No Turning back
Across town the remaining members of the 11:59 had gathered solemnly in Nona’s shop, Tune It Up. Her day job was as a well-known automotive customizer with booming business. She lived in a small but cozy apartment above the shop with her three-year-old son, Hendrix. Fortunately, he was on a trip to Disneyland with his grandparents, unaware of the turmoil surrounding his mother and aunt. Nona had disappeared not long before Hendrix had left, missing a chance to say goodbye to her son. She had never sent him away before and her missing that vital moment made the others think she was not herself long before she had attacked Jordan.
To call those gathered a "team" seemed to be a colossal overstatement. With three key members injured, hiding or M.I.A. all that remained was the four of them. Mayan, Goliath, Quickstrike and CLU. "Mayan" and "Goliath" were brothers Ricardo and Guillermo Garcia, two super-powered siblings from the south side of town.
Rico possessed shape-shifting abilities, one of his more fearsome visages being that of the winged serpent Quetzalcoatl, worshipped by his ancestors, hence the codename. Guillermo's code name came from an ancient story as well. Like the fabled character in The Old Testament, he was over 7 feet tall and well-built. Add to that enormous strength and he was a force to be reckoned with.
The last remaining member besides CLU was Quickstrike. A pretty "blaisan" girl with a dark, mysterious past. Armed with unnatural speed and razor sharp Katana's, there were some on the team who believed her to have been an assasin in her former life. Only Jordan knew for sure but she seemed to trust her, so the rest of the team followed suit.
The small group listened half-heartedly as CLU ranted on and on about their next course of action. He was drunk with power after only a few hours of leadership; the rest of the team was trying to make since of the events of the last few days. Quickstrike sat off to herself in a corner, methodically sharpening her weapons. So quick and stealthy were her movements that no one even saw her draw them. The others barely reacted, having become accustomed to feeling like they missed something when she was around. The relatively quiet mood was interrupted when Mayan had enough of CLU’s ramblings.
“Man, will you shut the hell up?!” He advanced on CLU menacingly. He was over 6ft tall and well muscled, his bulging biceps a testament to his power. His long black hair cascaded off his head regally and his hazel eyes were guarded by well-trimmed facial hair. He was imposing and beautiful to Quickstrike, a true reflection of his ancestry. CLU on the other hand was average height with a lithe body and smooth chocolate skin. He thought himself much better looking than he was, another of his annoying traits. With two sweeping steps, Mayan had CLU by his shirt collar.
“Mayan, no! Rico, please stop!” Quickstrike was between them before the sound of her words ever registered in their ears. “He’s in charge, for now. He can’t make us do anything without Jordan’s okay. He’s just pulling your chain.” Without looking at her, he released CLU’s shirt in a huff and walked to the back of the shop into Nona’s office, closing the door behind him. Quickstrike followed at a distance while CLU righted himself. Goliath just chuckled to himself at his new leaders cowardice.
“You better get your boy there! He almost messed up and got thrown off the team!” Clu yelled after them much more confident now that Rico was gone.
As the door opened to the office, Rico didn’t even look up. He knew it was Quickstrike, always there to pick up the pieces. He also knew she cared deeply for him but wasn’t sure why he finds it hard to feel the same. She was stunning. Black hair cut into a striking asymmetric bob, olive skin, those exquisitely tilted grey eyes, all belonging to a petite athletic frame. As she moved around the desk toward him, he was captivated by the way her body moved beneath her black cat suit, emblazoned with the teams logo. She reached out and lightly touched Rico’s hand.
“Are you alright? It looks like you kind of lost it back there. I know you’re worried about the others… I am too…” She used the term “others” to avoid drawing attention to his infatuation with Jordan. He’s in love with her and has been for quite some time. Quickstrike knew this all too well and so she settled on an uneasy friendship, a shadow of the relationship she truly wanted. “You want my opinion? ”
Rico pulled his hand away, sulking. Despite his manly façade, he really was a scared young man whose two best friends just tried to kill each other and nearly succeeded. Quickstrike sat down gently on the desk; legs crossed imploring Rico to look at her. He refused so she barreled forward with what she wanted to say.
“Fine. I think Nona didn’t attack Jordan and she didn’t abandon her son. There’s got to be another explanation and since you and I are the only veterans left on active duty, we are going to find it. Even if our “fearful” leader votes against it.” Her last remark received a small smile, one that quickly spread.
“Sooooo…” She drug out the word, searching his face for a response.
“So, we ditch the prick, find Nona, prove her innocence, and get revenge for Jordan. Are you in?” He stood up and held a hand out to her, which she playfully slapped away.
“Of course, I’m in! This was my plan remember?” She stifled her voice a little, afraid the others might overhear. “I can get past the others, no problem. How are you getting out?”
“The same way I came in.” With that he opened the door, sauntered out and grabbed his coat off a nearby chair, and headed out the front door. He nodded at is brother on the way out but Goliath shook his head, indicating that he would stay. Quickstrike met him outside without any suspicion. They quickly hopped into his truck and sped off.
“Where do we even start?” He asked her after a few minutes of driving without a destination.
“Downtown Denver,” she replied firmly. “That’s where Jordan fought the imposter, that’s where all the clues will be.” He glanced at her with a skeptical expression.
“Yes. Imposter.” She turned in her seat to face him, trying desperately not to get lost in his eyes. “I’m new to this whole ‘Superhero, help people thing’ but you, you grew up with Nona. You trust her and Jordan with your life every time we go out. You follow them without question. You sounded so sure in the office. How can you question Nona’s loyalty now?”
For a long time he didn’t answer, eyes fixed firmly on the road and mouth set in a tight line. Quickstrike felt the urge to fill the uncomfortable silence anyway she could. As it grew, so do her own doubts and suspicions.
“Do you trust me?”
“Do. You. Trust. Me?” She pushed, dragging out each syllable.
“Yes, you know I do! But you don’t know Nona like I do, the things she did when she was younger, the life she led. It was full of violence, who’s to say she didn’t just go back to that and Jordan got in her way?” He looked straight ahead at the road as if he’d betrayed a trust.
“She was the first person to leave that life and become a hero. You followed her, why all the doubt?”
“This is silly… We need to be focused on the problem at hand…”
“What’s my first name?”
“You can’t be serious, we’re wasting valuable time here. It’s Emiko.”
“What does it mean?”
“I don’t know…”
“Child graced with beauty. Where did I grow up? What are my parent’s names? Do I have any siblings? What do I do when I’m not with the team?” She bombarded him with questions she knew he couldn’t answer.
“What does all this have to do with Nona? Why does it matter?”
“It matters for one simple reason. We all have our secrets. You know next to nothing about me and yet you say you trust me. You grew up with Nona, how can you doubt her now?” She repeated the same question with intensity. The poignancy of her statement struck him hard and he fumbled to turn on the radio to keep from responding. As he did, a newsbreak interrupted the thick in silence in the truck’s cab.
“This just in… It seems the police have evidence of the civilian identity of the vigilante known as The Firebird and at least one of her cohorts. The suspects are wanted for questioning and they are as follows: Jordan Michael Redfeather, Nona Cameron…”
The newscast continued but neither was listening. They’d just been exposed. Their whole lives had just spiraled out of control in an instant. Rico silently pulled the truck to the side of the road and they sat there in silence and disbelief.
“These suspects are considered armed and dangerous. They should not be approached. It is believed they are responsible for the damage to the downtown area nearly two nights ago. Please stay tuned for further updates.”
Kurt lay in bed next to Jordan listening to the soft rustling of her breath. Since he had sent Taylor to bed she had only woken up once, when she was all but overwhelmed by pain. She had been drenched in sweat, which initially alerted Kurt that something was wrong. In all their time together, he had never seen her sweat, even in the most ungodly of temperatures.
“You need morphine.” He had diagnosed immediately.
“No, just … Aaah !... Let me work… through it…” She had gasped in between clenched teeth. She was confident in her body’s ability to heal but her current injuries were putting it to the test.
“Not open for discussion!” He pulled out the pre-filled needle, having planned ahead for this eventuality, and inserted the needle into the I.V. bag.
“I … hate you…” She complained drowsily as sleep quickly overtook her.
“Well, I love you…” Kurt had whispered and was shocked when she responded.
“I know…” And she drifted off to sleep.
Now her face was a mask of serenity, most of the bruising having faded over the last few hours. Her left hand was curled gently inside Kurt’s, laid lovingly over his heart. Despite the circumstances, Kurt couldn’t deny how comforting it felt to have her in his bed. In their initial relationship they had never gotten quite this far. He shifted slightly to reach the remote on his nightstand, quietly flipping through the channels until he landed on the news. There was picture of a torn up street in downtown Denver and he turned up the volume a little to hear the report.
“… Harrowing scenes in historic downtown Denver as we now see the remnants of the battle between one of the city’s local vigilante’s and an unknown assailant. The police believe they may have confirmed identities of at least two of the vigilantes…” That caught Kurt’s attention. He sat up straight, breath coming in ragged gasps. Did he hear that right?
“… Again, Jordan Michal Redfeather, a lieutenant in the Denver Fire Department and her sister Nona Cameron are wanted for questioning in connection with possible vigilante activities. They should be considered armed and dangerous. More details to follow.”
Kurt felt like someone had punched him in the chest. He flipped through every news channel and found the same report, complete with several different pictures of Jordan, one even of her in D.F.D uniform. He knew it was only a matter of time before the police put two and two together. What better place to hide than your ex-boyfriends house, especially if you’ve been injured and he’s a doctor. Did Nona rat them out? She had been exposed too so that seemed highly unlikely. None of that mattered though; he had to get Jordan out of the house as quickly and quietly as possible. He turned to the other side of the bed and began trying to rouse her.
“Babe, babe you gotta wake up! It’s important!” He threw back the covers and pulled her gently into his lap, doing his best not to disturb her injuries. He held her close, stroking her hair still trying to get her to respond. Her left arm lay limply across the bed, the I.V. still pumping morphine into her system. Snatching it out, he hurriedly checked her pulse to find it steady and strong. He started to panic; if the police found her like this she’d never even have a chance.
“Kurt…” He lifted his head with tears in his eyes to find Jordan awake but bleary, with a puzzled look on her face. “ Why are you crying? What’s going on?”
“Oh, God…I’ve failed you. They know love, they know.” She didn’t ask for an explanation. She knew it was her worst fear come to life. She sat limply in the bed as Kurt clung to her, numb with pain and disbelief. For the first time in her life, Jordan Michael Redfeather didn’t know what to do.