There are several people waiting on the helipad on top of Defender Tower when we arrive. Amongst them is my aunt, Britannia and Green Knight, but also several other government employees who lack powers.
As I land, I recognise one of them as Director Breanne Dean, the person officially in charge of the Albion Defenders after a recent promotion from liaison.
I can’t help, but notice the Albion Defenders have been going through lots of changes after being the Albion Protectors for last two decades with no major changes for several years.
I start to wonder about what could be going on before stopping myself from following that line of thought. There is being properly prepared for the unexpected and then there’s just plain, old paranoia.
Even if there was a nefarious purpose behind all these changes, I know the people who make up the Albion Defenders. They’re heroes and a good amount of them are descended from League members. If someone tried to order them to do something morally questionable, I can only think of a single Defender who might go along with it.
“Hello,” I say as I land, “I wasn’t expecting such a warm welcome.”
“It isn’t often we get a big name show up,” replies Director Dean with a smile.
It takes me a moment to process that. Me. A big name.
I do have to admit she has a point that while I personally might not be considered a big name, the Sentinel persona is, regardless of who is currently holding it. Still, the majority of it comes from my grandfather’s actions and the most that I done is simply uphold what he was already doing.
I shrug in response.
“I’m just here to use Warden’s lab to study the Machine,” I say in what I hope is a casual tone.
“Any particular reason you chosen to do it here instead of your own base?” demands another employee, an self-important looking man in a suit.
“Ever heard of the Trojan Horse?” I inquire polite.
I notice a few back straightening and the atmosphere getting tense. It seems some of the people out here have heard of it and know what I mean.
The man in the suit frowns, but before he can open his mouth again, Aunt Mary starts speaking.
“What the Sentinel is saying Mr Boyce,” says Aunt Mary, her armour’s voice changer making her sound much more impressive than without it, “Is that if the Machine turned out to be secretly still active and got loose in the League of Heroes headquarters, it would be a disaster. There are a lot of important devices and sensitive data down there.”
“Warden is correct,” Britannia agrees, backing up her teammate, “While it would be bad to have it get loose here, it would be much, much worse if that happened in the League’s base.”
“Then why are such things kept down there-,” starts the man, Mr Boyce, but Aunt Mary cuts him off again.
“Because the League is independent of our government and works with it, not for it,” says Aunt Mary, “And besides, the base is one of the most secure and safest places on the planet. I doubt even the Barbarian or the Cape could break into the base. Not even Black Storm was able to breach. In fact, only twice has the League of Heroes base been breached, once during the Sektain Invasion and the other time by the Transcendency.”
Mr Boyce attempts to speak again, but once more is stopped by someone else.
“That is beside the point and irrelevant Mr Boyce and if you wish further discussion on the matter, I will be happy to oblige you later,” says Director Dean, “But we need to focus on the matters at hand. I assume that you and Warden will be going down to her lab with the Machine’s remains Sentinel?”
“That would be correct,” I answer.
“Then I would like to request a meeting with Narszara,” continues Director Dean, “Especially considering recent and public events.”
I glance over my shoulder at Narszara and she nods.
“Sure,” I say, “I’m going the lab now.”
I pass the arms to Aunt Mary before accepting the main body of the Machine from Narszara and hefting it over my shoulders.
The people on the helipad make way for the two of us as we head for the lift. We’re the only two in it as Aunt Mary presses the button.
“You know,” I say conversationally, “We never really get to work together while in costume Aunt-,”
“You shouldn’t finish that sentence,” interrupts Aunt Mary, “We’re...not as secure about secret identities here. With so many people around, it would only take one to reveal our secret identities. I never take my armour off here. In fact, a lot of the employees have mental blocks to stop them from either remembering our secret identities or from revealing them.”
“Seriously?” I say and get a solemn nod in reply, “What about the Great Lion?”
“It’s been enchanted to stop people from remembering the identities of the people in there,” answers Aunt Mary, “You or the others never notice because we’re immune to it. Our training and mental defences protect us from the effects of it.”
We’re silent for a moment before Aunt Mary speaks again.
“It’s one of the things I missed from the days as Leaguer,” says Aunt Mary.
“You were part of the League of Heroes?” I say, surprised, “I thought you were a founding member of the Albion Defenders.”
“The Albion Protectors,” corrects Aunt Mary, “And yeah, I was a founder. But I was part of the League of Heroes during its twilight years. I was about your age when dad gave me my armour and I became his protégée. I had over six years of in the field experience when the Protectors were formed and was the oldest of the founders. Never really fit it because of that. I was always the older, experienced member of another team. That didn’t lessen with time as I kept strong ties with the League. I supposed I’ve been half-Protector and half-Leaguer. It’s been becoming more apparent since we became the Defenders and things have been changing. Come to think of it, I don’t think I was ever taken off the League’s roster. Ah, this is our floor.”