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Prelude to Power: A Chance for Change
By Myths n’ Wraiths
Taking a deep breath, Wraith strode confidently through the large, double doors of GC Elementary School. He braced himself against the distant murmur of dozens of young voices and the unfettered chaos of dozens of young minds. Dodging a small convoy of knee high humans he made his way through the hallways, which were covered with oddly shaped little men pasted together from scraps of construction paper and tacky paper plates painted to resemble smiling suns. The brooding young man nearly gasped in relief when he rounded a corner and saw Vindea’s slight form leaning up against the wall and looking intently through the small window of a classroom door. Walking up to her, he placed a firm hand on Vindea’s shoulder and glanced into the room at the small young girl that held her attention.
“Another fight?” The mutant asked plainly, his weight shifting from one solidly built leg to another so that the sole occupant of the room could not look out and see him.
“Yeah,” Vindea nodded wearily. Her blue eyes drifted to meet his dark gaze and then added, “Thanks for coming.”
“No worries,” Wraith said with a slight nod. “If we can face the filth of the Rogue Isles together than we can sure as hell take this as a team too.”
A slight giggle escaped Vindea’s lips and her solemn mood lightened, if only for a second. Looking back into the room at the young girl she shook her head. “It was another boy,” She began contemptuously. “Two grades above her. They say that when she hit him back she dislocated his shoulder.” The faint smile broadened on the blonde mutant’s face slightly.
Wraith cocked an eyebrow curiously and followed her gaze into the room. The child was eleven, with long blonde hair that was pulled up into pig tails. She sat with her back turned to the door and idly drew on the top of her wooden desk with a snub of a pencil.
“The school said that if there was another incident that they would be forced to expel her,” Vindea continued, the smile quickly fading. “And there is nothing the social worker can do.”
“You’ve done what you can for the girl,” Wraith interjected, both to reason with Vindea and to console her. “We got her away from that filth of a father she had and arranged for a foster family. Not to mention the fact that we saved her life from those Winter Lords in the first place. Isn’t that enough?”
“No,” she replied, looking up at her partner with a sad and confused expression. “How much better off is she here if she is still getting bullied and victimized, if she is still being tossed aside and abused by the very systems that are supposed to be guiding her and protecting…” her voice trailed off and her eyes shifted to look over Wraith’s shoulder. She sighed heavily and braced herself. “Her comes the Principal,” She whispered in disdain.
Wraith glanced behind him to see a conservatively dressed woman, aged beyond her forty some years approaching them with deliberate strides. Looking back at Vindea he continued his argument, “The system is shit and you know it. It might work for the masses but not for people like me and you, and apparently not for her either. She is going to get her scrapes and bruises and their aint nothing we can do about that.”
“So that’s it,” Vindea glared at him, her blue eyes flashing in anger. “Chock her up as a loss. Let her get lost in the mix and hope to hell we don’t end up having to lock her up in five years?” She shook her head in dismay and anger. “I bet if it was your ass on the line you would come up with some way to dodge the hammer, but heaven forbid you exercise that wit of yours on someone else’s behalf.”
Wraith met her harsh words and withering glare with his brooding dark eyes. His jaw set tightly and the muscles in his neck flexed with barely contained anger. He opened his mouth to speak but a haughty toned voice interrupted him before he could start.
“Can I help you two?” The principal said after practically stepping in-between the two arguing mutants.
Swallowing his pride and frustration, Wraith slowly passed a glance between the Principal’s expectant stair and Vindea’s demanding gaze. The muscles in his neck and jaw slowly relaxed and finally settling his attention on the Principal he said, “Yes, you sure can.”
Reaching into his shirt, Wraith pulled out his Hero Corp badge and flashed the nickel plated shield that boldly displayed a security level of fifty. “Were with G.I.F.T. and we have been assigned to investigate the possible early development of mutant powers in regards to a Mandy Garis.”
Vindea practically did a double take and stared in utter confusion at her partner. Fortunately the principal was to busy staring in amazement at the Security Level fifty badge that hung from Wraith’s neck to notice the other mutant’s puzzlement.
“We received a report that she dislocated the shoulder of a boy that was twice her size with a single punch,” Wraith continued, and then stared expectantly at the principal.
“Well- well yes she did,” The older woman spoke. The haughty tone that had interrupted their argument earlier was now gone, replaced with one of uncertainty and bewilderment. “But-.”
“That doesn’t strike you as a bit unusual?” Wraith pressed, keeping her mentally off balance.
“I suppose it-,” She began before being quickly cut off again.
“These sort of things are not uncommon Miss…”
“Like I said, it’s not uncommon for preadolescence to develop their powers Miss Mary Winter,” Wraith spoke off handedly.
“Mary Weather,” She corrected.
“Of course,” Wraith said with a dismissive wave of his hand. “The thing is that these preadolescence manifestations are almost always brought on by serious emotional events. The death of a family member, a near death experience, or even the perception that their life was in danger are some of the circumstances that could bring about the change in young mutants.”
“Well I don’t see how any of those could apply to-,” The principal began defensively.
“Well we are rather curious about that ourselves, Miss Mary Walter,” Wraith cut in. She raised her hand to object to his abusing her name once again but was paid no mind by the persistent Hero. “Now this altercation with the young boy, is it possible that he might have just fallen and sustained the injury that way?”
“The teacher that saw the event was very clear,” Miss Mary Weather asserted. Wraith simply nodded slowly.
“Was he?” He said in a brooding tone. “Well then the only conclusion I can come to is that the event was traumatic enough for the child to fear for her life. For that to happen in front of a teacher, someone who is responsible for the conduct and well being of these children would be more than inept. It would be borderline criminal.” Wraith continued, his voice deadly serious. “So which is it Miss Mary Winter? Is your staff grossly negligent or just mistaken?”
The Principal’s eyes were wide with shock and concern. She gripped the hem of her overly modest skirt and glanced around the hall as if looking for the answer in some child’s face or one of the poorly assembled crafts that covered the walls. When she finally found some semblance of reasoning she looked tentatively into the dark Hero’s eyes and half asked half asserted, “He may have been mistaken.”
“Far more likely. Still, we will have to be certain so we are going to take Mandy to our facilities at G.I.F.T. and have her tested. If there are no mutant genes in her blood then she will be back in school tomorrow morning. If the test is positive then we will arrange for alternative education in a safer, more controlled environment. Either way we will need the child’s things. So if you could have someone gather them for us it would help us get out of here a little faster.”
“Yes, of course,” Miss Mary Weather replied enthusiastically. She latched on to the idea of getting the overbearing Hero out of the school as soon as possible and shuffled off to gather the child’s belongings.
Vindea stared in shocked wonder at her partner, her bright blue eyes dancing with delight and confusion. Wraith looked down at her with a puzzled expression on his hard face.
“What?” He said cocking an eyebrow and shrugging his shoulders.
Vindea just shook her head for a moment and continued to stare.
In the chill dark air of a Paragon night Vindea found her colleague sitting on the railing of a fifth story loft’s balcony. His legs dangled carelessly over open air and his head hung low, shrouded in his own unkempt main of dark hair. She drifted in with the soft cool breeze and came to a silent landing behind him. Walking up to the stone railing, Vindea rested her elbows on the guard and leaned forward to follow her partner’s gaze.
Far below them, the unfortunate citizens that had to conduct business after dark moved hurriedly about the street. The honest swarmed around the lights, sheltering themselves in the safety of store front windows and under street lights like moths to a flame, while the disreputable lurked in the shadows. In the distance the wail of Police and Fire Department sirens could be heard reaching across the neighborhood. One was coming, one was going, all of them would have a busy night; they always did.
It was a normal night in Galaxy City.
Abandoning the view Vindea looked up at Wraith’s scowling face and let out a soft laugh. The man’s head turned to face her, a look of curiously etched into his hard features.
“Preadolescence? Manifestations? I never thought I would see the day you used words like that,” She said, her laugh growing in volume. Wraith shook his head dismissively and turned back to watching the city.
“Do you think that G.I.F.T. will find the mutant gene?” She asked after the laughter faded.
Wraith shrugged, “Probably not, but even if they don’t, that principal won’t be giving her any more trouble.”
Brilliant blue eyes drifted over the dark mutants form, taking in everything from his long black hair to his rough, leather pants and scuffed work boots. He looked nothing like a Hero to her. He looked nothing like a Hero to anyone, but today he saved a life. If only for the moment, if only to delay the inevitable, he had risen to the challenge and protected the innocent.
Reaching out with her soft, slender hand, Vindea touched Wraith’s firm jaw and turned his face to look at hers.
“Thank you,” She said with slow deliberation. Her eyes opened to him, baring her emotion and dropping all guard.
For an instant, the battle worn mutant’s face softened and the constant intensity in his eyes faded to a still calm. As quickly as it came though the moment passed and with note of indifference he said, “Think nothing of it.”
Vindea let out a long sigh, but the hope did not fade from her eyes. Wraith had often said that words meant nothing, only actions made a difference, and his actions today could not be overlooked.
Slipping in close to him, Vindea wrapped her arms around Wraith’s solid waist and rested her head on his shoulder. She felt his body tense at her touch. The over developed muscles under his black leather clothes flexed instinctively but he did not pull away. Teasing the beast in him, Vindea simply held on tighter.
How long she held him that night she could not remember, but slowly, after moments uncounted, Wraith’s tension eased and he relaxed in her embrace.
“You don’t know how much you mean to me,” She whispered softly.
She could not see his face blanch at the words she spoke; she never noticed that his mouth opened and closed repeatedly trying to form words and voice his thoughts, perhaps even his emotions. All she knew was the words never came.