Chapter 1: Beginnings

On our first foray back into the city after a month, you’d think we’d be better prepared. This was supposed to be easy, drop in, hunt down a group of rogue soldiers, get information. Simple for a team with our skills right? Well, after two days of tracking, we found the soldiers, they were just a little more heavily armed than we’d expected. I mean, how the hell did they get assault rifles in two days? We had brought pistols, expecting them to maybe have a knife, and those were only meant for self-defence. I pulled mine out, taking a shot around the brick wall I was standing behind, and missing wildly. One of them put a bullet in my arm when I didn’t pull it back around quickly enough. Thankfully, there was an exit wound. Pulling a bullet out of my wrist was likely going to take too long.

“Miracle! I’m going to need a hand!” I shouted across the room. We were in a warehouse, pretty small one, plenty of cover from the shelves stacked with boxes. The soldiers were in the loading bay, our only viable exit. The rest of the team was hidden behind some of the shelves. We were pinned, it was unlikely any of them could get to me.

Someone tapped on my shoulder. I spun quickly almost throwing a fist into Miracle’s stomach, but she grabbed my fist before I could hit her.
“Little jumpy? It’s just us and them here,” she let go of my hand, and grabbed the wrist that had been shot, and the pain suddenly ceased.
“Thanks. How’s Thunderbolt doing?” I asked.
“She’s jumpier than you, but Tempest is helping her keep somewhat calm,” we all knew that this was a risk, she was just too good in practice for us to leave her behind.
“Send Tempest up here. I’ve got a really bad plan that might work,” she ran off, heading back to where they were hiding. Tempest sprinted up next to me quickly.
“How fast can you get the wind to go in here?” I asked him.
“How fast do you need it?” He smiled.
“Knock their aim as badly as you can, I’ll do the rest,” he nodded and we went to work. I walked back a little, placing my hand on one of the shelves, checking to make sure it was okay to push. I thrust all my weight onto it, causing it to tip over.
“Catch!” I shouted, the soldiers turned to look, pulling their guns up to their eyes and aiming for where I was making noise.

And then Tempest blasted their guns out of their hand, a torrent of wind hitting them and sending them flying onto their backs. I ran up to them kicking away the guns before they could grab them again, and raising my fists.
“Sorry about this,” I charged my hands with electricity, and knocked them both out with a single punch each, catching them before they fell. I lowered them as slowly as I could, but they were a little heavy for me. Almost as soon as I had turned away from the two soldiers, the rest of the team had gathered up in the doorway.
“That went better than I expected,” I said, but no-one seemed to appreciate the humor.
“Everyone’s okay? We’re good to go?” I asked. I got a nod from one or two of them, but they all just seemed exhausted.
“Atlantis, Cherufe, grab these two. We’re heading home,” They did as I asked, and we headed back to the pod.

*

I believe that, at this point, some things need clarification. My name is Edward Walsh. I’m the adoptive brother of Iris Walsh, and I have been for almost four years. My real father died when I was thirteen, and I have no idea what happened to my mother, but I ended up an orphan. Yeah, not exactly the best childhood. I did manage to graduate high school a year early though, so that’s pretty cool. Anyway, at the beginning of the year, some pretty crazy shit went down. First and foremost was the Incident. That’s the title the media gave to Incident 11617, which is basically just a date code. A good third of the city burnt to the ground thanks to some pretty nasty bombs, and a lot of people died. I know a lot of people who lost someone. It’s pretty morbid, but that’s part of our lives now, and there is absolutely nothing that can be done about it, well, that would be if thing number two hadn’t happened.

I was on my way to a… meeting, let’s say, when the car I was riding in was stopped by a group of rebel soldiers. One of them threw the driver against the windshield of the car with very little effort, so Iris and I really didn’t get much of a choice in listening to them. They forcibly recruited us, and from then on, we were members of Shade, a rebel group hell-bent on something. Nobody I’ve talked to will tell me what. Their leader is a man named Walter Schmidt, who gave me the majority of the information I’m writing down now. Turns out, the world is so much weirder than I ever could have imagined. Once we agreed to go with them, they took us to this little house in a field, not too far out from Meridiam, the city where Iris and I lived and grew up. Then, they took us up into the sky, and aboard their floating fortress, airship thingy. I don’t really know what to call it other than its name. The Sandman. It’s an incredible feat of engineering that utilizes no less than sixteen engines and something called a HEIF Drive. I have absolutely no idea what a HEIF Drive is, but its creator apparently has quite the reputation.

So, when we were aboard this beast of a machine, it was slightly less surprising then Walter had hoped when he told us we had, well, superpowers. From what I can tell, it’s rare. There are seven of us aboard the Sandman with these powers, my team, and annoyingly, I was asked to lead them alongside a very old friend of mine, Riley Parkinson. The two of us are what Walter calls Electrokinetics, which basically means we can control electricity. So, that’s cool. He gave Iris and I a few days to settle in, and then he put his grand plan into motion, and we started training. Our little manhunt was the result of around six months of hard work, and a lot of pain on my behalf. See, Miracle is a healer. Her power can affect the biology of anyone, down to their DNA, and she had to learn how to use it. I got shot to try and teach her how to fix that, which was definitely not something I agreed to. My complaints made sure that never happened again, and also taught Miracle how to deal with a broken jaw. We spent a lot of time getting to know each other and the crew of the Sandman, and our relationships are all significantly better than they had been when we first arrived, but there are still a few issues that need to be resolved, and secrets to be kept. As it turns out, in a world with superpowers, tyrannical dictators and rebels with a floating fortress, things get complicated.

*

Once we were back aboard the Sandman, we received a surprisingly warm welcome. One of the pod guards said hello. We were pretty much the most universally disliked team aboard the ship, and annoyingly, people here liked to make it obvious. Most standard teams had fifteen or more members, and answered to one of the many captains aboard the ship. Not us, it was just the seven of us, and we answered to the General, and I was a captain myself, which probably made me the most universally disliked person aboard the Sandman. Of course, my sister and Riley liked me, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that she only liked me because she liked everyone, and maybe a little bit because of our past. Oh, and the fact that we’re both the captains of this team. Didn’t really matter though, we had to go and see the General now.

It was quite the trek from the pod bays to the General’s office at the very back of the ship, and anywhere we went we received cold stares and watched as people turned away from us in disgust. They didn’t like that we were in the same uniform as them, hundreds of well-trained soldiers who had worked to keep their country safe for years, now working in the shadow of seven teenagers with no training in anywhere near the levels they had received, I mean, I could barely even aim a gun. But we had to put up with it, this was the best place for us to be, unfortunately. Thankfully, the General had provided us with our own area on the ship, so that we only had to work with the other soldiers very rarely, supposedly for our safety. Really, it was for theirs.

We walked through the final corridor leading down to the General’s office, and Riley gave me a worried look. We had been expected back yesterday, and if all things had gone right, we would have gotten through our search without having to get in a firefight, or bring the two soldiers back here, so by all accounts we had fucked up. Riley must just have been worried about Walter being disappointed in us, unlikely for her, possible for me.
“Everything is going to be fine,” I said as we approached the door, and it slid open as I stopped talking. Walter, the General, was facing a television screen mounted on the wall behind his desk, and so as we sat across from him, we could see what he was watching. A news broadcast, displaying security footage from our fight. So he already knew how it went.
“Well done, Edward. You’ve done pretty damn well, for the circumstances,” Okay. That was a surprise.
“The code names were a good idea, Ed. They’ve got audio on those security tapes, and still, no-one has a clue who you are. The running theory is that you’re with us, or that you’re completely separate from us. I like the idea that you’re separate, seeing as you barely work with most of us anyway,” He wasn’t wrong, but I didn’t like the idea of losing the support of the Sandman.
“Speculation has led to some people calling you superheroes,” Like comic book heroes? I’m not sure where this is going.
“So, we’re going to make you that. The Heroes of the people,” I couldn’t really argue with him, it would help make us look better than a rebellion disrupting the peace if we sided with some of Walter’s ideals, and maybe it would keep us safe from the actual military.
“So how do we get this going?” Riley asked.
“Thunderbolt, you and Ed are going to get us some TS Armour,” Seriously? That’s stuff is built to take assault rifle bullets in its weakest variant.
“You can’t be asking me to buy this stuff?” I exclaimed.
“If that’s what it takes. Just to acquire some. Is it doable?” Frankly, I didn’t know.
“What if it isn’t?” I asked him.
“Get me the components, the plans, and I’ll build it myself,” he said. I doubt he fully understood just how potent it was.
“Last question. How much do you need?” I asked him.
“As much as the two of you can get me, oh and also, take this,” he handed me what looked like a Bluetooth earpiece, but it covered much more than just the ear, and passed one to Riley as well.
“If you need to, you can use them to call me directly. Now, you two should be off,” the door slid open again, and we went on our way.