“…Judge not what a man has done, but judge what he could have done if he was a different bloke altogether. For art thou a leper? And a leper can changeth his spots…” --Rudy Wade, Misfits (Series 4, Episode 8)
==New York City, New York==
Meanwhile, as their counterparts made their ways into different parts of the country, and different parts of the world, Wayne sat up in the bed of the hotel room where he, Jack, Damien and Flores bunked for the night. Staring groggily at the alarm clock, which he forgot to set, he groaned, “One fifty-nine…SH*T, ONE-FIFTY-NINE! Get up! Everyone, get up!”
He hopped out of his bed, began pulling his clothes on, and the others groaned in sleepy unison, only just beginning to stir. Realizing the time at last, they hastened, and would be out the door in ten minutes. They were going to be late. As they hurried out into the busy streets of New York, Damien followed closely behind Wayne.
“So, Wayne, I was wondering…why do you think Parker called us to his manor?”
“Not sure, Damien. That’s what I intend to find out.”
“If he’s got a problem with us, then he’s got a hell of a way of showin’ it.” Flores grumbled, “We’ve been here a couple weeks now and we’re only JUST getting any attention from him.”
Jack agreed, but Wayne did not, “No, you’ve got it all wrong. He’s been keeping an eye on us the entire time, the way I see it. He just doesn’t want us to feel him out too quickly. Nice gestures right off the bat look disingenuous. Instead, he probably wants us to take a look around at the place to see how great he’s running things. If we see plenty of smiles and happy faces before we meet with him, we’ll think ‘Maybe he’s not such a bad guy; maybe we don’t need to try deposing him; maybe he’d make a good ally instead’.”
Jack looked at Wayne and supposed that it was possible. And if it was the case, it was certainly smart. He thought to joke that Wayne would make an epic Overlord, but didn’t. Instead, he kept his hand on the crusty red rock that was in his jacket pocket. The Evolutionist’s Stone in his possession always made him a bit on edge, though he hid it well enough.
When the four finally made it to Overlord Chris Parker’s manor, Wayne stepped forward and knocked on the door loudly. He was greeted by a lovely redhead.
“Hello, boys.” She recognized them from the news, “The Overlord’s expecting you.” She led them in, not losing her poise, or her perky attitude, and pointed them in the direction of the parlor.
The four looked around and simultaneously cursed to themselves. Everything in his house looked so…expensive. Polished marble, granite and various other extravagant materials made up nearly everything in the place. The chandeliers hung daintily overhead, their prisms illuminating small, faint rainbows off of the walls. The room had a handsome golden tint to it; not loud, just enough to add a touch of elegance to already-immaculate furniture and decoration. Through the back patio’s glass doors, the four could see a pool alive with nymph-like beauties splashing and bouncing about playfully. And the landscape of the backyard itself was amazing. A beautiful terrace, a tennis court, a basketball court, a second pool, a Jacuzzi, a horse stable, a vast, hilly field for them to ride around in and a nature trail pulled it all together to make for a scene that simply oozed luxury.
Damien’s mind looked at everything and subconsciously tried counting up how much money it all must have cost the Overlord. Flores regretted, momentarily, having given up his place as Warlord. Jack examined all of the priceless artwork, and high-brow architecture and began wishing again that the Evolutionist’s Stone wasn’t a phony. Wayne thought to himself, that this was exactly how he’d have spent that billion, had he been still working for the government.
When finally they reached the parlor, they were motioned in, and caught a strange sight. There in the parlor was not some regal, dignified or snobby upper-crust Overlord. Not some petty sovereign, some overbearing kinglet who thought himself superior to them. The Overlord of New York, Chris Parker, sat in a chair, shirtless, with only basketball shorts, socks and sneakers, his skin shining with sweat. A beautiful blond-haired, light-skinned black woman leaned over the chair, massaging his shoulders as he took back a huge gulp from a sports drink bottle. He looked like he could have been any of their old college buddies.
The four finally caught his attention and he hastened up to them with a smile. They exchanged pleasantries, then he looked down at his muscular, well-toned, sweat-gleaming physique and asked to be excused with a slightly-embarrassed smile. Basketball took a lot out of him, and he had admittedly forgotten that their meeting was today. He ran his hand through his sandy blond hair and headed out of the room, jogging upstairs for a quick shower. He invited them to make themselves comfortable while he got himself presentable, and so that they did.
They took their seats, and took bits of fruit from the bowl that was set out. They looked idly at the brand-new magazines which had been set out just that morning, and chatted with the lovely woman, joking pleasantly as she filed her nails. Parker returned with a young servant boy, and stood next to his prior seat, while the boy dried off any sweat that may have remained. He was dismissed and Parker sat.
He clapped his hands together, “So, boys? How are you enjoying yourselves in New York?”
The four looked to one another, then back to Parker, replying their mutual enjoyment.
“Awesome. So…since you’ve gotten to see the town, and made yourselves comfortable, you had some business you wanted to discuss, right? I’m all ears.”
The others looked at him, and so Wayne leaned forward in his chair, “Okay…well, you know who we are. What we do. So, there’s no need for BS, right? That means we want to talk about your rule of New York.”
The Overlord nodded, and Wayne continued, “We want to know if the people here are happy as a whole. We can’t help it if one or two folks have a beef with you, but if the people overall are unsatisfied with you here…you realize we’ll have to do something about it.”
Overlord Parker smirked, and looked back to his right-hand lady, “Oh, right, where are my manners? Boys, this is my lovely girlfriend, Diva Jones. Diva, could you get me those files that Clark left on the desk earlier today?”
She flashed him a warm smile, kissed him on the cheek and headed out the room.
“Now, where was I? Oh, right. The welfare of New York. Look, guys, things here are great. Never been better, if I can say so myself. Crime, corruption, death rate; check for yourself when Diva gets back. It’s all dropped tremendously.”
“And I suppose you want us to take your word for it.” Flores scoffed.
“Oh, no, definitely not. I had these surveys taken by people from out of state. These questionnaires were screened by professionals not even on my payroll, so I had no hand in the outcome of their results.”
Flores supposed in his mind, that he could be telling the truth, and so was silent again. Diva returned shortly with the papers, handing Wayne and each of his comrades a copy of the reports she had received. She then went back to Parker’s side, sitting on the right arm of his chair, as they read to themselves. When finally the four of them finished, they looked at Chris, then briefly back at their papers, then back to the Overlord.
“So, you expect us to believe that your rule is running THIS smoothly…” Jack smirked, “I hope we haven’t waited two weeks after being summoned here, just so you could try to satisfy us with lies.”
Parker sat up, his face fallen from his normal pleasant smile, “You think I’m faking. Honestly.” He sighed, “Oh, well, I don’t suppose I blame you. You must deal with sneaky, underhanded folks all the time in your line of work. Okay, well, if you don’t believe me, then I can prove it to you.”
He stood up and motioned for them to follow him. Down the hall, a couple lefts, a few rights, straight, and they had reached an unmarked room. The supers braced themselves, in case there was a trap, but their guard soon dropped. And so did their jaws.
The room was full of burlap sacks, which had been stuffed to the brim with…fan mail. His smile returning when he saw the supers’ faces, the Overlord motioned for them to go on in and see for themselves. They entered slowly, and rummaged through the mail. Indeed these were fan letters. Letters from little kids saying they wanted to be like him, kids saying how much he inspired them to do better, kids saying that he was awesome, and great at his job. There were even some from teens and adults requesting pictures of him (clothing optional, in the cases of a few writers), wanting him to visit their school and the like.
They had even sent HIM pictures, and various other presents. Mixtapes and CDs with his favorite songs, gift baskets, health supplements from his buddies down at the numerous gyms he attended over the years, shoes and other clothes from companies hoping to get his endorsement, and so much more.
“A couple girls even sent me puppies.” Parker chuckled. And with that, it was settled. They had found another one of the few Overlords who actually did something positive with his rule. So with the surprise still faintly evident in his face, Jack turned to the Overlord, extending a hand for a shake.
“Sir, if the people really love you this much…we want you to be our ally.”
Parker chuckled, and now looked at the four with lighthearted accusation in his eyes, “Alright, so, now you’ve seen I’m telling the truth, and you want to work with me. Great. But you think I’m just gonna jump into an alliance with you after your suspicions of me? Not so fast. Just a second ago, you all didn’t trust me, and so since I’ve given you MY proof, I think it’s time you proved yourselves to ME. I need a favor.”
Damien inquired, looking around and wondering what more they could POSSIBLY give him, “Like what?”
He motioned to the nearest bodyguard for his clipboard, and showed them a list, “I need a bigger staff. These guys are great and all, but since I’m such an awesome boss, they’re not always around here in case I need them. Vacations, off days, sick days when they aren’t sick, the works. So I’ve been thinking, I should take on some new blood. Train them to fight, and give them a place to live here with me, so I can have bodyguards 24-7. Loyal ones, who can learn my schedule inside and out, and be willing to assist me in any way they can. In all honesty, a bit of a vanguard. These are some of the ones I had in mind.”
Jack took the list, and scanned over it quickly. Was the Overlord for real? In order to gain Parker’s allegiance, they’d have to be his…personal errand boys?
“You mean, in order to gain your cooperation, we’ll need to get these kids for you, so you can take them under your wing, and make them into your warriors?”
Parker shrugged with a smile, Diva clinging sweetly to his left arm. Jack looked to Flores, who frowned at the idea, and Wayne, who considered it with a look of intrigue, and Damien, who considered it with the same intrigue as Wayne. The options weighed in his mind for a second…His mind made up, he smiled at the Overlord, and stuck out his hand again for a handshake.
“Chris Parker, you got yourself a deal.”
“…Judge not what a man has done, but judge what he could have done if he was a different bloke altogether. For art thou a leper? And a leper can changeth his spots…” --Rudy Wade, Misfits (Series 4, Episode 8)
At P.S. 113, the school day was progressing like any other day. The students, normal and super alike, went about their normalcy, believing their accomplishments more important, their problems more immense than they truly were. And the hierarchy was just as hierarchical as always, even as Wayne watched imperceptibly from across the way.
Tom Fowler and the other jocks and popular kids strode about in their impenetrable bubbles of self-decided perfection, with their envious lesser counterparts, like big-footed Bobby Fuller, hovering about like bees. The goths and emos were busy hating everybody and hating themselves, respectively; and though Seth Fabian was not among them, his disdain for himself and the world around him outdid any of theirs.
And all the more obscure cliques blended together imperceptibly as the cool kids were busy being too cool to care about any of it. Among the uncool, Delia Sanders, Nicholas Gray, Cassandra Blaine, Jessica Bay and Ben Joplin. A handsome head of brown hair and bright blue eyes, Danny Parker entered the lunch room, and walked nervously down the aisle to join them. Looking only for a second to the table where his friends sat, he barely noticed the impending fiasco.
A friendly wave to his friends' table; a foot stuck inconspicuously into the aisle while he wasn't looking; a bumbling, stumbling, fumbling trip over to the 'popular' table; a gooey, sticky, disgusting mess...all over Danny...and Bobby...and Tom. The rest of the table, and the rest of the students in the cafeteria for that matter, fell silent as Tom and his sidekick Bobby wiped the nasty mix of lunch 'food' off of them. Danny had no idea what to do beside stand there as the two stood; Tom an angry mess, Bobby a less-angry mess.
Across the room, a kid approached the trash bin to empty his tray, and an invisible Wayne cocked his gun.
"Walk away, kid, I'm here on business." He hissed. The kid promptly took a brisk pace in doing just that.
Tom walked up to Danny, who held his tray with a vacant terror in his face, and the two were nearly nose to nose before Tom finally spoke.
"Aren't you that kid with the rainbow powers?" He smirked meanly.
Danny sheepishly nodded and blinked.
"So, uh, Rainbow Kid...wanna explain this? I'd kinda like an explanation for why you're so clumsy."
Danny glanced briefly at his friends' table, and fumbled for words, "I, um...somebody tripped me."
Tom narrowed his eyes, his menace building, "Well, maybe if you weren't so f**kin' clumsy, and actually looked where you were going, you could get to the loser table without tripping over your own feet."
Danny didn't blink, unsure of what Tom might do, and so he continued with a mean smile, "What're you lookin' at, pretty boy? I'm not kissin' you..."
Wayne rolled his eyes invisibly; this kid was a real douche. And apparently, he wasn't the only one who thought so.
"Leave him alone!" Delia stood up.
"Frickin' JERK!" Jessica menaced.
"Yeah, you know it was an accident, d**khead!" Nicholas spoke up, standing up with the rest of his friends. Tom turned in their direction, and they were fearless against him. Perhaps solitary intimidation would have worked, but as a group, they felt no need to concede to his kind of behavior.
Realizing his intimidation wouldn't work at the moment, he and his sidekick left the lunch room to get clean clothes from the front office. Danny's friends went with Danny so he could do the same. When Wayne realized that the fight had calmed down, he texted the others, still invisible.
"Alright, I've ID'd all nine of the kids. Did a little recon, for psychological purposes, like Parker said. I honestly have no clue why the hell he chose these kids..."
"Haha, Wayne, he's an Overlord; how COULD you know what he has in mind?" Damien respond-texted.
"Okay, fine..." Wayne began again on the cell phone, "So, I think I'm done here. Did you find out how each of them gets home? It'll make keepin' up with them a whole hell of a lot easier." Damien confirmed, and the two put away their phones. Their communication was done, and so Wayne exited the lunch room, for the most part unnoticed.
The rest of the school day would go along fairly normal for the kids. Classes, more bullying, boredom, homework, etc. It was only after school that their problems would begin yet again. The bell rang, and Danny quickly found his friends, so he could walk home with them. They talked amongst themselves, complaining about the lameness of their abilities, and how much they wished they manifested different ones, when they were found by Tom and Bobby yet again. They were not alone.
"Hey, hey, hey, Princess! Where d'you think YOU'RE going?" He looked back to his friends, black and white, and then back to the group he was antagonizing, "I don't remember you apologizing for messing up my clothes earlier. Even Bobby's big-a** shoes got messed up. You should say you're sorry."
Danny looked at Bobby's size 26 shoes, and then at his own size 9 shoes, and couldn't find the words. Today, he simply didn't feel like being bothered. When he found the words at last, they were not words of apology.
"Ya know what? You're right. I apologize," Tom began to smirk, but then Danny finished, "I'm so sorry about whatever crawled up your butt and died, making you feel like you need to take your aggression out on somebody physically weaker just to compensate for your own personal shortcomings, IF YOU GET MY DRIFT.."
His friends chuckled, pleasantly surprised. Even Tom's friends were too busy laughing at him to come off intimidating. He looked back to them, and they fell silent again.
"I dunno what you're talking about, jerk-off." Tom scoffed, "Nothing about me is inferior. And I can take on anybody out here in a fight."
There came an unfamiliar voice from behind Tom and his friends, nearly scaring them all to death.
"How about me?" Wayne turned visible again, his gun plainly visible as he held it at his side, "Can you take me?"
Jack and Damien turned visible behind Danny and his friends, and Flores turned visible just as he grabbed the startled Seth Fabian. Tom's friends quickly took this as their cue to leave with haste. Only Bobby stayed at his side, though that was mainly because he had already missed his bus. The others were still, afraid of just who they had encountered. Only Nicholas stepped forward.
"So, who are you supposed to be? Only two kinds of guys I know dress like that. Cops, and dealers. So, what's up? You deal or what?" Nicholas hoped he could put to good use the money burning a hole in his wallet.
Wayne smirked; there was another type of guy who dressed like he did, he thought to himself, but he didn't want to scare them. So he answered plainly and calmly.
"No, sorry, kid, I don't deal." He replied.
"We're not dealers." Damien interjected.
Ben's eyes widened, "Nick, dude, can't you tell they're cops? Why would you ask if they DEAL? Oh, man, they're probably gonna arrest us..."
Wayne chuckled, and began to explain, but he caught sight of one of the girls with a familiar look on her face. The same look when Cookie had a vision...Her friends turned to her, to make sure she was okay.
"What did you see?" Cassandra asked, putting her hand on Delia's shoulder.
"I saw...I saw a gunshot. Right between somebody's eyes..." Delia started fear growing in her face, and she pointed to Wayne, "YOU! I SAW your past. You're a... you're a killer!"
The young supers backed away slowly, and Wayne groaned deeply. Of course, she was not wrong, but now was no time to have them in a panic. The sooner he could persuade them to join the Overlord, the sooner he could get the heck on from New York and take down some more Overlords. As he reached forward to grab them and explain, however, they were less than willing to listen to reason. Seth pulled himself free from Flores as he unwittingly loosened his grip, and the nine young superhumans took off in all directions as fast as they could.
Wayne sighed, and looked at Jack, Flores and Damien, "Dammit. Well, let's not just stand here. We got some new young supers to catch."
“…Judge not what a man has done, but judge what he could have done if he was a different bloke altogether. For art thou a leper? And a leper can changeth his spots…” --Rudy Wade, Misfits (Series 4, Episode 8)
Wayne took off after Bobby and Tom; Damien after Delia, Danny and Cassandra, Jack after Jessica, Ben and Nick; Flores after Seth. Though the young supers were new to their abilities, they would not make it easy to be caught.
It didn't take much for Wayne to nearly catch the bully and his sidekick, but the two were at least smart enough to hurry back inside the school. A bit agitated, Wayne vanished to follow them. However, things would not be fortunate for the two, as far as help was concerned. Nearly every club had their doors closed, and when they opened their doors, they were turned away, known as troublemakers.
Even the front office was of no use; the two were nicely escorted out, and the receptionist warned them to stop playing pranks; it was too early in the year for her or any of her co-workers to have the file THOSE kinds of reports. They would be silent, or they would be suspended. The boys looked around in dismay as the office door closed slowly behind them.
The silence of the hall was deafening. No laughter, no arguing, no nagging teachers. Only them and an invisible killer, creeping quietly behind them. They crept down the hall quietly, not knowing whether or not to split up. Each creak in the hall was him cocking his gun; each wind that blew through was his breath on the back of their necks.
The two could run no longer after a while, and had to slow down. Not sure how close he was to them, they stopped in the nearest bathroom. Now was the time for Wayne to make his move.
"Look, boys, if you just let me explain, I'm not here for what you think I'm here fo--" The stall at the end of the row was lifted and toppled onto the floor. The two sprang from where the stall door was, and Bobby cocked one of his enormous feet back, and kicked with all his might. Wayne ducked back into the hallway, and pressed his back against the hallway wall.
"Damn, his feet are strong." Wayne exhaled. Then he calmed his face, resisting his impulse to pull his gun out like with all his other targets. He put his hand forward first, and let them know he had no intentions of hurting them, before entering the bathroom slowly again.
"Alright...if you two come with me, I think I can get the school to pay for that, no questions asked."
Damien's targets would give him about as much trouble. They headed down the street, and veered into the first alley they found. Damien hoped they would hit a dead-end, but it would not be so. They had been taking that shortcut for years, to get to school when they were running late. Stupid home-court advantage, Damien thought to himself, as they ducked under the hole in the chain-link fence. He squeezed through after them, only to notice them as they turned the corner. He would have to put in double-time.
"Wait!" He cried out after them, "I have something to tell you!"
They ignored him. Only Danny took the time to color his hair turquoise in spite, but even that was momentary before he began to run again. Damien cursed, upon noticing that even his arm hairs had changed color, and reached forward his hand. It was still an uneasy thing for him to handle a gun, and so he would stick with his power for now.
However, the effects would lag at this distance. At this distance, Danny would only feel mildly drowsy, only slightly tired. Still...the effects were horrifying to those who had never witnessed sleep-inducing powers. Delia grabbed Danny as he sank slowly to the ground, and Cassandra put forth her hand. Damien approached still, but suddenly felt ill.
His eyes watered, his nose clogged and ran, his throat went raw and he began coughing and sneezing uncontrollably. Damien looked through his tear-blurred vision, trying to keep his focus, only to notice that Cassandra had felt the same affliction cast upon her. An unfortunate contagion, he hypothesized, and so perhaps, if he could muscle through it, she would still be at the disadvantage.
His hypothesis was wrong. She was far more used to being ill than he, and so she had very little trouble keeping him at bay as her friends ran from her radius of contagion. As soon as they were far enough away not to get sick as well, she upped the ante. Damien grew sicker by the second, until he felt he would vomit. Cassandra got closer and closer, and he held his hand up.
"Uncle!" Damien pleaded, feeling a nauseous gag coming on, "Uncle. Just...gimme a chance to explain."
Jessica looked back to see the white-haired half-demon approaching with wind-assisted speed. Not exactly the speed-burst he wanted, but he had gotten much more proficient with wind manipulation since he had faced Trelaine, and helped take down the Mover's empire. With a smirk, he had in mind a sure feeling he would catch them in no time.
However, he did not count on Jessica's supposedly-useless power being so effective. Turning back only slightly as she ran, Jessica turned small fallen objects transparent left and right. At the speed he was running, they may as well have been invisible. Ben and Nick were relieved to hear the half-demon stumble, and finally trip over a cardboard box which had vanished.
"Crap, that girl has a power like Wayne." Jack grumbled, "Only suckier."
The young supers stopped only an instant to make sure Jessica's diversion got him, and then took off again. Jack got up to his feet with growing annoyance. He began to wonder if these kids were really worth the effort. Then the idea hit him, and he quickly began pursuit again.'
Noticing that Jack was picking up speed again, Jessica looked for more stuff to make transparent. There was nothing else. Finally, a long, pale object went flying past Jessica and Nick, straight into Jack's face. Was that--? It was; Ben's arm. Jack ducked the lanky arm with growing disgust, and decided to end this before the teens began throwing other unpleasant parts at him.
So, he reached down into himself, and his earth tattoo began to glow alongside his air tattoo. With a powerful earth-rending gesture, the earth below him retracted, and then catapulted him into a backflip over the kids' heads. The three young supers stopped to watch, amazed at the half-demon Jack's amazing capabilities, and he landed in front of them with geokinetically-assisted finesse. They only blinked vacantly in response.
"A'right. NOW." He huffed and puffed, "Let me explain myself before you take off running again..."
Only Seth had yet to be caught by Flores. And he would not make it easy for his very grumpy pursuer. Shouting expletives and yelling hard as he could, Flores scared the living crap out of Seth. Seth looked for anything to throw in his path, but it was futile against the cantankerous strongman. And calling out for help from the cops would do no good in NEW YORK.
So he would have to think on his feet. An illusion, he thought. It wouldn't be the best, or the MOST convincing, he knew, but it was worth a shot. He ducked into the first alley he could find, and pressed his back up against the wall. Here goes nothing, Seth sighed to himself, probing the strongman for fearful thoughts. Finding some only in the deepest corners of Flores' mind, he began his deception.
The strongman hurried to the entrance of the alleyway, and found himself in a completely different place. It was...some place fashioned out of his most grisly nightmares. It was a warzone headed by some nameless, faceless warlord with his same build, and his same attitude, and his same power. Him.
And all around, there came shouts as he lead battalions of heartless, merciless supers and normals to slay all those who opposed him. Vaporizers, disintegrators, imperceptibles, chronokinetics, afflictors and all manner of other unpleasant supers at his side, the illusory Flores went forth with menacing relish in his eyes, delighting sadistically in the pain and torture of his subjects. The real Flores found himself horrified. He held his head in resentful agony, remembering his past more vividly than even when it had happened, and cried out to the miserable quasi-illusionist, tearing things up in the psedo-scape to find Seth's hiding place in the illusory chaos.
"Where are you, you no-good runt! You got no right probing my brain! I'm not like this anymore! I'll KILL you!" He roared hatefully, seeing mirages of grim faces at his every turn, and hearing the shouts of very human voices. Accusing him of murders. Pleading for their lives. Cackling hatefully, sure of his impending defeat even in their final moments. Some even knew his first name. Though, one whimpering voice did not belong. Flores trudged over to the staircase that a charger had run through to tackle another strongman, and reached into the exposed crawlspace.
He pulled out a very horrified Seth, whose mind was not prepared to experience what was empathically thrust upon it, and spat out hatefully, "I think it's about time you and me had a little chat."
When the young supers had been acquired, they would accompany Wayne and his comrades back to the school. From there, they would walk up to the Overlord's manor together. The young supers chatted among themselves, amazed at their good fortunes. They would be going to work for one of the most well-known and well-liked Overlord in the Northeast!
"I bet he saw big potential for my powers..." Tom chuckled, flexing his right bicep.
Cassandra blushed at Tom's display, "He...he likely saw something potentially good in ALL our abilities."
"I don't know how he intends Color Manipulation into a weapon." Danny sighed.
"Maybe you'll be his interior decorator..." Bobby laughed.
Danny menaced him, and so Ben quickly spoke up, "Well, you know, Chromokinesis is pretty cool. If you change colors fast enough, I hear you could cause seizures."
"Yeah, I can imagine it." Bobby scoffed, "Color Kid, the terror of epileptics everywhere."
"Don't call me that!" Danny snapped, getting a bit braver, "And besides...what's YOUR power? Superhuman Foot Funk? Size Shifting to make your feet normal size?"
The others got a kick out of that, and so Bobby was begrudgingly silent.
"Well, while you two are comparing how much each of your powers suck", Nick rolled his eyes, "I can't wait to meet the Overlord's sexy girlfriend. What's her name...Diva? She's frickin' hot."
Delia shook her head, "Nick, we're all here talkin' about our future jobs, and meetin' our new boss, and all you can think about is how good-lookin' his girlfriend is?"
"Um...yeah." Nick chuckled, "And besides, what good is it to be so worried about your job placement? He's already got in mind what he'll have us each do, right, Jack?"
"That's right." Jack reached into his pocket, keeping his hand on the red Evolutionist's Stone, "He wouldn't have had us go through all the trouble if he didn't have something already planned for you."
The rest of the way, the supers would chat with their younger counterparts. It amazed them all to hear how Damien was training with Wayne to be an assassin; how Wayne had started off as their enemy; how Jack had helped coordinate the downfall of Overlord Caleb Trelaine; how Flores himself used to be a Warlord. Surely, they would have the same, or more, greatness in their future. But when they finally arrived at the manor of the Overlord, they realized they might have to put off their aspirations on hold.
Though, fortunately undamaged for the most part, the manor was still in chaotic disarray. The door had been barged through, and some windows had been broken, but the few invaders that remained were being handled by Parker's bodyguards. A few stray fliers were shot down. The group stepped through the chaos, helping out as they could, to reach the inside and make sure everyone was all right.
All invaders on the inside were either dead, unconscious or taken prisoner by Parker's guards. Thankfully, the raid had been a failure. The group was about to split up to look for the Overlord, but he appeared quickly descending the stairs before any of them could leave the foyer.
He rushed up to Wayne with an urgency that was part angry, part sad and part afraid, "Wayne! You...you're just in time! About an hour after you left to find my people, a group of supers came ready to lead a full-on raid. They came in full-force, turning stuff upside down, breaking stuff, saying something about the Evolutionist's Stone! I don't have any Evolutionist's Stone! I didn't even think it was real--"
Wayne and Jack exchanged glances, and reluctantly Jack pulled the crusty stone from his pocket, to everyone's amazement.
Wayne asked, "Did you get a good look at their leader?"
"Was it a guy or a girl?" Flores added.
"Yeah...it was a guy. I think. He looked kinda skinny. His hair was black. Shapeshifter, from what I could tell."
Damien cursed, "Alex."
A maid rushed into the room, "Mr. Parker! I don't see her anywhere! I think they got her!"
The supers fell silent, and the Overlord's eyes widened, "Got WHO?"
The maid couldn't hold back the tears as she broke the news, "They...they got Diva!"
A metal door creaked open and slammed shut behind her, startling Diva Jones out of unconsciousness. She tried to move, only to realize that she was bound, her hands behind the back of the chair, and her ankles to the chair's front legs. She looked around at the dimly-lit gray room, chilled by its cold and impersonal atmosphere, as well as the face that walked up from behind her.
A nearly gaunt, unpleasant-looking individual pushed back his black hair with a snarky sneer, but then caught Diva staring (in an attempt to make out if she was looking at an effeminate man, or a masculine woman). He narrowed his eyes and gave Diva the finger in response. She blinked, unpleasantly surprised by his response, and shrank back into her seat. The man pulled out a phone.
"Hello...yes, I did as you asked. It took a bit of doing, but I have her right here. That glorified frat boy didn't even know what hit him, hehe..." Diva watched in dismay as Alex the shapeshifter walked around the room, talking to someone like a businessman.
About some government business, some operation Diva cared nothing about. About those ridiculous Overlords and Overladies, and how they would all meet their demise like Trelaine if they didn't work with the two of them. About this and that and the other, but only the last part seemed worth listening in on...
"Yes, Mr. President." Alex assured, "He'll be here. All is going according to plan. I'm sure of it. And I'll be sure to let you know first when everything goes down."
A few more minutes, and he hung up the phone...then pulled out another.
"Alex here." Alex responded in a different voice. Australian.
Diva wriggled in her binds, hoping the shapeshifter was only as good at tying knots as he looked, but something that he said caught Diva's attention again.
"Yes, Overlady, I just made contact with the President. That's right. Assuming all goes well, I'll be promoted in no time. And then--yes, that's right, only one more step up on the corporate ladder, and I should have access to it. I'll let you know first when it goes down. See you then. All right...buh-bye."
Diva blinked, and Alex looked at her, still sneering, "What are you lookin' at?"
Not losing a beat, Diva riposted, "A sneaky, beady-eyed weirdo, who may be male or female."
Alex narrowed his eyes, and he ground out with menace, "You know, you're lucky I need you."
"For what?" Diva hissed, "I won't cooperate with any plans you have in mind."
Alex narrowed his eyes again, and leaned in close, until his nose nearly touched hers, "Oh, you mean you won't cooperate with my eeevil scheme? Aw, darn...Hehe...good thing the plan doesn't require voluntary cooperation. So, no worries, you can just sit there and rest that pretty blonde head of yours. You're already playing your part...as we speak, the Overlord's got to be sending emissaries to retrieve you. And among them, I'm guessing Jack Ryder, the holder of the Evolutionist's Stone."
Diva was horrified, but played it off with a scoff, "Wow...you're holding me here for a myth? A fable? A fairy tale?"
"Oh, it's no myth, sister." Alex snarled, "It is very real. And when I get my hands on Jack, things are gonna start going my way. But that's gonna be your and my little secret. And in case you get any funny ideas, this room is soundproof, with no cameras, and no recording devices. Meaning you have no way to prove anything."
Diva shrank back into her seat again. This guy was nuts! And if Jack had the Stone, or knew where it was, then coming to get her might well be a grave mistake on their part. Alex's smile returned upon noticing her dismay, and he headed to the door.
But before he left, he thought it best to add, "Dinner's in an hour. You want chicken or fish?"
This post was updated on .
"I...I'm not sure what I should do." New York's Overlord was visibly distraught on the video phone.
"No worries, Parker." Wayne assured, "Our teams split up...should get the job done." Click.
The younger supers all looked at one another, wondering what their team leader had in mind. None of them felt that they had any useful capabilities.
Tom had mystical superhuman lifting strength, but for the most part, had normal strength for someone his size.
Cassandra could make people ill, but only by passing the illness through herself first.
Nicholas could increase gravity, but his perception of gravity when he did it made his head hurt.
Delia could perceive the past, but it was random, and her touch would involuntarily induce more useful visions of the past in others.
Danny could turn things random colors and random color patterns.
Jessica could turn things transparent, like false glass.
Ben could only detach his body parts, and animate the detached parts.
Seth could produce frightening illusions, but due to his empathic nature, they frightened him as well.
And Bobby just had really big, strong feet.
Though, apparently, Chris Parker had a plan for them, and Wayne thought that they had something they could each contribute to the problem at hand, and so they would settle for that as a morale booster. Ben stepped up to the other side of the world's second best assassin.
"Um...Mr. Cobane--er, Wayne?"
"Do you have any ideas why the Overlord picked us to work for him?"
Wayne smirked, "Well, you never know. I'm an assassin, and my only power is to turn myself and other stuff invisible. I mean, I can sense the stuff I turn invisible, but hearing my powers, would YOU think I was suited to kill folks?"
Ben chuckled, "No, I guess not."
Wayne smiled to himself; Ben's nature reminded him of Damien. Too bad he was working for the Overlord, he mused; he would make a great assassin. Perhaps any of them would, given the training to get over the caveats of their powers. And maybe that was what Overlord Parker saw in them; the POTENTIAL for greatness. Their abilities were already good ones; they only needed development. Time and patience. And, of course, practice.
Practice like they would get now.
Wayne looked down to the video phone, which now showed a map of their vicinity, and watched as his blue blip grew closer and closer to Diva's yellow blip. Thank goodness she agreed to have her left earring microchipped. They would reach the place where she was being held captive within the hour.
"Bobby. Tom. Come with me." Wayne started, "Damien, take Delia, Danny and Cassie. Nick, Jessica and Ben, go with Jack, and Seth will go with Flores."
The groups nodded to Wayne, and spread out around the dark, dank, shady building.
As he and his younger comrades followed him around the corner, Wayne scouted out some way to get into the building. All the windows were too high to just break into (not to mention the fact it would break their cover).
"Bobby. Your feet can't be huge for nothing. You think you can help us get up there?"
Bobby looked down at his feet, "Um, yeah. What did you have in mind?"
Wayne moved him up closer to the wall, and then gestured for him to crouch down.
"Now, I'm gonna take a running start, and jump on your back. And you'll use your legs as leverage to catapult me up. You'll do the same for Tom."
Tom winced at the thought. Wayne couldn't be serious...but he was. And so, reluctantly, he waited for the assassin to take a running jump onto his back, and when he did, sprang up full force, catapulting Wayne into the window. He did the same for Tom, who crashed in a heap on top of Wayne.
Now Bobby's turn. He stood up, cracking the cricks out of his back, and began to step back. When finally his back hit the wall, he took off, full-speed, crouched quickly, and sprang up, a full fifteen feet off the ground, to the open window, where Wayne and Tom would be waiting to pull him in.
And as those three made their way into the warehouse, Jack and his teammates searched for some entry point, on the other side of the building. His side didn't even have windows!
An instant of contemplation; how best to do this quietly? Stupid security and bodyguards...always made stuff that much harder. Why couldn't things be like in comics? Henchmen were incompetent, and villains always over-thought plans.
"Uh, Jack...?" Jessica tapped Jack's shoulder with an idea. But he was too busy thinking.
Nick cleared his throat, "Hey, Jack..."
But Jack remained deep in contemplation.
"Erm..." At last, Ben put up a hand; he found it worked both in classrooms AND social situations to gain attention.
Jack turned to him, and he whispered in the half-demon's ear. He wanted to be helpful, but didn't want to embarrass his fearless leader. When he was done, he nudged Jack in the rib with a wink.
"Good idea, right?"
Jack blinked, then scoffed and rolled his eyes, "HAHA, yeah, right, I totally knew that..." and he told his crew to huddle together.
He gestured downward, pulled with a grunt, and the four of them were elevated by a platform of earth, up to the roof, where they would find an AC duct big enough to fit each of them.
Meanwhile, Damien looked to his teammates. This wasn't exactly efficient planning, as far as powers were concerned. No Super-Strength, Telekinesis, Flight or anything of that sort in the bunch.
"Well...this is inconvenient." Damien sighed.
Cassie crossed her arms, and looked down at nothing, her mind steadily at work. If they didn't get in, they'd miss their cue. Who knows what would happen if part of the team was missing? What if one of their powers was needed?
And so, she would need to analyze her options.
She could pass illness through herself, onto others. And that would do no good right now, everybody would have to be as healthy as possible. The only thing that would call for anyone falling ill would be if they encountered any resistance. But that seemed unlikely, so there'd be no need to think about that just yet.
Damien could induce sleep, and travel through dreams. Important information could be gotten from dreamwalking, but nothing that would be useful right NOW, as none of THEM had been inside this warehouse before, and THUS couldn't offer any insight as to how to get in.
As for Danny, he could alter the color and color pattern of matter. That would be FAIRLY useful for diversions, and if he was resourceful, perhaps camouflage. As a matter of fact, he could change somebody's entire eyeball a weird color, and blind them! THAT certainly counted for something...
But, perhaps the most useful would be Delia's power. Though her own visions were fairly innocuous of their own accord, they were far more powerful when bestowed on OTHERS by a touch. Delia saw it as something to be afraid of, what with the unpredictability of human contact, but maybe it could come in handy about now...
"Delia, gimme your hand."
"Good Lord, why?" Delia retracted her hand in dismay.
Cassandra sighed, taking Delia's gloved hands, "I need a vision of the past."
Reluctantly Delia ungloved her hand, and Cassie took it. The living virus vector gasped sharply, and her eyes glazed milky gray, her consciousness taken with a psychic insight. Delia watched for a second in horror, and when she could no longer stand the feeling she got from the contact, drew her hand back. Cassie's vision would go on a second after the contact was broken, and when she finally got her bearings, she smirked, a triumphant look in her eye.
She went to a loose panel in the fence behind them, ducked through, and then called out, on the other side, for some help with the metal ladder that had been set aside for the workers, when the warehouse was still open.
While the others made their way into the warehouse, Flores was getting impatient with the side of the building he had taken. No window, no boxes to stack that he and Seth could climb, no ladder, no nothing.
Seth turned to him, "Um...there's nothing to climb on, and I don't see any windows...so..."
"So, what? There's gotta be SOME way to get in. Hey, wait, I know. Kid, get on my back."
Seth took a half-step back, "Huh-wha?"
"Get on my back." Flores groaned, "Don't make this any more awkward than it has to be."
Seth reluctantly climbed onto the strongman's back, clutching his shoulders tightly. Whatever he had in mind couldn't possibly be safe. Flores began scanning the wall for weak spots, but then quickly whipped his head around, menacing the phobic illusionist.
"Dude, that's my cell phone, I swear!" Seth quickly explained, hoping Flores wouldn't get the wrong idea.
"Better be, ya damn weirdo." Flores growled, and turned back to the wall. He cocked back his right foot, and kicked into the wall, just enough to make a dent. Then he did the same for his left foot, right hand and left hand. Then he jumped up and punched dents above the ones he had made for his hands.
Then he hoisted himself into the first dents, and reached for the second. Little by little, the dents served as his hand holds for a handmade rock-climbing wall.
Seth was impressed as Flores scaled the brick. He had to admit, he hadn't anticipated the bruiser was capable of cleverness like that. But he certainly wouldn't voice that sentiment to Flores. He'd just sit tight while the strongman made his way all the way up to the top.
That wouldn't take long. Seth climbed off of Flores' back when they reached the back, and they climbed into one of the air ducts to catch up with their comrades in the warehouse.
When they arrived, however, they would be in for a big disappointment.
"What the hell happened?" Nick looked around, "Are you sure we're in the right place?"
"Looks like we made a wrong turn somewhere or something. This can't possibly be it." Jessica put her hands on her hips.
But Ben would quickly quell their suspicion, "Hey, look. I found something. An earring."
Cassie walked over, and examined the pretty piece of jewelry. Her mind immediately flashed back to where she had seen it before. Diva wore that same kind of earring in a celebrity magazine picture with her and the Overlord of New York. Handing it back to Ben, she shook her head.
"We may as well leave. This is a dead-end lead. The Shapeshifter must have figured out that Diva's earring was fitted with a GPS tracking device. We were following a decoy."
Jack cursed, "Well, the Overlord isn't gonna like THAT."
When Overlord Parker awoke for the third day to the harsh reality that his girlfriend still had not been rescued from the shapeshifter Alex, he was on pins and needles. One minute he was telling himself that all was well, and that he'd think of something to solve the problem; the next he was a nervous wreck, feeling the walls closing steadily in on him.
He decided he could stand it no more.
He marched downstairs, slipping a shirt on, and had the maids call down the supers. Time for some hard-down planning. There must have been something that one of them was missing. Some solution left unseen. Something left unseen...
He had it.
The other supers walked downstairs, after having cleaned themselves up for the day, and sat around Parker's table, wondering what the Overlord had in mind.
"Alright, look." He started, "Jack, you have the Evolutionist's Stone, right?"
"Yeah." Jack took it out and held his hand open for the others to see.
"And Alex really wants to get his hands on it, right?"
"Yeah." Jack, Flores and Damien said simultaneously.
Parker looked down a second, and then faced the supers with his idea. If Jack had the Stone, and Alex KNEW Jack had the Stone, then obviously, he would be willing to bargain for it. Which meant, most likely, that he had not hurt Diva, no would he, if they cooperated, making the shapeshifter think he would get the Stone.
However, his eagerness to get his grubby paws on the Evolutionist's Stone also meant that he'd want to be somewhere accessible, in the event he had to quickly turn around to make the switch. The Stone was much more valuable than an uncooperative captive.
And so, all they would need is to find out WHERE in the city.
"And how best to find out the location of a criminal?" Parker smiled deviously, now certain that his plan would work.
"Check prison databases?" Nick chuckled.
"Know his habits?" Ben volunteered.
"Kick the sh*t out of his friends until they tell you?" Tom chuckled, pounding his fist into his hand at the thought.
"Put out bait." Cassandra said at last, understanding completely what the Overlord had in mind, "That way, even if Alex himself doesn't come to scout out the place, at least an emissary will be sent out, and we'll have a chance to pinpoint him. In pinpointing the emissary, we can track him back to Alex."
"Exactly." Parker affirmed Cassandra with a winning smile, before looking back to the others, "Wayne, I'm gonna need you, Jack, Damien and Flores on security duty. You kids mingle in the crowd. I want you all to have front row seats to the science museum's exhibit on the fabled Evolutionist's Stone."
The morning's event's were quite...eventful. The American Museum of Natural History, in Upper West Manhattan, often wasn't exactly the happening spot for new and interesting things as far as the social scene was concerned, but today? So many celebrities, it was barely believable. Singers, artists, actors and actresses, dignitaries.
The young supers were slack-jawed at the wide array of important people (and Damien, Cassie and Ben found the exhibits pretty interesting, too). But Wayne, Jack and Flores were much more interested in the sight of one of Alex the shapeshifter's goons. If that sneaky little weasel was going to show up, they and the Overlord wanted to be ready.
Jack looked down at Wayne's video phone, and Fitz's face popped up.
"Hiya, Jack, it's been a couple days since we last spoke. How's things goin' for ya up in New York?"
"Um..." Jack looked around, trying to remain optimistic, "Better. Not epic or nothin', but...better."
"Well...what's tha' supposed to mean?" Fitz was confused.
"I need a favor." Jack scratched his head, "You remember what all I can do, right? I mean, my powers and such?"
"Yeah." Fitz nodded.
"So, tell me, whaddya think would be the outcome of me boosting the powers of a guy who can sense energy patterns?"
"Who, you mean the Overlord?" Fitz put his finger to his chin, "His energy perception would be heighened, o' course. Higher range, able to detect individual identities based on the familiarity of their energy output frequency, maybe able to distinguish people by the individual colors of their auras. It's different for different people. Why? You still haven't found Diva?"
"Nope." Jack sighed, "But we're working on that now. Chris has a plan, and I think it's gonna work."
"Oh, really?" Fitz raised an eyebrow, "And wha', pray tell, is this plan?"
Jack was about to tell, but remembered, this place wasn't a safe location. He'd tell Fitz later. For now, he'd have to hang up. He had to keep an eye out anyway, for any suspicious behavior. And he ended the call right on time; Flores nudged him in the rib as a museum curator arrived, and walked up to a chest-height podium in the middle of the floor that was covered with red cloth.
It was nearly time to present the Evolutionist's Stone.
It had been a long day, nearly nightfall, but the introduction of the Evolutionist's Stone had gone without a hitch. Unfortunately. Not so much as a single grubby finger laid on the case of the Evolutionist's Stone. They began to grow dismayed. How were they supposed to catch some connection to Alex, and rescue Diva like this? If Alex wouldn't even be attracted to the prospect of getting his hands on the Evolutionist's Stone, then this plan had been yet another failure to find Overlord Parker's girlfriend.
Wayne dialed a number on the videophone.
"Yes? Oh, hi, Wayne!" It was the lady known formerly by The Mover and Eddie Bryant as "Project V.I.R.A.G.O". Now, she just went by Virago, and a variety of other 'v' names. The lovely telekinetic had found no use living in Indianapolis, despite having reconciled with Maiden, but with her expertise in numerous sciences, and having no knowledge of her life previous to now, she figured she may as well find employment in a place like New York. As the Overlord's assistant, the pay was more than she needed to survive, the work was always interesting, and the Overlord? Not only nice, but pretty easy on the eyes, too.
"I'm gonna let you talk to the Overlord." Wayne handed the phone to Chris.
"Hey, Virago." Chris sighed, "Looks like this is gonna be another bust. Any way you can send the limo back up this way?"
Virago frowned; she was sure that the Overlord's plan was a good one, "Um, I can head up there, if you like. Maybe you're missing something."
"Hm..."Chris thought, "Yeah, that sounds like a good idea. So...I can see you down here in..."
"Fifteen minutes, give or take five minutes or so." Virago assured, before hanging up.
She would arrive through the back door, so as not to distract the patrons or draw attention. She greeted the Overlord, Jack and his team, and then introduced the idea that she had thought of on the way over here. It seemed like a good one, and so Overlord Parker bade her proceed; Virago tapped her ear, triggering her cybernetic communicator function, broadcasting to each of the younger supers in the crowd.
"Can you hear me?"
Some simply responded, "Huh?" while others asked who it was. Virago and the young supers got acquainted, and then she relayed to them her idea. It was only a hunch, but a hunch nonetheless. It had come to her attention in the past that most robbers of such a place like this would try to case the place first. If such a highly valuable item as the Evolutionist's Stone was going to be stolen, it would take more than simply a well-hidden plant. It would take surveillance, close and careful observation. Likely any assault would be done covertly, when everyone had gone, and the museum was at its most vulnerable.
And so they would have to keep an eye out. Anyone whose eyes seemed shifty. Anyone whose hands were moving more than normal. Anyone who tried to sneak a photo without being seen. Anyone who spoke into their coats or their cufflinks. And she would keep an eye out for less visible factors, like minute spikes in vital signs, and stress patterns.
Ten minutes of analysis, and Ben signaled with a whisper that he had a hit. Ten o'clock, the short, shifty-eyed blond guy. They all got a tic on him, and closed in as inconspicuously as possible.
"Um, excuse me?"
Virago tried to tap the man on the shoulder, and as soon as he noticed her, he pushed her back, and took off through the crowd. The patrons backed up, terrified, as the man pulled out a knife and menaced them to clear for him a path of exit. And as the supers all took off after him...his accomplice moved in.
Nick, Jessica and Cassandra turned around as there came a sound of glass shattering. A black-haired teenage girl, perhaps the most unsuspecting person in the crowd, reached in, grabbed the crusty red pumice-looking rock, and took off in the opposite direction.
"Get her!", Nick exclaimed, and led Jessica and Cassandra after the girl. But Jack caught Nick's exclamation and decided he'd handle it. Just as the girl was less than ten yards away from the rear exit, a pillar of earth rose up and launched her into the air. As the girl was tossed to the other side of the room, the Stone fell to the ground.
The girl landed with a thud, and turned around right on time to see the Stone hit the ground and bounce close enough to Jack for him to psychically call it to his hand. With that, the girl got up, cracked her knuckles and a few other joints...and turned back into Alex. The fun and games were over.
By the time Alex had gotten his footing, most of the others had fled; the young supers, led by Virago, had the first priority of getting the patrons and the Overlord to safety. Meanwhile, Wayne, Flores and Damien had already leaped into battle toward Alex. And he only smirked at the sight. He could take them.
With adroit dexterity, the shapeshifter jumped from a supine position, right on time to catch Damien and toss him back, with great strength, into Flores. That left him and Wayne, which was just fine with him. Blow for blow, the two exchanged hits, ducked, dodged, kicked, punched, ducked, dodged.
Alex cocked back a hammer-like hand and narrowly missed Wayne's chin, hitting Flores in the palm instead. Flores naturally caught the hit, and used the fist to turn Alex's arm behind his back. However, he didn't expect a third arm to pop out of Alex's back and pop him in the chin, so...that caught him rather off guard.
And it didn't help that Alex's second hand came back for a mace-like whack to the gut. The Flores cursed loudly as he tumbled backwards again. Fortunately, by this time, Damien and Wayne had regained their footing, and were heading back toward the shifty shapeshifter. Though, even this seemed barely enough to keep Alex busy. It was only when Jack joined in that the tides began to truly turn. For in all this time, he had been waiting for Cassandra and Nick to make their way through the crowd to where he was on the stage, so he and they could be reinforcements.
The power that Jack attributed to the Evolutionist's Stone flowed through them as a great, amazing rush. They had never felt anything like it before, and though they were a bit unsure if the boost would do much, they were certainly more willingly to try now. Having come to that conclusion, Jack, Cassie and Nick leaped into the fray.
As Alex kicked and punched and ducked and blocked, it became steadily harder; he felt slower. Gravity had weighed him down, making him work twice as hard! Not to mention, he began to feel a slight sniffle, as Cassie got accustomed to the improved use of her power. His eyes felt a bit blurry, his nose runny, his body heavy, he began to grow annoyed. And it would only get worse from there.
Alex was taking more hits from Wayne and Flores, moving yet slower by the second, and finally Jack aimed at just the right spot in all the tangle of combat, so he could land a well-placed blast of fire to his face.
As the shapeshifter recoiled, he stumbled over Ben's well-placed detached leg (turned transparent by Jessica, so Alex wouldn't think to step over it), and fell back onto the floor. From there, Virago psychically grabbed hold of him, and suspended him within a telekinetic containment bubble.
The supers watched as he struggled against the telekinetic force that held him. How he hated being unable to shapeshift his way out of trouble. But as much as it entertained the others, Alex could see that the Overlord was not amused.
"Ah, Overlord", he began nervously, "How nice to see you! Lovely weather we're having--!"
"I am so NOT in the mood for your bullsh*t, you mish-mash of freaky, gender-confused weirdness!" Chris growled hatefully, so, so very tempted to do the one-man freakshow harm, "Wayne! Virago!"
The two snapped to attention, somewhat militant now.
"Yes, sir?" Virago looked to Chris, her hand still held up to keep the shapeshifter suspended.
"Whaddya need?" Wayne looked away from the shapeshifter's telekinetically muffled struggling.
"I need you two, Jack and Flores to stay here with him. His transport is on its way. I'm gonna go back with the others, so we can set up the exchange. If I can help it, I want Diva to come home tonight, or first thing in the morning."
The arrangements had been set as quickly as Overlord Parker could, and all that remained to be seen was whether or not Alex's team would show up for the exchange. The midnight air nipped at Wayne and Virago, further heightening the tension of the wait.
"You know, Wayne..." Alex spoke up, "I think you and Virago would make a really great couple."
"Shut up, shapeshifter." Wayne snapped.
"Seriously!" Alex smirked smugly, "I mean, think about what awesome babies you two would make! He might be a vanisher, a telekinetic, a vanishing telekinetic...and that's not even counting any latent superpowers the two of you could pass on--"
"Be quiet!" Virago whipped her head around, and menaced the shapeshifter, who was now thoroughly tickled.
He flipped her off, and Virago only turned from him to resume her meditation. She knew his type. She had met far more frightening supers than him, and lived to tell the tale, but it didn't mean she didn't know his type. He wasn't all that powerful, but he was incredibly sneaky. And he knew as well as she, that if she lost her concentration for too long, he'd be able to make his escape (and not without dealing them a bit of damage, first).
Virago chuckled. Not that strong, but certainly clever.
Wayne reached in his pocket, and played with his photon gun. Jolyne's photon gun, once. The memory was fond, for the most part. Weeks ago--in fact, a couple months ago, now-- they had been on the verge of watching Caleb Trelaine's empire collapse firsthand. And then, he had met Virago, and worked with her to bring about an end to The Mover's reign. And now, he was dealing with a powerful shapeshifter, who worked for a very shady, shambly government. He couldn't tell if his life was getting harder or easier.
Not that it mattered. He'd kick a** and take names regardless.
"You two are the most boring dangerous killers I've ever met in my life." Alex groaned from within Virago's telekinetic confines. But something caught his attention, no more than thirty seconds later. Was it--? It was, "Yo, Baldy. Vadge. You two clowns can lemme outta this stupid bubble now. My ride is here."
Wayne and Virago perked up; Virago tuned in with bionic hearing, and looked at the assassin, "He's right. They're just up the block. And not a moment too soon, might I add."
Virago reached into her pocket, and pulled out a short, silver device, resembling a pen. Her telekinetic bubble dissolved from around the shapeshifter, but she was careful to keep telekinetic influence on his ankles and wrists. As his feet landed on the ground, Virago walked over to him, and handed him the pen. He refused to take it, and so she telekinetically forced his hand to grab it.
Then, she telekinetically lifted him off the ground again, and waited until Alex's transport arrived. Three black cars pulled up to the steps of the museum, and out of the middle car stepped two tall, muscular bald-headed bodyguards. Between them, there stood Diva.
"Alright, no need to let this get out of hand." One of the bodyguards spoke, "Let's just exchange them at the same time."
"How about you turn Diva over first?" Wayne rebutted, "Not that we don't trust you, but...yeah, actually, we don't trust you. The girl first. Then you get back your freak."
Alex menaced him, but then reluctantly motioned to the bodyguards to do as Wayne asked. The first bodyguard approached slowly, and then pushed Diva into Wayne's arms. Wayne removed the tie that gagged her, and she shakily stood to dust herself off. Now it was Virago's turn. The telekinetic cautiously motioned to move the shapeshifter into the custody of the bodyguards, but before she set him down, she felt it only fair to warn him.
"Before I set you down, shapeshifter...a quick warning." she gestured to the item she had put into Alex's hand, "See that little pen thing I gave you? It's a power-negation apparatus. I designed it myself. If you let go of that button at the top, to try and attack any of us, it'll go off, rendering everyone here powerless, except the snipers that have been set up on the roof to keep an eye on you. We may or may not die in the crossfire, but you? You'll die for sure. So, if I were you, I'd get out of the radius of where I have the power to set it off. That's, oh, say 500 yards."
Alex and the bodyguards tensed.
"I'd suggest you move now."
And that they did. No time could be spared, to get out of the danger zone. The rushed Alex into the car, and were gone down the street in about twenty seconds. Diva watched them depart, and when they were gone, she grabbed Virago in a warm embrace. Never had she felt so grateful to a woman she barely knew in all her life. Wayne walked up, and patted the telekinetic on the shoulder.
"Nicely handled, V." He pulled out the video phone to call Parker, "So, uh, when's that device gonna go off? I mean, you gotta have some way to keep them from taking that tech and using it against us, right?"
"No need." Virago smiled slyly, "He can have it. I have plenty more ballpoint pens back at the Overlord's Manor."
The next day started off as a circus. Rather than their alarm clocks, the young supers and their older contemporaries were raised from sleep immediately by sounds of clicks, clatters, muffled voices and hurried bustling about downstairs. Everyone got dressed, and immediately headed down, eager to see just what all was going on. And only a few steps down the staircase, the sight of the Overlord came into view.
At his right side, his girlfriend Diva, clinging to his arm, and looking lovely as ever. And at his left side, Virago, her arms crossed looking triumphant. And in front of them, a mob of press members, invited to come in and take pictures of the newly-reunited couple. Apparently, a night of passionate reunited love-making with his beloved Diva had made the Overlord feel very generous. The news folks could take pictures of them as long as they wanted, and ask what questions they pleased, as long as they didn't touch anything, or go anywhere out of sight.
And now that they had come into view, the pictures and questions could now include the supers.
"Hey there, boys and girls!" Parker called up, when he noticed the group standing on the staircase, "C'mon down! Get comfy! Introduce yourselves! These news folks wanna meet all my girl's heroes..."
Seth facepalmed, "Ah, crap. Tell me we're not gonna be in a reality show..."
"Not a reality show." Cassandra piped up, "Looks like they're with the press."
"Oh, Lord..." Ben grew nervous, "We're gonna be in the news? I don't usually respond well to that kind of attention..."
"Well, I do!" Nick piped up, his eyes brightening at the prospect, "Step aside, bro; fame and fortune awaits..."
"Yeah, back up, limp-d*ck", Tom stuck a hand out in front of Ben, and pushed him backward with a smugly arrogant sneer, "I was f*ckin' MADE for the spotlight..."
As the groups descended the stairs, they were immediately swarmed by various members of the press. Channel this, this and that station, local news, media folks of all stripes; the story simply had to be told.
Who had taken the Overlady's girlfriend hostage in the first place? Who was the leader of the operation to help get her back? How many teams did they divide into? How did they pull off the operation so smoothly as they did? Did any of them think that there might be another impending threat? What new security measures would they take to assure the safety of the Overlord's manor?
The younger supers had no idea where to start first, and so Wayne, Jack, Flores and Damien stepped forward, assuring the kids that they would handle any and all questions directed to any of the team. And as the questions came, the four of them realized (or rather, the three realized, and Damien would be filled in later) that this would be their moment. The moment they had so anticipated.
Jack established himself to them as the leader of the team, whose leadership had led their original group to finding the Evolutionist's Stone. Against Gorak the Golem Warlord, they triumphed quite neatly, and now possessed the capability to augment superhuman power to any level they wished, even perhaps to the level of killing, all thanks tom the crusty red pumice-looking meteor rock that lay securely in Jack's possession.
At his side, Wayne was the brilliant field tactician. A bit distant though he could be at times, somewhat cynical, he was an excellent coordinator for any operation they would undertake. Beside Wayne was Damien, who served as a secondary field tactician, a bit of an understudy for Wayne, and also an assistant in interrogation. Flores, aside from his help out in the field, would moderate the exercise and workout regiments of the brave new recruits, while Virago would assist in all areas, including continuing their education.
The news crews marveled at the revelation, the young supers grew eager, and Jack's found themselves proud of the slightly embellished positions that Jack had assigned them. This was absolutely excellent. Now, along with teleporters and other supers getting the word out to the masses, the news media would be delivering their message, too. Not exactly the unfettered machine of opinion and social change it had been a decade and a half ago, but this was certainly a start.
Cowards would be sent packing simply by the notion of being opposed. Braver men would never get the message, and so never see them coming. And those oppressed might now have some ray of hope, if they found no solace in faith. Yes, indeed, by piquing the interest of this new outlet, they had found something powerful as many weapons.
All they had to do was devise some more ways to keep the news media interested in their endeavors. And though neither of Jack's crew voiced it to the news folks, immediately, the phrase "vigilante justice" sprang to mind.
After the media folks had been invited to the snack table that was set up just outside of the parlor, and had taken their fill, they were escorted out, with promises of gift baskets which would be sent to them if they just left their names, home phone numbers and email addresses.
They were gone finally, and now it was the teams' turn to be psyched.
"Whoa", Bobby spoke up, "That was awesome."
"So...did you really mean what you said about us, Wayne?" Ben spoke up, a bit hopeful, "Are you really gonna turn us into superheroes?"
Wayne chuckled at the boy's eagerness, "Uh, yeah, kid. I'll see what I can do."
"Sweet..." Nick grinned, "So does that mean we get, like, cool superhero names and sh*t?"
"Please, God, no costumes..." Jessica groaned.
"At least nothing with a cape." Danny seconded cheerfully, before turning to Jack, "So...um, what's our first assignment as a team?"
Jack looked at each of them, and then to Flores, Damien and Wayne. They nodded, each ensuring that they trusted his judgment in whatever decision he made.
"You want an assignment? Well, we'll have to start off easy. Nothing too hard, even for a bunch o' bada**es like you guys." Jack smirked, "No, what you need is something that'll give you the taste for adventure that it takes to be a real hero."
Seth finally spoke up, "Like what?"
"What else?" Jack grinned, "A scavenger hunt."
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