I wake up. Yeah, it's one of those days, where waking up is the worst thing you can do. It's still early yet, I say to myself. I jumble and fumble for the snooze bar on that clock of mine. Ten more minutes that's all. Do I dare to dream? I was just about to shut my eyes, dream about kittens, lollipops, and me being nude if front of a classroom of people. I still want to dream about models and Playmates, but I get kittens. Kittens? It happens. That thing you know is going to happen if you want it to or not. It sounds like two cars trying to have freaky car sex right there in traffic, it sounds like a constant crash over and over. The sound alone literally throws me out of bed. "Now what?" I grumble, hitting the floor. I try to get back on, like it's a horse that bucked me off. John opens my door and pokes his head in. With out knocking, I don't care, still kind of sleepy and I think now, I am going to be late for work. The excuse, " I had to fight a super-villain this morning". Yeah, that's sounds believable. I struggle to get off my floor.
"Are you decent?" he asks. His blond hair, small nose, and his mouth moving in a blur is all I can see. I always wanted to tell him that his ears are big, too, but I never would.
"Yeah, what the heck was that outside?" I respond, saving my sarcasm for later.
"There's some guy outside, ripping up the streets, yelling about how he's going to rule us, and how all will tremble before him." He says scanning my room for something or someone.
"Really? Again?" I laugh, and then the building rumbles and gunfire is heard.
"He says his name is Quake. He has the power to create earthquakes and stuff. Just caught most of it on CNN, I guess he's been on a rampage for about ten blocks now." He tells me as he now is lifting up the covers, still looking for something.
"I came home alone last night by the way." I interrupt his search. "What kind of name is Quake? Not Quake-Man? Or Earth Shaker? Any of those would be better than naming yourself after a video game." I finish.
"Yeah any name would be better than that, so much legal stuff to go through when you name yourself after a copyrighted video game. How do super-villains do it?" He pauses for a time and almost lets me answer him, but then interrupts me and says, "So you didn't get her to come home with you? Sad man, that's just sad." He finishes as he shakes his head.
"I was on call last night and well, they called me in. The date ends when the call takes up the rest of your night." I tell him flatly. Again a rumble, this time there's screaming to go with it, and sirens. I look at my phone, nothing.
"Civilian call or the other kind?" He asks, still searching for something.
"I'm not letting you borrow another red cent, till you pay me back for the last time." I state this out of nowhere, knowing what he is looking for. He stops cold and looks at me, like I hurt his feelings.
"Hey, you know the rules, you can't do that." He accuses.
"I didn't, because it doesn't take a telepath to tell that you want to borrow money again and didn't you get paid yesterday." I say in my own defense and turn to look outside my window to see if I can see something.
"I really have to get ready for work." I mumble.
I hear the screams get louder and the ambulances are arriving and still more gunshots, they sound like they are bouncing off of five inch steel plates. It sounds like all of this is going on right down the block. I look up to see if John is going to answer me and he's not there. I don't stop looking at my doorway. Then all of the sudden is there, as he appears in a blur, all ready to go.
"Did you hear a word I said?" I ask annoyed.
"I left right after you said 'I didn't', and I am ready to go." He answers me, standing there in his blue uniform, covering his face like a cowl and he is tying on his dark blue bandanna.
"I don't know why you wear a mask like that, it's not like you have a secret identity." I say as I get up and will my case to me. It comes floating across the room.
"Man, you should just go to work, I can handle this and if I need back up I will call you or the others, just like protocol." He tries to reassure me.
We now hear the screams start to die down and the gunshots have stopped and the sound of metal being ripped apart is the only sound we can hear, besides the birds chirping, then comes the rumbling. We can hear this person loud and clear. "Is there anyone among you stupid enough to be defeated by me? Where are your heroes now? My partner claims to have killed one of your team last night! He is dead; one of your heroes is dead! Drown in the river!" The voice is male, confident, and really annoying with how ordered his speech pattern is. Sounds so rehearsed. I open my case and start to dress for non-civilian work.
"You have never been one for protocol. Remember last time? You ran into...." I start to give him the same old speech he has heard numerous times, only to see he is no longer there, again. "Shit." I couldn't stop myself now I owe a dollar to the swear jar.
I hear him from here he's loud as always. "Fight me villain! For your days are numbered!" He yells. I think, all days are numbered you blue idiot, as I look at the calendar on my wall. I'm just glad that guy isn't smart or he could have hurt your feelings." You are fast, but are you...Mpmphhhh.." The sound of metal hitting metal and the scraping it's doing. I think John did his maneuver of grab the guy and run really fast while pushing him into the ground. Should buy sometime, for both of us. I can't hear either of them any more.
It makes me wonder if any of us sound like that when we banter with a villain? If we do, we shouldn't talk at all. Let them sound stupid, not us. I guess it goes with the costume. Maybe we do it in some vain hope that a reporter is there to catch one of our super-heroic and witty sound bytes? Not always. Only the big time heroes from the west coast get that treatment. It's all Hollywood out there and I used to be a part of it. It sucked, I think as I flip open my cell phone and type in a code. My phone goes all glitch-y and a new screen comes up. I select a contact and call them.
I hear, "Yeah?" Oh so formal they are. I remember when we had to do the whole ID code number and stuff. Now, it's all voice ID print and telepathic switches. The old way was a waste of time, I guess.
"We got a code 3-0-3 on a block east of 34th and Nestor Ave. Blue Bandit is on the scene and I am on route." I say in a calm even tone.
"Omen, hold back and get Blue Bandit out of there now." The male voice says sternly.
"May I ask as to why we have to back off?" I think that sounded stupid.
"We know the situation and that guy's partner claims to have killed you last night. We haven't found his partner, but it's you the guy claims to have drown." The voice tells me.
"Well, he didn't, cause I am talking to you Firebug, so tell me what the deal is and why can't we bring this 'Quaker' guy in?" I am so full of questions.
He takes a deep breath and lays it out, "The situation is this: your body was found this morning at 5:47am in the Hudson River. The morgue put the time of death around 11:30pm last night. DNA tests have proven it is you, so either you aren't who you say you are or you had a twin, with identical DNA running around. I need to bring you and Bandit it, for questioning."
I look at the phone in disbelief, as if it could stare at me back or the other person can feel my stare. I knew waking up today was the worst thing I could do.
I stare hard at my phone and the person at the other end. Why? What? How?
I run through my memory of fighting the guy last night, he hit me with a beam that I shook off and he complained about it not being powerful enough, and sent him home packing, cause he ran away, with his tail between his legs and I was home in bed before 10:30. So what the hell is going on? I change into my costume as quickly as I can. I use my phone again as I run through the hallway of my apartment, towards my front door. I call Bandit.
"Little busy, O. What you need?" He states nonchalantly.
"Break it off, we have to go into HQ cause they found my dead body last night." I sound ashamed and I think I should be, cause I let myself get killed.
"What?!?" He stops and I hear the sound from the other side of the phone as if something is flying through the air.
"My body found this morning in the Hudson. Didn't you see that on CNN?" I'm angry as I run out my front door. I pause and turn half way down the hallway I look at my lock and I lock it from here. I take another second and pause, to get myself in the air. Now I am flying, only an inch off the ground. I move a lot faster this way.
"No, I didn't. Do you think they are keeping that out of the news?" He asks, realizing what must be going through my head.
"Yeah, they have to be, can't let the public know that one of their superheroes is dead." I feel like punching something. I fly up the stairs to the roof access of my building and I look at the door. It opens; I didn't even have to touch it.
"Hey, can you hang on for a second there, O?" He asks. How nice.
"Sure!" I cheer myself up.
There is a muffled BAM as something has just hit the ground. There are voices and it sounds like a helicopter. I hear the sounds of mini jet engines and air compressors in a constant state of on. As a team, we rotate with there days on and off. I was on call last night, tonight was Bandit's night, but in reality we are all ALWAYS on call. There is some leeway given to people who try to live normal lives. My life hasn't been normal since I was born. I wasn't born in a hospital, nope. My dad wanted me to be born in the hospital; instead I was born in an IST HQ. My dad and my grandfather were both some sort of wizards. My mother was a very powerful telepath. I didn't have any of the talent to become a wizard, but I always did take more after my mother. My grandfather took the time to cast all sorts of protection spells on me. My father was just happy if I grew up normal. My mother didn't care what I did as long as I was happy. My uncle killed my parents, cause he was jealous of my father's magic items that he had made and collected. His own sister, he just killed her. I wish my life were some where near normal.
There is a blot in the horizon, as I fly as fast as I can towards where Blue Bandit should be. I get closer and the blot looks like it's falling towards the ground again. Blue Bandit's move. Run really fast, use that speed to catapult bad guy into the air, and then catch him just before he hits the ground with a whirlwind or something. This time it looks like the blot can take the fall. I land where Bandit is standing.
"Highest one yet!" he beams, ear to ear.
"Dude, seriously you could have hurt him." I scold.
"Not really, since he's wearing some sort of 'power suit'." He doesn't seem worried.
"How could you have known he wearing a 'power suit'?" I'm now looking toward the I.S.T. battle suited force hovering above us, as one of them lands.
"He told me during our 'bantering'." He steps back, letting me take the front as the battle suited team leader walks up to me.
"I'm under orders to bring you both in, please make my job easy and just come with me." He asks, pleading, knowing we both know just how to deal with goons in battlesuits.
"Yeah, but what about the Quake, over there?" Bandit looks at the guy now in a 19-foot crater in the middle of the street.
"We can take it from here, sir. Please follow me back to headquarters." Persistent is the I.S.T. Battlesuit Infantry's motto, it seems.
"We will go, but he won't go quietly." I point to Blue Bandit. "We can never seem to shut him up."
"Ha-ha, O, what other jokes are you going to tell at my expense? More bad ones, like that gem? At least if you are going to rip on me, make them good." He seems agitated.
"See?" I say as my last word as we now make our way back to HQ.
"See, what, O?" Bandit asks.
"Very funny sir, now if we can just get to HQ?" The team leader tells me.
I always hate talking to higher ups. I really do, even though I like Firebug, since he became administrator of I.S.T: New York, he's been walking around with, well, a bug up his ass. The I.S.T. is an international organization and a branch of the U.N. They set up metahumans for each major city on each continent. International Super Teams they call it. Then someone thought of shorting that down to I.S.T. Each branch of the I.S.T has an administrator and a commanding officer, the "grunts". From there the chain of command goes down. Sure some people take it on as a full time job, you know no alter ego to worry about, no appearances to keep up, and they get paid just like the military. The same goes for people who do want some semblance of a normal life.
What's wrong with normal? Right now I would give anything not to be in this situation. I'm dead, just declared it this morning, but still here I am and able to attend my own funeral. Just how many people get to say that? Well, when you are in the profession I'm in a lot. Just last week, Mr. Freedom was declared dead for over 8 years then returned from the dead to save his ex-wife from being rapped, both mentally and physically, by Avatar. Avatar is a pure whack-job, powerful telepath with a power suit that makes up for what he lacks in the physical department. By the way "whack-job" is an official I.S.T term. We get to get away with things like in our reports. So, this guy claims his power suit came from alien technology, which it's been proven it doesn't. Funny he always seems to escape and have the same suit, even though it gets taken away and sometimes destroyed. Something to think about there, while I get a stern debriefing from the higher ups that claim that I am dead.
Put in a room with a table, two chairs, and a mirror. Interrogation Room B, I think. Huh, I haven't been in here since last week, questioning the arsonist that was literally burning people down. I sit here in my costume; they put a headband on me to discourage the use of my metal powers, or PSI powers as they are sometimes called. I am also hand cuffed. They rolled the red carpet out for me! Yay! I wasn't even offered a cup of coffee. I think that Bandit got a cup, with 84 sugars, 18 creamers, and half a cup of actual coffee, that's a diabetic coma after you take that first sip. I wish I had an overactive metabolism. Man! I am just wishing for a lot of stuff. Normal life and over accelerated metabolism. I have been in here for three hours now. Enough time to explain to myself everything I just told myself. Time just to waste thinking about stuff. Then the door opens, four men enter the room, and two of them take a seat across from me. One is Firebug and the other is John St. Day the I.S.T lawyer.
"Let's start...." Firebug starts and is interrupted by a loud ring tone.
"Big Empty, by STP? Nice, Marcus, who knew you had a love of the classics?" I'm smug now.
"Omen, there is no reason to be agitated." St. Day's voice is calming and wrong about my mental state.
"Hello? Yes, he's right here in Interrogation. We are in the middle...Oh, really and how do you know that? It is? How can? What does that mean in English? OH? I see." Firebug looks around the room as he hangs up the phone, as if he didn't want to have that conversation in front of anyone.
"That was I.S.T forensics unit..." He starts.
"WE have a forensics unit?" I interrupt. I know that we do.
"Yeah, they said the body they have down there is well, becoming mush and the DNA is breaking down at it's base structure or something like that, I don't speak techno-babble." He says quietly.
"So, does that mean I'm the real deal, then?" I say.
"Well, not so fast there Omen. Just because the body of you they have is becoming goo, doesn't mean you aren't the real deal. You are going to be placed under house arrest till we can get this matter sorted." St. Day you are an ass and now I'm agitated.
I stay in a "holding cell" under house arrest by the UN Police division of the I.S.T. It's just one of the rooms that is usually used as living quarters for full timers. At least I get to keep my mask on, but not my utility belt and cell phone. I heard when I was brought in that Bandit was in the building too. Here I am laying on the bed watching TV to pass the time, cause there really isn't anything else to do here. This place has lousy room service, by the way. I couldn't use the phone, because they removed it and all means of communication. They left my head band on and I don't try to remove it. It would shock me if I try to tamper with it. Just as I begin to look for the remote to turn the channel from the Food Network to something that wouldn't make me hungry. I get a knock at the door. If I had a choice for me to tell them NOT to come in, Firebug enters and throws some papers on the bed.
"I'm guessing that's not my 401k info." I grin and he can't see it.
"No, it's the report of your DNA scan, EKG, and mental signature scan, etcetera."
"So, did they get that sperm sample too?" I am still grinning and he still can't see it.
"Seriously, Omen, can you stop telling jokes for five minutes? This is a grave matter." Stern, that's all I can say about him. Just stern.
"Yeah, sure, sorry, so what's paper work say?" Chuckling on the inside, so many other jokes to crack, it's how I handle stress.
"Well, it says you are you...." He gets interrupted, by me.
"As I thought before I am the definite article, sort of speak." I say, with my hopes up.
"BUT." Stern and loud.
"But, your DNA shows a signature common with metahuman duplication." He seems sad.
"So, I am free to go?" Asking, not telling.
"I am not sure about that, at least until we figure this out, because we don't know what your double might have told them." He says.
"Well, if it was a copy of me, they wouldn't have gotten anything, but a few one-liners." Confidence, I just wish I had more.
"We don't know that for sure, but according to the witnesses we have they say, after you left the scene where you fought that guy, you appeared as if out of thin air, then took off after the guy you were fighting. When your clone caught up with they fought, but this time the guy used his other weapons, which were all very lethal." He spouts this off.
"So, there were witnesses other than the people who were held hostage?" I ask, meekly.
"Yes, a husband of one of the waitresses was picking her up from work, when she was taken hostage, she and her husband both say that you appeared out of nowhere and followed after that guy. Four cab drivers and two cops say that you fought the guy as he was flying away and the two of you exchanged words. Once the other you and that guy reached the river he used some sort of ray gun that knocked you out of the sky and into it, as told by three wharf masters on a smoke break, two miles from work." He breezes over the extras. My question now is what were three harbor masters doing two miles from work? Another time perhaps?
"The guy I described to you in my report took five hostages from that diner. I also wrote about the husband and how he wanted to help me, but I told him to go. I didn't want him in the way, cause he could have gotten hurt. During the altercation that guy tried to shoot the waitress, but I got in the way, taking the hit. I just shrugged it off, I didn't think it did anything about it at all. I thought it was just a botched ray guy. After that, the guy made a break for it while I was confused about the shot. The four hostages and the waitress followed me outside after the guy flew away, but I to stayed till the police arrived. Once everyone was taken care of, I took that as my sign to leave. So I went home, stayed up three hours filing the report for the night, and went to bed..." I have a good start, don't I?