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Looking in the Mirror
By Myths n’ Wraiths
Edited by Vindea
“Hey Myth, you got a second?” Octive shouted down the hall.
Myth bit back his normal reaction and gave his youngest and least experienced team member his full attention. “Sure, what do you need?”
“I know you wanted me and Desimus to nab that little rat that’s been running around Galaxy City all week, but here’s the thing,” Octive began.
Myth already didn’t like where this was going. In truth, Octive was barely a year younger than Myth, but the differences in lifestyle were glaringly evident. It was on more than one occasion that Myth found himself wondering if he had ever acted as young as Octive did on a daily basis. The answer always came back a resounding no.
Despite the tests that Octive consistently put Myth’s patience through, he had the skill and dedication to become a truly powerful Hero. His raw potential when it came to manipulating sound waves had weighed out over his inexperience in many conflicts. If for no other reason than seeing to it that Octive explored the full potential of his gift, Myth never truly considered dismissing him.
“You remember the band I hooked up with, right? Citizen Hero. Well anyway we have a gig tonight and I could really use some free time to get ready,” The junior mutant ran a hand through his blonde hair while he spoke, roughing it up ever so slightly. Myth wondered if he had ever met anyone who spent so much time on their hair, just to make it look like he just got out of bed. The look fit his well worn jeans and faded shirt but no one with a face as soft as Octive’s could ever pass for anything more than a classic lady’s man, or as Myth preferred to call them, pretty boys.
I guess that’s a musician for you.
“I mean, I haven’t asked for time off in like two months,” Octive pressed on nervously when he did not get an immediate response from Myth. “and Lusion could really help Desimus more-“
“Octive,” Myth cut in. “Its fine. Tell Desimus and Lusion I want to see them in the conference room in an hour and go take care of your business.” Myth said with a wave of his hand.
The ‘Creature’ case, as it had come to be called, was a small issue of concern. Reports had been sprouting up around Galaxy City that a small, bipedal, creature bearing some resemblance to a rat on two legs had been wreaking havoc with the electrical facilities. The Dogs of War had paid the case no mind until the disarmingly small creature sent five security personnel and two police officers to the hospital.
Myth had placed Desimus and Octive on the case, hoping that his most experienced member would help to temper the less knowledgeable. So far it seemed to have little effect and Myth wanted the case wrapped up quickly. With Lusion, the Dogs of War’s psychic bloodhound, on the case, there was little doubt that they would be able to locate their quarry soon and have it safely within the confines of the Zig.
“Wow, thanks boss,” Octive slapped Myth on the shoulder and gingerly turned to head back to his quarters.
If you knew I was only doing this to get you out of the way for twenty-four hours you might not be so grateful.
The sound of running water and Haven’s familiar emotional quality greeted Myth’s senses when he entered his living quarters. It was no surprise to the Empath to find her there. Despite the fact that they had separate rooms, Haven often came to his when she was feeling especially tired, uncertain or vulnerable. Today, it happened to be all three.
The happenings of the morning had put Myth far behind in his work and he considered leaving Haven to get some sleep before dealing with her but quickly pushed the idea from his head.
That’s a good way to a bad relationship.
Thick steam rolled out of the bathroom when Myth opened the door, accompanied by comfortable warmth. He could make out Haven’s delicate yet voluptuous form through the fogged glass of his shower stall. She stood unmoving in the steady flow of water. Her arms cradled her body while she let the soothing heat wash the cares of the past thirty-odd hours away.
Walking up to the stall, Myth tapped gently on the door to the stall. Slowly and purposefully Haven turned to face him and wiped away the slick layer of moisture from the glass to look him in the face. Her light green eyes stared contently into his darker irises for a long comfortable moment.
“Hi, beautiful,” Myth finally spoke up.
“Hi,” Haven replied and then turned off the water.
Myth pulled a fresh towel from a small closet next to the shower and had it waiting for her when Haven opened the door. He draped the fabric gently around her narrow shoulders and wrapped it tight before taking her in his arms. Haven’s face nestled gently against Myth’s chest and the couple took a moment to bask in each other’s presence.
“It was a rough day,” Myth stated quietly.
“And night,” Haven added. She had been awake since the prior morning and had only begun to deal with the matters surrounding Jeremy after having conducted a twenty-four hour patrol in Bloody Bay with a Longbow squad and a quick search and secure mission in Steel Canyon.
“I just don’t have your stamina,” she added with a long sigh.
“Anytime you want it, just let me know,” Myth said. Like most Empaths, Myth had the ability to manipulate hormones and musculature responses in other people, granting them temporary resilience to fatigue. He could even manipulate the human body at the cellular level, causing mortal wounds to heal in moments if not seconds.
“No, I think I would prefer to recover the normal way,” Haven replied with a weary smile and slipping away from Myth’s embrace moved to the twin sized bed that dominated the small quarters.
Letting the towel fall to the floor, Haven slipped under the gentle, cream-colored covers and pulled them up over her tempting figure. Her green eyes settled wearily on Myth’s steady face and for a long moment she stared at him in silence.
Myth felt her sift through her emotions, which were only compounded by her fatigue, and settle on the question that had been nagging at her mind.
“Why did you give up Jeremy? Why did you really do it?” she asked.
Myth ran a hand through his long white hair and took a deep breath before responding. “I told you, I’m not going to imprison a man for killing a few villains when virtually every person in the Dogs of War is guilty of the same crime.”
“But he was just a tool, Myth,” Haven persisted. “Someone used him and many others to exact some type of revenge.”
“Or justice,” Myth interjected. “These weren’t law abiding citizens that were killed or even petty criminals. The people that were killed last night were murderers.”
“And that is exactly what someone turned Jeremy into. Someone changed him from a law abiding citizen into the very thing that he hated,” Haven retorted, pulling her knees up close to her body and wrapping her arms around them defensively.
“All they did was give Jeremy the means, Haven. The man was widowed; he had lost his wife to violence. What do you think I would do if some cultists took you from me?” Myth paused to let his words sink in. He didn’t expect Haven to say anything; they both knew the answer already. “I knew that Jeremy was just a pawn, and the real reason I didn’t keep him is because I think that whoever gave him the powers to do what he did, did nothing worthy of our vengeance or justice.”
After a moment of reflection, Haven nodded. Myth could sense that she did not agree with him on the matter but was either to tired or to frustrated to say anything more. Wanting to give her a sense of peace before she slept, Myth continued.
“Someone will deal with the issue. The city will deal out its justice as it sees fit, but they will do it without us.”
“I just,” Haven began but wavered when fatigue finally took its toll and she could barely finish her thought much less her sentence.
“You don’t like to see people used like that,” Myth finished for her. Haven nodded. “I know. Emerald will make sure that this is settled; of that I have no doubt.”
“I know,” Haven replied and then pulled the covers up and rolled over to go to sleep. “I just wish you were the one doing it.”
* * *
Myth entered the conference room with all the pent up fury of a brewing hurricane. He blew past where Lusion was sitting with his feet propped up on the conference table, and nearly knocked the psychic out of his chair.
“Something bothering you?” Lusion asked rhetorically.
“Yeah, Lusion, something is bothering me. It’s been three days since a sewer rat on steroids sent some cops to the ER; three days since the Dogs of War got on the case, and after three days that rat is still out there,” Myth snapped. He tossed a folder on the table, the contents of which scattered across the polished surface, and aggressively hit some buttons on a small control panel set into the arm of his chair.
A map of Galaxy City came up on the main monitor that dominated the wall at the head of the table. Myth walked up to the screen and pointed at four glowing icons on the screen.
“There are ten possible locations that this thing can access power relays that generate enough electricity to get his fixes. Desimus and Octive ruled out these four as being to busy at night or day. We are going to hit up the other six by noon and figure out which one he likes to feed off of. Then we are going to sweep the adjacent sewers for his nest till nightfall. If we still cant find him we are going to set up a stakeout on the power relay till morning to try and catch him when he comes to feed. If that doesn’t work we do it all over again the next day, and the next day, till we nab this freakin’ rodent.”
Lusion and Desimus stared blankly at their leader. Passive faces taking his animated words in stride.
“Another fight with Haven?” Desimus asked in his thick African accent.
Myth rolled his eyes and let out a long sigh. “We’re not coming back till we get that creature.”
* * *
“I must admit, this is the best treatment I have ever received as a prisoner,” Vindea said, taking another sip of the savory red wine that filled her crystal glass.
“Prisoner,” Reyeto said, taken aback at the comment. “My dear you misunderstand my intentions,” the elderly man stated. He rose from his chair at the small intimate table that they both sat at and placed a silver platter of bread and fresh cheese in front of Vindea.
Without a second thought, she cut a slice of bread and smeared the creamy, white cheese over the surface. Her attack and forced recovery had left her famished and even if she suspected that Reyeto was the type to poison her, it made no sense for him to wake her up just to drug her.
“One of your thugs jumps me, knocks me unconscious with a few low blows and I wake up in a secure, though tasteful, room. I have been a prisoner enough times to know that this qualifies,” She said after swallowing a mouthful of bread, and eyed her surroundings for the tenth time since she had awoken.
It was a pleasant room. Classic paintings covered dim, red walls that lead up to an arching ceiling. Red drapes softened marble support columns and a warm soft carpet covered the majority of the floor. The room was large enough to hold a sleeping, dinning and bathing area; all of which were separated by translucent silk drapes that hung from the distant ceiling.
The only thing that was missing from the luxurious dwelling was an entrance. Try as she may, Vindea could not locate a single door window or even vent in the entire room.
“That was a most unfortunate misunderstanding,” Reyeto agreed, his voice etched with frustration and concern. Vindea cocked her head curiously and waited for an explanation.
Instead, Reyeto posed a question. “When did your gift first begin to manifest itself, if you don’t begrudge me asking?”
Memories assaulted Vindea’s mind instantly at Reyeto’s words. The recollection of her first use of her abilities threatened to burst into her mind and she had to focus on her surroundings to keep horrific visions from swarming her thoughts.
“I was young,” Vindea replied curtly.
“I am sorry if it is a sensitive subject for you, but I was hoping that you would be able to recall what time of uncertainty it must have been for you.”
Uncertainty? I killed- no! Don’t think about it now.
“It was a very difficult time, but what does that have to do with me being attacked?” The young blonde pressed, desperate to change the subject.
“My colleagues are very new to their powers, and they are far older than you were when you came by yours. I am afraid that such a drastic change to a group of people so set in their ways has made them a bit… aggressive.” Reyeto explained.
“A bit aggressive?” Vindea repeated with a note of doubt.
“I have tried to combat such behavior by providing them with purpose and direction. Up until this morning, we had not had any problems.”
“Would part of that purpose be the genocide of Paragon’s criminal world?” Vindea asked pointedly.
Reyeto let out a short laugh. “So you’re both beautiful and intelligent.”
“Easy pops, you’re a little old for me,” Vindea chided with a wink.
“How unfortunate,” Reyeto said, and then paused. Vindea could tell he was contemplating his words carefully. “How long have the Hellions plagued this fine city?”
“About four years,” Vindea said with a shrug.
“What would you say if I told you I could rid the city of them in four weeks?” Reyeto continued.
“By exterminating them?”
“Ahhh yes, the means.” Reyeto leaned back in his chair and folded his hands across his lap. “Do you not find it odd that the present view of a man is determined by the means to which he achieves his goals, but history always judges a man solely by that which he achieves?”
“Because no history book was ever written by anyone who died before they could tell their side of the tale.” Vindea answered quickly. “Quit blowing smoke.”
“Blowing smoke?” Reyeto repeated with a chuckle and then grew more serious. “You seem to be a very well informed young lady. Tell me, how many lives do the history books say were saved by dropping the nuclear weapons on Japan’s highly populated cities?”
Vindea paused, reluctant to answer. “Some say as many as a million,” She finally said.
“You see where I am going with this already. The deaths of those hundred tainted souls last night may have saved as many as a thousand lives in the grander picture.” Reyeto said, leaning forward and placing his hands together on the table.
“My dear, do not think me a monster for my actions, though they may seem monstrous. Is it not more monstrous for the mighty Heroes of this city to busy themselves with the ‘greater evils’ of the world while hundreds of lives go unsaved every day? Is it not monstrous for the powerful to hide behind a hypocritical mask of honor and superiority while the average people of the world must face the true horrors of life unaided?” Reyeto’s hands began to move with his expressions, adding both power and purpose to his words.
“The Heroes of this city save countless lives every day,” Vindea countered, taken aback.
“Of that I have no doubt my dear. Great evils arise fresh each day in this world and Paragon’s greatest meet these evils relentlessly. But when was the last time you stopped to save a woman from having her purse taken from her while on your way to apprehend some terrible villain, or checked the dark alleys where men are dragged to be robbed and killed before rushing off to the next climactic battle?” Reyeto responded. His voice held no condescension or criticism, simply persistence.
Vindea stared back at him with unsure eyes. “That’s not fair,” She began, growing defensive. “We can only do so much; we can only save so many.”“Exactly, young lady. Exactly, but are those that slip into the terrifying realm of victimization not entitled to their justice if not their defense?” His voice was calm and certain. “That is what I have given them. That is what I offer all of them.”