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Chapter 2

I woke up in an unfamiliar place laying on a cold surface. As I opened my eyes, a brilliant light kept my vision blinded until I adjusted to the brightness. Slowly but steadily, I noticed the sound of distance voices. When I sat up, my body felt groggy, but after facing near death, I welcomed the uneasy feeling. Speaking of feeling, I felt my self. There was still a hole in my chest, but it was smaller than I remembered. Somehow, I was healing from what should have killed me. The sensation of air passing through my chest was taking some getting used to, but I didn’t sit around waiting.

I got up, and that’s when I realized the cold surface I awoke on was an operating table. Whoever put me there meant to save my life. Their voices were coming from the next room over. I couldn’t say who they were, but they seemed to be upset with one another. That gave me time to look around, and more importantly, time to gather the clothes that were stripped from my body while I was out.

It was some kind of hideout. The lack of windows said as much. In Mock City, no one willingly lived underground unless they were hiding, or they were poor. That room, with its dome-shaped ceiling, was three times the size of my small apartment. From the look of the supercomputer that took up an entire wall, those people were far from poor. Glass cases in the center of the room were full of outfits and gadgets on display. A work table held chemicals and beakers full of unmarked liquids. Another wall had a series of small screens showing live video of the city. I was in one of two potential places: a villains lair, or a superhero’s hideout. Considering I was still breathing, I assumed I got lucky.

My clothes were resting on a table by the computer. My shirt was gone, but at least everything else was there. Shoes, shorts, gloves, headband. Even my scarf was there, though I hesitated before wrapping it around my neck. It was meant to act as my cape, but I got someone killed. I didn’t deserve to wear something so flashy, so I stuffed it in my pocket.

Just as I finished getting dressed, my saviors walked into the room.

I was right. It was a superhero’s hideout, but not just any superheroes. The Trio.

“You’re awake. Good,” Scarlett said as she stepped around me to take off her hat.

That hat was one of Mock City’s greatest weapons. With it, Scarlett could pull anything out of its void that she could think of.

Hatch stayed at the door as if to make sure I wouldn’t run for it.

“You’ve been through quite the ordeal, haven’t you,” he commented.

Hatch was from a planet of living food. He had an eggshell for a head, and most of his inventions were food based. There was a rumor that if his head ever cracked open, he would shed his body like a snake shed old skin.

Scarlett took a seat at the supercomputer but with Hatch standing at the door, I was unsure what end of the room to focus on.

“What were you doing at Praline Bank this morning?” Scarlett asked, and I turned to give her my attention.

Her back was to me, so all I saw was her flowing red hair while she did something on the computer. They saved me, but was it wise to tell them I tried to stop a bank robbery on my own?

“I was depositing money when a gang of thugs held the place up,” I said.

“Shame,” Hatch said behind my back.

Scarlett hit a key, and suddenly the wall sized screen pulled up a video of my heroic shortcomings. She turned around to look me in the eye, finally, but not in a warm, welcoming way. If that was a test, I failed it.

“You were depositing money? Because it looks more like you wanted to play hero,” she suggested.

I stumbled backward, but Hatch was there to push me forward. He was shorter than a dining room table, but I wasn’t about to push back.

“So what if I was?” I argued while on the screen behind Scarlett I was getting my ass handed to me on replay.

“We don’t care if you want to get yourself killed. We want to know about the men who held up the bank,” Hatch added.

“Everything I know is on the flat screen,” I answered honestly.

Neither of them said anything, but the air in that room was growing heavy.

“I would help you if I could, I swear,” I pleaded.

Waiting for a response from my literal heroes felt more unsettling than telling my landlord I didn’t have money for rent.

“I believe you,” Scarlett answered before turning back around in her seat as if the conversation was over.

I took a breath of relief. Hatch walked from behind me to join Scarlett at the computer. In the process he left the exit wide open.

“You can go,” egghead said without turning to look at me.

“Wait, that’s it?” I asked dumbfounded.

“That’s it,” Scarlett said bluntly but politely unlike her associate.

“But you brought me here, you saved me,” I said.

“We’re the heroes that’s what we do,” they both said unanimously.

There was a hint of sarcasm in their tone.

I approached them, but before I could get too close, they gave me reason to pause. Scarlett picked up her hat and readied to pull something out of it. Hatch triggered a security system that made several eggplant shaped guns pop out of the ceiling, all aimed at me.

“Hold on, wait a minute,” I blurted out as I stumbled and tripped over my own feet to give them back their space.

I’m sure I looked more than stupid, but standing before two titans, I had to see it as an opportunity.

“I want to be a hero,” I pleaded.

“We said leave,” Hatch reinforced.

“I have powers,” I further debated.

“And that’s all you have.”

“I’m bulletproof.”

“If we want to be bulletproof, I’ll build armor.”

“But I,” I started, but Scarlett put an end to the back and forth.

“You have powers, yes, but you have no training, no intelligence, and your combat skills are nonexistent. What’s worse is you may be one of the worst things a hero could ever be, naive,” She said.

While Hatch felt cold and disinterested, at least Scarlett seemed concerned. Though her actually taking the time to speak to me made her disapproval hurt more than Egghead’s.

“I can help people,” I argued if only to myself.

Hatch deactivated the guns, and they retracted back into the ceiling.

“Sure you can, but not as a hero, not like us. Go back to stopping little old ladies from getting hit by cars, or kids from picking fights in back alleys. But leave the big stuff to use. We know what we’re doing,” Scarlett leveled with me.

I started to speak, but Hatch hit a key that froze the video behind them right at the moment a civilian got their head blown from their shoulders.

“You would be a liability, and frankly, we don’t have time to teach anyone,” Hatch added.

They couldn’t see how much they hurt me. Or maybe they could. They had valid points. Still, I couldn’t change the way I felt.

“If you know what you’re doing, then why was I first to show up?” I retorted.

I didn’t mean to be disrespectful, but it came out that way. Everything fell silent, but someone suddenly entered the room and broke the tension.

" Hey! I got chili apple for Red, Vegan for The Egg, and an all in one for myself. Who’s ready to eat,” said Kid Ninja, the last member of the heroic trinity.

With bags of what smelled like Chinese food, he sprung into the room, and I felt my welcome was overstayed.

“Who’s the new guy?” Kid asked as I finally walked away.

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