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Father of Storms
by: Rebecca McQuarrie
“I’ve never hid who I am from you. From the day we met, you’ve known what I do for a living. It’s been three years, why are we still having this argument?”
“I don’t know Sam, maybe because it’s different now,” answered Storm’s Grace. “We have a child on the way. I guess I’ve never really been honest with myself or with you. I don’t know if I can be a hero and have a relationship with a villain. I keep telling myself that I know deep down you’re a good guy just trying to earn a living. That what you do isn’t nearly as bad as most of the people I take down. But I just don’t know if I can make this work.”
With a sigh, Samson, who worked under the alias of Delilah’s Err, ran his hand through his already mussed hair and silently mulled over his choices. Losing Grace wasn’t an option, especially since she was carrying his child, but he was on the brink of completing the biggest heist of his life, one that would ensure his family’s future. If they pulled this off, he could retire; he could be the man Grace had always hoped he’d become. Unfortunately, he couldn’t share this with her. If she knew what he was planning, she would have no choice but to alert her fellow heroes and try to stop him. But lying to her wasn’t an option. He couldn’t tell her he would quit and then continue with his plan.
“Just give me some time,” he said. Crossing the room, he came up behind Grace, who had been staring out the window. Wrapping his arms around her, and resting his hands on her slightly swollen abdomen, he whispered in her ear, “Please. I know we can do this.”
Resting her head back against his shoulder, Grace couldn’t help but relax in the comfort of his embrace. Knowing that what she wanted was far different than what she knew she should do, she conceded, “Ok. I can give you time. But I can only give you months. This needs to be decided before this child is born. Either you’re going to be a part of our life, or you’re not. It’s up to you. I know it’s not fair of me to ask this of you, but I have to do what’s best for us. I don’t want my baby indebted to whatever crime boss you happen to be working for.”
“As opposed to being hunted by whatever crime boss you’ve managed to piss off?”
Feeling her tense up and pull away from him, he quickly said, “I’m sorry. That was harsh. I spoke out of anger. Can we just agree to have this argument at a later date,” he asked, hoping that the later date would be after his final heist.
Not wanting to push him, and hoping for the best she conceded. “Fine, later. I have to head out anyway. I’m meeting Celia for lunch.”
“Have fun. I have some errands to run, so I might be back a little late this evening.” He then planted a kiss on her pouty lips.
“Hey D.E., wanna toss me that round of cryonics,” Residual Warp asked, as he finished cleaning one of the newly acquired Council rifles.
“Heads up,” said Sam as he tossed the ammo to his associate. They were taking stock of their inventory, and finalizing plans for, what Sam was hoping to be, their final run. Rumors had filtered down through his contacts that Portal has discovered a dimension coded as Omega Omicron 26-20, where the Council were in total control. Their plan was to disguise themselves as Council agents and, after breaking through a portal, infiltrate the other-world council. They would then carry off as much loot as possible and port back here where they would be safe, wealthy, and able to live their own lives.
“If this works,” said Warp, “we’re going to go down in the history books. I mean, it’s the perfect plan. Slip into Portal, change into these getups, blend in with the other-world Council, and then run off with their goods. They won’t be able follow us, and the Council here won’t be after us either.”
“If this works,” responded Sam, “we won’t be in any books. I plan on retiring, so this will have to be kept as a personal victory. No one can know about it. We agreed on that when we agreed to work together.”
“I know, I know. But still, it would be nice wouldn’t it?” Warp let out a sigh and stood up. “Well, I’m outta here. I’d better get me a good night’s sleep if we’re going to do this. I’ll meet you on the ferry tomorrow at eight.” With that, he picked up the briefcase that contained a hidden uniform and weaponry, and headed out the door.
“You’re up early this morning,” stated Grace as Sam walked into the kitchen. She was still in her bathrobe and was pouring hot water from the tea kettle into a mug.
“I have a…meeting to attend this morning,” he said as he grabbed a mug for himself. They had banned coffee from the house ever since they discovered Grace’s pregnancy. While some caffeine was ok for the baby, she had found it hard to kick her six-cup-a-day habit and didn’t want the temptation around. Herbal tea just wasn’t the same, but it was hot and liquid so it was better than nothing.
Grace raised her eyebrow and turned to look at him, ready to accuse him of lying. When she saw him dressed in a suit, complete with tie and well-shined shoes, the words died in her throat. They were replaced with, “Oh. Ok. Do you know when you’ll be back?”
“It’s hard to say. It’s out of town. I may be gone for a week or so.”
“You’re going to be gone for a week? When were you planning on telling me this? What kind of meeting are you going to?” Her head suddenly snapped up, her eyes flashing, having realized her first instinct was right. “You’re going on a raid aren’t you? Where are you going?”
“You know I can’t tell you that,” he replied softly, trying to keep her calm. “I promise you though, that if I pull this off, this is the last one.”
“So what is it this time? Another object to steal for the Family? Another person to kidnap for the Thorns?” The last she said with revulsion obvious in her voice.
“You know I would never work for them,” his voice now growing stronger with suppressed anger. “I know how you feel about them; I would never do that to you.”
“Yet you can work with every other group of criminals in the city, even though I’ve asked you not to.” With a heavy sigh she sat down across from him at the table. “If you’re going to be gone for a week, then it’s something big. Please tell me where you’re going.”
“You know I can’t…”
“I promise I won’t do anything to stop you. I just have a bad feeling about this, and I want to be able to help you if you get into trouble,” pleaded Grace.
“You swear that you’ll keep this to yourself and you won’t try to stop me,” he asked, his eyes searching hers for any hint of deceit.
“I swear on our baby’s life that I won’t tell a soul, unless I don’t hear from you in a week’s time. Then all bets are off.”
Realizing how big of a compromise this was for her, Sam conceded. “I’m not giving you details. No times or exact locations. Here are the basics…”
Grace couldn’t hold back her tears as she listened to the man she loved describe his plan. She cried from the joy she felt, knowing that he was willing to risk so much to be with her, and she cried from sorrow, afraid that she would never see him again. When she relayed those thoughts to him, she saw his own tears threatening to spill down his cheeks.
“If it’s at all within my power,” he said while holding her close, “I’ll return to you.”
Their goodbye was interrupted by Grace’s pager beeping obnoxiously.
“I guess I’d had better get ready to go as well,” she said. “Can we at least share a cab?”
Knowing that it would throw him off schedule, but wanting to spend as much time with Grace as possible, he agreed. He just hoped that Warp would be in a good mood when he finally made it to the ferry.
The name MELODY filled Residual Warp’s vision as he opened his eyes. He had been relaxing on a crate on the dock when a sharp cough brought his attention back to his surroundings. Without bothering to look around he said, “You’re late.”
“I know, and I’m sorry,” apologized Sam. “I figure if we make a few minor adjustments in the plan, the timing should still work ok.”
“Grace must be one hell of a lady. I hope I get to meet her someday,” he said rising from his resting place.
The two men boarded the ferry that would take them to Peregrine Island and Portal Court. They went their separate ways and tried to blend in with the groups of businesspeople heading in to work. The original plan had given them time to stake the place out, but since Sam had gotten caught up, they were going to have to wing it. When they arrived at their destination, they continued to travel with the influx of workers. With Portal Corporation being the largest employer on the island, there were always people coming and going. The trick was to appear to be one of them. Pulling out his forged ID badge, Sam stepped up to the scanner and, with a nervous sweat starting to bead on his skin, he prayed that Warp’s contacts knew what they were doing. Seconds after he swiped his card, a beep sounded from the machine and he heard a soft click from the turnstile in front of him. Releasing a small sigh he stepped through, resisting the urge to look around for his partner. As planned, he continued down the hall, turning right at the first corridor. He slipped into the restroom, and when he emerged fifteen minutes later, the hall was empty and he looked convincingly like a Council agent. Rounding the next corner, he ran into Warp, emerging from a janitorial closet, wearing a matching uniform.
Knowing that time meant everything, the two headed towards the nearest control room. After quickly dispatching the staff that was present, Warp set to work programming the portal the desired coordinates. Before he could finish, an alarm went off throughout the building. The duo knew they had been discovered and it was only a matter of time before a hero showed up to stop them. Hoping it would only be one and not a whole team, Warp hurriedly entered the final instructions. As the pair left the control room they heard the loud grind of the machinery change pitch, and they knew that the portal was adjusting to the frequency they had entered.
Before they could enter the port room, they heard a yell behind them as a group of heroes rounded the corner. Pulling out his rifle and swearing under his breath, Warp took aim at the first spandex clad do-gooder he saw. Sam hesitated briefly, wondering if these heroes belonged to Grace’s supergroup or if she was among them. A bolt of lightning struck a little too close for comfort and dispelled his uncertainty. He swung at the nearest hero, sending him flying, then turned and taunted the next in line. Realizing that the hero he had taunted had three teammates standing behind him, Sam decided his normal strategy of running headlong into a group of enemies would not be the most effective plan of action. Glancing at Warp and seeing his brief nod, he started backing into the port room. They had discussed this possibility, but had hoped it wouldn’t come to it. The plan was for Warp to provide cover while Sam ran for the portal. Warp would follow if he could.
Backing through the door, he hoped they could create a bottleneck and peg them off one by one. Unfortunately for the villains, the heroes worked like a well-oiled machine. As they came flooding into the room, Sam peered over his shoulder and saw the gateway below him. Quickly calculating, he vaulted backward over the ledge of the platform, hoping to land close enough to be able to roll into the swirling vortex. Landing a few feet further away than he anticipated, he glanced up at the fight raging above him and bolted toward what was now his escape hatch. Just as he entered the portal, another bolt of lighting flashed towards him. The hero that launched to bolt watched as it missed its mark and struck the rim of the portal. There was a blinding flash and the entire group was thrown backwards.
When his vision returned, Warp pushed himself to his feet and looked around, taking stock. All of the heroes were gone and he assumed that they had been transported to the hospital. Scrambling to the edge of the platform, he looked over the edge trying to locate his companion.
“D.E.? Sam? Where the hell are you?”
Getting no response, he glanced around and saw his forgotten briefcase lying in the hallway. He opened it up and pulled out the locator for the beacon Sam had implanted in his uniform. While he waited for it to warm up and find it’s orientation, he went into the control room and queued up the video footage. As he was rewinding the tape, the locater beeped its readiness. Warp looked down, hoping to see the blue dot that was his friend, but the screen was blank. According to the device, Sam was no longer in this dimension, nor any that had been programmed into the gadget, including Omega Omicron 26-20. He shifted his attention back to the video just in time to see his friend diving into the portal at the same time the bolt had struck; a split second before the blinding flash of light.
“What the hell,” he muttered out loud, as he rewound the tape again and watched it in slow motion. Just before the flash, he could see Sam slowly become transparent, dissolving into the brilliant flash. After double checking the locator, hoping he was wrong, Warp could only sit back in the chair and wonder.
Where did you go, and how are we going to get you back? And who’s going to tell Grace?