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After everything that happened, the next week went fairly normal. “Normal” is relative term when Saturday morning of the week before included saving the world, officially taking over a superhero team, and having your mom explain that she’d voluntarily had her memory blocked for longer than you’d been alive.

Relative to that, having the media obsess about how you’d saved a city, and then letting the League’s voicemail system field thousands of calls from press around the world is normal.

Rachel and I had talked with Mom, and she’d made us promise to keep her informed of what was going on, but I don’t think either of us talked with her much during the week.

I had a lot of homework, and Rachel attended Tara’s dad’s funeral as the League’s representative. Travis went too, but not as Rachel’s date or something. He knew Tara too.

Not that you’d take a date to a funeral.

Anyway, the craziest thing is that after all that, we were still no closer to finding out who had given True Humanity the designs for those bombs. At any rate, I wasn’t.

I was too busy to do anything more about it until Tuesday, but on Tuesday I called Isaac Lim’s office. I wasn’t expecting to get through because it was after 8pm, but he answered.

I was in the lab, so his face appeared on one of the monitors on the counter.

For the first time ever, he wasn’t in a suit or combat gear. He wore a charcoal gray, button down shirt and jeans—no tie either. He also wasn’t in his office. At any rate, he wasn’t in his office at work.

On the wall behind him hung a poster showing a Washington Nationals baseball game. I had no idea what books the bookshelves under the poster held, but a model of the League jet sat on top of the shelf next to the model of a 57 Chevy—tail fins and all.

The lights of suburban houses and streetlights appeared out the window of the dormer to his right.

Where was he? Maryland? Virginia? Where could FBI agents afford to live? After all, I had to be looking at his home office.

To judge from the dormer, and the way the wall slanted inward, I had to be looking at an attic. It was a nice attic—painted drywall and no wooden slats to be seen—but still an attic.

“So what’s up, Nick?”

“True Humanity,” I said. “Do you know who sold them the bomb design?”

Isaac had been smiling, but at my question, he visibly deflated.

“We’re working on it. We’ve got some of our best people out there.”

I didn’t ask if they were the same people who he’d sent out before, the ones who hadn’t found True Humanity’s bomb factory, but I was tempted. In fairness to the Feds, they didn’t have an alien battle computer working for them.

I nodded, and tried not to appear annoyed. “What have they found out so far?”

Isaac looked uncomfortable. “Not much, but the investigation’s in its early stages. We’ve learned the bombs were just assembled at the factory you found. The pieces were constructed in other places and shipped there. The factory owner got a list of places that could handle each part from True Humanity, and we think True Humanity got that list from someone else.”

“Wow,” I said, “that means that even if True Humanity got the plans for the devices, any one of the vendors could have been told to make something slightly different than what the plan showed. Plus, most likely none of the vendors had the faintest clue what they were actually making.”

Lim nodded. “I’ve come to see that as a good thing. It means it will be nearly impossible for them to recreate the damn things on their own.”

“Uh… Yeah,” I said. “That’s good.”

“Yeah,” he said, stretching out the word. “I’m sure you realized what those bombs could have been used for.”

“Basically, ah… human extinction? I’ve been surprised to find that none of the news reports have mentioned that so far.”

Isaac shrugged. “We haven’t told the press exactly what the bombs did. We’ve kept the focus on the bombs that exploded. Still, it’s going to get out. We’re hoping to have caught everyone connected by then.”

“Everyone except the aliens, right?”

Lim laughed grimly. “That’s the idea. I’m fairly sure alien empires are outside our jurisdiction. Besides the best we can do if we figure it out is tell the Xiniti, and I’m fairly sure their primary duty is more to keep us on Earth than it is to protect us.”

I smiled at that. “I bet. You’ve been fighting aliens for years. Do you have any idea who would want to kill us all?”

Shaking his head, Lim said, “No idea. There are hundreds if not thousands of alien races out there, and they all hate humans because the Abominators used us as stormtroopers. If they had the chance to wipe out the planet where humans originated, far too many of them would take it.”

“Huh,” I said. I’d known all of that but the very last part. I knew they didn’t like us, but I hadn’t known it was that bad.

Isaac caught my eye. “I’ve got no right to tell you what to do, but if you’re going to follow up on this, you need to be cautious. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen something like this, but we’ve never been able to pin it on anyone. What we have learned is that their laws, cultures and alliances are as complex as any we have here. If you find out who’s responsible, and it doesn’t stick, things could go badly for us.”

“Badly,” I asked. “How?”

Keeping his attention steadily on me, he said, “As things are, no one’s legally allowed to bother us because we haven’t done anything wrong. If anyone wants to go after us, they have to do it secretly. Accuse the wrong people, or the right people badly, and they might be able to go after us legally and openly.”

“Oh,” I said. “That is bad.”

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About the author

zoetewey

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 http://legionofnothing.com. 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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nussan @nussan ago

Thanks for the chapter