The Making of a Villian

I was a hero. Kids looked up to me. Girls swooned over me; boys wanted to be me. I was the shining example of truth, justice, and the American way. Golly shucks I just wanted to make a difference in the world.

Being a hero was easy at first. Muggers ran when I was nearby. Bank robbers would give up at the sound of my voice. Even The Masterminds, the city’s greatest threats, were no match for me. Reporters joked that soon I’d be out of a job if I kept up.

The city changed before that could happen. It started with the muggers. They started cutting or shooting their victims instead of just roughing them up. Park sidewalks were stained with blood. They knew I couldn’t leave the victims to chase after them. Then the bank robbers got into the act. They used to give just up when they saw me. Bullets bounced off me harmlessly, what else could they do? Then one shot a hostage and said more would follow if I didn’t get out of there. Soon they were all doing it. What choice did I have? What choice, I ask you?

The Masterminds, seeing that I could be cowed by a mere bank robber with a gun, become bold. No longer did they simply hold the city hostage with the threat of attacking until I could find their underground lair or floating fortress. They launched waves of attack robots against the citizens. Again what choice did I have? I couldn’t just leave the people to fend for themselves, could I? I had to protect them but the more I fought the more damage was caused to the city. The more people got hurt.

Four days of constant fighting, until The Masterminds ran out of robots. Only then could I find and face them and when I did, they laughed at me. “How long until we break out of prison again?” they taunted me. “Next time we’ll have five times as many robots,” they boasted. What choice did I have? I looked out at the still smoking city. Could I call myself a hero if I let this happen again? I took matters into my own hands that day. To hell with a justice system that would let such threats to the common good continue.

They laughed until I smashed the first one’s skull flat, then they just screamed.

After that, I stepped up to the challenge of bringing order to the city. I was strong but strength alone wasn’t an effective threat, so I bought a gun. Again they laughed at me. They didn’t think I would shoot them. What choice did I have? I put down a few bank robbers and they stopped laughing. A few dead muggers and park was safe again. Empty but safe.

Using the Masterminds’ flying fortress I monitored the city. Watching for trouble wasn’t enough. They had to know I was watching, so I announced a curfew. They scoffed saying one man couldn’t enforce a citywide curfew alone. I showed them. When the time came for the streets to clear and they were still out and about. What choice did I have? I enforced my curfew. A hundred people the first night. Twenty-five the second. Five the third. One hundred and fifty-three in a protest rally the next and then none after that.

I was no longer the hero they looked up to. I was a vigilante, a murderer, a villain but I made the streets safe. Tell me, what choice did I have?

I’m Falling

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I’m falling. I think. Not in the metaphorical sense like my life is going down hill or my depression is consuming me. I think I’m actually falling. Sometimes I feel like I should be flying but I’m not. Most of the time there is just this tiny bit of dread deep inside. No it’s not my depression that’s more of a general heaviness about everything. This is more specific.
I’m falling. This isn’t the real world. I’m dreaming or hallucinating or delusional. I’ve been falling for a long time I think. Maybe. Did I actually experience twenty-seven years of life or do I just remember experiencing those years. I’ve either been falling for a long time or I just started falling. I’m not sure which is better.

This world feels real. I have a job. I have an apartment and roommate. I have a cat. I pay bills and buy groceries. I keep living this life because I don’t know what else to do. But I think somewhere, I am falling. I need to catch myself or land on a soft spot. I need to fly. I need to soar back up into the sky. I need to face whatever knocked me down. I need to save the people depending on me.

But I’m falling.

Gillian Reviews Dreadnought by April Daniels

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Dreadnought by April Daniels is awesome. It’s about a trans girl superhero and it’s written by a trans woman.

The first chapter and a few others made me cry; it hits on a lot of things I felt as a closeted trans teenager.  April Daniels does not pull any punches about what it would be like to live with an abusive transphobic father. I didn’t have to deal with that myself because I came out a little later in life but some things still ring true. Like the way he says “son” and “boy” when we meetup. The quiet wishing that he would just accept me for who I am.

The superhero part of the story is funny and action packed but also real about how messed up being a superhero would be. It reminds me somewhat of “Soon I Will Be Invincible” by Austin Grossman on that front.

It’s a good book that hit me hard in the emotions. Be warned that it doesn’t shy away from the trauma trans girls live with.  Goddess, I want this to be a movie just to hear Danielle’s last line said out loud, “I’m transgender, and a lesbian, and I’m not ashamed of that.”

The sequel just came out today so I have another book to read right now.  Both books are available on Amazon in paperback and kindle formats.

Rating: 5/5

Buffet Before the End of the World

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The convention center parking lot was partly full of cars. Rashida didn’t expect anyone but other Guardians to be here but maybe part of the center was being used as emergency shelter. She was late because still had trouble navigating from the sky. The comets streaking across the red sky had not helped her sense of direction at all. A sign on an easel just inside the main doors pointed her toward one of the side halls. A murmur of voices carried through the doors. Ok, you’re a guardian just like the rest of them. They invited you to this meeting. She pushed through the doors.

Ok, you’re a guardian just like the rest of them. They invited you to this meeting. She pushed through the doors.
Inside was not the meeting she expected. There were other Guardians in the room but they weren’t all gathered around one table talking about strategy or pouring over maps or listening to a briefing about what they would be facing tomorrow. Instead, they were scattered around the room, some sitting at tables others standing talking with civilians. Most of the room was civilians.

Another Guardian entered the room behind her nearly bumping into her. He skirted past her and beelined to the side of the room where she now saw a buffet had been set up. Large aluminum catering pans were interspersed with smaller casserole dishes, pots, and bowls. A Guardian walked along the buffet hand outstretched over the dishes. As her hand passed over a pan or dish, steam could be seen rising from them.

Maybe this was just a preliminary meet-and-greet and afterwards they would gather in another room for the real meeting. In the meantime, it had been several hours since she had eaten so she headed to the buffet to get a plate.

After getting her plate, she looked around the room for an open table. Flashing back to high school, she spotted a table at the edge of the room with no one on it. As she walked toward it, a woman separated from the group she was talking with and stepped in front of her.

“Hail, Rashida of Winters, be well met,” the woman said with a smile. Antonia, one of the oldest Guardians, was speaking to her and apparently knew who she was.

“Hail, Antonia of Atlantis, I am well met,” Rashida said returning the greeting.

“Most fumble that old greeting,” she said with a smile.

“I’ve read up on you.”

“As have I. You have been a credit to the uniform. It has been about a year since you became a Guardian, is that right?”

“Yes.”

“I’m sorry I haven’t made time before now to speak with you. Are you free next Thursday?”

“I… I don’t think I have any plans.”

“Good, we can spend the day patrolling together and getting to know each other better. I’ll call Ruby and we’ll make it a threesome.”

“Ruby Daniels?”

“Yes, have you met her?”

“No, but I’ve heard of her.” Every Guardian knew Ruby. She was one of the most decorated Guardian still serving. She held the line against the Grattak, stopped the nuclear exchange of ’94, saved countless more lives, and now Rashida was going on patrol with her Thursday. If they made it to Thursday.

“How are you holding up?” Antonia asked placing a hand on her shoulder.

“Fine, just fine,” she said hiding the fear and uncertainty she had been feeling since the sky turned red.

“What is wrong?” she persisted.

“I’m worried about tomorrow.”

“Understandable.”

“Are we having a meeting later?” Rashida asked.

“A meeting?”

“To talk about tomorrow?”

“All the information we have has already been sent out.”

“Then what is all of this?” she asked waving her hand at the room of Guardians and civilians.

“It’s a tradition we have before an apocalyptic event. We are the protectors of this world’s people. We have been given such immense power that we can feel like gods among them. For this reason, it is important to remind ourselves that we are human as well. These people are our neighbors, our friends, and our families. Talk with them, listen to their stories, tell them your stories, and tomorrow keep them in your heart. Remember we fight for them. Now I see another apple pie has been brought out so you will have to excuse me.”

Rashida turned to watch her beeline to the end of the buffet tables where the desserts were laid out. She turned from the empty table she had been heading toward and walked over to one with another Guardian and a few civilians around it.

Henchmen For Hire

Author note: This story is set in the same world as the Scientist of Death stories.

Most people would be scared shitless if a supervillain walked into their office but for me this was just my three o’clock meeting. His name was Wireframe. According to the application he had submitted he was baseline human in powered armor. These guys are a dime a dozen but at least he had a gimmick in his look. His armor was coated with a zero reflective paint with the edges trimmed with red. It gave the effect of a black hole contained by a 3D wire frame graphic. Thus his name.

I stood as he entered and offered my hand, “Good afternoon, how are you doing today?” He ignored my hand and sat down.

“I’m need to hire a dozen henchmen for a bank job. Can fill this request?” His voice was modulated a little too much and buzzed on certain sounds. I sat down behind my desk.

“Henchpeople,” I said.

“What?” he asked.

“We call our employees henchpeople.

“Your organization is named Henchmen For Hire, is it not?”

“It’s a legacy name. Also we don’t call them bank jobs; they’re heists.”

“Whatever. Can you get me a dozen ‘henchpeople’ or not?”

“Of course we can. Do you require any specialist types?”

“Types?”

“All our henchpeople are trained in basic combat, crowd control, and ex-filtration techniques. We also have specially trained groups. These include demolition, heavy combat, stealth, and tech. Will you need any of those?”

“Uh, no. I- I don’t think so.” He sounded unsure.

I brought up a contract form on my tablet and started filling it out. “Ok, twelve standard henchpeople for one heist. What date?”

“Next Thursday.”

“Ok. Will you be providing weapons and equipment for the henchpeople?”

Wireframe hesitated before answering, “Uh no. Do I need to?”

“Not at all. Some supervillains like their henchpeople to use custom weapons and armor to keep on theme. We can’t replicate your color scheme exactly but we can do black with red trim or anything else you’d like.”

“That sounds ok.” I added it to contract.

“Great, I just need a payment method and you’re good to go.” I gave him a big reassuring smile.

“You will be paid after the job is done.” Uh oh someone thinks they’re in charge.

I stared into the blackness where his eyes should be. “Now that is a problem. We require payment upfront.”

“I can’t pay upfront. If I could, I would just hire my own henchmen.”

“Tell me how does a supervillain like yourself afford a custom powered armor suit but not henchpeople?”

“I was part of the team developing the suit for a military contractor and I stole it,” he said.

“Story as old as time. Did you create any exotic technologies for the suit?”

“It uses a carbon-nanotube weave to decrease the weight to protection ratio,” he boasted.

“Yeah, so does our armor. Come on, give me something good. What about the paint job?”

“What about it?” he looked down.

“Zero reflective coatings are useful but the ones I know about are fragile. Your suit is coated in the stuff so it can’t be that fragile. How hard is it to apply?”

“Once mixed, it can be painted on with a brush or sprayed on.”

“Interesting. And you know how to make it?”

“Yes.”

“Ok, I’m going to send you down to one of the tech labs. You talk to them about the paint and they’ll let me know if we’re interested in buying or licensing it from you. If we do, you come back up here and we’ll talk money.”

“And if you don’t?”

“You could always start robbing gas stations and work your way up to a heist.”

A few minutes later, Wireframe was heading to the labs. Too many young supervillains think they can go straight into pulling off heists. They can’t afford good help and try it solo only to get their asses beat by the local superhero. This one seems a little smarter. We might just be able to turn him into a regular client.

Scientist of Death Issue #4

<<Previous Index


“Can I get a discount on this?” The customer shoved the item across the counter. “It has a stain right here.”

I looked at the indicated spot. The slight discoloration was probably not a set in stain and dabbing it with a wet cloth would most likely remove it. Not worth a discount in my eyes but store policy was more lenient.

“I can discount it by five percent,” I said.

“Is that all? I can’t get it half off.”

“No, five percent is all I’m allowed to do.”

“The other woman always gives me half off.” A blatant lie. No one except the managers could approve a fifty percent markdown and they rarely work the registers. I bit back on calling her on the lie.

“I’m sorry, it’s story policy,” I said.

“I’d like to speak to the manager.”

My hand reached for the button on my headset that would broadcast my voice to my co-workers and manager. As I depressed it, I felt a slight wiggle to the button. The switches and buttons on the sonic cannon I had handled the other day had been rock steady with smooth, crisp action. I looked around at the smirking customer, the other cashiers sneaking pity looks at me, the waiting customers in the queue and released the button without saying anything. I took off my walkie talkie.

“I quit,” I said to the customer.

“What?”

“I quit. I refuse to serve people like you who think you can just bully people like me to get whatever you want. I quit.” I grabbed the lanyard around my neck and yanked it straight down snapping the strap. The strap was made to snap apart to keep employees from accidentally being strangled by their lanyard but the effect was still dramatic. One of the other cashiers was speaking into her walkie no doubt informing every other employee of my actions.

I walked through the store to the break room where I retrieved my purse and left the store not physically for the last time, because I would have to return for my last check, but in spirit for the last time. From an inside pocket of my purse, I pulled out the receipt with an address and phone number on it and dialed the number.

It rang twice and the Doctor of Death answered, “Hello.”

“Do you have a workspace I can use or should I find something?”

“I can find you some space.” I could hear the grin in his voice. “Come by tomorrow. Glad to have you back.”

“I’m not back. I’m just working tech.”

“Sure.”

“I’ll see you tomorrow.” I hung up before he could say anything else.

***

The next day, I returned to the office suite the Doctor of Death was using as his current front of operations. The waiting room was exactly the same including Susie the receptionist. I had hoped she would not be here since the last time we saw each other I had shot her with a sonic cannon.

She smiled, “Ms. Parks. So nice to see you again.” Was that a genuine smile or a shark smile.

“Hello Susie. I just wanted to say I’m sorry about shooting you the other day.”

Her smile tightened into something like a grimace. “Of course, mistakes were made on both sides.”

“I’m glad you see it that way.” Or at least you’re willing to pretend you do, I thought.

“I hope you will be as forgiving.” She pulled out the sonic cannon from behind her desk and fired it at me. The edge of my personal force field flared white as it absorbed the energy from the sonic pulse.

“Glad to see my paranoia wasn’t totally off base. If you could buzz me in, that would be great.” She glared at me but pressed the button to allow me entrance to the back. “Thank you.” I paused at the door and said, “For what it’s worth, I really am sorry I shot you.”

“Dr. Ford is expecting you,” she said through gritted teeth. Her eyes locked with mine in a challenge. Never leave an enemy at your back, especially not one willing to attack you from the back.

“Do you know who I am?” I asked casually.

“You’re some tech genius The Doctor wants to work for him.” She was almost sneering.

I walked closer to her desk. “Technically true. I’m also The Scientist of Death.”

“The Scientist of Death is dead.”

“No, just retired.”

“And he was a man.”

“Things change.” She began looking over my face and body for those telltale features. I watched for the moment when she realized I might be telling the truth. “Before I left the supervillain life I would have killed you instantly after you tried shooting me.” I stepped closer into her personal space. “That was five years ago. Today I’m letting you have that one shot but only that one shot. Try anything else and I will end this petty “feud” between the two of us permanently.” I reached out and snatched the sonic cannon from her hands.

To her credit she didn’t flinch or back away. She simply said, “Understood.”

“Good. You have a nice day,” I said and walked into the back.


<<Previous Index

Scientist of Death Issue #3

Issue #1 here and Issue #2 here in case you’ve forgotten how we got here.

The Doctor of Death smirked at me, “I knew you weren’t out of the game.”

“I’m just asking. It doesn’t mean anything.”

“Sure, sure.” He reached into a box box behind his desk and pulled out a device I was familiar with.

“Is that a Gurrola Sonic Cannon?”

“Mark two,” he added.

“Bullshit. No one has a mark two.”

“I have a source who found a small cache of them. The only problem is they don’t work and I don’t know how to fix them.”

“May I?” I asked reaching for the sonic cannon. He handed it over to me. GSC Mk 2’s were considered bleeding edge of non-lethal weaponry at their time. Even by modern standards they were incredibly advanced. I extended the projection chamber from over the main housing and locked it in place. What it should have uncovered was a smooth machined aluminum housing for the sound generator and amplifier unit. Instead a section had been cut out and a small circuit board had been installed. “What’s this?”

“After market modification.”

“After market modification? Hmm.” The board had a printed circuit, dozens of resistors, transistors, and diodes, a row of ten switches, and a rheostat. Several wires trailed off the edge of the board and snaked into the housing. “What does it do?”

“I dunno.”

“All of them have the same circuit board installed?”

“Yes.”

I lifted the cannon to my face and sniffed the open housing. No burnt smell, maybe the original hardware hadn’t been fried. Without a careful analysis of the circuit I couldn’t know what it did. The board was held in place by a few spots of solder. A forceful tug snapped it free of the housing leaving it attached only by the wires.

“Ahh-” the Doctor of Death began.

I held up a finger and glared at him, “I’m working.” I tilted the cannon hoping to see where the wires were attached. I thought back to the circuit diagrams of the GSC Mk 3 I had seen over twenty years ago. Nope, still no idea what the circuit did. Taking a firm grip on the wires, I yanked them out with a hard tug.

The Doctor of Death made a strangled gasping sound.

On the other side of the housing I flipped the main power switch and heard the distinctive hum of a Gurrola Sonic Cannon but with an undertone I had never heard before.

The Doctor of Death raised an eyebrow, “Really just like that it’s fixed?”

“You dare question The Scientist of Death. I’ll show you what happens to someone who questions me,” I said slipping back into the hyperbolic personal far easier than I thought possible. I adjusted the cannon for low power and fired at second chair I hadn’t been sitting in. A sharp clap filled my ears. I shouldn’t have heard anything; the joker who had tried modifying the gun must have damaged the damping shield. The chair slammed against the wall which shook from the sound pulse. I turned back to the Doctor of Death with my own eyebrow raised.

“I guess I should know better than to –” He was cut short by the door being kicked in by his receptionist, Susie. She aimed at me and I instinctively fired the sonic cannon at her. The sonic discharge again clapped in my ears and sent Susie flying back through the door into the hallway.

“What was that about?” I asked my heart pounding.

The Doctor of Death hurried around his desk and out the room to check on Susie. “You did fire a sonic cannon with out warning.”

“I guess I did.” I took a deep slow breath. “Still charging into a meeting with a…,” I squinted at the gun laying on the floor, “What is that?”

“Hmm, Morris Maser Gun.”

“Not very non-lethal,” I commented.

“In house security is allowed lethal weapons.”

“I guess times have changed.” As I powered off the sonic cannon and retracted the projection chamber, I noticed my ring finger twitch. “Well, now that you know how to fix them, you really don’t need me anymore.”

“The job offer is still on the table. I could use your tech skills.”

“I’m retired and I should stay that way.” I set the sonic cannon on the desk and picked up my purse.

“If you ever change your mind, just give me a call,” the Doctor of Death said as I walked out through the open door to the empty reception area.

***

Later that night I sat in the dark thinking. I had had fun today. Shooting Susie had been unfortunate but the rest was good. Holding a sonic cannon after years, examining the circuits and making the quick fix had felt like the old days.

Could I work for The Doctor of Death? I had thought my career as a supervillain was over. My plan had been to leave all that in the past after I transitioned. I didn’t need to return to being a face in the League of Evil. All I really wanted was resources and equipment for tinkering and improvement of tech. The heists and warehouse raids had just been a means to an end. But if The Doctor could provide me with all that…

A lamp snapped on. “Why are you in the dark?” Julie asked.

“I was thinking.” She walked around the room turning on lamps until the illumination of the room was at normal levels.

“Thinking about what?” she asked.

“I went to see that guy who recognized me yesterday.”

“Your friend?” she asked sitting down next to me.

“Ex-coworker,” I corrected. “He’s got his own business now and offered me a job.”

“That’s great. Why don’t you take it? It sounds like he’s cool with you and it’s got to pay better than retail.”

“It would pay better. I’m just not sure I want to get back into that … environment.”

“What’s so bad about it?”

“Nothing on the surface. It’s hard to explain. Some of the guys in the industry can get real confrontational.” Laser duel confrontational.

“Well it’s up to you if you take the job. I’ll support you either way.” Julie snaked an arm around me and pulled me into a hug. I brought my own arms up around her as well. How long could I lie about I was really doing? I wondered if our relationship would survive if she knew the truth about me.

Author note: The story doesn’t end here. The Scientist of Death hasn’t even really begun her new villainous adventures. Sorry it’s taken so long for me to get back to this story but more will be coming.

Super Hearing Loss

“Hey, do you have that report ready?” I jolted upright in my seat.  My hands clenched the edge of my desk and I let out a short shout. As I steadied my breathing, I turned in my chair to face the office manager.

“Yes, I was just putting the final touches on it and then I was going to email it to you.”  I clicked over to the report on my computer.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you. Are you all right? You seem a lot jumpier lately.”

I smiled. “I’m fine.”

“Okay. I’ll be looking for the report soon.” She walked off to check in with another employee. I turned back to my desk and resumed work on the report she wanted.

There had been a time not too long ago when no one could surprise me. A time when I could hear their footsteps, the rustling of their clothes, the beating of their hearts. Sitting at my desk I could pinpoint everyone’s location within three floors.  I could hear everything.

That was before the new DNA screenings that could detect the gene sequence that gave people powers. I’m not sure how they got my DNA.  After my powers developed, I was careful about who took my blood or anything that might have DNA.  Despite my precautions, one day two men from the “government” came knocking on my door with test results. They talked to me for a couple of hours but in the end, they gave me three choices: work for them, be imprisoned as a threat to national security, or take a designer drug to suppress my power.

There was nothing at my job, in the entire building, that could be a national security risk.  I had never used my power for anything more than harmless eavesdropping.  If I went to work for them I knew that they would use me for something that would mean I could never be free of them. In the end, I chose my freedom over my power.

I don’t have it so bad. Some people can’t, or won’t, take the drugs because without their power they lose bodily functions. Some become too weak to stand. Some can’t see or hear at all. Some can’t breathe. I still have normal human hearing or at least that’s what the tests said. It’s still too quiet for me.

Back-up Team – Introductions

I paced nervously in the main room of the hotel suite I had rented for the interview. I heard a beep as the door unlocked. It opened and closed so fast I never saw the hallway. From the door, a blur crossed the room in a second and popped into focus as the green and yellow clad speedster ironically called The Speedster. The door opened a second time at normal speed and a young man in a black suit walked in.
“You could have left the door open for me,” he said to the speedster. I recognized him as a local “psychic” who had helped the police with a few cases.

“It’s called making an entrance,” her voice was modulated and filtered by her helmet to be unrecognizable. She turned back toward me, “Are you, George Gregory? The reporter?” I nodded. She turned back to the suit clad psychic, “You got a lock on his brainwaves?”

The psychic rolled his eyes at her, “I’m filtering his perceptions and editing out any identifying info.”

“Great,” she said and took off her helmet. A halo of black ringlets sprung out from The Speedster’s head. The face of a young black woman smiled at me. “It gets a little stuffy in there.”

“Aren’t you worried about me identifying you? Spoiling your secret identity?” I asked.

“Not as long as Mind Reader is here,” she said loading a few chunks of cantaloupe from one of the food trays requested for the interview onto a plate. “Close your eyes and try to remember what I look like.” I did so and only the most general descriptors came to mind. Her face was like an out of focus picture. I opened my eyes and her face was back in focus.

“I’m editing your memories as they’re being formed. You get the experience but not the memory,” Mind Reader told me. He walked across to room and took up station in the corner. “Just pretend I’m not here.”

A gentle knock sounded from the glass door leading to the balcony. “That’s Brick. I’ll get it.” Again she disappeared in a blur of green and yellow and reappeared at the glass sliding door. She unlocked and opened the door. A large man wearing a gray t-shirt and blue jeans walked in. He stopped just inside the door and surveyed the room.

“Is the room secure?” he asked. His voice was quiet almost a whisper.

“Um, let me check,” Speedster said disappearing and reappearing briefly at the bedroom doors and the main door to the suite. “All doors secure.” The man’s shoulders dropped slightly and his hands fell loosely to his sides. “Grab some grub. We’re still waiting on the rest.”

“Bedrooms are clear,” a voice said behind me. I turned just in time to see a young woman finish walking through the door to one of the bedrooms. She was dressed in black yoga pants and a black band shirt I couldn’t quite place.

“You walk through walls?” I asked.

“Yeah. Hi. I’m Ghost. It’s kind of my thing,” she said walking through a chair to get to the buffet.

“Are you actually a ghost?”

“No, I’m not a ghost,” she looked to Speedster, “I thought we picked this guy cause he was smart.”

“I am smart but I don’t have any info about you. You aren’t mentioned in any of the after-action reports about the mother-ship assault.”

“None of the reports were written by anyone who was there. That’s why we want to talk to you. To set the record straight.”

The hallway door beeped and opened at a normal pace this time. A third woman entered with a young man following behind her. I recognized her as The Baton a vigilant from a nearby city. The young man was a complete unknown like Ghost. He walked around the perimeter of the room with a handheld device waving it at the corners.

“Room is clear,” he said.

“Good,” The Baton said, “Mr. Gregory, it’s nice to meet you. I’m The Baton. The young man who walked in with me is called The Kid –”

“Only until I come up with something better,” The Kid interjected.

“Has everyone else introduced themselves?” she asked looking around at her fellow superheroes. Speedster nodded, Ghost shrugged, and Mind Read gave a small two finger salute.

“I’m … uh The Flying Brick,” the large man said, “They usually just call me Brick.”

“Well, now that introductions are out of the way; let’s get down to business,” Baton said, “We want to tell our stories and his story.”

“Whose story?” I asked.

“None of us knew his name. I called him the spook,” Ghost said

“I called him the man in black,” Mind Reader said.

“Mostly we called him That Guy. As in who was that guy?” Speedster said.

“He was the one who brought us together as a team. He had another team, too. First Strike Team. The strongest powered people he could find and organize into a team,” Baton said.

“I wasn’t aware there was another superhero team,” I said.

“They died assaulting the alien mother-ship,” Brick said, “We were the backup team.”

“We’ll get to that but first we should tell our stories. Who wants to go first?” Baton asked.

The others looked back and forth among themselves. After a minute Speedster stepped forward, “I’ll go first.”

To be continued in “Backup Team – The Speedster”