Revelator turned back towards the Defender. “Where was I? There’s a real mix on this plane. Freud would have a field day. We got bi-polars, schizophrenics, folks who are controlling, manipulative, trying to live out childhood fantasies.”
“Which are we, lad?” asked a Scot behind the Defender.
The Defender turned. Behind him sat a man with a rough beard, a funny plaid cap on his head, and a lace-up white puffy shirt. Next to the Scot was the half-metal face of western justice in the twenty-first century, the Texas Ranger.
The Ranger laughed. “Aw think we got too many psychosises for ‘im to count.”
“I say,” said a Brit behind Revelator. “With you having already diagnosed us all, it doesn’t seem Freud has much to do.”
Revelator glanced back. “Lord History, I wasn’t talking about you. It’s the folks at the back of the plane.”
The Scot said, “Tell me, lad, what would you say if ya were overheard at the other end of the plane?”
“I’d say it was the people at the front of the plane.”
Everyone in earshot laughed.
Revelator said, “Seriously, you know some folks here are not quite right.”
“Oh, like Payday.” A red-haired leprechaun dressed in overalls climbed atop the back of Revelator’s seat. The miniature man with a full-sized voice couldn’t measure more than eighteen inches tall.
Revelator grimaced. “Small Packages, let’s not name names.”
Small Packages smirked. “Because you’re afraid of him?”
“I’d rather not have the cabin pumped full of lead.”
“Look, I talked about it with Skyscraper, and we agree we should let the villains have Payday at first opportunity.”
Revelator threw back his head. “Earth’s noblest heroes come together, and you’re already planning treachery. Oh, what I’d do to get this in the comics.”
“He’s a murderer. A vigilante nut. He’s caused a lot of problems for us in Chicago and he’s killed more than a few innocents in the process.”
“Yeah, but it’s not exactly sporting to double-cross an ally.”
“I won’t stand for any treachery,” said Lord History.
The Defender piped up. “Nor will I!” Unless, of course, the “treachery” involved eliminating a certain Red devil who had no business even being in a superhero guild.
“Nor will I,” said the Scot.
“And I ain’t a double-dealin’, coward,” said the Texas Ranger. “Sorry, little hombre, you been outvoted.”
“And I’d keep those thoughts to yourself.” Revelator’s glance swept wide to include the Defender. “Or the boss will make some changes to your comic book-might even shelve it.”
Defender sniffed. Revelator might just get wearisome. But point taken.
Small Packages nodded.
“Don’t think about causing trouble,” said Revelator. “‘Cause I’ll know about it.”
“Uppity mind readers,” Small Packages grumbled and climbed back down into the front pocket of Skyscraper’s overalls.
“I gathered we will be facing quite the rogue’s gallery,” said Lord History.
Revelator reached into the Sword’s carry-on bag and pulled out the roster and handed it back to Lord History.
Lord History whistled. “I say, Highland Guardian, you’ll recognize one of these chaps. It’s your old foe, Shamus Macduff.”
The Scot arched his eyebrow. “Macduff is in a coma; has been for a month.”
“Perhaps he was included by mistake.”
“What is this?” asked Small Packages. “I’ve never had a villain send a roster.”
Revelator grimaced like he’d sucked on a lemon. “Dark Mystic got it from his ‘sources.'”
Defender gulped. Why do I have a bad feeling about this? “Who are his sources?”
“Demonic spirits supposedly shared the information with the demonic spirit that ‘shares’ our dark friend’s body.”
The Defender gasped in unison with the Texas Ranger and Highland Guardian.
What? “I would have never come if I’d known what was leading us. Does the Sword know?”
“Knows and he’s been warned.” Revelator shook his head. “But he won’t listen.”
Defender stared, mouth agape. How could the Sword have knowingly put their lives-and consequently the lives of the people who depended upon them-in the hands of a demon?
“Well,” said Highland Guardian. “I think I’ll have a word with this Mystic.”
Defender stood. “And I!”
“I’m in,” said the Texas Ranger.
“Skyscraper and I will come along. I’d like to know what the devil is going on.” Small Packages and Skyscraper laughed.
The Defender and the others just looked at them.
Small Packages sighed. “Foreigners have no sense of humor.”
The Texas Ranger smiled. “I don’t get it, and I’m from Texas.”
“Exactly. The Republic of Texas.”
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