Hullo, everyone! Excited for the next part? It’s a nice long one, too! Today we get some answers, and we get to know Blaze and Data better. Yay! Like the new banner? If you missed the cover reveal, you can check it out here, and if you’re new, you can find the first part here. Enjoy!
The Lava Java coffee shop is always busy, even when it seems like no one should be there. Today is no exception. Data leads us to a corner booth that’s mostly secluded. We all slide in, but she heads over to the counter and orders. Minutes later, our coffee comes out, fresh. She hands Brooklyn and me our favorites, and she gives Maddie an ice water. How in the world does she know that Brooklyn only drinks fat-free lattes, and I love peppermint hot chocolate? She hands Blaze something that just looks like a ton of caffeine and sugar, and she sits down next to him, in a spot where she can see everything that’s going on in the coffee shop.
“We definitely owe you an explanation,” Data begins, stirring her iced mocha. “You see, I’m the head of a top-secret superhero organization. The details are complicated, but we’ll get to that later. My power is complicated, too, but to put it simply, I’m a mind reader that works through physical contact.”
Blaze chokes on his drink and looks at us. “Trust me, it’s way more complicated than that, and way bigger.”
Data gives him a look, and he backs off. “I brushed against you, Albany, two days ago, when I was on a jog. Because of your connection to your sister, I was able to read both of you. I couldn’t turn around and talk to you then, but—”
“Are you saying you know everything about us?” I interrupt, abandoning my peppermint goodness.
She nods. “Pretty much.” Brooklyn and I exchange glances. “Everything from before I touched you, that is, not since,” she amends, glancing at Maddie. “Anyway, part of my job is to catalogue superheroes and give them a way to contact us in case of emergency. That’s what the volleyball with the button was for. I knew about Brooklyn’s little volleyball and decided this would be a good hidden contact device. I sent someone to give it to you.” She takes a sip of her iced mocha.
“Who?” Blaze asks. “Who made this royal mess?”
Data gives him a fierce glare. “That is confidential information.”
“Why?” Blaze taps his fingers on the table. “Because you know that I’ll harp on them when I get back?”
“No. You don’t even know this person,” Data says, giving him an angry look before turning back to us. “Obviously, something went wrong, and they simply left it on your porch with no explanation.”
I frown. “So you’re trying to recruit us to work for your top-secret superhero thingy?”
She smiles. “Pretty much.”
“Then we’ll need more details,” Brooklyn hints. Good for her, actually speaking up.
“And since you know our real names, I think it’s only fair that you tell us your real name,” I put in.
Data focuses on me, and I squirm. Usually I can handle a stare, but her stare… she already knows so much about me. I feel like that earthworm in biology class. A simple, easy dissection. “My name’s Jenna,” she says, leaning back. “Everyone calls me Jen now.”
That seems to fit her, somehow. But was that a touch of sadness in her voice when she said “now”?
She sips her coffee. “The organization is called IDIA, the International Defense and Intelligence Agency. To outside observers, we seem to be just like the CIA or the FBI, but on the inside, we’re a superhero recruiting and freelancing operation.”
“Freelancing?” I ask.
Jen nods. “When someone – say the FBI – has a case or a situation they can’t handle, they’ll send someone to me. I look at the situation objectively, unlike them, and then decide what kind of powers or abilities would be most useful in the situation. Then I put everyone in contact with whoever – using our superheroes’ code names, like Data or Blaze, to protect their true identity. It’s very efficient and safe. We also provide support, counseling, and protection, even for people who aren’t on working status.” She pauses. “I also help put together superhero groups on occasion, too, but that doesn’t happen very often.”
I exchange glances with Brooklyn. The two of us have been on our own for a long time, not trusting anyone with our secret. For us, it’s been easy to keep it under wraps and pretend it’s normal. Some others might not have it so easy. And this… this could help us.
“What do you mean by people who aren’t on working status?” Brooklyn asks cautiously.
Jen leans forward. “We allow members to choose whether they want to go on missions. Some empowered people want to live quiet, normal lives, without the chaos of missions or world-saving fiascos. So they go in ‘dormant’ status – they have code names and contact devices, in case of trouble, but they don’t go on missions. We could always start you two off on that level if you’d like?”
Again, Brooklyn and I exchange glances. Yes, I say.
Brooklyn pauses, her brain whirring. “Yes,” she says quietly. “We’ll do it.”
Whoa, what are the twins getting themselves into??? What do you think of Jen? Enjoying this? Comment below!