The Cosmic Guardian told you to lie low with his honest-to-god dying breath — maybe you should listen, at least until you figure out just what’s going on here. You use your slightly shaky understanding of world geography to locate Cleveland on the globe, and head straight for your apartment. After about 15 minutes of trying to figure out how to remove your gauntlets so you can type (they retract into the suit’s arm plates, which is pretty cool), you’re puttering about on your laptop, which is what you’d be doing on a normal weekday afternoon even if you weren’t mostly encased in alien cybernetics.
You turn up plenty about the Cosmic Guardian’s adventures, but very little regarding his disappearance. Even his old teammates don’t seem to know what happened to him. One quote from the Human Torpedo sums it up:
Those space heroes were like that, you know, always coming and going. Most people don’t remember this, but the Cosmic Guardian wasn’t the first. The space police, or whatever, sent him to replace Dogstar, the Savior from Sirius. Nice guy, Dogstar, although, frankly, I never really understood what the hell he was talking about. But one day he’s just dead, and the Guardian shows up. I kind of expected another one to come after he finally split, but I guess the space cops figured that by then we had things under control.
Then the interview mostly degenerates into a plug for Oceanopolis, the ill-fated theme park Torpedo lent his name to when he retired back in ’97. You recall seeing Dogstar in group photos of the old Liberty Patrol, but never knew he had any connection to the Cosmic Guardian.
Before you can type “Dogstar” into Google, you hear a knock at the door, accompanied by a shrill, all-too-familiar voice. “I know you’re there,” your neighbor Mrs. Pinkett shouts from the porch. You freeze. “I saw you come home — I’m not blind, you know.”
Wait a minute. She saw you? Flying out of the clear blue sky, decked out in full-body space armor? Your visor quickly closes, completely of its own volition, and the gauntlets that took so long to coax off your fingers snap back into place.
“I checked with the landlord,” your neighbor says. “You’re not allowed to have robot suits in the building, just so you know.”
No, no, no. Mrs. Pinkett is an incorrigible gossip. If she realizes you’re the Cosmic Guardian, it’ll be on the nightly news by six o’clock. She keeps knocking, and two little missiles pop out of your armored shoulders, humming as if ready to launch. The suit is responding to your panic, and gearing up for battle! You need to calm yourself before you accidentally carpet bomb the place.
If you grab your laptop and flee out the back door,
click here for page 63.
If you stay and try to control the damage before Mrs. Pinkett shares your secret identity with the entire apartment complex (or the world), click here for page 112.