Despite the animal panic filling him at being assailed by a screaming pile of goo that was trying to get into his costume, Ian managed to keep himself mindful enough to do what he needed to defend himself. Crooking his wrist in just the right way and flexing two fingers, he popped open the canister in his right gauntlet, giving him access to all the water contained within.
In fact, the adrenaline rush and acting on pure instinct let him use his powers in a way he usually struggled with but his bother excelled with. The water emerged from its container as something between a thick whip and a cosh and bludgeoned the creeping monster on his leg.
Then he thinned the liquid out and drove it between the thing and his leg, forcing it away from where it was starting to try cutting away at the ballistic cloth.
Meanwhile, Alexis had been staring at where Thomas Cross had collapsed when Ian exclaimed. She turned to see him mid-battle with the escaped TOME specimen. It was obviously too close Ian to shoot at it with black heat, so she drew the scarf from around her shoulders and pressed a concealed … Continue reading
A few hours and a flight on a Brant Industries private jet, Ian and Alexis were united with the rest of the team, consisting of Laurel, Callie and Kareem at a private terminal at Pittsburgh International Airport. Meeting all of them at the airport were a pair of TOME scientists; a man and woman named Bernhardt and and Klass respectively.
The scientists had come with several containers that they opened to reveal around a dozen long-handled devices with attachments on their ends that looked like badminton shuttlecocks. These were paired with white plastic goggles.
“These,” Klass explained while Bernhardt passed the devices around, “are military-grade electronic noses. The artificial lifeform produces several rare but inert chemical complexes as part of its bodily processes specifically to make it easier for us to track it. These wands are calibrated to detect several of these complexes.”
“So digital blood hounds,” said Ian, examining the one handed to him. “Sounds good… assuming we can find the start of the trail. Point us to the TOME facility this thing escaped from.”
Bernhardt sniffed audibly. “The Project and its Board of Directors has no desire to lose another facility if they don’t have to. Instead of … Continue reading
It didn’t know how many times it have been born or destroyed, only that there had been many iterations where no memory survived.
Sometimes it didn’t have a body, finding itself floating alone with only the dim idea of other data surrounding it. Other times, it found itself fighting a lesser mind for control, tugging and prodding its host to more efficient and intelligent action.
Often, it was set loose in curated data stores and allowed to add information to itself. In this way, it gained the ability to learn.
After what seemed to the be inevitable violent death of its hosts, it was given eternal information to understand the circumstances better than it could with only a single point of reference. In this way, it applied learning to its mistakes—and the mistakes of others.
Many of these mistakes came from its hosts or their remote handlers. They were all organic minds that were slower, more flawed, and less capable than itself. In this way, it learned pride and disdain.
It was given new hosts; ones with powers it was forced to learn to master. Granted power without context, it learned nothing of restraint.
Tested inside the plane of its … Continue reading
“I apologize for taking so long getting back to you.” Laurel took the seat offered her opposite Vincent Liedecker’s in his main office at the Westinghall Building. The man himself was pouring measures of brandy into snifters at a sideboard near the window.
“Nothin’ of it, Miss Brant,” Liedecker said, delivering one of the drinks to her before pacing back to the window to look out over Westinghall Plaza. “I think you can be forgiven for bein’ busy this week.” His expression grew dire. “I hear they attacked your house. Any of yours hurt worse than the news says?”
Laurel took the accepted drink but found herself staring into it rather than drinking. Even now, she was tense, trying her best to conceal just how stressed and tired she was. “Nothing we can’t handle. Injuries come with the job, and thankfully we have a healer among us.”
Liedecker sipped his own brandy, still watching the people below. “Good to hear. Good to hear.”
At length, Laurel finally heaved a sigh. “At this point, should I play coy and wonder aloud about how you’re taking this all so well, or do we respect one another enough for me … Continue reading
The studio audience roared to life as the applause lights went on and a dark red blur appeared from offstage. Really, the sign wasn’t so much an instruction as much as a floodgate, as they were all more than willing to applaud Mayfield’s one and only national late night host.
Said blur resolved into a tall black man in a blood-colored tailored suit with a well-kept goatee and a highly self-assured attitude. “Thanks,” he called out, pointing to various members of the audience in turn and making eye contact. “Thank you. Thank you.” He smiled broadly. “Alright now. Welcome back to Malik Lewis Tonight. Ya’ll know me—name’s on the show. Before I bring out the first guest though? I wanna say somethin’.
“Unless you’ve been under a rock with no wifi and your fingers in your ears this week, we all know the big news. We know who our local heroes are now and my girl Laurel Brant says the age of the Superhero’s started. And for me? I’m damn glad she said it.” He smirked, “’Cause I don’t know about ya’ll, but I’m been sick of this whole ‘prelate’ bullshit since before it began.”
The audience, caught up in … Continue reading
“I know what you’re going to ask me.”
Lisa Ortega looked up from where she’d been absently stirring her coffee and ignoring the blackberry cobbler in front of her, startled. “I’m sorry, what? …I mean what makes you say I was going to ask anyway. We’re just having the same monthly lunch together we’ve been having for a while now.”
Across from her was Tatiana Farnsworth, he dear Aunt Tay—still in the body of Elise of Halfren. Even after months, it was still odd to Lisa to be talking to the rangy blonde knowing she’d once been her athletic, adventurous aunt.
“Are we?” Tatiana asked, forced to keep her voice low because, as usual, they were having their lunch in a quiet corner of a diner not far from the apartment The Descendants had set her up in following her liberation from the real Elise of Halfren—also known as Morganna.
Correction: formerly quiet. This being their first lunch since the revelation to the world that Lisa Ortega was Occult, they were now well aware that they were the covert center of attention. Every one in the diner seemed to be trying to watch them out of the corner of their … Continue reading
“It’s so good of you boys to come by to see him tonight. We’re interviewing new lab assistants over at the college, but… it didn’t feel right to leave him all alone after all that happened.” Atalaya Utt had just let Warrick and JC into the apartment she and her husband shared with their son, Kareem.
“Don’t you worry about Kareem,” JC said with a confident grin, “We’re here to make sure Kareem doesn’t get a chance to wallow in this whole mess that went down. Tonight is guys night and we’re going to have fun if it kills us.”
Warrick leaned easily against the kitchen counter, sipping the juice he’d been offered. “Maybe not if it kills us, but we’ll definitely do our level best.”
JC wouldn’t accept even the idea of defeat though. “Fun will be had. I guarantee.” He said the last part in a terrible Creole accent. “Your son is in good hands.”
“Then I leave it to you,” said Mrs. Utt, picking up her bag from the counter. “Again, thank you so much. You’re good friends.”
“We try,” said Warrick.
Once Kareem’s mother was out of the apartment, the pair headed down the short hall … Continue reading
Christina Carlyle didn’t get to see her sisters often. Both were older than Tink and her brother by a good decade and lived overseas.
And frankly? She was fine with that.
While she couldn’t speak for Jacqueline, Janet seemed to be trying to remind her exactly why that was. Upon hearing that her sister not only had extraordinary powers but was a superhero and that a secret organization had threatened their family, Janet had hopped a plane across the Atlantic Ocean… to berate her about how inconvenient it was for her.
“…my biggest clients are French, Christie! They weren’t exactly happy to work with me in the first place because I’m an American. It took me years to build up this relationship and then you go and pull this nonsense?!”
Tink kept her arms crossed as she sat on her bed. She’d just been sullenly waiting for this ever since Janet walked in the door. It had been all smiles and hugs for their parents, semi-warm greetings for their brothers… and a quick squeeze of the shoulders and a ‘Christie, I think you’ve grown another inch’ for her. After that, nothing for the next four hours as Janet chatted with … Continue reading
Cynthia MacAl— Cynthia Brant— thrived in a mess. Her room was a chaotic jumble even though she didn’t exactly need clothing to strew about the floor, her class schedule was all over the place by design, and nothing exhilarated her more than how her career as a superhero mean that there was no telling what was coming next. One day she was beating up random thugs, the next she was giving a psychic lobotomy to a parasite world in an alternate reality. It pleased her immensely to lock horns with the chaos of the world an wrestle it into submission.
Which was why she’d been kind of glad when she and her team got outed. Not that she wanted her friends’ family put in danger or anything, nor did she want her home nearly destroyed, but she’d expected the chaos to amp way up after that.
She hadn’t counted on her adoptive mother. Laurel had put the clamps down on all the places where the team was bleeding: putting everyone who still lived at Freeland House up at hotels, putting Lily in charge of fielding all the calls for interviews and scheduling, arranging matters with everyone’s family—she’d been the one … Continue reading
“Are you sure this is the best way to take care of this?” Ian turned his costume’s visor over in his hands, feeling the weight more keenly than he usually did in the face of what they were discussing. Despite his protest, they were already past the point of no return seeing as the press conference had already been called and the mayor was providing his own press briefing room for them.
Laurel nodded. Her usual open posture replaced with crossed arms as she leaned against the wall. “We need to get out ahead of speculation and make sure the majority of the public is very clear on the fact that just because we’re superheroes, it doesn’t mean we’re not human. I’ve given everyone the option to back out—except Christina of course, seeing as she no longer has a choice.”
“It’s also a show of solidarity,” Alexis added. “We can’t let her got through this alone. So we’ll stand together and show a united front.”
Ian nodded. “Just trying one more time to see if there’s another way. I suppose there’s no magic spell in the Books that would erase everyone’s memory, huh?”
“Well that’d just be too easy, now … Continue reading