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Power Given: Chapter Fifteen
By Myths n’ Wraiths
Edited by Vindea
In the soft glow of dim bar lights, bruised egos and torn hearts were nursed to a dull ache under the combined medical powers of whisky and rum. Anarchy, Haven, Vindea, Desimus and Octive drowned their individual woes slowly with the bitter taste of alcohol and the sound of Citizen Heroes playing quietly in the background. On the table before them were two pyramids. One was of the shot glasses that the less stout of the company had amassed. It stood nearly twenty high and was growing steadily and quickly. The other was of the black label bottles that Desimus alone had put away, which measured a meager six bottles. They had only just begun.
“I can’t believe he did it, you know,” Anarchy muttered after taking a long drag off of his cigarette. The brass old soldier lead the charge into another bottle and poured the table another round. “I can’t believe Wraith just sat there all quiet like that while they threw the book at him.”
The scene that took place at the courthouse earlier that day played through Anarchy’s mind again, and all he could do was shake his head in disbelief. Wraith had sat quietly after a guilty plea to attempted murder. The whole thing took only minutes. The usually wild and untamable mutant spoke calmly of how he had tried to take a prisoner from his fellow Heroes, and when they would not hand him over he attacked them. He told of how his actions were without mercy and without hesitation, and the judge responded with a sentence equally as unmerciful.
“He was doing what he thought was right. He was owning up to his actions so the rest of us wouldn’t go down with him,” Haven replied, her words slightly slurred and her expression growing lazy. The voluptuous blonde used her defensive powers to cast a bubble around the dark liquid in her cup and raise it to her lips, using her command of her abilities rather than her hands to aid her in forcing the past few weeks into a haze of barely recognizable memories.
Octive stared daringly into the depths of his shot glass and offered, “He didn’t deserve that sentence though. I mean twenty yea-.”
“Let’s talk about something else,” Haven cut him off sharply then shot a wary glance at Vindea.
The slender young woman’s blue eyes were fixed still as ice on the wall across the room, staring at nothing and the entire room all at once, listening to no one, but hearing every word. With a quick fluid motion she downed the drink in front of her and slapped the empty glass on the table.
“Keep up,” she muttered to Anarchy without bothering to grace the man with even a glance.
With an efficiency born of practice, Anarchy obliged his companion then deftly added her emptied glass to the growing stack. The slight chime of glass touching glass as the shooter was set at the peak of the pyramid was the last sound that came from the table for a long ugly moment. Finally, unable to bear the silence, Octive began to mutter along to the music that played woefully in the background. His gentle voice mourned softly with the tune while his team continued to drown themselves. The song ended eventually, replaced by a more upbeat one that did not fancy Octive’s mood so he put his voice to other purposes.
“What do you think is going on with Myth?” The somber musician asked.
“More than likely,” Desimus replied, taking down a long swig from his half empty bottle. “They are telling him to retire the Dogs of War.”
* * *
Lusion stifled a yawn and leaned heavily against one of the many marble pillars outside the City Hall building that accented the historic and monumental Atlas Park landscape. He pushed his gold-rimmed glasses up on his nose then brought his arms tightly across his chest despite the warmth of the summer afternoon.
A stray thought from one of the many people passing by told him that it was nearly six in the afternoon. Myth had been inside attending the deliberations for over three hours. The Hero Corp had assembled a committee of six men and women to tear the Dogs of War apart after the scandal that Wraith’s actions had caused, and they were obviously taking their time to try and do it right.
The mentalist fought back the urge to reach out with his mind and find his leader inside the building, but Myth had warned him that there would be more than one telepath present at the hearing and they would certainly be watching for any interference. Pride told him that he would be able to slip his mind into the room undetected despite the Hero Corp’s precautions. He had, after all, stayed off Sister Psyche. An act he was rather impressed with, even if it was a brief attempt on her part.
The temptation was quickly killed when Lusion caught sight of a shimmer of white through the tinted glass doors of the City Hall building. Myth pressed the doors apart resolutely and stepped out into the afternoon. His face was resolved but tired, his stride steady despite the fatigue in his dark eyes.
Lusion straightened immediately and fell into stride next to the Empath as he made is way down the steps of the marble white building and turning right to head toward the tram.
Lusion thought he saw a slight grin cross Myth’s face when the leader of the Dogs of War looked back over his shoulder at Statesman’s grim form, which had just exited the building to watch the pair leave.
“You know I could just take what I want to know out of your brain,” Lusion said when they were half way to the tram and Myth still had not spoken to him.
The white haired mutant cocked an eyebrow at his companion and said, “So you think.”
After the pair had made it to the tram in relative silence Myth fixed Lusion with a confident gaze and shrugged.
“So, do you want the good news or bad news first?” He said casually.
“Oh come off it, Myth. Are they going to shut us down or not?” Lusion shot back.
“No,” Myth said plainly.
After a moment of silent expectation Lusion nearly shouted, “So what are they going to do?”
“Well, for starters, since none of the Hero Corp records on us are complete the entire team needs to come in first thing in the morning and re-register,” Myth began and leaned back in the blue upholstered tram seat.
“That’s not so bad,” Lusion replied.
“No, but since there is no way to verify our security level we all get to start over with a level One,” Myth almost laughed as he dropped the punch line on his partner.
“Shit,” Lusion sighed and slumped down in his seat. “You have got to be kidding me.”
“No, and that’s not the best part. They are giving us a watchdog. We have an assigned civilian liaison who will be filtering our missions and monitoring our results. He will have full access to our base, day and night. We are essentially on probation.”
Lusion slumped further into his seat and pulled the glasses from his face to show the disbelief in his eyes.
“But wait, there’s more,” Myth continued in mock amusement. “As a form of public service, as if saving the city from mass destruction wasn’t enough, we have been assigned the task of training upcoming Heroes for operations in the Hazard Zones. Bloody Bay, Siren’s, that sort of thing.”
“Anything else?” Lusion asked after a taking a moment to reflect on Myth’s words.
“No,” Myths shrugged. “That was pretty much all of the highlights.”
Lusion’s eyes narrowed slightly and he wondered at the smile that had not left Myth’s face since they had entered the tram.
“We have basically been put on a leash. So why do you seem so chipper?”
Myth’s eyes turned to the Kings Row skyline that passed quickly outside the window and he sighed, “Because I haven’t had a good challenge in over a week.”
* *I *
“Prisoner 87215, step forward.” The guard’s words echoed coldly off the reinforced cement walls. In response, a man dressed in an orange jump suit, escorted by four immense security guards who had to bend down to fit through the seven-foot tall door, entered the room. Around the prisoner’s wrists and ankles were alloy shackles and about his neck hung a power dampener. He stepped into a small cylindrical cell with a stride of indifference and a look of apathy. The walls instantly came to life, taking on a green glow. Wide arcs of brilliant green light shot out of the walls and searched out every inch of the solid young prisoner’s body. In a matter of seconds the lights faded and a small chime was heard.
The guards were waiting for him when he stepped out of the cell and ushered the prisoner down a short hall to a ten-inch thick steel door. After a brief wait the walls hissed slightly around them and the impenetrable door slid open. The four guards stepped aside and the man in the orange attire stepped forward into a large windowless room. The walls were clinically white and in each corner hovered a police drone, each armed with a single teleporting beam that could in less then one fifth of a second send anything and everything in the room to the very bowels of the Ziggurat.
The immense steel door slid closed behind him and within seconds an identical door at the apposite room opened with a hiss of hydraulics and sterilizing gas. In the open doorway stood a man of identical build and features as the prisoner, except his hair was stark white. He was dressed in white leather and his eyes were covered with a pair of gold-rimmed sunglasses. The visitor stepped confidently into the room, ignoring the police drones, and moving to with arms reach of the prisoner.
“I heard they put you in general population,” The visitor said removing his glasses to reveal stern dark eyes. The prisoner chuckled slightly, shaking his head of close cut dark hair.
“They wont be making that mistake again. This infirmary had to call in double staff that day.”
“I don’t suppose good conduct would be an option with you?” The light hair man asked, his face still set resolutely.
“I ain’t killed anyone yet… is that considered good enough for the parole board?” The prisoner retorted nonchalantly.
“I doubt it,” his visitor said with a sigh.
“My name got leaked the day I got in this place. Someone wanted to make things hard for me,” The prisoner said with a shrug. “I either spend my time in solitary or I spend it dead. Since their aint no one in general population that can kill me, even without my powers, I spend it in solitary.”
The visitor sighed visibly, his solid chest rising and settling under his leather trench coat.
“So how’s the crew anyway?” The prisoner offered, changing the subject.
“Things are different now,” The young man in white replied. “We have had to make some changes.”
The prisoner nodded slowly and a long pause passed between the two. He passed a sideways glance at the drones in the room and his stance shifted slightly.
“So uh…,” He started in a low whisper.
“She’s doing ok,” The visitor replied quickly. “It’s been rough on her, but she is dealing.”
The prisoner nodded again, more fervently this time.
“You’ll look after her,” He said demandingly.
“I look after them all,” The lightly garbed man replied evenly.
“That’s not what I mean,” The prisoner nearly growled.
“I’ll take care of her,” The visitor conceded with a note of conviction.
“Good,” The prisoner spoke with forced resolution. He stood looking the visitor over for a brief second then, without explanation or farewell, turned and stepped up to the steel door he had entered through.
“Why?” The white haired man blurted out just as the steel doors opened for the prisoner to leave.
The man dressed in the orange jump suit paused briefly and glanced over his shoulder with a look of mild frustration despite his slight grin.
“Our past guides our present. Mine guided me hear,” He said in a low barely audible voice, and then disappeared through the steel door.
“That’s all there is, Sir,” The guard turned to the two Heroes after stopping the tape.
The man and woman were both dressed in daring costumes. The tall male had armor that matched his green eyes, and the shorter, blue-skinned female was garbed in black with spikes.
“Thank you,” PhoenixHawk said somberly. “That is all we needed.”
“I hope it helped. I’ll leave you two now. You can watch the tape again if you like just let me know when you are ready to leave.” The guard said politely and quickly left the room.
The blue-skinned woman looked forlornly at her partner and projected into his mind, I can’t help it. It just doesn’t feel right. I shouldn’t even care I suppose… but I do.
“This… mission, it was different,” PhoenixHawk conceded. “Nothing ended up as it seemed. Nothing went by the books or according to plan.”
By all rights the rest of the Dogs of War should be in here with him. Remedy projected to her leader and friend, confessing in part what she had been shown by Lusion.
The Onami founder nodded slowly. His green eyes turned to Remedy and settled on her gravely.
“I know,” PhoenixHawk said simply.
You do? Remedy asked in surprise. Again PhoenixHawk nodded.
How? She persisted.
“Myth told me,” PhoenixHawk said simply. “He told me everything.”
And you didn’t turn him in? She said with a hint of shock and degree of curiosity.
PhoenixHawk considered her words for a long moment and smiled slightly, as if recalling some humorous memory.
“When we were in those tunnels,” He began to speak quietly. “And we saw how ruthlessly they were treating those people. I thought I was going to have to take them down. I knew that if I fought them it would mean that we would fail and that everyone of us would be taking an impromptu trip to the hospital… if we were lucky. All the civilians would scatter and we would be back at square one, but I didn’t care. They fought like animals, and despite what you had told me I simply couldn’t believe they weren’t killing those people. I grabbed Gwang Ghe and my only plan was to take Myth down and the one with the force fields. With them down the others would be overwhelmed and we could arrest them at the hospital as they fell.”
What made you change your mind?
“When I got there, I saw that same man who is behind bars now murdering someone. It was the most ruthless thing I have ever seen someone who claims to be a Hero do. Myth pulled him off though, stopped him before he could finish what he had started, and after his brother had left, he healed the man. He had been healing them all. He mended every broken bone, stopped all the bleeding. Everyone of those people his teammates knocked down, he picked up.”
Remedy could sense the turmoil and apprehension in her leaders heart. His doubts about his own actions, or more specifically his inactions gnawed at him relentlessly. She settled into one of the chairs that littered the small room they occupied and rested her blue chin softly into her hands and sighed.
“I wonder what’s to become of them,” She whispered, her mind drifting awkwardly to the strange mentalist among their ranks that had shown her an even stranger scene. A scene of a twisted form of justice, one she was unfamiliar with, but oddly enough, not ready to condemn.
PhoenixHawk turned and opened the door. Before he walked out he looked over his shoulder to her and said, “Katsuhito used to say ‘What is in the heart often outweighs what is in the hands…but not always.’ I think The Dogs of War follow the path in the right direction, but the actions of their hands sometimes outweigh what is in their hearts. Wraith, perhaps, is another story.”