"What do you mean?" asked Jane.
I was going to have to get used to the fact that she looked straight at me and noticed that I was there. It was spooky.
"I've been thinking about this. We're not superheroes."
"What?" said Kevin, puzzled.
"I thought at first we might have a bit of an X-Men thing going on, but think about it. Look around at us. We none of us are set up to hit people really hard. What kind of a superhero team doesn't have someone who can hit people really hard?"
"The kind that doesn't believe that hitting people really hard is going to solve anything?" said Marie, with a touch of snark.
"True, but still. Let's look at what we can do. Kevin knows where things and people are. You can get us to anywhere with a door. Jane can, I assume, make gadgets and things?" I raised an eyebrow at her, and she nodded. "I don't get noticed. What's this suggesting to you?"
Kevin and Jane got it almost at the same moment. "Spies," they said.
"That's right. We're spies. And spies is never good. We're talking ruthless government agencies here. We've all had enough to do with government agencies - and non-government agencies - to know that even with a charitable purpose, agencies are bad news." I got some grimaces of agreement. "And spy agencies don't have a charitable purpose. Their purpose is to win at all costs, and they can break the rules and manipulate and lie and cheat to do it. They're secret, so they can get away with things that society at large wouldn't be comfortable with, because nobody knows. Their only oversight, if they have any, is from politicians and the military, who can be a bit pragmatic about means and ends."
Marie was obviously struggling to keep concentrating on what I was saying. It was like I was a boring teacher droning on about exports, probably. I gave Kevin a sign we had that said, "Talk for me, people will listen to you."
"So if we're intended to be spies, who are our controllers?" he asked, picking up smoothly.
"Got to be a government, surely?" said Jane.
"Which government?" asked Marie. "I'm Canadian, you're... British?" Jane nodded. "These two are from New Zealand."
"That's all Commonwealth. Maybe it's the British Government," said Kevin.
"The British Government couldn't do this," said Jane with certainty.
"She's right," I said. "No government on earth could do this. Science and technology, they're all of a piece - if it was possible to do this stuff we do with current human technology, even with ultra-advanced, secret military hush-hush technology, the ordinary technology we see every day would have some hint of it at least. And they'd be giving it to the SAS or MI5, not to a bunch of teenagers. Doesn't mean that some government isn't trying to use or manipulate us, but they didn't give us these powers."
"Who did give us the powers, then?" asked Kevin.
"Beats me. Aliens? People from the future? Extradimensional beings? Cosmic accident? For all we know we were all bitten by radioactive spiders when we were too young to remember. And we know how well that generally works out."
"What if it's God?" asked Marie.
"Well, if someone always knows what you need... isn't that omniscience?"
"Depends if it's what you need or just what they want you to have. Besides, I was brought up mostly by nuns. It tends to inoculate you against belief in God."
"No it doesn't. I was brought up by nuns too, you know."
Apparently she could see me fine when she was angry with me - she was glaring right at me.
"Jane, you're a scientist," I said, "back me up here."
"What gave you that idea?" she said.
"Well, you work with technology..."
"Yes, which makes me an engineer. A mad scientist, at best. I'm interested in what works. Theory either helps me get something to work or it gets in the way - mostly, it gets in the way."
I know when I need to retreat. "Well, anyway," I said, "point is, we know we're probably set up to be spies. We don't know for who, against who, or why. Or how. We have these powers from somewhere, some power, which while it could be benevolent is more likely to be... not benevolent, and in any case is big and scary and powerful and almost certainly listening to me right at this moment, even if Marie isn't because of my stupid power."
Marie didn't respond, proving my point.
"So how do we start finding out what's going on?" asked Kevin.
"I don't know," I said. "I suppose we just have to play along and keep our eyes open - and try not to get manipulated into doing something that we can't back away from."
"We've got one clue," said Jane.
"You're right," I said. "That's the place to start. Who is he? Why is he after us? Where was he going to take us, and what was going to happen there? Are there any more like us there already?"
"But we already know it's just us," said Jane, indicating her laptop.
"Even if that information isn't being controlled - and I wouldn't bet a sandwich - we only asked it, Who is Mr Brown after? There could be others that he already has."
"Well," said Kevin, "we'd better rescue them, then."
"Dude," I said, "we're not the X-Men."
"I'm not any kind of man," noted Jane. "Technically, nor are you."
I ignored this slight, and so did Kevin, who said, "The X-Men were Gen X. We're Generation Y. We're the Y..." a sideways glance at Jane... "people. I know I for one am asking 'Why?' a lot. And if we're going to answer that question, we need to do this, we need to find out who we are, and we need to do something decent and human because that's what will keep us from doing the, the opposite."
I thought about it. He had a point.
"OK," I said. "Where do we start?"