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NEW VINDICATORS (Books I - XIII)

This is the place to recount your superheroic deeds for all to gaze upon with astonishment and wonder.

NEW VINDICATORS (Books I - XIII)

Postby Michuru81 » Wed Nov 22, 2006 3:26 pm

Salutations and hello! Welcome to the OUBLIETTE Universe, a world full of men of renown. For years I've been running multiple campaigns in my original setting, campaigns such as Illuminati, Paroled, Thugs, Inc. and Vindicators. New Vindicators is one of the longest running of these games and the exploits of my players are detailed here for your viewing pleasure. Character builds (complete with background information) are also available.

Alternate interpretations of this campaign, such as Ultimate New Vindicators, Infinite New Vindicators and Sovereign New Vindicators are also available.

Comments are always welcome, as is constructive criticism. Enjoy and... kanpei.

ARC I: Apocatastasis

    As his senior year begins, Drew Jenkins finds himself transferred to a school for Neo-Sapiens, men and women with extraordinary abilities. His last year is plagued by attacks from within--the work of a clandestine group known as the Affiliation. Little does the Affiliation realize that their movements are the opening crescendo for something far more sinister...

    An evil imprisoned on the ocean floor for six thousand years is about to be unleashed and it's up to the students of the New Vindicators Academy of America to ensure that an ancient enemy isn't allowed to wreak havoc on their world.


ARC II: Basileus

    In the wake of their battle with Apocatastasis, the heroes are scattered. Gabrielle struggles to keep her group afloat in Black Box's backyard, Doctor Howell and the students are missing, while Blitzkrieg tries to gather anyone he can to forge a team devoted to defending the world--whether humanity wants their help or not.

    This group of rogue Vindicators uncovers a new threat on the horizon, however: Earth is threatened by an extra-dimensional invasion by the Aeolian Kingdom, led by the Basileus.

ARC III: Bio

    With the defeat of the Basileus, humanity's attitude towards Neo-Sapiens is beginning to change. The Vindicators are revered as heroes by many, but one abhors them for their past sins. An organization known as Hart is beginning to make their move. Composed of former Vindicators and their allies alike, these former heroes have one thing in common: they were all used and discarded by the Vindicators.

Current Book

    NEW VINDICATORS: condemnant quod non intellegunt
    The next generation of heroes is guided to the lighthouse as the New Vindicators Academy of America opens its doors once more. While things have never been better for Neo-Sapiens, the Affiliation has uncovered a conspiracy that threatens to drive their kind to extinction. It's up to the Vindicators, their students and their enemies to rally together and protect SPBs around the world from Autumn, the Daughter of Samael...

NEW VINDICATORS #111: Ana's Song (Open Fire)--Autumn Colbenson has been activated and now the New Vindicators are in for the fight of their lives. Students from both the American and Austrian school band together with the Vindicators and the Affiliation to strike at Patriot Robotics and stop Autumn while their friends, family and loved ones struggle to survive against Black Box. (Played July 11, 2009)


NEW VINDICATORS #112: Everlong--A trigger is pulled. A gunshot shatters the night. A man dies. Vengeance is demanded. Sides are chosen. More blood is shed. More lives are lost. One young man has the power to make a difference... (Played August 1, 2009)


NEW VINDICATORS #113: The W.A.N.D.--When one young man moves to prevent a nightmare from coming to fruition, things go from bad to worse and Gideon watches as history begins to play out just as it did in the time he hailed from... (Played September 6, 2009)
Last edited by Michuru81 on Wed Apr 30, 2014 5:41 pm, edited 1071 times in total.
Michuru81
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Postby Michuru81 » Wed Nov 22, 2006 3:29 pm

Prologue
In any other reality, the young woman would not have been on the field of battle.

Almost eight months had passed since the 322nd Rifle Division of the Red Army liberated Auschwitz. Only just over three months had gone by since the world learned the Adolf Hitler had committed suicide. It had been mere days since the Japanese army officially surrendered aboard the USS Missouri. The world had declared that the war was over, but in reality, the war was only just beginning…

Few could have correctly guessed that in the decades yet to come, this day would forever be remembered as the day when everything changed. September 8, 1945 would forever be acknowledged as the day when the rules were thrown away.

Nothing would ever be the same again…

Nikoleivitch Volkov’s feet dangled above the remains of Auschwitz. It seemed that the ruins were chiseled from the very shadows themselves; there was something about the silent yards which intimidated the twenty-something young man into a respectful silence. He knew what had happened here—the whole world knew—but there was also something about the glum camp that commanded some facsimile of reverence. Then again, Nikoleivitch had been born in Birobidzhan, the center of the Jewish Autonomous Oblast. Raised as a Russian Jew, he could only imagine what horrors the souls that haunted this nightmare could attest to.

He was uncomfortable with merely flying; factor in that all that carried him was a young girl who barely looked to be old enough to marry and the Russian found himself searching his lexicon for a new word to describe the uneasy feeling brewing inside of him. In any other reality, the young woman would not have been on the field of battle; in any other reality, the young woman would not have possessed the ability to propel herself through the night sky at several hundred miles per hour.

“Are you ready?” Naomi Brewington asked. Her British accent was less apparent as she was now forced to raise her voice to be heard over the rush of wind as the duo rocketed through the night sky.

“Nyet,” the farmer said as he gazed down on the dilapidated buildings below them, “but I will survive.”

The young girl let go of her teammate and the broad-shouldered young man began to fall. His limps flailed wildly as he fought to right himself. “God save me,” he breathed as his flesh transformed into metal.

In his other form, Nikoleivitch Volkov was super-dense. He had uncanny strength and an impervious hide. He was a living machine, like something out of the mind of Jules Verne. In his other form, Nikoleivitch Volkov had another name; in his other form he was the Iron Curtain.

He came crashing down through the ceiling and took a moment to gather himself before taking in his surroundings. All around him were soldiers—some Americans and others born as his native brothers. Some were British and some French; it was impossible for the Iron Curtain to discern the nationalities of any but the Chinese. These men had two things in common: they had all been Allied forces who brought about an end to this time of madness ushered in by Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich.

They were also now loyal minions of the Fourth Reich and fighting to continue to war the world had believed finally over.

The novelty of having a living being made of iron crash through the ceiling wore off swiftly and the soldiers began to open fire on the invader. He stood calm and collected, watching as their bullets glanced off of his impervious skin. “You waste your ammunition,” he intoned softly as he advanced slowly. To demonstrate how futile their attempt to fight him was, he seized the rifle one man carried and bent the barrel with his bare hands.

The soldier’s shadow rose up and lunged at the Iron Curtain, his spectral fingertips slicing through the man’s defenses as he siphoned out his warmth and essence.

Still, Nikoleivitch was not the only invader who had been given a new name and he was far from being alone. Naomi Brewington, the young woman now known as Crusader, descended through the hole in the ceiling made by the Iron Curtain’s landing and took in the scene before her. “Leave him alone!” she cried, flying forward and swinging her super-strong fists through the intangible being assaulting her compatriot.

If Lebender Schatten had been grinning, neither Crusader nor the Iron Curtain could have told easily. The being that had once been a man turned on his victim and moved on for his new prey. Though Crusader’s augmented strength had not been able to affect the living shadow, its cold attacks were no match for her enhanced fortitude.

Pierre Money, the Frenchman known as the Frog, appeared momentarily outside the window, leaping and bounding about the camp to disable the guards he came across. Though he lacked the nigh-invulnerability the Englishwoman and the Russian possessed, his unnatural agility allowed him to deftly avoid the blows of the military men—countering their missed attacks with a wicked lashing of his elongated tongue. There were little match for his agility and he was little match for the impenetrable flesh possessed by the German soldier better known as Schadenfreude.

“Go to our comrade!” exclaimed the Iron Curtain, nodding his head towards the window. Crusader hesitated and then looked to their opponent. It felt wrong to abandon one teammate for another—but Schadenfreude was tangible and her fists could find him.

Exploding through the wall, the blonde woman ruptured onto the work yard where her French cohort was doing his best to dodge the powerful punches thrown by the German powerhouse. The man still wore the uniform of the Nazi soldier; it was no small wonder as the band had declared themselves to be the Fourth Reich; they had declared that the war was far from over and Germany was far from losing.

Crusader’s speed did not lend itself to her maneuverability. She turned but her body still veered into the wall of an adjacent building. She was unharmed by the collision and her momentum was hardly reduced, but still the resounding crash had alerted Schadenfreude to her approach. The Frog had been a bothersome opponent and he was eager to change things up.

The dainty-looking woman’s fists plowed into Schadenfreude’s chest and the malicious man flashed a fiendish grin. His hands seized hers and he spun before releasing her; he sent her flying through the air and into a makeshift water tower. Before she could pull herself out from under the wreckage he was rushing to attack again—leaving him oblivious to the aged Chinese man who stole slowly from shadow-to-shadow.

At sixty-nine-years-old, many things separated Huang Li from his associates. Though he was an Esper, like the man they had come to stop, he was blessed with phenomenal powers beyond the reasoning of most men.

Stealing away into the building Crusader had first flown out of, the short, balding man laid eyes on the Iron Curtain enfeebled before Lebender Schatten. Deep down, a part of him wanted to see his teammates punished for the way they had insulted him. When they had first been brought together, he had not understood the necessity behind them taking assigned codenames. Still, the Americans had given him one: Jaundice. It had only taken a subtle probing with his telepathy to find the motivation behind his codename. He rightly considered it an insult to his proud heritage and more than resented his teammates for using it soon after.

Still, Huang was far from vicious and he could not stomach to see the strong man hurt any more than he had been. Concentrating on his target, Huang assaulted Lebender Schatten mentally and sent a blast of pure psionic energy through the once-man’s remnant of a mindset.

The shadow cried out in pain and then reseeded into the darkness from which it came. Huang shambled over to the Iron Curtain and gazed down on him concernedly. “Thank you, Jaundice,” the big man said as he lumbered to his feet. In his stupor he failed to notice Huang cringe at the name, wincing as if he had been physically struck by the man’s heavy hands. Instead he spun around, intending to help the more sensitive of their cadre.

In some small way, Crusader was the glue that was binding the heroes together. She saw past the ethnic differences between them. She abandoned the pride the others still clung to. While the Frenchman seemed to resent their American leader and the American was distrustful of the Russian in their midst, Crusader embraced each member of their squadron and seemed to somehow transcend the bickering. Huang didn’t respect her more than the others; he merely respected her and tolerated the rest.

Creeping back into the yard, he watched as Crusader traded punches with Schadenfreude. It was a futile struggle; neither possessed the might needed to bypass the other’s armor-like fortitude. Defeating the man would require another sort of strength and as Huang moved to incapacitate the villain mentally he watched as the fifth member of their group descended upon them.

Samuel Meinstein was a sergeant in the United States Army who had been fighting in the trenches for months. He was no stranger to the European theatre at this point, but Huang didn’t need his telepathic powers to understand that the American yearned to go home and hold his wife in his arms again and hear the giggle of his first-born son.

After the war, he had come forward with his strange talents and was quickly put to lead this group of others—all possessing remarkable gifts.

Bending down, Uncle Sam’s hands swept the ground and clapped gingerly around Schadenfreude. The German man writhed in the giant’s embrace, fighting to escape his effortless grapple. “I can hold him,” the man said, decreasing his size just gradually. In the process he dispersed his mass by generating three duplicates of himself. It was a staggering gift, Huang thought: the man had access to so much mass that could be divided amongst creating an army of himself or swelling to Brobdinagian heights. This mass could be divided anyway he chose- either in creating a pair of clones only close to his vertical capacity or in generating a small squadron barely twice their normal size.

It was a remarkable gift, but one that didn’t warrant his promotion to lead their cell. “What’s everyone’s status?” Uncle Sam asked, looking over the four heroes standing proudly before him.

“Lebender Schatten is down, courtesy of Jaundice,” proclaimed the thick Russian accent the Iron Curtain employed.

“And you’re holding Schadenfreude,” the Frog said, leaping to the pitch of a roof. The Frenchman was sensitive about his height and was always uncomfortable around Uncle Sam’s titanic shape. He usually used his powers to perch himself in such a place that he was able to look down on the other members of their group. “That’s both of the super-powered beings our information found in the Fuhrer’s service. At this point, it’s a clear path to the big man himself…”

Just then the Iron Curtain let out a cry and the others looked to him, their jaws dropping one-by-one at the astonishing sight: the Russian hero now levitated in mid-air, his metallic limbs spread out to the four corners of the earth as he laid back on a bed of nothingness. It took their assailant little effort to throw the Iron Curtain into the air, catapulting the big man through the clouds and removing one of three super-strong warriors from their collective.

“Huang?” Crusader asked, laying eyes on the teenage boy who stood across the yard from them. With the Iron Curtain flung skyward, there was nothing to obscure his presence from them. “Who…?”

“The boy is a Neo-Sapien, like the rest of you,” the Chinese Esper said as he probed the young boy’s thoughts. “He has the power to control magnetic waves. He commands ferrous metals…”

“Not for long,” laughed the Frog under his breath.

“No! He is being controlled just as the soldiers are!” Huang probed deeper and realized the terrible truth about the boy they now faced and the monster they had come to slay. “He is being controlled by his father! He is the Fuhrer’s son!”

The duplicates Uncle Sam had generated advanced and Huang used his powers to psionically halt them. “No!” he proclaimed. “You still do not understand! This boy’s name is Wilhelm Meinstein!”

The small collective turned on the Chinese man, their expressions doing justice to the confusion they were fighting through.

“Samuel, your father… it seems he did not die fighting in the First World War… He stayed in Germany, putting his wife and son in America behind him…

“This boy’s father, the Fuhrer, was born Johann Meinstein… your half-brother…”
Last edited by Michuru81 on Wed Dec 17, 2008 5:23 pm, edited 6 times in total.
Michuru81
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Postby Michuru81 » Wed Nov 22, 2006 4:57 pm

NEW VINDICATORS: Radix Malorum Est Cupiditas

NEW VINDICATORS #1: Vindicated - Meet Drew Jenkins. Drew Jenkins just starting his last year of high school. As destiny would have it, Drew is going to be spending that year at the New Vindicators Academy of America--a school for super-powered youngsters. [April 7, 2006]



NEW VINDICATORS #2: Dancing Queen - As homecoming approaches so do new enemies. Amalgam and Tripper face off against a pair extending an invitation to the Affiliation--but who are they and what does the mysterious group plan? [April 21, 2006]



NEW VINDICATORS #3: Stronger - It looks as though three more students have died and the suspect appears to be Deimos. As the mystery surrounding the Affiliation deepens, a few of the New Vindicators reveal they're not exactly loyal to their school... [May 5, 2006]


NEW VINDICATORS #4: Head Games - With a slew of students now six feet under, the Department of SPB Affairs needs to be sure that the senior class is stable enough to continue on with the social experiment. To that end they call on Doctor Jason Pickford to psychologically evaluate each of the New Vindicators... [May 19, 2006]


NEW VINDICATORS #5: Wipe Out - It's Chienne Bedford's 18th birthday party and she celebrates the special day by getting abducted by a Neo-Sapien. Worse, it's a familiar face to Amalgam: Tide is a 2005 graduate of the New Vindicators Academy. [June 9, 2006]


NEW VINDICATORS #6: Hungry Like the Wolf - The New Vindicators are spending their winter break in Japan, doing what all high school seniors do: battling a clan of ninja for a set of ancient artifacts that bestow uncanny powers on those who wield them. [June 30, 2006]


NEW VINDICATORS #7: Disco Inferno - An arsonist is targeting the homes of Eleanor Roosevelt High School's varsity football team--who happen to be the ex-boyfriends of Katie Merrick and who also happen to frequently bully Jeffrey Smith. It's up to the New Vindicators to figure out who's behind the crimes before ZERO does... [July 14, 2006]


NEW VINDICATORS #8: All Jacked Up - The senior class is sent on a recruitment drive and Deimos finds himself being tortured by a ghost from his past. Meanwhile, the rest of the New Vindicators find themselves facing off yet another alumni... [July 23, 2006]


NEW VINDICATORS #9: Amazing Grace - Their mission is to protect an evangelist, blessed with the gift to heal. The New Vindicators will need all the prayer they can get if they're going to stand a chance against hirred gunman and experienced NS hunter, B.B. Jones. [August 11, 2006]


NEW VINDICATORS #10: The Glory of Love - As prom approaches Amalgam finds himself having some lady problems while Lodestone continues to conspire with Loess. Meanwhile, Michuru opens up to Halogen... [August 25, 2006]


NEW VINDICATORS #11: In the End, Part I of II - It's graduation day and the New Vindicators will never forget this moment. After months of planning the Affiliation launches their attack and their leader's identity is revealed... [September 8, 2006]


NEW VINDICATORS #12: In the End, Part II of II

PLAYER'S GUIDE
    Aaron: Fathom (#2-12), Trigger Happy
    Al: Amalgam/Anomaly (#1-11)
    Bob: Lodestone, Frostbite (#7), Thuggy Thuggerton
    Daniel: Uncle Sam (#1), Portal
    Kelly: Jaundice (#1), Deimos
    Tribe: The Iron Curtain (#1), Frostbite (#1-6, 8-12)
    Zach: The Frog (#1), Copycat (#1-6)
Last edited by Michuru81 on Sun Sep 05, 2010 2:53 pm, edited 12 times in total.
Michuru81
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New Vindicators, Chapter 1

Postby Michuru81 » Wed Nov 22, 2006 6:24 pm

NEW VINDICATORS #1: Vindicated


Chapter I: Vindicated
Drew Jenkins was under the belief that he was a normal, seventeen-year-old youth growing up in Brooklyn. He had normal parents: his father was an engineer at Patriot Robotics and his mother was a secretary at his high school. At least, she had been up until a drunk-driver had claimed her life. His girlfriend, Erin Peters, was normal enough. The two had a normal relationship. They had gone on normal dates and he was trying to get her onboard with the idea that they should begin having normal sex. For all intents and purposes, Drew Jenkins truly believed that he was a normal young man…

Drew also believed that whatever supreme force was at the wheel of the universe had a sense of humor and a knack for the ironic. At times he cited the duck-billed platypus to be evidence of this fact. Still, to a normal young man such as Drew Jenkins, there was no other explanation as to why he was wearing nothing but a blanket, sitting on the hood of a squad car outside of a pawn shop, other than God needed a good laugh.

To say that Drew’s night had been anything but normal would be the understatement to end all understatements. When had his existence deviated from the path of normalcy that it had been on?

It was likely that everything changed the moment he stepped foot into that pawn shop…

“-just five years ago today, on September 8, 2001, when the Vindicators VII returned from the Himalayas where they defeated the super-powered terrorist Atlas, albeit at the cost of two of their own-”

“And I care because…?”

“-used his Neo-Sapien powers to attack several students at the school. Though Redding’s teachers say he was frequently the target of bullies, no action-”

“Boring!”

“-not having my daughter bringing home some filthy NS! I won’t have no freak for a grandbaby!”

“This show’s still on? Huh…”

“-has announced that a new team of Vindicators, led by Crusader, will be introduced following-”

“Blah blah blah!”

“-Forrest Bedford and all members of his organization have been acquitted on all charges regarding the deaths of Arthur and Denise Skraag. Their son still-”

“Isn’t there anything good on?” muttered Sam White, using the remote control to surf through the channels. Another news broadcast met him and his eyes sparkled as he recognized the building being shown. “Ooo, that’s my store!” he announced cheerily.

“-where just moments ago, police followed the suspects here, to White Pawn in Brooklyn’s DUMBO neighborhood. We go now to outside the 137th precinct where Sergeant Thomas O’Malley gave us a rundown of the events thus far.”

“Two of our officers were undercover investigating suspected BOOST dealers.” The sergeant was an overweight man in his mid-forties, sporting a graying mustache surrounded by two day’s growth of stubble. His eyes barely left the prepared statement that he read with a tone that somehow transcended apathetic. “At some point in the investigation, their identities were compromised and one of the two young men shot and killed one of the officers. Presently, we are not releasing names until we have had a chance to notify their families.

“The suspects were pursued by the other officer and backup swiftly joined him. The suspects took cover at a nearby pawn shop where we have identified several hostages. At present, this district is doing everything we can to resolve this tense situation without further bloodshed.”

The scene shifted once more to outside White Pawn where a female reporter was ready to provide some exposition to the sergeant’s statement. “BOOST is a relatively new drug on the streets that creates a euphoric high in normal humans. In Neo-Sapiens however, it causes a surge in power—so much so that latent Neo-Sapiens have had their powers manifest just by using applying this paste-like chemical that is absorbed through the skin.

“Authorities believe there may be a connection between the drug’s distribution and rumors of a criminal kingpin who rules the five boroughs. Believed to be called the Wisent-”

Bret Morris turned and instantly became a being composed of white hot light. His arm out-stretched, a blast of energy erupted from his palm and blew the television set apart. “Like they’d know anything about the Wisent,” he grumbled.

His brother, Kyle, eyed him worriedly. Kyle was four years Bret’s junior and would have still been in high school if he hadn’t dropped out of school to join the gang his brother had partly led. The Bisons were one of the most feared gangs in New York City and rumor had it that seven Neo-Sapiens sat at the top of the ladder. Though Kyle had no powers of his own, his brother’s status helped him ascend the empire’s ranks.

Ever since Bogart made a move to usurp the others’ power and command the Wisent’s empire alone, Bret had been on the run and fearing for his life. Rumor had it Bogart had killed one of his brethren with a car bomb; now the surviving five were frantically looking for anything that could protect them from their former friend and ally.

The brothers had stolen what BOOST they could carry and were hoping to use it to pay for protection. Word had it there was a group of assassins—hitmen who specialized in Neo-Sapien contracts.

Now that they were cornered by New York’s finest, they were more desperate than ever.

“Shut that kid up!” Bret screamed as he reverted to his natural state. His display had upset five-year-old Ryan Holden, who along with his mother had been eyeing the antique pistols as possible gifts for his father’s upcoming birthday. Angela Holden hugged him tightly and whispered for him to quiet. She didn’t want to risk Bret turning those abilities on her only child.

They composed one-half of White Pawn’s patronage at the time the brothers had burst through the doors. The other two sat next to the eccentric Sam White, their backs against the counter where a freshly emptied cash register sat.

Sam White, Angela and Ryan Holden, Thomas Martin and Drew Jenkins sat there in stunned silence evoked by terror. For two hours now they had been sitting, praying in their heads to their respective deities that they would make it through this alive.

Drew Jenkins forced himself to look away from Angela Holden. He was disgusted with himself; even in this sort of situation he couldn’t help but ogle her. He tried to excuse his behavior by blaming hormones. Still, he couldn’t help but stare; she was a redhead and Drew had a thing for redheads.

He compelled himself to look at Thomas Martin instead. Thomas Martin was rapidly approaching fifty, though he looked close to sixty. His snow white hair was noticeably missing from the top of his head and his eyes never looked at whoever was talking to him. He was blind. He played the organ at Trinity Lutheran Church. He had come looking for a keyboard so that he could practice in the comfort of his own apartment.

“I’m afraid they’re getting desperate,” Sam White said, whispering into Drew’s ear. Drew appeared alarmed to have the man talking to him and his green eyes darted about as if terrified this may also conjure Bret Morris’ rage. “It’s a stalemate. They won’t go out long as the police surround us and the police won’t move so long as they remain cool. I’m afraid this situation won’t be resolved until shots are fired…”

Drew ran his hands across his sweat-drenched brow and then up and through his dirty-blonde hair. His sweat slicked the shaggy mane back and left a smell like bad eggs on his palms. “Don’t talk like that,” Drew said, praying that would be enough to quiet the eccentric old man.

Sam adjusted the tweed jacket he wore and then fanned himself with his ragged and worn cowboy hat. “You got regrets, son?”

“Excuse me?”

“I always thought that the worst way to die would be to die having regrets…”

“Please stop talking,” Drew pleaded. He didn’t even want to think the word ‘die’, let alone hear it uttered.

Sam returned his hat to his head and a misplaced smile flashed over his face. “In case I don’t get a chance to say it later: I’m sorry.” He clamped a hand on Drew’s shoulder and suddenly Drew could feel something inside of him. It felt as if he existed in two places at once. There was the world he could see set out before him and then there was the world he could feel revolving around himself. It felt so dark and empty, save for a tickling sensation that sent shivers down his spine. There were so many other tickles out there; they were too far out of reach though; they were nothing like the one just a few feet from him… He knew he could reach it if he only just stretched out to grab it…

He closed his eyes and imagined himself in that world. There Drew stood in an ocean of darkness. On the horizon, thousands of stars taunted him with their very existence. Still, he could perceive Bret Morris, standing so close to him. He couldn’t reach any of the others, but he knew that if only he would reach out he could seize Bret.

Drew reached for him and the ocean of darkness swallowed him…

    ...


“So… let me get this straight,” Detective John Long asked, looking back at the young man sitting before him. “You’re here at White Pawn when these two guys come in… holding up the owner, yourself and three other customers…”

“Uh-huh.”

“…and you suddenly turned into light and were able to melt one of the guy’s guns…”

“Uh-huh.”

“…but not before the other kid shot two of the victims?”

“Uh-huh.”

“And that’s when the other kid—the one with the melted gun—turned into light and began blasting you back.”

“Yeah… look, I know this sounds ridiculous…”

“When I turn in my report, I’m going to say that the kids became panicked and shot two hostages and you had a surge of adrenaline and tackled them to the ground.”

Drew couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “Excuse me?”

“I’m also going to leave out the part about the melted gun. As far as I’m concerned, only one kid was armed.”

“C-can you do that?”

“Mister Martin? He’s blind so he saw nothing. The shop’s owner says he blacked out and saw nothing. Neither of the Morris brothers are willing to talk so… I guess it comes down to your word.” The detective closed his notepad and looked up at Drew, his eyes reflecting how saddened he was by the situation. “Kid… I had a step-son. He was a Neo-Sapien. We tried to hide it as best as we could but… well, when he was outted it didn’t just affect him—it affected each of us. His younger brother took the brunt of it. If I turn in the truth… it won’t be just you who suffers here.”

Since the end of World War II, the general public had been aware of the existence of Neo-Sapiens—those rare people who discovered themselves born with fantastic abilities inherited from one or more parents. Since then, many had begun to speculate as to the cause of their existence—had their ancestors all been victims of unusual circumstances? Was it a random occurrence? Did the environment play a factor?
Did Neo-Sapiens share a common, inhuman ancestor?

Regardless, in the decades since the first team of Vindicators had been launched against a super-powered remnant of the Third Reich the world had been both protected and devastated by these beings. It had caused a rift in society, for many believed that super-powered beings—SPBs—posed a threat to the current order, while proponents truly believed that these changes meant a transition into a better tomorrow.

For Drew Jenkins, the revelation that he was a Neo-Sapien meant that a better tomorrow was a far-off fantasy.

Drew looked back to the eccentric pawn shop owner. The man was wearing flip-flops with white, snake-skin pants; a lace shirt with a tweed jacket and a cowboy hat pulled low over his brow. He could remember thinking just hours ago, when he met Sam White, that this was the weirdest person he had ever met. Was that just the precursor to being plunged into a world he would never come to understand?

“I know some people… people at this special school. They’ll help you…” The detective had already reached for his cell phone, before Drew could even fathom a protest. John Long had not strayed far, but he had waded out of Drew’s earshot. Instead, Drew’s attention was brought to Channel 11’s Cameron Kirk, Manhattan’s most trusted roaming reporter.

“-when the drug bust went bad, one of the young men allegedly shot and killed Officer Avery St. James. His partner, Officer C. John Holden, pursued the pair, forcing them to seek sanctuary at this pawn shop where, in an ironic twist of fate, the hostages shot were Angela and Ryan Holden, wife and five-year-old son of Officer Holden.”

Drew shook his head, not so much at the media’s apparent intent to exploit the grief of innocents but at Cameron’s quick response to the news. Just an hour ago in the pawn shop he had caught the tail end of Cameron’s report on the fifth anniversary of the Vindicators VII’s breakup. The eighth day of September had come to be an eventful day in American history. It was September 8, 1945 that the Vindicators first went into battle. Led by Uncle Sam, the team of Crusader, Frog, the Iron Curtain and Jaundice took down Johann Meinstein: the man who had proclaimed himself to be the Fuhrer of the Fourth Reich. His minions, Lebender Schatten and Schadenfreude had toppled with him. It was a day that would live on in infamy.

Sixty-one years later, the last team of Vindicators had called it quits. Led by Onyx, the group had ventured into the heart of the Himalayas to put a stop to the villainous Atlas’ mad ambitions. Two of their members, Bio and Xianbei, forfeited their lives in that battle. Xianbei’s husband, Chimera, had lost his right arm in the melee while Bio’s twin brother Siphon, Onyx, Michuru and Rift made it out alive and unscathed.

At least, they were unscathed on the surface…

Five years to the day after they disbanded… the world prayed for more of the people they hated so badly to step forward and protect them once again. Try as they may to hate Neo-Sapiens, society couldn’t reject that the Vindicators assured them a tomorrow. Banished into a Time Without Heroes, the world watched as single vigilantes like the Aurelius, Detective or Momentum fought to thwart the empowered terrorists who plagued society.

Drew was used to seeing those people in the news, but he was hardly prepared to become the news himself. Just as a reporter was about to sink his talons into Drew, his new found guardian pulled him away. “C’mon, son…” offered Detective Long, “lemme get you to those people I was telling you about…”

It was a long drive through the streets of DUMBO, one of Brooklyn’s many neighborhoods. Drew and his father lived on the cusp of Vinegar Hill, not forcing a lengthy commute to Manhattan each day. Drew kept quiet the whole ride home; his mind was still reeling from the revelation that he was a Neo-Sapien.

It was hard to believe and even more difficult for him to accept. Still, there was no denying that something had happened tonight in the White Pawn. He had used the same powers as the young man holding them hostage… were they somehow related? Hardly the most studious of pupils, Drew didn’t recall much of his freshman biology class—but he was still able to evoke some remnant of the week they had spent talking about Neo-Sapiens. If he remembered correctly, a Neo-Sapien received their powers from one or both parents. It was impossible to be a Neo-Sapien without having inherited the powers from a parent, though it was within the boundaries of reality for a Neo-Sapien to conceive a human child.

His father certainly wasn’t a Neo-Sapien… but the possibility existed that his mother could have passed her abilities onto him. It wasn’t so uncommon to hear of a happy marriage shattering when one partner learned their spouse’s genetic secret. More strongly than ever before, Drew wished she were still alive to guide him. If he had received her powers, she might have been able to teach him how to control them.

Deep down, he knew that even if she were still walking this earth there was so little she could do to help him now. Once someone found out they were a Neo-Sapien, their life was over. Would Erin still want to be with him? Would his friends embrace this change in him? He had heard tales of worse: there were people who lost their jobs or scholarships when their status as a Neo-Sapien was discovered. So many Neo-Sapiens fought so hard just to blend in… to simply survive. He had heard on the news that the parents of a Neo-Sapien boy were killed when their son’s powers manifested… and that was one of the happier stories.

“What’s going to happen to me?” He hadn’t meant to speak aloud.

For a moment, Detective Long was silent. Only the ticking of his turn signal answered as the officer turned onto Drew’s street. Hanging his head, Drew failed to notice the car outside his house, bathed in the light from his front porch.

“I’m not the guy who has the answers, Drew,” the officer said sadly. “I wish I had ‘em; I truly do.” He pulled up behind the white Chevy Lumina parked outside Drew’s home and put his own car in park. “I made a call though and this woman… she’ll be inside talking to your dad now.” Drew’s heart skipped a beat; what if his dad didn’t want him anymore? Such thoughts helped him to miss the odd sensation of that other world; in the back of his head he could feel one of those stars drawing closer to him. “She’s from this school… well, it’d be best if you heard it from her, I s’pose.”

Solemnly Drew opened the door and moved to climb out. In his stupor he had forgotten to unbuckle his seatbelt and turned to remedy that. “Here,” Detective Long said, thrusting out a business card for Drew. “It’s got my cell phone on it. You can call me if you need anything, kid. I don’t know what all I can do for you… but I’ll be there to do what I can, when I can.”

Drew nodded apathetically and accepted the card. He slithered up the walk and slipped in through the front door. The house was dark, save for the light stealing away from the kitchen. The hall pointed directly from the front door into the kitchen and he could make out his father sitting at the table, his hands enveloping a steaming mug. He was nodding to something and as Drew crept closer, he could hear a woman’s voice: “-would give Drew a chance he otherwise wouldn’t get.”

The boy’s father seemed to notice Drew then; a smile, warm, yet nervous, flashed on his face as he waved his only boy to join them. “Drew, I want you to meet someone. This is Doctor Styles. She’s from a very special school, son.”

He could feel the star just barely out of his reach now…

Drew slipped into the room and was surprised to recognize the woman seated across from his father. By the look of her, Doctor Styles was only just closing in on her thirtieth year. She was an attractive young woman with pale, snow-white skin and long, blindingly white hair. Dull red eyes, almost pink fell on Drew and immediately began to size him up. There was no shaking that he had seen the albino somewhere before… but he couldn’t place where.

“Drew!” snapped Drew’s father. “Don’t stare, boy!”

Doctor Styles chuckled softly and Drew’s eyes fell on her heaving chest. The black, silk blouse she was wearing was snug and sucked Drew’s attention quickly. Still, it seemed that neither of the adults knew what he was truly staring at. “It’s fine,” Doctor Styles said. “Most people find my albinism unsettling at first. I don’t have a problem with it though… I mean, most albinos sunburn easily and have eye conditions. My Neo-Sapien powers protect me from that though.”

Drew’s jaw dropped then. “You—you’re a Neo-Sapien?”

Doctor Styles nodded. “My power allows me to create and manipulate light. I mean… how do people get sunburned, Drew? Ultraviolet light. I control light so… that stops being a problem. Like most albinos I have astigmatism—an irregular curvature of the lens. Since the lens’ purpose is to refract light… my powers compensate and now I don’t need corrective lenses.

“There’s so much we can do with our powers, when we learn about the possibilities.” To emphasize her point, she nodded to the kitchen table. Now, only two coffee cups hovered on an invisible surface.

Astonished, Drew reached out to feel where the table was. “I know where I know you now! You used to be one of the Vindicators!”

“When I was much younger, yes.” Doctor Styles chuckled softly as she thought back to those more innocent times. “It feels like that was ages ago…”

“You’re Halogen!” Drew exclaimed. “That is so awesome.”

Her smile was as bright as it was genuine. “Drew? Detective Long called me this evening. He told me about your manifestation. I’ve been talking to your dad, telling him about the school that I teach at.”

“They take Neo-Sapiens, Drew,” his father explained. “They live on campus with other Neo-Sapiens their age. Everyone there is a Neo-Sapien.”

“Well, almost everyone,” Doctor Styles corrected. “We have a few humans on our staff but most are married to Neo-Sapiens or are the children of Neo-Sapiens… I assure you: everyone is very tolerant.”

Drew frowned then. “You want me to go to school there.” It was as much said to his father as it was to Doctor Styles.

“I just want to give you the best, Drew! That’s all I’ve ever wanted for you…” The man paused to take off his glasses and pinch the nose as he fought to summon up the right words. “Drew, Doctor Styles says there are lots of kids your age at this school. Kids who won’t judge you… kids who are going to accept you for who you are…”

Doctor Styles shook her head then and stretched out her arms as she leaned back in the chair. “You know how Neo-Sapiens manifest their powers out of necessity? I grew up in Las Vegas. My mom, well… my mom was a dancer. I never knew my dad; for as long as I can remember it was just mom, my twin brother and me…

“Sometimes, mom couldn’t get us a babysitter so she would just take Nate and me along. We’d sit back by the dressing rooms and play our Game Boys or do homework or whatever. Well, one night these guys came in looking for this other girl. They both worked for one of the local mob families and one of them was dating one of the other dancers. Turns out she had taken a lot of money from him and that money didn’t exactly belong to him. They were trying to get her to come out and… well, Nate got scared and was able to turn invisible. When mom got shot in the scuffle, I found that I could use light to heal certain injuries.

“The thing was… those abilities only kicked in when we were panicked. Mom was a human so… we obviously got our abilities from our dad. We didn’t know what to do and we didn’t know how to use them. The Aurelius came to me a few years later, to recruit me to his team of Vindicators. The thing was... even after all that time, I still knew jack about my abilities, Drew. I had to figure it all out on the battlefield, fighting people like Brown Recluse or Mason, Nightingale or the Shadow.

“Things would have been a lot easier for me if I could have gone to a school like this and… I know I’m not alone. I have a friend… when his powers manifested, he almost killed a boy at his school, Drew. One of our students has the power to turn to stone; he can’t figure out how to change back though. What I’m trying to say, Drew, is that… these abilities could be dangerous in so many ways. If you don’t learn to control them, they could rage out of control and hurt those around you. They could end up destroying whatever semblance of life you’re able to cling to by hiding your status as a Neo-Sapien. I’m sure I don’t have to tell either of you but… our kind is not exactly well liked. People fear what they can’t understand and… that fear translates to hate and that becomes rage.”

Drew looked towards the living room and the silenced television waiting there. He knew that so long as he had these powers, he would be forced to live in fear of whether or not he would become a story on the news. Would it be because he used his powers to attack his tormentors or would it be because he was attacked for simply being different?

For over sixty years mankind had known of the existence of Neo-Sapiens. Some had been trying to find a cure, believing the occurrence of Neo-Sapien abilities to be akin to an epidemic. Others knew that their abilities were hereditary and believed eliminating the threat of Neo-Sapiens would come from eliminating Neo-Sapiens.

“Why me?” groaned Drew, throwing back his head and sagging in the kitchen chair.

“It’s a question I used to find myself asking quite frequently,” Doctor Styles offered sympathetically. “The operative phrase there would be ‘used to’, Drew; I used to ask that.”

“Yeah?” asked Drew as he lowered his eyes onto his guest. “What changed?”

“I did,” she offered. “Don’t get me wrong: it was hard. It was a challenge. I never got to have a normal childhood. I can’t even imagine what it’s like to have a boyfriend. Still, I don’t regret following the Aurelius out of Las Vegas, you know? If I knew then what I know now… it wouldn’t change a thing.”

“No regrets, huh?”

“I always thought that the worst way to die would be to die having regrets…”

A groan left Drew’s lips as he agreed to join the New Vindicators Academy of America…

The next morning, Doctor Styles returned, a car waiting behind her back to take Drew to the New Vindicators Academy. With explanations to Doctor Jenkins that today was an induction for the new students of the school and a promise to let him tour the campus once Drew was settled, the pair were off.

It was a long drive. Drew had so many questions for the former Vindicator and Doctor Styles had said she would be content to answer anything; still, Drew rode along out of Brooklyn and into Queens in silence. The woman driving respected that silence as she careened the car through Astoria and across the Roosevelt Island Bridge. She could only imagine how intimidating this experience would be for the young man—not only had he just learned that he was a Neo-Sapien, but he was going to be plunged into a new school… and one full of super-powered teens.

“You can see the school from here,” she said softly, pointing to the lighthouse peeking up from the northern shore of the island. “The New Vindicators Academy of America… The school didn’t officially open until 2001 but the construction started over two decades prior. You know about the Vindicators IV?”

Drew nodded. “Who doesn’t? I always wanted to be like Coach Crag when I was a kid,” he admitted.

Such a statement brought a fit of laughter from Doctor Styles. “Mister Goodman is one of the teachers at the school. When you first meet him, you’ll probably wonder how you could have ever wanted to be like him.”

“Why’s that?”

“He’s… well, he’s unique; we’ll put it that way. He really is a great person, once you get to know him. Anyway, the school was originally going to be a new headquarters for them. Trouble is, the Vindicators IV disbanded back in 1979. Doctor Splash became permanently trapped in his liquid form and… he didn’t want the others to share his fate. He pushed his girlfriend into the arms of her best friend; Coach Crag and Miss Mist got married, retired, started a family…

“The team fell apart and the project was scrapped. Eventually though, someone at the Department of SPB Affairs remembered all the work that went into this place and… it became a school.

“The Lighthouse is the central building: it’s a nexus for the whole school. The faculty apartments are built off of the tower and the dormitories and classrooms are wings spreading off from it. In addition, the lower levels are only accessible through the Lighthouse.”

“What’s in the lower levels?” asked Drew.

Doctor Styles could hardly keep from beaming. “On the surface, the New Vindicators Academy is a normal school with normal classes. I teach biology, for instance. Missus Goodman teaches literature while Missus Dressel handles algebra. We ensure that every student gets the same education they otherwise would in a normal school…

“At the same time, every student in this school is a Neo-Sapien and our purpose is to train them in the use of their powers. Amongst other things, the lower levels house the Wreck Room. Think of it as a gymnasium but with holograms. The Wreck Room is where we’ll train you in the use of your powers and in basic self-defense.”

“You’re going to teach me how to fight?”

“No, we’re going to teach you how to protect… Drew, you’re a senior in high school; you’re going to be graduating. The New Vindicators Academy is designed to give young people the tools they need to assimilate into a culture that fears and hates them for being born different. If ever your cover is exposed, you’ll know how best to defend and protect yourself and your loved ones. Remember that even though your dad may not be a Neo-Sapien, you are and that makes him a potential target. If anything, some may see him as a way to get to you.”

As the car landed on Roosevelt Island, Drew watched nervously as they snuck under the watchful gaze of numerous high-rise apartments. He listened to the tires revolve and knew that they were only taking him closer and closer to the school…

In the back of his mind he could feel the school pulling to him. He closed his eyes and was astonished to see a great cluster of stars snaking closer and closer to him. They were still far out of his reach though Doctor Styles now stood with him on the surface of that dark, calm ocean.

Neither Drew nor Doctor Styles said anything else until the car passed through the gates and onto the grounds of the New Vindicators Academy. Doctor Styles drove around a long path, taking them around the front quad and letting Drew gaze upon the majestic buildings spanning out before him. Eventually their trail led to a long garage and inside Drew’s eyes fell on numerous vehicles: cars and SUVs, passenger vans and motorcycles stood before him. Even a rusted old pickup trick rested here; Drew’s eyes ran over the license plate, LEX 1, before turning to fix his escort with a curious look. “There may not be much traffic on Roosevelt Island,” Doctor Styles said, “but it doesn’t mean we’re without transportation.”

“It’s not that,” Drew said, a hint of embarrassment in his tone. “It’s just… this garage? You could probably fit my whole house in here.”

A warm smile conquered Doctor Styles face then. She said nothing; she knew that the splendor of the rest of the campus would force the scope of the garage to pale in comparison. She merely strode through a side door, pausing to usher Drew into a hallway that would lead him to his destiny.

“We’re running a bit late,” she said apologetically, watching as Drew dragged his heavy bag down the hall. She could never understand why people packed more than they could humanly carry. “I don’t think formal introductions have been made but… well, most of the students are probably already in the common room.”

The nearer they got, the louder the cacophony became. Soon, the twisting hallway gave up on its attempts to mislead the doctor and plunged her and her young companion into a room bursting with young people mingling amongst each other. “I have to talk with the headmasters,” Doctor Styles said, “but I’ll be back soon enough. For now… just go ahead and get to know everyone.”

As Doctor Styles left Drew’s side, he stood paralyzed by the sight of so many young people and the knowledge that all of them were Neo-Sapiens. He had grown up hearing that they were dangerous beings—capable of disintegrating matter with their eyes or rearranging a person’s very bone structure with nothing more than a thought. Neo-Sapiens were the bane of existence; still no matter how uncomfortable being around so many at once made him, the realization that he might indeed be one himself was all the more unsettling.

Drew’s eyes scanned the room. Typical of his raging hormones, his eyes popped on a few of the girls in the room. Though many of the youths gathered here seemed near his age, one appeared slightly older. She seemed more mature and sophisticated. Something else slithered along that experience… something that ensnared his senses and left him feeling wobbly.

Her long, brown hair ran down her back, leading Drew’s eyes up and down her curvaceous form. She laughed softly as she talked to two of the other girls. As she listened her hand came up to hold her cheek. It was like a summoning to Drew, pulling him in closer to her face and towards her full lips and almond-shaped eyes. Another world was reflected deep in those emerald pools. “That’s Cassandra Goodman,” a girl’s voice said from beside him; her accent pronouncing her as a native to Canada. Drew spun to face the speaker and his expression betrayed his thoughts.

The girl was used to people not looking at her the way they did her classmate. By no means was the young woman hideous; she was a down-to-earth girl who believed in simplicity. A short-cropped cap of red curls topped her freckled-head, polished with one of the most sincere smiles Drew had ever been treated to. “Hi, I’m Alicia Gladstone.”

“Drew Jenkins,” he said, shaking the hand extended to him.

“It’s great to meet you, Drew.” Her smile conveyed to him that she truly meant what she said. It was an odd sight; he wasn’t used to someone smiling so much. Part of him was unnerved by her. “What year are you?”

“Senior,” he managed.

“Me too,” Alicia offered energetically. She flashed him another smile. “Welcome to the New Vindicators Academy of America, Drew.”

“Wait—America?”

“Yeah… there are three institutes. The New Vindicators Academy is a school for Neo-Sapiens… one of three in all.”

“So… Miss Goodman… she’s a teacher here?”

Alicia could barely stifle back the laugh that erupted out of her. “No… Cassie’s one of the students. She’s actually one of my roommates. Her and her twin are both seniors-”

“She has a twin?”

“Down boy! Sandy has a twin brother. His name is Cloud.” Alicia scanned the room, looking for any sign of the youth. Finally, she pointed out a pale, freckled young man with a mop of mouse-brown hair, horned rimmed glasses and a sickly appearance. “I’ve known them for years. I’ve been at this school just about as long as they have. I don’t know most of these rookies but… Um…” She pointed out another young woman: a bobbed cap of blonde hair went unnoticed as Drew set eyes on the pair of angelic wings protruding from her back. “That’s Addison Truman. She, uh… well, she flies. I betcha didn’t see that one coming. Well, she’s also got really good eyesight and her feet and hands can morph into talons.”

“What about Cassie? What does she do?”

“She turns to sand. You ever hear of the Vindicators IV?” Drew’s nod was unneeded; everyone had heard of the Vindicators IV. “Coach Crag and Miss Mist? Cassandra and Cloud are their kids. Cloud said they have an older brother named Norman but I guess he doesn’t have any powers and doesn’t have much to do with the family. Anyway, they’re metamorphs like their parents—they have another form they can take in addition to the normal bag of flesh and bones. Cloud’s most like his mom—turning into a living fog. Cassandra can’t do full rock like her dad… she just becomes sand. More useful if you ask me.”

“So what do you do?”

“You haven’t even told me what you do yet, Drew!”

Drew began to blush. Alicia said she’d been with these kids for a while. How many years had she attended the New Vindicators Academy? How many years had she been learning about her abilities? “I… I’m not really sure,” he admitted. “I… yesterday I just… I turned into light. I guess I’m a… what did you call them?”

“You only just manifested yesterday?”

Drew nodded, embarrassed.

“And you’re a metamorph?”

“Yeah. Those. Are you one too?”

Alicia shook her head. “No. I, um, I control cold.”

“What? Like freezing stuff?”

“Actually… no. My powers don’t have anything to do with ice, but cold. Generating arctic winds and bringing on a blizzard. It’s a very limited form of weather manipulation. Still… you see that guy over there?” She pointed out a shy youth in the corner, anxiously watching the others through long, greasy bangs of white hair.

“The creepy guy eye-ballin’ my Cassandra?”

“His name is Ben Altair. He’s new to the school, same as you are. He actually creates and manipulates ice. Some of the teachers want me to start tutoring him, since our powers are similar in theory and I have a little more understanding of their nature. It’s kind of scary but… I dunno. I sort of always wanted to be a teacher. Part-time, mind you. I wanted to be a super-hero too.” She seemed to shake her way out of her digression and continued to introduce Drew from a distance. “Over there is Alexander Sway and his girlfriend Jacquelyn Webber. Lex is a metamorph of unlimited proportions; whatever he touches, he becomes. Jacquelyn has this barrier… we call it the Trip Field. Be careful not to surprise her… you could end up laying flat on your back.”

“Weird… what about the fat kid they’re talking to?”

“That’s Lucus Howell… he’s actually not a Neo-Sapien. He’s an Esper.”

“A what?”

“Well, it’s theorized that most people don’t use their full brain potential. Espers are normal humans who just happen to be able to realize their full potential. They’re able to move things with their mind or control people’s thoughts. In Lucas’ case, his trick is telepathy. Mostly he just uses it to find out a few dirty little secrets and then proceeds to taunt without mercy… He’s also used it to get answers for homework and tests. I say his power is a crutch… a license to be lazy. He claims it’s just his way of honing his skill. Um, the girl eyeing Cloud is Donna-Anne Manther… she’s the third Manther to manifest the power of unstoppable flight.” Drew’s eyes widened at the notion that there were students at this school capable of flying. Having wings like Addison was one thing but how did this girl fly without them?

The newest recruit gazed over what was about to become his classmates. Suddenly Drew’s eyes popped on a face he recognized. “I know him! He’s been all over the news! Didn’t his parents get killed before summer started?” Alicia frowned as she turned her attention to the beautiful young man, sitting in a depressive slump on chair pulled far away from the others.

“By the Church of Genetic Purity? Yeah. His name is Adonis Skraag. He’s a rookie… blessed with unearthly beauty and a way with women… I’m okay at this distance but any closer and I’d start babbling like an idiot. Something about him… he has this aura that just… drains women of their ability to rationalize. We don’t exactly think straight around him.”

“That’s… a weird power.”

“There’s more. All it takes is for him to run his fingers through that long, red hair-” Drew eyed Alicia oddly and looked back to Adonis; the young man was a blonde, not a redhead. “-or a wink from those baby blues… then wham. Women would be willing to do whatever he asked. Well, not just women. I hear his power works on attraction—heterosexual women, homosexual men…”

“Small dogs?” offered Drew.

Alicia rolled her eyes. “Anyone who would find him attractive becomes a fanatical follower in the cult of Adonis. He’s a lot like you in that his powers only recently manifested too. Like you said, it was just before the summer started. His abilities triggered on this girl he’d been crushing on since grade school. I guess one thing led to another and he woke up in her bed.”

“Nice.”

“She was the daughter of Forrest N. Bedford, leader of the Church of Genetic Purity? Daddy walked in and… well, Adonis’ power slipped. Apparently nobody can remember what happened while under his influence. Big Daddy must have put two and two together and realized a Neo-Sapien had used his powers on his baby girl. He rallied his congregation and… well… Adonis is suddenly an orphan.”

“I heard that guy got off too…” Drew uttered a curse as he focused his all on Adonis.

“Yeah,” Alicia said sadly, watching Adonis with sympathetic eyes. “I feel really sorry for him. I mean, I can’t imagine how he must feel. Weirder still, he volunteered for the Unification.”

“Huh?”

Alicia looked at Drew sideways and then realized he hadn’t yet been told. “Sorry,” she offered. “Project Unification is this… I dunno, social experiment. It’s pretty much only open to the seniors. Basically, you have to be eighteen or turn eighteen during the project to even be considered.”

“What is it?”

“There’s this school in Manhattan: Eleanor Roosevelt High School. Basically, the New Vindicators Academy is going to plant some of us in the student body and record how we spend a year amongst normal humans. They’re planning to publish their findings and demonstrate that we can coexist peacefully. It’s supposed to show how… well, I guess even though there’s a lot of pressure on us to use our powers, we don’t.” She pointed out one of the Freshman, a scrawny boy with a messy mop of brown hair. “His name is Steve Potter, I think. He has super-speed. Now, it’d be pretty easy for him to blow everyone away on the track, so long as he regulates his speed so that it doesn’t become obvious that he’s cheating. Or, take Lex; Lex has been planning to join the football team—probably wrestling too. If he assimilated metal or stone, he’d be impossible to take down. Still, Lex’s goal is to prove that Neo-Sapiens can compete with normal humans and do it without resorting to their abilities.”

Before Alicia could say any more, a door opened and small procession entered the room. A man in a decorated military uniform led the group in. Their age was not the only thing that denoted them as the administration; the collective hush that fell over the other teens surrendered everyone’s attention to these people. The veterans to this institution recognized the former Vindicators who composed the majority of the faculty.

To Be Continued... wrote:Roomies.
Last edited by Michuru81 on Wed Dec 17, 2008 4:48 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Michuru81
Cosmic Scion
Cosmic Scion
 
Posts: 5693
Joined: Wed Apr 05, 2006 9:17 pm
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New Vindicators, Chapter 2

Postby Michuru81 » Wed Nov 22, 2006 8:52 pm

Chapter II: Fledgling
Drew could only stare in amazement as he found himself in the presence of legends. Time had altered many of them, undoing the image presented by history books and the media. Still, some had served in recent years—some had been members of the last team of Vindicators and not enough time had passed to provide the mask the others were fortunate enough to possess.

“Welcome to the New Vindicators Academy,” the man in the military uniform said. He was a short man with dark hair trimmed short and a sly smile that helped to breach the authority his position had earned him. “My name is Colonel Jon Sidell, Director of the Department of SPB Affairs.”

SPB, short for Super-Powered Beings, was a catch-all term given to the increase in super-human activity over the years. The Department of SPB Affairs was a division of the United Nations Security Council and was charged with policing Espers and Neo-Sapiens. In reality, there was so much more that would have fallen under the department’s jurisdiction—had society known about such things. Science was making great strides in creating ways to allow normal humans to fight Neo-Sapiens evenly. Machines that augmented the physical condition may one day have folded under the umbrella Colonel Sidell held, just as mysticism may one day as well. The Aurelius had founded the sixth incarnation of Vindicators and his name had become the answer to numerous trivia questions as a result. However, few knew that the energy he commanded was arcana. Even fewer could have guessed that others like the Aurelius continued to battle occult forces, stealthy saving the world and ensuring that all manner of monsters failed to threaten mankind.

“Welcome to a new term at the American campus of the New Vindicators Academy. Some of you are returning for another year with us and to you I say, ‘welcome back’. Some of you are new to this school and to you I say, ‘you have no idea what you’re in for.’

“As the Neo-Sapien population continues to surge, our staff has expanded. Each man and woman you see standing here with me is dedicated wholly to providing you all with a safe environment to learn and grow in. You will receive the same benefits as any high school student in addition to being trained in the use of your powers.”

He paused then, as if unsure if he should continue on. Still, he fought against his reluctance, though his tone had changed from proud and commanding to mournful and disgusted: “Most job applications inquire as to whether or not the potential employee is an NS. Naturally, you don’t have to answer but… such an action is like an admonishment of guilt. Lie and you can be fired when the dirty little secret is discovered. Tell the truth and… well, enjoy not having a job. Here’s the reality of the situation kids: you live in a world that is neither fair nor perfect. Because you are born different, you are denied better jobs. You are turned down for loans. Restaurants that reserve the right to refuse service exercise such rights. Popular opinion is that your kind can’t even be trusted to breathe the same air as normal humans.

“Our mission at this institution is to supply you all with the chance for a normal existence. When you, God willing, graduate from this academy, I pray that each and every one of you can find a sliver of happiness in this unhappy existence. I hope that you find spouses who accept you—spouses you don’t have to lie to. I earnestly wish that you all find careers that satisfy your soul and are not forced to settle for a job that doesn’t discriminate based on your genetic code.

“I sincerely wish you all the best and promise you that this institution and my department will do whatever we can to secure that.” Again he paused and turned to the faculty standing behind him. His eyes sought out one above the others; by the look of him, he was half-Japanese. His long black hair was parted just barely enough that his eyes could be seen through them. This man met the colonel’s gaze and the two nodded to each other; something unsaid was shared between them.

“Let me introduce you to your advisors,” Colonel Sidell said as he stepped aside to present them. “Think of them as your best friend and your worst enemy. These men and woman will be running you through exercises in the Wreck Room—teaching you not only how to control your powers but to better understand them. They’ll also be teaching you self-defense… as the purpose of this school is to teach you how to assimilate into society. Sometimes anti-NS demonstrations turn violent. Mobs form, lynching happens.” Those students who had been keeping up to date on current events chanced a look to Adonis Skraag, expecting to see some physical reaction from the newly-orphaned young man.

He barely flinched.

“They’ll be teaching you to protect yourselves and those around you… should anything happen. Many of them are former Vindicators, so they know a thing about defense. Listen to them. Do what they say.”

The Colonel paused, as if daring anyone to defy his word. Only two were brazen enough to make a move: a youth covered in piercings with jet-black hair gelled into a single spike and a bald young man with a tattooed scalp. The first had let out a chortle at the seriousness of the man’s tone while the other seemed to genuinely seek out the edge of the colonel’s patience—as if curious to gage just how far he could go. The tattooed young man rolled his eyes and muttered an audible, “Whatever.”

“First up is Professor Philip Alston, the former Vindicator known as Professor Incendiary. He is the administrator of the New Vindicators Academy and he’ll be acting as a liaison to my office.” The man appeared to be in his fifties and while some may have called him gangly in his youth, his time with the Vindicators IV had made him leaner. Time had not lessened his handsome appearance—they had only enhanced his attractiveness with maturity. Though his chestnut eyes were hidden behind bifocals, they still shone passionately. His brown hair was tinged with grey—thickest at his temples but it gave him his own allure.

He went on to introduce the other three members of the Vindicators IV—Doctor Kenneth Bradley, the other headmaster; Patrick Goodman, physical education; and Victoria Richmond-Goodman, English and literature. As Doctor Splash, Kenneth Bradley had been their leader. Through most of their career he had been involved with his teammate, Victoria, also known as Miss Mist. To the general public it had seemed like their unexplained breakup and her sudden marriage to Coach Crag that had ended and era. These days, Doctor Bradley was permanently trapped in his liquid form. It had left him apparently immune to the rigors of time—though the years seemed not to have had much of an effect on his other two teammates…

Patrick Goodman’s muscle had only degenerated slightly as he had entered his fifties. His sandy-brown hair retained not only its color but its body too. Only a slight recession of his hairline hinted that over two decades had passed since the man had hung up his tights and traded the super-hero lifestyle for that of a loving husband and father.

His wife had transitioned into middle-age with even more grace. A touch of grey streaked her honey-blonde hair these days and her skin seemed tighter on her form. Still, the years had given her an uncanny appeal unlike anything most could fathom.

“Teaching history we have Jacob Lang, the aborigine known as Walkabout.” Walkabout was the oldest of all the other instructors—having served as a Vindicator during the Vietnam conflict. The governments involved had dispatched Neo-Sapiens with abilities that benefited their side. Even entering his seventies, his ability to manipulate the space-time continuum was as invaluable to the world then as it was now. “Teaching our science classes we have Doctor Natalie Styles and Pandora DiMera, better known as Halogen and Pandora.”

“Excuse me?” asked the youth with the piercings. “Which one is Pandora? Is it Doctor Styles or Pandora DiMera?”

A stern look spread like a cancer across the colonel’s face. Pandora, a young woman with long, waves of raven hair spilling over her slightly-exposed and heavy breasts, laughed at the young man’s question. The more modest Doctor Styles simply smiled—whether at the joke or at the colonel’s ability to be unhindered in his introductions remained unknown. “Both of these women spent their teen years serving alongside one incarnation of the Vindicators—they may very well understand you all better than you do.”

Doctor Styles smiled politely as she looked out over her students. For a moment, Drew thought he caught something of pride reflected in her eyes and in the way she looked at them; she looked at them as if she was looking on the next generation of Vindicators. Standing beside her, Miss DiMera’s olive skin glowed and her black eyes suddenly seemed incandescent. That eerie glowing ceased when Doctor Styles fixed that warm smile on her; the two seemed to be good friends—a relationship obviously cherished by Pandora.

“Our other three are survivors from the last team of Vindicators: the Vindicators VII. Richard Jorgenson, formerly known as Chimera.” All eyes went to the man and immediately to his arm. He was not as old as Professor Incendiary, though he wore his age much worse. The unkempt beginnings of a beard hung below tired eyes. He stood awkwardly—as if he were ready to slump down in a heap on the floor. Most obvious though was his right arm—or rather the lack of it.

The Vindicators VII had been the team most drenched in the media. Their superiors believed that the super-heroes could enhance humanity’s view of Neo-Sapiens with a whirlwind talk show tour. Their exposure left them vulnerable in that the world knew their every embarrassing childhood memories, failed relationships, and most disastrous moments. It was no mystery how Richard Jorgenson had lost his arm…

It had happened the very day his wife had breathed her last breath.

The other two were as equally known. In the five years since the Vindicators VII had disbanded, Rift had gone from a sixteen-year-old girl to a twenty-one-year-old woman. Her heritage as a Flathead Indian seemed to enhance her exotic exquisiteness. She was a raven-haired beauty, slender and graceful in her every movement. The other… the other anyone would know anywhere.

When two members of the Vindicators had been killed in battle…

When Chimera had lost an arm at the elbow…

When the villainous Atlas used his abilities to hold the Earth in its orbit, preventing the sun from setting or rising respectively, only one of the Vindicators VII had been able to stand against him. The man Colonel Sidell had nodded to was universally known as Michuru and was renowned for being the man who had brought down mountains atop of Atlas. While the other Vindicators had scrambled to escape the carnage, forced to leave their dead behind, Michuru had emerged from the rubble carrying Chimera’s unconscious form… and fell over into an unconscious heap himself.

To this day, he claimed that he had no memory of just how he had saved the world and avenged his teammates. All he knew was that inside of him was an uncontrollable well of power he had never before been able to tap into… and had never been able to utilize since.

“Breanne Jordan,” the Colonel said, introducing Rift, “and Michuru Bradshaw. These three additions to the faculty are all gifted martial artists who will be teaching you all in hand-to-hand combat and self-defense.”

He went on to introduce the others and the novelty faded as the educators who had not traversed the world in spandex suits were paraded forward. Soon enough, introductions were over and Colonel Sidell was announcing that a tour of the campus would begin in one hour—after the students had been given time to settle into their new home.

Missus Goodman called for the girls to follow her and her husband moved to usher the male constituent out of the common room and towards their dormitory. Drew pushed through the throng of students trying to get closer to the man he had once looked up to. He watched as, curiously, Mister Goodman’s son Cloud brought up the rear. His feet dragged behind him, unwilling to be lead about by the man he called father.

The former Vindicator whistled and the boys’ attentions were quickly reigned in. “All right, cadets now I’m only going to go over this one once so you might want to go ahead and grab a Q-Tip, not just so you can experience the oh-so-pleasing sensation that is the eargasm but so that you can clean out whatever is in there so that there is no reason for some sniveling little ninety-pound, pimply-face asthmatic walking up to me later and asking where the toilet is. Pay attention or learn to like the feeling that comes with soiling yourself.

“There are two dormitories: one for you and one for people who aren’t you. Each dormitory has four floors. Each floor has a bathroom at opposite ends of the hall. These bathrooms should be enough to accommodate you. If not, have fun holding it in and have even more fun not telling me about it.

“Each floor has eight dorm rooms and each room has four bunks. I don’t give one iota who you decide to bunk with but rest assured that after today these arrangements will be made permanent. ‘Yeah, but, Mister Goodman,’” he said, impersonating them by forcing his voice to crack. “‘My roommate has bad B.O. and he leaves his laundry in the floor and he thinks Owen Wilson is a good actor.’ Now, see, I would love to help you solve these little problems but I’m just too gosh-darn busy not caring about what goes on in your meaningless little lives and having one of my own to do much more than to tell you to work through your own trivial problems.

“In short: don’t bother me unless someone’s bleeding.” He stopped then and a mad grin appeared on his face as he gave them all the thumbs-up. “Have a terrific day,” he said through his teeth. Immediately the faux smile vanished and was replaced by a look of pure annoyance. Brushing his thumb over his nose he strode down the hall and vanished around the corner, leaving the male students began to sort themselves into the dorm rooms.

Drew slung one of his bags over his shoulder, hefting the other easily. He stared at it oddly. When he had arrived at the school, it had taken all he had to practically drag it through the doors. Now it felt so natural… so light. Beside him, another young man’s luggage levitated ahead of him. Drew’s jaw dropped at the sight. “Dude! How are you doing that?”

“Metal links in the handles,” the young man said simply. With his shoulder-length, white hair and lanky frame, he looked very sickly and weak. It was good that his abilities allowed him to move objects with his mind—Drew wasn’t sure he had the strength to affect his luggage it otherwise. “I manipulate magnetic waves… among other things. My name is Loder; Magnus Loder.”

“Drew Jenkins,” Drew said, setting down his back and offering his hand in greeting. “So… you just… control metal?”

“Any metal that’s magnetic.” As if in demonstration, Magnus waved his hand towards the door of one of the dorms. Seizing the doorknob with his powers he commanded the door to shut in the face of one of the incoming Freshmen. “Most ferrous metals I can control… a few that aren’t I still can. Mostly iron… steel and cobalt… it gets complicated.”

“Ferrous?” Drew wasn’t sure he had ever heard the word before now. “Sounds it. So, wait… magnetism? You’re kind of like the Lodestones then!” Magnus merely continued down the hall; Drew mistook his silence for ignorance. “You know? He was like, a super-hero fifty years ago. His son took over the family business and his son took over when he got old…”

“Yeah… I know.”

“So, you can pretty much do what they do?”

“Pretty much,” the young man said uncomfortably. He slipped into one of the dorm rooms in an effort to avoid the conclusion that Drew was bound to come to.

He was too late.

“Wait a minute… Loder? Lodestone? You’re his son, aren’t you? You’re the Lodestone’s son!” Drew hurried into the room behind Magnus, only to find his bag seemed to weigh a ton once more. He paid it no mind—he was too preoccupied with Magnus Loder’s secret identity. “You’re the new Lodestone!”

“Yes,” Magnus said, cupping a hand over Drew’s mouth. “Sure, fine. Yes, my dad was the last Lodestone. Yes, I’d like to be the next Lodestone… but I’m not willing to be the Lodestone HERE. Do you understand me?”

“No?”

Magnus sighed. “Okay, Drew… it’s like this… I figure everyone here would treat me differently, because of what my last name is. That’s why I’m only just enrolling here during my senior year. I never wanted to be here but… I hear this may be the best way to help me prepare. I want people to treat me like I’m my own person, you know? I don’t want to be given anything just because I share a genome or two with someone famous. I imagine it’s the same for the others.”

“What others?”

“The other Dynasty kids? Cassandra and Cloud, for instance… their parents are advisors at the school and former Vindicators. Alicia’s in the same boat I’m in; her family has been Captain Canada for-”

“Alicia is Captain Canada!?”

“You… you’re not very keen on thinking before you talk, are you?”

“Do either of you ever shut up?”

The two were startled by the sudden interjection; they had both assumed they were alone. The pair turned and discovered someone had already taken residence in their dorm. Adonis Skraag sat in the dark on the bottom bunk. His back was to the door and his hands clasped together over his face.

“Sorry, I didn’t know anyone was in here.”

“Well, someone is.”

Drew took a gulp and made his move. “Adonis, right?”

Adonis gave no answer.

“You, uh… you wanna hang out with me and my new friend Lodey?”

“Magnus,” the other said in introduction; he fixed Drew with a glare and prayed that nickname didn’t become permanent. Still, he mustered up a friendly smile as he extended a hand out to Adonis; whether the youth saw or didn’t care, he didn’t know. He assumed the later.

“It’s Lodey to his friends,” corrected Drew. Magnus cringed. “C’mon, Adonis! We could go get some ice cream… my treat, yeah? Parfait? Everyone loves parfaits!”

Adonis eyes glinted from above his fingertips; they shinned in the dull light of the room. An agitation was conveyed, beamed through the narrowed windows into the young man’s soul. Still, Drew did not take the hint. Eternally optimistic, he continued to wait for a response he believed would end with the trio gorging themselves on soft-serve swirl. Adonis merely turned himself to lie down on the cot, rolling over to turn his back on the pair.

“A rain check then!” He couldn’t explain it but being here, being in this room with Magnus and Adonis somehow made Drew feel more confident.

Drew froze as the door opened again, spilling a younger student in. The boy’s skin was coated in briars. His eyes darted about the room and over Drew and Magnus nervously.

“Uh, is…” he began shyly. “Is there a free bed here?”

“Make yourself at home,” Drew announced.

“I—I wouldn’t want to impose…”

“Don’t be so shy, man. We’re cool.” Somehow, Drew’s words inspired something in the young man. He seemed to mellow out. He seemed more comfortable with being in their presence. “What’s your name?”

“Shannon Sharp,” the young man said. “I’d shake your hand but…” He showed them his palms, coated in the tiny burs. “My whole body is like this.”

“That’s a pretty raw deal,” Drew said apologetically. “I turn into light and Lodey controls metal.” He turned to Adonis’ adamant form. “What’s your power, Adonis?”

Adonis said nothing. He merely continued to lie there as Drew claimed the bunk over his and Shannon climbed into the top bunk adjacent. Adonis never shifted as his three roommates began to settle into their new home. He said nothing as Drew began to hang his clothes in the closet or as Magnus began to arrange his books on the shelf over the desk. He said nothing as Shannon emptied a backpack of numerous CDs; his taste in music appeared to gravitate towards bands that had been extinct since the early nineties.

The bald-headed youth Alicia had pointed out to Drew as being Lex Sway poked his head into their room and announced that tours of the facilities were beginning for the new students. As Magnus and Shannon passed through the portal to follow, Drew turned back to Adonis. “You coming?” he asked.

Adonis said nothing and Drew left him alone in the darkness…

Drew left the men’s dormitory for the common room and discovered the room not as crowded as it had been before. It took the young man a few moments to rationalize that only the newest students would need the tour. That meant that a majority of those gathered here were Freshman. Still, he smiled at the sight of his roommates: Magnus Loder and Shannon Sharp may not have been first year students but this was still their first year attending the New Vindicators Academy. Their presence here made this all the less awkward…

...Until Drew noticed that the eyes of every girl was on him. “Wha—what?” he asked, suddenly self-conscious. He looked to their tour guide; even Professor Alston couldn’t keep from looking strangely at the newcomer. “What?”

The administrator cleared his throat and cleared his head. “Right, well… if I can have everyone’s attention then?” He motioned for them to follow as he began walking backwards, avoiding meeting Drew’s gaze as he led them towards the class rooms.

As he began to show them where each department was located, one of the young women threaded her arm around Drew’s and leaned against him as they walked. “H-hi?” he asked, startled by her sudden approach. As he looked at her, he took in the sight of her large eyes and the great, feathered wings jutting from her shoulder blades. “Can I help you?”

“Maybe,” she said flirtatiously. “I’m Addison. I’m a senior. What year are you?”

“I’m a senior too, I guess,” he said, careful to keep his voice down as the headmaster continued their tour. “My name’s Drew. I saw you earlier,” he said, remembering her from his meeting with Alicia.

“Yeah, well, I’m kinda hard to miss,” Addison said embarrassedly. “Big Bird sticks out like a sore thumb, I mean. I—I’m learning to control the metamorphosis though! That’s why I’m here… My sister manifested her powers and she can control the avian shape. She teaches here so…” Suddenly, Addison began to blush. “I’m sorry, I’m rambling.”

“That’s okay,” Drew said nervously. “Who’s your sister?”

“It used to be Courtney Truman, but she’s married now. Have you met Missus Dressel? She runs the math department here.”

“Ah,” offered Drew uninterestedly. Addison mistook his utterance as recognition and beamed at him.

“So, pretty soon I’ll look normal.” There was a hint of hope in her voice, partly because she hoped it were true and partly because she hoped that might entice Drew. “I have a twin sister back home too. She’s a human though so… she looks normal.” There was a hint of hope in her voice, as if this new nugget of information should have been enticing.

Whistles went off in Drew’s head. “Wait, are you—are you coming onto me?” he asked.

Addison nodded and Drew began to laugh.

“I—I’ll just go die now, thanks…”

“No!” Drew said, managing to keep his voice low but still fit urgency into his inflections. As she pulled away Drew seized her arm, forcing her to stay with him. “No, Addison… I didn’t mean it like that! It’s just… this has never happened to me before. I—I never get hit on. It takes me weeks to work up the nerve to ask a girl out and it doesn’t always end the way I’d like…”

“I don’t see why,” Addison offered. “I mean, okay, I don’t normally do this either. I’ve never been this forward, you know? I just… I dunno, you’re so cute and I just… I couldn’t stop myself. You have, like, the most beautiful blue eyes and, honestly? I kind of have a thing for blondes.” Drew was confused, not being a blonde himself. “You’re just irresistible,” she told him boldly.

“I’m flattered,” Drew said, blushing as Professor Alston led his train of students through the cafeteria, “but I… I think I have a girlfriend.”

“You think you have a girlfriend?”

“I had a girlfriend. Erin. But that was before…” He hadn’t seen Erin since his powers had manifested. She had called him after seeing him on the news. He hadn’t been in the mood to talk and his father had taken a message.

He hadn’t even told her he was changing schools.

“She doesn’t know… what I am.” Drew still couldn’t say those words that had condemned so many before him: I’m a Neo-Sapien. “I’m not sure if she’d want to stay with me if she knew. I’m not sure if I could really tell her…”

Addison was sympathetic to his plight but at the same time excited at the prospect that Drew might soon be considered single. “Maybe you should just tell her,” she said, wishing she could tell him to just forget about her and spare himself the heartache. That way would ensure his status amongst the single. “If it were me you were dating, I know I’d want to know…”

Drew nervously rubbed the back of his neck and passed through the doors and onto the quad. “Yeah… Can we change the subject?”

Addison nodded eagerly; it was like she was enchanted by the young man. She oddly seemed willing to do anything he asked. “How about Project Unification? Are you going to sign up for it?”

“I barely know what it is,” offered Drew. “Alicia told me a bit about it. I’d be going to a normal high school, right?”

Addison nodded. “I’m kind of anxious to get started.”

“Not to be insensitive or anything but… can you participate? I mean, you… well, you said it yourself: you kind of stand out.”

Addison lifted her shirt a bit, exposing the bulky belt buckle she was wearing. She twisted it and immediately her hands and eyes seemed normal. No longer were her fingers tipped in talons and no longer were her eyes so large. The wings seemed to disappear as well. With one touch of a button Addison had managed to make herself appear as a perfectly normal young woman. “There’s a kid here… he’s kind of a child genius. He was tinkering with some of the Vindicator’s old equipment and he modified some of it to do this. He says he probably couldn’t have figured it out on his own, but I’m willing to give him all the credit.”

“It… it took away your powers?”

Addison shook her head and gently took Drew by the wrist. She led his hand up to where her wings would have been and he was startled to feel the feathery appendages he could no longer see. “Holograms,” she offered, deactivating the illusion with another twist of the buckle. “He based it on the same stuff in the Wreck Room. All the Morph Buckle does is make me appear like I used to, before my powers manifested… I’ll have to be careful not to let anyone bump into my wings but with this they say I’m going to be able to pass as a normal human again.”

“Wow…” was all that Drew could manage.

Addison took a deep breath and acted on her bold thoughts once more: “Have you ever flown?”

“What?” Drew asked.

“I—I was just asking ‘cause maybe, I thought that after we finished here we could go out on the quad and… I could carry you, Drew. We could fly. Together.”

“I…” Drew was beginning to panic. Twenty-four hours ago his world had not been populated by holographic belt buckles, bramble boys and flying girls. “This is… this is all a lot for me to take in, you know? Maybe after I’ve adjusted a bit more…”

Addison nodded as if she agreed; she tried to understand what he was saying.

Embarrassed, she spent the rest of the tour in silence, though she couldn’t bring herself to stray very far from Drew. After being shown the lower levels, where the medical bay, war room and Wreck Room were contained, Drew managed to separate from Addison as the young people began to break apart and retreat back to their dorm rooms. Drew slithered away and managed to find Doctor Style’s office joining her classroom.

Before he could knock, the door swung open and Drew bumped into Michuru.

The legendary hero paused and gazed down at the young man and Drew found himself in awe of the cool look painted across the man’s face. Drew stood stunned as Michuru rushed away, seizing a fire extinguisher from the wall of the lab and taking aim on a nearby table.

Drew turned and was startled to see flasks of chemicals ablaze. Still, the former Vindicator was not as stunned by the sight as Drew; he acted swiftly and quickly put out the fire. He turned to return the extinguisher. “I’m sorry,” he said to the wall.

“I know you didn’t mean to,” Doctor Styles said. Her voice shook Drew out of his stupor; he hadn’t even known she had stepped into the lab.

“This is what I was talking about,” Michuru intoned, forcing himself to keep from looking at either of the two. “I’ll be going now.”

Under any other circumstances, she would have stopped him. Still, she had a responsibility to her students first and foremost. She would tend to Michuru’s guilty conscience later. “Drew… what can I do for you?”

“Was that Michuru?”

Doctor Styles nodded.

“What just happened?”

“Mister Bradshaw has a lot of power at his disposal,” the woman explained. “The trouble is that he can’t control that power. He has a mastery over the elements, Drew—but they’re tied to his emotions. When he’s sad or hurt, he can move the earth. When he’s happy he controls air. Water bends to his will when he is calm but when he’s angry… he can’t control his pyrokinesis and… this is the result.”

“What was he mad about?”

“I didn’t believe he was. He didn’t leave upset… but I don’t think that’s either of our business, Drew.” She smiled sweetly and watched Drew continue to watch the door Michuru had left through. “Again: what can I do for you?”

Drew spun around, suddenly remembering his reason for coming here. “I wanted to know…” He still couldn’t admit that he was a Neo-Sapien. He needed to cling to some semblance of the life he had before his abilities had manifested. “Can… can I join Project Unification?”

The woman grimaced.

“What’s wrong?”

“Drew… you… you don’t have much experience with your powers. This project is designed with the intent that no one knows Neo-Sapiens are walking among them. If your powers activate at school it could jeopardize our intentions.”

It was now Drew’s turn to frown. Suddenly the woman couldn’t help but sympathize with him. She knew he couldn’t reasonably participate but she wanted to do what she could to make him feel better… Opening her desk drawer she pulled out an application and slid it across her desk to him. “It can’t hurt to put your name in though, right?” She fixed him with a smile and was happy to see him return the gesture. Drew immediately snatched up a pen and bent over the desk, fervently scribbling his way through the paper. “So, how are things going so far for you? Have you made any friends yet?”

“A couple,” Drew said. “I’m bunking with Shannon, Adonis and Lodey and this girl with wings was hitting on me.”

She smiled fondly as Drew finished filling out the application and then watched as he excused himself, vowing to convince his roommates to sojourn with him in search of ice cream. She shook her head as her door closed behind the new recruit and was startled when it opened once again.

Darkening her door was the headmaster of the school: Professor Philip Alston. “Sir,” she said, standing to her feet and attempting to hide how unsettled she was by his unexpected appearance. Though she herself had spent years as a Vindicator, the seniority she viewed her predecessors as holding often intimidated her. “To what do I…” She cut off as she watched him sniff the air. “There was a… small fire. A tiny one.”

“I don’t much care for Mister Bradhsaw’s presence at this academy,” the headmaster said. “He can’t control his powers and that makes him a danger to these students.” He didn’t mention the installation of the new fire-prevention system. Except in designated areas, such as the chemistry labs, a flame of any size would be instantly answered with flame-retarding foam. For a Neo-Sapien who possessed the ability to become a living flame it made him feel vulnerable. “Still… he has friends in high places…”

Doctor Styles nodded. “Colonel Sidell thinks Michuru will be an excellent addition to the faculty this year, sir. He’s an accomplished martial artist—Miss Jordan and Mister Jorgenson are too but…” She trailed off, suddenly remembering the past Professor Alston and Richard Jorgenson shared. As she began to mentally curse herself, she watched as the headmaster navigated his way through her class room and sat down across from her at her desk. “I came to go over the applications for Project Unification.”

Flustered the woman shuffled Drew’s application into a folder bulging with papers. “We’ve had twenty-one applicants so far.”

“Twenty-one?” asked Professor Alston, surprised by the overwhelming response of the senior class.

Doctor Styles opened the folder that held the applications; on top sat a sheet with all names of those who had applied: “Benjamin Altair, Jeremy Carlson, Maria Espada, Alicia Gladstone, Cassandra and Cloud Goodman, Alexandra Hawk, Lucas Howell, Quinton Jorgenson, Magnus Loder, James Kirk, Donna-Anne Manther, Mae O’Connell, Adonis Skraag, Alexander Sway, Addison Truman, Marcos Verón, Gale Weathers, Jacquelyn Webber and Atlanta White.” Hastily she amended her list: “And Drew Jenkins.” She pulled a few of the applications—the first she would suggest to eliminate from the selection process. “Jeremy Carlson is a loose cannon; he refuses to listen to anyone and would only hurt our intentions here. James Kirk is in the same boat; he’s wild and unruly. Drew Jenkins is too inexperienced to be considered-”

“Admit them all.”

“Wha—all of them!?” stammered Doctor Styles. “Professor Alston, you said we were only going to admit ten! I don’t think-”

“Good,” said the man coldly. “You’re not paid to think, Doctor Styles; you’re paid to do what I tell you to do. Now… where are we at on your recommendations for prefects?”

She tried to compose herself after being broadsided by his decision where Project Unification was concerned. “In my…” She stopped herself from giving her opinion; he had just told her he was not interested in what she believed. “There are a few recommendations. Both of the Goodman’s are petitioning for their children. Doctor Bradley agrees with them on Cassie but the rest of the faculty is just about unanimous on Lex and Jacque.”

“Sway and Webber?” mused the professor. “They’re quite a capable duo.”

“Sir, they’re both holding a perfect GPA. They’re model students; they’ve never been in trouble. In every Wreck Room exercise they show leadership potential. Plus, a former prefect, J.J. Manther, personally endorses both of them.”

“They’re capable in combat?” asked the headmaster.

Doctor Styles blinked in surprise, unsure what that had to do with anything. “Ve—Very,” she stammered.

The man nodded. “I’ll be sure to pass it all along,” he said, holding out his hand for the folders. The moment he felt them slipped into his hand he bowed his head and excused himself, leaving the doctor’s classroom and leaving her to breathe more easily…

To Be Continued... wrote:Eleanor Roosevelt High School and Patriot Robotics
Last edited by Michuru81 on Wed Dec 17, 2008 5:08 pm, edited 3 times in total.
Michuru81
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New Vindicators, Chapter 3

Postby Michuru81 » Wed Nov 22, 2006 10:41 pm

Chapter III: ecnegludnI lfeS sseldniM
Though he had been unsuccessful in getting his roommates to go out for ice cream with, Drew was satisfied when the rest of the weekend passed without incident. Drew found himself forced to frequently retreat to the men’s dorms to avoid the ravenous look from the female constituency of the school. Each time he returned, Adonis was simply lying there in his bunk, shutting out the rest of the world and losing himself to his own thoughts.

Shannon was acclimating nicely; he was meeting an array of people and claimed to be making more friends than he ever had back home in Mebane, North Carolina.

Magnus seemed to relish being a drastic anti-thesis to Shannon’s newfound sociality. Withdrawn into the various audio books he had downloaded, her ears were perpetually plugged by headphones; ironically, Drew discovered the books his roommate was listening to were on improved leadership skills and improving personal communication.

Monday came too quickly and with it the first day of classes for both the New Vindicators Academy and Eleanor Roosevelt High School. Of his roommates only Shannon was not participating in Project Unification; Drew worried about Magnus’ impersonal attitude but he was more concerned for Adonis.

He was determined to stay by the young orphan’s side as much as possible—though he began to doubt his decision upon entering the hallowed halls of Eleanor Roosevelt High School. The other students—the ones who didn’t know that they were Neo-Sapiens taking part in a government-sponsored social experiment—seemed engulfed in an ocean of animosity… all focused right on Adonis.

The genetic slurs Drew himself had uttered once were thrown Adonis’ way. Some vindicated themselves in shoulder-checking the physically unimpressive young man as they passed each other. As Adonis collided with lockers and was tripped to the floor, girls shied away and teachers appeared offset by his very presence. “I don’t get it,” Drew mused from the back of Mister Wooding’s fourth period Geometry. Even the rotund man seemed anxious for his hour in Adonis’ presence to end. “It’s like they all know about him…”

“They do.”

Drew was surprised to find himself sitting beside Addison Truman—now without the feathered wings she had been sporting all weekend. “What happened to your…” He cut off quickly enough at a thunderhead of a look from the young woman. He had nearly forgotten about their secret identity amongst the faculty and student body. “Oh, yeah. Sorry, I forgot about your… um… buckle thing.” He was careful to keep his voice low and avoid detection. “So, how do they know about him?”

“This is where Adonis had been going to high school. Besides… even if he were the new kid in town, do you really think anyone wouldn’t know him thanks to the media frenzy surrounding the Church’s attack?”

Drew’s heart sank a little more. Adonis was the villain in everyone’s eyes… and there was no escaping that for him. Worse, his family was dead and his friends had nothing to do with him. He had no one to shield him from the storm.

As Mister Wooding handed out permission slips for his students to attend a field trip to Patriot Robotics in Turtle Bay, Drew found himself passed two slips of paper. One had the blank fields for his teachers to know he was excused from class a week from today. The other was a note from Addison.

The young woman watched with bated breath as Drew unfolded the college ruled sheet and gazed upon her bubbly calligraphy. “Homecoming?” it read. Drew eyed it for a moment that felt like an eternity to Addison. Finally, he scribbled something that passed for legible and slid the note back to Addison.

“What about it?” his reply read.

With a sigh, the young woman began her second attempt at asking the young man out. The event was still some ways off, but she was always one to be prepared. “Oh, wow!” Drew exclaimed suddenly. Addison grinned, thinking the young man had finally seen through to her motives. “Patriot Robotics!? We’re really going there?”

The rest of the class turned to eye the energetic young man oddly. The rotund Mister Wooding merely removed his glasses, letting them rest on his chest by the leather cord that hung around his neck, connecting earpiece-to-earpiece.

“My dad works there! He’s an engineer! Oh, this rocks the casba so hard… We’re going to where my dad works!”

Having never set foot inside his father’s place of employment, Drew’s excitement escalated as the week moved by. In truth, the bulk of Drew’s budding enthusiasm came from having not seen his father in days. He had never been away from his parents for more than a single night and living on campus was taking its toll on him… no matter how short his time away had been.

At the news that their students would be attending a field trip, Professor Alston and Doctor Styles secured their presence as chaperones. The Department of SPB Affairs had covertly inserted twenty-two SPBs amongst the student body; placing two former Vindicators on the field trip was no small step for Colonel Sidell.

“Oh, wow…” Ben Altair said as he stepped off the school bus that had carried them from Roosevelt Island to Manhattan; he could do little but gawk at the sheer scope of the skyscraper. “Which floors are Patriot Robotics on?”

“All seventy-four floors,” came an unexpected response. David Meinstein was Ben’s lab partner in Advanced Chemistry. The senior was not a part of the New Vindicators of Academy—nor was he presently aware of their presence within his school. Not much was known about the young man—save that he came from a wealthy family and he spent every day of his educational career tormented because of his clique. There were a great deal of words people used when describing people like David Meinstein: geek, nerd, freak, gamer, dork…

Outcast.

He was an unusually quiet young man—scrawny with a mop of shaggy brown hair and piercing ice-blue eyes. Given his propensity for saying as little as possible, it was a momentous occasion for him to speak.

“All of them?” Ben asked. “Wow…”

“Mister Meinstein? Mister Altair?” The boys snapped back to reality at Mister Wooding’s voice. “Will you be joining us inside?” As Ben began to turn red, he failed to notice his lab partner’s hesitance to enter those revolving doors into the lobby. As the duo arrived, the guide was already beginning her introduction.

“-better known to the world as Uncle Sam, leader of the original Vindicators. His son was born with an underdeveloped arm and leg and in those times developments in prosthetics were far and few between. In his adventures he had met Akira Noguchi, a Japanese man very much the equal to Albert Einstein in raw intellect. In the late 1940s, Noguchi had begun to make strides in the robotics industry and with Uncle Sam’s financial backing, Patriot Robotics was founded.

“One of the things that makes Patriot Robotics so different from other privately-owned corporations is that it possesses a stipulation that ownership is permanently divided into fifths. The founders each possessed one-fifth of the stock in the company which may not be divided. Shares perpetually remain inside the family. Today, the company is headed by Uncle Sam’s grandson Noah, Touya Noguchi, Wayne A. Bruce, Lawrence Snell, and Amanda Halcyon.

“Today, Patriot Robotics has exploded past prosthesis. They have today branched further into the medical world—making them the only opposition in Wayridge Industries’ domination of the pharmaceutical field. They have also taken steps into space exploration, homeland security enhancement, and environmental restorations.”

“Isn’t ‘homeland security enhancement’ just another way of saying ‘weapons development’?” Drew overheard one of his classmates mutter to another student.

“Patriot Robotics is leading the way to a brighter tomorrow and I’ll be leading you through the heart of our many operations. If you’ll all follow me…”

“Into the belly of the beast, eh?” another student grumbled as he adjusted the collar of his shirt. Drew paid the company’s critics no mind. True, special interest groups had opened fire on the company in recent years; they called down their attempts to restore the environment as a means of making amends; many claimed their weapons development was not solely to blame for the harm done to this world—the weapons themselves were a contributor as well. In recent years the company had come to own up to supplying weapons to the least diplomatic of groups but their new image claimed to be attempting to atone for the sins of the past such as Omagh, Rwanda, Kosovo and Darfur. Just as ownership of the company passed from generation to generation within the five founding families, Patriot Robotics claimed to be interested in ensuring a brighter tomorrow for future generations.

The tour wound its way through the various developments in progress and as it came to its end, Drew had almost given up hope of seeing his dad hard at work. Finally he laid eyes on the man, toiling away on a suit of armor in the division developing weapons.

“The 001 is a deterrent for combating hostile Neo-Sapiens,” Drew’s father said; his voice was heavy with embarrassment in admitting that given recent revelations in his own family. “It enhances the fighting abilities of the wearer. It grants an uncanny level of physical protection while augmenting the strength of the pilot. In addition, the internal sensors and A.I. allow even the most inexperienced of fighters to stand up to even seasoned brawlers. What makes it most special though is that it is possessed of an ability to surround itself in an electrical field. While this not only gives out a mild charge to anyone touching it and scrambles the armor from most electronic sensors, it serves a much greater purpose…

“Faster than thought, the armor can travel instantly through the particles in the air. Most of the engineers on this project have come to affectionately call it, ‘PORTAL’.”

Addison‘s lip was upturned. A snarl rippled from her, cutting the chatter of those around her. “So you’ve been developing weapons to stop Neo-Sapiens?”

“Not stop, no,” Drew’s father said. He was exasperated at the notion that someone failed to view the 001 as he did. Doctor Jenkins seemed to genuinely view the armor as a work of art and a step forward in uniting warring races. “The 001 merely augments a normal human’s performance allowing them to compete on super-human levels.”

“Allowing them to fight super-humans, you mean! Sir, in the past Patriot Robotics has sold weapons to such modern threats as Iraq and North Korea… Which Gestapo do you plan on selling your anti-NS battlesuit to?”

Drew began to become angry with her. In the last few days he had become closer friends with her and another young woman at the school—Lawanda Murphy. The two girls were polar opposites, yet they were the best of friends. He wanted to try and explain to her that this was his dad—a man aware of his son’s status as a Neo-Sapien. The man would take no action that would hurt Neo-Sapiens, of that Drew was sure. Still, he couldn’t explain it here without outing himself before the rest of their class. Still, he was able to let out the sigh he had been holding in when someone else intervened. “That should be enough, Miss Truman,” Professor Alston interjected.

“No,” said Doctor Jenkins, shaking his head as he stripped his glasses from his face. “She’s quite all right. Young lady… in case you hadn’t noticed, we live in a world were threats like the Shadow, Atlas and the Order of Chaos exist. True, the Shadow and the Order of Chaos are imprisoned on Alcatraz Island and Atlas hasn’t been seen since he was defeated five years ago. However, Atlas’ defeat marked another defeat: the Vindicators disbanded. Not all Neo-Sapiens are content to twiddle their thumbs. Many misuse their powers and abilities. Look at Triple Threat; it’s assumed that they’ve stolen how many millions of dollars in the last few years? What about Jihad, Miss Multiple, or Apathy? What are we supposed to do without the Vindicators? We live in a divided world… What happens when our defenders have enough of the anti-NS sentiments and cease to be our saviors? We are not developing these defenses to oppress NS-kind, but to protect ourselves from it.”

The metal-plated walls began to groan as they buckled inward. Most of the students hadn’t noticed—nor had they noticed as their watches simply stopped. Two students, engrossed in their communication via text messages, noticed that the signal was unexplainably blocked. Still, the occurrence of hair, clothes, and the very contents of their pockets beginning to drift upwards caught nearly everyone’s attention. The gravity of the room had lessened. The magnetic field was being distorted. Drew’s eyes went to Magnus; Magnus seemed just as perplexed by the phenomena himself.

“The ZERO is registering an NS signature!” exclaimed one of the engineers, rushing to a computer. After turning the screen on the man was shocked to see numerous blips appear on the monitor. “Numerous Neo-Sapiens are congregating here!” He counted at least twenty and with one more closing in quickly. “We’re about to get company!”

“Retract the armors to their safety zones!” commanded Drew’s father. “Alert security! Notify Doctor Meinstein!”

An energy wave eddied through the air, throwing the scientists and students alike to the floor under the intense gravity put out over the room. A few still stood, perplexed by the occurrence. Amongst those still standing were Magnus and Drew, David Meinstein and Quinton Jorgenson.

“Wh-what’s happening?” Drew asked, astonished at the sight of so many of his peers struggling under the intense weight upon them.

“I happened,” came the response. His voice was cold—not uncaring but merely tired. He was as exhausted as if he had been running a marathon… though he grinned as if his mad race were at last at its end. He swept into the room through the gaping hole he had created in the side of the building. The rush of air only served to remind them all how high up they truly were. Suddenly, the sixty-fourth floor of the skyscraper failed to seem as inviting. At nearly two-miles above the earth, he floated in through the opening he had birthed.

He wore a bodysuit as black as the grave. Iron belts crossed over his chest, allowing him to emit a force field around his body using only a fraction of his true power. The iron boots he wore enabled his mock-flight while with his gauntlets he could lift nearly anything.

An ash grey cape should have been caught in the rush of wind. It should have been ripped from his shoulders and carried off toward the horizon. The small fillings in it permitted him to use his mastery over the earth’s magnetic fields to make it stand deathly still or billow as he deemed.

Those who managed a smattering of his visage from where they lay prostrate on the ground trembled. Some began to weep—not from the force holding them down but from the realization that Doctor Jenkins may have been right about humanity needing a trump card against Neo-Sapiens.

Minds went back to when this young man had once sped up the earth’s revolution around the sun. Seasons changed in weeks as this young man threatened to destroy harvests and condemn mankind to a famine unlike anything the world would ever know.

They trembled to remember when he had begun to move the moon closer to and further from the earth. His acts caused tsunamis the world over and destroyed cities.

Over the years this young man had claimed so many lives…

They shuddered to recall the day the earth literally stood still when his power was used to halt its rotation—creating a permanent day for some and a perpetual night for others.

There was none in the room that did not know the face of Atlas… and none who had ever truly thought they would be doomed to witness his mad wrath ever again…

To Be Continued... wrote:Portal versus Atlas
Last edited by Michuru81 on Wed Dec 17, 2008 5:14 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Michuru81
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New Vindicators, Chapter 4

Postby Michuru81 » Wed Nov 22, 2006 11:21 pm

Chapter IV: Iron Man
Billboards across New York City touted Manhattan’s Channel Six news team “The Big Apple’s Most Trusted News Source”. An uncanny majority of the borough’s one million, five-hundred and thirty-seven thousand citizens tuned in nightly and went to bed with Anthony Keen, Kayla Eubanks, and the rest of the ARA News team’s nightly broadcast from their studios at the Ford Foundation. Most weren’t pulled in by Jeff O’Reilly’s charismatic smile as he regurgitated the sports highlights. Few were as enamored with weather man Eric Matthew’s hair as he was. No, most tuned in because they trusted the roving reporting of Cameron Kirk. The man was honest, hard-hitting, and unbiased and that came across in the shares Channel Six pulled in.

“Earlier this week, I spoke with Doctor Archie O’Connor—a noted geneticist renowned for his study on Neo-Sapiens; a continuation of his mentor, Alf Mitchell’s work.”

Many watched as Cameron interviewed a rotund man in his late fifties. The screen identified him as Doctor Archie O’Connor and the camera portrayed him as a man with receding white hair and an ugly, ill-fitting suit. “No one knows when or why mankind began to display the unique strand of DNA found in Neo-Sapiens,” he said. “Studies show, however that it is not a random effect. It is speculated that all Neo-Sapiens share a common ancestor who first initiated the epidemic-”

“Epidemic?” Cameron asked interestedly from off-camera.

“What else can it be called?” retorted the doctor. “Don’t be confused though—it’s not a contagion. It is not contagious, so normal humans are not at risk. My studies have revealed that the genes necessary for producing Neo-Sapiens are a hereditary gene. Children may inherit them from one or more parent—however, if the child does not develop the genes then their children are also not at risk.”

“In other words, the only way to become a Neo-Sapien is to have a Neo-Sapien parent?”

“Yes.”

“Doctor O’Connor, you’ve been a staunch supporter of the NS registration act.”

“They’re dangerous!” barked the doctor. “You’re a reporter! I’m sure you’ve seen the news at least once or twice, Mister Kirk. What do you think about this Jihad? He’s a Druze seeking revenge for centuries of past persecutions. Worse, he’s a Neo-Sapien capable of creating exact duplicates of himself. He’s turned himself into the world’s deadliest suicide bomber in his mad quest for vengeance.”

“Don’t you see him as someone who has had enough of oppression?”

“I only see a man blowing up buildings, Mister Kirk. I only see the many more that will come after him—using their genetic abnormalities to sunder our society.”

Cameron paused to parse his lips. “Sir… there seems to be a pattern with most of the Neo-Sapiens we brand as terrorists. Jihad is painted as a man with his patience exhausted by the suffering of his people. Atlas has alluded to his father’s abandoning their family when he discovered the boy was a Neo-Sapien.” Doctor O’Connor visibly swallowed. “It seems to me that hatred and bigotry… these are the sparks that ignite into the fires we label acts of terror.”

“Mister Kirk, you come across as an NS apologist-”

“Does this have anything to do with your first wife, Tammy Blithe?”

Doctor O’Connor barely had time to reel from the sudden attack. He had not expected such a route would be taken. After a moment’s stammering he managed to enunciate. “I divorced Tammy fifteen years ago due to marital infidelity—not because of her closeted existence as a Neo-Sapien.”

“And what about your child?”

“Mister Cameron, I have no child-”

“That’s disputable; you seem to have issues with adhering to a court order to submit to DNA testing to determine that. It’s kind of funny, a geneticist not wanting to submit to a DNA test.”

“Mister Cameron, what my first wife and another disgusting abomination produced in my bed is nothing I wish to discuss with you. If you have no further questions pertaining to the Neo-Sapien epidemic, then this interview is over and I’ll bid you a good day.”

The interview ended there, but Archie O’Connor never stopped wondering how it was that Cameron Kirk had come to know about his ex-wife’s son… the child he feared he created but was determined to never meet. Though the world never learned of their connection… Archie O’Connor believed that Neo-Sapiens like his son were just a stronger case for registration.

He prayed the world never learned that Raymond O’Connor was really the terrorist known as Atlas…

“How are you still standing?” Atlas demanded, flashing a cold, tired glare at the four young men who had managed to withstand the intense gravity he had generated. He had taken his name from the man cursed to support the world on his shoulders—appropriate for a being who had mastery over the very forces that kept this world going. Atlas commanded gravity and magnetism—making him one of the most deadly beings known to man. “How can you withstand the force?”

“I’m guessing it has something to do with my power,” Magnus said. Drew’s eyes widened. Most of the students here didn’t know that Magnus Loder was a Neo-Sapien, let alone a student at the New Vindicators Academy of America—undercover at a New York City public high school as part of a social project on peaceful coexistence between humans and Neo-Sapiens. Magnus seemed not to care who knew now though—not when such a threat to their well-being was right in front of him. “You’re not the only one who can command metal.” With a wave of his hand, shrapnel from the tear Atlas had made in his entrance circled above Magnus’ upturned palm. “I’m asking you to leave.”

Atlas laughed quietly. “Don’t you know who I am?” He raised his left hand and a beam of concentrated force erupted from it, striking Magnus square in the chest.

It had no effect.

Professor Philip Alston seemed inspired by Magnus’ throwing caution to the wind: now was not the time for secret identities. Every time Atlas had ever appeared—annihilation was soon to follow. With a thought he was engulfed in flames. His gambit paid off. As a chemistry teacher, he knew that fire and magnetism didn’t go well together. No matter the energy Atlas used to hold them down, his powers married together as a combined force. In his other form, Professor Incendiary could not be held down.

Seeing him was all Malachi Brown needed. The young Jewish man surrounded himself in flames as well and was equally victorious over Atlas’ might. “Grab hold of me,” Incendiary said, looking down at Alexander Sway. “If you become flame-”

“I-I can’t,” Lex managed. “I’m afraid.”

“It can’t hurt you,” Incendiary said softly, his eyes on Atlas. The tyrant had yet to notice the former Vindicator’s presence. At the moment, Magnus and Drew were keeping him occupied. Quinton and David seemed to have escaped for now. “Your physicality will change! You’ll become the flame.”

“Lex is afraid of not being able to pull himself together afterwards!” Jacquelyn answered. “He—we don’t know if once he becomes energy… if he won’t be dispersed.”

Without arguing it further, Incendiary gave the young hero a disappointed look and flew forward to do what he could against Atlas. The aged instructor collided with the young man—despite Atlas being twenty-one-years-old it seemed as if he hadn’t aged a day over the last five years. The madman cried out as the jet of flame collided with his back. He cursed in Mandarin Chinese as a he spun to face the source of the intense heat. His force field had shielded him from the brunt of the blast but he was still feeling the heat rolling off of the man. Still, he hardly seemed surprised to see the former Vindicator in a place like this. Indeed, he almost seemed prepared…

A hand raised and fingers closed around the long, metallic rod. Atlas’ magnetism had pulled the makeshift staff to him and he wasted no time in using it. Incendiary’s eyes widened. The man had read the dossier files the Vindicators had on Atlas: he was supposed to have been ineffective in combat. He was a normal child with a lot of power; he had no formal combat experience.

Much had apparently changed in the last five years.

As the professor fell to the ground, Atlas’ backswing connected with Malachi Brown’s jaw. As Incendiary moved to get to his feet, the youth was knocked unconscious, leaving only the teacher to contend with the man considered the second most dangerous Neo-Sapien in existence. “What are you doing here?” Incendiary asked, his voice crackling from deep within the furnace that his body had become. Embers spit from his lips as he spoke and Atlas was put in mind of logs crackling on a hearth.

“Stand down,” Atlas snarled. “I don’t want to hurt you, Phil. I’m just here to take the armor.”

That Atlas knew his name didn’t register to the former Vindicator; Incendiary’s eyes went to where the battlesuit had once been displayed. The engineers had moved it somewhere. The floor had opened and the armor had gone somewhere else. Still, the man knew this wasn’t enough to stop Atlas. The man could merely cut a path through the walls and floor and wouldn’t stop until he had what he wanted.

Stealing technology was not a new sin allotted to Atlas’ name. The man had stolen the odd mechanism that crossed over his chest. It recycled residual energy from Atlas’ powers and formed a minor force field around him. Atlas had always stressed defense, knowing enough where he was weakest. The bands that wrapped around his temples and the back of his head prevented psionic abilities from affecting his mind. He covered his bases well enough in the past; why should this be any different? Still, what advantage did the 001 give Atlas?

The security that had come had also succumbed to the intensified gravity filling the area. The more that came, the more gravity Atlas seemed to pour on. Most were screaming in pain—feeling as though their bodies were being crushed under the invisible weight. Worse, the steel beams supporting the floor were beginning to groan under the command of Atlas. “You can stall me all you want, Professor Alston.” Incendiary’s eyes widened in surprise that Atlas knew his real name. “However, for the sake of your charges, shouldn’t you stand down and let me take the armor?”

“What armor?” The voice reverberated off of the metal walls of the prison, echoing from deep within the heart of the monster. This time, Atlas was surprised to see his opponent. Before him stood the 001, operational and ready for its initial test; it had been created for this very reason… and now it was time to defend humanity from a Neo-Sapien threat.

The electrical aura surrounded the metallic hero. His stance was awkward as he pulled back to punch—there was too great a distance between Atlas and the armored being before him. As Atlas raised his hands to attack a smirk infected his face. His magnetic abilities counted for so much against a being encased in metal.

The armor vanished and the 001 appeared instantly behind Atlas, landing a titanic punch into the middle of the tyrant’s back. “Oh,” Portal said deep within the 001. “You mean this armor. Gotcha. Thanks.”

With a wave of his hand Atlas should have sent the man flying. Like Magnus before him, something about the opponent he now faced negated his powers. His legs shook at the realization that he was so ineffective against this warrior; ineffective… but not defenseless.

His hand raised and another make-shift staff was to his side. His movements were fluid and none were unnecessary or wasted. He carried himself as a battle hardened martial artist. The staff seemed natural in his hands as it whipped around his back and snapped in his free hand—colliding with the solar plexus of the 001.

The onslaught continued, but it seemed that it was having no effect against the impervious armor.

“You can teleport?” Atlas asked, intending to be sure before he executed his gambit. The man in the armor nodded in compliance. “Then catch.” With a wave of his hand Atlas sent David Noguchi sailing through the air. The wall tore him an entrance into the oblivion that would await him at the bottom of the fall. Portal reacted immediately—teleporting into the great wide open and grabbing the young man before teleporting down to the bottom. Inside, he cursed himself for falling for the feint.

He did nothing as Atlas slipped away.

To Be Continued... wrote:R.I.P.
Last edited by Michuru81 on Wed Dec 17, 2008 5:26 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Michuru81
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New Vindicators, Chapter 5

Postby Michuru81 » Fri Nov 24, 2006 10:14 am

Chapter V: If Tomorrow Never Comes
Drew found himself unable to sleep that night. None of the students had really been hurt, but there were other concerns: in just a little more than a week his universe had been turned topsy-turvy. Unable to rest, he climbed down off his bunk and checked to make sure his landing hadn’t woken his roommates. Adonis Skraag, Magnus Loder, and Shannon Sharp still slumbered peacefully. Slipping downstairs for a glass of milk, he froze at the shadow’s edge and was held by the conversation two of his instructors were having.

“Michuru won’t talk about what happened back then,” Doctor Styles said. Drew found himself disappointed in her choice of nightwear—it was as modest as she dressed during the day. Her simple, pin-striped pajamas paled to excite him the way Breanne’s did. As Doctor Styles set two glasses of milk on the table, Breanne Jordan flung back the tail of her robe as she sat down. Drew’s eyes fell on the diving neckline of her nightgown; even the young woman’s lithe form left him dazed for several moments as the pair conversed secretly. “Breanne, you were there. Tell me… what happened on that day five years ago?”

It was known as the Day the Earth Stood Still—both figuratively and literally. Atlas had used his abilities to hold the earth in position. He truly had no goal beyond the complete destruction of everything. The young man’s motives were no enigma to the world: he hated his father for leaving his family. He hated the world he lived in, where parents could walk out on their children simply for being born different. He hated his race and blamed his genetics for his father’s absence. Atlas was not willing to let any more know the pain he had known from being born a Neo-Sapien. He was content to destroy the world and correlated that act with slaying pain and murdering sorrow.

By holding the earth he created a perpetual day for some and eternal night for others. It was his intention to create a new ice age. The Vindicators had spent a week unable to find his location… until one of them received a phone call…

“Colonel Sidell was Captain Sidell back then,” Miss Jordan said. “He was a good friend of Michy’s. No matter how powerful Atlas is, he’s still just a human and he has the same needs as well all do. He needed to eat. He came down to the small village at the base of the mountains and it was there that Captain Sidell just happened to see him. We’re still not sure what he was doing stationed there, near the Himalayas… but it was the break we all needed. We were scrambled immediately and headed into the mountain lair Atlas had carved out with his powers.

“Somehow he knew we were coming for him. Not long after we walked in, the ground ripped apart and the ceiling came down on top of us. Rosa turned into her onyx form and I guess Brian used his powers to copy her abilities. I don’t know how the others survived; I imagine Bridget’s regeneration helped her survive the fall. Michuru’s powers are so unpredictable that it’s impossible to know how he survived. Silvia was a teleporter so… she could have gotten herself and her husband to safety. I just phased my way to safety… We were all split up. I started moving through the walls; I was trying to find anyone I could.

“The first I found were Richard and Silvia. Richard was missing his right arm, cut off at the elbow. Silvia was dead. Her body had been cut to ribbons and her throat had been slashed with Richard’s throwing knives; Atlas had just… well… it was so stupid of Richard to even bring them in there, knowing who he was going up against. I guess Silvia was just as bright. I mean, I know how deadly she was with a spear but… I guess Atlas used his powers to tear her weapons away and used them to amputate her husband’s arm.”

The other woman’s expression said that she didn’t understand. “I read in the dossiers that Xianbei was an Esper in addition to being a Neo-Sapien. She inherited her ability to teleport from her mother but… as an Esper she was supposed to have had the ability to switch bodies with a target. Why would she let herself die when she could so easily have taken control over Atlas’ body?”

Miss Jordan seemed nervous at such a question. “Her mind swapping powers were always… chaotic,” the young woman offered. “Once upon a time they accidentally triggered on me. When she wasn’t able to change us back I had to spend a day in her body. It… it wasn’t an ability she had total control over.

“Anyway, I tried to tell Richard that Bridget’s powers would heal his arm but he was gone. I guess seeing his wife killed like that… with his own knives? It all must have really shaken him up pretty bad. I realized there wasn’t much I could do for him… so I left him. I promised to find Bridget and bring her back to him. He just… he just continued to lay there.

“That was when I found Rosa and Brian. They were arguing when I found them. I guess Brian started to have feelings for her but… she kept turning him down. She was involved with a married man and… I dunno. They stopped bickering when I arrived. I was only sixteen but everyone treated me like I was nine or something… like I couldn’t be allowed to hear things like that. The only ones who ever actually treated me like a person were Michy and Bridget.

“The three of us found the two of them after a little searching. We got there just as Atlas threw up a hand and brought a lot of shrapnel together. He made this giant spike and he cleaved Bridget with it—just impaled her.” Doctor Styles covered her slack jaw with her mouth. She knew how Bridget Hart had met her end but hearing it from the mouth of one of the witnesses only enhanced the horror for her. She failed to notice how calm Breanne’s voice was; seeing so much death and destruction that day must have made the young woman so jaded… “It shot through her neck and traveled down her spine. She must have died instantly but… right there… that’s when Michy went nuts.

“His powers have always been ruled by his emotions. Depending on what his mindset is, he controls a different element. Like when he’s happy, he manipulates air. When he’s calm, he controls water. Right then and there we learned what happens when Michuru becomes devoid of emotion. When he becomes dead inside… something else takes over inside of him. This white energy just filled him to bursting. It was rolling out of his eyes and nostrils, from every pore in his body. It was like… fire. White fire but heatless. It…” Breanne stopped then and hugged herself tight as a chill ran through every ounce of her being. Just recalling that day… that moment when she watched Michuru lose every reign of control he held over himself…

Remembering that was too much for her.

“You know all those scary movies dealing with demonic possession? It looked like that, my hand to God.” Her voice dropped to a dull whisper and Drew could barely make out what she said. Thoughts of what lurked deep within Michuru pushed out whatever impure thoughts he had been thinking about the man’s former teammate. Atlas was only considered the second most dangerous Neo-Sapien alive because Michuru existed. That such a man was sleeping under the same roof as he was did not leave him with a warm and fuzzy feeling in his gut. “I thought he was going to kill us all. He stopped distinguishing between things like friend and foe; he was only a destroyer. As he became the heart, mind, and soul of this massive… beast… we fled. Brian siphoned some of my phasing power and we got Rosa out… we couldn’t go back for Richard or… or…”

Silence fell over them as Miss Jordan brushed tears away with the back of her hand. Natalie rose up and cross the room to bring the young woman some tissues but the proud Indian girl refused them. “I’m fine,” she said, sniffling. She regained her composure and waited for her companion to sit once more before continuing. “The mountains seemed to collapse and then… out came Michuru. That energy was waning… it was bleeding off of him. In his arms was Richard; he was unconscious, but alive. Michuru collapsed in the snow and… he doesn’t remember any part of what happened. He’s the only being alive who’s ever fought Atlas and won and he can’t remember how it happened.”

Doctor Styles’ eyes were wide with astonishment. She had learned more than what the average person had—having access to the dossier files the Vindicators kept on their battles and the people encountered in them. Still, she had never heard the account from an eyewitness to such events. As she was about to ask the question Breanne’s tale had left her with, a scream ripped through the dorms and left the two women charging past Drew towards the source.

Professor Alston was already at the dorm room’s door, as was Mister Jorgenson. Drew’s attention immediately went to the man and his missing arm before drifting elsewhere: Drew’s eyes popped at the sight of Cassandra Goodman’s sleeping attire; he grinned at how little to the imagination a white tank top and boxer shorts left him. If it hadn’t been for her state, kneeling on the floor, choking on her tears, Drew would have once more failed to notice Alicia Gladstone due to Cassandra’s presence. The girl was stammering, doing her best to talk but nothing intelligible was coming out. “What’s happened?” Doctor Styles asked Cassandra, believing her to be not as distraught as her roommates.

It was the third girl in the hall, the Hispanic young woman Drew had come to know as Maria Espada, who whispered, “Addison” in a drained voice. “Alicia got up to get some milk and… Addison… she was dead.”

To Be Continued... wrote:The Personification of Fear.
Last edited by Michuru81 on Wed Dec 17, 2008 5:30 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Michuru81
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New Vindicators, Chapter 6

Postby Michuru81 » Sun Nov 26, 2006 6:59 pm

NEW VINDICATORS #2: Dancing Queen


Chapter VI: Smoking in the Boy’s Room
Jeremy Carlson sat down on the bench across from J. T. Kirk and lit the cigarette dangling precariously from his bottom lip. “What’re you in for?” he asked.

J. T. flashed the tattooed youth a mischievous grin. He was an odd young man; sporting a battery of body and facial piercings, he had come to garnish icy stares from the rest of the students at the New Vindicators Academy for occupying the bathroom for lengthy periods each morning. It was all to maintain his hair: a facet of his existence he took great pride in. Dyed jet black, he kept it gelled up in one large point atop his scalp. Annoying as he was bizarre—he had come to believe sharing a room with Deimos made them best friends. “I was using my powers to shadow-scry on the girl’s locker room. A janitor caught me in the boiler room. I was… well, you know…”

“You’re freakin’ kiddin’ me!”

J. T.’s grin broadened.

“And here I thought you were a queer.”

J. T. shot daggers at the young Neo-Sapien who preferred to be known as Deimos—Greek for the personification of dread. Bald-headed, Jeremy’s scalp was covered in tattoos—black flames licked up the back of his head and reached for his brow—giving something of the illusion of hair from a distance. “Excuse me!” barked Missus Thomas, the principal’s secretary. Deimos took a long drag before regarding her coldly.

“What is it?” he demanded as he fixed the woman with an icy glare. “You’re bothering me.”

“There’s no smoking on campus.”

As his hand brought the cigarette back to his lips he flipped the woman off before rolling his eyes to the ceiling. “Three,” he said, looking up at the tally he had cut into the panel above his preferred seat in the principal’s office. “Let’s see if this lady’s actually got a pair and keeps her word.”

“Mister Kirk, I believe we’ll let Mister Carlson see Miss Reice first.”

“No skin off my sack,” Deimos muttered, rising up to a slouch and meandering his way towards Miss Reice’s office. As he moved he paused and crushed the cigarette against the corner of Missus Thomas’ desk.

Ignoring the school secretary’s protests he continued on into the principal’s office. “Sup?” he asked, kicking the door shut behind him.

“Mister Carlson,” announced Miss Reice, not bothering to look up from her computer monitor. To Deimos she appeared to be a handsome black woman in her mid-thirties with more patience than she had wisdom. “We have to stop meeting like this.”

“You’d prefer something more discreet? What did you have in mind? Maybe we could meet behind the school or in the back of your beige Volvo? How about the corner your mom turns tricks on?”

“To think I’d went a day without your razor-sharp wit. Tell me, Mister Carlson… to what do I owe the pleasure of your perpetual presence today?” Her eyes narrowed on the referral. “Exposing yourself to Sarah Cohen?”

“It was a charitable deed. I mean, have you seen her? She’s way too thin. If you ask my opinion, I think that today’s society has put an impossibly high standard on women, making them think they have to be sickly thin, to the point they become skin and bones. Thankfully, you’re able to rise above such feelings. That’s good; I’m sure somewhere someone appreciates an old fashioned, full-figured gal.”

“You exposed yourself why?”

He grimaced that his insult had not evoked a reaction. “I was just pointing out that my wang has more meat on it than she does. I was trying to get her to eat something…”

“Yes, I’m sure you suggested she do just that.” Miss Reice ignored Deimos’ fiendish grin. “Tell me, Mister Carlson… this is your senior year of high school. Where do you see yourself this time next year?”

“Way I see it… I’ve got two options: I’m either going to have it all and rule the world or lose everything and die. There is no in between; I refuse to accept it. You know, if we cut these snippets of quality time down so I can get back to loitering in the halls I promise to give you Greenland when I conquer all of humanity.”

“Greenland? Tempting. Jeremy… this is the third time you’ve been sent here and I told you that a third time would facilitate-”

“Detention? Saturday school?”

“Community service.”

Deimos was speechless.

“I fail to see the point in punishing you with boredom, Mister Carlson. That’s hardly constructive. Instead, I require delinquents to serve eight hours of community service per offence. If you hate it as much as I think you will, then perhaps I won’t have to see you anymore. Either way, the community benefits from your random bursts of moral depletion. You’ll be spending Saturday at the Sunny Pastures Assisted Living Center.”

“Old people?”

“Think of them as wells of knowledge and wisdom.”

“I’ll think of them as liver spot-riddled, wrinkled bags with hearing problems and an inability to hold it in.”

“If you don’t complete the eight hours, you’ll not be allowed back to school.”

“What part of you actually believes I want to be here?”

Miss Reice smiled a grin more fiendish than any Deimos could manage. “Because you can’t conquer Greenland if you don’t know where it is.”

Deimos stepped back into the outer office and J. T. Kirk rose to enter for his punishment. “Expelled yet?” J. T. asked. At Deimos’ scoff, J. T. threw up a hand, inviting Deimos for a high-five. Deimos froze and raised an eye at the young man. “What? Don’t leave me hanging, bro!”

“Yeah… considering that’s probably the hand you were…” Deimos shook his head as he walked past J. T., into the halls of Eleanor Roosevelt High School. “Not now, not ever.”

If the faculty had their way, Deimos would have been sitting in his fifth hour class—Mister Gibben’s World Issue’s class. Attempts to see the young man perform in most classes had failed and his schedule had been altered to leave him with a volley of electives. Even then he simply wouldn’t surface.

As he meandered his way through the cafeteria, intent to hassle the workers cleaning up after three periods of lunch, his eyes fell on her. He had seen her at the dorms and had asked around to find out her name. Atlanta Jane White was a puzzle to him. Few seemed to know what her powers were—she was a rookie at the school and a senior, the same year he was.

She seemed oblivious to everything around her and appeared to be exceptionally naïve. If her platinum-blonde hair was any indication, Deimos had her pegged for a bimbo and bimbos were his favorite type of girl. As Atlanta walked, her pigtails—her hair was perpetually in pigtails—bounced along to the unheard beat she marched to. She was whistling, off-key, as she made her way around the corner and into the girl’s bathroom.

It was the first and only time he had found himself wishing he were J.T. Kirk.

As Atlanta emerged once more from the levorotary, Deimos was waiting—leaning against the wall next to the door and congesting the hall she would likely need to escape back to her class. “Excuse me,” she said, her southern accent was as thick as she was polite. The petite young lady smiled sweetly at Deimos. “Ah need to get through.”

“What’s the hurry?”

“Ah’ve got class. Shouldn’t y’all be… well… somewhere else?”

“Probably. Who knows? I’m Deimos.”

“Atlanta,” she said with a mock curtsey. In a t-shirt and long denim skirt it was hard to imitate it fully, but she did her best.

“So, what’s with the accent? ‘Atlanta’, huh? Are you from Georgia?”

“Born ‘n bred, but… Ah’m sorry; Ah really need to be getting’ back to class.”

“I was just out here, grieving the untimely passing of our fellow student. I—I try to put on a brave front but… you know, sometimes I just have to take a moment and compose myself.”

“Ah’m sorry, Ah didn’t really know Addison all too well-”

Deimos blinked. “Who?”

Atlanta narrowed her eyes and set off around Deimos and down the hall. Deimos was quick though and snatched up the young lady’s wrist. “Don’t tell me I make you nervous.”

“Buster, y’all make me about as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full’a rockin’ chairs but there is a right difference between bein’ nervous and bein’ afraid. Don’t y’all go confusin’ the two now.”

“Nervous? Afraid?” Deimos asked, pulling her close enough to whisper in her ear. “Sure it’s not a different emotion I stir in you? Maybe… excited?”

Atlanta grinned sweetly and grabbed his hand—intent to remove it from her wrist. Pain shot through Deimos as she began to crush his arm in her grasp. He began to convulse, attempting to worm his way out of her grip. It was a futile effort; she had an iron hold on him. “Ah figure beatin’ on y’all would be about as easy as spottin’ the mullet at a truck stop. How about since we’re in school, Ah just teach y’all something instead? Muh powers? They leave muh body in a constant state of adrenaline. Ah can shrug off bullets and bench-press a Buick. My senses are always operatin’ at full power too. So the next time Ah so much as see y’all undress me with your eyes or hear y’all make a lude comment about me when y’all think Ah won’t catch… I promise to tear both of y’all’s arms off and beat y’all with them. Don’t think Ah won’t hear either: Ah got real good ears. And believe me… once Ah get goin’, it’s gunna take a lot more than you to stop me from making sure even your momma can’t recognize you. Do Ah make myself clear?”

“Crystal,” whimpered Deimos.

Releasing her hold, Atlanta said nothing else. She felt what she had done was satisfactory enough and moved to return back to her Health Occupations class.

“Who was that?” J. T. asked, slipping out of Mrs. Reice’s office.

“Atlanta White,” Deimos said with a wicked grin dominating his face. He watched he walk away and then looked to a poster announcing the coming homecoming celebration. “She’s going to be my date to the homecoming dance.”

To Be Continued... wrote:Scare tactics.
Last edited by Michuru81 on Wed Dec 17, 2008 5:34 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Michuru81
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New Vindicators, Chapter 7

Postby Michuru81 » Mon Nov 27, 2006 9:16 pm

Chapter VII: Push
Adonis Skraag left Mister Huey’s class with a disgruntled look on his face. An elitist snob it seemed that Mister Huey could only be bothered to learn the names of students who were from influential families and despite the media frenzy that had surrounded Adonis over the summer the man still could not be bothered to remember him.

Not that Adonis was bothered by someone who failed to recognize him as a Neo-Sapien on sight; the frustration Mister Huey perpetually manifested in his students came from him being a pompous, arrogant imbecile who regularly left his responsibility to pass on his knowledge in the hands of a few students he viewed as the elite. It was a technical class in photo manipulation that Adonis couldn’t remember why he had signed up for. Still he watched as the white-haired, beady-eyed man did little but check his e-mail during the period, leaving the more experienced do his job for him.

Adonis learned quick and Mister Huey was content to have him pass on what he had garnished to the students who struggled. Each time he was told to help a student they barked their disgust with the man’s decisions.

Chris Tribe grinned at the sight of Adonis walking ahead of him; there was a clearing of about five feet around the known SPB at all times, making him impossible to miss. Chris began to laugh obnoxiously and uttered a few nondescript greetings to people he barely knew as he phased through the null space that encompassed the New Vindicator. When he was close by he bumped into Adonis—Chris’s strength pushed Adonis down to the ground—and he gazed down at the young man with a look of faux shock. “Oh my God!” he screamed, tearing off his letterman’s jacket and throwing it to the ground; frantically he ran his hands over his body, scrubbing at where he had touched the social pariah. “I touched him!” he screamed, raising his voice to be heard over everyone laughs. “I touched the NS! What if… what if I become one now!?!”

“Maybe it would be an improvement,” grumbled Adonis as he got to his feet. “Here’s to hoping you end up with super-intelligence.”

Chris Tribe glared at him. “What did you say to me, freak?”

Adonis scratched his chin in thought. “Well, super-intelligence wouldn’t be necessary, I guess. Intelligence would be a blessing, right?”

“I’m gunna pound you…”

“You actually understood what I said?” Adonis mused. “Remarkable.”
Chris Tribe pulled back his fist and Adonis grinned. “You get one punch. Make it count.”

“Or else what, freak show?”

“There is no ‘or else’ here. It’s simple: I’m a Neo-Sapien and if I so much as have the ability to string together a coherent thought after your blow, I promise to use my power to fry every last neuron in your brain.”
Chris Tribe blinked in surprise and his fist began to tremble. “You can do that?”

“What did I do to Chienne? I controlled her mind. My powers are mental. Didn’t you know that?”

Chris Tribe lowered his fist and walked away. “You ain’t worth the effort.”

Adonis grinned at him. “Boo.”

The young man retained some modicum of his dignity and failed to flee immediately but that wasn’t to say that he was not terrified. He tried to make his egress as casual as possible and once he had departed the show was over. Other students began melting away for their next class.

Jack Olsen remained. “Hey, are you okay?”

Adonis looked around, confused as to who else the king of ERHS’ hallways could otherwise be talking to. “Huh?”

The quarterback chuckled softly. “And you were raggin’ on Chris for being slow. I asked if you were okay. Are you?”

“My parents were murdered, their killer walked free, and I go to a high school where everyone knows what I am and hates me for it. How should I be?”

“You’re wrong.”

“I’m sorry?”

Jack smiled on him. “Not everyone hates you for it. Believe it or not there actually are people tolerant of Neo-Sapiens.” He opted to leave Adonis with that and slipped away, if for no other reason than because he saw his favorite rival.

Jack trotted down the hall and turned the corner and found Lex Sway stopped at his locker. “I just wanted to warn you, man... There were some cops at Mrs. Reice’s office and they’re asking about where to find you.” Lex turned and allowed Jack to view his face contorted with fear and confusion. “I guess they found out about your inclination towards little boys…”

“What?” Lex asked.

“Oh, someone saw you out with your girlfriend and just naturally mistook her for a ten-year-old boy.”

Lex seized Jack by the his jacket and spun him around to slam him back into the lockers. “You ever say anything like that about her again-”

“And you’ll what? Stage another pathetic attempt at intimidation? Please, Lex… who do you think you’re talking to? I’m the Enforcer.” He seemed to gently brush Lex’s hands off of him. He knew that Lex was unwilling to fight him but he didn’t know why; he didn’t know that Lex was hiding his Neo-Sapien powers from the rest of the school and was afraid that if things got too heated he might use them to resolve their issues.

“Lex?” Both young men turned and took in the sight of Jacque Webber, standing a few steps away and looking at them both with uncertainty. “Is everything okay?”

“Everything is super,” Jack intoned smugly before slipping away. “I was just taking off. You boys have fun though!”

Jacque looked to Lex for answers but the man could only stand and glare at the back of his retreating enemy.

To Be Continued... wrote:Making sweet music together.
Last edited by Michuru81 on Wed Dec 17, 2008 5:37 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Michuru81
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New Vindicators, Chapter 8

Postby Michuru81 » Tue Nov 28, 2006 6:34 pm

Chapter VIII: The Power of Love
As the fifth period came to a close, Ben Altair found himself making his way from his German class to the band room. A trumpeter, Ben lived for his music. He lived and breathed jazz; he had ever since he was a young boy growing up in Kansas City, where he all but idolized Miles David and Mutt Carey.

Once upon a time, Ben had held no ambition to develop his powers. He lived in a city deeply rooted in jazz music; he couldn’t see himself anywhere but playing his horn for the rest of his life. For years he had dodged attempts made to enroll him in the New Vindicators Academy of America. Now, on the cusp of his college career, the deal had been sweetened. In exchange for his volunteering for the social project, Ben could look forward to a substantial scholarship to continue his education. Naturally, the project being administered by the Department of SPB Affairs; he believed they could pull a few strings and help him experience all that Juilliard had to offer.

“Hey!” Ben spun at the sound of fast footfalls approaching and merely starred off in wonder at the young man barreling towards him. Ben knew him only as fellow trumpeter and, if the uniform he wore each Thursday was indicative, as a member of the JROTC. The name of the young man escaped him, as was only understandable. He lacked a presence—his personality and his appearance were both lacking anything resembling substance. His aptitude for timidity lent itself to his usually quiet demeanor and his boring brown hair cut in the military style hardly helped him standout in a system full of teenagers who had coerced themselves into believing they were somehow unique.

The truth was that Ryan Mueller had no backbone of his own. Still, after transitioning into his high teen years he had begun to make progress; as a child he had been diagnosed with Avoidant Personality Disorder, a condition common in most Army brats. His father was a retired major who had beat military discipline into his only child from an early age. His mother, a pianist and jazz singer, always fought to keep the boy grounded in music. He neither loved nor hated either lifestyle; he simply strove to make everyone happy. He accepted both and did his best to please them both. It was a way of life that translated into every fiber of his being. His brown hair lay down neatly and his attire generally consisted of a simple t-shirt and jeans when Thursdays didn’t demand him in the regulation camouflage. “I keep meaning to introduce myself, but you always leave the band room so quickly. Hi, I’m Ryan. Ryan Mueller.”

“Well, I’m a pretty busy person,” Ben said, turning away from Ryan and continuing towards the band room. “Next year, I’m attending Juilliard. Ben Altair doesn’t have time to just sit around and chat.”

“Juilliard? Wow… I didn’t know you were that good.”

“Compared to the people here? I kind of hoped that, well, what with this being New York and all, you’d all be a little more… refined? Sophisticated? Talented? So far, I haven’t really been impressed.”

“I—I think we’re pretty all right,” Ryan said, slightly offended at Ben’s opinion—but careful not to offend him with his own. Instead, he was content to offer apologies and excuses. “Our band leader retired last year, Mister Whitmore. Mister Guiana is a lot different than we’re used to. He had us playing a little faster and he’s picking more modern pieces. I think it’s just taking us a little while to get adjusted. I mean, I like this—doing the score from Pirates of the Caribean, it’s… just not what we’re used to. Last year, we were doing a lot of bepop. Mostly Charlie Parker…”

“Well, I’m from Kansas City—where the American Jazz Museum is? Our band there would have gotten it by now.”

Ryan blinked. “I always thought that Kansas City Jazz suffered back in the thirties when John Hammond started to send acts here.”

“No he didn’t.”

“Yeah… Mister Whitmore made us write papers on influential people in music and I had to do mine on John Hammond and I read that he hurt the influence of jazz music in Kansas City.”

“You don’t really know; you just think you do. I mean, I grew up in Kansas City—I should know more about what the music is like there than you would.” Agitated, Ben flung back the door of the band room and let out a curse as the door swung back and nicked his instrument’s case. Ryan hurried behind him just as the door was swinging shut. Almost instantly his eyes lit up at the sight of the first seat saxophone: a freckle-faced girl with long, strawberry-blonde curls.

“Katie!” he said excitedly. “I want you to meet someone!”

Katie set down her reed and moved to shake Ben’s hand. Ben made no move to move his trumpet’s case to his off-hand, nor to shake her offered appendage.

“Katie Merrick, this is Ben Altair. Ben, this is Katie.”

An awkward silence fell on the pair as Ben merely stared blankly at the young girl. “Well… it was… really nice meeting you, Ben,” she said strangely. “Hey, Ryan? Are we still on for Italo Huang’s after school?”

“Chinese food!?! Are you kidding!?!” Ryan asked. “Me hungry long time.”

She had heard the joke a thousand times before, but she still laughed to encourage her best-friend. “That wasn’t funny at all,” Ben said as the duo walked away. “And what’s the deal with her wearing bibs? I thought people grew out of the Osh Kosh Bigosh stage at, like, five or something.”

Ryan couldn’t see the devastation being caused by Ben’s out-of-control arrogance, blinded as he was by the enormous grin only she could put on his face. “So, what’s the deal?” Ben asked suspiciously. “Are you two dating?” Ryan couldn’t have turned red faster.

“Uh- n-no, it’s just… we’re friends. That’s all: just really good friends. We’ve known each other since we were four and… that’s all it is, you know?”

“If you guys ever go out, maybe we could double or something. There’s this girl who’s into me… Her name’s Cassandra. I’m not sure if I want to pursue anything yet. I mean, I’d probably just have to break it off when I went to Juilliard. Long distance relationships never work out, you know?”

“Cassandra?” asked Ryan. “You don’t mean Cassandra Goodman, do you?”

“Yeah. It’s intense how into me she is. It borders on the obsessive.”

“Dude… I heard she’s going out with someone else.”

“Who?”

    ...


“Adonis Skraag!” Cloud Goodman called across the quad after school had dismissed for the day. Adonis froze and turned to face the young man. Drew Jenkins and Magnus Loder were in tow, along with numerous students who were unaware that they were in the presence of four Neo-Sapiens. “Stay away from my sister!”

Though most of the student body had made it a practice to avoid Adonis like the plague, rising tensions evoked their fullest attention. Students from every year were encircling the duo, anticipating the worst and praying for it as well. “What are you talking about?” groaned Adonis.

“You know what I’m talking about, I know what I’m talking about, everyone here knows what I’m talking about, Adonis. You think my sister would go out with you if you didn’t use your powers on her? You think you’d have a chance with any girl at this school without them?”

Magnus had begun to move to separate them before the intense, hate-filled look flashed in Adonis’ eyes. He hadn’t crossed the clearing quick enough to spare Cloud from the punch Adonis threw. Meek as he was, Cloud fell backwards and rolled across the ground. The bridge of his glasses was broken. He could barely see three feet in front of his nose without them. Still, he picked himself up off the ground, let out a feral snarl, and tackled Adonis into a parting ring of their peers.

Adonis was not as sickly-thin as Cloud was. Cloud’s father had dubbed the boy “Ichabod”, due to his gangly appearance. Adonis was lean, but by no means did he possess anything that even closely resembled muscle. Without their abilities this was an even match; with them, Cloud had the upper hand. Adonis’ abilities were based on attraction; they held no affect on Cloud Goodman despite infatuating every girl within sight of him—any present Super-Powered Beings like Atlanta White included. Still, Cloud was determined, even lost to his rage, to keep his identity as a Neo-Sapien secret from the other kids at Eleanor Roosevelt High School.

Magnus too was considered physically weak and thus he found it difficult to separate the two. Fortunately for him, Drew was quick to come to his rescue. The young man seemed to have had a surge of strength, easily pulling Adonis away from the frenzied young man and dusting him off. He and Magnus shared a concerned look and almost instantly both knew what to do. “C’mon, Adonis…” Drew said as he pulled his roommate away, “we’ve got a standing date for some ice cream.” Magnus wasted no time in turning his attention to Cloud, though Cloud shook his way free from the young man’s attempts to consul him and skulked his way off campus.

Denied their entertainment, the audience began to dissipate. Some slipped onto their bikes and rode home. Some walked hand-in-hand and others quietly ducked back into the school. Magnus shook his head at the situation. What if Adonis hadn’t used his powers on Cassandra? Though the majority of the school would find it hard to believe that anyone could have an interest in him—knowing about his status as an NS, Magnus knew Cassandra was also a Neo-Sapien. She wouldn’t have the fears and prejudices that the others hand.

Then again… what if Adonis had used his abilities to ensnare her senses? Was there any possible way to tell if someone was under the effect of his amorous abilities?

“Pretty intense, huh?”

Magnus turned around and found himself eye-to-eye with one of the most beautiful young women he had ever seen. The sunlight shimmered across the long, blonde hair trailing over her shoulder and down her back. Her eyes were like two sapphires, floating in a pool of creamy, snow-white skin. Her shape was the paragon of the female form; every curve of her sinuous self was without equal. She was perfect in every way and the young man found himself trying his hardest to find fault in her… just to prove this had to be a dream.

Why else would someone like her talk to him?

It took him a moment to realize that to her he may actually have appeared remotely in her league. Not long ago, on their field trip to Patriot Robotics, Magnus had exposed his status as a Neo-Sapien before a handful of their human classmates. Still he was relatively new at Eleanor Roosevelt High School and the case seemed to be that his appearance was better known than his name was. In order to keep him within the program he had been outfitted with one of the Morph Buckles Quinton Jorgenson had developed. The belt buckle he wore wrapped his body in a holographic disguise that made his long, white hair appear black and rendered eyes clear and blue. The blemishes that dotted his face were erased and replaced with a flawless, handsome visage.

The young woman bent down and her fingers caressed the broken frames of Cloud’s glasses as she picked them up. “Who would have thought that Adonis had such a nasty right cross? I hope that kid’s all right…”

“Adonis? I’m sure he’ll get over-”

“I… I kind of meant the other one.”

And as he fallibility revealed itself Magnus found what he was looking for. He berated himself mentally for forgetting that everyone in this school was dead set to see Adonis perpetually tortured for his genes.

“M—my name’s Chienne.”

“Magnus,” the young man said with a curt nod.

“So… are you a friend of Adonis’?”

The two shared a room at the New Vindicators Academy. When they weren’t at school, the two were together almost constantly; Magnus Loder let his studies consume him and Adonis Skraag was understandably anti-social. Still, Magnus hadn’t been able to pierce the young man’s armor. He felt it was only natural: Adonis’ parents hadn’t been in the ground very long. That he was even able to consider beginning a relationship with anyone was monumental progress in Magnus’ eyes. “I—I’m not really sure how to answer that,” he admitted. He had learned that the truth was always the best answer. People didn’t always need to know the full story. Truth was something that could be broken apart and offered out in rations. So long as you fed people some piece of the dish, their hunger was satiated.

Chienne only nodded. “I can respect that…” A wry smile began at the corners of her lips—the tiniest inkling that the gears in her heard were running hot. “Listen… this is going to sound… well, incredibly forward but… would you like to go out some time?” She started to blush. “With me, I mean…”

In the back of his mind, Magnus entertained thoughts of jokingly suggesting she excuse him while he picked his jaw off the ground. In reality, Magnus merely staggered as if punched. He had never entertained the notion that a girl who looked the way Chienne did would have any interest in someone like him—in this or any other universe. “I—I’d love to.”

Taking a pen from his shouldered backpack, Chienne gently took his hand in hers and began scribing her phone number across his palm. “Don’t go getting sweaty and losing this, now…” she warned. “But just in case…” She bit her bottom lip as she repeated those seven digits on his other hand. “There… you should have no excuse not to call me later.”

Magnus nodded in agreement. “Yeah… well… I’ll uh-” He caught himself from tripping as he walked away from Chienne—unable to remove his eyes from her smiling face. “Yeah. I’ll just—I’ll call you. Chienne.”

She tilted her head as she smiled once more at him… and he worried if it was just a sensation in his gut or if he was actually using his magnetic powers to fly.

To Be Continued... wrote:"It's plot exposition--it has to go somewhere."
Last edited by Michuru81 on Wed Dec 17, 2008 5:58 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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New Vindicators, Chapter 9

Postby Michuru81 » Wed Nov 29, 2006 7:04 am

Chapter IX: Jessie’s Girl
“My dad was an attorney,” Adonis admitted, idly stirring his soft-serve vanilla as he thought back warmly on happier times. “He was a good one too. They—they say that Neo-Sapiens inherit their abilities from one or more of their parents. Growing up, neither of them ever mentioned them being an NS. I mean, I guess a lot of people would try to hide that from their family… husbands and kids… I’m just not sure if they knew or they were just hiding it or what but… Since everything that’s happened, I guess I started to imagine that it was my dad who I got the powers from.” An unsteady smile appeared on the young man’s face. “He—he always did have this way with women…”

Drew Jenkins merely continued to listen as Adonis poured his heart and soul out. It had been weeks since the young man had been orphaned. In that time, he hadn’t opened up about any of it. The young man had been content to bottle everything up inside of him.

Bottles could only hold so much…

“Arthur and Denise Skraag… I never saw two people more in love, you know? They loved life. They loved each other. I was fortunate enough that they both loved me. I had a pretty happy childhood. I know that it’s not the norm for dark, brooding clichés but… growing up… it really—it really was great.

“I guess I was an unusual child though. I wasn’t like most boys—running around thinking girls were gross, looking to delouse themselves of the cooties. When I was in kindergarten, I asked Missy Mayor to marry me. She had this speech impediment back then but that—that never occurred to me at six, you know? My mom and dad raised me to love everyone—no matter race, religion, or creed. Things like her impediment or Amanda Gill being black didn’t stop me from crushing on them.

“You know how they say the third time is the charm? The third girl I crushed on was when we moved to Manhattan. See, dad was a really good attorney. It’s part of why I figure I must have gotten my powers from him. If he could do what I can, it would have explained so much… Witnesses, judges, juries… he handled them all so well. It all makes sense now. Anyway, he was pretty high in demand and the corporate world called to him. We responded by moving from Pennsylvania to Manhattan and in the second grade I met her.

“Her name was Chienne Bedford and—okay, I don’t believe in love at first sight but… I don’t know how else to explain it. It wasn’t just physical attraction. I fell in love with her laughter: just the sound of it triggered euphoria within my very core. She was in Brownies and the 4-H Club. She played the French horn and began learning the harp—she played so incredibly well. Everything I found myself involved in, she was in. It was like a sign, justifying my infatuation. I played the saxophone. Growing up, I had this weird fixation with the Muppets. Zoot was the saxophone player in the Electric Mayhem. I thought he was so cool and I wanted to be just like him… So… we were in band together. We were in everything together and we started to become really good friends. Then… her older brother was killed and she just seemed to pull away from everyone and everything she cared about.

“It wasn’t long after that we went into high school. That’s when Jack Olsen came into our lives. He was a Freshman—well, you’ve probably seen him around the halls. He’s ‘the Enforcer’ these days—ERHS’ champion of the gridiron. He’s a mountain of testosterone—just a wall of muscle. They started dating at the start of our Freshman year. It was like Chienne was trying to recreate herself. She changed out her friends, her activities… everything. She torched her life and from the ashes emerged something else. I had a lot of the same classes as she did but… she wouldn’t even acknowledge me. She didn’t just close the book on that chapter of her life—she was writing a new story.

“Anyway, the last day of school last year… it’s weird that it was a few months ago—it feels like it was yesterday… Well, Chienne and Jack had this really public breakup in the halls and… okay, I didn’t want to just be a rebound guy but I saw my chance to get back in there and get close to her again. I wanted to be her boyfriend… but I would settle for just being her friend again. I—I love her, Drew. I can’t put how I feel into words—the words I would need to describe my feelings don’t exist in any language. I love her and I’d do anything just to be in her life… even if that meant lying to myself by saying I was satisfied with just… just being platonic.

“I read that Neo-Sapien abilities manifest out of necessity. Something happened in that moment when she turned and walked away from him. Everyone else was just… well, it’s like what they say about people watching train wrecks. It was schadenfreude: pleasure taken from someone else’s misfortune; only our Teutonic friends could come up with a word for sympathetic joy.

“Chienne has it all: looks, brains, popularity, money… most people at our school were thrilled to watch her heart break. Nobody made a move as she slipped off, crying her eyes out. They just watched and I… I just… I stepped in front of her, determined to say whatever it took to make her feel better and… and that’s when it happened. My abilities triggered and she was fanatical. We cut class to make out and… we spent the day together. Then we spent the night together. Then the next morning…”

“Yeah,” Drew said awkwardly. “I heard about that part.”

“Who hasn’t?” asked Adonis. “I always knew the kind of family Chienne was from. Her dad is Forrest Bedford, you know? He… he started out as a Grand Dragon in the KKK or something and then branched out and founded the Church of Genetic Purity. He leads a cult of people who believe God hates Neo-Sapiens. Well… all SPBs but most people aren’t intelligent enough to distinguish between Neo-Sapiens and Espers and… and anything else out there. I mean, one of the Vindicators, Falkenburg, is immortal and he’s not a Neo-Sapien or an Esper. I guess it’s possible to be something else but most people don’t. Anyway, I knew what her family was like; I never agreed with it but… I was never affected by it. I didn’t know what I was. I still don’t…”

“Hey, it’s fine… I just don’t get it: you had been going to ERHS all this time; why did you volunteer to go back if everyone knew about your powers?”

“I already told you: I’m in love with her. I’ll endure anything… just to feel like I’m a part of her life.”

“And that guy… the colonel? He let you go back?”

“He thought it would be interesting for the project—displaying my ability to restrain myself despite extreme urges to use my powers. Granted, all of my teachers are men and I’m not allowed to sit next to any females. The school thinks I’ll use my abilities to have girls feed me answers during tests. The school board is reluctant to put me close to anyone who might be attracted to me.”

A throat cleared and their attentions were diverted.

The two turned to face the nervous-looking waiter, standing at the edge of their table turning his hat over and over in his hands. “I’m sorry, guys but… we have to exercise our right to refuse service to anyone.” The pair looked around and were sad to find faces turned on Adonis; some looked disgusted and some looked afraid, others were enraged while some just seemed as nervous as their messenger was. As the two young men stared out into a sea of expressions, Drew understood.

“Yeah,” he said as he reached for his wallet. “C’mon, Adonis. Let’s get a move on it.” He didn’t want to seem as if they were afraid. He didn’t want to seem defiant. He complied—but he did so at his leisure.

“Don’t worry about paying,” the waiter said as he dropped his voice. “Just… just go.”

“Nah… we don’t need people saying we’re running out on checks now too.” Drew just shook his head as he dropped more than enough to cover their half-eaten sundaes. “We’ve already got enough on our plates, what with slowly killing you all by breathing in the same air.”

The walk back to the Lighthouse was a somber one. Their silent procession home was interrupted only by a pick-up truck carrying four representatives of their school’s football time, honking and throwing a half-finished can of soda at the pair. It was an act witnessed by Lawanda Murphy—a Junior at the New Vindicators Academy. She sat on the sidewalk across the street from them, sketching out the landscape of Roosevelt Island.

She had spent years knowing the same persecution as they were becoming affiliated with. The young African-American girl was cursed with four additional arms sprouting from her torso. It was only courtesy of the same special buckle Addison Truman had worn that she was able to freely go into public. It was perhaps that aspect of her existence that had caused her to bond as she had to Addison. The young women had nothing in common beyond their unique bone structures and the treatment they had received for them thus.

It was that closeness that Drew used to excuse her behavior. Lawanda broke her eye contact with the pair out of fear of being associated with them. Still, Drew attempted to give her the benefit of the doubt and passed her reaction off simply as the grieving process. In a sense, he was just glad to see someone grieving. An uncomfortable silence was married to the mention of Addison’s name these days and she hadn’t even been dead a week. The instructors appeared to be investigating what had happened; that she was suffocated was certain but the motive made so very little sense. Addison’s buckle was missing and was likely stolen by her killer. The inducer was programmed only to make the wearer appear as Addison would without her wings, however. Not only could it only present a single image, it was only usable by someone with a similar body type.

Drew felt guilty in the events after her death. He had liked her. He had come to think of her as a friend and hoped they could become something more. Still, he beat himself for being too afraid to have said anything. He had told himself he was a free man. He had called his girlfriend not long after the incident at White Pawn, only to have her father tell him in no uncertain terms that he did not want his daughter dating a Neo-Sapien. Everyone at Drew’s old high school probably knew what he was by now. If he had cared more about Erin… if he had been instilled with a fraction of the passion Adonis spoke with, perhaps he would have fought on against the opinions of everyone and stayed by her. Perhaps he could have found the strength Adonis managed to muster every morning.

Magnus Loder was waiting for them on the front steps of the school when they finally arrived. The sun was setting on their backs as the pair stalked up to the young man. “Guys,” he said excitedly. “I have a date to homecoming with the most beautiful girl you have ever seen!”

Drew managed a smile that was little more than a courtesy to the young man. “Congratulations,” he said.

“Yeah, I was thinking we could all go together,” Magnus said. “Adonis has Cassandra and… well, I’ve got Lucas Howell on finding a girl for you, Drew!”

“Huh?”

“Well, he’s going around scanning the thoughts of the girls at the school to see if he can find someone who maybe-kind-of-sort-of likes you.”

“Dances aren’t really my thing,” Drew said, thinking back to Addison’s proposal. He hadn’t been ready to become involved with her yet—not so soon after his break up with Erin. Now, they’d never have their chance at being together. “Anyway… c’mon, Magnus! Tell us: who’s the lucky girl?”

“Her name is Chienne Bedford.”

To Be Continued... wrote:Amalgam and Tripper versus Lazarus and Singe
Last edited by Michuru81 on Wed Dec 17, 2008 6:02 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Phantom Archer » Wed Nov 29, 2006 2:54 pm

I almost feel bad about breaking up the flow of the story by posting a reply, but I just wanted to say that this is a very well written and engaging story. Did this come from an exercise of writing a story or did this flow from actual game play?
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Postby Michuru81 » Wed Nov 29, 2006 9:43 pm

Phantom Archer wrote:I almost feel bad about breaking up the flow of the story by posting a reply, but I just wanted to say that this is a very well written and engaging story. Did this come from an exercise of writing a story or did this flow from actual game play?


Thank you much for the kind words. It was the actual gaming session. This campaign has had seven players involved in it, each contriubting their own characters and background. This storyline has thus far remained true to the campaign except in minor instances. It's kind of like the disclaimer at the end of a game show- where portions not affecting the outcome have been edited.

When many of these events transpired, the full team of PCs was on-hand as you can't go letting players get too bored. In most scenes, I have left out anyone who was not of overall importance to the story. Additionally, some events that have been eluded to actually transpired. Amalgam and Deimos really did have the fight which Alex mentions to Jacque, though I felt it was better to just mention it happening as opposed to droning on about it.
Last edited by Michuru81 on Wed Dec 17, 2008 6:05 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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New Vindicators, Chapter 10

Postby Michuru81 » Thu Nov 30, 2006 9:48 pm

Chapter X: Why Can’t We Be Friends?
“M’lady,” he intoned as he held open the door of his pickup for the young woman.

Jacquelyn Webber sent a coy smile his way as she lifted her skirt to climb into the cab. The young man known as Alexander Sway was keen enough to know to wait for her to gather her garments in before he shut the door. Their first date had been the one and only time he would make the mistake of catching her dress’ hem in the door. The ground was soft from the previous night’s rain and he was not fond of the idea of being flung on his back here.

The complacent couple were both Neo-Sapiens, blessed and cursed with abilities that left them on the world’s crap list. Their abilities did not make them homebodies, however. It did not make them inactive in their school’s extra circular program. Though he was a defensive tackle on the varsity football team, Alex’s true passion was to be found in wrestling. Jacquelyn was no stranger to the world of sports either—she was the star of the swim team and performed masterfully on the soccer field and in volleyball. Through it all, the pair never used their powers in the competitions—a fact their superiors administering this social project found to only sweeten their presentation.

Tonight, they were merely two eighteen-year-olds, boyfriend and girlfriend, out to enjoy a date. These days, that was a foreign word to the pair. Having dated for four years, they felt like most married couples. The notion of going out and doing what fledgling couples do to explore the possibility of a future with each other was as alien as it was retro.

“It feels kind of weird, going out like this.”

“Because we haven’t in so long?” Lex asked as he closed the door of the truck and struggled to keep his tie straight under the seatbelt.

“No, because of Addison.”

Lex said nothing as he turned the key in the ignition.

“It feels like no one is willing to address what’s going on!”

“I feel weird about it all too, Jacque. I mean, Addison was our friend. I’ve known her for almost as long as I’ve known you.”

“Lex-”

“No… its… its Caliber. He told me to take care of them. Right before he left, he made me promise to be the one to protect them and…”

Jacquelyn couldn’t do anything but watch as his knuckles tightened around the steering wheel. The leather creaked under his strong touch. She had found those fingers to be so gentle and so careful. Lex knew his strength better than most. While it was far from unusual to see him passionate, it was unusual to see him begin to slip.

“I called Peter. I told him about what happened. He didn’t seem surprised. He was angry, yeah but… I dunno. It was like he saw this all coming. It was like he knew this wasn’t going to work.”

“You can’t think it’s the project-”

“What else is there to think, Jacque? I mean… look at this! That new kid—Adonis? Look at what happened to his parents because someone found out about him. What if someone at the high school found out about her? Maybe they bumped into those invisible wings?”

“Lex, baby… no high school student is going to just slip right through the Academy’s security system.”

“I don’t even want to begin to think about that.”

“What?”

Alexander took a deep breath before he said the thing he had only been thinking up until now. It was as if opening his mouth and allowing his words to congeal in the air made them more tangible and more real. “What if this was an inside job?”

“Lex…”

“What do we really know about the new teachers? Mister Jorgenson? Mister Bradshaw? Miss Jordan? I mean… c’mon, Jacque: they’re not the most stable of people.”

“You can’t say that-”

“When they came back from the Himalayas, Mister Jorgenson nearly went into a catatonic stupor and Mister Bradshaw started wandering the country for half of a decade! The way I see it is if Addison’s killer stole that buckle then they must have had a reason. Mister Jorgenson’s power is the ability to look like anyone; why would he need it?”

Richard Jorgenson, the former-villain-turned-Vindicator-turned-educator known to the world as Chimera had the Neo-Sapien ability to rearrange the structure of his DNA to make himself look like anyone he had ever touched. With even a second of flesh-to-flesh contact his body catalogued the structure and saved it for later. With a mere thought he could become anyone; it was an ability that had made him a great spy. It didn’t take much for him to show up at parties in Washington D.C. and shake the hands of a few senators or a congressman—perhaps even the president. From there he could impersonate anyone without flaw. Perhaps that was why Atlas had claimed the man’s right arm: it was an insult to his method of espionage.

Michuru Bradshaw had no such ability. His were far more dangerous. The half-Japanese man had never met his father. He had been raised by his mother and her parents; he had been taught the secrets of Tennen Rishin-ryu from his grandfather. He was a master of aikido and iaido; that alone made him a dangerous man. Factor in the unexplored depth of his abilities and those who called the Lighthouse home were glad he was on their side. Still, he was a mysterious and brooding man. Who was to say he was truly over what had happened to him five years ago?

Breanne Jordan, the former Vindicator known as Rift, had been sixteen when the Vindicators VII had disbanded. Her ability was to distort her body’s bioelectrical field; by generate magnetic repulsion within her body she became ephemeral. While intangible she could easily pass through solid objects or extend her ability to anything she touched. While in her other state she could easily walk on air or even distort electronics with her odd magnetic field. She had always believed herself to be so weak compared to her teammates—though Silvia, the wife of Chimera, had helped to augment her strength. As Xianbei, Silvia could transport her body anywhere. She also had an untapped ability to switch minds—an ability that had once left her in Breanne’s body for a day. She had used Breanne’s powers in ways the young girl hadn’t considered—attacking her opponent’s from the inside.

A punch to the stomach didn’t hurt as much as a fist through the pancreas.

For students like Lex and Jacque, who had all but lived at the New Vindicators Academy since its founding five years prior, the three new additions to the faculty were far from welcome. There was no arguing with the logic that as their student body increased, so too must the faculty’s count.

“I just can’t bring myself to trust Mister Bradshaw,” Lex said sadly as he drove through rain-battered streets. “Last night, I caught J.T. taking a peek through the shadows, watching Atlanta in the shower. I marched him into Michuru’s room and… I don’t know. His laptop was on and there was an IM window open. Just that we had seen that much seemed to scare him. He practically threw himself across the room to close the notebook.”

“So he doesn’t want you seeing his IM windows—big deal! It’s not like that’s proof that he killed Addison or anything!”

“The other day I went to talk to Doctor Styles and he was in there… The second I walked into the room they both grew really quiet…”

“That doesn’t mean anything, Lex!”

“There’s just something not quite right about him…”

“Have fun getting any of the girls to agree with you on that one. I think some of them have a crush on him. I passed Lawanda on the way into the library this afternoon. I think she left behind one her notebooks though; there were all these doodles of him inside with ‘Missus Michuru Bradshaw’ sprawled over the pages. Miss Jordan came in and took it; when I told her I thought it was Lawanda’s she said she’d give it to her so that I wouldn’t embarrass her.”

Lex shook his head. “You know, he had me fight that new kid: Deimos? Two nights ago he calls me into the Wreck Room and tells me to fight him. Up until now, Deimos has been kind of arrogant and bossy. Mister Bradshaw said he wanted Deimos to learn that he needed help and that he couldn’t just do everything by himself.”

“What happened?”

“After I pinned Deimos to the floor, I let him up and told Mister Bradshaw that the entire exercise was a waste of both our time.”

A wry grin dawned across the young woman’s face. “And then what happened?”

“You know, don’t you? Man… who told?”

“What happened?”

“Who else knows?”

Her smile only grew bigger and bigger. In seconds, Alexander feared that the cab could not contain the sheer scope of that fiendish, knowing grin. “He peed on me. He unzipped his pants and peed on my boots.”

Jacquelyn couldn’t stop laughing.

“Yeah, it’s really fun. It’s going to be even funnier when I drive us off the road and into the East River.”

“I’m on the swim team. I’ll survive.”

“Don’t get cute with me,” he managed with a straight face.

“But you love it when I get cute!”

“No, I don’t…”

“You also like it when I do that thing with your ear…” She took off her seatbelt and slid closer to the young man.

“Not when I’m driving!”

She moved her mouth closer to his ear.

“Jacque?”

She grinned, just before…

“JACQUE!”

As Alexander slammed on the breaks, Jacquelyn turned quick, shocked at the sight of the duo standing in the middle of the road. Alexander swerved to miss them, but the maneuver sent the truck skidding into a nearby lamppost.

The man and woman never so much as blinked at the sight of the wreck. They merely stood waiting for the inevitable emergence of the young heroes. In no time, the driver’s side door was flung from the cab and a metal hulking figure stepped down onto the pavement. “I swear to God, if she’s not all right…” he said, threatening the duo.

“She’s fine. The dossier files we received on Jacquelyn Webber paint her as a survivor.”

“She’s got her force field to protect her,” the young man said as he narrowed his eyes on the two before him. “I was talking about the truck!”

The young, African-American woman of the pair chuckled softly. “This is what we have for opponents? Stay back, Laz… I’ll deal with both of them myself.”

The tall man said nothing; he merely shook his head as she advanced on the wreckage and on Lex.

“Do names come with the attitudes or are we going to forgo the clichéd introductions?”

“Singe,” the woman proclaimed proudly.

“Lazarus,” the man offered casually. “No need to introduce yourself though; we know all about you, Alexander Sway. Jacquelyn Webber is no enigma to us as well.”

“That’s pretty nifty considering she’s still a mystery to me most days.” The metal figure took no move against them. “What do you people want?”

“A fight,” Singe snorted. “No strings attached; just straight forward and honest.”

“No.”

“You’re not in any position-”

“An honest fight would not have involved us being assaulted like this. You could have killed us.”

“We were testing you!” Singe barked.

“For what? For who?”

Singe growled and flames danced between her fingertips. Letting out a guttural scream she ran forward and let the orbs of flame loose from her hands—hurling them for the young man before her. “For the record,” he said, dodging the first as he began his mad dash to circle the field, “I’m normally against the whole ironic codename to protect our identities thing that the SPB community imposes on itself, but at times like these I prefer to be called Amalgam.”

He continued to teeter around the edge of the battlefield. His eyes moved, taking in his surroundings and factoring them into the fight. Traffic wasn’t too terribly bad, living on Roosevelt Island. When the residential community had been designed in the early seventies, it had not supported automobile traffic. Though things had changed since then, most of the two-mile-long island was still a relatively car-free area. The less traffic, the better; pedestrians had a better chance of getting to safety on foot. Still, Jacquelyn was unconscious in the truck. She had taken off her seatbelt just before the accident; her head had been cracked against the windshield. Given her abilities, he didn’t believe she was in any immediate danger; the Trip Field had protected her from the bulk of the accident. She hadn’t even broken the flesh; she had merely lost consciousness. Still, so long as she was not conscious she was vulnerable; so long as she was vulnerable, he had to draw the fire away from her.

No matter his determination to protect her, he was forced to divest a portion of his focus on his abilities. If he wasn’t careful, his body could react to the fire. All it would take was the flames licking his skin and he could very well become them. Alexander Sway, the New Vindicator known as Amalgam, had the ability to become whatever he touched. He was terrified of the thought that he might one day slip and adopt a form that was less-than-substantial. More so, he dreaded not being able to pull himself back together in such an event.

Amalgam rushed past the young woman, gunning for Lazarus. He had issues with hitting women and unless he had no other option, he was not about to turn his titanic might on Singe.

His leg locked around Lazarus’ and pulled back, tripping the man and dropping him backwards into his crooked arm. Lazarus took no action against the young man; never once did he even consider resisting as Amalgam pinned him to the ground. “Send one more blast my way and you’ll risk burning up your friend!” Amalgam barked at Singe. “Talk! Why are you doing this? Who put you up to it?”

Singe hurled a blast straight for the pair. The concentrated jet of flame exploded against the two and sent showers of embers raining over the street. Amalgam sifted through the flames, barely unscathed. He scanned the ground, looking for any sign of his opponent. He had to make sure that Singe hadn’t killed her own companion in her zeal.

Lazarus burst from the flames, covered in burns and tackling Amalgam backwards. The big man hit the ground with a clamor that shook the foundation of the area around them. Amalgam’s eyes nearly burst from his skull as the burns and bruises his opponent had received merely faded away. Each and every scrape and cut disappeared in just the time. “Regeneration,” Lazarus said matter-of-factly. “Singe knows better than to hold back when I’m being used as a shield.”

“I’ll keep that in mind,” Amalgam growled, grabbing the man by the ankle and rising up just as quickly. With a triumphant yell, he threw the man through the air and sent him sailing across the red brick floor laid outside of the Chapel of the Good Shepherd. Now that he knew his opponent could endure it, he could begin to play rough.

“There’s more to it,” Lazarus laughed. “As long as my body is knitting itself back together it’s augmenting my strength.” The man grabbed the leg of a park bench and wielded it like a club. “Think of it as an adrenal surge.”

The steel frame bent and wood planks splintered as the bench was flung into Amalgam. The man had raised his arms in front of him to take the impact, but it had left him open to a jet of flame rupturing from Singe’s outstretched hands.

Amalgam struggled between the two; it was hard to keep his attention on just one while leaving himself so exposed to the other. They worked well together; it was obvious they were not novices. Previous classes of at the New Vindicators Academy had dealt with an organization known as Project: PRIME. They had cultivated Neo-Sapiens through in vetro fertilization, allowing them to breed beings for choice abilities. They had then raised them throughout adolescence and brought the children up to be the best mercenaries money could buy. Were these two remnants of such an organization or did they owe their expertise to some other group?

Singe poured on the heat; her flame bursts were even beginning to melt the pavement, sidewalks, and surrounding landscape. She would destroy the city if left unchecked. Amalgam took off at a run, a plan formulating in his head. Living on Roosevelt Island was inconvenient at times; there was no bridge directly connecting the island to Manhattan; only the aerial tramway and the subway line running under the East River granted access to the borough. For the happy couple, driving out to the Village necessitated trekking across the Roosevelt Island Bridge into Astoria and an indirect route through Queens to reach Manhattan.

The fools hadn’t wanted them to leave the island, but they had let them get considerably close to the river.

Singe’s temper was as fiery as her powers and she was quick to pursue him to towards the water. She didn’t appear to control flames, nor did she generate them indirectly. The pyrokinetics seemed to emanate from her body and Amalgam imagined she’d have trouble getting a spark once submerged in the water. Soon they were near enough. He grabbed her and hugged her around the waist as he flung the two back into the water. He managed to endure a hot blast to his back as the two collided with the surface. She was nowhere near as physically strong as he was—even in his flesh-and-blood form. Holding her under the surface was no small task, though he was still far too merciful; he kept her head above water, opting to negate her powers, not kill her.

“You can’t fight us both!” she snarled.

“No, but Lazarus doesn’t seem to be able to fight from a distance. If he wants me, he’ll need to get in the water. I’m fairly confident I can hold him down once some of that strength bleeds off.”

“And what about your girlfriend?”

Suddenly Amalgam realized the one part of his plan he had not factored in. His eyes lifted up and fell on the sight of Lazarus carrying Jacquelyn Webber. “Trade you?” the man offered, a vicious smile turning up at the corners of his lips.

Amalgam made no move. He merely flashed the man a grin more vicious than any he could have ever hoped to have emulated. “I prefer Amalgam but Jacquelyn… she’s a little weird. She likes Tripper—as in Jacque the Tripper.” Lazarus slammed backwards; an invisible force pinned him to the ground. “I know, I know: it’s a horrible codename. I’ve tried to explain to her that without the explanation nobody is going to get the connection. Still, she can be fairly thickheaded…”

“I don’t care how shallow the water is,” spat Tripper, “do you wanna be face down in it?”

“No, honey,” Amalgam said, grinning at her orneriness. “Sorry, honey.”

Lazarus groaned as he got to his feet. Jacquelyn made no move against him. Her attention was still focused on her boyfriend. Still, something slammed Lazarus into the ground once more. “Why don’t we trade?” she offered to Amalgam. “I can deal with princess there. You can have tall, dark and stupid.”

“Don’t get any thoughts,” Amalgam told Singe. “If you so much as move out of the water she’ll use the Trip Field to put you under.” The young woman said nothing as he let go of her. She continued to simply stay afloat, not yet willing to test how far Tripper could be pushed. According to their dossier files, Alexander Sway was the son of alcoholic trailer-park dwellers. Jacquelyn Webber was the daughter of an assassin-turned-Interpol agent and a Russia hitman.

She was not willing to see which side Tripper took more after.

Amalgam made his way to the staggered Lazarus and grabbed him by the throat. “Given what you did to my truck, I’m tempted to test the level of your regeneration and drag your face across the pavement… but that would only make you stronger, wouldn’t it?”

Lazarus said nothing.

“All this time, I’ve been trying to think of a way to stop you. The more you’re hit, the stronger you get. You bounce back from just about everything I could do to you too. At first I thought I’d just keep beating on you. You’ve got a healing factor but not a pain-dampening factor. But then we come back to the problem of your super-strength.”

A loud splash interrupted him and Singe’s cursing drew his attention.

“She moved,” Tripper said with a shrug.

Amalgam glared at the man he had pinned. “Anyway, while I was holding your partner down out there in the river, I was kind of hoping you’d jump in the water too. Tell me, Lazarus… how long can you hold your breath?”

Amalgam flung the man into the water and hurried in after him. The two began to struggle against each other; their limbs locked and flailed. Ultimately, it was Amalgam’s training in classical wrestling that proved to be the edge he needed. He managed to force the man under and he held him there for several moments before pulling him up for air. “Why were you two testing us?”

“Screw off!”

Amalgam plunged the man in again, holding him by the neck and watching his expression as his lungs began to fill with the East River. Lazarus’ hands grabbed at Amalgam’s wrist, struggling to loosen his hold. The gravel in his shoes allowed Amalgam to become stone. His sheer density doomed Lazarus to drowning.

Singe must have moved to help because she gave another curse—one that was cut off as Tripper used her powers to throw her down once more. Amalgam pulled Lazarus up once more. “Why were you testing us!?” he thundered.

“To see if you were good enough to join us!” Lazarus barked. “You’re the top students at the New Vindicators Academy! We were told to attack you so that your performance could be gauged!”

Tripper’s eyes widened. “We’re being observed!” she exclaimed, realizing that the four were not alone. She spun around, scanning their surroundings for a sign; she looked for anything that might have pointed them to who was watching them.

“Who sent you?” Amalgam demanded. “Who do you work for?”

“Nobody knows the leader’s name… he communicates with us through the two we answer directly to. Blitzkrieg and-”

An electric blast struck the surface of the water and the couple’s attackers howled in pain. Amalgam let go of Lazarus, intending to pull the man up and out of the water before another attack could hit them. In his stone form, he had somehow absorbed the hit. The blast had not affected him as much as what he saw…

The water parted before him. His view of the river’s floor was unobstructed by either the water’s surface or Lazarus. Almost as quickly as it happened, the water poured back into the empty space; it was a line that arced around him and blazed back to the shore. Both of the New Vindicators’ eyes followed it to the source; they followed the line cut through the water to the young man who stood looking out at them both with sad eyes. “Blitzkrieg,” Amalgam breathed, unable to comprehend what he was seeing. “Why?”

Without a word, the young man holstered the unconscious forms of Lazarus and Singe over his shoulders awkwardly. In a flash he was gone.

“Th—that was Blitzkrieg!” Jacquelyn exclaimed. “I don’t get it. What was he doing?”

“He was saving them,” Amalgam growled as he climbed his way to the shore, reverting back to his normal form. “Lazarus said he was one of the two they answered to.”

“I don’t understand.”

“I think we should get back to the school… We need to tell Doctor Styles what just happened.”

To Be Continued... wrote:A brief history of the New Vindicators Academy...
Last edited by Michuru81 on Wed Dec 17, 2008 6:09 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Michuru81
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