Lianne touched down a few feet away from the house Orpheus had said he was living at and pulled the bottle of wine she had brought out of her pack. Normally she would have just shown up carrying the thing but this was an official assignment so she had to be in costume and the sight of Heroine flying around with a bottle of wine would have been a field day for the tabloids. As she approached a rip formed in the air. A large man she recognized as Tank jogged through the rip which closed behind him.

They stood there appraising each other for a moment before Tank put out his hand “James, you must be Lianne. Orpheus mentioned that you would be coming today.” He looked at the bottle in her hand “Don’t you think it is a bit early for wine, I mean it’s not even noon.” It would have been embarrassing if he had managed to keep the mirth out of his voice but she could tell he wasn’t being serious.

“James stop harassing Lianne and get in here.” Orpheus’s voice called out as the door to the house flew open. When the two of them entered, they found Orpheus and Lily sitting at the kitchen table playing chess. By the looks of things Orpheus was losing.

“I thought you were good at this game.” Tank joked as he took a seat next to Orpheus.

“She’s better” Orpheus said simply as he tipped his king over “good game” he congratulated Lily as he began putting the game up.

Lily took the bottle from Lianne and explained where the others were “Jane, Sarah, and Kat all have tests today so they won’t be coming out of their rooms for another few hours. We figured we would play a few games before you guys showed up.” She smiled cruelly “I won all of them.”

“Lianne meet Lilly. Lily meet Lianne.” Orpheus introduced the two to each other. The oven dinged and he pulled a tray of cookies out and set them on the counter. “First test.” Orpheus explained when he so James’ bemused expression. “I asked them what they wanted and Sarah wanted cookies so I made cookies.” He gestured at a list on the wall that had each girl’s order written down. Sarah’s was marked out, Katherine’s said rock candy, and Jane’s said chocolate cake. From there he pointed to where each of the other two were being prepared.

“I have to ask, what are the tests you are talking about?” Lianne asked as she took a seat.

Lily was the one to answer “Part of the pitch Sage gave each of us was that he would teach us on whatever subject we wanted. The courses are worth college credit at any university so the other girls jumped at the opportunity. He administers the classes online and has set days for tests.” She plucked a cookie off the sheet and ate it “It’s not for me but I can’t blame them.” She gave Orpheus a thumbs-up to signal that the cookies were good.

Lianne didn’t quite understand “If it is such a good deal why aren’t either of you doing it?”

Orpheus answered “Lily is going to go the hero route and so doesn’t care about getting graded and I have enough on my plate without having to worry about grades.” A red light appeared above the TV and began to flash. “Hmm, looks like something is heading this way. Must not be much of a threat if there isn’t any sound.” Tank went to get up but Orpheus placed a hand on his shoulder and pushed him back to sitting. “You are my guest. I will deal with it.” He said as he pulled out his phone and checked the threat indicator that had popped up. “Looks like a couple of Tanker class bots followed you from that stop off in town, Lianne.” He calmly opened the door and scooped up a handful of dirt as he went out to greet them. Lily and Lianne followed him and left Tank sitting by himself in the kitchen, he shrugged and grabbed a beer out of the fridge.

Outside Lianne took in the sight of two Tanker class bots, hulking war machines that carried enough firepower to level an apartment complex. There bottom half resemble the base of the tank, including having treads that came from old tanks when they were built on a budget. The top half resembled a ball that someone had strapped guns to, the standard complement was two missile launchers, a projected energy light weapons system that was usually a continuous laser, and if deployed to be a distraction or cause chaos they had at least one flamethrower.

Orpheus tossed the dirt he had gathered into the air and passed his hand through the resulting cloud. As his hand moved through it the cloud disappeared and small holes appeared on the Tanker bot he was facing. One of the pieces of dirt, or maybe more than one, found the reactor of the thing and tore it to pieces. The other one was smart enough to identify the source of the attack, which meant that it was a newer model, and began to line up a shot. Lily gestured and a pillar of rock jutted out of the ground and tipped the thing over. The Tank bot tried to twist its head and free itself but another gesture from Lily opened the ground beneath it and dropped it into a deep hole. Another gesture filled the hold and lowered the pillar.

“Now I think the cake is almost done.” Orpheus said cheerfully as he went back inside.

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