The mysterious Captain talks to his mentor; Union ponders.
Or that arm.
And without even looking at the rest of the papers, Connors knows what the Army has in mind for his research: the regeneration of battlefield injuries.
The rest of the day goes very slowly indeed for Curt Conners, culminating is a long walk around the campus to get his thoughts in order concerning the last 48 hours.
Martha greets Curt at the door. "I've...I've made you something, Curt. Come and see." She leads him into the dining room where he sees something hanging in the corner. It's a costume...a superhero costume. It's black and white with a golden triangle above above a golden V on the chest. A pair of yellow tinted goggles hang from the top of the costume.
"Oh Martha, it's wonderful! Thank you." They spend the rest of the evening as they normally would, eating dinner and talking about the days events. Then it's time for Curt to go to the meeting. He changes into his costume and kisses Martha goodbye. Then, with a flash, he's gone.
Delta V speeds down the streets of New York, making his way to the Empire State Building. 'All right, here goes nothing." Delta V speeds towards the Empire State Building. But instead of stopping when he reaches it, he runs straight up the side of the enormous structure to the observation deck above.
Captain America drifts slowly eastward high above the city. The still novel exhilaration of flight, the chill silence of the altitude, even the steady throbbing of his wound might have been enough to take his mind off the weight of the day's carnage, but his thoughts are more tense and chaotic than they were in the heat of battle.
*Probably the first time any of the other "heroes" have seen anything like that. I sure hoped I'd never see anything likewhat's this?*
Several blocks around this end of Central Park look to still be without electricity, but in the blackness, a sea of fireflies on the Great Lawn catches his eye, and he descends for a closer look. The fireflies become candles, held by silent New Yorkers of every age and ethnicity. The strains of gentle orchestral music waft up with the scent of melting wax. The New York Philharmonic, at the urging of the mayor and the cardinal, had decided to go forward with their planned performance for the evening. A combination memorial vigil for the slain and pep rally for the survivors, it has drawn quite a turnout.
The young Captain floats motionless above the treetops at the rear of the assembly, letting the soft waves of Bolero ease the knots in body and mind. *This concert's doing as much to help people through today as anything me and my new buddies did. That's really somethin'. Still, I'd hate to spoil the mood with any 'look-up in the sky!' outbursts, so I'd better split before this winds down.*
A few block away, still in the blackout area, the young hero silently glides to the rooftop of the 79th street apartment building. Calmed, but still muttering to himself,"...more centuries than he can count! How many is that, three?" He lands to open the greenhouse door, his voice rising"...and _then_ I run _straight_ into the"
"Who's there?" The child's voice from the roof's edge nearly makes Cap jump out of his tattered cape.
*Aw, God! WhadoIdo? Can't have our cover blown like this! Doc said...* With relief, he sees that the 9-year-old boy who spoke has not taken his face away from the eyepiece of a small telescope, aimed away from Cap's current position, as well as the way he approached the building. Still, here he is in full costume (well, almost full‹the cape is all but lost, and one of the little wings from his mask had fallen off sometime during the day), and should the kid turn around...
"Oh, it's you." the boy says, still intently gazing into the heavens. "The super assistant. Doc's nephew. Did you know they're making rockets and I'm going to fly in them?"
"Uhhh...ahemReally?" He gently opens the greenhouse door "That's really cool..." *...Lance? No, that's not it. What's was this kid's name? Lives with his mom, aunt, and uncle on the third floor...*
"I didn't hear you come up. Do you think I'll ever meet anybody from another planet?"
The young man stops cold for several heartbeats before regaining his wits. "Yeah. You bet, kiddo. You can get yourself a cute girlfriend from Mercury or Saturn or someplace."
"Ick! No Way!" The boy's voice is laden with cootie fear.
"Say, does your Mom know you're up here?"
As if on cue, a woman's voice calls out from the top of the stairs, on the far side of the roof. "Vance? Are you up here, sweetie?"
"WelltheresheisIgottagoseeyaVance!" SLAM! goes the greenhouse door, and the young Captain zips along through the same route he exited hours before.
A single candle cast deep, flickering shadows on the walls and ceiling of the tiny apartment. His older companion, hospital ID. bracelet still on his wrist, rises from his seat by the silent radio. "My God," he gasps. "You look decidedly unhealthy. What happened?"
Captain America relates the details of the battle and its aftermath, and of tomorrow night's rendezvous. The scientist listens with a look of intense concentration until his young friend's narrative is finished.
"Well, I'm certainly no expert on folklore, but it sounds like you fought the Teutonic gods of legend." Seeing the young man staring off into the shadows, the scientist pauses.
"Son, is there something else bothering you?"
The young Captain lets out a heavy sigh. He talks until long after the candle has flickered into darkness.
He wakes to the smell of bacon and toast, and feels better than he thought he ever would again. Over a huge breakfast, he and the scientist discuss their next move.
"I would love to see these people up close and personal, but if I show up, your identity is all but obvious. No, I'll just have to wait until you get back to get the meeting minutes." The scientist says around sips of coffee.
"There's no way I'm gonna be takin' notes up there, Doc. You sure you trust my memory?."
"I'll just have to. God help us all. What will you do until tonight?"
"Oh, just fly around and see what happens, I guess."
The day is a welcome change from the previous afternoon's destruction. Cap catches a construction worker falling from a skyscraper frame, interrupts a mugging, and lifts an ambulance out over rush hour traffic to fly it to a hospital. The afternoon Bugle puts this last on the front page. All in all, not the worst day a fledgeling hero could have.
Union makes it home in much the same way he left, riding the subway lines and then switching to more incognito garb closer to the shop. He's had much to think over and little time in which to do it. What's more, despite his suit's augmentation and protection, his old muscles are aching up a storm. What doubts might go through his head at a time like this?
*That subway trick is faster and easier than I thought. I better start studying a map of the system for getting around.*
Adrian's back ached as he changed from the chain mail into his street clothes, having snatched them rapidly from his roof via the metal buckles of the bag. He was several blocks away from home in a concealed alley. The stars were bright overheadthe weather had been twisted and wrenched several times that day, but had settled on a bright, clear, cool night over Long Island City. *I don't even want to think abut how I'm going to feel when I shut the suit off. I'm lucky that Viking didn't take my head off.* But as much as he hurt, Adrian knew that he was no where near as badly damaged as he should be: Union's inhuman reflexes had him rolling away from the blow almost before Skurge had started it, which allowed the armor to protect him as muchor as littleas it had.
He took the walk to his apartment at a brisk pace, trying to stretch out the tortured and bruised muscles as best he could given the circumstances *Well, it was an interesting day...and I seem to have found a coterie of other heroes...*
| Top |
© 1999 Mark L. Chance et al