“Hello?” Bomber called in the cavernous and open area.
“Over here,” said a man’s gruff voice.
I’m not nervous, said Bomber to himself as he smoothed his hands over his jeans. What can this guy do to me, anyway? It was like going to see the Boss, when he had to explain why he was caught with one of the pledges in the back alley, the guy on his knees and Bomber standing over him, his junk hanging out for all to see. You didn’t get your ass kicked before, and you won’t now. We’re all adults here.
Bomber followed the voice into the next cavernous room. A well-built blond man wearing a purple tank top stood in the center of it. He had his hands on his hips, and seemed to be surveying two artifacts in the room, as if trying to figure out what to do with them.
“Hey,” Bomber said, and smiled. The man turned to him. The man stiffened for a moment, as if getting ready to hit him. Bomber forced himself to keep the same neutral stance. If this guy’s going to smack me around, I’ll defend myself.
“Son of a bitch, you look just like him.”
“That’s what your husband said. But the other guy was a vampire. Dude, I like my steaks well-done.”
The blond man relaxed, though Bomber could tell it was being forced. “I’m Grimaulkin,” he said.
Bomber nodded, thinking, Top all the way. He crossed him off the fuckit list.
“I’m the leader of this rag-tag group. You’re one of the few adults in the room. I expect you to respect the kids.”
“Sure,” Bomber said. Were the kids off-limits? Because that Ultraboi… “But I have something to point out.”
“Yeah?” Again, he tensed.
“I don’t think I work well with my partner. Not that I don’t like him–” Bomber raised his hands. “We both do the same thing. What he needs, out there, is support or something to control the environment.”
“Are you a tactician?” Did Grimaulkin snap at him?
“I was a grunt in the Marines. My tactics go only as far as my lieutenant.”
“Because if you were, I’d hire you for that. It’s the first time I’ve put together teams.”
You suck at it, Bomber thought, hoping Grimaulkin didn’t take his smile for a smirk. “Well, I can take a look at who you’ve got on the team and group them up.”
Grimaulkin motioned with his head to the other room. “Let’s take a look at the computer.” They walked over to the other room, to a desktop computer. “Let’s see.”
“Got a chair?”
“You need a chair?”
“It would be easier.”
“Jesus.” Grimaulkin pulled out a marker from his pocket. He drew a circle on the floor, and then a symbol. A small wheeled desk chair shimmered into existence.
“Wow,” Bomber said.
“There’s your chair. Someone isn’t going to be happy Monday morning.”
Bomber tentatively touched it. Solid. He wheeled it over to the desk. He fired up the computer and Grimaulkin signed him in. Bomber stroked his goatee while he looked over the files. “You don’t have much in the way of support.”
“We take who comes.”
“How about this Analogue kid?”
“I haven’t had a chance to talk to him…”
“He can hold time, and he uses holograms to distract. I think he would work with Ultraboi.”
“You’re our analyst.”
“Oh, no, I don’t want that job.” However, Bomber could see other pairs. Obsidian Son and Jewelfist. Snowling and Brainslam. Kid Siren and No Quarter.
“You sure?” Grimaulkin rocked on his heels. “You look like you’re interested.”
“I’ll try it out. Here,” He pointed out the pairs that he noted.
Grimaulkin leaned over and did a click-and-drag, placing them next to each other. “I’ll notify them. Can you set up a schedule? And grades?”
“Grades? How about just feedback?”
“Feedback is good. Is that what they’re calling it these days?”
“The military does.”
“All right, feedback.”
“It’s a nice, neutral term.”
Grimaulkin shrugged. “Whatever works.”
“I’ll set up a report template.”
“I’ll leave you to it.”
“Is this part of my community hours?”
“Sure. You want overtime pay?”
“If you’re offering.”
Grimaulkin snorted and walked away.