As a preemptive warning, any and all chapters of this story are liable to be edited at any point in time.

Here is my first ever attempt at writing this kind of thing. I've written a few original short stories and am writing and have written novel length fanfiction works (*insert shameless plug here for my fanfiction account with the same name*), this is my first ever attempt at writing something long and original.

Hope you all like it.

From beyond the dark curtain of sleep, Veto felt the vague sensation of something pushing against her shoulders, shaking her entire body back and forth.

She grumbled and shifted her body forwards, burying her head deeper into her arms in an attempt to get away from whatever was trying to take her precious sleeping time away from her.

"-ake up." A muffled voice said. "Wake up."

Her shoulders were pulled back, dragging her head along with them. As her entire body slid down the chair to the point where she almost felt like she would fall off, she breathed a sigh of relief as she realized that she was sitting on her comfortable office chair at the office and not at the tiny wooden chairs that she'd been forced to use at Danner High.

"You need to wake up."

She opened her eyes slightly, but the light over the desk was too strong for her sleepy eyes. She let out a low whine and lifted her arms, shielding her entire face from the offending glare of the lights.

She heard a low sigh. "It's very important," the voice insisted.

She returned with her own sigh and peeked past a small gap between her arms, looking up at whoever dared to take away her dreamless sleep. A formless blob stared back at her. She blinked a few times, checking to see if her eyes were tired from just waking up. It took a few blinks to realize that it wasn't just her sleep thief that was a formless blob. It was the entire room.

"Glasses," she mumbled and reached out with one arm, groping around the surface of her desk for something that felt familiar.

"Here," the voice said. At this point she was awake enough to register that it was a low masculine voice, but she still couldn't figure out who it belonged too. Something long and wiry was placed into her hand and she pushed the familiar object onto her face.

Blinking once, and then twice at the sudden clarity of everything around her, she looked up at the owner of the voice once again.

An old man stared back at her, probably around fifty years old, mostly grey hair speckled with some black and white, brown eyes. He wore a long trench coat as he always did, to the astonishment of everyone who had seen him during the intense summer heatwave that had only just started to fade. After being christened as Detective, he'd become obsessed with the image.

"Ah," Veto said, finally putting a name to her sleep thief. "Detective, you should have knocked. What if I was in the middle of something important?." She paused for a second to give a wide yawn, raising one arm to cover her mouth with the back of her hand and rub the sleep out of her eyes in one motion.

"And since when do you involve yourself in 'important business' during your downtime?" he asked with a poorly hidden grin.

Veto shrugged back and said, "There's a first for everything."

"Well, I'm having a very hard time believing that," he said.

When Veto realized that he was trying to reach over her body and touch the computer, Veto stood up and grabbed onto his wrist. Even through her sleepy haze, she made sure not to let anything touch his fingers. "Hey, hey," she said. "No cheating."

She still hadn't decided on whether she cared if Detective knew about what she'd been doing the night before, but the choice was taken away from her when her elbow hit the table. The impact was just strong enough so her mouse moved, turning on her monitor to reveal the victory screen of a new strategy game that had come out the night before.

"Yes, I can see you were doing your best." She looked up at Detective, who looked down at her with a deadpan stare, though the unamused look that he was probably attempting was ruined by the way that his lips were pursed in a failing attempt to keep them from twitching upwards. "Good work."

Veto gave him a sheepish grin and shrugged. Letting go of his wrist, she reached beside the computer monitor to click a button and turn the screen dark once more. "So anyways, Detective," she said, yawning a second time. "Why'd you feel the need to wake me up, again?"

"We got a call from a small town a few hours away from Risonton," he said. "To be specific, we got a call from a hospital."

In her partially asleep state, Veto couldn't help but wonder why the hell that was something that he would consider to be 'very important'. While it was a part of her job to make sure that all of the citizens of Risonton remained safe from the dangers of the outside world, there honestly wasn't much she could do if one was already hurt. That was unfortunately out of her hands and out of the hands of any of her personnel.

Veto shot up from her chair and stood up to face him, all feelings of sleepiness purged instantly from her mind. "Newb-" Her words were cut off by her own shriek as her foot caught against one of the legs on her desk. A quick burst of panic flashed through her mind but thankfully, she didn't fall far. There were two simultaneous grunts as Detective managed to catch her, taking one step backwards to brace himself against the impact.

"Careful, young miss," Detective said, with a little strain in his voice. He grunted once more as he pulled her to her feet again. "You almost gave me a heart attack."

"Sorry about that, Detective," Veto said, with a short giggle. "And shouldn't you be calling me Captain?"

"I will call you Captain when you act like one," he said, reaching over to grind his fist into the top of Veto's head. Veto recoiled back away from it in mock pain and he smiled. "Do you not want to hear about the new altered?"

Immediately, Veto forgot that she was pretending to be in agony and bounced back up to her feet. "What's their power? How strong are they? Where do I go to meet them?"

Detective stepped back and raised his hands, not bothering to hide the wide grin that was forming on his face. "Calm down," he said.

"I'll calm down when you tell me who this newbie is," Veto said as she reached up to grab the taller man's collar and shake him back and forth. In return, he let himself sway along with her for a few pushes and pulls before he reached up and gently peeled her hands away.

"I'm surprised. I thought you usually preferred going with a minimal amount of information," he said, looking down at her with an amused look on his face. "I vaguely recall the term 'spoiler alert' being used when I told you about Hardhat's powers not just a month ago."

Veto blinked twice before she slapped her forehead in an overdramatic fashion.

Detective gave a low chuckle before continuing. "To be honest I don't have a lot to tell you much anyways. They didn't mention many details to me other than that they know for sure that he's an altered. But if you want to know where our potential recruit is, he is staying in a small hospital called St. Gabriel's around a hundred and fifty miles out east from here."

Veto made a face that was sure to convey as much disgust as possible. "A hundred and fifty miles?"

Detective gave her an apologetic smile. "I've already called an ambulance to come pick you up. You won't have to go through traffic at the very least." He paused for a second and his smile flattened out. Even before he opened his mouth to speak, Veto knew what he was going to suggest.

"I don't think an escort is necessary, Detective," she said with a pre-emptive sigh, knowing what was already coming.

"I know how it feels to be an altered with a power that can not help you in battle," he said, getting down on one knee so he was just barely below her eye level. "I know it's hard for us to be compared to everyone else who is out there saving lives, but I know you are saving as many lives here."

"Detective," Veto said, exasperated at having to hear the same lines every time she went for a recruitment. "I'm certain that it won't be a trap. I've never been attacked during a recruitment and neither have you, and you've been doing this for much longer than I have."

"But I brought an altered escort every time I went out to recruit." Detective stood up, proving to make quite an imposing image as he squinted down at her with a practised look of disappointment.

But Veto was used to most of her colleagues being taller than her. "Detective," she said in a scolding tone, crossing her arms to amplify the effect.

"Maybe you will fine be this time, but how can you know that you will always be that way, young miss?" he asked. Like always, his voice wasn't sharp or harsh in any way. It was simple coated in a thick layer of concern.

"I'm not disrupting any of our fighting force just because I'm paranoid," Veto sighed, struggling not to look away from Detective's pleading gaze. She wanted to be a bit harsher, just to drive the point in, but at this point she felt like it would feel too much like kicking an old dog for being overly affectionate. "Besides," she smiled in a way that she hoped was reassuring. "I'll be asking Blinque to take me." She left it unsaid that Blinque was currently out on a job herself.

Detective's expression instantly morphed from one of concern to one of distaste. "As always, I request that you don't rely on her so much." Veto knew that what he'd left unsaid was that he and Blinque hated each other.

"And why is that, Detective?" she asked, deciding to have a little revenge for making her feel so bad about arguing with him. "Why don't you want me to hang out with Blinque?"

"Aside from her history of delinquency and general unreliability?"

Veto rolled her eyes. "That was before her rebirth, Detective. She's a completely different person now, Detective."

"And the fact that she seems to be continuing the trend of her previous life?" Detective shook his head and continued before Veto could reply. "She's a bad influence, young miss."

"One that you have no business keeping me away from," she said with a sigh.

"Young miss-"

"Captain," Veto said, looking back up at him with a hard glare. "You will call me Captain and you will not fight me on this, Detective."

"Understood," Detective immediately replied. He gave her one more downtrodden look before he turned around. "I'll be waiting downstairs in case you change your mind."

She watched his retreating back until he opened the door to her office and let it close behind him. Once his footsteps faded away, she let out a sigh. She really did feel bad for Detective, but his protective personality was almost starting to breach the boundary between endearing and annoying.

In either case, there was no point in worrying about it. She knew that if she listened to Detective's suggestion, it would probably improve her relationship with him even further, but that really wasn't worth the four hour round trip. Of course, she could cheat and…

No. She shook her head. Instead she leaned over to push the button on the side of her computer monitor. With a satisfying click, the screen lit up to show the word "VICTORY" in an overly flowery font, surrounded by dozens of her characters that she'd led to victory the night before, all dancing in celebration.

She glared at each of the characters as they flashed their wide grins to her during their individually animated dances. The cutesy art-style should have tipped her off when she first downloaded it, but the game was a general disappointment. Clunky, generic, and most importantly, too simple and easy.

With a few clicks of her mouse, she'd exited the game and started the uninstall process.

With that, she leaned back, falling into her comfortable office chair that had gone ignored throughout her conversation with Detective. Once she found a comfortable position, she reached up and squeezed her earing.

"Driver, Blinque," she said.

"What's up, Tylers?" came the immediate response.

Veto sighed and rolled her eyes. "That's not my name anymore, Blinque."

"Eh." Veto could easily imagine the way that Blinque was rolling her own eyes in response. "Just think of it as a cute little nickname. It's hard to adjust, you know."

Veto sighed. "And I can't convince you to try?" she asked, hoping that Blinque's answer would be different this time. "Can't you at least call me Mary?"

"No can do, Tylers." Blinque's response was accompanied by a husky laugh that, despite her annoyance at the use of her past's name, made it difficult to be angry at the girl. "Anyways, why'd you call? Don't tell me you went crazy from being locked up in your office for the whole day."

"Nope," Veto said. Despite the urge to continue arguing about her name, other things took precedence. "I need your power."

"Hey now, I'm currently doing a job, you know. One that you assigned me to." Though the words were spoken without any real heat behind them, Blinque's accusations weren't lost to her.

"I know, I know," Veto said. "But it'll probably only take a few seconds."

There was a short silence from the other end, cut off when Blinque sighed. "Where do you want to go?"

Veto smiled and leaned over in her seat to pick up her phone from her desk. "I'll send you the location once I search it up."

"And I'm guessing you're in your office?" Veto nodded as she searched up the exact coordinates of St. Gabriel's Hospital and pressed a button that created a drop-down menu that listed each of her Heroes.

"Umm, Tylers?"

"What is it?" she asked as she searched for Blinque's name.

"You gonna tell me where you are?"

Veto had to think for a second before she realized that she only nodded and that Blinque wouldn't have known from the lack of a video feed. "Yeah, I'm in my office," she said, making a mental note to ask Circuit to add a video call function to their communicators.

"Okay. And the destination?"

"I'm getting to that," Veto replied, just as she tapped the entry on her phone that read: Hope Washington, Blinque, Driver. She packed away a mental note to ask Circuit to provide a function to organize the name lists by Hero name on his phone app.

"Alright, just a few hundred miles off Risonton," Blinque mumbled. "There's a small grassy area around so I can probably blink there. Won't have to worry about much of anything other than a jogger or something."

"You do you," Veto said, throwing her phone back onto her desk and lazily spinning around in her office chair. "Just come into my office whenever you're able."

"Oh crap, is this a hospital? Does that mean we're getting some fresh blood?"

Veto let out a small wordless yelp of surprise as she turned once more in her office chair to see Blinque was standing in front of her office door, though the surprise wasn't due to her colleague's sudden appearance. She clapped her hands against her ears in reaction to the sudden increase in volume.

"Blinque!" she hissed, stopping her office chair to glare at the girl. "Why don't you ever turn off your comms before jumping to me?"

Veto was surprised to see Blinque flinching back from the scolding, but when Blinque reached up to squeeze her earlobe, Veto realized that the volume increase would've worked both ways. "Fuck, that was loud," Blinque said, the remnants of a wince still on her face. "Must've forgotten to turn it off. My bad."

Veto opened her mouth to scold her colleague further, but closed it once she realized that it was probably her fault that this had happened in the first place. She shook her head. "Whatever, mistakes happen," she said, reaching for her ear to turn off her own communicator.

Blinque shrugged and flashed her a smile. "So, Tylers. Why don't you get changed and wash up so we can head on out of here?"

In return, Veto simply looked up at her. "Why can't you just take me as is?" she asked, flashing her a perfect smile.

Blinque's smile died an instant and ugly death. "You slept in those clothes, you didn't take a shower, you didn't brush your teeth and you want to go out in public like that?"

Veto shrugged, perfect smile refusing to fall. "Yeah, but I still look good," she said, reaching up to brush a stray strand of brown hair to the side.

"And that infuriates me," Blinque growled.

Veto let out a short laugh. "Let's just go. You're not going to win this argument with me," she said, leaning forward and pushing herself out of her office chair.

Blinque rolled her eyes but didn't offer any sort of reply and simply stepped forward to take Veto's outstretched hand.

With a snap of Blinque's fingers, the office was empty.

So there it is. There is a LOT here that you might think doesn't make sense or just doesn't work if you read carefully enough, but at least some of the mistakes you find will be something I did on purpose to provide a future follow-up. Either that or I didn't think hard enough. For example, that whole thing describing that game thing was always going to be lame, but it turned out even lamer than I expected.

Fun fact about this story. This had been cooking in my oven for a few months an I've written around 40000 words for it already... It's just that all of those 40000 words are discarded chapter ones for alternate plot lines. This isn't even the best chapter one I've written for this story concept, but I feel like this is the only one that can actually properly lead me to an ending.

Final note: This story will also be posted on the wordpress domain: casualtyofone. So if you happen to stumble across it, I'm not plagiarizing anyone but myself.