Issue #1: The Game
The Bay, San Francisco, CA- 6:58p.m.
(Phantom's mind) You ever look in the sky and ask yourself, how did I get to this point in my life? Well I have no idea where you might be when you ask yourself that question but I think it's hilarious I ask myself this same question as I'm punching some low life criminal in the face several times demanding answers. Now you're probably wondering, why am I punching a low life criminal in the face several times demanding answers? Truth be told, I'm not exactly what you call a "normal" human being. You see, due to a freak accident I had when I was eighteen years old, I now possess incredible powers. Powers classifying me now as a meta-human, a term used to describe humans with supernatural abilities. With these abilities, I have dedicated my life to becoming a major crime fighting superhero and hopefully one-day fight in the big leagues as a member of the Justice League. But at this moment I'm just a minor hero, fighting alongside my other two super-powered friends who have been with me since our last group, Titans. Or at least that's what Nightwing thought we should have called it but it really never worked out…Anyways, now we are called The Rejects, because we all come from rough backgrounds and at the same time we are not affiliated with any superhero group for personal reasons that are probably best to be never told. My close friends know me as Dustin McCarthy, a brown haired handsome twenty-two year old Caucasian male but to the people and evildoers of the Bay Area, they know me as The Phantom.
It was a Saturday afternoon in the beautiful Bay of San Francisco and Phantom stood there at the docks over by a large ruined down warehouse, holding a lowlife criminal.
(Phantom)The criminal I'm interrogating is a Lieutenant, part of a huge drug cartel going in San Francisco and I got an anonymous tip that a big trade was happening tonight. The only problem was, I didn't know where. So I did what I do best, I asked around.
"Alright buddy," Dustin asked nicely, "Where's the drug cartel meeting tonight? And maybe I'll forget you were even part of it."
(Phantom) Usually at this point they spill the beans but what I wasn't expecting was that I hit the Lieutenant too hard in the face multiple times and he passed out on me. I hate when that happens. At first I thought I was going to have to do it the hard way and search thoroughly in every warehouse on the dock but luck was on my side. The sound of about eight henchmen running towards me from behind was heard and I turned around to see if I was correct. I was half-right, there were henchmen but there were about fifteen of them.
"Gentlemen." Phantom said as he dropped the criminal he was holding. "I just made your boss's Lieutenant my bitch without using any of my powers. Now, I'm going to give you all a choice. You can either drop the guns and come in quietly. Or, I can beat the shit out of all you with my powers and still turn you guys in after. Your choice."
(Phantom) I knew looking at their faces that wasn't going to work.
The thugs looked at each other weirdly and they all reacted by firing their weapons rapidly at Phantom. Phantom deeply exhaled and used his intangibility to allow the bullets to go right through him.
(Phantom) They don't call me Phantom for nothing. I know it's a cheap tactic, but I'm not Superman where the bullets just bounce right off me, or the Flash where I can just outrun them. This tactic tends to be very useful at times as well because criminals are usually stupid enough to waste all their bullets on someone they'll never be able to hit.
Phantom scratched the back of his head and yawned as the last scumbag finally ran out of ammo. Phantom turned tangible again and looked around at everyone.
"You done?" Phantom asked in curiosity. "Because I was really starting to doze off there."
All the crooks stared at Phantom scared and shocked out of their minds as Phantom stood there with a fat grin on my face.
(Phantom) I activated my purple energy in my hands that I use to scare off my opponents first and then usually blast rays around to inflict incredible physical damage to them. I call it my Wraith ray. You know cause it's ghost like and… ah you get the point."
"My turn." Phantom uttered.
Phantom used his ability of flight to lift off the ground and quickly dashed at the crooks head on. The first unlucky loser attempted to try and hit Phantom with a crowbar but Phantom quickly grabbed the crowbar with his hand and forced it back to the enemy's face and caused him to be knocked out while his nosebleed to his chest. Two henchmen tried to come at Phantom from both sides of his body with a nailed bat and a knife, so Phantom reacted by kneeling down and used his Wraith Ray to blast one enemy through the wall of the warehouse and the other enemy into a fat pile of crates unconscious. Phantom looked back at the other crooks, ready to take down anyone who attempted to oppose him.
(Phantom) I thought to myself that this was going to be an easy and carefree night…that is until my ear communicator rang.
"Dammit!" Screamed Phantom. "And just when I thought I was in the clear." Phantom looked at the crooks awkwardly. "Will you excuse me for a second boys?"
The criminals looked confused when Phantom stopped them but then they shrugged their shoulders and attacked him anyways. Phantom pressed the button on his ear communicator and turned intangible again for insurance.
"Heyyy... buddy. What's up?" Phantom said nervously while all the dumbasses around him attempted to try and beat him up.
"Dustin where the hell are you?! You were supposed to be at the rink for tonight's really important game thirty minutes ago!" screamed the unknown person on Phantom's ear communicator.
(Phantom) Oh yeah, did I forget to mention my daytime job is being a professional ice hockey player for the National Hockey League and it just so happened to be game seven of the Stanley Cup Finals tonight for my team. Whoops. The guy that's yelling at me on the other side of my ear communicator is my best friend Jackson Hyde or known by his hero name Nereid. Jackson apparently is Atlantean, or at least that's what his mother told him. Turns out he was banished as a baby with his mother from Atlantis due to a family problem and has lived here in the States ever since. Jackson's mom died when he was nineteen so I decided to help him out when he was in financial trouble. Jackson's daytime job when he's not a superhero is acting as my personal manager. Unfortunately, he takes that job a little too seriously. Probably because he has to deal with the ridiculous amount of shit I get into all the time.
"Nereid." Phantom replied. "Just the person I wanted to talk to. Listen, tell coach I'll be there and ready to go by the time the game starts. I just ran into some…problems."
"Are you crime fighting right now?!" yelled Jackson.
"No, whatever made you think that?"
"I can hear the henchmen you're fighting in the background."
"Alright you got me. I got a tip a drug trade was going on tonight and I thought now was the best time to stop it."
Jackson exhales stressfully.
"Out of all the nights you had to choose this one. Just get here quickly when you're done."
Jackson ended the conversation.
(Phantom) Boy Jackson did not sound too happy at all after that conversation. Oh well, I'll make it up to him later after I win the Stanley Cup for the fourth time in a row and hand him a bottle of wine.
Phantom turns his communicator off.
"Sorry about that gentlemen, where was I again?" asked Phantom
Phantom looked down at the men who were still trying to punch him and it seemed they exhausted themselves out.
"Oh yeah." Phantom uttered. "I was kicking your guy's ass's."
Phantom quickly turned tangible and created a bubble with his Phantom energy and pushed back all of the crooks back into several different objects on the dock and knocked them all out. Phantom looked around to realize there were only three henchmen left, and decided to give one of them a smirk and hand signaled him to come at Phantom. The henchman screamed in rage and tried to punch Phantom but Phantom reacted by catching the henchman's arm and breaking it by elbow over-extension. The henchman fell on the ground bleeding excessively because the bone in his arm was out.
"My arm!" he screamed. "You broke my arm!"
Phantom got down on one knee and looked it at it.
"Daaamn, you should probably get that checked out." Phantom punched him in the face and knocked him out. "When you wake up." he uttered.
The last two thugs were standing by a bunch of crates and they looked like they both weren't going to give up anytime soon. Phantom was about to strike the fat one when someone else suddenly took him out before he could from the crates above.
(Phantom) What the? Who is that?
The last low-life jumped and pulled his handgun out of fear from under his jacket. He fired his pistol several times at the unknown person but the person was able to deflect all of the bullets perfectly off from what looked to be silver bracelets.
(Phantom) Silver bracelets, now I definitely know who that is. I'm happy but at the same time I'm also not so happy she's here. You'll see why in a second.
She grabbed the last sorry ass from his neck and threw him across the dock and into the ocean. Phantom shook his head.
"I was wondering if Nereid called you to come find me. Requiem."
Requiem came out of the shadows to reveal her luscious beautiful red hair and her rocking Amazonian body.
"Phantom, I can't go into detail how stupid you are. You promised Nereid and I, you would hold off crime fighting for tonight so you can play the last professional hockey game of your life. You know sometimes I question if…"
(Phantom) Ah, Artemis Smith. Definitely the hottest but also the deadliest girl I have ever known. According to what she has told Jackson and I in the past, she is of Amazon decent. Or at least she believes to be. She was raised human all her life but she always knew she was different from everyone else. I guess bench-pressing more than the entire football team at her high school was a clear indication. At the age seventeen, Artemis's father revealed that a mysterious woman had left her as a baby on the doorstep, along with silver bracelets that she's currently wearing and a note stating Artemis is of Amazon decent. Even though she's never 100% confirmed that she is of Amazon decent, I do believe that she is Amazonian just by observation of her abilities over the years I've known her and believe me, it's scary.
Phantom came back to reality after zoning out and realized Requiem was still talking to him.
"Hello?" She questioned. "Dustin? Dustin are you even listening to me?"
"Hmm?" Dustin replied.
"Did you even listen to anything I told you just now?"
"Yeah…I heard everything what you said."
Artemis crossed her arms.
"What did I say then Dustin?"
Dustin began to sweat nervously.
"Oh you know…stuff. About me probably not listening and being irresponsible as usual."
Artemis looked to the ground and shook her head disappointedly.
"Alright." I uttered. "I get it, I'm terrible at keeping promises. But that's just who I am, I can't change the way I think."
(Phantom) Shouldn't have said that. Artemis looks like she's about to blow a fuse.
"Phantom…" she replied angrily but calmed down right after. "Just start heading to San Jose before you blow our chance of making millions of dollars. I'll clean this mess up."
(Phantom) Not the response I was expecting but I'll take it.
"Thanks Artemis, you're the best. Oh and by the way. The trade hasn't happened yet, so you're probably going to want to stay here for the second wave. Have fun!"
(Phantom) Gotta love Artemis, she's like that sister I always wish I had.
Dustin gave Artemis a little salute and flew up into the air and darted towards San Jose. As Dustin was flying to San Jose, he notices the time was 7:20.
"Ten minutes. I've got plenty of time." Said Dustin with a cocky attitude.
Dustin kicked up the after burners and flew even faster towards his destination. Back to the docks, Artemis sighed out of stress and began to grab every knocked out henchmen and put them in a circle for the cops later to pick.
(Requiem) Why is it every time I feel like Dustin is not going try and pull anything stupid for a day, he goes ahead and pulls off this crap? Although, despite his genuine stupidity. Dustin does care about this city enough to risk a playoff game to stop a drug cartel trade. So I guess cleaning his mess up won't bother me that much. I'll still scold him later though.
Over in the ocean, a large boat comes floating in and a large bright light then flashes Requiem. Requiem is confused and looks over.
(Requiem) What the heck? Wait, didn't Dustin say something about the trade never happened yet?
Several men with assault rifles began to pile out of the boat as they looked around and were shocked to what they saw.
"What happened to all the men?" Demanded one of the men. "Find out who did this!"
(Requiem) Guess that's my cue.
Requiem walks out more into the light and reveals her self to the next wave of henchmen.
"Gentleman." Requiem said confidently. "I'm going to give you two choices. Drop the guns and give up nice and quietly. Or don't drop them and we can have ourselves a nice little brawl. Your choice, and I really hope you choose the second one."
One henchman fires his assault rifle once and Requiem quickly reacts by deflecting it cleanly with her silver bracelet somewhere else.
"Brawl it is." Requiem said with a grin as she grabbed a long wooden board on the ground and attacks the henchmen.
SAP Center, San Jose, CA- 7:25p.m.
The SAP Center was packed with excited fans all around the outside and inside of the arena, waiting for the game to start. Inside the home team locker room stood two people. One person was the coach, a large old man who is wearing a grey business suit, and looks like he is ready to rip somebody's head off. The other was Jackson, who is a tall, dark skinned young adult that had tied blonde dreadlocks. The coach blew a fuse on Jackson.
"Where the hell is he Hyde!?" He screamed. "The puck drops in five minutes and he's nowhere to be seen."
Jackson scratches the back of his head nervously and tries to come up with an excuse as to why Coach's favorite player isn't here.
"Don't worry coach." He replied. "He'll be here soon, he just had a serious…'emergency' to tend to."
The coach shakes his head and points at Jackson's face.
"He better be here by the time the puck drops Hyde. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry."
The coach leaves the locker room and Jackson reacts by pulling out his cell phone and dialing Dustin's number.
"Come on Dustin pick up." Jackson muttered.
As the phone rang, another phone is also heard ringing in the room. Jackson looks at the door and notices Dustin walking in, holding his phone up in the air to let him know he's here. Jackson hung up the call and gave Dustin a fat dirty look.
"Well it's about damn time!" He whined. "And you couldn't find the time to come here with out wearing your suit?"
(Phantom) He does have a good point but I'm about to own him in a second.
"I improvise on the fly, Jackson." Dustin replied.
Dustin used his intangibility to get out of his crime-fighting suit quickly and then used that same ability to slip right through into his hockey pads and uniform.
(Phantom) Like that, I'm ready to go and play a hockey game for the last time with three minutes left to spare.
Dustin gave Jackson a cheerful look and Jackson reacted by rolling his eyes at him.
(Phantom) He knew I owned him, he just won't admit it.
"Coach is waiting at the bench for you." Jackson replied. "And he's not happy either."
Dustin reacted by throwing his hand out.
"Please, coach is always never happy. But I know what'll cheer him up."
"And what's that?"
Jackson raised his brow at Dustin.
"I love how you think you're going to win this game before the game has even started."
Dustin grabbed his hockey stick from the rack.
"Hey, it's Gotham. We'll beat them."
Jackson takes a deep breath to relieve his stress.
"I hope so Dustin. We have a lot of money on the line here."
(Phantom) That reminds me.
"Oh, speaking of on the line. Tell Dick Grayson the bet is still on from last week. If I win, I get to visit the Bat Cave."
"The Bat Cave? You don't think he's honestly serious about that."
Dustin got into Jackson's face.
"Does this look like a face that's not serious?"
Jackson squinted his eyes and backed away from Dustin.
"What's the bet if you lose?"
Dustin smiled at Jackson.
"Probably best if you didn't know."
Jackson rolled his eyes at Dustin again as he quickly left the locker room and onto the ice before Jackson could say anything else.
The hockey game was in the middle of the second period, and San Jose was leading Gotham 5-1. On the stats board below the jumbotron, Dustin McCarthy's stats read 2 Goals 3 Assists & 23 Hits. On the ice, one of the players from Gotham skated down the neutral zone to try and get past the defenders. The player miraculously gets past both the defenders and is about to get a chance to score a goal. That is, until Dustin McCarthy came flying in on his skates and checks the Gotham player so hard he gets lifted off the ice and falls on the back of his neck.
The SAP Center crowd reacts by getting off their feet and cheering for the big open ice hit by their star player. Dustin steals the puck and skates down the ice.
"Yeaaauuh!" Celebrated Dustin. "Damn I'm going to miss playing this game."
A player on Gotham tries to check Dustin when he had the puck but Dustin cuts back last minute to allow his hip to fly forward and hip checks the Gotham player straight to the ground while also keeping the puck still.
"Uh! Get off me! I'm untouchable!"
Inside one of the game boxes on the first level, Jackson stood there cross-armed watching Dustin with a joyful smile. Jackson looks to the side and notices Artemis had finally arrived from Dustin's mess she had to clean up and was wearing her disguise, a blonde wig and secretary outfit with glasses.
"You finally made it." Said Jackson.
"Yeah." Replied Artemis. "No thanks to Dustin."
"What took you so long?"
"Another wave of henchmen appeared for the trade and I couldn't just let them go."
"So you kicked their ass's?"
"They weren't even a challenge. How's Dustin doing right now in the game?"
On the ice, Dustin cuts back on the defender and gets an open shot on the goalie. Dustin fires the puck with a strong wrist shot and roofs the puck in the corner of the net. The crowd roars in celebration as the goal horn sounds off and Dustin knee slides on the ice.
"Let's Go!" Screamed Dustin. "Let me hear you San Jose! Get Loud!
Hats began to fly in everywhere on to the ice as the crowd celebrated Dustin's hat trick goal and San Jose's sixth goal of the night by throwing their hats.
"Does that answer your question?" Jackson said with a smirk.
Artemis responded by smiling but looks down at the game as if she was bothered. Jackson read Artemis's expression.
"Something upsetting you Artemis?"
"Huh? No, I just…"
"I've been thinking a lot lately. About, well…" Artemis pulls her arm sleeve up to show off her silver bracelet with a horseshoe symbol imprinted on it. "The truth. I have to know Jackson, if what my adopted father revealed to me those years ago are true and that I am of Amazon decent. Then we should try to pursue that mystery and solve it after Dustin finishes his career tonight."
Jackson walks up to Artemis and grabs her arm to examine the bracelet more thoroughly.
"I know it must be difficult, wanting to know so badly." Said Jackson. "And believe me, I feel your pain on that one. I've always wanted to know my Atlantean culture, but my mother swore to me before her death to never seek or travel to Atlantis."
"I'm not sure, I really never understood all these years. But what seemed to make me worry though, was the way she used to tremble when I brought it up. Almost as if every time I mentioned Atlantis to her, she was trying to protect me from something."
"Protect you? Like some sort of threat?"
"Or the truth of a secret she doesn't want me to know. My mother clearly stated to me that I was to never return to Atlantis, until Atlantis… wants me to return there. So to answer your question or should I say request, I would gladly try to help you confirm your life's greatest mystery but…"
"But?" asked Artemis confusingly.
"I'm not sure if I'm the right person you should be asking this request to. I think the person you need to convince on this request, is that guy we all know and love over there."
Jackson points at the jumbotron screen above the ice to get Artemis's attention to it and the two-watched Dustin continue to play. Back on the ice, the players were preparing for another faceoff on the ice. Dustin was skating to the right wing side of the faceoff circle while also trying to get the crowd going even more. The player that rivaled Dustin on Gotham rolled his eyes and when Dustin got close enough, he trash talks to him.
"Hey, you know you're the biggest disgrace in the league." He said.
"What?" Dustin replied as if he didn't hear him.
"I said you know you're the biggest disgrace in the league."
"I said! You're the biggest dis-."
"Hey buddy you gotta speak up. I can't hear you because all I hear is TALENTLESS coming out your mouth."
The Gotham player took Dustin's taunt personally and drops his gloves.
"That's it!" He screamed. "I'm putting my god damn fist in your mouth to shut you up for good."
"Buddy. You just f&%$ed up big time."
Dustin also drops his gloves and signals the heated Gotham player to come at him. The crowd reacts by standing on their feet while also chanting one name several times.
"MCCARTHY! MCCARTHY! MCCARTHY!" The crowd would chant.
(Phantom) Okay Dustin, remember, light punches. You don't want to kill this hot head now.
The Gotham player tries to sock Dustin without grabbing him but Dustin casually skates to the side and knocks the Gotham player out with one punch. The crowd roared even louder as Dustin skated to the Penalty Box, giving the crowd an experience they'll never forget.
(Phantom) Oh yeah, we're partying tonight for sure.
The Bay, San Francisco, CA- 10:55p.m.
The moon shined bright over the bay of San Francisco, as Artemis and Dustin sat there on the deck of Dustin's nice house on the mountainside by the Golden Gate Bridge, taking in the view while sipping on wine. Jackson comes outside onto the deck as well and does a stretch while yawning.
"That was some game you played tonight Dustin." said Jackson as he poured himself another glass of wine.
"Yeah, considering you went crime fighting before the game." said Artemis but also gave Dustin a dirty look after.
Dustin looked back at the ocean trying to avoid the intimidation that Artemis was attempting to inflict upon him. Dustin grabbed his glass of wine and twirled the wine around a little.
"I'm just happy everything turned out the way it did." Dustin replied. "I earned a lot of money from winning a fourth Stanley Cup title, I saved the Bay from a serious drug cartel trade and…I get to visit the Bat Cave the next time I visit Gotham."
Jackson took another sip of his wine and he looked a little too intoxicated after.
"What if." Jackson asked. "You changed your mind on being a superhero…and stuck with ice hockey instead."
"No thanks." Dustin replied. "I made enough money tonight for the three of us so that we will never have to worry about a day job ever again. Now we can focus strictly on what goes on in the Bay or even parts of the world that need help 24/7."
Jackson took another sip of his drink.
"Suit yourself. You could have been the best player in the world if you kept playing from where you're at."
Jackson left the deck stumbling, bumped into a wall on the way out and then walked to his room.
(Phantom) Damn, I know Jackson's drunk and all but he's absolutely right. All the sports analysts in the world for the last four years have always said the same thing about me. They say I'm supposed to be the next Gretzky or Lemieux, or perhaps even better. But every time I hear all those comments, I always think of HIM.
Dustin looked back at the Bay disappointed. Artemis analyzed Dustin and Dustin knew at that moment he was giving off an indication something was wrong. Artemis got closer to Dustin.
"Something troubling you?" Artemis asked in concern. "I thought this is what you wanted?"
"It is." Dustin replied. "But being a Pro in the NHL was always my dream in life and to realize I could be a legend in the game is just...heart breaking."
"Then why don't you just play hockey?"
Dustin raised his hand up to show off his abilities to create Phantom energy, make himself intangible, and turn invisible.
"Because, ever since I had my accident at Cadmus Labs in Metropolis. I just…haven't been the same. The way I act, the habits I've created and the lifestyle I live in. Besides, with these powers I'm able to help and protect the people of the Bay Area from thugs and criminals."
Artemis grabbed Dustin's arm.
"That's very thoughtful of you to say, considering that most of the words that come out of your mouth are terrible one liners."
(Phantom) Not going to argue that.
"But I've known you long enough to know something else is bothering and I'm the only one who doesn't know your background. You can tell me anything."
(Phantom) She was right; I haven't been honest to Artemis enough and I think it was time for me to let her know.
Dustin looks down at his wine glass and takes a sip.
"When I got drafted 1st round 1st pick as an eighteen year old in the NHL Draft for San Jose, I felt like the luckiest and happiest teenager on the planet. I couldn't believe it actually happened but there was one person who did believe it could happen."
"Who? Mother? Father?"
"Hell no. My parents always thought if I wasn't a scientist like them, then I'm dead to them, especially to my Dad, the real definition of a total prick. In other words, I didn't really have a loving relationship with them."
Artemis was a little shocked by that statement.
"Talk about harsh parenting. Then who was it?"
"My little brother Sean, he always supported me in everyway possible for hockey. It was almost as if it was both our dreams."
"I didn't know you had a younger brother."
"I don't usually talk about him."
"Why? I feel like this would be something he would want you to do. Can I meet him sometime?"
(Phantom) Everything got awkward for me as my heart sank from that last remark. How should I tell her?
"You don't understand. My parent's weren't the only ones that were killed the day I had my accident at Cadmus labs. Before the accident happened, I came to my parents with Sean to let them know about my great achievement. You want to know how they reacted to it? They gave me a look of disappointment as if I had shamed our family. They handed me a form that allowed them to legally disown me and be separated from the family tree. Those two bastards always neglected me and then they lay that shit on me. Anyways, while I argued with them, the experiment they were working on exploded and the building began to crumble. My parents and all the scientists were the first to go. I tried to get out with Sean but before we could get out…my little brother...sacrificed himself to protect me from an oncoming chunk of concrete ceiling."
Artemis gasped and placed her hand on her mouth.
"I'm so sorry. I didn't know."
A tear ran down Dustin's cheek but quickly rubbed it away so Artemis wouldn't see.
"It's alright Artemis, it's never an easy topic to talk about. So after Sean died, it was then that energy of the experiment spread and it mutated me into what I am today. Only a few people know what happened to me but everything else about my previous life was completely erased from my personal database. In other words, according to the United States my parents and brother never existed. But enough about that, I want to know what you want to do, Artemis."
"Yeah, we've always done what Jackson and I want to do and it seems unfair you usually never have a say in matters. Plus, we have all the free time in the world now. So Artemis, what do you want to do?"
Artemis looked down at her silver bracelet and then looked back to Dustin.
"Now that you mention, I want to know if I am truly of Amazon decent Dustin. It's been my life's greatest question and I can't wait any longer to find out."
Dustin smiled back at Artemis.
"Then Themyscira is where we will go tomorrow." Dustin and Artemis heard the sound of Jackson puking in his bathroom. "But first we'll need to go to the Pharmacy in the morning for Jackson."
Artemis and Dustin laughed at that last statement as they continued to drink the rest of their wine while staring at the moonlight.
How will the trip go for the Rejects?
Next Issue: The Amazons