Chapter 16: Comic Books are real
“Hey, Spidey – I’ve always wondered: who do you think is the lamest villain you fight? I’ll concede I’m pretty much my own worst enemy. Plus, I fought a cow once.”
~ Wade Wilson (Deadpool)
“Are you seeing this? Tell me you’re seeing this!” I yelled at Aden, pushing the paper in his face.
“I see it!” He yelled back, ripping the paper from my hand and throwing it forcefully against the wall.
I took a deep breath and looked him in the eye with a condescending glare. “Aden, you could’ve exposed us! You could’ve died for crying out loud!”
“I’m fine. Nothing bad happened.” He argued.
“Well it could’ve!”
Aden had gone and been interviewed by his father last night, and if that wasn’t bad enough, Inferno had attacked him as well and almost killed Aden.
Aden had used some of the blue liquid Cody gave me after Andromeda first attacked to heal a nasty burn he got in his side. He also did it without telling me, leaving me to discover his healed injury and the news story by his father when I arrived in the Man Cave in the morning.
The paper was printed out from one of Dash Corp’s many websites. The main picture was of Kratos holding Inferno back with a statue as Inferno was on fire, taken from the security cameras at Dash Corp. At the bottom, after the interview questions and firsthand account from Aden’s father, there was a video from the security cameras of Kratos and Inferno fighting. It was short, but super fights were the most viewed videos on YouTube now. It had already racked up ten million views since last night.
“You went out and talked with your father. Besides the fact that he could’ve recognized you, which would’ve been detrimental, he was also interviewing you. I haven’t prepared you for something like this. You could’ve said something that revealed who we were! Just the fact that you came for an interview is enough for him to suspect everyone he knows!”
Aden scoffed. “Please, he’ll never figure out that his disappointment of a son is an actual superhero. He thinks I spend my nights playing World of Warcraft in my room or reading fantasy books. Trust me, he’ll never know who I am.”
I sighed. “What about Inferno? You said he knew who you were.”
“Well, it sure seemed like it.” He shook his head, “he can’t know, can he? I mean – he was baiting me, telling me that he would tell my father who I was, like he knew that he was my father. But, how?”
“Maybe he does know you, like in real life.” Eric offered, pausing his game of World of Warcraft.
“Well, weren’t you in that accident with another kid? Dylan Danvers? What if he is Inferno?” He offered.
Aden furrowed his eyebrows. “No, Dylan is a jerk, but a super villain? A super villain out to kill Olly and I? He’s not that crazy.”
“Are you sure?” I asked hesitantly. “He seemed pretty rude when I met him, pretty good super villain material if you asked me. Plus, didn’t you say he was at dinner at your house last night? He would’ve heard your dad talking about wanting an interview. He would’ve known where to find you.”
Aden sat down, his face blank of emotions. “But . . . if he was Inferno, and he is intent on killing both of us, then why doesn’t he do it at school or when I’m at home? I mean – wouldn’t that be the best way to get rid of us?”
“Yes, but I don’t think that’s his point.” I countered. “Remember when we first faced him at your mom’s fundraiser? He said he worked for The Obstructer. They want us dead, but I think it’s more than that. Maybe they want to kill us when we’re saving the day, or when we’re in costume. It would make sense. That’s what happened to Captain Impossible. Maybe the whole point is to prove to the public that their heroes aren’t as great as they think we are.”
“My bully is a super villain.” Aden whispered with a voice full of shock. “That sounds like the title to a bad fanfiction if you asked me.”
Eric shrugged. “Well, we have a part of his chipped tooth. We have his DNA.”
“So it is Dylan?” Aden asked.
“It’s a bit more complicated than that.” Eric deadpanned. “We need some DNA to compare it to.”
Aden nodded, a determined look on his face. “He threatened my mother and my father. If it really is Dylan, he has to pay. I’ll find a way to get a piece of his hair or something. I’m not letting him win.”
“Who are we not letting win?”
I jumped as Elise’s voice appeared behind me. I was still not used to her being able to teleport to my side at a moment’s notice.
Elise hugged me from behind and rested her chin on my shoulder. “Who are we talking about? I want to be kept in the loop.”
Eric explained the situation that Aden’s bully might in fact be the villain that had been terrorizing us for weeks. Aden was too busy staring off into space and I was too distracted by the fact that Elise’s body was pressed up against mine to even think about talking without tripping over my words.
(What? She was my girlfriend. I was allowed to feel flustered around her.)
“Well, it looks like we have more than just that problem on our hands.” Said a voice from the entrance to the Man Cave.
I turned and saw two people I never thought I’d see again. Agent Argent and Calico were standing at the entrance to the Man Cave.
(Why was it so easy for people to break into our supposedly ‘secret’ hideout?)
“Oh, yeah. That’s what I came in here to warn you about.” Elsie apologized.
I shook my head and smiled.
“We have some business to attend to.” Agent Argent greeted, all business, as she walked over to our monitors. She worked for MASKED, a government organization in charge of keeping track of supers and controlling really bad super villains.
Calico, or rather, Cassandra Reyes, walked up behind her, winking at me. I couldn’t help but to remember that the last time I saw her she pummeled me. Calico was a part of the League of Legends in Empire City, and part cat.
Elise and Aden both turned to me in shock.
Oh, yeah. They kind of didn’t know about the last time those two were here.
“You know Calico?” Aden asked, bewildered.
“I’m more concerned about the one in the suit.” Elise said.
I sighed and explained to them about the last time they visited, leaving out the part about Calico beating me up.
“So, there’s a secret organization called MASKED that helps control the supers? And they’re supposed to help us control super villains, though they aren’t doing too good of a job right now with Inferno and Andromeda?” Elsie asked.
“That’s actually what we’re here to talk about.” Agent Argent interrupted, a big picture of Andromeda now on our screen. “Andromeda is working for a villain known as The Obstructer, as you know. The Obstructer has also employed Inferno through her. But, we believe that Inferno’s attacks are just a distraction for the real show.”
Aden scoffed. “Not to sound rude, but he’s been pretty successful in trying to hurt us. I got burned yesterday of you haven’t heard.”
“Oh, we heard.” Calico grinned.
“Anyways,” Agent Argent continued, “We have information that might be of some concern to you all.” A map of the United States was pulled up on the monitors now. There were red blinking lights at around twenty different spots on the map. “This map shows eighteen supers who we believe to have been kidnapped or killed by The Obstructer or their henchmen in the past month.”
“Like what Nemesis did two years ago?” I asked.
Calico shook her head. “No. Nemesis was kidnapping superheroes to use in his own personal army, The Obstructer, we believe, is killing or kidnapping both heroes and villains.”
I widened my eyes in shock. Villains as well?
Elsie shook her head as she thought allowed. “But if this Obstructer character wants all supers dead, then why is he or she employing villains to help them? Doesn’t that go against their ideologies?”
“Yes, but we also believe that these villains are being used only as a last resort. As soon as they are of no use, they disappear as well. After The Obstructer uses them, they are as good as dead.”
Man, that’s pretty messed up – even for a villain.
“We have a few suspects for The Obstructer as of now. We know that they’re a resident of DC, and the creator of the Remedist Party, even if Richard Head is their running man. We should alert you, though, because one of our suspects is Chad Hunter, your new boss.”
It wasn’t hard to believe, Chad being The Obstructer, but it was still a shock that he could’ve been. I mean – this guy was dating my mom and he wanted me dead, not a cool thing.
But if The Obstructer was Chad, I was going to do everything in my power to stop him, especially since he was corrupting my mom.
Aden whistled. “Wow, when does the hero ever not know the villain in real life? It’s like you’re Peter Parker, man. Everyone he ever met was a villain, his best friend, his best friend’s dad, his teacher, the guy who killed his uncle, his work nemesis, and the list goes on.”
“I get it.”
Calico’s eyes lit up, like she remembered something. “Arabella – Sonic – reminded me to warn you all about Andromeda. She’s probably planning something behind the scenes, even if you haven’t seen her for a while. Her powers are different from The Marvel’s as well. His telekinesis depends on pure mental force, but hers depends on draining the energy of others around her. She has to spend long periods of time with them, charging her powers and dwindling the energy of her victim down. Sonic says that finding her source of energy might be the best way to catch her before it’s too late. That’s how she was stopped last time.”
I nodded, keeping that in mind.
“What are the symptoms?” Elsie suddenly asked.
“Well, depression, mood swings, bursts of anger, and a sudden loss of interest in basically anything. The only thing that they’ll be able to think about besides how upset they are is Andromeda.” Calico answered. “Why?”
“No reason.” Elsie replied, deep in thought.
Whatever she was thinking, I wanted to know. But something told me that I should wait until Agent Argent and Calico were gone.
“And you all with your shiny gadgets and things still don’t know who she is?” Eric asked, a little annoyed that they had taken his World of Warcraft screen to give the presentation.
“Well, we had one person who knew, but her memory was wiped. Andromeda is in contact with many underground supers, like Thanatos and Obviate. Obviate made sure her victim forgot how she looked before she left.” Agent Argent answered.
“So,” Aden concluded, “we have no idea what Andromeda looks like, and she may be slowly killing someone to upgrade her powers, the monster who killed Captain Impossible and probably countless other supers might be Oliver’s boss, and Inferno might just be my bully and my dad’s best friend’s son.”
“Yep.” I sighed. “Maybe our life is a comic book after all.”