“Thank the fucking Lord,” said Tempus Manum, throwing himself into one of the couches in the room. Unlike Cherie’s furniture, which had been beautiful but uncomfortable, or Brian’s decorations, which had been practical but worn, the furniture in Randi’s office was random. Every design was different, nothing seemed to match, but it all looked to be incredibly comfortable. “I mean, I am so done with this. I don’t see the point in me pretending to be some kind of womanizer. What does this get us?”
“I’m sorry, but we can’t do shit for you, Temp,” said Randi, sitting down behind the desk. “You don’t give us anything to work off of. Take Snow for example. Her entire life is out in the open and we spin it for her. We don’t have to make anything up about her because she doesn’t hide anything. If you even give us one little thing, we work with it. Gia gave us one thing when we started: that she was an orphan and adopted. We spun that. When she came out, we spun that, too. All it takes is one thing.”
“You know plenty of things about me!” insisted Tempus Manum, playing with the zipper on his sweatshirt. “Just…I don’t know. Go down to Personnel and get my application. There has to be something on there that you can spin.”
“There’s nothing truthful on that, Temp,” Randi yelled at him. “Not even your name. We checked and there’s no one with your credentials named Maximillian McDonald. There’s not even a person in Everground or the surrounding area with that name. So give me something or drop it.” She turned towards me and smiled. “Hi, I’m Miranda Quincy, but you can call me Randi.”
“Mina Percival,” I said, shaking her hand. “Or…well, Stryker, now. I’m the…”
“New POWER group member. I know.” She pointed at the envelope in my arms and gestured for me to pass it to her. Once I’d handed it to her and she’d flipped through it quickly, she smiled. “So tell me about yourself, Mina.”
“Well, I’m a student at Everground University,” I said. I always did hate having to describe myself to people.
“And you’re studying?” she asked, scribbling notes down on a yellow legal pad. “Majors, minors, interests, clubs?”
“I’m undecided, but leaning towards criminal justice, I guess.”
“I see. One of those self-rightous, save the world types. Probably decided to become a Hero because of some deep trauma.” She wrote down another quick note on her pad and grinned. “Oh, I can spin that very well. You’re giving me good stuff here, Mina, good stuff.” Tempus Manum rolled his eyes and walked over to where I was sitting.
“If you feel uncomfortable answering one of her questions, tell her,” he whispered in my ear. “Randi’s pushy and bossy, but she can’t force you into telling her anything that you don’t want to.”
“I love it,” Randi shouted, the sound echoing through the office. Tempus Manum and I looked up quickly to see her scrubbing down notes even more vigorously than she had been before. “It’s perfect!”
“What’s perfect?” Tempus Manum asked warily. This probably wasn’t the first time Randi had shouted to the world that something was perfect.
“You two! Tempus Manum, the playboy Hero who can’t seem to find it in himself to trust anyone. Stryker, the innocent new girl on the scene with a mysterious past and a heart as cold as a robot’s…because that’s what she is.”
“My heart’s human,” I said, frowning.
Randi barreled on with her impassioned speech, ignoring me as she went, “When Stryker joins the POWER group, she has no idea that her new mentor is going to be Tempus Manum. Will the pair of young Heroes find love in each other’s arms or will their demanding jobs rip them apart?” Randi laughed once, high and loud, and scribbled her notes even faster.
“Wait, what?” I asked, putting my hand in the middle of her notes and pushing her pad down so she had to look up to speak to me. “Randi, why? Just…why?”