and a third to Atalanta.
“What about timely meetings?” Gabriel asked. “Should we not meet once a month or—”
“Once every week,” Einherjar insisted. “Weekly from this date. Even if it’s to say we have nothing to report.” The firmness in the room seeped into each one there, and Atalanta leveled her eyes on him observing his demeanor, even as he back away from where he had been standing, pounding his fist in his hand.
“Einherjar, may I speak to you alone, please?” she asked.
“Why, are you going to speak to everyone alone?” he inquired. “Just as you have done with Strike.”
“No, I am just about to ask you something very personal, and I’m not sure if you are quite ready to admit it in front of the group yet,” she said.
“Ask it, I have nothing to hide,” he said.
“Why are you looking for Freyja?” she asked. Einherjar swallowed so hard, she could see his Adam’s apple bob up and down.
“I do not understand what you would gain from asking that question,” he replied.
“I need to know who she is to you, because it seems like you finding her is a little bit more than your civic duty to the world. It seems personal to me. So who is she to you? Your wife, your lover?”
“My sister,” Einherjar retorted very quickly. “She is my sister.”
“I’m sorry,” Atalanta said.
“You should not be sorry,” Hexe told her. “If Einherjar cannot keep a clear head when we simply discuss matters, how will he keep his head during a fight or an infiltration?”
“You do not know if that is what will happen,” Gabriel pointed out. “His emotion could drive his willingness to fight.”
“It could also cloud his judgment,” Samurai said. “None of us quite have such a strong attachment.”
“Gabriel brings up a good point, though,” Wormhole said. “We are not sure how Einherjar will react in a situation under emotional duress, he could perform rather well.”
“And he could perform poorly,” Hexe countered. Atalanta shared a look with Strike, and then with Ameretat.
“Your call,” Strike said. “You are, after all, the leader.” Atalanta exhaled through her nose and strode forward to Einherjar.
“Can you tell me, and all of us, honestly, that you will hold yourself firm, if it comes down to it. That you will put this team, and our mission, before you’re emotional wants. Can you promise me that?”
“I…yes, I swear that I will do what is necessary for the mission and for this team,” he said. “No matter what it takes or what it comes down to.”
“All right then, we trust you to hold up to that promise. Don’t abuse our trust, Einherjar.”
“I won’t,” he promised.
“Um…well then, what do we do about our identities?” Wormhole asked. “Do we tell each other?” He reached for the mask covering his face.
“That might not be the best idea,” Strike told him, pulling away his hand. “Even if we do eventually get to the point where everyone feels comfortable knowing who everyone is—”
“I don’t care,” Hexe said.
“Nor do I,” Gabriel pointed out.
“Or me,” said Samurai and Medicine as one. Strike rolled his eyes.
“Will you care when someone’s torturing you?” he asked. “Or someone else in this merry little league of ours?” The room held silent, everyone regarding each other, wondering who would be able to hold his or her own against torture. “Aside from that, we might all be tempted to seek each other out and the less time we spend around each other in our personal lives the better?”
“And why might that be?” Ameretat asked. “Atalanta and I already know each other personally, and it would look odd if we did not continue to associate with one another. And if I’m not mistaken, when you both first met a fortnight ago, it was out of costume.”
“It might be because people, no matter how dumb they seem sometimes, are actually quite good at putting things together,” Strike said. “If they see one group of multiracial individuals, it won’t be long until they recognize the exact same traits in another group, and someone would recognize us. Eventually.”
“I think Strike might have a point,” Atalanta said. “We should limit personal contact as much as possible. If you need to contact someone let it be through the head sets.”
“But we can’t wear those all the time,” Gabriel pointed out. “What if we really need to reach another one of the members?” Atalanta turned to Strike,
“Do these things have a message system?”
“No, but I can work on it,” he said.
“For now, it will have to be good enough,” Atalanta said.
“Um, one more thing,” Medicine Woman said, raising a hand up in the air. “What do we call ourselves? The group I mean?”
“I didn’t think about that,” Strike admitted. “What do you say oh fearless leader?”
“I say that I think we might only be a temporary group,” Atalanta said. “What about when the Collective comes back? Then do we join with them, or do they join with us.”
“Definitely the second one,” Strike said. “Considering that we are saving them.”
“Don’t make me hit you,” Atalanta threatened. “Do we really need a name?”
“It would help use become a group,” Ameretat said softly.
“Well, then I am open to suggestions,” Atalanta said.
“Mythos,” Einherjar said.
“What?” the group inquired almost as one.
“I was just thinking that many of us have something to do with a mythology. Atalanta is Greek, I am Norse, and Ameretat is Persian I do believe?” Ameretat smiled and nodded. “Of course, we have an angel, and shaman, and a witch. And Samurai do tend to appear in many Japanese tales. I apologize, Wormhole, Strike I do believe I have left you out of the analogy.”
“It is all right, my friend,” Wormhole said, patting Einherjar on the back.
“Yeah, and noir is a part of the American mythos anyway,” Strike replied, waving it off.
“It does seem to suit our own collective,” Hexe said.
“Except for, I would like to point out that Angels are real,” Gabriel said. “And I am not one.”
“Mythos,” Atalanta repeated. “Well then, shall we vote on it?”
“All in favor?” Strike said, raising his hand. Eight hands followed his into the air. “Then Mythos we are.” Atalanta smiled that the team which was hers now, and wondered what the future would hold for all of them together.