(June 6th, 2008)
“Alright, that about covers it. Get lots of rest, and don't do anything crazy for the next two days. We need you all in top shape. Everyone is dismissed.” Eclipse dismissed the shadows covering the wall with a gesture, and they quickly dissolved back into the normal, paler ones that were now pooled in the room.
Nadia sighed, standing and stretching. “Too many hours sitting down,” she muttered.
“Could have been worse.” Jim smiled, shrugging. Around them, most of the agents were on their way out the door, alone or in pairs. “At least there were chairs.”
“What, you think they would have a briefing without chairs? Who would do that?”
“All sorts of people. Horses.”
Nadia blinked, and then sighed. “I start thinking you're normal, and then you say something like that… oh, hi.” Charon and Styx were standing across from her, one a few steps in front of the other, looking for all the world like a pair of brick walls trying to act casual, and with about as much success. “What's up?”
“justwantedtosayit'sgoodtohaveyou.” The foremost of the pair mumbled the phrase at high speed, a bassoon avalanche of words. He bobbed his head in a vaguely friendly manner. “heardyoutookoutpsiborg.”
“Wha..? Oh, Psiborg. Well, yes. I sort of had a big edge, though, and Moonbeam handled the strategy.” Nadia scratched the back of her head, trying to quell her grin. “But thank you! I'll try to live up to your hopes!”
“noproblemseeyouaround.” With another mumble and a bob, the first of the two turned and trundled towards the door. The second followed him, pausing to give Nadia another big thumb's up. Nadia leaned in to Jim.
“Was that Charon, or Styx?”
“I don't know.” Jim hissed the reply back through a smile. “I can't tell them apart.”
“No one can.” The voice was rich and cheerful, and Mayfly started. She turned to see Blastwave standing behind her, hands in the pockets of the large brown overcoat she wore. “We've all given up trying.” She nodded with a grin. “It's just the way things are, you know?”
Nadia chuckled. “I guess so.” She glanced around; the three of them were the only ones left, and she started strolling towards the door. Jim and Blastwave kept track. “I'm sorry, Blastwave, I didn't catch your proper name.”
“Don't use it. You can call me Wave for short if you like.” Wave shrugged easily. “So, volunteering. You sure picked a doozy. But I guess you've been working up to it.”
“I guess we have.” Nadia shrugged again. “What do you think?”
“Honestly?” Wave glanced around, and then shrugged again, lowering her voice and losing the humour underlying it. “Most of us are going to die out there. I've read the files. Last time Judgment appeared, there were dozens of casualties, and his army's gotten a hell of a lot bigger. Plus, no Bane this time.” She shook her head. “Like I said, you picked a doozy. If we can save the city, well, it'll be worth it, but I'm making my will just in case.”
“Cheerful.” Nadia frowned, looking over to Jim for support. He gave her a solemn look.
“She's probably right. This is going to get ugly.”
“Geez, whatever happened to positive attitudes?” Nadia threw up her hands. “Aren't we supposed to at least pretend everything will be all right?”
“Sorry, sugarplum. You faced off against Lockdown and Psiborg - two of the biggest bads out there. I figured you were up for the truth. You want the pill, I can give you that instead.”
“No, it's just… it seems like we should try to act like we'll survive. Whatever we think.” Nadia shrugged again, and half-smiled. After a moment, Blastwave returned.
“Right. Power of positive thinking, huh? Well, if it suits you. Me, I'm going to get drunk off my ass tonight, since I can't very do it tomorrow. You two care to join me?”
Nadia and Jim glanced at each other, and then Nadia grinned. “Sure, why not? Mind if I ask Amber and Lucky if they want to come?”
“Go for it - I'd love to meet 'em.” Blastwave copied Charon and Styx's thumbs-up, and the others chuckled. “Let's make this a night so good we can't remember it tomorrow.”