"Mac," he says, his confidence building, "I'm sorry...It mighta been worse, yeah... But it sure as hell coulda been BETTER..." Carefully, Darkangel turns to look at the faces of his erstwhile comrades, trying to discern some reaction to both himself and his statement. "I'm not real keen on this losin' thing, s'pecially not to a buncha lugs that ain't even sposed to exist. So I hope one a you Joe's got an idea about what's next!!!"
The Marshal looks at the pale man for a second, the continues, "Yeah. Well I guess everything's pretty much taken care of here, for now. Hope you folks stick around, though. No tellin' what might come up next, and you sure could come in handy." He finishes shaking hands all around before walking off, muttering to himself with just a hint of amusement, "Superheroes. Real, Live, Superheroes."
Union, like Aegis, nods to the Fire Marshal, letting the young man in the Captain America suit speak for the group. After DarkAngel's much more accurate and much less upbeat analysis of their success, Union moves over to him, his voice low. "I don't think any of us are happy with losing, sir. But we take our victories where and when we canwe saved dozens of lives and stopped millions in damage, and we drove them off."
Union shakes his head, amazed at how much the winged albino'scertainly the oddest looking of the new heroes, but perhaps the most powerfulfeelings on this issue matched his own conclusions during the fight. "If that is cold comfort, look at it this way: we were able to drive them off while we were disorganized and utterly unfamiliar with one another. I imagine we'll fare much better during the next encounter." Union pauses and looks ominously at the sky, where the Dragonship had disappeared and where DarkAngel had been searching not moments before. "I think we can all agree that there will be a 'next encounter,' don't you?"
With that Union turns and accepts Delta V's handshake "Delta V? I'm Union. The lady is Aegis, and I believe the young man is calling himself Emerald. Quite an unexpected turnout.... Who would have thought there were so many of us, after all this time?"
Captain America turns back to face the group. "So. Now what?"
Before leaving Storm approaches one of the heroes, Captain America, and hands him a business card with her name.
"Excuse me...Mister Captain America. Here is my card. If you ever want to do something heroic, together, give my agent a call."
With that the young blonde heroine departed.
Bethany's eyebrows arch behind the mask when Ms. Storm sashays over to grace them with her presence, but she hasn't gotten this far in life by letting her redhead temper get the best of her, and she bites back the words she's thinking with a stern effort. Storm is soon gone, anyway, leaving the rest of them lingering at the scene of their extraordinary meeting while the cleanup continues around them. *Nothing worse than a bunch of heroes hanging around after there's no heroing left to do.*
Union was distracted during the appearance of the vainglamorous Miss Storm. He notices her presence only after she has left, and grits his teeth under his helmet as she bounces away, seemingly unaffected by the nightmarish carnage that she and her camera crew *Camera Crew? Camera Crew!* were threading through to reach their vehicles. Those standing near the sliver-clad hero can hear him muttering "Of all the self absorbed, foolish, dangerous...."
"Who was that?" Emerald asks Captain America. "Call her agent? She thinks this is some kind of game?" Emerald shakes his head at this latest turn of events.
"I have no idea." says Cap, watching the young woman walk away "I sure didn't see her around for the battle, but she cozied right up to the cameras. Hmf."
*At least these two young men have the right perspective on things.* Looking over the two young heroesCaptain America particularly, who's severe chest wound failing to daunt his obvious desire to do the right thingAdrian gains a new level of respect for them, especially in comparison to their rapidly departing 'peer.' *Could I have done as well at their age? I'm not so sure. I'm not so sure I can do as well NOW...*
"Weren't you supposed to be dead?"
"Yeah, well..." he turns to face the bandana-masked youth. "I guess I needed a name and the country needed a Captain." Sure was better than goin' with that Ubermensch idea the Doc was talkin' about. "Wish I could have done the title more justice today. And the shield sure would've come in handy." His fingers trail along the improvised steel-wire sutures (commandeered from the hardware store and sewn by Delta V) along the right side of his sternum.
"I know that I'm taking on a lot, here. More than some folks will be comfortable with. But where I come from, every kid dreams of growing up to repl... I mean, to be a hero, like Cap."
Now that the fire of anger has faded, Beth aches with more than exhaustion and finds it difficult to keep her mind off the thought of a nice, long, soak in a hot bath. She is sticking around mainly out of professional curiosity, keeping quiet as the others let down their guards a bit and observing their interactions with interest. *I thought he looked a little young, despite the outfit. Though he seems to have the right attitude.*
"So, Emerald," Cap asks, still not quite making steady eye contact," how'd you get into this superhero gig?"
"This is it," Emerald answers. "Oh, you mean the powers? Well there was this huge explosion out in the desert, and then I woke up and came to New York." From the young man's tone there is more to the story, but clearly the youth does not want to tell it now in public.
Cap's evasive demeanor evaporates, and his gaze locks on a tow truck as it hauls away a lifeless '56 Chevy. "The desert? Really. Whereabouts?" His face is nearly expressionless, but his eyes shine with soul-searing intensity, almost terror.
"Someplace out in New Mexico, I think," Emerald wonders where this is headed. "Or was it Nevada? No, definitely New Mexico, I kind of crossed what was supposed to be an abandoned military base about two-hundred miles outside of the capital. Guess they reactivated the base and didn't tell anybody."
Adrian listens carefully to Emeralds description of his origins. *Massive biological alteration. Astounding. I wonder about the others.... They certainly look no more technical than Emerald. If these sorts of things are happening everywhere...?*
At an appropriate pause in the conversation, Aegis suggests, "It's been a long and, I think, unexpected afternoon for all of us. And you two," she nods at Captain America and Darkangel, "could probably use a bit more in the way of medical attention, despite the good doctor's facility with baling wire. We seem to have a few things in common, and there's probably some more we could talk about. Maybe we could meet tomorrow morning and find out what those are?"
Inside the armor, Adrian winces at the though of closing the shop for a day, especially when his finances are so tight. But there's no other way he could make a morning meeting.... *Perhaps I should hire May's nephew to mind the store, like she suggested a few months ago? But that won't solve the problem for tomorrow.*
"Tomorrow night I think would be more suitable than tomorrow morning. I think all of us could use the rest, and you and I could certainly do with banging some dents out!" Indicating with a nod the damage to Aegis' armor, and his own.
"I think that all of us save Delta V here are capable of flight, and with his speed, entry anywhere shouldn't be a problem. The Empire State Building observation deck is open to the air, and closed at 10:00 on Monday nights. It's easily located, easily accessible and private. Unless someone has somewhere better in mind?"
Bethany purses her lips and nods thoughtfully. "That sounds like an excellent suggestion. I don't mind admitting I could use the time." She'd been about to suggest SI headquarters itself, for lack of any better ideas, but perhaps neutral territory would make a better setting. After all, these are unknown quantities, and it's easier to take cautious first steps than to retract an error later ona lesson she's recently been reminded of in a very painful way.
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© 1999 Mark L. Chance et al