Chapter 1: Can you say conspiracy?
“I . . . I just found out about my powers and you expect me to be a sidekick? Don’t you think I’m a bit underqualified?”
~ Aden Dashner (Kratos)
“I can’t believe Elise’s parents let her stay out of school today.” I exclaimed, “I mean – that’s just not fair!”
My long-time best friend, Oliver Storm, gave out a hearty laugh. “Yes, because it’s not like you haven’t suffered a traumatic ordeal involving a super villain kidnapping you to use as bait for a superhero.”
I frowned. “How would you know? What if White Lightning also saved my life once and I just never told you? Huh?”
“Trust me. If White Lightning had saved you, I would know.” He paused, as if thinking for a moment. “Plus, you would never stop babbling about it. Sometimes I swear you’re just as bad as your sister when it comes to supers.”
I punched his shoulder in response. Oliver chuckled at my betrayed expression, but we both knew his words were true.
And, yes, you heard right before. Superheroes exist. Superheroes like White Lightning, The Marvel, Sonic, The Doctor, Merman, and so many more saved countless people in countless cities every day. They had superhuman abilities, like electricity manipulation, telekinesis, super speed, super healing, flight, super strength, and the list can go one and on. The point is, we had supers, and they were as cool as you would expect.
I mean – one wouldn’t think parading around in spandex all day would make a guy hot, but the girls loved the supers. Well, mostly only the good ones.
What would a good superhero be without a super villain, am I right?
Super villains like Andromeda, Venom, The Manipulator, The Butcher, Two-Face, and so many more raised havoc and chaos in countless cities every day. They had the same super human abilities as the heroes, and there were far more of them. For some reason, the bad people with the worst intentions were always the ones who got the superpowers, not the heroes.
No one knew how they came into existence. As far as anyone knew, super powered peoples only started to show up around 1975. For some reason, accidents that would normally result in death gave people super human abilities instead. Oh, you fell in a vat of toxic waste? Here’s some super strength. You got struck by lightning? Here’s some lightning powers. You got experimented on as a child? Here, now the surgeries worked and you’re part animal.
I couldn’t name the countless theories on how super suddenly popped into existence. All I know is that once the governments of the world started to actually acknowledge that these supers were real, the heroes all signed the Super Ordinance of 1978, which held them to the agreement that they would help take down the supers who chose to become villains. It was also rumored that each country started their own government agency to deal with these new powered beings. MASKED (Monitoring of Abnormal, Strange, or Kaleidoscopic Events Department) is one of the rumored agencies. Calico, a member of the League of Legends based out of Empire City, is rumored to be an agent, as well as Tornado, another member of the League of Legends.
I wasn’t what you would call a fangirl, like my twin sister, Mary. I was a conspiracy theorist. I was a little bit obsessed with finding out the identities of the supers in our town. I had a wall in my room dedicated to sightings and theories. I also owned a police scanner and got regular phone alerts on media mentions of any supers. I guess you could call it a hobby.
It might have been a strange hobby for someone like me, though. My mom was the Secretary of State. Like, the Secretary of State who works in the White House next door to the President of the United States of America.
Yeah, that one.
My mother and sister both scolded me on my choice of hobby. It was as if they thought I should spend my time getting good grades and jumping at the chance to help my mother with politics.
They were so much alike, my mother and my sister. Both stubborn as hell, but hopeless romantics. My mother was a little bit more hardened after being in the game of politics for so long, but my sister, not so much. She was head over heels for any super who saved the day.
First it was Captain Impossible, the super who’d saved our city for so long that I couldn’t imagine a time without him. When he died a couple of weeks ago and was revealed as some thirty-something year old named Daniel Jackson, Mary wasn’t rebuffed. She immediately moved on to his former sidekick turned hero, White Lightning, who “just had to be” closer to Mary’s age.
Daniel Jackson just also happened to be Oliver’s boss. Oliver worked at the Comic Book Store underneath his apartment building. Of course, many theorists automatically assumed either he or the other employee of the store, Eric Wallace, was White Lightning, the notorious sidekick. But there was no way Oliver was a superhero, I would know.
Besides, White Lightning was spotted once while Oliver and I were on a field trip with the rest of the Eldredge Academy kids. He was right next to me the entire time, there was no way he could’ve saved the day halfway across town.
Besides, with the workload Eldredge Academy gives, no one here would have the time to be a hero, not even a smart scholarship kid like Oliver.
Yes, I’m the son of a rich as all hell mother befriending a poor kid from the bad part of town. The world must be ending, right? Wrong. Oliver was cool, and just because he wasn’t given the same opportunities as me didn’t mean we couldn’t be friends. Besides, he tolerated my rantings and occasionally let me copy his homework.
Eldredge Academy housed most of the sons and daughters of the rich and politically powerful in Washington DC, hence the son and daughter of the Secretary of State. A lot of the kid’s parents were just rich, but nobody lived in DC with that kind of money and no political affiliations. Elise Howerton, Oliver’s girlfriend of about a week or two and my sister’s best friend, was the daughter of the White House Physician and a world renowned doctor. Hell, we even had the daughter of the President of the United States going to our school, Heather Richards.
The point is, Eldredge was a terrorist’s dream. All the children of all the powerful people in DC all in one place. It was why the school had its own security guards and snipers on the roofs across the street. Though, most of the precautions were for Heather, being the First Daughter and all.
Today was the first day in a long time when Olly had the time to go to my house to hang out after school, though I mostly suspect it was only because we were doing another Political Sciences project together.
I mean, I knew Eldredge gave out a lot of homework, but even Olly had seemed like he was overworking lately. Working a job after school must’ve really been cutting into his downtime more than I thought.
Even today he had seemed off, though that can most likely be attributed to the fact that his girlfriend had been kidnapped last night to be used as bait for White Lightning.
Elise had been kidnapped by Andromeda, a super villain from Empire City who had moved out to DC for unknown reasons. Andromeda and White Lightning had a fight, and White Lightning won. Andromeda got away, but White Lightning was able to save Elise. As far as we both knew, Elise was fine, if for a couple scrapes and bruises. Elise might’ve been shy and reserved, but inside she was as tough as nails. Note to self: never challenge her to an arm wrestle again.
Oliver and Elise had only started dating at Halloween, when they had ‘a moment’ and kissed. I walked in on them, and it was even more awkward than you think. Mary and I had a bet going on how long it would take them to get together, seeing as their affection for each other was painfully obvious. I won only because I convinced them not to let Mary know for a couple days.
(I got twenty bucks out of that deal)
To just start dating her and then to have her ripped out of your hands, hell, I’d be upset at school too.
But, back to the point.
Since Oliver was coming home with me, we saw no need in him taking his beat up old car to and from school today. He got to drive home with me in the car my designated driver drove. And, yes, we had a driver. The car was nice though, so I was okay with not owning my own for the time being.
Mary wasn’t coming home with me today seeing as she was already home sick. She caught a severe cold last night, and there was no way she was coming to school in that crappy mood.
“So, why do you think it was Elise she took?” I asked when we got in the car.
“You know, why Elise? Out of all the girls in DC that he’s saved before, why her?”
Oliver got uncomfortable, absentmindedly fiddling with his fingers. “I don’t know, dude. Didn’t he save her at that bank once? Maybe she thought that was enough.”
I shrugged. The inner conspiracy theorist in me had already worked out the main theories. She did happen to be the daughter of rich parents connected to politics, but there hadn’t been a ransom demand that the media knew about, which ruled out her parent’s money as a motive. And from the stories I’ve heard, it didn’t seem like Andromeda tried too hard to hold onto her. So maybe politics wasn’t a motive either. The only practical, reasonable conclusion I could make was that somehow White Lightning had made a connection with her. Maybe he’d saved her more than we knew, or maybe he’d even visited her at her house.
The car suddenly came to an abrupt halt. I pulled back the window connecting the driver to us, but he wasn’t there. Our driver was missing.
I looked back at Olly, who now seemed to be on high alert. Something wasn’t right.
The car suddenly shook, causing our backpacks and papers to fly onto the floor. The door to the car was ripped open, revealing a man in a black ski mask with a very big gun. I was no expert on artillery, but I knew that thing was dangerous and could most likely blow me to pieces from that distance.
The man pointed the gun at us while another one came up and dragged Olly and then me out of the car. The man who had been dragging Olly let him go and suddenly held his hand to his chest and cried out in pain, like something had shocked him. In retaliation, the man punch Olly in the face, causing Oliver to fall to the ground.
I yelled at the man who had punched my best friend, feeling strangely braver than I would normally have been, “Let go of him!”
One of the other men chuckled as they brought a knee to my stomach. I fell straight to the ground in pain. (Man, in the movies they never told you just how much being kicked in the stomach hurt.)
I felt my hands being pulled behind my back and tied together as a black bag was pulled over my head. I struggled against the hands holding me down, but seeing as I was a scrawny kid, I didn’t get much leverage. A sharp prick in my neck told me that they stuck a needle in me, most likely filled with something to either knock me out or kill me. I was hoping for the former option.
Because kidnapping is just such a great start to anyone’s day, am I right?