This is a radically retouched version of chapter 1 as of May 26, 2020. I plan to go back and fine-tune the rest of the story once I finish chapter 20.

A lot in my life has happened. There are so many ways that I can begin this story, but I suppose things really kicked off for me with the events that led up to my wedding. It was one of the most memorable days of my life, just not entirely for the reasons I wished it was.

It all started in the August of 2013, in the outskirts of Houston, Texas. My future husband and I took a stop to the usual burger joint we went to for our date.

"Mmm!" A look of joy covered my face as I finished my meal. "So gooooood~! You nailed it on the choice, sweetie! I really needed this."

"Thanks, Roxy!" My then-boyfriend, Rio, chuckled. "Although I dunno if you really need those extra calories." He playfully poked my belly, pointing out I've been gaining weight. Normally I was insecure about my looks, but he just had a way to make the criticism sound charming.

My warm-toned cheeks turned pink as I playfully pushed him away, the two of us sharing a laugh. "You are such a dick sometimes, dude! I'm burning enough energy as it is flying around as Star Lass, one serving of beef isn't gonna mean crap."

"I know…" He smiled and put his lips to mine as we shared a short but sweet kiss. "Just looking out for my girl is all. So, what should we do next?"

My mind froze up. Despite dating since sophomore year, this was the rare date we've had that didn't involve staying at home and playing video games or watching television together. Rio understood I was still socially anxious after all this time, so we didn't do much outdoor activities together.

"I... I don't know. Whatever you wanna do, I guess..."

"Maybe go see Astra?" He suggested.

"I actually called her before we left to be a buffer if things got awkward, but she was in the middle of a case."

"Oh, I see." He looked at me, not seeming subject to his occasional ADD-like attitude and being content with helping me assure him he was having a good time. It calmed me down that I wasn't making him feel bad. "But we can still have a ton of fun together."

"You think so?" My face had the goofiest grin on it. "I'd like that."

"Maybe go back to our place and, you know…?" There was also something else I loved doing with him, something special we shared as a couple.

My eyes gazed longingly into his, considering his offer to take me to our bed. "I'd love to, but… I just ate, and I'll probably be all gassy-"

He snorted. "Since when have I cared? It's cool, I'm not disappointed or anything. I just know how frisky you get sometimes and wanted to humor you."

I giggled and returned the kiss he gave me earlier, giving him a big hug as well. "Thanks, babe."

As we embraced, his eyes caught a Bucky Beez across the street and immediately lit up with childlike glee.

"Oooh! Hey, Roxy, I got it! How 'bout we go over there?" He pointed in the direction of the fun place and assumed the begging position. "Pleeease, honey?"

Macario Rodriguez, for all his maturity and experience, was very much a child at heart and had an endless well of optimism and joy. I suppose it's the reason I still love him after all these years, that and being a naturally wonderful lover.

"I don't know, Rio. I lost my enjoyment for those about ten years ago; it just feels like mindlessly walking around. I guess video games spoiled me too much to enjoy actual physical fun." He stared at me as I finished my soda. "Alright, what the hell. Let's do it!"

"Woo!" He cheered in celebration. "Alright, next stop: fun o'clock!"

But before we could take a step, we hear screaming and see trees pop out of concrete not too far away. A long sigh passed my lips.

"Sounds like Skywood again. Care to help?"

"Absolutely." Rio said in an uncharacteristically serious tone. The prospect of missing out on fun at a children's arcade/eatery for him was treated like a grave misjustice.

"Then let's move out!"

The two of us quietly but swiftly made our leave, going into an isolated area and getting out our respective superhero outfits to change into.

My outfit as Star Lass was a navy-blue top with a star shaped hole on the chest that showed off my cleavage, short shorts of the same color, and golden-yellow gloves and booties. It was the iteration I wore since I first started as a superhero and wouldn't change until a few months later.

Rio's outfit as Willpower was far more basic. A crimson domino mask, a cutoff jacket of the same color, black tank top, torn up jean shorts, and MMA-styled gloves. He much preferred a "street" outfit compared to the rest of our group.

"Star Lass and Willpower, away!" My boyfriend said with vigor as I giggled.

Eve Adams was once a promising botanist with a passion for environmental causes, however once she lost her fiancé to a construction accident, she threw it all away and used her Alpha power of controlling plants to become an eco-terrorist. Her heart was in the right place, but she was in a bad way. She was on probation recently and only had a few weeks left, so this seemed unusual for her to risk losing it all.

As Star Lass, I used my Alpha power of light to fire concentrated beams and shoot down some of the trees that grew out of control. It also allows me to create force fields, which I used to protect some of the townspeople that were in danger.

Willpower used a subset of Alpha powers called Xi energy. Pronounced like the letter "Z", Xi users can harness their life essence into forms of combat. He created a sword he refers to as a "Xi Saber" to cut down the remaining trees.

The two of us alone managed just fine, only that now a floating shrub was headed our way. We knew who was on it.

"Hmph." Skywood scoffed. "You two? I don't have time for you, I'm on the clock here."

"Yeah, well, you crashed our date so it's kinda personal." Willpower asserted in a cheerful manner.

"Eve, please!" My concern was as clear as the afternoon sky. "You're on parole. Why piss it away on some sudden spree?"

"You think I want to waste my time with this nonsense? Besides, I already made early release. My contractor struck a deal where I raise a bit of hell as part of the agreement."

Contractor? Skywood usually worked solo, regardless of the promise of bargains. Why the sudden change of heart and why was it necessary to cause trouble?

"Who bailed you out?"

"They sent a goon in their place, some Indian chick, but they claimed it was on behalf of 'Void'."

"Void? Doesn't ring a bell." Were they an up and coming villain? The name sounded intimidating. "Regardless, we can't let you do this!"

She arrogantly readied to fight us. "You don't have a choice, Star Spangled Bimbo!"

"Real mature..." Only Willpower heard me mutter under my breath.

Suddenly, just as I prepared to make the first move, a dark shroud came over the three of us and I knew what was going on. From the sound alone, I heard as the cause of the phenomenon kicked Skywood, cast a shadow-like hand from the ground, and grabbed her in what they call in wrestling a "stunner", lifting her a bit up in the air and slammed her to the ground.

The darkness dissolved and I came to see a five-foot-short woman dressed in Middle Eastern attire. She grabbed the unconscious Skywood with the hand she materialized from dark energy and gave me a smug grin.

"Black Moon, what the hell!?" I asked, chastising her on yet another interference. "Will and I had this one!"

"Geez, Star. You're welcome." She said with a sardonic inflection.

"Aw, man. Come on, Moon!" Willpower was predictably bummed. "That's the fifth time this week. Leave some for us to fight."

"Alright, damn! Next time try not to talk to the stupid bastards, and I won't feel the need to get shit done for you." Ah, there's the vulgarity.

Astra Badr, AKA Black Moon, has been my best friend since grade school. The second-in-command and stealth expert of our team, the Lone Stars, before we disbanded a year ago. She always had a chip on her shoulder, which only worsened after a traumatic experience at 12 years old. Despite her edges, she was a true friend and cared for us despite her attitude claiming otherwise.

I walked toward her and put my hands on her shoulders. "Look, Moon, I know you aren't into the whole 'super team' scene anymore like Willpower and I are, but please just try not to deal with our problems unless it gets bad. Okay? I don't want to be angry with you."

A cocky smirk grew on her face as I knew she was going to say something to kill the mood.

"Roxanne, are you hitting on me?"

I lightheartedly shoved her away, trying as hard as possible not to laugh. "Come on, Astra! You can't let us have just one earnest moment together?"

We all had a laugh for a bit. Then Will wrapped his arm around Moon. "You know, Roxy and I were just saying we'd like it if you joined us. We hardly just hang out anymore, even in the afternoon."

"Yeah, sorry 'bout that, guys. I've been dealing with this crazy-ass crime ring that's been growing ever since you and I took down Biocide..." She looked to me; a bit annoyed she hadn't included someone else. "...with help from Star Lass and Metal Queen, of course. The asshole I was rounding up didn't know jack, even though he was working for someone involved. If you want, I can take you along tonight for recon… if you promise not to do anything stupid."

It sounds hypocritical of Astra to say that, but she honestly has a better track record than Rio does with reckless behavior.

"As long as you come by our place earlier tonight, it's wrestling night."

"Hell yeah, man!" The two of them bumped fists. I wasn't really into that stuff, but Rio and Astra eat it up.

"I almost forgot how well the two of you could get along." The lightened mood made me smile as we walked (or flew, in my case) away to let the authorities apprehend our party crasher.

After we changed back, we headed to the Bucky Beez that Rio had his eyes on, as Astra and I watched as a 20-year-old man – who was turning 21 in a couple months - played in a ball pit made for children half his age.

"I would have optioned to go to somewhere with booze, like a bar." Astra quipped as she took a sip of her non-alcoholic soda. She was in street clothes like the rest of us, but compared to me and Rio, especially in contrast to her superhero attire, she looked like she was dressed for the gym with the lavender summer top and khaki shorts she's fond of.

"Don't lie to me, Badr, you wanted to get some tail." Astra was the only woman I knew with a lewder mind than my own. Being bi and open to polyamory certainly didn't hurt her chances with folks either. It was silly, but part of me admired her bravado toward expanding her sexuality.

"That would be a secondary reason." She watched Rio play without a care in the world. "Do you ever think to yourself 'why am I in love with that guy'?"

"Not as often as you'd think." My smile persisted as I watched the love of my life enjoy himself. "So, how's Claire? You told me you were helping her while she was out in Lubbock."

"She's doing good. She mentioned a roommate that sounds a lot like our man-child over there if he were a girl."

A female Rio sounded interesting. "Any chance I could meet her?"

"In probably a few months, depending on if she comes back on holiday." She looked at me with a more penitent face. "Look, Rox. I just wanted to say I'm sorry about-"

She was caught off guard by the hug I had given her.

"Let me stop you right there. Because I already forgive you, ya big dummy!"

"Okay, I promise I won't ruin this moment." She snarked once again.