This is an original work of fiction meant for entertainment purposes only.
Juanita walked out of the compound deep in the Mexican desert outside Los Pintos.
She had not even gotten to the end of the lane where she would meet her bus when she noted someone leaning on a sleek black and chrome motorcycle that sat low to the ground. The kind of machine built solely for speed, and nothing else.
The man was dressed in black, too. All black. From his heavy boots to his leather jacket.
Then he turned, and Juanita tensed.
She had been surprised at how welcoming, and accepting her clan had been when she admitted she was not only going back to Camelot, but she was staying. That she wanted to find her own way among the young heroes who had become her new family.
Even the Clan Elder had accepted that her choice was a good one for her.
Their one admonition was to ensure she kept the secrets of her true family while among outsiders. And, of course, to never forget from where she had come.
She had little doubt they expected her to eventually return.
All the same, she had found herself relaxing for a time as she visited her parents, and friends, and for a time, it seemed the world was ordinary again. No heroes and villains. No rogue aliens still out there catching, and eating unwary humans. Just the insular life she had always known.
In a way, it was comforting.
Still, it didn't take long for her to recall why she had willing left when her Power manifested.
Now, after several weeks of comfortable relaxation, she suddenly felt on guard, and tense all over again.
"Why are you here?"
"I'm not here to fight," Bones drawled in his low, gravelly tone as he straightened up, holding up his hands.
His empty hands.
Even his open jacket didn't show the usual bolos of deadly blades he favored carrying.
"Why are you here then," she demanded.
"To ask you a question. One question. That's all."
"Ask," Silk growled, and she was Silk just then. Ready to attack, even if she didn't appear that way.
Bones, obviously, wasn't deceived either.
He leaned back on his motorcycle, and gave her a grim smile.
"When we met during that invasion, and I watched you fight….. You're no One, girl. How did you get so strong? So good? Will you tell me?"
"Fair enough. I have one last thing to say, if you'll hear me out."
She nodded, but didn't close the distance. Yet.
They both knew how fast she could move now, if she had to fight. Bones was blatantly letting her know he wasn't looking for a fight. They both knew he'd lose.
"All right," he sighed. "When I watched you fight those….things. I'll admit, I was impressed. Pissed, and impressed. Not even the Elders were ever so good. And while I watched you, I decided."
"What," she growled when he paused to take a breath.
"I'm not saying I am giving up, and going to jail. Forget that. Not going back to those pretentious posers in there, either," he said, nodding to the near-distant gates.
"So, what are you saying?"
"I'm saying, I'm backing out for now. For now, I'll be looking around. Seeing where I really…..fit. Maybe it's pride. Maybe it's just me. But if I a girl like you can…..do what you do, I feel I should be able to do more. So I'm going to pull back, have a look around, and find out if there is something more to my life than what I've seen. That's all I'm saying."
"So, you want to be left alone?"
"That's what I'm saying," Bones nodded.
Silk walked forward in measured steps.
She didn't stop until she was just one foot from where he lounged against his machine.
"So long as you do not kill, most especially innocents, I will say, or do nothing. If you do, though, I will hunt you. And my friends and I, we will find you. Understand, if I find you then, I will not arrest you," Silk told him with a cold glitter in her eyes.
"Now you sound like your brother," Bones smirked. "But like I said, I'm pulling back. For now. So, tell your hero buddies that Bones is out of the game."
"For now," she asked knowingly.
"I never pretend to know the future, girl. I just know I don't want to face you. Not as you are. Not as I am. Maybe later. Maybe never. We'll see," he said as he moved slowly, straddling the motorcycle now as he lifted it from its kickstand.
"So long as you behave, I won't look for you. That is all I promise," Silk told him as he thumbed the starter, and the engine roared.
He gave her a crooked smirk, and sped away after dropping the machine into gear with a flourish.
"Show-off," she growled, and turned toward the dusty bench that served as a bus stop.
She could have called for Door, but she felt that was a convenience best reserved for true emergencies. That, and she was still, at heart, secretive by nature.
She sat down, put her bag at her feet, and waited patiently for the bus that would take her to the jet that would carry her back to Camelot.
"This," hissed the guttural, blatantly obvious hate-filled tone as the speaker eyed the image from a recent newscast. "This creature…..is our enemy."
The crowded room was surprisingly silent as everyone present eyed the image of the young teen in a crimson costume with golden contrasts.
The more than two-hundred reptiles said nothing beyond a few guttural hisses, and snarls as the leader turned away from the image himself.
"We," he gestured to the crowded room. "We are all that is left. Our brothers and sisters. Our hive-mates. Our world. All lost. Because of this….vermin. This barely evolved primate," the leader spat.
The silence was all but deafening.
"I gathered you, my brethren, not to mourn, or sulk. Far from it. I gathered you here to survive. We have barely a dozen egg-layers among us. Thus, our primary duty is to reproduce. All efforts will go to enlarging, and protecting our nest. Do not doubt me, though," the single reptile spat. "Never doubt. In the end, when we are ready, we shall strike down this hated primate, and his own nest. We shall crush him so completely that his kindred know their place now, and forever. First, however, we need numbers. We need….."
"A better plan," a very human voice drawled as the far door opened, and a reptilian sentry was tossed aside as the man in dirty fatigues stomped into the room.
"You," the apparent leader hissed.
"Do not look to blame me for your loss, cretin," Robert Strickland spat. "You had everything. I cannot be faulted if your fallen leaders did not listen to me. Frankly, the only reason you are still alive is because I planted sufficient evidence to lead those hunting you away from this very obvious nesting ground of yours. Could you be any more clichéd than an abandoned warehouse right in the middle of one of the most crowded cities on the planet," the former Divergent spat.
"Even do we accept your excuses, huu-man," the reptile spat as the burly man bulled his way fearlessly through his kindred to reach him. "Why do we not just slay you, as a start to our vengeance."
"Slay the only man on this miserable globe that will help you? Will lead you? Will assist you in bringing down that treacherous, self-righteous traitor to his own blood," Robert swore as he glared at the image of Icon himself.
The reptiles hissed anew at that.
"Yes, my friends," he called them, raising his voice. "I know well how you feel. For that boy is my very own spawn. My own son. And he turned his back on my, subverted my own….mate. My own hive. Turned all against me, and refused my guidance. Then," he seethed. "Then, with the help of your own traitor, he stole my birthright, and left me only half as powerful as I should be. But with your help," he smiled cannily now. "With your aid, you can not only help yourself, you can help me bring down your enemy, and turn this undeserving creature into a helpless pawn that will be unable to stop you from turning this world into a banquet hall that will feed your new hives forever," he growled ominously.
More than one reptile hissed their appreciation as the poorly dressed felon stood among them not as beggar, but a would-be king.
"Tell us more," the reptilian leader murmured thoughtfully as he eyed Robert, and saw only a tool to be used.
No one would have recognized Brian Starke, AKA Mastermind just then.
That did not mean they wouldn't the first time he appeared in public. He fumed as he sat in a chair in his dimly lit hideout, and glowered at the wall. He had been so sure he had the edge this time. That even his brother couldn't standing his way this time. Instead, that annoying boy had duped him. He had been so certain he had outmaneuvered everyone.
He had been wrong.
He had opened that first vial, carefully loading it into his centrifuge to analyze the serum he had cleverly palmed, while convincing William he had been using that pouch he had carried just to cover his deception. He had barely begun analyzing the potential goldmine, and route to power that he was envisioning, when it began to catalyze without apparent cause.
Before he could react, a shimmering, cerulean mist exploded out of the open vial, and leached into his skin like scalding steam. Before he could withdraw, the mist had covered him, seeping into every pore, and before he realized what was happening, his entire body was a very uniform blue. Even his hair had turned blue. A darker blue, but blue all the same.
Cursing vehemently, he tried everything he could think of to reverse the apparent dye that had literally colored him like a cartoon character, and couldn't find anything that would remove the stain. Further testing proved that the tint had somehow altered his natural pigmentation. Nothing even his clever mind could conceive could change it back.
Not just yet, at least.
He eyed the other vials, and put them away. Carefully.
Then he sat, brooding as he considered how he must now loo, and how easy that brat had made it for anyone to spot him. After all, while he dress down when not in costume, how was he going to hide blue skin and hair that would be easily spotted by anyone with eyes?
He sat in the dimly lit room now, pondering the new Icon.
One way, or another, he was going to pay.
Mastermind would see to that. He just had to ensure the boy wasn't waiting, and watchful when he appeared for his own vindication.
"I cannot think you enough," Marcus said as he stood before the energy being in the shape of a man. "Without you, even my efforts would have been ineffectual, or worse, unheeded. Your guidance, and knowledge were invaluable."
"Now you're being sickening," a new voice drawled as the air shimmered behind them, and something stepped out of thin air to join them in his lunar laboratory where he was spending the final week of his winter vacation away from the growing demands on his 'hero' life.
"Myrlyn," he murmured.
"Call me Faye now, Marcus," the silver-haired sorceress beamed. "Love what you haven't done with the place. Oh, hello, Merlin. Finally climbed out of that crystal bed of yours again? I did wonder."
"Of course, you two have met," he smiled.
"Of course. I was his first acolyte," she beamed. "If you can call a symbiote's host a follower. He took time to figure out how to stay here in his incorporeal form back when he first came to Earth," she beamed at the energy being that still managed to present a credible glower her way.
"Let's remember we're all on the same side here. And….Faye. Remember, my lab's walls are only so thick, and I doubt you could survive in the vacuüm up here as well as we do."
"You'd be surprised what I can do, Marcus," she smiled. "But that isn't why I'm here."
The energy being she called Merlin crackled violently.
"Now you're exaggerating. Since when am I the harbinger? You're the one that made everyone think I was nuts with that whole doom and gloom scenario you had me spouting back at the start," she huffed. "Sure, your former buddies were coming, but you sure miscalculated on the timetable, didn't you?"
"Faye," Marcus cut her off as he stood there in costume, but without his mask just then. "Just what did bring you here?"
The woman sighed.
"Well, I am loath to admit it, but he's right. This time. I do bring trouble. Robbie broke out again. Killed a guard that got too careless with him, and he used his ID and uniform to walk right out the front gate, and vanish. Only I know him. He's bound to be up to something bad."
"It is what he does," Marcus sighed. "I trust you warned Dean Myers?"
"I gave the dwarf a call….."
"He doesn't like to be called that," Marcus sighed again.
"At my age, Marcus," she smiled with a shrug, "I call things as I see them."
"Right. So, do you know what he's up to yet?"
"Am I your partner now," she asked teasingly. "Truthfully, I just got word myself, and Tara is having fits. That is, Gaia. Dynamo, now, he wants to hunt him down, and now. Some of your other lackeys…."
"Teammates," he told her firmly.
"Right. Right. Anyway, they just want to get back to that silly school of yours, and prove they are ready for the mantle the media has already forced on them. Honestly, bards used to be bad enough, but these so-called journalists these days….."
The Merlin crackled again.
"Oh, whatever," she waved dismissively. "Honestly, you are still as bad as you were back when you tried to toss me away for that idiot Arthur."
Marcus shook his head.
"Let's not rehash old history now. Have you any idea as to what Robert may be up to now? Or where he may be?"
"Not a clue. Still, knowing Robbie as well as I do, I can guess two things will be uppermost in his mind."
Marcus glanced away, looking thoughtful, and nodded.
"His powers, and his defeat."
"Oh, yes," Faye nodded. "He never could take a beating well. Emotionally speaking, that is," she clarified. "Not unlike someone else I could name," she said, eyeing Merlin.
He crackled/bristled, and then just vanished.
"Finally," she huffed. "Honestly, he still makes me nervous."
"He once triggered something in me that opened my mind and body to the quantum field, Marcus," she told him. "How do I know he won't decide to try shutting it off?"
"If he were going to try, wouldn't he have done it long ago?"
"How am I supposed to know what that loopy alien thinks," she grumbled. "I didn't even realize he was an alien for centuries. I just thought he was a real magician, or something. Until I learned, well after the fact, he was one of them who had transported himself here in an effort to prepare, and warn us, against their next harvest."
Marcus only nodded, knowing the tale by now. Something had gone wrong with the scientist's transportation device, though, and instead of arriving whole, Merlin, as he now called himself, had arrived in energetic form. The remains of his corporeal body littered the lunar surface where he had arrived, and became the inadvertent source of humanity's empowerment. It took him another age to finally reach the planet, but then he realized he couldn't immediately communicate. Until he tried fusing with one of the, to him, primitive humans.
The rest, he knew, was literally history.
"At any rate, considering you are dating my granddaughter now, and were pretty fair about dealing with me, I thought I'd give you the heads-up in person in case you had not heard. I know how Robbie likes to go for the back at times."
"I've noticed," Marcus grumbled.
"Now, if you will excuse me….."
"First, do you mind if I ask you something?"
"Of course not," she reached out, patting his cheek. "You're almost family. Feel free to ask anything."
Marcus barely managed to not blush at the overly familiar gesture, but knew it was just her way by now.
"Just how did you find my lab? Let alone reach it?"
"Are you serious," she laughed at him. "I thought you had something tough to ask me. Everyone knows about your lunar tree house, sweetie," she called him. "So when you disappeared from the planet again, I guessed you were up here. After that, it was just a matter of connecting the dots, quantumly speaking," she smiled. "Now, if that's all…..?"
The white-haired woman vanished without preamble, and Marcus was standing there alone before he could even finish his sentence.
He sighed, but didn't mind being alone for once of late.
He turned, and began to recheck some of his long-neglected work he had been meaning to get back to earlier. Before life had gotten so complicated.
After all, he only had a few days before he had to be back at Camelot.
To start a new year.