Chapter 23: Every story needs cliffhangers
“When a hitman is scared, you know something is wrong.”
~ Cisco Ramon (Vibe)
“. . . and in an exclusive interview with the Super Task Force coordinator, Detective Pearson, we have learned that the attack on the prestigious Eldredge Academy was orchestrated by the super villains Andromeda and Inferno. Superheroes White Lightning, Kratos, and Delinquent fought valiantly against the villain, protecting the many students of this famous building. It became evident after the attack that the target was Mary Thompson, the daughter of the Secretary of State, Sara Thompson. You may remember from last month when her son, Ian Thompson and his friend Oliver Storm were kidnapped for ransom by radical Remedists. Mary Thompson was presumably kidnapped during the attack and hasn’t been seen since. Andromeda is perceived to have her held hostage.
“When the police entered the school and evacuated students, they found an unconscious Dylan Danvers, a sophomore at the school, in the old band hall. When awoken, Dylan reportedly shot columns of fire at the officers. He was shortly detained with Merlonium cuffs and transported to Alcatraz for persecution on the crimes of being the villain, Inferno. The Danvers family denied our request at a comment on the reveal that their son was a super villain.
“A list of unregistered students from the school who are perceived as missing is below. Be sure to call the school if your student is fine.
“And, in other news, the Remedists and Richard Head plan to have a rally in downtown later tonight to discuss this recent attack. Richard Head is scheduled to . . .”
I turned away from the news station that was streaming in the Comic Book Shop. I already knew most of that information anyways.
“Honey!” my mom called. “We’re all going to be late to dinner if you don’t come now!”
I sighed and grabbed my blazer from the table and followed her outside. Chad was taking us out to dinner to celebrate the start of winter break and my release from school. We were going to a very nice sushi restaurant in downtown.
I got in the back seat and they started chatting, as usual. If anything, Chad was chatting more than he normally did, but it was probably only because of the recent reveal at Eldredge.
Dylan Danvers, son to one of the most respectable families in DC, was a super villain. The city was outraged and the Danvers family was in hiding. There was no doubt in my mind that they didn’t want to be associated with their son. The Remedists took this as another spark to their flame. Dylan was young – only a sophomore in high school, even younger than the kids from Empire City. Plus, he was a villain. What did that say about our youth today? How could they possibly be allowed this kind of power if they were going to misuse it in such a way?
Mary’s kidnapping was a huge story as well. It was assumed that Andromeda kidnapped her and fled. The police searched the building for hours, and there had been no bodies. As far as the public was concerned, Mary Thompson was a hostage, not dead by my hands.
I visibly flinched at that thought. Mary was dead, and it was my fault. I could never forgive myself for that. A hero was always supposed to protect the citizens first, and I failed. It was my blow that killed her, however accidental.
I had dressed back up in my White Lightning costume as soon as my mom had enough time to check up on me and make sure her baby was okay after the incident. I visited the police precinct and gave them a full report of what happened, leaving out the part where Mary died. There was no reason to alert the press that one of America’s Sweethearts was dead.
My next mission was to tell the press what had happened. As White Lightning, I told them the whole story, except for the fact that Mary had died. The press was still reporting her disappearance as a kidnapping, and if her mom hadn’t been told by Ian yet, I didn’t want her to find out the hard way.
I was worried about Ian. He just found out that his best friend was the hero he’d been trying to exploit for so long now, and I couldn’t trust him enough to tell him. On top of that, his sister dies by my accidental hand right in front of him. I wanted to check up on him, but he hadn’t answered my calls.
I was starting to think that Ian would never answer my calls.
At the dinner, Chad and my mom curiously asked about Dylan Danvers. There was no doubt that they wanted to know if he was a reckless millennial, as to prove their beliefs that the young shouldn’t be given the responsibility of powers.
(Yeah, because the adults have shown so much responsibility when given power)
(Note: the sarcasm)
But I knew where my mom’s fears at least came from. Chad, her ever outspoken boyfriend, was a raging Remedist for as long as I’d known him.
I told them the truth that though Dylan was a bully who shouldn’t have gotten powers, there were countless others who got their powers and used them for good. You can guess which part they listened to the most.
When my mom went to the bathroom, Chad took the time to have a chat with me.
“So, you know how much I love your mother, right?”
I almost gagged. They’d been dating for, what? Two and a half months? I didn’t know the “I love you” bomb could be dropped that early, especially when it came to adults.
“Yes.” I said slowly, seeing where he was going with it.
“Well, we’ve been very happy together lately. You know how much your mom misses her late husband, right?” I nodded. “We both think it would be best to spend as much time together as we can. She never got that with him, and she wants it with me. We’re only getting older, son.”
I narrowed my eyes. Where was he going with this chat?
“Well, I was wondering if you could-” he cut himself off as my mom came back to the table, smiling. “Never mind, you want what best for her anyways.”
“Why, what were we talking about, boys?” She asked curiously.
“Sharon, you know how much I love you, right?”
I gagged mentally.
“Of course, honey.”
When did she start calling him honey?
“Well, seeing as you’re about the best thing that has ever happened to me, and you make my life so complete. I was wondering if you’d do me the honor of being my wife.” By this point Chad had gotten on one knee, gaining the attention of everyone in the room.
My eyes widened at the spectacle.
“I know we haven’t been together long, but, honey, you’re my whole world.”
My mom was so happy that she was crying. Her hand covered her mouth and her eyes gleamed. I was still sitting in shock.
She nodded furiously and jumped into Chad’s arms. The restaurant applauded as they clung to each other. I guess everyone loved to watch a good love story.
They separated and Chad placed the expensive ring on her finger. It looked like it cost more than our entire apartment.
(Which actually wasn’t saying much since it was tiny as hell)
My mom and Chad were now engaged. My mind couldn’t process it. The man I expected to be The Obstructer, the guy who twisted my mother’s views, is now my future step-dad. I didn’t know whether or not to scream or throw up.
All I knew was that everything was going to change.
I hugged the fur jacket closer to my body as I waited in the dark warehouse. No one warned me about the ferocity of DC winters.
The large room was dark, just how I liked it. The winds outside rattled the broken windows and debris flew around on the other end of the building. Some of the movement could’ve been my powers malfunctioning again.
I flinched as I tried not to think of it, but it was sort of impossible with the black shroud at my feet.
Mary was under there. Mary Thompson, the girl who loved me.
I clenched my eyes shut as the memory floated over me, but of course it only made it more prominent. Oliver’s shot of lightning coming through the roof, Mary pushing me out of the way, the dark and scorched circle on her chest, her empty gaze, and finally the supposed heroes fleeing the scene.
A hero, in my experience, is just a fancy name for a coward in spandex. The public thought they represented peace and security, but in reality they didn’t give a damn about the citizens of the cities they swore to protect. The superheroes were no better than your average criminal.
I thought of Mary again and held back the tears. When you cared, you had something to lose. It was why I wasn’t supposed to care this time. I wasn’t supposed to fall.
I felt the presence of, rather than saw, the man I was supposed to be meeting tonight. I looked up and met his ghostly gaze. His eyes were dark, almost black, and his expression bleak. He looked empty inside because he was.
Ever since I became a ‘villain,’ I made sure to be in the good favors of others like me. I made friends of those underworld supers, the ones who don’t necessarily want to attack a city, but still want to make a living off of their powers. It was how I found the mind eraser for Cassandra (or Calico if you must) after I fled to DC. I couldn’t have her telling everyone what I looked like.
The man I was meeting was known simply as Thanatos. His specialty was in the name.
“I’m glad to see you’ve met with me tonight.” I greeted as he stood only a couple feet from me.
Thanatos did not wear a super suit like most supers. He wore dark jeans and a gray hoodie, giving him the strange look of a rebellious teenager, though he was much more powerful than that.
“Let’s get to the chase, Andromeda. I don’t like pleasantries.”
I nodded. I slowly bent down and lifted the black shroud from over Mary’s face. It had barely been half a day and she looked just as she had before. She could’ve been sleeping if either of us didn’t know better.
I stood back up and stared Thanatos in the eye as much as I could with his hood covering his gaze. “You know what I want. You owe me a favor.”
He sighed. “You do know the consequences, right?”
I narrowed my eyes. “Of course I do. I wouldn’t be asking if I wasn’t prepared.”
He shook his head. “She won’t come back like she was before. Passing between the veils does something to the human mind. Not to mention what abilities she might gain. If she doesn’t go crazy, she will become a shadow of her former self. She was murdered, which adds extra precautions. She will have a bloodlust for the one who caused her death. She will not stop until he is gone or dead.”
I smiled at the prospect. “I’m counting on it.”
Thanatos bent down without a word. He placed a hand on her forehead and his eyes went totally black. I watched as a ghostly grey light passed from Thanatos into Mary. It felt like seconds, but must’ve been close to an hour. What Thanatos was doing, it took a long time to be done properly.
Finally he grimaced as the darkness faded from the whites of his eyes. The gray light seeped into Mary’s chest and settled within her.
And then Mary’s eyes opened.
T H E E N D
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