“I’m so glad that you are home safe and sound,” cries Leo’s Mum as she lightens her grip on him.
I am so not telling her or anyone else outside of the Guardsmen that I lost my lower left arm fighting Apocalypse.
It would worry her unnecessarily.
Still, it might get reported in the news. We weren’t exactly able to keep that secret in the battle against the Harbinger.
“That goes for both of us son,” agrees his Dad as he joins their hug.
The hug lasts for several seconds before Leo pries himself loose of his parents.
We got to deal with the DSA in our house and we can spend more time with Mum and Dad later.
Something we need to do with all of our family.
“Secretary Scott,” says Leo as he acknowledges the very politically powerful man.
When it comes to dealing with parahumans in America, Scott’s brother is unchallenged by any legal authority.
He is not someone that you want to make an enemy of.
Neither are we.
“Leonard Orrell Geary,” says Scott back, “Feel free to take a seat.”
“I’ll stand,” replies Leo as he leans against the wall.
There is a couple second of silence as Leo and Scott stare each other down whilst nobody else in the room sure about what to do.
Eventually the uneasy silence is broken as Leo’s parents sit back down.
“Given your past actions and intelligence, let us not beat around the bush,” says Scott bluntly, “You are Gears, the leader of the vigilante group known as the Guardsmen.”
“That I am,” confirms Leo, not bothering to deny it.
What good would it possible accomplish at this stage?
“You’re not going try to deny it?” inquires Scott with a raised eyebrow.
“What would be the point?” retorts Leo, “As you said, let us not beat around the bush.”
“As you wish,” says Scott, “As I’m sure you are aware, vigilante actions are illegal and the US government takes the necessary actions to eliminate them and deal with the perpetrators. As of such, now that we know what you have been up to-”
“No,” says Leo firmly.
Scott seems surprised for a moment before recovering.
“You don’t seem to understand the situation,” says Scott as he glares daggers at Leo, “We know who are and-”
“You do realise revealing secret identities like that would be a violation of the Code,” points out Leo, referring to the Cape and Cowl Code of Conduct that is used by the majority of parahumans in the more civilised countries of the world.
I owe Darkness for enforcing that.
We’ll call it even then.
“Like that matters,” replies Scott as he glowers at Leo, “It is my duty to keep America safe from parahumans and I will do whatever is necessary to fulfil that duty. The Department of Superhuman Affairs and I shall not allow a vigilante group as dangerous as the Guardsmen is go about uncontested. Especially when it is within our power to stop their leader.”
Is he serious?
Does he really believe he can best us?
To the surprise of those around him, Leo laughs.
“What’s so funny?” asks Scott, genuinely confused by Leo’s laughter.
“How can you believe that you can beat me?” Leo asks back.
“Well,” starts Scott, “I have the backing of the entire US government.”
That is pretty significant.
Except they won’t devote much of it towards taking us down.
“And that matters how?” inquires Leo in a falsely polite tone.
“Do you really believe you and your little gang of vigilantes can take on the US military?” demands Scott, his anger starting to creep into his voice.
Can we? Of course we can.
And who exactly does he think he is calling the Guardsmen a little gang?
“Yes because contrary to what you might believe, the Guardsmen are not just a bunch of vigilantes,” replies Leo, “I have plans for taking on the US of A.”
“You won’t have time to set them in motion,” snarls Scott, dropping all pretences of being civil.
“I don’t need to,” chuckles Leo, “Sentinel has already begun them. Right now, the Guardsmen have over one hundred automated combat drones, each one capable of taking on a B Class parahuman. By the time the military has mustered a force and sent it over here, we can easily crush it.”
“You really believe you can go to war with the United States of America?” demands Scott.
“Why yes, I do,” retorts Leo, “In case you haven’t noticed, the Guardsmen crush everything that they go up against. Darkness is taking over the criminal underworld and is on the verge of creating a global crime empire. And yet he doesn’t dare face the Guardsmen to the point of abandoning all operations in our territory. And what about Aquiline and the Slaughter Seven? Scourge of America and completely unbeatable. At least until he came back up north. And then what happened? The Guardsmen massacred the Seven and their lackeys. And let’s not forget about the Dozen Harbingers of the End Times. They are unstoppable monsters that terrorise the entire planet. And only times they have actually been defeated is when they went up against the Guardsmen. Both Armageddon and Apocalypse are defeated on the first day that they appeared because of the actions of a Guardsman.”
I might be exaggerating a few things there.
He doesn’t need to know that.
Scott still looks furious, but he seems to have decided to drop this approach.
“Fine,” says Scott, spitting out the word, “Let’s move onto something else. Who or what is Sentinel?”