Issue #1: First born of a returned golden age
Across the pitch black sky, a luminous aura streamed from one end of the horizon to the next. A bellowing thunder echoed between the walls of the building in the city. Along the background of pitch black and glowing neon were two specks of light darting back and forth, occasionally colliding with each other. Once or twice the points of lights would get close enough for the onlookers to see that they were two men, as brilliant as miniature suns, lock into mortal combat. One wore a red spandex uniform with yellow gloves and boots; on his chest were a star, scythe, and hammer. The other man was more elaborately decorated. His uniform was a dark blue spandex with black cape with a star pattern that seemed to change position depending upon the perspective of the observer. On his torso was a yellow line running down the center of his chest that began at a line running across his shoulders and end with a line running across his waist. The man in red was bloodied, his left eye swollen shut, and his right arm hung limp and twisted out of place, while his opponent only suffered a small scratch across his cheek. Despite this, the man in red wasn't ready to surrender to his adversary.
"Die, American pig!" the man in red shouted. A beam of light similar in appearance to the aura shot out of his good eye.
The man in dark blue just shook his head and smiled. "Tsk, tsk. Why can't you ever learn to give up?" The eye beam collided with an invisible barrier surrounding the man in dark blue.
The man in red started wobbled in the air for a second. The light that his body emitted so brightly started to wink out. As his eye rolled into the back in his head, he whispered, "It's not fair..." and he fell to earth. The man in dark blue flew over and caught him in midair, cradling him in his arms. The two descended into a nearby field. There, standing there waiting on him was a young boy, around 10 or 11, wearing an outfit similar to the man in dark blue minus the cape.
"Wow wee, you got him! You got the Supreme Soviet!" cried out the boy. The man smiled at the young boy who seemed to have a well of infinite wonderment and enthusiasm to draw upon. "Sir," the boy said a little sheepishly, "you're not leaving the sky like that are you?"
"Can't do that, can I?" the man chuckled. He closed his eyes and concentrated. A strong gust of wind blew across the city. The darkness dissipated, and in its wake, the noontime sun filling the land with a white light.
"I didn't think anyone would see the Northern Lights in Los Angeles, especially in the middle of the day." The boy then remembered his final duties before the end of a case. "Oh, wait, I forgot to call the police."
"Don't bother, just yet," said the man in dark blue, "he died when he expelled all of his ionic energy with his eye beam."
"Dirty commie! It serves him right."
"You know better than that. I always taught you to respect all life, even of those who don't."
The boy hung his head down. "I'm sorry, sir."
"No, I'm sorry."
The boy looked perplexed. "Why?"
"I have to leave." The superhero sounded distance.
"Leave?" He didn't understand why his mentor had to apologize for going somewhere unless... "How long are you going to be gone?"
"I'm not sure, but I can no longer be this world's protector." The man hugged his ward. He wiped a tear from his eye. "I only wished I could have stayed long enough and gave you some powers of your own like I wanted."
The boy was in shock. "You can't leave us," the boy gasped. "We don't know what to do without you. Please, I'm sorry for saying those bad things about the Supreme Soviet." As he was pleading for his mentor to stay, the man faded away. In the young boy's memories, this was the first day of his life in a living hell.
Thirty years later.
"Dad, can't we go home now, TJ'll start worrying about us?" A young girl with brown hair in curls quivered as she looked out the window of her father's pick-up truck. She wasn't so much concerned about her brother's state of mind as much as she was afraid of secluded, out of the way places, especially at night with the wind howling outside shaking the trees, giving them the appearance of menacing hands reaching out and clawing at her. She and her father were on the edge of town at the gate of a run-downed building. Broken glass covered the ground. The girl waited a second for her dad to respond, but he just ignored her. "Dad, please, let's go."
"Honey, did you say something?" said the father. He was a heavyset man with a square-shaped mustache and his brown hair combed straight down, giving him a slightly boyish appearance.
"Dad, TJ'll worried sick about us."
"Nonsense, he'll be fine on his own. Now, Rita, wait in the truck for dad. I'll only be in there for a minute."
"No Dad! Every time you say you'll only be a minute, we're there for an hour. I've counted."
"I said stay in the car," the father raised his voice.
"But I'm...I'm...I'm scared. This place is scary."
"Did you forget what Dad told you about being afraid of the dark: There's nothing in the dark that isn't in the light."
"Except for muggers."
"Lock the door, and if you see anyone out there honk the horn, and I'll come running. I promise." Rita did not look like she took comfort with her father's words. He rubbed her on the head and walked through the gates into the door. An hour passed by but her father hadn't come out of the building. She stared at the front door for a minute, gauging the distance between her and the entrance, as well as how dark and foreboding the surroundings were.
"It's such a long way from the truck to the building," she thought. Rita cracked the truck door opened and carefully scrutinized the area. She took a deep breath of the cool night air and exhaled before making a mad dash to the door. The noise from the pounding of Rita's feet as she ran on the concrete parking lot was drowned out by the beating of her heart. Rita was too scared to take notice of the tree limb in front of her. Her foot became lodged underneath the limb, which sent her flying into the pavement. She shrieked, thinking that the monsters in the dark, both real and imaginary, have forced her to the ground. Rita struggled for a second before she got up and continued her run. When, she got inside, Rita slammed the door shut and braced herself up against it, while trying to catch her breath. Rita dusted herself off and wiped the sweat off her.
"Dad! Daddy!" All Rita could hear was the echo of her voice down the dark halls of the building. Rita, unable to find the light switch opened the doors letting the small amount of light from the night sky into the room. "That's odd," thought Rita. What was 'odd' was that it looked like a cracked door, but it looked like it was a part of the wall. It was a sliding door made to look like a part of the wall: a secret passage. Rita walked over to it, opened the sliding door, and looked inside. She saw another long, dark hall, but this time there was a light coming from the left side at the very end of the hall. No sound could be heard from Rita's steps as she crept down the hall. She heard voices from inside. One of them belonged to her father. She peeked inside and saw her father talking to a man in a black business suit. He had gray hair that was thinning but with no bald spot. He was, despite his age, well-built. The man in the business suit and her father were in a heated exchange.
"...but our world is in ruin without him. You have to let me try."
The old man's hands were stretched out in a gesture of frustration. "Theodore, it's over. Let this 'superhero sidekick' crap die."
"Justin, it'll only take me a few days to find him, I swear."
"No one in the agency is going to let you joyride through the universe hunting down someone who is either dead or too old to do anything."
"I promised you I'll stop looking in three days whether or not I find my mentor."
"Theodore, the range on the device is limited to this rock. If he's anywhere outside of the planet, you're not going to find him even if we gave you three centuries to look."
"Liar! Your scientists are working on a way to boost the range of the teleporter to interstellar distances."
"That's the point, Theodore. They're WORKING on it. It can't be done, at least in our lifetime. Frank! Jessie! Get in here." Two men in black suits, both over six feet tall with large chests and broad shoulders brandishing 9mm Berettas came out of the shadows.
"You said you would be alone."
"It was in case you got any stupid ideas."
"You mean like this." Theodore opened his shirt revealing a vest with a dozen red sticks tied to it each wired to a handle dangling from the vest. Theodore took the handle in his hand and pressed the button on the end. "This is a dead man's trigger that only I can disarm. Let me have the portable unit or else."
"Dad! No!" Rita screamed in her mind. She wanted to look away from her father and his possible death but wasn't able to.
The other two men were sweating and breathing heavily. Justin, the old man, didn't seem to change his mood. He looked over his left shoulder to one of the agents behind him and nodded. The agent hesitated for a second. "You heard the man." The agent walked to a vault in the wall and keyed in some numbers on the electronic lock. The vault opened. He took out an egg-shaped object with various LCD buttons on it and a flat screen in the center. The agent walked cautiously to Theodore shaking and handed the vortex generator to him. "Theodore, if you know so much about our research, you'll know the portable unit only has a line-of-sight range, and you're not smart enough to make it work."
Theodore sneered. "No, but I do know some people who can. And I'll give them the portal unit if you don't help me."
Justin's face distorted in sheer rage. "You'd betray your own country for that deserter!"
"Say something like that again, Justin, and I'll..."
"Dad! Don't!" Rita cried out from the hall fearing what her father would do if provoked.
"Rita! Get out of here now!" For a breath moment, Theodore was distracted from his negotiations. The agent nearer to him jumped him and grabbed the hand Theodore held the trigger in and tripped him to the ground. The two men struggled with the bomb trigger. Theodore bit the agent's arm trying to force him to let go. He bit harder until the warm taste of blood ran across his tongue. The agent yelled out in pain, but he kept his grip on Theodore's hand. Theodore was pulling on the trigger trying to get the agent to let go when he was whipped in the face by a cord. In the struggle, the bomb trigger was pulled from its socket. The agent got up from the floor. Rita ran to her father to see if he wasn't hurt.
"Dad, are you all right?" But her father didn't answer. He placed the palm of his hand on the device for a second and shoved it into Rita's chest, hard enough that she was pushed back about ten feet from him. Forks of lightening jumped out of the teleporter surging through Rita's body. A blue glowing vortex began forming around her body. While this was going on, the agent whom wrestled with Theodore on the floor pulled out his gun. The other agent and Justin yelled at him to put his gun away, but their cries were drowned out by the pain in the agent's arm.
"You're not scaring me with that fake bomb of yours, you fat tub of $#!"
He fired his gun into Theodore's chest. The room
was filled with a brief burst of intense light. The sticks of
dynamite strapped to Theodore's chest were really road flares. The
road flares set Theodore's clothes on fire. He screamed in pain as
the flare burned its way into his chest. The room was again filled
with a white blinding light, and then another. The fire was setting
off the other road flares. Then, the fire was burning hot enough to
cause the remaining flares to explode. Hot sodium (the fuel for the
flares) got over the lab with some fragments landing on volatile
chemicals. Rita tried to run to her father to save him, but she felt
paralyzed. She looked down to the teleporter and saw that it was
partially transparent and sinking into her chest. Then the vortex
grew about seven feet across. Rita suddenly regained control of her
legs and stumbled backwards into the vortex.
Rita found herself outside. The vortex shrunk to a point and vanished. She held her head in her hands trying to fight feelings of nausea and vertigo. Her ears rang with deafening boom. Rita was knocked to the ground by the force of the blast. Rubble, burning wood, and various other pieces of debris landed all around her. Rita looked up and saw the building collapsed in on its self and burning...
The next day
"From what we were told, your father was inside a restricted government facility when it exploded." A middle-aged police officer in blue suit with blond hair and brown eyes stood over a red-haired young man in his early twenties giving him the details of his father's death. The young man was Theodore Williams Jr. or TJ to those that knew him, in particular his sister Rita and his deceased father Theodore Williams.
TJ stared at the officer with piercing hazel eyes. "That's all they have on his death?"
"Mr. Williams, your father was found dead inside a government research facility with top secret classifications up there with Area 51. You're lucky to be told this much. They already pegged this as a domestic terrorist attack, and your father a suicide bomber. They just want to know if he was a part of some militia group."
"My father would never do something like that."
"They found the remains of a man with the same dental records as your father in the center of the blast. I'm afraid he's been living a double life."
The detective looked around the room for a minute following a trail of dusting footprints to a set of stairs leading to the second floor. The footprints were too small to come from an adult. The officer gave TJ a wicked-looking smirk. "Your sister's quite a mess maker. She didn't bother to wipe her shoes off at the door. Funny thing is this neighborhood had nothing but driveway and lawn. She would have to be walking a good distance from here to get her shoes that dusty. By the way, I heard you were trying to get legal custody of your sister."
"What's your point, officer?"
"Well, since this all took place in a top secret lab, this investigation is under CIA jurisdiction. They've already got your father's e-mail messages, computer files, and phone records and declared them off limits to us, which leaves my department in the dark. I know from my sources, in your official report, you said your sister was with you the whole time last night. I also know you're trying to adopt your sister to keep the family together. Now a single man just out of the nest has better odds playing the lottery than passing muster with social services. But if she was "unofficially" at the top secret lab, she could tell us what happened, and I could be tempted to pull some strings and get you custody of your sister.
"I told you, she was here the whole time." The buzz of electricity arcing was heard from the kitchen.
The officer turned his head towards the noise. "What was that noise?"
"I know it isn't your footsteps going out our door. I only let you in to tell what happened to my father, not for my sister to be interrogated. And unless you have a warrant, I don't want you showing your face here again."
The officer fished in his pocket for a second and pulled out a card. "Here, if you change your mind." TJ balled up the card and tossed it into the waste basket.
"In that case, just call the main police station and ask for a Sergeant Alan Hannity. Hope to see ya soon." Officer Hannity walked out the door. TJ sighed, wondering what to do about him sister. The sergeant was right. It would take a miracle to get social services to let Rita stay with him. He was so deep in thought, he forgot about the strange noise he heard in the kitchen.
The inside of the refrigerator was filled with a bluish light. A vortex six inches across formed inside. A hand extended from the vortex and reached for a bag of oranges. The hand disappeared inside of the vortex with an orange. The vortex shrunk to a point and disappeared.
Inside her bedroom, Rita held the orange in her hand. Her father would no longer be there for her; to hold her, to see her off to school, to yell at her when she goofed off and didn't do her chores or homework, and tell her everything would be all right even when it wasn't. She didn't feel like eating anything. She was only trying out her new found talent. She felt so cheated. The people who murdered her father were dead themselves. There was no one to punish; no one to pay for the empty spot they put inside of her. Rita made a fist, squeezing the juices from the orange. She pretended it was the old man's heart inside her fist; yanked out of his chest using her powers over space and time. She let the fruit fall from her hand. It didn't do any good to fantasize about vengeance. It was just a poor substitute to the real thing. Then, Rita started crying.
Thank you, Shaoori and Shadowblood Knight for proofreading my fic