Harry stood up and clumsily sprinted over to where Bryan was sitting. He grabbed the boy by the arm and lifted him clear out of his seat.
“Ow!” The boy cried as Harry flung him toward the door.
“Go!” Harry ordered as he followed the young telepath out of the room.
As they made their way to the door Harry could hear Amara over the speakers in the observatory. “I apologize for that. It appears Major Justice has brought with him a new telepath who thinks he’s clever. Go figure—an American who’s boneheaded.”
The other non-Americans in the room laughed overly hysterically at Amara’s off-color comment. If he wasn’t so afraid she was going to find a way to kill him he’d probably have planned to criticize her for it, but the truth was that he was very afraid of her, especially when she was angry.
“What the hell were you thinking in there?” Harry demanded when they were safely outside of the observation room.
Bryan stared back at him as if truly confused as to why Harry was so upset. “I wanted to show the council what I can do. I thought it would be funny…”
“Well it wasn’t!” Harry half-shouted. “Amara doesn’t have a sense of humor!”
Bryan looked at the ground. He seemed very upset—but not a guilty kind of upset. He seemed upset that Harry did not approve of what he felt was a completely innocent act.
“Well I didn’t know that,” Bryan conceded.
Harry rubbed his eyes with both of his hands then slowly dragged them down the rest of his face. “It’s fine,” he assured the boy in a less than assuring tone. “Just make sure you stay away from She-Beast the rest of the trip and DO NOT get inside anyone else’s head while we are here.”
Bryan pursed his lips and nodded slowly. He was clearly unhappy with the Assembly’s unwillingness to pat him on the back for taking over their leader and most powerful member’s consciousness.
“Good,” Harry stated, glancing up to see the rest of his group coming down the stairs to join them. They were followed closely by Jason and everyone else who had been observing the meeting.
“Everything okay?” Jason asked when he reached the bottom of the staircase.
“Yeah,” Harry responded. “I’m just not looking forward to seeing Amara.”
Jason nodded. “Let’s hope our friend Bryan doesn’t decide to jump into anyone else’s head tonight.”
Harry shrugged. “I made him promise not to, but the scary part is that we’d never know if he did.”
Jason shook his head. “We’ve been there before.”
“That’s what scares me,” Harry replied as he placed his hands on his hips and began taking deeper breaths. He could feel his heart racing. “Amara is not going to be happy that we brought him here.”
“Relax,” Jason said calmly, placing his hand on his friend’s shoulder. “Why are you so afraid of her?”
“Because she thinks since I’m bionic she can just kick my ass anytime she wants,” Harry countered in a panicked squeal. His alarm then seemed to momentarily disappear as another thought crossed his mind. “When was the last time you spoke to her anyway?”
Jason dropped his head and threw his hands in his pockets. He shrugged while making half-circles on the floor with his foot.
“A couple months,” he confessed. “She called to make sure I wasn’t doing any vigilante work out on my own.”
“Was that really why?” Harry countered in suspicion.
“I don’t know,” Jason told him. “We just ended up getting in a fight about it. I’m not doing anything, but I don’t appreciate her thinking that she can tell me I can’t.”
Harry shook his head, feeling some of his own nerves beginning to settle. At least Amara would have something to focus on other than Bryan’s shenanigans during the council meeting.
“You two make absolutely no sense,” Harry said.
The history of Jason and Amara’s relationship was—like everything with the Assembly—a long and complicated one. It all began with Harry and Amara’s divorce. That’s correct—Harry and Amara had been married before her relationship with Jason, but instead of a triangle their love story was more of a linear line with three points on it.
In the very early days of the Assembly, Amara and Harry became routine sparring partners. With both of them having increased strength and the inability to sustain serious bodily injury it was a natural fit. Each was the only person the other could safely spar against while using the full potential of their abilities.
The relationship quickly moved outside of the sparring ring as the two developed a reputation for being the wild ones in the group. Whenever the team would go out on the town, Harry and Amara liked to get rowdy. They would drink and swap war stories before breaking off from the rest of the group and venturing out on their own, sometimes staying out long after sunset the next morning. Both single at the time, it was only natural that they developed a physical relationship that eventual developed into a full-on boyfriend/girlfriend situation.
Between battles with evil, the pair continued their wild streak and had so much fun that after five months they decided to get married. Harry had spent years feeling like an outsider, convinced that his condition would forever prevent him from finding true love. Now that he had found Amara he knew that he had to hold onto her forever. Marriage seemed like the only logical course of action.
For the first two years things were good. The two had become each other’s best friend and clearly had a passionate love for one another. But as time went on and both their marriage and personalities began to mature, the couple found themselves drifting apart. They rarely fought and still enjoyed being around each other, but the wild nights out had grown old and tiresome, extinguishing much of the flame that had been so hot just a couple years earlier.
Eventually, after just shy of three years of marriage, Harry and Amara decided to get a divorce. The decision had been mutual, and there were no ill feelings left between them, but the abrupt end of such a powerful relationship was bound to take its toll. Both Harry and Amara sought comfort in Jason—their only real friend aside from each other.
Jason ended up taking turns finding time alone with the both of them, acting as a sort of untrained psychiatrist, listening to their feelings and telling them it would all be okay. The experience rooted a deep connection with both Harry and Amara. In time both Harry and Amara began moving past their divorce, but their spending time with Jason continued.
Jason and Harry had bonded in eternal friendship. Jason had developed a similar bond with Amara, the key difference being that Harry was a fellow man whereas Amara was an attractive female. One night as Jason and Amara sat alone in the corner of a quiet bar, they realized that what they felt was much more than simple friendship—they were in love.
The very next day, before things went any further with Amara, Jason being the honorable man he was went to Harry with his feelings. He explained that what had started as the same sort of therapy sessions he’d had with Harry had developed into something much deeper, but that he would not explore it any further if it made Harry uncomfortable. Their friendship and the team had to come first, and Jason was not willing to risk damaging that for anything.
Harry needed almost no time to think it over. He told Jason he was fine with it and gave him his blessing to pursue a relationship with Amara. At first Jason didn’t believe him, and quite honestly Harry found it difficult to believe it himself, but deep down he knew it was the truth. The thought of Jason and Amara together brought him no jealousy or grief. When Harry and Amara had started out they had thought that they needed to be with someone like themselves—someone they could be aggressive and crazy with, that wouldn’t try to hold them back. In the end what Amara had needed was someone who was the opposite of herself—someone to tie her down to Earth and be there for her when she needed to relax. She couldn’t be crazy and aggressive all the time. Jason was that someone to whom she could show a different, more vulnerable side. Jason was the type of person she needed to be with.
Of course that also came with more than its fair share of drama. Jason and Amara had come to an agreement not to get married, and it seemed to be the right choice. The two were in a constant state of on-again/off-again, never seeing anyone else but not always being together. The rest of the team never really knew what the state of their relationship was, and they never wanted to ask. Some nights Jason and Amara would spend entire team meetings screaming at each other about some issue they disagreed on, and would then show up the next morning hand-in-hand, smiling as if it had never happened. Other times they would be incredibly cordial during a meeting and all would seem well, but later Harry would find out that they hadn’t been alone together in weeks. There was never any way to tell the current state of their relationship or predict what was going to happen next.
Still, there was an undying love between them that seemed as though it could never be broken. Even though they drove each other insane, they loved each other and only each other. It must have been maddening to be a part of.
Now it appeared that the couple was off-again after Jason’s retirement from the Assembly. This was of little surprise since Jason had chosen to move back to Omaha while Amara had stayed on the island to assume her duties as Chairperson. It seemed as though this might serve as the final blow to the couple’s fragile relationship.
“Gentlemen,” a firm, female voice with an African flavor spoke from over Harry’s shoulder. He nearly jumped at the sound of it.
“Amara…” he said as he spun around on his heels to greet his old friend.
Jason did not speak a greeting, but merely nodded in Amara’s direction.
“On the phone you had assured me that you would keep your telepath on a leash,” she told Harry in angry sarcasm.
“Yeah,” Harry replied sheepishly. “Well you know how telepaths can be.”
Amara looked at Harry with an unamused glare. “That is precisely why the High Council would like a word with you. Now.”
Harry dropped his head and began walking slowly toward the entrance of the conference room. As he moved past, Amara turned her attention to Jason.
“As a former member of the Council and someone with experience in this matter, you may join us if you wish,” she told him.
Jason stood and considered for a moment, watching as Harry and Amara made their way back into the conference room. He eventually shrugged his shoulders and followed after. “Why not?”
Inside the conference room, Tiān, Eric and Grok were all waiting silently for Amara to return with Harry. They all seemed a bit surprised when Jason walked in behind them.
“Jason, so good to see you,” Tiān said as she stood from her seat to give the man a hug. Noticing the look on Amara’s face as Tiān wrapped her arms around Jason, the other two council members resorted to a more casual, silent greeting of their former leader.
Amara reclaimed her spot at the end of the table while Jason and Harry took a seat on the side opposite the rest of the team, an area usually reserved for guests of the Council.
“Has everyone been cleared out of the observation area?” Amara asked to no one in particular.
“Yes,” Eric replied in a growl-like voice that carried a harsh English accent. “We’ve also sealed off the doors.”
“Good,” Amara replied before pushing a button on the table in front of her that locked the doors to the room. “Then we can discuss the telepath boy that the major has brought to our island.”
“Really?” Harry countered immediately. “First off—Major? You sound like one of my kids. I was never a major. My name is Harry. You’ve known me for years. We were married.”
Everyone else in the room sunk into their seats as they saw Amara’s eyes begin to widen. She did not appreciate being called out in front of a group.
“Relax Amara,” Jason chimed in. “We are all family here. No need to be proper.”
“Fine,” Amara said sternly. “We need to talk about that brat that you brought here. He’s put us all in danger.”
“He means no harm to anyone,” Harry countered, defending himself as much as Bryan.
“Nonetheless,” Amara continued, “He has the potential to do terrible things to this society and I do not feel comfortable with him here. He was far too crass about climbing into my mind and taking control of it. Need I remind you what happened with Walter?”
Harry slammed his fist on the table. “No!” he shouted in angered frustration.
Immediately following the outburst, he took a deep breath and calmed himself. “No, you do not need to remind me. We all know that was a mistake none of us will ever forget.”
“Then why bring him here and put us all in danger?” Amara demanded.
“We talked about this on the phone before I brought him,” Harry retorted, frustrated by Amara’s relentless attack as though she hadn’t approved Bryan’s visit herself. “He has shown no ill-will toward anyone, just an innocent confusion about right and wrong. I brought him here so that we could teach him those differences. I’m afraid that if we push him away we are dooming him to become the next Insider.”
Everyone at the table sat silently, avoiding eye contact with both Harry and Amara.
Jason sat with his hands folded in front of him. He stared at the display on his seat’s computer interface. Something was clearly on his mind.
“Tell them what he said in the lobby,” he finally said softly.
“What?” Harry asked, turning to his friend.
“What he asked,” Jason repeated, “when they were all looking at the uniform display case. Tell them about it.”
Harry turned back to the others, taking a turn to look each one of them in the eye. Apparently Jason was siding with Amara. Harry almost turned to look out the window for any airborne swine.
“He wanted to know why Walter’s uniform wasn’t with the rest of them,” Harry confessed in defeat. He watched as each person at the table arrived at their own conclusions.
Amara sat up straight and addressed the table. “I move that we remove the American telepath from the ambassador program, and ban him from ever entering the Superhuman Society of Earth.”
Harry offered one last plea to the council before casting their votes. “I’m just afraid this will send him into a downward spiral that will ultimately cause more trouble than good.”
“And what if he comes here and decides to take over everyone’s minds and turn them against us? A whole island full of people with unbelievable powers turned against us,” Amara countered.
Harry dropped his head in defeat. He had no response.
“I’m with Amara,” Eric spoke up. “We can’t risk the boy playing with the minds and bodies of those on this island. He must be kept away from the rest of the superhuman community.”
“I agree,” Grok said in a gurgling, baritone voice. “Your concerns have a great deal of merit Harry, but the risks are far too great. Perhaps we should monitor his actions after he has returned home, so that we are able to act the moment he looks to have wandered over to a darker path.”
“Perhaps we could assign someone no longer tied up with the Assembly to assume this responsibility,” Amara suggested, turning toward Jason.
Jason stared back in displeased confusion. “What? You expect me to just pick up and move to Cleveland to keep an eye on this kid?”
“Ugh, bloody hell,” Eric chimed in. “That would be a nightmare—moving to Cleveland. Remember when we had to save it from sinking into Lake Erie that one time? What a nightmare.”
“I am confused by your aversion to the city of Cleveland, Ohio,” Grok chimed in. “When considering all of the social factors that determine the quality level of a city, I find Cleveland to be near the middle of the list.”
“You’d better be including third-world countries on that list,” Eric replied.
“You guys,” Harry said, trying to turn the focus back on the main issue.
Sometimes unable to recognize exaggeration, Grok was still dissatisfied with Eric’s position on Cleveland. “I fail to see how Cleveland even remotely compares to a city of a third-world nation.”
“Enough!” Amara shouted, successfully silencing everyone in the room.
When he was satisfied no one else had any plans to speak, Harry offered a suggestion. “I have a lot of connections with American intelligence. I’m sure if I explain the situation, they’d be more than happy to keep an eye on Bryan for us.”
Amara nodded, seemingly pleased with the outcome of their private little meeting. “Very well. Upon returning to the U.S.—as not to ignite any ideas within the boy while he is here—Major…excuse me—Harry…will tell the telepath boy that he will not be receiving an invitation to join the SSE.”
“My vote was also to keep him out if anyone cares,” Tiān added in a light, innocent voice.
“Sorry love, but the vote was already lopsided against you, wasn’t it?” Eric sarcastically purred from across the table. Tiān rolled her eyes at the rude comment.
Without another word, Amara stood up and headed for the door. Harry hadn’t even noticed her open it via the control on her seat’s computer interface.
“We have guests to entertain,” she called back to them as she exited the room.
Looking around at each other in a slightly annoyed fashion, the others stood up to follow.
Harry eyed Bryan from across the plane as they made their final descent back into New York. How was he going to break it to the poor boy that the Assembly didn’t want him anywhere near them, and how would Bryan take the news? He had been a model citizen after the incident during the meeting. He had stayed far away from Amara at the reception per Harry’s instructions, and as far as Harry knew he had stayed out of everyone else’s heads as well.
Surprisingly, the rest of the group had begun to take to Bryan very well. All seven of them had banded together when they got to the resort, and they all seemed to have a great time. They had hung out at the beach together where Blaze gave them all surf lessons, and later on they all ate dinner together while they shared their favorite parts of the trip. Bryan had become one of the gang, and in a matter of minutes Harry was going to have to kick him out forever because of one mistake.
Still, Harry had to admit that the Assembly’s concerns were justified. Bryan’s powers were too dangerous. No one had been willing to admit it at the table, but the truth was that they were scared. In many ways Bryan was more powerful than all of them, and for that reason they felt like they had to reject him.
It hardly seemed fair to Harry. The whole reason for the Assembly and the Society was to create a place for those who were not accepted by the general population to feel comfortable and included. Now they had turned that all around and decided to draw a line in the sand at telepathic abilities. Harry knew that Bryan was a loose cannon and couldn’t be trusted around hundreds of powered individuals that he could easily manipulate into destroying the planet, but he wished there was another way—a way for Bryan to still be a part of the society while not living among the other members.
He promised himself that he would find a place for Bryan one day soon. Bryan looked up to the Assembly and all of its members. In many ways he was their biggest fan. If only he hadn’t acted so nonchalant when it came to their biggest traitor, who also happened to have been a telepath. In the end none of this was Bryan’s fault—it was Walter’s. The twisted telepath had left a very bad taste in the mouth of the Assembly when it came to others like him, and it was something that the other original members were unable to forgive.
When their plane arrived at the gate Harry prepared himself to break the bad news. He wanted to get it over with as quickly as possible—to explain to Bryan the situation and send him on his way before the kid had a chance to overreact and potentially hurt somebody.
As they walked out of the plane and up the breezeway, Harry followed closely behind Bryan. As soon as they stepped into the terminal Harry patted the young man on the shoulder. “Let’s go have a talk over here, Bryan.”
A little confused, Bryan followed Harry over to the next gate. The rest of the group stopped to watch, a bit confused about what was happening. Jason quickly recognized the situation and ordered them to the baggage claim while he stopped to keep an eye on the situation.
Harry looked around to make sure no one around had recognized him as he pulled a plane ticket out of his inner jacket pocket. “Listen Bryan, I’m sorry to say this but for you the road ends here.”
The teenage boy looked up to the hero in stunned confusion. He appeared unable to speak.
“Here is a ticket on the next flight to Cleveland,” Harry explained, handing Bryan the ticket. “You’re bags are already being transferred as we speak. Take the ticket, get on the plane and go home. I’m sure your parents will be thrilled to see you back okay.”
“I don’t understand,” Bryan managed, his eyes beginning to well up with tears. “I thought we still had another day at the embassy before we went home and invitations were sent out…”
“Bryan,” Harry interrupted, placing his hands on the young man’s shoulders. “The High Council has already made their decision on you. You will not be invited back to the island.”
Bryan sniffled and turned away. “This is because of what I did to She-Beast, isn’t it?”
Harry took a breath and attempted to sound as sincerely disappointed as he could. “I wish I could tell you it wasn’t just that, but honestly if that hadn’t happened we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation right now.” It was as much as the boy needed to know.
“I’m so stupid!” Bryan exclaimed, throwing his hands up into the air and shuffling over to the railing that overlooked the bottom floor of the airport.
Harry looked around, noticing that more and more people were beginning to take notice of the situation. He searched for something comforting to say before leaving, but he wasn’t very good at these things.
“I’m sorry Bryan. Take care of yourself and hopefully I’ll see you again someday.” With that, Harry turned and made his way toward the baggage claim to join what was left of the group. That had gone even worse than he’d thought it would.
Bryan leaned over the railing and watched as Major Justice and The Eagle reached the bottom of the escalator and went over to join the others at the baggage claim. People in the airport were beginning to recognize the two heroes and began chasing after them in hopes of snapping a picture.
Bryan rested his chin on his hands. He felt an uncontrollable mass of confusion, anger and sadness building up inside of him. He had been having such a great time with the other super humans, and now that time was done. The Assembly had decided that they couldn’t trust him and had banished him forever.
How could he be so stupid? He should have known better than to take over the mind of a High Council member. It was foolish and careless. He should have known that they’d be jumpy about that sort of thing after what happened with The Insider. They clearly had something against telepaths.
He sighed as he watched all of the ordinary people in the airport go about their ordinary lives. He now had something in common with his favorite hero, The Insider. He must have felt the same way after the Assembly banished him.
“Similar, yes,” a mildly pitched male voice said from behind him.
Bryan turned to see a pair of bright purple eyes staring back at him.
The man was very articulate as he spoke. “Are you surprised to see me, my dear Bryan?”
All of Bryan’s muscles tensed up and his jaw dropped to the floor. He found himself completely unable to move or speak.
The man continued. “Or should I call you…Phsychosis?”
Bryan began to stutter as he tried to respond to the purple eyed man he recognized from the posters on his wall. “The-the-the…The Insider!”
Walter Sykes had been born with the ability to read and control other people’s minds—a power he had known he possessed for as long as he had memories. When he first began using his abilities, he had been too young to truly understand them or even that they were unique to him. He thought every person was able to hear what others were thinking, and change their thoughts with a simple thought of his own.
His earliest memories of using his mind altering powers were when he was just a small boy asking his mother to let him eat cookies before dinner. “No,” she had told him when he first asked, but all he had to do was concentrate on his mother and think the word “yes” in his own mind. Suddenly he found that his mother’s opinion on the matter had changed, and he was happily spoiling his dinner by filling up on chocolate chip cookies.
As he grew older he began to recognize that his ability was a gift, and that those around him had no idea what he was capable of. He used this to his advantage, reading and manipulating the thoughts of those around him to suit his own, selfish desires. Miraculously, he managed to keep his ability a total secret from the rest of the world for the first twenty years of his life.
As Walter matured, so did his abilities. He had always known that he could read minds and alter people’s thoughts, but when he moved into his teenage years he also discovered that he could control their actions. If he focused hard enough, he could completely take over their minds and manipulate them like puppets on a string.
Most people didn’t like him when they first met him—he knew this because he could read their minds. They thought that he was goofy and awkward. He was a very skinny kid with greasy hair and a unibrow, and he wasn’t very good at talking to people—it was hard to form a conversation when you could hear everything the other person was thinking. But after a little alteration of their minds they all fell in love with him eventually, and he soon became the most liked kid in school.
He also found that he could implant his own opinions and views into the minds of others. Just for fun, he once dug around inside the mind of a liberal senator during a trip to the capital, and convinced him to believe in conservative ideologies. The next day, after Walter had relinquished control of his mind, the senator walked into the capital building and announced that he was crossing over to the other side of the aisle, a revelation that sent shockwaves through the entire political community. Walter laughed for the next three days straight as the only person in the world who knew the true reason for the senator’s sudden change of heart.
It was a difficult task—someone of that age keeping that kind of a secret for so long—and the moment Walter read the reports of a new superhuman crime fighting group, he knew that the time had come to expose himself to the world and use his powers for good rather than personal gain alone.
Walter used his ability to track down the other super humans and determine their location. Later that week he went to Washington D.C. where the newly formed team was holding a press conference at the White House. Using his powers, Walter managed to get inside the minds of everyone at the White House and prevented them from noticing his presence. He walked right past all of the secret service and into the media room. Once he was inside he temporarily shut down the consciousness of everyone in the room except for the super humans.
The team had been so impressed by his powers that they had no choice but to invite him to join the team. His powers seemed endless, and he became without a doubt the most powerful member of the team, and potentially the most powerful person in the world. He was soon after codenamed “The Insider” because of his ability to get inside the minds of other’s.
But that kind of power scared others. After finding out about his stunt at the press conference, the American government was furious with Walter, but the Assembly immediately jumped to his defense. They argued that the government would be better off with Walter on their side than aligned against them. It warmed Walter’s heart to know that he had friends who cared about him—true friends whose minds he didn’t need to manipulate to accept him.
Although as Walter eventually learned, friendship is not forever.
One of the greatest battles the Assembly ever fought was against creatures the headlines referred to as “The Reincarnated.” The Reincarnated were exactly as their name suggested—formerly deceased individuals who had been brought back from the dead by the evil Doctor Fairbush. The mad doctor had found a way to use electrical current to program the dead brain tissue of these individuals, creating his very own undead army.
Unlike living minds, these beings had no consciousness of their own, making it impossible for Walter to manipulate them. The only part of the Reincarnated’s brains that functioned were the parts that allowed them to move—all in accordance to Doctor Fairbush’s commands. Therefore these beings all showed increased strength, could not feel pain, had no fear of dying, and could not feel shame for their actions. In the mad doctor’s eyes, these monsters he had created were little more than organic machines programmed to do his bidding. To him they were completely expendable, and the more people they killed the more subjects he had at his disposal.
It was like a zombie apocalypse, and the Assembly was quickly overrun. At one point the Reincarnated’s numbers were so great that the heroes could not keep up, and the world was beginning to collapse around them.
To that point, Walter had made a promise only to take over the minds of his enemies. Of course he had broken that rule on several occasions when it came to small items such as making the resident stud at the bar buy him drinks and tell all of his lady friends that Walter was in fact a far superior man to him—but beyond that he had been careful not to use his powers on the innocent.
In this situation however, Walter saw no choice. The only hope to save the world was to take control of the situation, and he was the only person capable of doing it.
He closed his eyes and captured the minds of all of those in the vicinity of a Reincarnated attack, including his teammates. He then took control of their bodies and engaged them in a coordinated attack against the monsters. Major Justice—whose mind Walter could not control because it was synthetic—had begged Walter to let them go. He said that Walter could not use unwilling innocents to sacrifice their lives in the fight against the Reincarnated.
Walter knew better—knew the sacrifice he and those around him needed to make if they were to save the world. He did not discriminate, using women and children alike—anyone who was able to fight.
The way the minds all moved together—carrying out Walter’s coordinated attack seamlessly—completely turned the tables on Doctor Fairbush and his monsters. Major Justice did all he could to save as many lives as possible, but as with any war sacrifices had to be made. All in all, far more people lived than died, and the Assembly came away victorious. Every last one of the Reincarnated had been deactivated, foiling Fairbush’s plan at world domination.
It was after that event that Walter’s eyes transformed to their purplish color. Something about using his powers to such an extent had altered their pigmentation, forever changing them to a bright purple. This would become his most identifiable trait in the years to follow.
Walter had been the only one strong enough to make such a bold play, and he alone had managed to save the world from total devastation, but when he relinquished the minds of his team members they did not see it that way. They scolded him for his actions, claiming he had thrown away dozens of innocent lives. Walter tried to explain that he had simply done what was necessary and that those lives had not been surrendered in vain, but the Assembly would not hear it. They argued that no life should be sacrificed unless done so out of free-will, and that Walter had become dangerous and needed to be dealt with.
They excommunicated him from the Assembly, warning him that if they ever caught him using his powers again they would hunt him down and eliminate him. Walter shook them off, knowing well that even if they wanted to they could never touch him. He was more powerful than all of them combined.
As time passed and Walter found himself feeling more and more alone, his feelings of bitterness and resentment grew stronger, and he began plotting his revenge against the Assembly. He decided that they were the ones who were a cancer on society—that they were unwilling to make the tough calls that needed to be made if they were going to successfully defend the world from evil men like Doctor Fairbush who would go to extreme lengths to claim it as their own. Day after day he sharpened his powers and tried to create the perfect plan to strip the Assembly of their power, leaving The Insider to stand alone as the world’s greatest hero.
Then he had it—it was so incredibly simple. The Assembly’s only real power came from those who supported them. They only existed because the world thought they needed them to—take that away and they would be nothing more than a group of people with super powers. If Walter were to act against them on his own they would never stop coming for him, but the Assembly would never fight against those they deemed “innocent” for any reason.
The next day Walter began his trip around the world. He went to each country’s most populated cities, sitting atop the highest structures and reaching out to the thousands or millions of minds surrounding him, instilling within each of them a hatred for the Assembly and a love for their true hero—The Insider.
The latter had been a mistake, as the Assembly quickly realized it was Walter who had managed to turn the majority of the world against them. He’d never known how, but the team was able to find him in just over a week, and came full-force to destroy him.
When they arrived Walter was ready for them, and prepared to use his abilities to eliminate each and every one of them. He was however shocked to find that when he tried to take control of their minds he could not. Every time he tried he felt only confusion and was unable focus. He even attempted to place innocents between himself and the team, but they were too strong and too well prepared.
In the end it came down to just Walter and Major Justice. The others had gone to take care of Walter’s victims while Harry handled the monster. Somehow the Assembly had found a way to reverse the effects of Walter’s mental implantations, and the world was once again on their side.
Harry held Walter by the neck, cutting off the oxygen to his all-powerful brain. Many considered Major Justice to be the noblest hero of all behind The Eagle, which was why Walter had been shocked to find him so willing to take his life.
“It’s like you said,” Harry had said to him in those final moments when Walter’s mind began to go black, “sometimes sacrifices must be made for the good of the planet.”
In his dying breathes, Walter noticed that whatever the others had done to shield themselves from Walter’s influence, Harry had not done the same. Walter could feel the still human half of his brain—he was inside it.
Walter’s survival instinct had kicked in and as a result his powers had been turned up a notch. Harry’s may have only been half a brain, but Walter had found a way to control it. He felt the computerized half of Harry’s mind trying to fight him—trying to tell Harry that what he was feeling and thinking wasn’t real—but the human brain was far more powerful than any computer.
Walter implanted within Major Justice the idea that he had strangled Walter to death when in fact he had not. Harry released Walter just seconds before he would have lost consciousness. Walter then manipulated the hero into rigging the building they were in to blow the minute he stepped out the door. As Harry cleared the building, he triggered the explosives, sending it crumbling to the ground and allowing Walter to escape while Harry assured the rest of the team that The Insider was gone forever.
Legend had told the story of The Insider’s death, and yet here he was, looking right at Bryan. He looked different than in Bryan’s old posters. His body had filled out slightly, and his face had matured considerably, but those eyes—those unmistakably purple eyes—Bryan would recognize them anywhere.
The man’s gaze was dark and relentless as he spoke. “We have a lot to talk about, you and I.”