Monday, February 11, 2013
Washington, DC, 7:00 AM
“Yep. Hey Joe, let me look at that paper, see if I wanna buy it.”
“Hey now, this isn't some library! I should charge you for looking at the headline!”
Josephine Johnson sat in her newsstand, huddled in a thick coat. One of her repeat customers rooted around for a couple bills before taking a paper. He scanned the articles.
“You'd of thought that stuff back at New Year's mighta' blown over by now. Look at that: 'Political Correctness Debate Continues for People With Powers.' Apparently, 'superhuman' is no good, 'cause it means they're better than everyone else, and 'mutant' or whatever is too offensive. The correct term is 'Metahuman.'” The man emphasized with air quotes.
"Pfft, Metahumans? That's what we're being called now? Metahumans? Like, humans apart from humans? Ha! What a joke. We aren't any different from anyone else. I mean yeah, there are some crazies out there but that's no reason to call us all that. I mean, I'd prefer there'd be no term separating me, but if I had to give myself one it'd be cursed human, given my unfortunate circumstances.. I think the 'Metahuman' population should just be fine with being called whatever and there really shouldn't be any alternate name to begin with."
“Gotta call you guys something, you're on every page! Scientists still can't figure out where these powers even came from, or why . . .”
"What's the point of finding out why? It's not like knowing if we got some disease is gonna help anything. I'm more interested in what's gonna happen from now on? Is this a thing that's gonna be passed down to our kids? Are any of my kids going to achieve stardom? I hope so.."
“Yeah . . . Business section is still lit up with this Green guy. 'Washington Green, Smartest Man in the World, Now the Richest.' He's made so much money in the last month that he's already giving it away to schools.”
"Well good on him. Story says he's using his intelligence. He's just using what God gave him, it's not like we chose these powers, sadly... If I had something useful I'd definitely be going and making use of it, might even be able to afford a cruise for the husband and me this anniversary."
“Don't beat yourself up, Joe, nothing you could've done. Hey, at least you're not stealing stuff or killing people like some of these guys. You probably already read this editorial about the new crime wave?”
"Like I said, ya get some crazies out there. I'm a bit disheartened that our cops can't handle it. I mean, sure, you're gonna have some guys out there that can shoot fire-lasers and all that, but I mean, come on. A guy that can turn into dust? 'ooh scary'.. I just hope something gets done.. Hey Johnny, you wanna buy me a costume so I can go out and stop these bad guys? Be a superhero? Ha!"
Johnny laughed. “Yeah, I'll put it on my 'To Do' List. Maybe if you took care of all that I could read a paper without seeing the word 'Metahuman.' Look, they're even in the sports page! I swear, before you know it, we're going to see superheroes in the comics!”
Arlington County, Virginia, 7:00 AM
After a moment of darkness, the tiles on the floor flickered once before illuminating eleven men and women, sitting around a semi-circular table. They didn't know one another, but their matching uniforms suggested that they soon would. Each had been led into an office in Washington DC and asked to don the uniform, before being blindfolded and transported to the room via some underground vehicle. Each had volunteered to serve the same country, the United States of America, but none of them knew exactly how to do it, or how this room was going to help. The walls of the room were either pitch-black or unlit somewhere further out. The only things that the tiles illuminated were the area around the table and a large, empty chair, which all other seats had been aligned to face. There was a moment of confused silence.
Los Angeles, California, 4:00 AM
The industrial sector of the city was, for the most part, quiet. Downtown parties had lapsed away earlier than the night before, but the work week had yet to start. Tall, silent, empty buildings loomed in the street lights. With a few minor observations, one particular warehouse stood out. It looked secure, with a high fence and a number of small cameras both on the building and the perimeter. However, the gate was not only unlocked, but wide open. It might have been a mistake, but the lights inside the building shone through the windows. It was empty, and could have been so until sunrise, for the building didn't seem particularly inviting. However, a select few had been directed to the address by an employer of sorts. He had been secretive about the exact parameters of the career he offered, saying almost nothing on the phone, though from the way he spoke it sounded like a large, potentially illicit operation. It was big enough that he had paid to fly a few of the participants in, and it was illicit enough that he hadn't used a real name. Through the voice-changer, it was hard to tell what he had called himself, but it sounded like – Thallis.