Archive for October, 2015

Chapter 2: Mind Games (Part1)

Posted: October 13, 2015 in Book 2
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Mitch shifted uncomfortably as he slid off Lindsay’s shoulders when they touched down on Delta’s island headquarters. “Look, I hate to be the cliche guy who says the obvious expositional line in the movies, but…are you sure about this?”

Lindsay spun around to look at him. “Look, you want to go up against the Fae, right? How do you plan on doing that?”

Mitch backed away from her intensity and shifted his gaze away from her. He shrugged wordlessly.

“Exactly. We don’t know the first thing about these little buggers, but we know someone who does. Look, Drake taught us everything we know, so he’s the obvious person to ask—but we don’t exactly have his personal phone number, all communication between Delta members has been restricted, and last I checked, the Legendary Mister X wasn’t listed in the phone book. If we can’t find him here, chances are we’ll find someone who can.”

She crossed her arms. “Look, we can do this the easier way. Marcus’ sister is basically best friends with—”

“No,” Mitch stated flatly. She wasn’t wrong, it would be easier. But whether it was stubbornness or pride—probably both, if he was honest with himself—he didn’t want anyone else to know he’d been taken by a fucking fairy. In a perfect world, Drake wouldn’t know about it either, but at least he could count on the man to be discrete. Hell, in a perfect world he wouldn’t have misplaced two people like they were gaming console remotes.

Lindsay gave him a look that said she clearly disagreed with his decision, but before she could protest, they were approached by a security guard who looked like a reject from a military movie aimed at fifty-something men going through a mid-life crisis. He had the kind of powerful physique that would translate well to an action figure, only this real-life version was easily six-foot-two. He was fully decked out in combat gear and armed with a large gun that he cradled like a particularly deadly child. Mitch reflected that he might have been intimidated if he wasn’t capable of lighting the man’s flak jacket on fire with his mind. As it was, he felt annoyed, both by the man’s very presence, and by the fact that he seemed to be barring them from a place that had been their home not even a month ago.

“This area is restricted. I would advise you to leave.”

“Kiss my ass,” Mitch snapped before he could help myself.

Lindsay shot him a look. “What he means is, I’m sure we have some kind of authorization. Delta might have been disbanded, but the names Spryte and Inferno have got to mean something.”

The talking department store toy was not impressed. “While your previous services are appreciated, it does not grant you access to this area. Leave or appropriate action will be taken.”

Mitch clenched his fists. “You gonna make me, bitch?” Heat surged through him, and he would have ignited into a flaming ball of fury, except that Lindsay grabbed hold of his arm.

“If you light up, Mitch, so help me god,” she snapped. “You’re not stupid. Don’t act like it. It doesn’t matter what powers you have, don’t threaten the police.”

It took all of Mitch’s willpower not to lash out in fury, his rage combated by the tiny voice in his head that said she was right, you fucking tool. For all intents and purposes, his fire was a weapon, and all of his training pointed out the obvious fact that you never pointed a weapon at someone unless you intended to shoot. Besides, anybody with a child’s understanding of logic could point out that he was a volatile mess, and he should let Lindsay do the talking.

He shut his mouth and took a step away. Anger gave away to self-loathing. How could he lash out like that against the one person willing to help him? Lindsay didn’t need to get involved. She had every reason to walk away and leave him to hack out his own miserable attempt at finding the family he knew he had but didn’t even remember. “Sorry,” he mumbled, feeling like an asshole.

Lindsay gave him a smile he didn’t deserve and put a gentle hand on his shoulder before turning back to the action movie prop. “Look, we’re just looking for Drake.” She gave a charismatic grin. “If you have a way to reach him, tell him we need help with ‘Little Miss Muffet’.

Mitch did a double take at her before he got the reference. When Drake was training them to keep a Fae out of their heads, he gave them the advice to find a nursery rhyme to focus on and repeat. Ideally, if a Fae was going to skim for surface thoughts, all they would get was an obnoxious ditty. Lindsay had once told him that hers was Little Miss Muffet, so that had to be her way of surreptitiously letting the omniscient legend know that they were dealing with his arch-nemesis.

“We’ll be good and stay right here if you can deliver that message,” Lindsay said with her most charming smile.

The guard gave her a wary look, but he passed the message through his comms. This turned out to be the most effective idea Lindsay had come up with yet, because of course Drake was monitoring the security guards’ communication. He blinked into existence with a teleportation device in hand, gave the guard an unimpressed look, and clapped a hand on Mitch’s shoulder. Apparently he was in one of his taciturn moods, because he teleported both Mitch and Lindsay away without a word. They ended up in an underground bunker god only knew where.

Mitch resisted the urge to run for the nearest toilet, his stomach violently protesting the sudden shift in location. Mitch rather agreed with his stomach’s assessment. Fuck if he knew if he was still in the same goddamn country. “What the fucking shit?” He exploded.

“You tell me,” Drake said evenly. “You’re the ones who chanted my name three times in front of a mirror, metaphorically speaking.”

Lindsay was busy straining her neck to look around at the computer set-up with multiple monitors, piles upon piles of unfinished gadgets, and a dark hallway lined with locker-like compartments as high as the ceiling, which Mitch could only assume hid a robot army. “Whoa. This isn’t just something you built in the last week or so.”

“Of course not. Do you honestly think I’d keep all my important stuff in a giant tower that practically begs for some insane villain to plunder? Not to mention, it was just a matter of time before bureaucratic bullshit happened, like, I dunno, our fearless leader perpetuating a Bond villain cliche and sending the government into a tailspin of paranoia.”

Mitch rolled his eyes. It was hard to argue with that.

Lindsay nudged him and shifted her gaze pointedly toward Drake. “Tell him.”

Mitch crossed his arms and shuffled from one foot to the other. He didn’t want to say it out loud, afraid that in the sifting reality that had become his life, speaking the truth would make it real. If he didn’t say anything, he could just pretend it was all just some fucked up dream. He’d been fine for fuck knew how long without realizing a family existed. He could go his entire life just believing that everything was normal.

But even though he couldn’t actually remember these people, he felt a strange attachment to them. Every time he thought of that empty, too-big house, his heart ached as if something was missing. “A Fae took my family,” he mumbled.

The effect was instantaneous. Drake stilled like a predator on the hunt, and Mitch could feel the gravity shift, making the hair on his arms and the back of his neck stand on end. “I don’t even remember them. I guess I have a mom and a sister, but I don’t know their names or how old my sister is, or—or my mom’s birthday. I should know that. I should know that, right?” His jaw quivered, and he hated himself for it. “They—they could be dead and I don’t even have any memories of them. I mean, that’s supposed to be the consolation when you lose somebody, right? Your sister’s laugh, or your mom feeding you chicken soup or some bullshit, but i-it’s all blank!”

Mitch ran his fingers through his hair. “I can’t take this,” he muttered. “I’m going insane.”

Drake’s hands on his shoulders steadied Mitch. “You’re not going insane. What happened to you isn’t right, and it isn’t fair. I’ll do what I can to help, but I won’t bullshit you, it may not have a happy ending. Can you accept that?”

Dull hatred burned in Mitch’s eyes. “Do I have a choice?”

Drake sighed. “You really don’t. That’s what sucks the most. Well, except for just curling into a ball and ignoring it, but then the little bastards win, and that’s not really an option, now is it?”

Mitch felt his lip curl. Disgust rose in him so powerful that a shudder ran down his spine. “Those little shits aren’t getting away with anything.”

“Attaboy.”

Marcus London woke with a start at the sound of a clatter. His hero’s instinct went into overdrive for a moment as he tried to figure out what made such an ungodly noise, but then it was followed by a series of mild curses. He smiled sleepily. His girlfriend never could bring herself to utter words that were truly profane. All was right with the world. He pulled the covers closer to his chin and snuggled deeper into the soft bed.

His eyes flew open. All was not right with the world.

He pushed himself out of bed and hastily pulled on his clothing that lay scattered on the floor. It took him a second to find his shirt wedged into the drywall where Lindsay had fired it with excited force. He tugged on it to no avail, so he left it embedded in the wall. Lindsay could pull it out herself later.

Shirtless, he wandered into the large room that function as a kitchen on one side and a living room on the other. Lindsay had her recording equipment set up in one corner—the one she kept spotless so that her podcast viewers couldn’t see the mess she usually lived in. She wasn’t recording yet, though. Her blue eyes were fixed on her laptop as she sat at the kitchen counter, delicate eyebrows drawn together. Her short hair fell over her face, and small fingers rubbed the stress from her neck.

“You got my shirt stuck in the wall,” Marcus teased, hoping to break the tension.

Lindsay looked up and smiled. “I’d apologize, but I’m pretty sure I more than made up for it last night.”

Marcus grinned. “I’d agree with you, but I know I gave as good as I got.”

“Maybe.”

“You liked it.”

She gave a shy smirk. “Yeah, that’s true.”

Marcus ducked behind the counter and wrapped his arms around Lindsay, the bar stool she sat on still only bringing the top of her head to his chin. He kissed her neck, willing himself not to look at the screen. He didn’t want to know what he would find there.

“Marcus.” He could feel his name vibrating beneath her skin. “They made the announcement.”

“Sh, that can wait.” He squeezed his shut eyes tighter still and teased her jaw with his lips. His hands slid down her hips, and he forced his mind to recall the night before, instead of focusing on the present concern.

“Marcus, I need to make a podcast of this. It’s too important. People need to know.”

He sighed. He couldn’t put it off anymore, so he opened his eyes and rested his chin on Lindsay’s shoulder. His hand folded over Lindsay’s and directed her to scroll back to the top of the page so he could see the title of the article.

Delta Division Disbanded by UN Committee Vote

“Marcus, this is a good thing. Maybe people will stop looking at us like a threat. If people aren’t scared of us, then we’ll be—you know—normal. We can live normal lives free to pursue hopes and dreams just like everybody else. Without the Delta Division to put us on a pedestal above your average citizen, we can be one of them.”

“Lindsay, how many collages rejected your application?”

Her gaze shifted away. “All of them.”

“It’s not your grades. They’re good. It’s not your community involvement, because lord knows you’ve saved more people in three years than most do in a lifetime. You’re a hero for crissakes.”

“Well. Except for that time when I was a bodyguard for a mafia princess.” She picked at her manicured nails.

“Okay, officially, that didn’t happen. Besides, we’re not talking Ivy League schools, here. Not to mention the first five apartments you applied to wouldn’t let you live in their building.” He took her hands. “Because you’re meta. The whole world knows it. They don’t care that we’re human beings with a complex set of motivations that have nothing to do with powers. All they care about is that we’re freaks.”

“Hey, you got into university.”

“Well, Eric’s money goes a long way.” He glanced to the side, embarrassed. It had taken some convincing to get him to allow that. He didn’t like the idea of taking advantage of his brother-in-law. “Besides, my identity is still retroactively protected, though God only knows how long that’ll last now that Delta’s over. There might have been some tabloid rumors, but that’s the only thing connecting me to the name of Spark Plug. You’ve always been open about your real name. Which is something you should be free to do without this kind of backlash. It should not be affecting you like this.” He let out an angry breath.

Lindsay smiled. “Aw, sweetie. You’re so cute when you get worked up like that.”

He wrapped his arms around her. “Loosing the Delta Division means we’ve lost the legitimacy for our community. Which means we’re just one more ‘protected’ class.” He pulled away to look at her. “And historically, society hasn’t done well with those.”

She laughed. “Since when do you have so little faith in humanity?”

Marcus sighed and rested his forehead against Lindsay’s. “Since I found out that the person who was supposed to save us all was willing to bet our lives in a bid for control.”

He kissed her quickly and walked backward toward his backpack with a lopsided grin forced onto his face. “Anyway, honey-lyn, if you wouldn’t mind retrieving my shirt, I shall be off and let you record in peace.”

She moved back toward him. “You’re not that interruptive. I don’t need to kick you out. You practically live here anyway.” She grabbed onto his belt loops. “You know we could make that official.” Her lips grazed his.

He pulled back, but not away. “I love you.” He kissed her. “But I think that’s a discussion for a time when our world didn’t just get turned upside down. One thing at a time, honey-lyn.”

* * * *

It took an hour for Lindsay to figure out what she wanted to say. She tried to muster some anger, but it was useless. She wasn’t angry.

She sat in front of her deskstop and turned on her equipment.

“The metahuman community, I’m sure, wants me to be outraged. How dare some faceless government take away our right to organization and purpose? But they haven’t. I’m not outraged. Just tired. Tired of being pigeon-holed, of being told I can only be this one thing, only be a hero. The Delta Division might be over, but heroism is not. Community heroes have existed since the dawn of time. You don’t need super strength to be a good person.”

She took a deep breath. “I spent most of my time in Delta trying to figure out what my purpose was. Why I was fighting. The truth is, I still don’t know. Perhaps…well, maybe that’s because we shouldn’t be fighting. We’re people, not soldiers. And today marks the day where we can no longer be asked to be soldiers just because we have powers.

“Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing but respect for those I’ve worked for—well, most of them. There are notable exceptions, obviously. But on that note, I think it’s important to point out that Samantha Clive hurt all of us—human and metahuman. There’s no us versus them there, so please don’t pretend that there is.

“But back to my original point—and I’m sure I’m going to lose viewers with this, but I’m tired of pretending this isn’t true. The very concept behind the Delta Division is fundamentally flawed. We don’t need organization because we don’t need to be a force. To date, Delta has been a farce, a magician’s trick, a-a distraction. Pay no attention to the man—or woman—behind the curtain, ladies and gentlemen, because she’s trying to take over the world.

“Well, you know what? I’m not going to be used anymore. And neither should you.”

No sooner had Lindsay put down their recording equipment than her cell phone buzzed on the desk. She frowned. Usually she turned it off while recording, but she must have forgotten. This news shook her more than she cared to admit.

The caller ID displayed Mitch’s name. Her head tilted in confusion. They’d kept in touch since Sam’s execution. Marcus thought he was an asshole, and Lindsay didn’t disagree, but she felt that he was the kind of person you didn’t mind being an asshole, because at least he was honest about it. They’d become friends who tagged each other in pictures on social media and messaged each other to see how their days were going, but this was way beyond that. Why would he be calling her?

Only one way to find out. She swiped the phone to answer.

“Lindsay!” The panic in his voice made her leap to her feet, and even hover a little. “There’s something…can—can you come over? To my house. There’s something wrong with the house.”

“What? Y-yeah, I’ll be right there, are you okay?”

“I don’t know. I think I’m going crazy.”

“All right, well just hang in there, okay? I’ll be right there.”

A selling feature of the apartment was the small balcony accessible by double doors. She shut them behind her and took off into the sky. She’d been by his place once or twice, mostly to trade borrowed DVDs, so she had little trouble finding it. She lit in front of his door. It opened before she could knock.

He grabbed her arm, and she went along, letting him drag her inside. “There’s too many rooms.”

“H-how many—”

“Bedrooms. Three bedrooms. Why?”

“No, that makes sense, one for you, and—”

“I didn’t even notice—well, I did, but I didn’t—not ‘til those stupid government assholes said they were repossessing the house because it belonged to the Delta Division—and I swear to fucking God, I will fucking torch their fucking mansions with them inside. They can’t fuck with me like that.”

“Mitch, you’re not making any sense!” She grabbed him about the shoulders. She’d never felt someone so hot—temperature-wise, of course. “Please, just calm down.”

“I’m calm!” he screamed, then said it quieter. “I’m calm. There’s too many bedrooms.”

“No, three makes sense. One for you, one for your mom, and one for your sister.”

Terror, fury, and abject confusion raced through his green eyes as he looked at her. Tears filled his eyes. “I…I have a sister?”

Lindsay’s eyes widened. “Oh God, no…” She licked her lips. “Mitch, why did you call me?”

He shook his head and looked away. His whole body trembled. “I-I don’t know. I just thought—” He looked at her. “Was there a reason?”

“Do you remember what you told me? About the Shadow Fae?”

He looked at her now, eyes wide. Another shake of his head. Then something else crossed his eyes and he glanced at the ceiling. “Wait. I-I…a Fae…I told you…” His gaze focused on her again. “A Fae has my family.”

He sat down heavily, barely making it to the living room couch. Lindsay sat beside him. “I forgot. I had a mother, a sister…and I forgot.” He buried his face in large hands, and great sobs shook his shoulders.

Tears sprung to Lindsay’s eyes. This was the worst possible thing that could happen to him, and her short-tempered friend wasn’t even angry. Mitch looked utterly defeated. Sam had been brought down, the Fae scattered. The battle was won. Why were their still casualties? It wasn’t fair. “I’m sorry.” Unable to help herself, she embraced him, her small frame encircling him, desperate to comfort him. “I’m so sorry.”

“I have to find them, Lindsay. They’re my family.”

“I know. We’ll find them somehow.”

He took a breath and wiped at the tears that fell down his cheeks. “You can’t tell anyone about this.”

“I won’t I promise. It’ll just be you and me. We’ll find a way to beat this Fae, to find your family.” She grasped his hands. “We can do this, Mitch.” She smiled a little. “We’re super heroes, remember?”