Powerhouse walked gingerly into the conference room. The Sentinel texted him moments ago, asking to talk to him about 'something'.
Never a good sign.
As he entered the room, he found him seated, with Lady Light, Lieutenant Taggert, The Major, and a few others.
Definitely not good.
"Hello Powerhouse. Please be seated." He indicated at the opposite end of the conference table.
Nope. DEFINITELY not a good sign.
The Sentinel shuffled some papers, and began. "Thank you for coming to this informal discussion. As you are aware, there was an incident the other day concerning Mr. Wheelson in the lunchroom. He pressed a button, activating the display behind him. It was security footage of the incident in question. According to him, his lunch was laced with a foreign substance, causing him to, convulse uncontrollably, and…" he read the last part carefully. "defecate."
He stopped the recording. "Anyway, we assured him we would run a complete investigation into this matter and present our findings this afternoon. So far, we have two 'conflicting' theories on what happened. We would like your input on one of them."
Powerhouse was silent. The Sentinel proceeded.
The first theory is the likely assumption that Mr. Wheelson's lunch simply went bad, resulting in his 'convulsions'. Mr. Wheelson himself does not support this theory, despite what the available resources suggest. Normally, we would review security footage to support such a claim, but the camera in question was faulty at the time. Which brings me to our second theory."
There was an uncomfortable pause as the Sentinel shuffled more papers.
"It is well known that you had recently obtained a bottle of hot sauce known as 'Demonic Blaze', which, according to Wikipedia, has a 1500000 on the Scoville scale, which, I understand, means it is considered VERY hot."
He continued. "It is also well known, that you have had… issues with Mr. Wheelson, and his superiors. This is understandable, concerning your views and background…"
Just get this over with. Powerhouse thought.
The Sentinel stood up, and looked at Powerhouse straight in the eye. "Powerhouse, we've known each other for a long time. In addition to being a founding member, you've proven to be a valuable team associate, and friend. As team leader, I must ask you this. Did you, or do you have knowledge of, anyone tampering with Mr. Wheelson's lunch that day?"
Powerhouse was silent for a few moments. He then spoke.
"I did it." He said softly. "And I have no regrets."
He continued. "Mr. Wheelson should not have interfered with the casino assignment. It should have been handled by professionals. His meddling resulted in property damage, and unnecessary casualties. To make matters worse, he refused to take responsibility for his actions, instead choosing to hide behind his boss. And since we're on the subject, it was clear, in my humble opinion, that all this would have been avoided, had the entire team been present here, instead of wasting time in Washington for a forced photo op. But all that pales in comparison to another overlooked reason. I did it for Lieutenant Taggert."
Lieutenant Taggert looked at him with surprise, clearly she didn't expect this. He looked at her and continued. "I haven't known the lieutenant for that long, but she seems like a nice person. No doubt a rookie willing to prove herself, yet knows her limits. On the day of the attack, she had a chance to prove herself by trying to coordinate everything without supervision. She clearly had no experience, but seemed to handle herself well."
"That is, until Wheelson showed up."
He paused, then continued. "Mr. Wheelson's interference was unwanted. He clearly had no authority to act as he did. Everyone knew that. His… bullying of the lieutenant was uncalled for. She was handling a rough situation, and he was not helping. Instead, he exposed junior supers to danger, causing Windy to be hospitalized. YET FOR THIS, HE SHOWED NO REMORSE!" He paused, and composed himself. "Forgive me, but having trained her personally, I…"
"We understand. Please continue." Said the Sentinel.
"Anyway, this… this bastard had the nerve to shun responsibility for all this with the lieutenant taking the blame. And to top it off, Wheelson's boss outright pardons him for this!"
"He wasn't pardoned." Corrected the Major. "He was simply absolved of blame."
"Whatever. In any case he felt no remorse for what happened." He then raised his head. "I don't regret what I did, and given a chance, I'd do it again for my teammates!" he the looked at Lieutenant Taggert. "And my friends." He then lowered his head. "That is all I have to say."
There was a long silence. The Major and the Sentinel looked at each other, and nodded in silent understanding. Finally, the Major spoke. "That is most noble of you, but I think you misunderstood the question."
Powerhouse gave a confused expression.
"As the Sentinel mentioned, this is an INFORMAL session. Nothing here is on record. Plus, he had mentioned we had TWO conflicting theories. The LIKELY theory, which we are ready to accept, and the UNLIKELY theory that someone… anyone as a matter of fact, could have tampered with his lunch." He stood up. "Since assuming command, I have had the pleasure of working with heroes like yourself, who in heart, fight for the common good. I also realize there are situations when on feels he must cross a line. Sometimes it cannot be avoided. This MIGHT be one such time, but I find it difficult that such outstanding people I have had the honor to work with would degrade themselves as such. So I will ask again, did you, or anyone else tamper with Wheelson's lunch that day?"
Powerhouse, not expecting this, tried to process this turn of events. He then spoke in a low voice. "Um… come to think of it, what I said MIIGHT not have happened at all." With that, the Major, The Sentinel, and the others smiled in satisfaction.
"Very good. And I HOPE something like this never happens again. Do you understand this?"
"Loud and clear"
"Very well, this matter is closed."
Powerhouse smiled and left. So it was THAT sort of meeting.