Spacer Aftermath 83
  | Asymmetry | Role-Playing | What If | Aftermath |



News from New York, and dreams.



Celebration into the night, Sunday:
The church service, march, and social are a rousing success. There are even two White churches in attendance, a fact which moves Shuttleworth to tears during his impassioned sermon on the equality of all men and how only the blood of Christ can heal the wounds of racism in America. The four heroes have a wonderful time. Everyone, especially Janet, is pleasantly surprised in the evening when Harry Belafonte, who had just flown in from California, arrives. Janet had met Belafonte a few times at various society events in Los Angeles and New York, and had always found him a charming man. And, of course, he sang.
    It is late by the time the four heroes get to sleep.
    Sam Stern feels better than he has in weeks. No strange voices. No nightmares. He does have a dream about Aegis, Emerald, Ravdna, and Delta V, all meeting atop the Empire State Building. It is a somewhat sad dream, and it does seem strange that the entire team wasn't in the dream.

Return to New York, Monday:
Janet and Harry Belafonte spend the day touring Birmingham and enjoying the attention that comes with celebrity. Adrian stays at the hospital with Paul and Sam Wilson for a while, but then goes back to visit with Harriet Wilson. He finds Sam Stern there also, enjoying the ancient matrons company, listening to stories about life during the World War I.
    About six in the evening, Adrian and Sam Stern hear the radio reports of the violence at the UN, the assassination attempts against Stark and so man named Sallis, and the death of Victor Dumas, the Specter. Sam Stern remembers his dream. He and Adrian quickly contact Janet and Sam Wilson.
    Suddenly, staying in Alabama these past few days doesn't seem like such a wonderful idea anymore.
    "Oh," is all Adrian can bring himself to say as Harriet's cracking radio provides a terse reporting of the days events at the United Nations. "Oh."
    By the time the four of them are together he's a little more controlled. "OK, Samuel and I have to get back to New York as quickly as possible and find out more about what happened. We'd love to have you two come along, but there's no obligation," he looks at the younger Wilson, "Janet's still wounded and your father just came out of a coma. It's not exactly the best time for either of you to be running around following some old fool on his damn crusade. If you think you'd better stay down here Sam, I can arrange to come pick you up later, if that turns out to be necessary."
    Sam looks a little hesitant, then visibly pulls himself together. "No, my father's doing well enough and the last thing he needs is me watching over his shoulder. If you're willing to help with the transport, I'm willing to go."
    Janet listens with interest to the intensity of her adopted uncle. "I should get back to New York, too. I flew down in a plan with Eric, a brother of one of Henry's cohorts. I haven't seen or heard from him since before the rally, we were supposed to meet there."
    Janet thinks for a moment, her ribs still sore, but getting better. "I don't think I could fly all the way back myself though, Its got to be almost a thousand miles. But Sam doesn't want to try and teleport us, maybe he could fly." Her eyes twinkle slightly. "With a hundred mile an hour tail wind, we could probably make better time. Either way it sure beat driving."
    Adrian turns to Sam Stern, noticing that the man looks better now then he has in days. "You managed to teleport yourself down here before, and carry Ghost Rider with you into the bunker. Do you think you could manage a jaunt with us up to New York? It's the fastest way up there. If you're uncomfortable with it I can fly back—I'd get there by midnight or a little later, and I've already reconstructed the flying harness, so I could carry someone if needed. One way or another, I plan on being back in New York by midnight at the latest."
    "That means, that means..." Stern began, but hesitated as if saying it aloud would make it instantly come true. "You don't know what it does to me...the dreams come and it's like someone stuffs my mind in a hole."
    Stern puts his hands to his temples, rubbing them with small circular motions. "These people are turning me into something and--" he instantly shuts his mouth as he realizes just how insane he must sound. He nervously searches Adrian's face for signs of alarm. "I'm not crazy," he said feebly.
    "The...dreams? Sam, you said on the docks that the 'angel of darkness' thing was just an act. To throw the opposition off, I assumed." Adrian takes a step closer to the young man, "After what happened in front of the hospital I was worried about your control of your powers under stress, but you've been so controlled since the fight at the bunker that I thought the stress was resolved. If you have other problems with those powers, then you had best be cautious about using them."
    "I thought it was an act. I mean, it has to be, you know? But these dreams...and these people, and the--" Stern put his face in his hands. He said, his voice now muffled, "I know they're good people and I'm supposed to help them somehow as Dark Angel." He removed his face form his hands as if saying his nom de guerre had bestowed some kind of strength to him.
    "But--God, I don't even know how to explain it; I don't understand it myself--I feel like all the moments of my life has led up to this. I can see myself back in Catholic school." A thousand-yard stare came over him as he went back to that time. "And I see the parallels to this, to Dark Angel. It's like I was being indoctrinated, trained for this. For now." His voice took on more force, more confidence. He was working it out now. "I never knew if I believed in Him; I always questioned. I envied my mother, you know, because she really believed. But I know Him now." Stern studied Adrian to see if he understood any better, searching the man's face for comprehension. "It's okay, it doesn't have to mean anything to you. Somehow I've been chosen for something, something wonderful." He was smiling now. Maybe even gleeful. The thought passed through his mind that he was sure everyone thought he was an absolute nut now, but it didn't matter. They all had work to do.
    While he was trying to stay calm, Adrian was actually frustrated with the situation, _I just don't know enough. Sam's powers are driving him insane? How am I supposed to give him an answer to that. I'm just an engineer, for Pete's sake! I want to get to New York, but I can't tell him to take an action that might hurt him. Ok. Just work the immediate problem._ "Janet, I hate to have to do this, but I can only carry one person with me to New York, and you're the only one with alternate transport. I agree with you that you shouldn't try to fly up to NYC by yourself. You're wounded and we have no idea how taxing such a long flight would be to you, or what speed you'd make. My armor's an advantage here—the flight is less tiring for me than a long car ride." He stopped, realizing he was getting sidetracked, took a deep breath, and continued.

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