7 Random Days in the Life of a Hero
Subject: Linda Scoven, Sunday
It was a large warehouse, built back in the early 1900’s. An immensely solid building that had withstood the test of time quite well, in spite of being left abandoned for years. Unfortunately even the sturdy old building hadn’t been built with the existence of Supers in mind, as a massive explosion ripped apart the eastern wall and the whole structure began to shift. A small figure began pushing its way out of the rubble left in the wake of the blast, and was sent airborne by a second explosion.
“SON OF A BITCH!” The brown and red leathered woman barely managed to swerve her motorcycle to avoid the human projectile bouncing down the street as she approached the, now slowly collapsing, warehouse. “Dispatch, Mayhem is on site. I think the Adamant might be down though.”
“I have you logged on site, Mayhem. The Adamant reports that he’s uninjured and will be returning to assist you as soon as he stops bouncing.”
Linda shook her head softly as she tried to figure out how Dispatch could relay statements like that in such a perfect deadpan as often as she did, then quickly abandoned that train of thought as impossible. A quick maneuver left her bike parked a short distance from where she’d seen the blasts, and a silent prayer left her lips that THIS bike would be okay when she got back.
“Just so we’re clear!” The Hero’s voice carried quite clearly through the area. “This is you’re only warning to give yourself up peacefully. You can step out and surrender, or take your chances. We won’t be pulling any shots from here in!”
“FUCK YOU!” The tall brunette sighed at the somewhat predictable response that echoed towards her from the far side of the crumbling building.
Well, the Adamant warned you, I warned you, you’ve demonstrated a bare minimum of a Demo Class ability, here’s to hoping you’ve got some extra durability kid, I do not want to sit through another force review. The brown and red costumed woman advanced quickly towards the area the voice had emanated from, favoring speed over keeping to cover. Cover doesn’t look like it’ll help much anyways, judging from the damage this guy has already done.
A brief glimpse of movement on the roof of the collapsing building – Seriously? Who the hell climbs onto the roof of a building that’s FALLING OVER? – gave Linda just enough warning to dive into cover and focus her ability on making herself as impenetrable as possible. Not quite enough to completely neutralize the effect of the explosion that left a crater in the pavement where she’d been standing a moment ago, but enough to roll away from the blast feeling little worse than having the wind knocked out of her.
Completing her roll and coming gracefully to her feet the Hero stretch to palm a piece of broken masonry about the size of her head and sent it flying towards the section of the roof where she’d glimpsed her attacker. A startled scream told her she’d at least come close, and the rapid advance towards her target began again.
As Linda came into the trash littered yard that surrounded the warehouse her quarry was hiding in, she slid to a startled halt as she watched one of a Hero’s worst nightmares roll into the abandoned area. A news van was approaching, less than half a block from the building where a Super capable of creating building-leveling explosions was engaged in combat with Heroes. “DISPATCH! We have civilian media rolling into the area, WHAT THE HELL?”
“Verify it’s civilian, Mayhem. Police cordon has not issued any reports of someone attempting to enter the area.”
Linda resisted the urge to roll her eyes at the response. From where she stood she could already see the woman in the passenger seat of the van, holding a mic and directing a man in the back with a camera while the driver wore an expression of resigned terror. “Dispatch, they are definitely civilian and their van says they’re from Channel 17. We need to g-…”
Linda’s speech died in her throat as multiple explosions ripped through the old warehouse, delivering the building its deathblow and sending a shower of brick, steel, and wooden shrapnel raining out towards the Hero. The driver of the van had enough self-preservation instinct left in him to slam the vehicle to an immediate halt, and the brown and red costumed woman thanked God for the small favor that was as she was buried by a wave of falling rubble.
It didn’t take long to push her way free of the entombing debris. One arm hung broken and limp at her side, and blood streamed down her left leg where a piece of a girder had embedded itself through the armored costume. Her good hand came up to wipe hair, dust, and blood away from her eyes before Linda found herself cursing again. The van had stopped, and the idiot reporter woman had opened the sliding door on the side, apparently deciding that this was a PERFECT time to get an up close view of Super on Super combat.
Somewhere on the other side of all the debris, Linda could dimly make out the male voice from earlier screaming at the van. The news team’s only response was apparently to push the camera out on a swivel, so they could get a better angle on the rogue Super. My god, I should LET him…
But instead of finishing her thought, the injured brunette took hold of the piece of metal in her leg and twisted it HARD with her good hand. There we go. And then it took only a thought and the barest of mental flexes to send the news van skidding back down the alley it had approached from. Just in time to avoid taking a direct hit from another explosion thrown by the rogue Super on the other side of the wreckage. Linda winced as the van rocked up on two wheels, and grunted at the exertion of finding the sliding door and forcing it shut before the van could disgorge any of its passengers. At the rate the vehicle slid away from the Hero she couldn’t quite keep it righted, but she did adjust the angle it went over at so that it merely tipped onto its side and skidded a few feet instead of allowing it to log roll into another building.
Alright, now that the absolute stupidity is taken care of, let’s deal with the actual problem. The rather worse-for-wear brunette dragged herself up towards the highest point she could find in the wreckage around her, and found her higher ground rewarded by her first clean view of her opponent. He was tall, somewhat lanky, and sported a purple mohawk and more facial piercings than Linda had known were possible. Good lord, he’s like a street punk caricature.
The Hero saw the expression on her opponent’s face change as he noticed her shortly after she’d spotted him. A wide grin split his face, revealing yet more metal to the world at large. “Pretty messed up, eh Ms Hero? Bet you don’t feel so high an-…” Linda didn’t bother letting the man finish, instead kicking forward into the rubble with her injured leg to dislodge a brick and send it into the man’s chest like a cannon shot.
The brunette watched dispassionately as the wet cracking sound of the impact was followed immediately by her opponent’s collapse into the rubble. Linda sighed as she noted that he was still, barely, breathing, and began limping over towards the criminal. “Dispatch, rogue Super is down. News crew is also down, we need medical assistance on site.”
“Confirmed, emergency services are en route. ETA 4 minutes.”
“You have left me with nothing to do again!” Linda smiled at the mock-outraged voice coming from behind her and turned to face the short Hero standing there.
“If you’d wanted something to do, you shouldn’t have bounced so far.”
“My God, where is your mask, woman?” The tall brunette found herself biting back a chuckle at the shocked expression on her old friend’s face as he got a good look at her for the first time in a few years.
“Never time to see one of the deluxe healers these days, and after it gets to a certain point I think I get more intimidation factor without it.” Clearly visible even through the cake of dust and drying blood, Linda’s face was an absolute latticework of deep, angry looking scars.
“Well, I suppose that cannot be argued with. Would you like the Super or the van to check?”
“I’ll take the Super. I might kill the idiots in the van if you leave me alone with them.”
The short Hero chuckled in response and offered a salute, before leaping over to where the van lay on its side and tearing off the back door to get to the battered people inside.
Linda turned back and finished walking over to the downed Super, then leaned against an intact bit of the last wall of the old warehouse as she watched him. A silent sigh escaped her lips as she weighed his raspy, gasping attempts to breathe with the approaching ambulance sirens, and she reached out with her ability to force a few things closer to their correct positions and kept a bit more blood flowing THROUGH his body instead of out of it. I must be getting soft.
“WHAT THE HELL DO YOU MEAN SUSPENDED?” The freshly healed, though now even further scarred woman leaned threateningly across the desk in front of her as she screamed at the man behind it.
“Mayhem you know how this works, you wrecked a god damned news van!” Glenn Narow, veteran supervisory agent for the DVA, attempted to push back against the forceful personality of the woman across the desk from him. So far, he was failing.
“That news van drove past a cordon after BRIBING a couple of cops to let them get in close to the action. If I hadn’t launched the damned thing down the street there’d be nothing left of it, or the three people in it, BUT A SMOKING CRATER!”
“And they are all being repri-…”
“Bullshit. The station is getting a fine, and the reporter is losing a press pass to certain Hero press conferences that she NEVER HAD TO BEGIN WITH. They almost got themselves and ME killed, and they get less than a slap on the wrist. And you want to SUSPEND me?”
“It’s NOT a suspension. You’re being pulled off of active duty for a minimum of ONE goddamned week, so stop being such a drama queen about it. And quit glaring at me, the scars stopped being scary about three months ago.” Glenn smiled as the Hero finally relented and sat back down in the chair instead of looming over his desk. “Now as you are WELL aware, a one week pull from active duty is ALSO less than a slap on the wrist.”
“I say again, bullshit. There’s no way anything I did warrants actual disciplinary action, and you wouldn’t pull me for a week if you didn’t have a plan. So I stop screaming and threatening, and you tell me what it is you have planned for me for the next week.”
“You’ll be getting to participate in one of your favorite inactive Hero duties.”
“No. HELL NO even. You are not sending me on another HCP ‘guest lecturer’ duty. There are at least a HUNDRED Heroes that actually WANT to do that crap. Send one of them.”
“You’ll be lecturing at Overton for the next week, starting tomorrow. Might want to get packed, even for you, it’s a long drive from New York to Texas.”
“God DAMMIT Glenn-…”
“Not negotiable. Yes, the DVA directors are fully aware that you didn’t do anything THIS time that QUITE warrants major disciplinary action. They are also more than a little upset at how close to a MAJOR shit storm you came. This is wholly within the DVA’s purview for Hero assignments. Just take your week back to school like a good little Hero, and you can be back out wrecking shit in no time!”
Linda grumbled something incoherent, but nodded and turned to walk out of the office.
“Oh, one last thing before you go.” The Hero turned to glare at the man behind the desk but he held up his hands this time in a gesture of surrender. “Nothing official, just that I called ahead and the HCP down there does have someone on staff who can clear out your old injury backlog. Please, take the time to get it done, Mayhem. You need to start taking better care of yourself.”
The brunette’s eyes narrowed suspiciously at the sudden change in tone from her supervising agent, but instead of starting another argument she simply nodded and left.
Glenn waited until a soft chime from his desk told him she had exited from the waiting room before picking up his phone and punching one of the speed dial buttons. “Alright, it’s set up. She’ll be in Overton, and under no circumstances are you EVER going to tell me WHY I sent her down there. I do not want to know.” Without waiting for a response, Glenn hung up his phone and glared at it for a short time. Then the agent pulled another file out of the drawer next to him and moved on to the next Hero on today’s list.
“It’s not that funny.” Linda sighed as she heard the combined laughter of her father and best friend coming from the other end of the phone in her ear as her bike sped down the I-44. “Seriously, not that funny.”
“Of course it’s funny, daughter. The DVA has finally figured out that you hate guest lecturing more than every other form of ‘disciplinary action’ they can throw at you. So now you’re doomed to be the roving Hero professor!” Carl Scoven barely got the full speech out before breaking back down into laughter again.
“Seriously Linda, it won’t be that bad. Don’t you have a friend who teaches down at Overton?” Sally’s voice came over the line, the teleporter apparently having collected herself and was able to speak clearly for more than half a sentence at a time.
“Two friends, one acquaintance. Actually I think Kathy is the Dean now.”
“Well there you go! You get to relax and get yourself fixed up, and then you get to hang out with old friends for a week and see what your future has in store for you!”
“Oh come on now, girl.” Carl’s voice came over the line again. “You’re too stubborn to die in the field, and you’ll never convince me that you’ll ever be able to REALLY retire from this life. Hell, I thought I had it bad, but have you looked at yourself over the past few years? We all know you’ll end up running one of the damned programs someday, and you’ll probably be one of the best there ever was at it!”
“That is something that is NOT happening.”
“Well not tomorrow or anything, but really Linda; what are YOUR plans for what you’ll be doing after another fifteen to twenty years when you just CAN’T hold up to field work anymore?” Sally’s question brought a moment of sober reflection to the woman on her bike, and it was several long seconds before she answered.
“I have no idea. NOT the HCP though.” The adamant conviction in the woman’s voice did nothing more than trigger another round of laughter at the other end of the line. “On a different note, you guys want to swing by for a visit while I’m stuck in one place for a week?”
“Probably not. We think Jeff is starting to develop his abilities, and it probably isn’t a good time to be traveling.”
“Wait, little half brother Jeff? He’s not even four yet!” Linda found herself having to abruptly swerve to avoid running into a semi she hadn’t noticed slowing down in front of her as she was distracted by the news. “What’s he do?”
“We think he’s got his mom’s teleporting, or something similar.” Carl’s voice contained a thick note of pride as he spoke. “We’re going to have the DVA bring in one of their top assessment teams. We need to find out if he’s got anything from my side of the family.”
“Pray it’s not your looks.”
“Hey!” Sally’s voice came back loud with mock anger. “That is my husband you are maligning there young lady!”
“Oh god, please stop reminding me that my best friend married my DAD. God, why did my life turn into a Jerry Springer episode?”
“Not Springer. He’s not allowed Super guests any more after what he did to the network’s insurance rating.” Linda found herself laughing along with her friend as her father interjected that random piece of trivia into the conversation. “Now quit acting like it’s the end of the world and go teach the next generation of Heroes something useful.”
“Like, ‘get out, get out now while you still can?’”
There was silence from the other end of the phone for several seconds. “Yeah, that’s probably about right.”
“LINDA!” The tall brunette barely had time to brace herself before a redhaired human missile intercepted her as she dismounted her bike. “We heard you’re stuck with us for a week! This’ll be fun!”
“Hi Dani, been a while.” Linda hugged her friend and then began the long process of disentangling herself from the smaller woman’s clutches. “How’re things?”
“Complete and utter bullshit of the HIGHEST order!”
The tall woman raised an eyebrow at that, then started as she felt a hand on her shoulder. “Not the most appropriate way to phrase it, but accurate nonetheless. It’s good to see you again, Linda.”
Linda managed to unhook herself from the enthusiastic Latina in order to turn and address the even shorter woman that had snuck up on her. “My, my. DEAN Kathryn Jilles. I’m surprised to see you up so late on a school night.”
The petite woman gave a mock glare in response, before cracking a smile and reaching in to hug her friend herself. “Get all your ‘old lady’ cracks out of your system now, and not in front of the students please. Did you want to visit our healer in the morning before Ethics?”
“Nah.” Both the Overton women looked surprised at the response. “I’ll get fixed up before I go. Let the kids get a look at what things are really like out there for a few days.”
“It’ll also make them less likely to hit on you in class!” The cheerful addition from Dani drew an incredulous look from the Hero and a chuckle from the Dean.
“That it will. Now let’s head in so we can get you logged in to our security system. Things are a bit… different than normal.”
“Oh?” The tall brunette managed to put a remarkable amount of question into the one syllable.
“Heard anything about ‘HCP Oversight?'” Kathryn shook her head before Linda could even begin to formulate a response. “Of course not, they want to keep this MOSTLY quiet. Well, let’s go hit up James and his liquor stash. This is going to be a LONG story.”
“I… do not know if I’m looking forward to this story or not.”
“Oh, don’t worry about it. You’ll only have to deal with it for a week. After that, you can get back out of here and laugh at the misfortune of your friends.”
“Linda wouldn’t laugh at our misfortune!” Dani rejoined the conversation with a defiant tone of voice.
“Yes I/She would.” The Dean and the visiting Hero spoke in almost perfect synch in response to the passionate redhead, causing all three women to break down into laughter.