Trials: Part Six

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Jude paced around the new house silently. It certainly was nice, fully furnished with actually decent furniture. Two stories and a finished basement, two bedrooms upstairs, two on the main floor, and one downstairs. There was even a home gym in the basement. He gathered that they really didn’t want him leaving the house if he didn’t have to.

He stared down at his ankle and saw the black band. They’d told him they’d be observing all of his outings, and he had to notify them to go off of the property. He still had his car, but they encouraged him to walk. After all, why wouldn’t he? Everything he needed was within walking distance. He wondered if this would be a new start for him. He could get fit again, maybe get his degree.

He found himself sitting on his bed upstairs, looking at the pamphlets for care homes for Deven. There were three, one in Atlanta, one in Houston, and one in New York. They advertised themselves as supernormal ready care homes. Jude supposed this made sense, since the green light didn’t discriminate, there would naturally be some people with supernormal powers that needed care, and normal care homes wouldn’t really be capable of handling someone who could destroy the building.

He quickly ruled out the New York and Houston ones, as he felt he needed to at least visit Deven if he was going to keep his promise to Jamal. He contemplated just how much weight his promise held. Jamal was a criminal after all, then again, he wasn’t necessarily a bad guy. One of Jude’s friends, who he still believed was a good guy, was doing ten years for a robbery, simply because he fell on hard times. Jamal was hitting only big banks, and only fought when cornered.

He glanced down at some boxes in his room. A stack of them were labelled ‘Comics’. Jude sighed. He had hoped superhero morality would be more along the lines of his comics, where there was a clearcut bad guy, and the good guy stopped him. Crime was simply always wrong, and whenever someone stepped out of line, they were then one of the bad guys until they came back around. Sure they wrote more complex stories sometimes, but Jude always loved the simpler ones, because they gave him hope that one day the bad guys would lose, and everything would be good again.

Jude looked back down at the pamphlet. He pondered what Agent Daniels had said about Deven, how he would be deployed on missions still. He wondered how they would treat such a malleable person with such great power. Deven was a military’s wet dream, tough, strong, and does what you say. Jude didn’t know much about the DSR, and honestly wasn’t quite sure if he should trust them. This was certainly an arc he’d seen go badly before. A hero joins an agency and trusts them, then finds out that the agency is the bad guy, and has to fight them.

Jude had also learned at a young age to never trust the government. He learned the law was to be feared and obeyed to the letter. That could’ve just been a thing for his hometown, but he had his doubts.

Jude decided to reframe the issue. He wondered how he would feel if Paul was taken in by the agency with nobody else to look out for him. He felt certain they would lock him in a room and have him predict the future 24/7. He couldn’t let them do that to Paul, and he knew what to do.

He pulled out his phone and called Agent Daniels. It rang for a moment and went to voicemail.

“Hey, Agent Daniels, this is Jude. I’ve decided I’ll take care of Deven myself. There will be no need to have him put in a home. I made a promise to take care of him, and I’m gonna keep it.” He hung up the phone, satisfied.

He was about to go to Deven’s room to discuss dinner plans, when he heard the doorbell ring. He ran down the stairs, and answered the door. It was almost dark outside. A man and a teenager stood on the stoop. The teenager held a foil pan.

“Hey, I’m Guillermo Rodriguez, and this is Zoey, my daughter.” He smiled and patted her back. “We live in the house next door,” he gestured towards their house, “and Zoey told me someone moved in, so we thought we’d make you some food as a welcoming gift!”

“Oh, wow, thanks!” Jude smiled. He thought about calling Deven over, but thought it would be best if he didn’t scare the neighbors this soon. “I’m Jude by the way.” He shook Guillermo’s hand

Jude heard loud footsteps behind him, followed by a voice. “I’m Deven.”

Jude supressed a sigh and stepped aside, so they could see Deven. He wasn’t going to introduce him, but trying to hide it would only make it worse now.

“Oh my god, are you guys supers?” Zoey asked, before Guillermo put his hand up.

“Zoey! That’s rude.” He turned back to Jude. “Please forgive her, she just got excited.”

“No, it’s fine, don’t worry about it.” Jude smiled at them. “We are supers, actually.”

“Wait a second… Are you Dayspring?” Zoey’s eyes widened.

Jude sighed, but covered it up with a laugh. There was no hiding it, he had face recognition. “Yup, that’s me.”

“That’s so cool! I have so many questions!” Zoey was again cut off by her father.

“Well, Zoey, I’m sure they’re tired from the move. Maybe another time. Why don’t you give him the lasagna.” He turned back to Jude again, as Zoey passed off the still warm tray. “Well Jude and Deven, I’ll let you get back to whatever you were doing. It’s a pleasure to meet you, and don’t hesitate to come over if you need anything.”

“Will do. Thank you for the food.” Jude smiled as they walked back off towards their own house. Jude waited for a second, then closed the door.

Jude placed the pan on the dining room table, and breathed in the scent. It smelled and looked delicious, and he was definitely hungry. “Alright, Deven, do you want any?”

“Sure.” Deven meandered into the dining room, and sat on a chair.

Jude remarked at the sturdiness of the furniture here. Deven broke at least two chairs at the Smith mansion when he moved in, so clearly the DSR put special thought into their accommodations. Jude grabbed a couple of plates, glasses, and forks, which he had saved from his apartment with Paul, and set the table. Sure enough, the lasagna tasted as good as it smelled. Jude felt like this might actually be amenable.

 


 

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Origins: Recap

Spoilers for Origins (AKA Earth 2: Season 1). If you’d rather read it, here is the first part.

 

 

 

Vanessa looked out the window, and watched the blue ocean waves lap at the beach. The sole occupant of the beach paced along with his head on a swivel. She wondered how much longer he was going to take. So much had happened, and at the end of it all, he was all she had. She laughed a little, but it was hollow.

She heard footsteps approaching and jumped a little bit. The man was still pacing the beach. She groaned and laid back in her chair.

A man entered the room. The same man that paced the beach at that very moment, in fact. He wore a Hawaiian shirt, a black backpack, and beige cargo shorts that seemed to complement his red skin very nicely. His sunglasses were perched just in front of the curved goat horns that emerged from the top of his head.

“Hiya!” He smiled, as he made his way to the chair in front of Vanessa.

“Do you know how long I was staring at you on the beach, thinking that was you?”

“Oh, he’s running security. We swap every day. I wear floral shirts, and he wears tikis.” He rifled through his book bag, and pulled out a small notebook and pen. “Now, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, and I have something I’d like to try today.”

“Why do I have a feeling that you have a clone somewhere watching real therapy sessions around the clock?” Vanessa laughed.

Caveat looked briefly to the side. “Anyways, enough about me. Let’s talk about you.” He leaned forwards in his chair. “I want you to run me through everything that’s happened, from the beginning, like I know nothing about anything.”

“Everything?”

“Everything.”

“Alright…” Vanessa sighed and sat back in the couch. “I think my story really starts a little after the green light, since I didn’t know I had powers until Paul and Jude told me.

“I was living with my dad, and taking a ‘gap year’, which more or less meant sitting around doing nothing. I went out for a run, when some crazy guy pulled a gun on me, and dragged me into some warehouse.” Vanessa shuddered as she recalled the terror she felt, but pushed on. “He tied my arms around a beam or something. I wanted to do something, but I just… Couldn’t. My body wouldn’t do anything. Then Jude busted in and saved me. He rode in the ambulance with me, and kept me company in the hospital until my dad got there. He asked if he could call a friend to the hospital and have him meet me, which I thought was a little weird, but I said sure. That’s when I met Paul, and I really think that’s when I fell in love. He told me I had powers, and that they wanted to train me. My dad wasn’t for it, but I harassed him into it. I guess he was right in the end really.” She looked off at the ocean for a moment, before turning back. “Anyways, that was the day my story really began. One hell of a day.”

“That sounds like a lot.” Caveat nodded, as he penned some notes. “How long had Jude and Paul been doing the superhero thing at that point?”

“Ummm…” She thought for a moment. “I don’t know exactly, but I think they were still pretty new. They were on the news a little bit, so I knew who Jude was before he saved me.”

“Interesting…” Caveat wrote something down, then looked back up. “So, what happened next?”

“Let’s see… I trained for a little bit, got better acquainted with Paul and Jude. I figured out what my powers were, or at least the basics of them.” She nodded. “I did a little bit of super-heroing… Oh yeah! That’s when Paul broke his leg.” She laughed a little, but stopped herself. “He was so determined back then to not accept any limits. He tried to go downstairs at night, but fell and broke his leg. He was in a wheelchair for the next few months, if I recall correctly.”

“So you helped him through that?”

“Yeah…” She pushed back tears, and took a moment to collect herself. “That was the same day that we fought Jamal and Deven for the first time. Paul had a vision, so Jude and I went to stop a bank robbery.” She chuckled. “You know, I think that money was insured, and I don’t think they even would’ve hurt anyone if we hadn’t showed up, so I’m not sure what the point was…” She was quiet for a moment. “Anyways, we went in, and got into a standoff. I don’t even remember the exact order, but I think I tried something, or maybe it was Jude… Anyways, Jamal got me, and I woke up in the hospital. I had an electrical burn from my arm up to my face. My arm still doesn’t quite work the same.” She swung her arm a little bit to feel it. It was subtle, but something definitely changed. “The day wasn’t all bad, though, when I came to Paul and I talked and decided to start dating.”

“I see…” Caveat nodded, and flipped to a new page.

“Things were going well after that. I think that’s probably one of the happiest times of my life, until Anastasia showed up.” Her tone was a little more harsh than she had intended. “I don’t really hold it against her now, but I suppose it’s a little late for that. Anyways, Paul showed up with some stranger in a fast food uniform, and insisted she be able to join the team. As it turns out, she had ice powers. She blitzed through her training, and was a full fledged part of the team, much to my chagrin at the time. She was clearly infatuated with Paul, and I felt like she was trying to cut me off from him.”

“So you felt like she threatened your happiness and stability?”

“More or less. I think she really did, though it wasn’t her fault. She and Jude went out on a couple of Dayspring runs, until the day finally came. Jude was up in Gainesville for something, I think he was going to a school. I was getting my hair done, and Paul and Anastasia were at the house. I got a call from Anastasia, on Paul’s phone, saying he got kidnapped, and that there was a robbery. Jean drove me back, with half-way cut hair, and we regrouped. Jean did some detective work, while we waited for Jude, and figured out where they probably were. They had stashed the stuff they stole, and Paul, in the sewer. I was honestly terrified, after what happened last time. I hadn’t done any superhero stuff since then, and this was the guy that messed me up so badly last time. Jude and Anastasia went ahead, and I was planning on staying behind. Then my dad talked me into going. I wonder what his angle was there… He had been trying to be better back then, and we were pretty close, so I guess it could’ve been genuine.

“Either way, Jean and I went to the sewer, and he sent me in ahead. I found some dude unconscious, and gave him a kick to the head when he started moving… God, I hope I didn’t kill him too…” She looked back at the ocean, and pushed back tears again.

“I see… Why did you do that?” Caveat looked up from his notepad.

“I don’t know… I guess I didn’t want him coming in behind me, and figured they were all bad guys anyways.”

“I see… So what happened next?”

“I made my way into the room where they were already fighting. Jamal took a shot at me, I blocked it, and then I killed him…”

“Why did you go for a kill-shot there?”

“I… I think I just put all the blame for everything that seemed to be going wrong on him. I sensed my world was being threatened, I pinned it all on him, and then I killed him. Once he was gone, the world wasn’t better, it was worse if anything. Then I blamed Anastasia. I thought it was her that ruined everything. She was the reason why Paul wasn’t acting the same around me.” She nodded in silence for a moment. “I went to therapy after the Jamal thing… It didn’t really help, but I don’t think I was actually trying.”

“I see…” Caveat wrote something down for a second, then looked up. “Alright, do you need a break, or are you ready to keep going?”

“I think I need a break.” Vanessa sighed.

“Alright, I’m gonna make some mojitos, we’ll do more therapy when you’re ready.” Caveat jumped up, repacked his bag, and slung it over his shoulder. “You want one?”

“Why not.” Vanessa shrugged. This was a vacation home, so she may as well do a little vacationing.

 


 

Trials: Part One

 

Hey everyone, I thought for a while about how to make a good recap of season one, and finally settled on this. I hope you enjoy, and happy reading!

Trials: Part Five

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Click here for part one.

Vanessa awoke on a dirt floor in a cold room. It was dark enough that she could barely see the concrete walls surrounding her. She stood up, feeling a little light headed, and leaned against a wall for support. She felt a rough fabric rub up against her skin. These weren’t her clothes. She noticed she was the only one in the room, and that there was a steel door in front of her. She stumbled forwards and tried the handle, but it was locked. She looked up to the ceiling, and could barely make out a camera in the corner of the room. Her heart began to race as she remembered what had happened. She couldn’t believe it had happened again. She stopped herself. This time was different. She wasn’t helpless now. She could do something.

First she decided to try to break down the door. She threw a pink disk at the door, but it seemed to have no effect. She tried again a few more times, but made no progress. She recalled the time she had gotten locked out of her house, and had to credit card their door. She checked her pockets, but they were empty. She needed something with enough of an edge to potentially catch the door latch. She tried a few times, but she could only seem to summon disks. After a few tries, she took one of the disks and attempted to fold it in half. Once a little pressure was applied, the disk complied and snapped loosely in half. She took the disk and attempted to hook the latch, but was stopped by a deadbolt. She threw the disk down onto the ground and swore.

“Excellent performance, Vanessa. Unfortunately I am not stupid enough to lock the door with such a simple mechanism.” A voice sounded from the ceiling. It sounded like a man.

Vanessa looked around the room, and noticed what looked to be an intercom on the ceiling. “Who are you? Where am I?” She shouted.

“All in due time.” He laughed. “You are a danger to society, which is why you have been placed here. You are a prisoner. Guilty of the crime of murder.”

Vanessa’s heart sank. “No! It was self defense! He was trying to kill me!”

“Now, do you really believe that? Your friends don’t. You can see that by the way they look at you. They see a monster.”

Vanessa fell to her knees. “No…” A tear ran down her cheek.

There was silence for a moment, broken only by Vanessa’s quiet sobs. This had to be a nightmare, she thought. Perhaps if she closed her eyes, she would wake up in her hotel room, and all would be better. She pressed her eyes shut as hard as she could, but when she opened them she was still in the same place.

“Now Vanessa, I’m sure we can be great friends.” The voice spoke again. “After all, I’m also a monster, and monsters deserve only the company of other monsters.” He paused for a moment, but after Vanessa didn’t say anything, he continued. “Now, you are in my prison. You will have a strictly regimented schedule, and you will repay your debt to society. Perhaps, if you’re lucky, and if you behave, you may eventually be released into the care of someone else. That, however is a ways away. Freedom will become a distant memory, and after a while you will only know compliance. This facility is staffed with supernormal guards, armed and trained to deal with monsters like you. I hope, over time, we will become friends, like all of my other prisoners. Now,” his tone changed to something more assertive, “On your feet, prisoner.”

Vanessa shakily stood, not saying anything. Her heart was racing so much it hurt. This couldn’t be real.

The man laughed. “Stand back. The door will open, and you will be escorted to your permanent holding cell.”

She stood back, and the door handle turned. The door swung open, and she saw two men with guns trained on her.

“Follow me.” One said.

She complied, and exited the cell. The second man fell in behind her, and his gun never dropped. She walked through a hallway with concrete walls, floor, and ceiling. There were a few doors, with labels in some asian script. The first guard eventually stopped at one, and unlocked it. He led her into another hallway, but this one had doors made of bars. She looked through them, and most of them had emaciated people inside, with varying numbers from one to four. Eventually they stopped outside of one, and the first guard turned back to her.

“Look, if you don’t cause trouble, this will go a lot better for you. Half of the guards here were prisoners at some point, and more people still were sent out of the prison for contract work.”

The second guard finally spoke up. “Darryl, if Takeo saw you talking to a prisoner like this, he’d throw you in a cell.”

“Yeah, I know. I just think it would improve behavior if the prisoners knew that.” He looked into the cell they stopped at, and talked into it. “Prisoner, get against the back wall, hands up.” He waited for a moment then opened the cell door.

Vanessa felt a gun pressed into her back, pushing her towards the cell. She stumbled in, falling on the concrete floor, and the door slammed shut behind her.


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The River

Morgan sat in the dirt, on a bank of the river Chattahoochee. Her surroundings were dimly lit by her kerosene lantern. There was something tranquil about the sound of trickling water, with the backdrop of the woods. It was like a concert, with a thousand crickets and fireflies joining her in the audience, all gathered to watch the famous Chattahoochee play one more song.

In truth, she wasn’t only here for the river. She camped a lot, and wasn’t too picky where she did it. Any sounds were better than the ones she could hear back home. She didn’t have it as bad as other people she knew, but things at home were still tense. It was like she’d outstayed her welcome, which she supposed she had. It wasn’t her fault she couldn’t get a good enough paying job with her bachelors, and she was almost out of grad school, so everyone put up with her. It was clear they were ready for her to move on, though.

She felt quite lonely when she was at home, which was funny considering the number of people living under that roof. She never could really relate to them, though. She had always been different somehow. They had lived in the same house in the same town for generations, and they were content to continue doing so. That was good enough for them, and she didn’t hold it against them, but it wasn’t good enough for her. She’d always dreamed of more. Right now it was like someone had built a dam, and her current just kept circling around, pooling up. Sure some of her dreams managed to pass the dam, but that was all they were, dreams. She knew one day she’d break through, at least that was what she told herself.

She looked out through the treeline at the moon. It was full tonight, and it looked huge, even for a full moon. She wondered if it was one of those super moons she had heard about, or if she just hadn’t really taken in a good view of the moon in a while.

She was pulled out of her meditation by the sound of a car horn in the distance. She turned her head towards the direction of the sound, and heard some kind of collision. She started to grab her lamp, when she noticed a green light on the horizon. It looked like the aurora, but it was moving like a wave. It was moving in her direction.

She stared into its majesty, and took a couple of steps back. She felt the Chattahoochee lapping at her heels. A new performer had arrived, and the river was not to be outdone. The river sang, as the green light danced forwards. It was truly like nothing she had ever imagined before. She took a deep breath as the light danced around her, then everything went dark.

She felt her very essence being scattered, and wondered if she had died. If she had, she figured it would be alright. After all, she wasn’t exactly living the big life, nobody would miss her too badly, and she had just witnessed the performance of a lifetime. She dismissed this thought, however, as a new sensation replaced her sight.

She felt a sense of momentum, and unity. She rushed along the sand, occasionally sweeping up sediment. She felt water cascading all around her, and she felt herself cascading around the water. A tadpole’s mouth opened wide, and she coursed into it. She began to flow through its body, and felt its plight. Elsewhere, a rock approached, and it kindly gave her a boost into the air. The air sailed around her, and took her hand.

She began to twirl off into the sky, in a dance with the air, as she also coursed down the banks of the Chattahoochee, and through the veins of a hundred creatures. She was finally leaving her home town. She was also remaining in her home town. She could be with her family and a thousand miles away at the same time. She felt the dam shattering around her, and all it had taken was a gentle push from a gorgeous dancer.

 


 

Hey everyone! First thing I’ve written in like 3 weeks, since I’ve been out of commission with something going on. Hope you enjoy. Just a cool idea I had and typed up.

If you don’t regularly read me, now’s a great time to check out my serial, Trials.

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Trials: Part Four

You are joining an ongoing story.

Click here for part one.

 

Anastasia marveled at the bustling building around her. She had obviously seen airports on TV, but never in person. Even living in Atlanta her whole life hadn’t prepared her for this many people, all running around. It was a little stressful.

Jean had dropped them off at the front, with what proved to be plenty of time to get through security, and find their terminal. Security had seemed only mildly bothered by having to deal with Paul. They had muttered something about ‘calling ahead next time’, but Anastasia glared them down.

Anastasia was wondering why Jean and Mr. Smith had wanted them there so early. They had, like, two hours to kill in a terminal, but they managed to kill time.

“You know, I’ve never been on a vacation before.”

“What?” Paul turned towards her. “How can you just not have gone on a vacation before?

Anastasia giggled a little, though with a hint of sadness behind it. “Oh, you know how it is. Poor girl from a poor family. We were barely able to make ends meet as is, and things didn’t exactly get much better once I left.”

“Oh…” Paul looked a little embarrassed.

She really hadn’t been intending to make him feel bad. She didn’t really feel that bad about it, so she added on. “I guess I DID go a few states away to see my grandfather once when I was little, but I don’t think that really counts as a vacation. I remember we went out to his house up by the Rockies, and he took my dad and me fishing out in a stream that ran by some wild blueberry bushes. Didn’t catch anything, but I did have a lot of fun.”

She paused. “That was a long time ago, though.”

“Well, I’m glad to be here for your first.”

“I’m glad too.” Anastasia smiled. She felt like that turned into a lot more of a bummer than she had originally intended. “Oh, I know, let’s play a game I used to play when I was a kid. The idea is we pick a stranger, and try to puzzle out what they’re doing here. I can just describe them for you.”

Paul smiled, “That sounds like fun! Let’s give it a try.”

Anastasia scanned the crowd and selected a random person. “There’s a white man in a black suit, wearing a hat, and carrying an over the shoulder bag. I bet he’s some kind of business man, heading to Turkey to close some big deal.” She paused to laugh a little bit.

“I don’t know, suit says FBI agent to me.”

“Oh, no way. I take mine back. He almost ran when he saw me looking at him. He’s probably some secret agent, sent to Europe to conduct some international espionage.”

Paul laughed as well. Anastasia noted his smile. He hadn’t been smiling like he used to lately, but he seemed to be acting more like his old self. “Alright, describe someone else.”

 


 

A couple of hours later, they had finally boarded the plane, and gotten seated. Anastasia subtly leaned into Paul, weary from Vanessa, the uncomfortable ride with Jean, the waiting…and everything else. She sighed contentedly. So much had changed, but finally, for once in her life, it felt like her happy ending was just around the corner. Her whole life, she’d always seen other people be the ones who excelled, and at a certain point, she figured happy endings were for other people, the whole who really “deserved” them. Even once she met Paul, a part of her still hung on to the thought that maybe it was only him and Vanessa who “deserved” that kind of happy ending. Though, now she wonder if anyone could really deserve it. Even still, the opportunity was here, and she as determined to not let her happy ending pass her by once again.

The shrill, steady voice of the flight attendant suddenly came onto the intercom. “Ladies and gentlemen, please fasten your seatbelts and prepare for takeoff.”

It had been a long day, but maybe, just maybe, her happy ending was finally beginning.

Eventually the plane took off, and the time began to pass. Anastasia looked across the stranger sitting to her right, and out the window, at the unending blue ocean below. It put things into perspective. Even as a superhero, she was still such a small part of the world.

She glanced over at Paul, who was sleeping to her left. Despite all of the noise, and all of the cool things going on around them, of course he would still find some way to sleep. She hoped he could find what he was looking for in Turkey. Not just having his sight restored, although that would be great. He had been acting different ever since the sewer. He seemed to just be ignoring all of his problems, and she was starting to get worried.

“I hope you’re okay…” She sighed.

“Have I got you worried?” He opened his eyes and turned to her.

Anastasia’s heart skipped a beat. “Well… You’re just acting different ever since the whole sewer incident. Then you broke up with Vanessa… It seems like there’s something wrong.” She hoped she wasn’t overstepping, but at the same time, she was really quite worried about him. In the end she prioritized his wellbeing over potentially upsetting him.

“I see.” He nodded, and went quiet for a moment. “Well, if I’m being honest, what happened with Jamal did leave a mark on me. Being kidnapped wasn’t great. That’s not really it though…”

“Well, what’s up then?”

He started to open his mouth to say something, but paused for a moment. He shook his head and smiled. “It’s not a big deal. I’d rather not sully your first vacation with my personal problems. I promise I’m okay.”

Anastasia nodded, but for some reason she felt like that wasn’t the truth. Regardless, she didn’t want to push the envelope, and they’d have plenty of time to talk about stuff like that later. “Alright. I believe you.”

 


 

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Trials: Part Three

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Click here for part one.

Jude paced outside of Mr. Smith’s office. He recalled the last time he was here, when he gave Mr. Smith hell for trying to control Vanessa. He had a feeling that was not how this meeting was going to go. Jude did have a theory about why he was here; he’d outlived his usefulness. The original arrangement was for him and Paul to train Vanessa to be a superhero, and given that Vanessa has been gone for a couple of weeks now, and Paul for longer, he saw the writing on the wall.

As he paced, he saw another man through the small frosted glass window, and heard quiet conversation from inside. Jude had missed this guy coming in, but her imagined it was some business partner. Normally Jean would’ve gotten him when the meeting was just about to be over, but he was also taking a vacation, and his replacement, Gregory, was not quite as perfect. Jude found it interesting that he was nearly the only one not on vacation right now, but brushed it off.

Jude was caught off guard by the door swinging open. A man in a grey suit that he didn’t recognize extended his hand.

“Mr. Khoury? I’m Agent Christopher Daniels, pleasure to meet you.”

Jude shook his hand and nodded. His heart raced. He considered the possibilities. It could be that Mr. Smith had arranged for him to partner with the feds, but it was equally possible that he was about to have a much worse living situation. Jude followed the man into the office, and sat down as Agent Daniels shut the door behind them. He looked across the desk to Mr. Smith, who seemed as stoic as he usually does.

“So, Jude.” Mr. Smith began. “I know you’re a smart guy, so you probably could see this coming. Vanessa has gone off to California for an indeterminate amount of time, and who knows what she’ll want to do when she comes back. This makes our arrangement of you training my daughter rather difficult to achieve. Thusly, I’ve decided our agreement has come to an end.”

Jude nodded solemnly for a moment. “I understand.”

“However, I am neither heartless nor stupid. You are a special case, not suited to returning to warehouse work. That is why I’ve contacted Agent Daniels, here.” He gestured to the man in the suit.

“Yes, I work with a new agency called the Department of Supernormal Relations, or the DSR for short.” Agent Daniels flashed a badge with some convoluted government logo, and Jude nodded. “We acknowledge the need to have an accountable and effective team to deal with supernormal threats. One of our first initiatives is to recruit people with supernormal powers, who we call Supers, who were already doing good, into our fold..”

“Alright, so what would this mean for me? What would my role be in the agency?”

“Glad you asked.” Agent Daniels smiled, but it seemed forced. “I’d like to cover the benefits, and the get into the responsibilities. We would provide a house for you, which will be for just you and your team. No strange roommates will be forced on you. The house has an excellent location within walking distance of a shopping center and many other necessities. We will provide you with a salary, as well as regular full time benefits, such as a pension and healthcare insurance. As far as your responsibilities, you would need to go on missions when requested by the agency, and to cease all vigilante activity.”

“So no more crime fighting unless you say so?”

“Basically. Now this would be enforced by means of a tracking device we would attach to your ankle.” He reached into his bag and pulled out a black band with a small black box on it. “It’s much more covert than the ones we give to people on parole, so you shouldn’t have to worry about being mistaken for a criminal.”

Jude nodded along. He decided not to engage in a discussion on that point, despite the fact that being black was more than enough to be mistaken as a criminal, without a mysterious black anklet.

“Now, I’m also aware that you have friends overseas right now. This same offer would be extended to them as well. The house has 5 bedrooms, so that should be sufficient, assuming that everyone decides to take the offer. Additionally, we’d actually encourage you to engage in the recruitment of other supers you know for the same offer. Now…” He rifled through his bag and pulled out a couple of pamphlets, “On the matter of Mr. Weber. I’m aware that you have taken him into your care, however, we at the agency have assembled a couple of options for homes, which could properly care for him. Now, he would still be an affiliate of the agency, and may be called upon for missions, but he would never be placed in actual danger.”

“So how long do I have to think on the matter?” Jude took the brochures and looked at the covers. Pictures of beautiful scenery with a fancy font on top. He considered it for a moment, but he couldn’t shake the feeling that if Jude wasn’t monitoring Deven, the agency would definitely turn him into a weapon.

“On the subject of Deven, you have as long as you like, although a more prompt decision would be better…” He stood up, stretched his arms, and attempted to nonchalantly place his hand on his back behind his coat. “On the subject of joining the agency, however, I’d really encourage you to make that decision right now.”

“Gotcha.” Jude nodded. This was less of a job offer and more of him being detained. He imagined he could probably take the agent, but then what? He couldn’t exactly easily go on the lam. They’d definitely send more agents, and he didn’t feel like he could keep taking them out without killing them. “I guess I’ll pack my things.”

Agent Daniels’ returned his arm to his side and smiled. “Excellent, I’m glad to have you on. I’ll help you pack.”

Jude smiled and nodded, before turning to Mr. Smith. “It’s been a pleasure working with you and I regret that it’s come to an end.”

“I feel the same. If you need help with anything on your way out, don’t hesitate to make use of Gregory.”

Jude exited Mr. Smith’s office, followed by Agent Daniels, and went to pack his things and fetch Deven.


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