Heroes Legion Academy: Season 1: Episode 1: Genesis
Chapter 5: Rescue
Northwest Philadelphia: May 7th, 2043: 10:10 PM
Johnny awoke to find himself in the middle of a farmer's field, one that was still in the process of being tilled.
He could see the lights of a combine far off in the distance.
He got up and looked around in confusion.
How did he end up here?
And more importantly…how the heck could he see the combine in the distance as clear as day?
Scratch that, how was it he could see in the dark.
He had to admit, this was very cool…if not a little unnerving.
Was he wearing some kind of special goggles or contact lenses?
He quickly felt his face and his eyes with his fingers, but to his surprise found that neither possibility was there.
Meaning that he was seeing in the dark…with his own eyes.
That was when he remembered what had happened at the hospital.
"If you think it…the door of darkness appears…" a disembodied voice said to him.
Johnny jumped in surprise at the sound of a voice coming from nowhere but everyone, from someone but no one.
No one was there in the field with him.
He was alone.
So who had spoken to him?
"…concentrate Johnny…" the voice spoke again, "the darkness is all around you. Can you feel it? That pulsing in your fingers? That is the miasmic energy of the realm of shadows…Waiting to be commanded and directed"
Johnny didn't know what the voice in his head was talking about, but now that it mentioned it…he DID feel something, flowing around him.
Some kind of invisible force.
What was going on?
"Let's start out with something simple" the voice said, "focus your attention on the space in front of you. Since it is night your element is all around you. Imagine a door, one that can take you anywhere you want to if the darkness is present."
"Okay…this day has sure gotten strange…" Johnny said to himself, "first I get superpowers and now I'm hearing voices in my head."
"Trust me Johnny…I know what I'm talking about. Concentrate and visualize a doorway…" the voice said assuringly.
"Feels like I'm in the tutorial level of a video game…a voice telling me how things work?" Johnny said to himself, "I swear if I see word balloons or subtitles pop up somewhere anytime soon…then I'll know this has just been a crazy dream. Okay…"focus and visualize a door" was it? Let's see if I understood you correctly whoever you are."
Johnny then concentrated, and focused on the area in front of him.
To his shock, for a moment some kind of "doorway" formed out of thin air.
It vanished quickly.
Johnny then realized that it was because he lost his focus, so he tried again.
This time the "doorway" opened and stayed open.
"Holy crap!" he said in amazement, "Did I do that?"
"Yes Steve Urkel you did do that" the voice said in amusement, "What you see before you is called a 'shadow portal'. It's a gateway. A portal into a hyperspace dimension called 'the Shadow Realm'… with these portals you can travel from one place to another via shadows and darkness."
"So THAT'S what I was doing?" Johnny asked in amazement, "I was teleporting around with shadows?"
That was when Johnny's concentration on the portal caused something else to occur with his night vision.
Everything around him briefly transformed into a crackling purple hued negative of itself…and then suddenly the whole landscaped zoomed in…until all Johnny could see was the highway road in the distance.
He let go of his concentration again, and the shadow portal and the strange negative image of the landscape he stood in.
"What was that?" he asked, figuring the voice in his head would have the answers since it had been very informative so far.
"That is called the Dark Sense ability. It's a second sight ability linked to the shadow realm. The shadow realm is the source of your power. You can draw power from it via the darkness…and use it to sense and or see through places and rooms. A 'shadow vision' if you will. Use it now by spying in on that farmer in the combine over yonder." The voice suggested.
"Isn't that kind of an invasion of privacy?" Johnny asked sheepishly.
"Johnny." The voice said in a patient tone.
"Alright, I'll try it." Johnny said, and then concentrated again.
Sure enough he soon saw the inside of that combine appear before his eyes, and he could also hear what was going on in the cab of that combine 100 yards away from where he stood.
"Long night….long night….gotta stay awake… almost done the west 40 acre." The farmer said tiredly.
"Holy crap, this is awesome!" Johnny said in amazement, "Can he hear me?"
"No…not unless you are viewing it through a portal in the shadow realm Johnny. But that is a lesson for another time. Now…about your friend…Neil Jackson…that's his name is it not?" the voice asked.
"Neil?" Johnny asked absentmindedly, and then he remember "oh my gosh! Neil. The doctor…he said that Neil and the 'other victim' were taken to a different hospital."
"Unfortunately Johnny, that information has changed since you went into temporary stasis to finish your Metagenesis" the voice said with concern, "your friend vanished along with the other victim of the storm. The ambulance they were in never made it to the other hospital. In fact, it was found crashed into the side of the road…looking like someone or something sliced its way out of it."
"Neil? The storm! You don't think he was affected by the storm? That is it isn't it? Why I have these powers? The storm, it did something to me…to both of us." Johnny asked, worried about his friends safety.
"Most likely it did. I tracked his location to this area of Philadelphia's outskirts. However I can't sense him, meaning he is likely somewhere outside of my powers influence." The voice answered.
"Your powers influence?" Johnny asked to the voice in his head in surprise, "who are you?"
"I will reveal that later, right now we need to find your friend. He might be in danger." The voice said urgently, "now…if he's in this area. The no doubt soon your powers will hopefully start giving your dark sense ability its danger sensing ability as well."
"Danger sensing?" Johnny asked, "You mean like Spider-man's spider sense?"
"Pretty much. You should feel a sensation of dread, of danger wash over you if your friend is here and in danger. It will be like a shockwave going over you and your friend's exact location will appear in your vision like the farmer did when you used your Shadow Vision power."
"Okay, I'll try…but I don't know if…" Johnny stopped his ramble in mid-sentence when he suddenly felt that exact sensation that the voice in his head had described.
His 'shadow vision' as the voice called it activated again, and this time it showed his friend Neil Jackson.
He was tied up, on a chair…in some room somewhere.
It looked like a shack.
Suddenly Johnny knew what he had to do.
He didn't know how he knew, it was like it was something in his blood told him what to do.
"He's in trouble, I've got to help him. I know where he is." Johnny said urgently to the voice in his head.
"I see it too, in your minds eye, hold up a moment and don't jump the gun. I and my associates will head over there to rescue him, just stay where you are and we'll come and…" the voice said wisely.
"I'm not waiting! He's my friend and he's in trouble, I can get in to where he's being held and get him out. I'm a teleporter right? Should be simple." Johnny said with determination.
"Johnny wait, before you shadow walk you need to…!" the voice tried to warn him, but Johnny had already formed a shadow portal and jumped through.
Shadow walking himself to the location where Neil Jackson was being held captive.
The owner of the voice that Johnny had been hearing in his head sighed in defeat, "No…I guess it was too much for me to expect you to sit this out and leave this to us. You have a lot of your father in you boy…he never left his friends safety in the palm of hands that were not his own. He'd be proud of you, that much is certain. Let's just hope we can catch up to you before you get in over your head."
When he learned from the mysterious voice in his head that he could teleport via shadows and darkness, Johnny had expected it to work like Night crawlers power.
In a way it did.
But unlike the comic book character, when he arrived at his destination…he shot out of the shadow of the shacks front door cast onto the ground by the moonlight outside that the exit shadow portal formed out from like a cannonball. Then he skidded across the wooden floor of the shack he had tried to travel to.
Although the landing was rough, he considered this a better trip than the wild ride he had endured when his powers manifested in the hospital earlier this evening.
He did land hard though, so he smarted in some places…including his head.
"Okay…that's going to take some getting used to" he grimaced.
"Johnny? Is that you?" he heard Neil Jackson's voice ask in the darkness of the room of this abandoned shack he had sent himself to.
Johnny soon saw his friend Neil clear as day, tied up to a chair just two feet beside where he had landed.
Since Neil was blind, there was no point in blindfolding him it would seem.
"It's me Neil, shhh…" Johnny whispered, "I'm going to get you out of here."
"Johnny you have to get away from here" Neil said, "he's insane, he's…"
Suddenly Johnny felt that same "danger sense" that had lead him to the place where his friend was being held captive, this time it was warning him about a metal barrel that was being thrown right at him.
He barely had time to jump out of the way before the metal barrel came crashing down into the rotten floor of the abandoned shack.
That was when he saw his attacker.
"You've got to be kidding me!" Johnny said in recognition of the attacker, "YOU?"
With or without his night vision ability, he would have recognized the attacker as Abe Freeman.
That school bully.
He had been affected by the storm as well, either that or he'd bulked up considerably in size within the past eight hours.
Thanks to the moonlight streaming into the room, and Johnny's unawareness of the fact his own eyes were glowing in the dark.
Abe Freemen saw that someone was in the room, and he had also overheard the conversation. Having been outside the door of the abandoned shack in the middle of an unknown vacant land plot somewhere.
"So…the little jap half breed is now here?" Abe Freemen asked in surprise, "Welcome to the party. I was just about to head into town to track you down."
"What are you doing Abe, this is not the usual bullying you've done to us before. This is kidnapping." Johnny asked, backing away from Abe Freemen as he walked toward him.
"Oh shut up!" Abe Freemen snapped, "This isn't a kidnapping. It's justice. You two bastards ruined my life!"
"It's not our fault you got held back a year" Johnny said.
"Not THAT…." Abe Freemen snapped, "THIS!"
He then held up his hands, clenching them into fists.
Johnny watched in horror as from out of Abe Freemen's forearms emerged twin blades made out of sharpened bones that extended until they were a foot in length past his clenched fists.
They looked like giant machete's made out of bone.
"Okay that is disgusting" Johnny said in repulsion.
"My parents thought the same thing, that's why they disowned me and turned the cops on me when I returned home expecting them to help me. They called my 'disease' un-American, that I was a blemish on mankind now. I can't go back to school, I can't do football, I can't do anything now. I'm a freak, and it's all because you jerks made me pick on you in the exact spot that storm was going to strike. So now all that I have left, is getting revenge on you two for this."
"Hey Abe…" Johnny said putting up his hands in defence, "It's not our fault your parents were so high strung patriotically obsessed that they'd disown you for being…whatever we are now… but that was a freak of nature. We didn't plan that storm…"
"My names not Abe Freemen anymore" Abe Freemen smirked sinisterly, "It's 'Machete'…and I'm about to show you why!"
Machete then lunged at Johnny with his blade arm weapon, Johnny dogged it barely.
But in doing so he backed himself into a corner.
Machete was fast to recover from his miss in his blind rage, and turned around and stabbed his blade arm into Johnny.
Johnny froze, expecting searing agonizing pain.
But curiously, he didn't feel that at all.
Both Johnny and Machete looked down at Johnny's abdomen, and saw to their surprise that Johnny's body had become…a living shadow?
The blade had gone through his transformed body like he wasn't even there, like he was a ghost.
"Wow…" Johnny said, finding his voice "talk about taking a stab in the dark!"
"What the hell?" Machete exclaimed.
"Hey I'm just as surprised as you are, but I'm going to be going now and I'm taking my friend with me. Bye now!" Johnny exclaimed.
He then activated his shadow walking power.
Warping himself over to where Neil was still sitting tied to a chair, grabbed him and then teleported them both out of the shack…and a few feet out of in the surrounding lot.
"What just happened?" Neil asked in confusion, "I feel like we just went through the mindbender at the county fair."
"I'm winded too brother" Johnny panted tiredly, "I guess I need some practice with this ability. But I made an important discovery. Shadow Walking works better with this living shadow form ability. Now let's get you out of these ropes before…"
Suddenly Machete broke through the side of the abandoned shack, both eyes looking at the two metahuman boys with murderous intent.
"Before exactly THAT happens!" Johnny exclaimed in fright.
That was when Johnny saw that one of the bio-blade weapons, the one that had previously been in Johnny's living shadow form's chest area, was now a bleeding stump…but a replacement blade was growing out from that stump.
Johnny then realized that when he shadow walked away from where Machete had him pinned, he accidentally took the bio-blade that he had tried to stab him with along for the ride.
A little safety tip for later if he and Neil managed to get out of this mess.
"You little bastard!" Machete shouted, and then charged at the two of them like a raging bull "I'll run you both through!"
Johnny tried to shadow walk himself and Neil to safety, but to his horror found that he was too winded by his inexperience in Shadow Walking that he couldn't concentrate enough to do so.
He couldn't even turn into that living shadow form.
It looked like both of them were about to be killed, when suddenly something strange began happening to Neil.
Sensing his friend was in danger as well as sensing his own life's dire situation, caused something to activate in Neil.
His hands became aflame with red kinetic energy, that energy burned right through the ropes that hand his wrists bound to the chair.
Now with his hands free, he shot his hands out at the attacking Machete.
Two beams of concentrated kinetic energy shot out from his hands, and struck Machete.
They sent the would be murder flying back into the abandoned shack, where his resulting crash fall wiped out half of the abandoned building in the process.
Both Johnny and Neil looked on (well, johnny look on anyway) at the sight of what had happened.
There was Machete, partially buried under the ruins of the abandoned shack.
"How the hell did you find me, Jackson? You're blind!" Machete said in disbelief, as he gasped for breath. The laser blast to the chest that had knocked him into the nearby car had also knocked the wind out of him.
"Just because I'm blind…" Neil said with contempt, "Doesn't mean I'm deaf."
Machete struggled to get up, but soon surrendered to his pain and fell unconscious.
"Wow…" Johnny said in amazement, "how did you know to do that?"
"Would you believe me if I told you that a voice in my head told me how to do that?" Neil asked, looking in the direction he had heard his friend's voice come from.
"Actually…yeah." Johnny said in recognition, "Did he sound like a mentor kind of figure…like Obi-wan Kenobi?"
"Yeah he did…why…have you heard him too?" Neil asked surprised.
"Yeah…he helped me find you Brother" Johnny confirmed.
"Now what are the odds that we both heard the same voice in our head, something strange is definitely going on here…Isn't it Johnny?" Neil said, reflecting on the situation "How did that voice know what was going on with us, and why did we only hear him in our heads?"
"Because I'm a telepath Neil Jackson…" this time they both heard the voice in their heads.
Before either of them could ask each other or the voice any questions, they both suddenly both heard the sound of a jet landing overheard, then they both felt the breeze of some kind of jet engine push down from above them a few feet away.
Something invisible landed down there in the middle of the vacant field, and before Johnny's eyes some kind of hatchway opened before them like something out of Star Trek.
"…and I'd be more than inclined to answer your questions from in here. Don't worry about Machete, I have friends in SLEET that can take care of him." The voice in their head said reassuringly.
The two friends looked at one another in question.
"Should we?" Johnny asked, "I mean this guy…whoever he is…he did help us out against Machete back there."
"And he also seems to know what's going on with the both of us" Neil Jackson added with a thoughtful look on his face, "but you know what we were taught about when it comes to strangers."
"Stranger, Danger" Johnny nodded in agreement.
"I'm no stranger Neil…and I'm not a danger to either of you" the voice assured him, "I knew your parents Neil, you probably don't remember me because the last time I saw you, you were only two years old. When your parents needed help with their own little…shall we say 'acquired skills' I helped them learn to control them to fit in with society and or use these gifts for the betterment of mankind. I can do the same for you and Johnny…all you have to do is trust me and step in to the Nighthawk."
"And what happens if we do?" Johnny asked warily.
"I'll take you to a new kind of school, my school…" the voice assured them both, "but the choice is yours if you want to come to the academy. I won't force either of you to join. So what will it be you two?"
The two boys thought about it.
And after a while of thinking about it, the both reached a decision.
A decision that was based on the shared knowledge that whoever this voice's owner was, he hadn't given them reason not to trust him.
If he had wanted them harmed, he wouldn't have helped them in his own way take down Machete.
"Before we give you our answer, explain to us how we can come with you and not be missed by the orphanage and the school we go to. Us or the creep back there?"
"We'll discuss that along the way Neil…" the voice promised, "I assure you, I won't leave any detail of what's happened tonight slip out through the cracks and ruin the nice little cover up story we already have planned up to excuse your absence from your school and the orphanage. This isn't my first rodeo."
Taking one last minute to think it over, the two metahuman boys walked over and stepped in to the Nighthawk.
A decision that ended up changing their lives forever, more than the storm ever had.