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Jesse took a generous drink. Still holding his mug, he picked up a sloppy fry with the other hand. “If everything’s in the same place, every time—”
Hannigan’s Bar and Grill jolted, and a sharp whoomp followed hot on its heels. The table jumped, nearly upending Bijay’s mug. Jesse’s reflexive jerk sloshed some of his own beer. “Damn!” he snapped, over the growing babble. “What the hell was that?”
“An earthquake?” Bijay’s eyes were wide. “I thought we didn’t get earthquakes here!” He looked across the restaurant, at the people gathering to look out the big window out front. “Must have been a big wreck outside.”
“Put it on Channel Fourteen!” several people yelled from the window, and the bartender complied.
“—on the Scene, live from downtown Skyscraper City.” Montana Rack took up one half of the screen. Behind her, the other half—
“Shit!” Bijay gasped. “That’s the office!” He pointed at a plume of smoke rising from the top floor.
“—daring raid on Republic Industries. All of Skyscraper City’s active superheroes are cooperating in the attack. We should have more information shortly, but the operation has just begun.”
“Oh, crap,” said Jesse, and got out his phone. Everyone at the window had their own phones out as well, taking video and adding their own commentary. “Hey, Ted. I took a late lunch with one of the engineers, to discuss the integration project, and it looks like all hell broke loose over there! What do I do? … Yeah, okay. I don’t think I could get back inside anyway, with all the supers running loose. … Sure, no problem. Thanks.” He pocketed his phone and turned back to Bijay. “Looks like I got the afternoon off,” he said. “Ted isn’t sure we’ll even be open tomorrow.”
Bijay was riveted to the TV. “The League of Devis!” he grinned, pumping a fist. “Go, you guys… uh.” He looked at Jesse, who only smirked. “Man. Talk about getting caught in the crossfire.”
“At least we’re in a comfy bar, and not really in the crossfire,” said Jesse, waving at the waitress. “What’s got them… hey, isn’t the executive conference center on the top floor?”
“Yeah,” said Bijay. “One for me, too,” he told the waitress, then turned back to his co-worker and lowered his voice. “They finally got something on Palmer, I’ll bet.”
Jesse looked around, and leaned across the table, nearly whispering. “Hell, I’m not surprised. He’s the biggest crook—oh, crap.”
“What is it?”
“Today’s the annual shareholder’s meeting. The whole executive team is up there, along with the biggest bigwigs who own the stock. And they’re all hiding under the tables, yelling sell sell sell into their phones.”
Bijay winced. “How bad do you think it’ll get?” On the screen, a helicopter lifted off from the roof of their office, but lost power and sank toward the parking lot.
“Well, that order I’ve got in to sell at forty-three isn’t gonna happen,” Jesse sighed. “Actually, things might get back to normal in a few days. Seems like everything runs better when those guys are out of the office. A little jail time might put the stock right back up!”
“Hey, look.” Bijay pointed at the TV. A familiar face stood next to Montana, wearing a satisfied smile.
“Here with us now is Skyscraper City’s most iconic figure, Captain Heroic,” Montana was saying. “Captain, have you come out of retirement for this raid?”
“No, Montana,” said the Captain. “It was a temptation, though. I’ve always considered Republic to be unfinished business, you know. But I helped plan the assault, and I’ve been authorized to speak for the team, today.”
“So what happened to trigger this action today?”
“In the last few weeks, we’ve had an anonymous tipster feeding us inside information—”
“Oh, crap,” Jesse moaned. “A mole? Security is going to be up our asses the rest of the year!”
“—to the City Court, and they issued warrants—”
“How? Who?” Bijay asked.
“Hell, I don’t know. Maybe Miss Siles flashed someone.” Jesse grinned. “I’d spill a few beans to get my hands on those.”
“Ha! Who wouldn’t?” They turned back to the TV, just in time to see a grey-suited figure plunge from a window. A brightly-colored Devi swooped in and caught the falling man, depositing him amidst a ring of awaiting police.
“Great catch!” Bijay exulted.
“This is certainly the largest superhero action in several years,” said Montana. “Captain Heroic, has there been anything to match this recently?”
“Not in the last few years.” Captain Heroic divided his attention between Montana and the camera. “Four years ago, Count Boris and I teamed up with the League of Devis in Operation Hockey Rink.” He laughed. “You know, the Samboni mob.”
“That’s right!” Montana gushed. “That was before the Masked Warriors relocated.” The camera zoomed in on a score of black-clad figures, climbing the glass walls of the Republic Industries headquarters.
“Man, the PR department is gonna have their hands full,” said Jesse.
“Everyone will have their hands full,” Bijay replied. “Hey. Maybe we can make this work for us, too.”
“Huh? Oh… you know what? You might be right. Beats getting caught in the middle.”
The two schemed and planned, as the supers lopped off the dragon’s head.