“You live a dangerous life, Dante. How do you expect that you will die?”
“Oh, I’m pretty sure how I’m gonna die. Someday I’ll be fighting someone and they’ll get a good hit in. Shoot me right in the face. Catch me with a grenade. Something like that. I won’t even see it coming.”
Adam silently watched his bees come and go for a moment. “How are you okay with that? Knowing you could have such a sudden violent end must be maddening.”
“I’m not okay with anything. You know me. Everything pisses me off. That’s life. Until it isn’t.”
“Anyway,” said Dante after finishing his drink, “we could all go suddenly and violently at any time. Just bam, dead.”
Gladys turned around to face the others. “Do we have to talk about this? It’s creepy.”
“Sorry,” said Adam.
“No,” said Dante. “It’s good to talk about this stuff. How are you going to die, Gladys?”
“I’d rather not think about it,” she said. “I’m already scared all the time. I don’t want to die. I’m just barely starting to live.”
Adam watched a bee crawl on his hand. Gladys went back downstairs.
“So,” said Dante, “what’s the plan now?”
“His name is Clint Rojas,” said Adam. “The bees are watching his apartment downtown. He will not attack you unannounced again.”
“So what’s his deal?” Gladys asked.
“He seems to consider himself a local vigilante. He wears the helmet as he patrols the city at night, looking for crimes to stop.”
“So why did he bug me?” Gladys asked. “I didn’t do any crimes he knows about.”
“Well, if I were a vigilante,” Dante said, “and a group of mysterious ruffians moved into town, I’d want to look into it.”
“We should ask him to join us,” said Adam.
Gladys asked, “Are you going to ask everybody who attacks us to join the team?”
“Likely not everybody.” Adam put a hand on her shoulder and smiled. “I suppose I will have to decide each time we are attacked.”
Gladys rubbed her forehead and turned to Dante. “You believe this?”
“It was dumb with the Master of Trepanning, but this time is different.”
“How so? The prick attacked me on the street.”
“Gladys, we met when I was trying to murder you because you were protecting someone else I wanted to murder. Now look at us: best friends.”
“Let me show you something here,” said Dante as he scrolled through posts on the extrafancynet.
Gladys watched over his shoulder and read a headline aloud. “Anomalous snake sightings?”
“Yeah, lots of those in town, but that’s not what I’m looking for.”
Scrolling some more, he clicked a link and another headline appeared.
“Street Sentry Saves Day!” Beneath it, a series of dark and blurry pictures showed the helmeted man lifting a truck over his head and moving it safely away from a fire.
“Pretty strong,” Gladys admitted.
Adam nodded. “Could we not use someone so strong as our ally?”
“Geez,” Gladys read over Dante’s shoulder. “I know you said Port Nadine had lots of weirdness, but look at these headlines. ‘Mysterious Figure Seen Dancing In Burning School.’ ‘Has The Sewer Ghost Been Murdered?’ ‘Scuba Boxer Strikes Again.’ What’s up with this town?”
“It isn’t all legit, but yeah, it’s a busy place supernaturally speaking.” Dante gestured to the screen, “This site is run by an investigator who aggregates reports of paranormal news that gets skipped or covered up by other sources.”
Adam asked, “Have there been reports about us?”
“Nope. My covering skills are better than her investigation skills.”
Adam said, “I think it is time we changed the parameters of our mission. While I would still like to capture the superhuman criminals we helped escape, they are spread around the world and hiding. It would be too difficult a task for us.”
He stood and continued. “But here in Port Nadine we have a city full of potential good causes we can take on. While doing so, we can build up our resources. What we start here we can spread to the rest of the world when we are strong. Yes?”
“Sounds good,” said Dante.
“Whatever,” said Gladys.
Clint Rojas stepped out of the shower and began towelling off.
A floorboard creaked in his living room.
The LeSauvage mob must be making their move! And like an idiot he’d left his helmet out there! But he had no intention of going down without a fight.
He grabbed his plunger and pulled off the rubber suction-cup end. A wooden stick is better than nothing.
Wearing a bathrobe and holding the stick, he burst into his living room.
It was the beekeeper, the old woman, and the man who robbed the mobsters.
“We could use your help,” the beekeeper said.
“My help?” Clint asked. His helmet was on the other side of the intruders.
“I am Adam,” the Beekeeper said. He gestured to the old woman and the other man. “This is Gladys and Dante. You recognize us, true?”
Adam followed Clint’s gaze past himself, to the helmet. He picked it up.
Clint’s blood ran cold.
Adam gently tossed the helmet to Clint, who caught it easily.
“We mean you no harm, Mr. Rojas. We have seen the good works you do around this town and we are in a similar business. We could use a local ally.”
The team brought Clint to the store to work out the details of their new alliance. Gladys wasn’t interested. She went out to the damaged front room. It had started to rain. There was water getting in.
Going outside to adjust the plastic wrapping they’d used to cover the hole, she was caught off guard by a sudden voice. “Remodelling, eh?”
She turned. There was an old man in a uniform walking up to her, and before she knew could react, he was holding an umbrella over her head.
“Um, yeah,” she said. “Who’re you?”
“I guess I’m your neighbour.”