Globetropolis was used to outer-planet attacks and mechas running amok on the streets and standard super-villains on a daily basis. It was one of those things you had to live with as a citizen in the town known as the "Universe's Melting-pot".
But still, attacking the Thanksgiving Day Parade?
Valor, the Madam of Might, the Master of Telekinesis, the city's favorite adopted daughter, was in a heated battle with the eight feet tall orange robot that had attacked her while she was part of the parade. Why was everyone's guess. It wasn't a old foe of hers that anyone could recognize. Could be an anti-alien thing, but then the man in the robot suit would probably have announced that he fought for Earth, that he would protect the planet from aliens or something like that.
One thing was for sure: It was an old pile of junk.
Sure, it was a robot suit, that alone was impressive in itself. But the design and weapons were terribly outdated. It used bullets and missiles instead of lasers. And it hadn't had a proper paint job for a long, long time.
Valor rammed her attacker with a telekinetic blast, making her mecha foe take two steps back. Sweat dripped from her pink forehead as she created a telekinetic shield that protected her from the heat-seeking missiles.
The bystanders that hadn't ran away watched the battle, all wondering the same thing:
WHY was it that Valor fought the robot alone?
Where was the police? And what about the city's two other superheroes, Rodeo and Starchild?
All the cops in the Globetropolis Police Department looked at Chief Bogo with disbelief in their eyes.
Then, one of the officers asked: "Um, sir... I'm not sure I understand, sir?"
"It's actually very simple: No one gets near Downtown unless I tell any you other-vice. That will be all. Dismissed."
No one said anything as they went back to doing their job. The old police chief was extremely well-respected by everyone at the police department. There wasn't a single cop on the force who wouldn't follow him to hell and back. Not one would dare question his orders. Even if it seemed like a strange one.
Nate Bogo groaned as he went back to his office, asking himself if he would end up regretting his order. He would like to think of himself as a not-stupid person, which would be a fair assumption considering his position in the GPD. Then again, if he had been that smart, he wouldn't be trapped in an anthropomorphic Scottish terrier body.
But he owed Valor a favor. Sure, not a you-saved-my-life favor but a thanks-for-not-telling-anyone-that-happened favor.
Not that he thought that she would ever tell anyone about the... Estelle incident. But now, they were even.
"I may be new in the superhero biz, but it looks like she could use a hand."
Starchild hovered above the rooftop where Rodeo stood with his binoculars, watching the battle that took place in Downtown.
"Not yet, kid." The cowboy-themed hero told the glowing man with a grumpy face. "She has it under control."
"I get that, but this is stupid! We could end the fight in five seconds. What, is this some sort of dumb honor thing or something? An arch-foe?"
"Na, can't recall I ever seen him before. But Valor told me that it was something she had to do alone."
"Fine, whatever. But I'm leaving. P-tickets won't write themselves. Call me if you need me." Starchild flew away to get back to his job as meter man while Rodeo watched the fight, having a feeling that he had seen the robot suit somewhere before.
"Is mommy gonna be okay?"
"Sure she is, sweetie. Mom is tough. She's gonna kick his butt."
Malcolm had told his daughter that too many times than he could count. Each time feeling a bit guilty about lying to his little girl. He couldn't know for sure that his wife would take care of whatever super-villain she was fighting, he knew that there was a risk that his wife wouldn't come home.
Except for this time. This time, he told his daughter the truth. And it confused him.
Malcolm and Kory had watched the Thanksgiving parade on television. Kory wanted to see it, but Malcolm and Aleea had agreed that it was for the best that she stayed home in case something like this should happen. Malcolm had told his daughter to go to her room as he kept watching his Aleea fighting the robot guy. And it was baffling how not-worried he was.
He knew his wife better than anyone ever would. He had seen her in actions so many times that he could tell when she was angry, scared, panicking or whatever she was while in combat, no matter how well she hid it. And knowing her as well as he did, Malcolm could see that Aleea was... annoyed. Sure, she had difficulties fighting the robot man, but it was difficult as in keeping a dog in lease from running to another dog, not life-threatening difficult.
She held back.
Why did she do that? The guy's robot suit was a piece of old junk. Malcolm had seen Aleea take down robots twice as big as that one. Why was she treating the guy with kitty gloves?
Malcolm looked at the orange robot suit. It somehow seemed... familiar.
And then it hit him.
"Holy %¤#@, is that Frank?!"
"Dad, don't say %¤#@!"
Valor lifted her mechanical foe with the force of her mind and threw it up in the air, then lifted herself from the ground and flew after it. The bystanders looked up, trying to see what was going on. After two minutes, orange scrap metal fell and hammered down on the streets, soon followed by Valor herself. She landed on the asphalt, carrying a pale-looking man who looked like he was toward the end of his fifties.
"This poor man was his hostage." She yelled so that everyone could hear her. "The man in the mecha got away, using this man as a distraction. I'm gonna take him to a hospital."
Instead, she flew him to the top of a building where no one could hear or see them.
"You okay?" She asked the man.
"Yes... I'm fine."
"Good. Now... WHAT THE HELL, FRANK?! WHAT THE ACTUAL HELL?!"
Frank looked at his feet. Shame was written all over his face. "I... I didn't think-"
"Oh, so you didn't think, huh?! NO %¤#@ Einstein! You have ANY idea how much you screwed up?! Not just that someone could have gotten hurt, but what about you?! And I helped you back then, didn't I? You were part of the Rainbow Ravagers, and I still helped you because I knew you were stupid, not evil! Malcolm's cousin defended you in court, making sure you would only serve a short period of time in the slammer because you helped me stop your gang! And how do you repay the favor? You ATTACK me eight years later for no god damn god reason! Why the %¤#@ would you attack ME?!"
Frank manned up enough to look Valor straight in her pitch-black eyes. "I... I don't-look, I wasn't thinking, I-"
"Please! DO TELL! I stuck my neck out for you today so that you wouldn't get your ass sent back to jail where they would eat you alive! PLEASE, give me a reason so that I don't feel like a complete moron for saving your ass!"
"I-" Frank gulped. "I have... cancer."
It was as if all the annoyance and anger Valor had felt had burst like a balloon. It was then replaced with confusion and pity.
"Oh my-Frank, I'm... I'm so sorry." Valor looked at Frank and realized that he did look awfully thin and pale. She had just assumed he was nervous. "What... What kind of cancer?"
"The kind where I can't afford the magical herbs needed for treatment."
Valor sighed. "Look, I, ah... do you want a cup of tea or something?"
"What is this?"
They were in a coffee shop owned by a old lady from the planet Suri. Frank studied the odd little yellow lump on a plate that followed with his tea.
"It's called a yttik." Aleea took a sip from her cup. She had changed from her white toga and blue cape to a green sweater and a pair of black jeans. "It's kinda like a half-baked cookie with raisins."
"Oh." Frank shrugged and grabbed a spoon, eating the funny little cake.
"Frank-" Aleea sighed as she had finished her cup. "I'm sorry that you are sick, but why did you attack me? Is it about money?"
"No. No, no, it's not like that. It... It's stupid but- okay, look. The other day, my... sort-of daughter in law had some problems with her computer, so she asked me if I could fix it for her so that she wouldn't have to spend money on an IT guy. So I took a look at it, and while doing so, went through her internet history to see if she had visited any harmful sites, and then I found an article she had looked at recently about-" Frank groaned.
"About... about loser super-villains, as it called them. And me and the rest of the Rainbow Ravagers were in it. Not surprised, but... it still... got to me."
Frank took a long sip from his cup.
"And as I told you, I have cancer, and I just... I just thought: THAT'S my legacy?! I'm gonna die, and then I will be remembered as the orange guy in a gang of losers who robbed jewel stores a few years ago? But then I realized that I wouldn't. Not even the guy who wrote that article knew my name." Frank sighed. "I didn't want to kill you, I just... I just wanted to, I dont know, beat you up or something, do something that... Look, forget it, I wasn't thinking. At all. I'm so, so sorry."
For a minute, the superhero and the former convict just sat at their table, just looking down at their empty teacups.
Aleea broke the silence.
"What do you mean with sort-of daughter in law?"
"Huh? Oh, right. Well, I have a son, Adrian. I haven't seen him for years, lost contact after he ended up in jail for the third time. And Ramona wasn't married to him, but they were in a relationship and ended up having a son together. So I guess she is sort of my sort-of daughter in law."
"So you are a grandfather, eh?"
"Oh, I was surprised when Ramona came with her son Jason and visited me in jail. I first thought she was lying, that she wanted money or something, wanted me to commit robbery as soon as I came out of prison. But she showed me letters and photos so that I knew it was true. Ramona didn't want anything, just wanted to be sure her kid could see how I ended up so that he didn't end up in jail like me and his father. They visited me once a week while I served my time, and I visit them twice a week now."
"What is your grandson like?"
"Oh, Jason is wonderful. Sweet kid, smartest in his class. Ramona says he probably inherit my knack for engineering. I pray to god that it is the only thing he has from me. Told me he want to work for NASA when he grows up."
"Sounds like quite a legacy you got yourself."
Frank looked up from his cup. Then, he smiled and made small laugh. "Nice try, Valor. Thanks."
If Aleea had pupils, she would have rolled her eyes at herself. "Can't blame a girl for trying. Happy Thanksgiving, Frank."