@maverick_6: (That's DOCTOR mutant blonde bigot bitch to you, young man!)
The March of a Million Mutants (CVnU Event - Open)
Stephanie sniffled, her body still shaking from the shock of what they'd decided to lock her up in, emotions overcome by the cruel words emblazoned on the side of her squalid shell, when the girl before her asked her to think of something "nice", something that "made her smile".
She couldn't believe what she was hearing. She might as well have been asking a starving man to think of a time he was not hungry, to ask a blind man to remember back when he could still see. The girl's emotions were frayed, her mind worn from sleepless nights and the constant stress that had been berating her mind in the last few days, and now she was being told to simply "think of something happy".
It was infuriating. Anger began to well, the Hawk was clearly ignorant of her suffering, ignorant of the pain of a complete and total betrayal of all those you fought to protect. Her eyes became daggers, shooting a cold hateful stare into the hawk girl's own orbs, but as quickly as the emotion had come it was reigned in. She was a hero, she was accustomed to anger and fear, used to the two trying to take center stage, control her actions and thoughts, force her into the rash decisions that would make her no better than the common street thug, perhaps worse, since she had gifts they did not, still that wave of anger came rushing out of her, and even the guards at Maverick could feel a slight spike in their adrenaline, and their hostility, as they watched the scene unfold.
Stephanie closed her eyes, she thought of nothing at first, only repeating the personal mantra she had adopted. "Be still, calm, collected. A pond, unrippling and still, serenity even in a storm." Again and again she repeated it to herself, three times, five, ten, all the while reminding herself that the girl before her only wanted to help. The saying itself had become a part of her daily life. Her emotions controlled not only her, but the emotional state of those around her (which could lead to devastating results, if she failed to control her powers), so she quickly learned caution and discipline.
Now sufficiently calm, she looked up at the girl before her. Think of something "nice" huh...? Okay...
Her mind began to wander back two years, back to the Boys and Girls Club, to the children that had gone through some of the worst experiences possible, the children that confided in her the secrets buried deep within their hearts, that had spilled so much pain from their souls that she could feel it, breathe it in like a thick mist, their pain grafting to her insides and adding their burdens to her own. It was an overwhelming feeling, the feeling of that infinite pain, that endless sorrow.
She thought back to those days. The days she went out to find the origin of this boundless pain, the pain that seeped as though it were an ever open wound, a hole in her heart, and eliminated it.
She had counseled a girl at the time, eleven years old, maybe, brought in by her father. He was always drunk when he dropped her off, and for her part she was always silent. She never played with others. She was always alone, and even before her mutant powers had awakened something drew Stephanie to this girl. They became friends, and as they did the 7:00 pick up time seemed to come faster and faster, too early for either of their tastes.
Then one day, the girl confided in her. It was 6:47, the day was almost over, but the girl held her sleeve and stood there, waiting for all the others to pack up their belongings to go home. She told her her deepest secret, the one Stephanie promised to take to her grave.
Her mother had recently died in a car crash, her father was the driver. He had been drinking that night, a celebration of the girl's Student of the Month award, (an award she hadn't won since). Her mother disapproved of him getting behind the wheel. He chose not to listen, laughed it off.
They drove home from the Charles' Cheeses, the giant rat mascot waving as they left. The girl waved back.
He was distracted, her father, arguing with her mother over his condition, tinkering with the radio, praising her or her good work in school. He missed a turn. Her mother began to reprimand him, but instead of taking the next exit he swerved to try and make the one missed. A semi was behind him, it couldn't brake in time. The tiny sedan's rear was smashed into, the car swerved out of control before hitting a concrete wall. Her mother wasn't wearing her seatbelt, she was too distracted by the argument, and so her life ended on that wall. Her father had his belt secured by her mother before he started driving, three broken ribs and a fractured wrist. The girl was unconscious, a concussion.
It took several months for the wounds to heal, but the internal scars never did. Her father, rather than blame the accident on his carelessness or the bottle, blamed the girl. He cursed at her, told her that if it wasn't for her stupid award her mother might still be there for them. He took to drinking more heavily. Things remained this way for a year or two.
By her eleventh birthday her father's hate was as heavy as ever, but now he saw more of her mother in the budding girl. It angered him. He began to beat the girl sometimes to the point of unconsciousness. When she awoke she was always in her father's bed, and he was nowhere to be found.
There was more to the girl's story, but it was never heard. The portion Stephanie had heard took 20 minutes to tell, and by the time she had finished telling only the part the girl's father was fuming. He seized her by the wrist, his fingers pressing deep into her flesh, her arm nearly ripped from its socket as he dragged her out into the street. She tried to stop him, only to be knocked unconscious as he slammed her head into the wall of the club.
When she came to she immediately set off for the girl's house, only two blocks from the club. Her thoughts were scattered, confused. She ran up to the house to find the door unlocked. It was then that she finally began to really and truly feel. The government had always identified her as a possible mutant, but her powers only awakened in that grim moment, the instant she caught the sight of the young girl there, ripped dress draped over her, wide purple bruises still forming across her body, her sobs drowned out by the sounds of blaring music from the garage.
The girl could say nothing, but Stephanie could feel it in the air. The loneliness, the pain, the grief and the hatred, all of it came bursting forth from this little lost child, her emotions no longer oozing but exploding. More than any other she could feel despair, the despair of a life spent mourning, trapped with a man who should have protected her instead inflicting upon her an endless and eternal pain, an inconsolable sorrow. Stephanie was frozen then, but when she came to her senses the emotions were just as potent. From there her body practically moved itself.
Her first foray into "heroics" would not be nearly as noble as her later attempts, when she had mastered her powers, but they were her pride, the turning point. She went out to the garage, the loud music blaring over the speakers, her mind unable to process anything but vengeance for the lost girl steeped in misery , trapped in the house behind her. She would set her free.
The girl's father sat there, a worn couch beneath him, a bottle of whiskey held loose in his right hand; she stood above him, a scavenged wrench held firmly in both of hers. She brought it down once, and he was unconscious.
Three times, and he bled.
Five times, she could see shattered bone.
Ten, the grayish bits of brain.
It was justice. He had caused too much misery to let live. It was odd her proudest moment, one she had never repeated, thanks to the government's training, but it was a thought that brought a smile to her lips. It was a twisted sense of justice, one that she had abandoned long ago. Yet now, when she thought of innocence and justice, her cause and her effect on the world, her beaten weary mind came to this. The difference she made.
She had reduced the misery of one sad girl with her actions, and it was worth the cost. She smiled a weary smile.
There was good in her heart, but it was marred with blackness too. The deep, unbending belief that some people, perhaps even most people, were evil. That these people deserved to pay for their crimes, and that sometimes, that toll was paid in blood.
Her eyes met the Hawk's, a new perspective, new thoughts emerging from her overtaxed mind.
Maybe this isn't for the school shootings, maybe its time to pay my price. Blood for blood, Alyssa's demon father for the woman I've become. Maybe this is how it works, maybe this is justice.
She looked up at Munoz now, decidedly calmer, less mournful, but also more resigned.
"You want to know something about me? I believe in justice, I work hard for it, and I do it so I can reduce the pain, the suffering that people feel, even if only by the tiniest bit, and you know what? It's all been worth it."
A subtle smile settled on her face, one of conviction, of faith, and of peace.
I've lived what I believe, and people are better off for me having been here. If this is as far as it goes, so be it, but I know I did all I could, and all I had, to do.
(Everything feels so wrong, so off, but it's there. Sorry for the wait guys.)
Anger...she was used to it. If not for her own unnatural optimism she would feel horrible most of the time. Most heroes didn't like her, most villains didn't understand her and some were even afraid of her. As a hero with the ability to see into the hearts of men (and women and beasts) Munoz had almost infinite compassion for those who had even a shred of good in their hearts. She would forgive and support even someone like Satar if she found good in him...which was why most heroes didn't like or understand her. So when yet another her was angry with her, she simply ignored it. She didn't care if her words bothered the girl because they were the words the girl needed to hear. Eventually the anger faded and Munoz was proven right.
"It's true, what you say, it is worth it." Munoz told her. "But this doesn't have to be the end for you. You're innocent, I know you are and it's my job to not let the innocent suffer. If you will accept my offer, I have somewhere safe I can take you where you can start over again." Munoz offered her hand. "It's up to you."
(I feel silly for following such a lengthy post with this one but I didn't have much else to say.)
"I am sorry Sentinel."
From seemingly thin air, Nemaz appears, standing in front of Munoz between her and Stephanie. His eyes and face hidden by the featureless visor of his helmet. Standing upright and erect as he looks down towards her.
"But I am afraid that things do not work like that. Her fate is not in any one person's hands." He took his hands and put them over his helmet, a slight click heard as he removed it. His expression, not something of anger or spite. Neither disappointment nor approval. His functional poker face, as per usual, meant to not give way to what he thought, as he looked towards the her. From the perspective of a telepath, he did have a presence that would indicate, that he just now appeared. However, he was not alone, as several M.O.R.S uncloaked and appeared around the ground. Unlike the man who stood in between them, they did not have any telepathic presence at all. No empathy or emotion. They breathed like living things did but lacked any evidence that would lead one to believe they had any semblance of "soul" or a true "consciousness." Their guns were lowered, and the surrounded the three from all sides from about 20 feet away.
Brown eyes continued their neutral gaze as he spoke. His dreads resting against his shoulders. Air brushing gently against ebony skin. "She can't simply be whisked away without a word. You are well intention. But utterly, oblivious, Sentinel. Her ultimate fate is not in your choice. Nor mine."
He turns, towards her now. (@thecatalyst) "Nor is it allowed to be yours." The African Super Soldier begins to walk towards, his armor too light to shuffle, as he proceeded noiselessly towards her. He looked towards her before he stopped around 3 feet away, standing erectly from her. His expression disrupted, as his noise crinkles towards her repugnant stench of her excretions and bodily odor briefly assailing his enhanced senses.
"You are being moved."
He didn't look a Munoz, more, he stared dead at the girl. But Munoz should be well aware of his ability to sense the slightest of twitches. A subtle shift in one's heart as more blood would be pumped in the wake of adrenaline being pumped. If it came to it, he was prepared to fight her, and was unarmed in concerns to handheld weapons. But he secretly hoped it wouldn't come to that. That they would simply be able to proceed, to what was to come next without complication.
Sentinel Hawk narrowed her eyes. She wasn't angry, this sort of thing didn't make her angry, but with three words Nemaz had done something no amount of psychic energy had managed to do to this point, he broke her heart. Sentinel Hawk had a strong faith in the system, in the way things were supposed to work out. Some people called her naive and in some cases they were right. She was also the optimism everyone wanted to have but was never bold enough to exercise in a world gone dark. Of course like any physical wound the deep sadness she felt at Nemaz's choice to enforce the will of a corrupt system wouldn't last long. She wasn't going to fight him over, at least not physically.
Sentinel Hawk brushed past him and his little group and towards one of the numerous news groups in the distance. "Mind if I use your camera for a few minutes?" She asked politely and gently took the camera away. She walked over to the entrance of the storage unit the girl had been kept it and placed the camera there, facing the interior with its light on and the video streaming live to the news broadcast. A few moments later and she uploaded the video of her entire interaction with the girl to the internet on every major video streaming site, all using the computer and camera system built into her helmet and set it to continue uploading new data as she turned back to the others and began to speak, her helmet recording the audio as well as visual.
"That girl is innocent and I think you know it." She was only partially speaking to Nemaz, really she was speaking to everyone watching on the internet. Her lenses focused on the girl. "The actions of the system have brought us all to a crossroads." She said. "On the one hand, we have the truth no one will admit. The mutants know it and I think a lot of ordinary humans do too. I can tell using my abilities that this girl is innocent, but I'll put it to everyone another way...it just doesn't fit. Why would a girl capable of controlling someone's minds to the point of making them kill other people not then wipe their memory of who controlled them, or cause them to kill or otherwise silence themselves? The facts don't fit. She's a scapegoat and everyone knows it. On the other hand we have the consequences of our actions. If the system continues to carry on with the punishment it has handed down and kills this girl, it will remove a hero and instantly darken the hearts of millions. There are people that can change the course of events here legally and I hope they consider it...otherwise another life is wasted and the rift between human and mutant will grow." She cut off her streaming and walked over to Nemaz. "Sometimes, I think you've become too cynical Nemaz." Sentinel Hawk said in a tone that suggested she felt badly for him. "Protecting people like this is why I was created and you know that."
Sentinel Hawk shook her head. "I'm not stupid enough to try and fight all of this." She said with a gesture to the forces Nemaz had with him. "But you've spent so much of your life fighting, you half expected me to do it anyway. This is wrong and you know it. I've made my appeal to the system, but It will go unheard and people will talk about it in the elections. The mutants do what they do because they feel like no one else will do it for them. You know what I can do Nemaz." She pointed to the girl, referring to her ability to read the hearts of others. "She is completely innocent of the crime. I am the optimism that lies inside of everyone when they first come into the world." Sentinel Hawk said. "I am the kindness that people try to forget they once had. That optimism, that kindness, it's still in you somewhere, under layers of armor and dust. It never really goes away in all but the worst of people, it's why Amun-Ra made me practically impossible to kill, because he believes that optimism and kindness is just as immortal." It had all become so clear to Munoz the moment Nemaz had arrived to tell her no, the whole purpose of her being had suddenly become clear as day. Solar Hawk was the armored fist of a person pushed too far, Luna Hawk was the slow boiling anger of a person with a life time witnessing the wrongs of society around them...and Sentinel Hawk was the optimism and kindness of youth that never really gave up, no matter how dark and cynical a person's world became.
Munoz walked up to Nemaz and put her hands on his chest and looked up into his eyes. Her gaze was difficult to meet not because of anger or some sort of vile repulsive feeling like so many foes Nemaz had come across in his years of fighting...no...it was the opposite. Her eyes were endless pools of unrelenting kindness and forgiveness. "I hope you find that." She said quietly. She leaned in and whispered into his ear. "I forgive you." She said and pulled away from him...already knowing he would go on doing his job. She shook her head quietly and turned her back on the scene, she wasn't going to be witness to the next step of the plan, there was no room for kindness there.
Edit: I couldn't be happier with that post, wow.
(Spoilers indicates hidden thoughts)
As Munoz walked, towards the Camera, one of Nemaz's hands went up towards police in the area as she brought the camera and spoke into it. They did nothing as she spoke, but watch ambient.
He looked down towards her as she came into close proximity, his expression, unwavering but, the eyes betrayed him to the close observer. Even if it may or may not have appeared that he didn't, he was listening. His thoughts went back to when he first met her, when she had shown up to be interviewed by the corporation. His only response.
"It is good to ask questions, Sentinel."
His thoughts go back to when he had first met her.
"Very observant, Ms. Hal. Or, if you don't mind the informality, Munoz. You see, this area is meant to be easy to be found. It is an area of public interaction and commerce. Our building though large is hardly the largest, nor is it larger than the buildings around us. Not only this, but we have primary base. We are spread out, like a network. Like an organism. If I were to put into perspective, destroying this building entirely in all honesty....is like severing a finger of a lizard. It would be an inconvenience, a pain that could be an infection. But nothing as bad as losing an arm. But, it is good that you thought of that. We need people who are observant, who think, contrary to popular belief."
Indeed, she was the same in some ways, and different in others. She was very straightforward and to the point, always seeking to confront a problem head on. Such as during the attempt of the Exemplar to claim the entire middle east. But in exchange, she was simply brash. She'd thought that some completely unknown man appearing from simply nowhere who no one knew of was candidate enough to lead the country. He did not speak with the government, more so, simply appeared to, for all Maverick knew, exploit the ignorance of some people with some claim to lead them to a better tomorrow. She was so eager to trust one who'd sought to be worshiped like a god. But with noble reasoning, to try to make the area better. But in her pursuit of her goals, her perspective had been deemed narrow. And she was carefully watched since that incident.
In truth, he believes Maverick needs more people like her.
He turned once more to the girl, his facial features seemingly locked in a perpetually stoic state. His face betraying little. Actions perhaps alluding to what was going to happen next. The men stood by, newstapes at the moment confiscated for not being allowed to be on the scene and for her taking the camera. The near by officers standing and watching in silence, distant snipers, obscured from sight with scopes ever locked on her from here and beyond. Automatons of organic material clad in body armor (M.O.R.S.) and masked helmets that did not reveal what lied beneath them, standing by to be given further instructions.
"I have to ask you again, to come with us, please."
There was a voice in the Ugandan Gunman's head. Not within the confines of his mind, like telepathy. Something similar, a tattoo like device on his temple that vibrated his skull upon receiving radio waves, allowing for utterly silent communication.
"So John, how goes our little....perusal?"
He never let on that anyone was talking to him. Indeed, his lips did not move. All he actually had to do, was think. And he received his reply.
The girl backed away from the armored titan, his soundless treading, sudden appearance, and towering, fully armored form serving only to increase her anxiety over his abrupt materialization, and what came next made her already fragile hopes crumble. This masked giant of a man, joined by the soulless creatures at his side, were going to relocate her to yet another prison before finally doing away with her. She wondered, mind delving deeper into despair, whether or not those unfeeling machine men were to be her executioners. She could feel, more than anything, the utter void of emotion that accompanied them. A stark contrast from the almost relentless optimism from the girl before, or the measured impassivity of the man before her. They were things that had appeared, not men or women, but soulless beings charged with escorting her to her execution ground.
"You are being moved."
That was all he'd said, but in his voice it sounded cold, factual. A death sentence passed down from powers that cared little for human suffering, for pain or the tragedy of a life cut short. Just fact. Cold. Unfeeling.
She shuddered, suddenly feeling more exposed than before, the sight of dozens of firearms not helping the already tense atmosphere. She nodded, swallowing down her fear and stepping toward him, resigned to whatever fate they had in mind.
Meanwhile, breaking news from channel 6 broadcasts shortly after the Hawk Lord's display...
"I can tell using my abilities that this girl is innocent..."
"Good evening Delaware, this is Kate Connely, and you're watching Action 6 News. Many go unsurprised today as the mutant protests continue, with Maverick employee 'Sentinel Hawk' breaking ranks to proclaim the innocence of alleged mass murderer Stephanie Jacobs. Here with us is Humans First Foundation representative John Franklin Adams, leader of the Dover branch of the HFF, and father of Ms. Jacobs, Henry Jacobs. Mr. Jacobs, what are your thoughts on the proclaimed innocence of your daughter by another metahuman that claims to simply 'know' she is innocent?
Henry Jacobs (HF): Well Kate, of course I believe my daughter is innocent and if anything ought to prove that it is the testimony of someone from Maverick. They're the ones who have protected us from all sorts of mutant and alien mayhem, and if they say she's innocent that means she has to be.
John Franklin Adams (JFA): Now, trust me here, I understand that you want to think your daughter is innocent, any father would, but you're wrong. Dead. Wrong. Just because this girl, who is, I've been told, is only a teenager herself says she is innocent it doesn't make it so. It shouldn't surprise anyone that a metahuman is sticking up for one of their own, and the girl that tried to take over the entirety of the Middle East for some crazed dictator no less. Sure, maybe she can do what she says she can, but does she have the judgement to use it properly?
Frankly I'm glad you brought up Maverick Henry, because this girl has already opposed them once before, and now she's doing it again. If you ask me we can't trust this girl or her judgement.
JFA: Look, no one is blaming you Mr. Jacobs, it's all too easy for a mutant to fall onto the wrong side of the tracks. This is exactly why we need tougher laws for mutants: to bring them in line. Put the fear of law and the fear of God into them. People are actually talking about repealing the Registration Act, if anything it needs to be strengthened, just look at everything that's been going on lately! It's chaos out there, mutants and metas are running around without reproach! They're forming organizations, teams, doing God knows what out there beyond the eyes of the government! When's the last time you heard S.T.R.I.K.E. report to anyone? I've never heard of it. Wanna know why? Because they don't. You want to talk about what we could have done for your daughter? We could have kept a closer eye on her, made sure she didn't pull this kind of stunt by keeping better tabs on what she was going through, how her powers were developing, instead we get this.
HJ: But my daughter, she..she's a hero! She stops shootings, she doesn't start the--!
Kate Connely(KC): This just in, I'm receiving word that presidential hopeful Trystyn Goldyne is believed to have been kidnapped by a gang of clown themed assailants. Eye witnesses claim the clowns match the description of the most notorious of Gothic City's gangs, who are often seen sporting facepaint and red rubber noses. They are reportedly led by their criminal ringleader "Curve", who...
Hold on, I'm receiving reports that there is a video being broadcast online featuring the presidential candidate, and we are working on bringing that to you now. Stay tuned for the latest developments as they happen...
Off camera the HFF agent smiled silently to himself, his grin hidden by the palm of his hand, his furrowed brows implying sympathy. The backlash from death of a presidential candidate, one of the best protected men in America at the current time, would be unthinkable. If the mutant menace could reach even him, who couldn't they attack? People would no longer feel safe in their homes, they would rush to pass whatever anti-meta legislation was placed in front of them, all there was left to do now was to offer it up...
He looked at the girl, as she shrunk back from him. He had no telepathy or the ability to forcefully read through someone's mind, nor to automatically know what one was thinking, but her emotion oozed from the fibers of the child's being. He could hear her increased heart rate, smell her shallowing breath and see the lump forming within her throat. Her air of optimism and hope replaced, with dread and despair. He watched and waited, as she remained there for a moment before taking a step forward. With that single step, she would be lead to take more as he turned around and walked, accompanied by the organic machines that followed. The group surrounded the girl, and allowed no one near. Walking past the Sheriff and the policeman as if they weren't there. He blinked, as through lenses on his eyes, he perceived current happenings.
"How go things on your end?"
Men stood hovering over other men on the ground. Some in coughs and others in pools of blood as the raging debate went on. Mortars were taken apart and dissembled. The protestors alone as they continued their plight through the streets. Men ever alert and their heightened status of alert enabling them to catch seemingly any whiff of attack and quell it before anything further could be launched. Jackal wandered among the dockyard "Oh, this is just getting downright boring now. Everything is about as successful as you think a follow up terrorist attack in DC would be. So far." His blade runs along the flesh of a cheek. Run gently along it as the skin boils. "All too easy. Pointless, too." News of the fate of a presidential candidate had spread through the ears of many as America was to his brutal demise. His gradual mutilation and disposal in the streets of a city long forgotten, Gothic City. At the hands of non other than what? Yet another mutant terrorist. The ride in the armored personal carrier was quiet for a quite some time. Nemaz sat across the girl, with her. The M.O.R.S themselves filled the carrier but left much room for the girl to have an entire corner to themselves. Unlike the man sitting before her, the lacked idle movements and wandering eyes. They only sat and stared ahead at eachother. Taking no action beyond what they were instructed to do. The Ugandian gunman, conversely, spent much of his time in silence, staring idly has his phone, a single gloved finger rapidly moving about the screen for brief bursts, taking the occasional glance with his eyes toward the girl so that he can gaze on her with his own eyes as opposed to looking at her with his skin and ears. The vehicle stops for a moment, as a newer passengers boards.
"Bradshaw. How nice of you to join us...." "Sorry I'm late. Had a bit of stuff to look into." Another man approaches of roughly the same height, but a somewhat smaller frame. 220 pound Nemaz was flanked by the 200 lb Bradshaw. Resting his armor clad body on the cool metallic bench. His helmet in his hands, he rests it next to himself as he looks upon the girl himself with faded eyes.
"So your the girl all this hullabaloo is about. Stephanie Jacobs, right?" He speaks straightly and with a subtle look of displeasure. "My associates been talking a lot about you. And so has the entire nation as you might tell. One these associates was this emo-ass egghead right here, listening to your entire conversation already and recording everything you said. Another is a guy you haven't met. A few people you haven't seen have been looking into you." Two photographs appear within his hand.
Bradshaw flicked the photographs towards the girl, as they sailed and spun through the air. His application of force, not enough to overcome the wind that prevented a football player from tossing a mere flimsy piece of paper across a field. Slowly, the pieces of film fluttered as they came a stop, slowly falling, back and forth, until they both land precisely where intended. Next to the girl. The photos were one of the man she killed, simply, his face. And of a wrench.
"Not exactly as innocent as Sentinel might be thinking, are you?" The capekiller begins. "But, from what my emo-egghead-assassin-associate here says, you're innocent enough. We know who he was, and what he did. But all I'm doing is showing it to you. But if you thinking we're going to use that against you. Just lettin' you know, that we know, cause I'll be straight with. I'd say it's pretty likely you aren't gonna die today.
You see, the amount of evidence against that entire town and their police department is staggering. Human rights violations left and right. You smell like hammered shit and I'm pretty sure your breath would effect me more than your telepathy at this point.
But if you don't wanna die tomorrow or maybe a month tops, I suggest you listen. And you listen carefully."
The Maverick Mutant Hunters eyes narrowed as he towards the small girl in the APC as he held a tense, stoic gaze towards the girl. Speaking clearly, and straightforwardly
"I kill mutants with abilities like yours for a living. A few of them even a bit younger than you. Once. Looking at your past, looking at you . I think we'll give you the benefit of the doubt. Confusing world. We live in. So I'll give you a summary.s
We don't wanna kill you. The amount of evidence against them is staggering and as you can tell, with what we can dig up on you, we can easily dig up on them. But, my associate" Nemaz subtly smiles. "Wasn't exactly lying. Your fate isn't all in your hands and you are being moved. Let's say that after this you just walk away. Where do you go? Out into the world for some terrorist group to kill you? I'd say, you'd be lucky to last a month out there on your own.
So, I'm going to make you an offer to come with us. If you accept, you aren't going to be a soldier, or anything like that. We're going to study you like we do the few telepaths we have. We aren't going to strap you to a table or some movie bullcrap like that. More, just see how you tick. See how you work. Develop countermeasures against people who DO abuse their powers and try to make people a little safer.
You come with us, and we take some time out of your day before we let you off. You'll go to school school. We'll place your immediate family under our protection."
The armored personal carrier halts. And the M.O.R.S all rise in unison. Nemaz and Bradshaw both dawn their respective helmets, as the safeties of rifles each of them drew were undone.
"The time has come." The African Super Soldier says.
"Well kid? What's your answer? Simple yes, or no. What's it gonna be?"
The Mortal Maverick Mutant Hunter awaited her answer as the wheels were set into motion, the corporation pulled the strings in the direction it wanted. Something allowed to be so large, and so powerful, could do more with it's power than seek to obtain more. Bold was a man who wished to shape the world, and he sought to do this in part, starting right here right now. The amount of evidence against the town's paranoia and most importantly, cruelty and inhumane treatment lead to well supported accusations of Paranoia and Xenophobic behavior. Arguements of mutants terrorists The corporation had decided to use it's power to free the young mutant, and in a sense hold some power over her fate. But in truth, the choice she makes today is hers. To go with them, or to chance the authorities and world at large.
Sentinel Hawk made a habit of running small windows of information in the corners of her HUD and one of them was always news feeds. As she watched the girl get taken away by Nemaz she also saw and heard the news report and conversation that took place. She scowled at the comments about her being unstable and shook her head. Due to her ever present, never ending optimism she believed that Nemaz might have something up his sleeve regarding the girl, though she had no idea what it was.
She has family...someone needs to talk to her poor father. Sentinel Hawk took flight and soon landed at the news station. She strolled through the front doors, completely ignored the lobby and followed her intuition to where the broadcast room was. There two guards tried to get in her way. She gently moved one of them aside. "I'm not here to cause problems." She assured them with a disarming smile. "I just want to talk to someone...someone specific..." She trailed off a moment as her eyes happen to fall on John Franklin Adams. She wasn't disturbed by what he had said about her, that was water under the bridge just moments after it had been said. There was something else about him she just couldn't quite place. She recorded his image and put it away to check against the old Super City network later.
"Sorry." She apologized to the guards for her sudden silence. "I'd like to speak to the girl's father if I may." She told them and then gave a look to Ms. Connely. "I'll give her a ten minute interview in exchange, not as a member of Maverick but just as myself."
The girl's heart pounded as she was surrounded by the unfeeling machines, not an ounce of compassion to be felt among them. Her gaze wandered, unbeckoned and unwilling, back to the Hawk Lord, her one shining hope at an escape from this terror, to forget the nightmare that had settled over her life in the last three days. Then they escorted her away, flanked on all sides by the inhuman beings, the African super soldier at her front.
If they had a mind to slit her throat there would be no one to help, and if they were as efficient at mutant massacre as they were rumored to be, there would be no way to fight them off either. She gulped hard, the constant stressors plaguing her mind refusing to quiet themselves as she was escorted back to the armored personnel carrier, where her mood suddenly shifted.
Panic. The size of the personnel carrier, the low ceiling, the cramped walls, all reminiscent of the prison she had just escaped. Her heart pounded twice as quickly as it had before, adrenaline began to make its way through her system, screaming for her to escape, to run as far away as she could, as fast as she could, to smash an elbow into the skull of the mechanical organic thing behind her, to steal its weapon and dispatch her captors. Everyone, if they could feel emotion, if their bodies reacted to the pheromones that governed the unwilling human body's response, if they could feel the low level telepathy that shot forth unbidden from her altered mind, would feel it.
The raw fear an animal, cornered and desperate. Her shoulders tensed as she stopped suddenly, her body taking an instinctive step backwards, almost wheeling around to run, when she crashed into the MORS. Dead eyes stared into hers, and a chill ran down her spine. she froze, several seconds passing as she attracted the attention of the rest of the squad. She let out an involuntary whimper as she stared back into the carrier, and entered.
She sat, alone, isolated in the corner, surrounded by the MORS, each passing second an agonizing eternity. No one spoke, and when she tried only a scarcely audible squeak emerged. Her first attempt was her last. She sat in silence, eyes continuously shifting from one stoic being to the next, until they picked up another man. He was shorter, not as slim as the man before him with armor more akin to a heavy shock trooper than the lighter weight African's, but as he entered the shrinking sphere her powers occupied she automatically reached out and felt for his current emotional state, but all that returned to her was a jumbled mess of emotion. Something interfered drastically with her ability to sense his emotions. It was akin to attempting to make out a reflection in a pool of stormy water, each moment of stillness revealed a tiny portion of the whole, but as quickly as each piece manifested itself it would disappear again. The result was disorientation. Her mirroring emotions, if not actively controlled, would force her emotional state upon others, or, if theirs was the more intense of the two states, draw her into theirs. So intense was her focus on drawing out his emotions, his frame of mind, that she herself slipped into the choppy confusion of the technological static.
She held her head in her hands, gripping handfuls of hair between her fingers as he approached, her head tucked almost to her chest as she stared at the ground, her mind alternating between grim determination, stoicism, and relaxed confidence in between long periods of just nothingness. Less a state of apathy than a void where nothing stirred in her. It would be relaxing, if it didn't make her so hollow, so dead inside. It was this state of hollowness Bradshaw encountered when he approached, and it was this emptiness that she awakened from at the sight of her past. The first and only death in the career of the hero "Brainchild". No. She wasn't a hero then. The first and only murder committed by Stephanie Jacobs, age
She stared down at the forty something year old man, his dull eyes stared back into hers, and then she saw it: the back of his skull caved in, bloodied chunks of pinkish gray matter scattered about across a cement floor, smelled the iron in the air, tasted it as she ran her tongue over her lips. Next to that photograph, a wrench, plain, silver, unassuming, but in her mind it was covered in smears of dark crimson, the teeth still holding the odd bit of skin, hairs torn from him still clinging onto the drying flesh.
Her breathing stopped, but her heart raced. The newcomer continued speaking, his words barely registering over the sound of her thoughts, the blood rushing through her veins. She listened as he propositioned her, to bring her back with them, though the implications of her failure to follow were clear, her pounding heart slowly righting itself. She looked at them once more, their helmets robbing them of the visage of their humanity, and yet, somehow, it felt more akin to staring into the face of the divine, a second chance to do some good in the world.
"Y-y--" her throat was parched, the adrenaline, though slowly dying down, still coursed through her veins. She took a moment, shut her eyes, breathed deeply, cleared her throat and corrected her posture. She opened her eyes, her iron resolution clear as she gazed up at the her heavily armored saviors.
"Yes. I will come with you, but I'm not going to be some test subject, I'll do what you want, but I want to help too. People out there need to see that their heroes son't abandon them, no matter how bad it gets. I want to help." She looked up at them, their emotions and their expressions entirely hidden from her as soon as they donned their helmets. She looked away, somewhat embarrassed by the utter lack of a discernible reaction. For all she knew they were snickering away at her naive intentions. "Somehow."
Channel 6 News Studio
"Hey! Hey! You can't just waltz in here!" The man at the lobby froze, his eyes finally fully taking in the sight of the young Hawk Lord before him. The mace hanging at her side, armored helm obscuring her face, taut muscular body and folded wings giving her an air of subdued power. He gulped down hard, his voice lowering to a whisper as he addressed a paige next to him. "Call security, then call the cops."
Tony and Armando were quickly informed of their incoming guest, and both moved to a space in front of the broadcast room doors, barring any attempt at entry. Tony, the larger of the two men, sweated underneath his skin tight V-neck, beads already dripping down his forehead. He put out his hand, a habit from his days as a bouncer.
"S-s-ssto-ssto.." She announced her peaceful intentions, brushing his hand away as she did and ducking ever so slightly to move underneath it. As soon as she touched his skin he froze. He'd seen videos of Solar Hawk on the internet, in fact she was one of his favorite superheroes, so when he heard a Hawk Lord was coming up to the studio he instantly began to regret not making out his will. When she touched him his brain just stopped working, all conscious thought boiled away as his mind struggled simply to remain conscious.
"Oh for Fluck's sake, Tony. Listen lady, you can't come through here. We could lose our jobs, alright?" She spoke up again, mentioning that she simply wanted to speak to the girl's father. The marginally smaller man weighed his options: either he stood in the girl's way and likely took a few broken ribs and an impromptu unpaid vacation, or her let her through and gained a few brownie points with the girl at the possible cost of his job.
Clubs always needed bouncers anyway.He looked around furtively for any witnesses before he leaned in closer to the girl, taking the opportunity to sneak a look down at her chest as he whispered to her. "Alright, fine. But if anyone asks, you knocked us out with that weird bird magic you got. Capiche?" He moved aside, pushing Tony against one door, an action that drew from the 300 pound former mercenary a distressed "Auughaa!", while he tossed himself against the opposite door with a frighteningly loud BANG.
For his part Tony lay on the ground face up, flat as a board, whimpering quietly to himself, eyes fixed on the ceiling in the hopes she would not notice him, far too scared to move, much less oppose her.
Armando, apparently the more theatrical of the two, ragdolled and twitched on the floor, feigning an electric shock from the girl's mace. As he did so he winked at her, silently mouthing the words "call me" as she passed.
When she entered the studio the anchor stared up at the interloper, silent. Just past her were the "unconscious" guards. Her shoulders tensed as Munoz approached. "We'll be right back, stay tuned..."
With that she listened to the Hawk's proposal, weighing it carefully. In all honesty she had no control over who Mr. Jacobs did or did not speak to, and an interview with the Hawk Lord that had so foolishly rushed to conquer the Middle East might just prove very profitable, especially since it was a topic no one had ever discussed with the youngest of the Hawk trio. Before her producer could comment, she sprang at the chance.
"Alright, an interview. You, me, and Mr. Adams over there. I wouldn't know what questions to ask, but I'm sure he'd have a few for you." Of course the anchor had plenty of questions to ask, but a little bit of conflict went a long way when the positions on metas and mutants were as polarizing as they were now. "I take it we have a deal. Great. So, your talk with Mr. Jacobs, on air or off?"
"Uh...thanks guys..." Sentinel Hawk said quietly to the guards as at least one of them play acted on the floor. People are weird. She determined and listened intently to the news anchor as she spoke. "Deal, yes that's fine." She confirmed. "I'd like to talk to him off air, what I have to say to him is for him alone and not the rest of the world." She looked around the room for a moment, assessing its strengths and weaknesses and how to best defend the place if it came under attack...a habit formed from her Maverick training.
She smiled a little and stepped over to where the anchor and the others were seated at the news desk. The young Hawk Lord placed a hand lightly on Mr Jacob's shoulder. "Do you mind if I speak with you for a moment sir? It's about your daughter." She knew what he needed, she wasn't here to offer him platitudes or false hope...only to give him what no one had yet, actual sympathy and if he wasn't afraid of her, a hug. Then she would deal with an interview she was certain was going to be full of pitfalls and verbal aggression. I haven't listened to Luna Hawk talk about controlling the narrative all these times and not picked up a thing or two.
Sentinel Hawk and the others didn't wear their helmets to conceal their identity, they wore them because they were a badge of office, so to speak, an identification of who they were and who they served. Being younger than the others though she was more willing to take it off in public from time to time, when it served. In this case she thought the poor girl's father needed to see a friendly face, not one hidden behind a helmet. She took a step back and waited for him to get up and quietly pulled her helmet from her head and held it loosely in one hand at her side.
@thecatalyst: I couldn't help but just keep rereading that while I was on break. You really get into her head and you having her react to just....generally anything is epic. Your analytical skills show in your writing and she's one of the most human, feelable, relateable mutants I've seen written so far.
And she's an NPC...
I'll try to get a reply up today when I come back.
Kate Connely sat up, shoulders back as she returned to her notes, preparing for the commercial break to come to an end.
"Do you mind if I speak with you for a moment sir? It's about your daughter."
Henry Jacobs stared up at the young girl, face still hidden by her helmet, a symbol of hope for some, of the decay of the morality in heroes for others, and shifted his gaze from the girl back to the anchor.
Connely nodded dismissing Mr. Jacobs, who then rose and began to move off set. His exhausted gait and heavy steps betrayed the days he'd gone without sleep, for as long as his daughter had been in captivity he'd fought tirelessly to try and reach her somehow, to visit or call, but all his attempts were met with failure. The news of her innocence, declared by Sentinel Hawk herself, had spurred him to action, and he'd met up with the station that had broadcast the declaration. Instead of giving him a platform to speak on his daughter, however, they simply pitted him against a man far more composed than he, one with an agenda that he'd made clear from the outset, a man whose words had beaten him into submission.
Henry was not prepared for such an ambush, and defending his daughter, as poorly as he'd managed it, was exhausting. The recently awakened security guards, after a cursory medical examination by staff trained in first aid, escorted Mr. Jacobs and Munoz to the break room where Henry promptly collapsed into a well cushioned armchair. A weak smile crossed his face as he looked up at the now unmasked Hawklord, a girl around the same age as his daughter. He leaned forward, his shoulders sagging even as he did so, and spoke. "I saw what you did for her. You got her out of that cage she was in, told the world that she isn't what they're all saying she is. Thank you for that, but I'm not sure it worked out, did it?" His eyes wandered away from her, a deep sigh escaping his lips. "Your colleagues... My daughter... Where are they going? Do you know? What are they going to do with her? I know the state commissioned Maverick to..." he licked his dry lips, pausing to swallow down his fear and harden his heart before speaking again, "to execute her. Or they tried, at least. Is that where they're going? Are they going to... to..." his voice trailed off, but he continued to mouth the next words, unable to bring himself to speak them. He placed his hand in front of his mouth, tears coming to his eyes. He cleared his throat, but could no longer continue, he just stared up at her, searching for answers she did not possess.
@maverick_6: Glad you're happy with it! I thought I might have been going too far into her head, putting up a wall of text like that, but as long as you're cool with it I am! =D
Munoz knelt down and set her helmet off to one side. She took his hands gently in her own and squeezed them softly before her kind eyes met his own. She listened to his questions, let him talk and sort of let off steam. She knew how he must have felt, she could read it written all over his body and posture. She never teared up, never reflected his sadness, she just listened. "I don't have answers to those questions, but if I did I probably wouldn't be able to tell you." She smiled a little. "I do know that Maverick has a lot of very good people in it, sometimes they bury it down deep under layers of cynicism but it's still there, no one can hide their inherent goodness from me. I would be surprised if they carry out the state's orders...exactly like they expected them to."
Munoz considered him for a moment and then quietly pulled him into her arms for a much needed hug. "You should be proud of her." She told him quietly. "She's a good person, raised well I suspect and she's stronger than she looks." She eventually released him from the hug and looked at him again, making eye contact once more. "I'll do everything in my power to find out what happens to her and let you know." She looked at him for a moment, the next part would be the hardest...it was always hard to make people in his position a little more optimistic, but she had to try, it was in her blood. "I know it's hard, but try to hope...they wanted to take hope away from you and your daughter, don't let them win."
She picked up her helmet and set it on the arm rest of the chair he had taken over with the eyes facing him. "Do you want to tell her anything? My helmet records audio and visual. I might be able to get her a message for you. I can...leave the room if you need the moment to yourself."
@sentinel_hawk: He looked up into her eyes, listening as she took his hands in hers. He quietly nodded as she expounded on the better qualities of your average Maverick operative, listened as she confessed that she did not know what might happen, but that he should have hope that a company contracted to kill his daughter would spare her, assuring him that if she ever discovered the truth she would let him know. It all combined in him to form a sickly feeling in the pit of his gut, to exacerbate his weariness and torture his mind to deny him the rest he craved.
Uncertainty. Optimism. Hope. That was all she had to offer him, and in his exhausted state, in the face of the unrelenting pain in his chest, under the hollowness that came with the knowledge that his only child might soon be stripped from him and the world, that he was powerless to stop it, those three offerings just weren't enough. He gripped the arms of the chair more tightly, digging his fingers into them as she urged him to keep hope even as despair began to wash over him, drown him in its depths.
Then, finally, a reason to hope. A way to speak with Stephanie, with his only daughter. "Yes! I need to tell her that I believe in her, that I know she didn't do these awful things." He looked up at her, his weariness forgotten, put aside for the time being. "Some privacy would be welcome, thank you, thank you so much. You don't know how hard I've tried to reach her, how difficult it's been." He nodded, repeating a million gratitudes as she set up her equipment and left the room.
He straightened the suit he'd worn for his time on the air, adjusted his heavy rimmed glasses, straightened his plain red tie and cleared his throat as he looked directly into the eyes of the helmet, finally ready to speak to his daughter.
"Hello there Stephanie, my little hunny bunny. I know you're scared, I know you're wondering if you're ever going to get to see us again and why this is all happening, but I want you to know that you're going to be okay." His voice cracked, his eyes shining with the tears he'd restrained only moments before. "Me and your mother are holding up just fine, and I've been talking with a lot of the folks in town. They don't think it was you, Lily says you were with her the whole time, that she was just as scared as you were when the shooting started, and she knows you didn't talk to those boys. I'm filing appeals to get you out of there, and a Mr. Gordon, you remember him, my friend the lawyer? He was at your sweet sixteen, he gave you a blender, God knows why he gave you that, but he did, well he says that the judge's punishment was way too harsh, that an execution so soon after the trial is almost unheard of, that the public defender that asked us to go to a bench trial sabotaged us. He says that an appeal should work, so just hang in there, okay bunny?
I know it's hard, and I wish I could be there with you, but a friend says that they probably won't... won't hurt you, at least not like the judge wanted, to just...kill you, like... " His fists clenched by his sides, anger swelling as he reflected on her fate, at the injustice handed down to her. "Like they want. Just hold on. You're so strong, and you've been fighting for us, the whole town, for so long, and I am so, so proud of you. So just hang on honey, daddy's fighting for you."
He finished his message, walking past the helmet and to the door where Sentienel Hawk was waiting. "Thank you. I...I really needed that. I needed her to know I haven't given up on her, that I still love her; that I still believe in her. Thank you." He extended a hand and grasped hers, holding it between the two of his, his eyes watering as fought back tears of gratitude. "It's just hard. Hard when things don't work like they're supposed to, when everything's rigged against you. It's just nice to have someone that's just there to help, no strings attached. So thank you. Thank you for everything you've done for my little girl, for our family." Weary eyes stared into hers, a degree of peace finally settling into them. Speaking about the hope that Maverick might spare her, coupled with the slew of reasons for why an appeal to a higher court might in fact work, made the possibility that her life might not end so soon more tangible, more real. It allowed him to buy into the possibility perhaps Maverick wasn't, as the local government seemed to be, entirely against mutant kind, despite the increasing numbers of mutants they killed. Maybe there was hope after all, maybe he'd see his daughter come back home to him, that maybe the Hawk was really an angel in disguise, sent to answer all the prayers he'd been reciting so furiously, so desperately over his sleepless nights. His tears fell on her hands as he bowed, then on her shoulders as he pulled her in to hug her closely. "God, thank you. Thank you..."
She was a little surprised by the sudden hug but didn't mind it at all. She allowed him to get his tears out and to thank her...and God. Look what these people have done to one family. There has to be a reason for this...I wonder...She speculated, starting to think maybe something about the whole situation was a bit fishy. I wonder if someone set them up for some reason. She didn't voice any of this, he had enough to worry about. She just held him quietly.
"I'm happy to do anything I can." She said gently after a few moments of silence. "I'll make sure I get the video to your daughter and maybe she can get one to you. I'm only sorry I haven't been able to do more for you." She said quietly. Munoz eventually pulled back from him a little but only after all his tears of joy had dried up and he had settled back down a little. "If you and your family need anyone to talk to, my name is Munoz Hal." She pulled a little note card from her pocket and slipped it into his fingers, it had her phone number on it at the Academy. "It's going to work out..." She assured him gently.
(that was an awesome post, I only wish I had more to say after it =). )
"Thank you. You don't know how much you've done for me today. Thank you..." Henry Jacobs took the card, bowing his head and nodding as he left, occasionally glancing back over his shoulder, simply marveling at the compassion of a stranger. If he had any doubt that heroes did not do great things, that they were not necessary in this grim world of force meeting force, they were gone now, and with that dissipation came realization. Heroes didn't have to lift buses, blow up bad guys or snap the bones of hardened criminals. Sometimes all a hero had to do to change the world was stand up, to let people know where injustice exists, and that they won't stand with it, no matter how many others choose to do so, no matter how strong evil might seem, they would not relent. They would not simply move aside as corruption crept into people's souls, fear poisoning their hearts.
He walked to his car, his mind significantly more at ease. He plopped into the driver's seat, buckled up, and promptly fell asleep. His car still parked, meter running, heart at peace.
"Ahem." From the doorway, watching her as they spoke, stood John Franklin Adams (formerly Frank Ivanov, served one six year term in the U.S. army, arrested twice for battery, divorced) in his suit and tie, staring resentfully at her. "You do know that you would be opposing the will of the United States' legal system if you were to somehow postpone that execution, right? Violating it entirely if you get the girl off the hook, as you seem to be promising? Not sure even you would want to do that." He sneered at her as he spoke, a look of obvious contempt plastered on his face. "Whatever. It's not my business. Now that 10 minute interview you promised? That my business, and I can guarantee that you are going to regret that making that promise." His sneer turned to a smirk, though the contempt remained. "Whenever you're ready, 'hunny bunny'."
Munoz smiled a little and lowered her head as she lifted her helmet to put it back on. "There are a lot of people who have violated the legal system when it was broken to point out how broken it was." She said and slipped the helmet on over her head. She tucked her hair up behind it a bit and settled it down in place. "Martin Luther King comes to mind. George Washington before it was a United States...people you call heroes today." She looked at him, the very reason she had put the helmet back on in the first place. Data streamed along her vision, informing her of what was known about him publicly. "I wonder if you're a good man." She told him. She would need more time with him to discern that...say...ten minutes?
"I know I'm not Solar Hawk or even Luna Hawk." She added as she walked towards him and the door leading to the news room. "I'm Sentinel Hawk Mr. Ivanov. Protecting innocent people is literally what I was made for, I won't regret anything about the interview because you have no power over me, nor do words or any amount of corrupted narrative." She smiled a little again as she took her seat across from Ms. Connely and directed her gaze at the woman this time. "Also, I'm not a meta-human. I'm a Hawk Lord of Thanagar. I'm ready when you are Ms. Connely. I believe your other guest has some questions about the United States legal system."
"And we're rolling....now!"
"This is Kate Connely for Action News 6 with a special guest today, Maverick Corporation's own super powered representative, Sentinel Hawk, has dropped in to pay us a visit, and of course still here with us is the director of the Dover branch of the HFF, John Franklin Adams. Now Sentinel Hawk, I understand that you've come in today to help walk us through the events currently taking place in the area of Buckeye Valley and to discuss the status of mutant/metahuman affairs in general. Well, it just so happens that Mr. Adams was just discussing that subject with us, and he just so happens to have a few questions for you pertaining to the matter as well. Mr. Adams?"
"Thank you Kate. Now I understand, 'Sentinel Hawk', that you work with Maverick, who are essentially the world's police force now, which is very praiseworthy, I commend you for it." Adams spoke with mock sincerity, hard for most to distinguish but the Hawk Lord could tell by the slight change in tone, the way he gestured and squinted his eyes ever so slightly while "praising" her, it was all mockery in his mind. "I also know that you go to school at one Barnes Academy in Gothic City. The same Gothic City that is a well known safe haven for mutants seeking to flee from the United States and its authority. In other words, you live among a large portion of the mutant community composed of what we can safely assume is 95% criminals. I'm sure a few of them are okay, but we are talking about an entire community of rapists and murderers. The same Gothic City which is home to, or allegedly home to, the "Black House", the metahuman terrorist Satar's base of operations. My question to you is, if you are a part of a force that seeks to ensure justice and you in an area where there is essentially none, why should we trust anything you have to say? What's to say you have humanity's best interests at heart when you spend all your time in an area populated by criminals, outside of government overreach and supervision, and do nothing to stop it? Now, I'm not saying you're a member of the Brahma Brotherhood, but I haven't heard of any attempts on your part to combat them after their initial push. How do we know you haven't joined them? You are very open to the idea of second chances, many, even within the 'superhero' community, would say too open. So how do the American people really know you haven't been convinced that maybe Satar's path is the best choice for humanity? He is still operating just fine in your backyard after all. Doesn't that imply at least some tacit approval?"
His face appeared puzzled, inquiring, but the barely concealed barbs hidden within his questions were already skin deep. "How do we trust her? Why should we trust her?" He had stated again and again it was not an accusation, that could be refuted outright, dismissed as ridiculous, instead he had indirectly laid the suspicion, implied he trusted her, but other Americans could not. He would tear her down, even if he had to do so piecemeal.
(Sorry for the late response. I usually go to spend some time with family on the weekends, and there are no computers connected to the internet there. Next time I'll shoot you a PM or post OOC here to tell you I'll be out, it was rude of me to just take off.)
Sentinel Hawk smiled a little and removed her helmet. She set it off to the side on the desk. If he was going to use his words and face as a mask for insults then she would leave her own un-armored. People would see her every expression and the honesty in every word.
"Let me address your questions and comments one at a time." She told him. "That way I can give you the best answers possible. "Gothic City is an unfortunate place, it pushes people to extremes and convinces them to do things for their own survival they wouldn't have done otherwise. The crime rates in Gothic are atrocious, the attitude of the government towards Gothic City is even worse. There are certainly some people who travel to Gothic to avoid certain laws they feel unjustly single them out but most of the people who live there have lived there for some time." She smiled a little, she'd very intentionally used the word people in place of mutants.
"There are a wide variety of criminals in the world." Sentinel Hawk continued. "Many of them are what we call 'petty' criminals, these are people who stole money from a cash register or food from a store, people who don't cause physical harm to others. True they can influence store prices as they are adjusted for increased theft in a region but they don't go around killing, harming or raping people. A vast majority of Gothic City's criminals fall into this category. Why? Because we as a society have failed them. We leave Gothic City to its own and hope for the best, but mostly we just leave it and hope to not hear from it again. Many of the people who live there steal for survival. You are probably aware of the high number of gang members living in Gothic City and the large number of gangs."
She took a pair of pencils from the desk and held them up for the camera to see. "There are two kinds of gangs in Gothic City" she held up one of the pencils above the other. "On the one hand you have the majority of gangs in Gothic, these are really organizations of people pushed to protect themselves because they feel they have no where to go. They might push businesses for protection money or threaten people in their territory but by and large these are good people pushed to extremes." She put that one down and raised the other. "The other are run by people like Satar and Curve. The vast majority of these people are the 'face of Gothic City' so to speak...the people you imagine when you say the words Gothic City. These are the monsters. To combine the pushed people with the monsters and call them the same thing as a gross misunderstanding."
Munoz considered her verbal sparring partner for a moment before she continued. "Yes, I live in Gothic City, that's a widely known fact, I actually live on the grounds of the school, another widely known fact. I even have a boyfriend from Gothic City, he's another hero. You want to know why people should believe I haven't been corrupted by the likes of Satar? That's easy, I'm talking to you." she said with a smile. "Look, Satar and his people don't talk, they just attack. I am very forgiving it's true, but only of people who have a shred of goodness inside of them, on this I and many heroes conflict. With that said, I have looked into Satar's heart...there's nothing there. I haven't forgiven him for what he's done and continues to do and I won't. One day someone is going to kill him and I hope to be there to help them do it."
Munoz leaned back in her chair, apparently relaxed and not at all nervous or tense by his words or the setting. "It's true, I haven't attacked Black House...others have and they've come out of it injured and having failed in their mission. The reason for both of these realities is simple...Satar's forces have the arsenal of an army, an advanced army. There are perhaps three or four heroes in the entire world capable of taking them all on and most of them are busy trying to prevent global catastrophes. That leaves the rest of us, Solar Hawk, Luna Hawk, myself, Dark Vengeance, that fox girl I've seen running around...the list goes on. We don't have the power to take on an army, I wish we did, but without backing from outside forces the best we can do is contain the threat and even that has proven impossible to achieve entirely."
Munoz glanced down for a moment after the last bit, apparently a bit ashamed that they couldn't do more. When she looked up though her ever present smile was back. "As for me and justice, I don't find you to be the moral authority on justice, you think justice begins and ends with one race of people. We all do everything we can in Gothic but victories there are small, they're saving people like this..." Munoz pulled out a picture she liked to carry with her, it was a comic version of an image taken of Thee Champion some years back.
"This is a win in Gothic City." She told him, showing it to the camera in the process. "You expect miracles but most of Gothic's heroes are regular people, or regular people with one or two powers. People like me or Luna or Solar Hawk in Gothic City are rare, extremely rare, most of them just don't have the ability to take on all of Gothic's problems and fix the world. We have to fix Gothic City one person at a time."
Munoz put the picture down. "I'm sure you don't mean any insult by your words but I'll address your implication anyway. Tacit approval? No. Satar and his people are monsters and I say that about very few individuals. You don't attack Satar or his legion of evil out of the blue, you plan and planning takes time. If you think that's wrong then I support your right to buy a gun and go fight him yourself. I assure you we know what we are doing, I don't approve of him or his tactics and one day soon there will be justice...sometimes justice takes some planning and time. In the mean time I have done everything in my power every day of the week to save Gothic City one person at a time and protect them from the likes of the Brotherhood."
Munoz smiled. "I wanted to address something you said before I arrived. You said I was a meta-human, implying that I was what you refer to as a mutant and thus likely to defend them regardless of facts. I'm a Hawk Lord Mr. Adams, I am neither Human nor meta-human, I am a member of a warrior race made to protect the innocent. I was raised by human parents in Iraq during the US occupation. I spent most of my time in hiding from both American and extremist forces because of my wings and because my parents had once worked for the government. I know what it's like to be Human, I know what it's like to be oppressed and run scared and feel like you have no where else to go. I was not given my powers until recently, thus I have lived both lives. When I see someone running for their life from something they can't fight back against, I know how they feel. When someone gets locked away in a box because people are afraid of their differences...I know how they feel." Munoz looked at him sternly for the first time. "I stand with the innocent Mr. Adams, I don't care what race they are or where they come from in life. When it comes to the 'mutant agenda' or the 'save the humans' movement...those don't concern me."
(It's ok, life comes first =) ).
The look of concerned inquiry faded as she slowly deconstructed what he had been saying. Insults swirled through his mind, condemnations and curses stuck to the edges of his lips, threatening to spill out spontaneously. his expression was controlled, and he nodded as though listening intently despite the slowly building rage inside. A fist clenched in front of his face, the fingers of his other hand tapped the desk in irritation. He could be seen biting his tongue, if the viewer were observant enough, and in between nods of understanding was a slight shaking of his head. Finally, as she wrapped up her response, he began his own. The words, while still pieced together quite craftily, professionally even, possessed a bitterness that while well concealed, was not undetectable. It might go unnoticed by the audience, but the signs of his aggression were clearly present. His stare was unflinching, his tone almost accusatory.
"Oh, I understand that Gothic City is full of a lot of different types of gangs, and I know that the government disowned it, 'failed it', as you say, but there was an evacuation, so anyone that still there, chose to do so on their own. They chose a life of crime, so they're not getting any pity from me.
And I'm not talking about mutants fleeing to Gothic City to 'earn a better life' or to 'escape persecution', because there aren't any. Anyone that runs there expecting it to be better than even the most screwed up part of America is an idiot, plain and simple. I'm talking about the murderers and rapists that run there to escape prosecution, not persecution. It's a no man's land! It's like running to Mexico and skipping town only even Interpol and the UN are powerless to go in there because there is no government, there's no one to talk to about extradition. That is the reason anyone flees to Gothic today, anyone says different, and they're idiots, Plain and simple, so this fleeing to 'avoid certain laws they feel unjustly single them out' stuff is crap. Pure crap. You go there, expect to be stabbed and killed in the first ten minutes, which is way worse than any 'laws that single you out'.
"As for these two distinct types of gangs." He waved a hand, dismissing any significance she tried to put into the distinction of petty criminals and major terrorists. "They had their chance to leave. Now anything they do, if they pay up to Satar, if they pay up to the Clown, they're aiding terrorism. They do them favors, they're terrorists, plain and simple. You're gonna say it's about survival, or that they're a minority, but you know what? If you gathered all the mutants in Gothic City, you gather up all the kooks running around in masks, you know what you've got? A goddamn army.
And now, after all this you've said, you want to claim your humanity. You've been frail, you've been on both sides of the street. You know what? So has 'the Shogun', I'm sure. So have her death legion, the 'Orochi', so have a million other mutants, other metahumans. Not everybody's born with their 'gifts', as so many of you Darwin worshiping nuts would call them, but they do get them eventually. You know what happens when they get that power?
They get even. So why should I believe you're any different? Why should any of us? You say you have the power to see the good in people, why should I believe you any more than the common charlatan that says they can predict the future or see into people's minds? I can't even measure this 'good in people crap' like I can a common psychic, no one can! "
By now his resentment had broken through his mask, he was seething. It was not just his rhetoric, the stump speech at the HFF's personal meet and greets, it was his personal beliefs, the reason he got out of bed in the morning and didn't shoot himself by the end of the night, a hate that burned deep and eternal, but not without reason.
Sentinel Hawk's smile didn't fade, if anything it was stronger because her opponent was faltering. He had decided to tangle with the only Hawk Lord that was dangerous in a verbal sparring match that didn't involve a lot of yelling. "The facts differ with the idea that somehow people chose to remain in Gothic. The evacuation of a city the size of Gothic can take hours or even a full day. The city was 'evacuated' in much less time and a majority of the people who escaped were the wealthy and the well connected. The evacuation of Gothic City was much like the evacuation of the Titanic. The people near the bridges and with the connections to get there fast got out, everyone else went down with the ship."
Munoz watched him for a moment before she continued. "It's true, a number of criminals do flee to Gothic City, but a number of others go there because they'd rather risk violence than being arrested by a government more interested in putting a number on them than helping them." The reference to concentration camps was intentional. "I'm afraid that calling something you disagree with crap is not a substantial counter argument Mr. Adams, if you would prefer I can dig up the numbers for you and show you the exact types of people fleeing to Gothic and why."
Sentinel Hawk shook her head at his increased anger. "People have fled to other countries throughout history and for varied reasons. Many of them today flee in small cargo containers on ships making a long sea voyage with nothing but the clothes on their back. Some flee their home countries in boats that are one wave away from sinking. The pilgrims that came to America risked death by starvation, disease and native...I assure you that despite the situation in Gothic there are people who are not 'the worst of us' that flee to Gothic despite the danger."
He finally said something that irritated her and for a moment it showed but it was soon replaced with her usual good cheer. "I don't worship Darwin." She pointed out. "That's flatly inaccurate and anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of Hawk Lords would know that. I was raised in Islam but I worship Amun-Ra, that's fairly well known public knowledge." She removed a symbol of Amun-Ran from beneath her jacket that hung around her neck to make it visible to the camera as it lay on her chest like many Christians with their cross necklaces. "As a Hawk Lord it is not only my duty but my purpose to protect the innocent, I'm no Darwinist, I'm not going around telling people only the strong should rule...quite the opposite in fact. I think it is everyone's duty to help one another, if more people turned to their neighbor to help them then we'd have fewer Satar's to worry about.
"It's true though, I agree that many people have been vulnerable before and become enemies of the public...and many more have become it's staunchest defenders. We all know the list of heroes so I won't go through it again. For every Ivana or Curve or Satar there is a Champion, a Xae, a Dark Vengeance. What you are losing sight of is that these are people, people motivated and raised as much by their own inner desires as much as the world around them. The more you tighten control around what you insist on calling mutants, the more Ivanas you will create."
Sentinel Hawk considered his final commentary for a moment, choosing her words carefully before she replied. "I understand if you don't believe I have the power I do, there's not tangible proof for it, it's not something I can really demonstrate on TV either. I can tell you why you should believe I'm different. You pointed out earlier that I am a very forgiving individual, so forgiving that many of my fellow heroes take issue with it. When is the last time Ivana or Satar forgave someone? When is the last time the people you are so afraid of forgave anyone?"
Munoz smiled a little. "When is the last time you forgave someone? Today you did your best to make a father break down on national television. Today you tried to do the same to me and you told the world that millions of innocent people are a threat simply because their genetics are not the same as yours." She smiled warmly. "I forgive you Mr. Adams." Kindness was a fascinating weapon, one that could push the increasingly angry Adams right over the edge and Munoz knew it.
"Those millions are a threat, whether you want to admit it it not. The average American citizen doesn't have the right to purchase assault weapons, machine guns and high explosives, but these others, these normal looking walking weapons that can wreak as much devestation as your local SWAT team, are allowed to go wherever they please. That's why the organization you belong to exists, that's why the registration act exists, that's why people want to separate the mutants from the humans, because otherwise humans won't ever be safe. Every mutant you pass by is a walking bomb, and anything you say or do could set it off. Solar Hawk and her famous temper portray this perfectly."
Connelly cleared her throat, interrupting his latest tirade. "I think we are drifting a bit off topic here, why don't we just--"
"You want to shut me up, fine, but remember this: God made in his image, so whatever you and the rest of your freak friends are come from Him. If anything the Devil must have commissioned you you lowly pile of--"
"Okay, that's enough! You've made your views abundantly clear Mr. Adams, but I'm afraid this network cannot abide by such intolerance--"
"You mean truth. That's the fact of the matter, mutants kill. Look at Goldyne, look at Venezuela and Gothic and Spain. The Liafadors, once some of the best respected of you , turned on their own people and absolutely BUTCHERED them. That's what all of you are on the inside, that's what you were ten years ago that's what you'll be ten years from now. You deliver false hope, that's all any of you ever bring."
"I'm going to have to ask you to leave Mr. Adams." With that Connely motioned for the two security guards from before, urging them to approach.
"Don't bother." Adams rose, straightening his suit. "I'm leaving." Bitterness and rage swirled within him, mal intent lay thick in the atmosphere as he walked past the Hawk Lord, moving to exit through the door behind her.
"I'm sorry about that Ms. Hal." Her apology seemed sincere as Kate Connely reached out, touching the Hawk Lord's forearm, fingers pressing lightly. "I expected a lively conversation, but I never thought he'd go so far off the deep en--"
That's when she heard it, the shuffling of feet stopped, rubber soles scraping as he turned, the rustle of his hand brushing past cloth as he reached into his jacket's inner lining and withdrew a simple plastic structure, a single round already loaded within. Half a second and a near inaudible click later, the roar of the incendiary buckshot erupted toward Munoz Hal's exposed head and neck, the news anchor directly behind her.
The thought placed behind the attack was clear: if she moved she would cost the anchor her life. If she didn't, she would catch the full force of the 4 gauge shell, packed with the same experimental propellant used in the attack on the march, the same tungsten and magnesium shards meant to pierce deep into mutants and ignite flesh in a 3000 Fahrenheit degree blaze.
It was a very impressive explosion, and the small plastic gun, if it could even be called such, fragile and inadequate to hold against the kick of the shell as it was, shattered in his hand, leaving plastic embedded in his bleeding right hand. He didn't care. A look of utter disdain was engraved into his features, his eyes stared unblinking as they sought the carnage he hoped to wreak.
She recognized the sound of someone reaching for a gun from her training and her hawk level hearing. She immediately regretted not wearing her helmet but it didn't matter. She knew what the choice was but for her it wasn't a choice at all. She immediately grabbed the anchor and pulled the woman into her arms and turned her back to the shot, not just refusing to let the anchor die but actively protecting her with her body. By leaning over the anchor she also achieved something else, she took much of the shot away from her head and meant most of it would impact her neck and upper back. The shot that hit her upper back flattened harmlessly against her Nth Metal Weave and dropped to the floor, the rounds that struck her neck were less pretty and gold blood splattered everywhere on live national television. He was given a few moments to believe in his victory but it was not long...
Sentinel Hawk had rarely been in combat in a public setting so it was understandable that he was unaware of her extremely impressive regeneration abilities. Despite all the damage done to her neck from both the impact and the flaming projectiles, her body reacted immediately. Burning pellets were forced from deep wounds and her body healed what would have been a fatal injury with little difficulty. She was conscious again within moments and reacted even before her wounds her fully healed. She released the anchor and forced herself up to her feet. She turned quickly to the man who had intended to assassinate her and swiftly reached for his throat. Her intention was to lift him off his feet and begin the process of forcing his throat shut, choking him. If she was successful he would begin to lose oxygen quickly, but she had no intention of fully crushing his throat, especially on live television. Her eyes burned in anger and she reached out with her powers, intending to check for even the slightest shred of good in this man before she took another action.
He had no way of really responding because he was human, but there was a definite weakness opened by the shot, her body healed quickly and allowed her to respond instead of spending hours regenerating from the attempted assassination but the wound still hurt like hell even as it healed and she felt the full pain of the wounds burning inside of her neck even though the projectiles were gone. If he was faster or stronger, perhaps he'd be able to retaliate, as it was, she doubted he had any means of defending himself now. "By the way..." Sentinel Hawk said, her first words a bit raspy as her wounds healed. "I regenerate a lot faster than the others."
(And the award for poorest assassination choice goes to...That was an awesome shot by the way and would have knocked Solar or Luna Hawk out of the fight for hours if it didn't kill them out right.)
The cameras were quickly panned to the sight of Sentinel Hawk lifting the still struggling Adams, his eyes burned with utter contempt, hatred crystallized in his light blue orbs, he struggled in vain to break her hold, then to claw at her neck. Then they were shut off, Connely was pulled our from under the desk she'd hidden under, the security guards rushing in to deal with the situation. But they hesitated. Seeing the mask of anger she wore, the ease with which she lifted a 180 pound man, they stopped in their tracks. Here was the fury a Hawk Lord brought to bare, the familiar expression glimpsed beneath the masks of her predecessors in battle, here open for them to see. It was terrifying.
"Go on, kill me пизда, kill me or *cough* or отвали, мудак, бля!" It was said, almost whispered, through the crushed windpipe of his throat. Still his hands struggled to come around her neck, clawing at the wounds he'd formed previously, fingers embedding into the areas where the large shrapnel pieces tore into her flesh.
His hatred, it ran deep. She could feel it. It composed a large portion of him, near the core of his being, but inside that hatred, inside that black and evil thing, was sorrow. A pain so intense it threatened to scar the Hawk Lord's psyche the longer she stared into it.
Hawaii, his family, his daughter, his wife. "Heroes", too busy slaying the onslaught of invaders to bother with the cowering masses below, mutants, metahumans, all abandoned the islands to a PMC that had to take over a hero's work. Gods and Demons swarmed over the island, to "protect it", but only humans cared to actually save other the civilians. Only the soldiers of Maverick tried to save him, his wife, and his daughter in that Honolulu gift shop, at ground zero. He could hear their screams as otherworldly beasts bombarded them, tore at their throats and threatened to vanquish any that found themselves unfortunate enough to stumble into their path. He cursed, powerless beneath the rubble, his legs crushed by the collapsed building above him, bones shattered by its weight. "Hide, Masha! I will find you!" He clawed at the ground, desperately trying to pull himself from the rubble.
Then he hears it, a shrill scream from beneath the counter to his right. "Masha! выпуск ее вы чертовски монстр! Somebody help! Anyone! Please!" He struggled, vainly, to claw his way out of the rubble as the cries grew higher in pitch, sobs interlaced between terrified screams, and then suddenly, the cries were silenced. In their place, a low gurgling noise, a low, guttural laugh.
Past the magazine display he could see her worn, polished red shoes, the faded golden buckles still clasped. He reached back, grasping for a nearby box cutter, and as he drew himself forward, his knee popped off at the joint, the cutter came down upon the flesh, and in a gruesome act of self mutilation, he was free. Separated from the trapped appendage. Blood oozed from his severed leg as he clawed his way toward her, Masha, his daughter.
There she lay, fear frozen in her gaze, dead eyes staring on in horror, mouth agape, throat reduced to a bloody gash. Off in the distance, high in the air, projecting streams of scorching red, atomizing his opposition a "Champion". There, in the tiny, partially collapsed gift shop, a dead girl, seven years old, a man, mutilated by his own hand, bleeding to death, and a cackling demon whose footfalls brought him looming over the dying father.
Tears swelled in his eyes as he cursed the creature, cursed the heroes he'd grown up admiring, the heroes he had worshipped, cursed himself. It raised its leg, staring into the man's eyes as it did, relishing in the pain reflected in them, and there, in the sky above, stood his Champion, too busy to care for the man below.
The last thing he heard was the thunderous roar of a gunshot, a round that sent the beast flying. He recalled the feeling of strong arms dragging him away, the sight of a young girl with worn red shoes, abandoned in a Honolulu gift shop, a sight to be forever burned into his memory.
His eyes glared into hers, his struggle continuing as the security guards continued to hesitate. He brought himself closer to her, looping his arms around her neck. There, out of her sight, he ripped from himself a sharp piece of the plastic weapon that had embedded itself into his hand, warm red burst forth, exploding into her own golden gore as he brought his opposite hand down, the sharp plastic brought down to slice at her jugular with enough force to successfully gut a slice a mortal man. Still, his oxygen was fading fast, this, was his last attempt at a vengeance directed at all the false heroes, at those with "gifts" used to lord over the human race, but most of all, upon himself. He looked upon his own injuries, at the prospect of his death, without fear, without worry. He drew satisfaction from the shedding of his own blood, from the pain he felt. It was a punishment he forced upon himself, one far too lenient.
Sentinel Hawk could feel his pain and shook her head at his cursing. When he lashed out again there was little she could do to avoid it at such close range. The wound cut deep and successfully cut her artery but it was, again, a futile attempt. Killing Sentinel Hawk was not impossible but it was extremely difficult, she could recover from virtually any wound that did not also destroy her body. She gasped for moment in both surprise and pain and then tossed him onto the ground between the two guards. She put a hand over her wound to slow the bleeding while she waited for it to heal. "Arrest him." She told them.
She was quiet for a moment as she healed, despite her healed wounds her blood loss was not insignificant and was a wound that would take longer to heal. She put a hand on the back of her chair and looked somewhat pale. "He's a good person at heart...he's just been twisted by his experiences." She explained to them. She looked at the half crazed man and knelt down in front of him. She put her hand, soaked in her own golden blood, over the worst of his wounds. The wounds soon healed closed and she removed her hand. "I'm sorry for what happened." Sentinel Hawk told him gently. "You've gone through an experience no one should ever have. If I could go back in time and make everything better for you I would...but I can't. Despite everything you've done, I forgive you." She told him quietly.
Munoz glanced over at the anchor woman. "I think we still had time in our interview, if you wanted to complete it. I think you had questions for me." She said and stood up.
(by the way, that spoiler blocked bit was awesome)
As soon as she released him he collapsed to the ground, gasping for air. He listened, more awre of his powerlessness now than at any point point in his life, save one. "You've gone through an experience no one should ever have. If I could go back in time and make everything better for you I would...but I can't. Despite everything you've done, I forgive you." His fingers balled into fists, he watched as the blood ran from his right hand to the tiled floor, her words drawing forth the spectre that had haunted him since that fateful day. "I don't need forgiveness." It was a whisper, speaking more to himself than anyone else in the room. The blood pooled on white tile, and he lost himself in it.
(The following is just Adams' recollections and realizations, feel free to skip over)
That day that had left him broken, hollow, without a daughter to cherish and a partner to love. The day his slice of paradise had been lost. He lost a daughter he had cherished, had planned to cherish forever. The grief cost him his wife, who, though she never admitted it, though she never put it to words, blamed him for young Masha's death. In this they agreed. The medical bills from a lost leg bankrupted him.
He applied to Maverick as a soldier, cannon fodder, part of him hoping to simply find the quickest route to strike back at the forces that had stolen his life from him, the other just wishing for an end to come more quickly.
He failed the psychological evaluation. The army told him much the same. For years he stewed in his agony, his life losing any semblance of purpose. Then, when his life had devolved into an alcoholic haze, he got a chance. It was at an AA meeting, his second to last, almost through with the court ordained number of meetings. After fourteen long weeks he opened up about his experiences in Hawaii, about his daughter, even going so far as to rail against Thee Champion himself. An HFF representative was there, also ordered by the courts, and he loved what he heard. There was a heartfelt pain, a real grievance that only this man could put into words. He was recruited, made his way up the ranks, gained fame, gained fortune. At first it felt good to vent, to let out all the rage and anger he felt to the heroes who's failed him, but soon he came to realization:
Ultimately it was him that had failed her. His daughter had relied on him for protection, he was her Champion. From there it took all his power to fend off the desire to give in, to surrender to his despair. In the end he was bitter, but aware that he was redirecting his anger out to the mutants, to the metahuman community. He it was wrong, but reality was too bitter, too fraught with his own failures to face.
Now here he was, a broken shell, defeated not by the girl's superior strength or speed, her impenetrable armor or regenerative abilities, but by her mercy. He drew his hand across the ground as he rose, a crimson trail spreading from the puddle below, the same kind he used to watch trail across the sky in Masha's favorite early morning cartoons, the adventures of Thee Champion and the Super League. It had been ages since he'd let himself delve this far back, but it brought painful realization to the embittered man. She had loved them. Adored them in fact. How many of those figures had he bought her? How many hours did they spend, Masha on his shoulders, running in circles pretending she too, could fly? He could even recall a few winged figures among them, cheap chunks of molded Chinese plastic, purchased at swap meets, marketed as "Falcon Ladies". His entire time recovering from her death had been spent tearing down what she loved. His self loathing only deepened, the nails of his right hand digging deeper into the exposed wounds on his palm.
Armando moved to drag Adams away, grasping him under the arms as his fellow guard made good use of the fire extinguisher, choking out the flames that had begun to spread around the magnesium shards. "Time to go. Guest segment's over, scumbag." Adams stared at the ground, his eyes hollow. He shuffled along, stopping only as he spied the deep red puddle, interspersed with a hint of the Hawk Lord's golden blood. A familiar combination of colors, it brought his eyes back up to the wounded girl. In a whisper, a private admission of his defeat, of his regret, he spoke. "I think she would have liked you."
Connely looked between the girl and Adams, watching the man who was a well respected representative of the HFF only moments before was escorted away as a prisoner. "I... I could continue, if you'd like." She looked about the set, the charred desk riddled with the pockmarks of embedded buckshot, the scorched wall that had nearly caught ablaze. "Though I suspect my crew might want to call it a half-day."
(I don't skip anything you're writing on here, way too impressive, especially for npcs)
Sentinel Hawk put a hand on his shoulder for a moment when he paused and told her his daughter would have liked her. "Your daughter loved you, nothing you've done would have changed that." She shifted her gaze to the guard and removed a small gold bar the size of a credit card from her pocket and put it into his shirt pocket. "Get him the best psychiatrist you can find and have the bills forwarded to me."
Sentinel Hawk sighed and took a seat behind the desk, half closing her eyes while her body began creating new blood to pump through her weakened system. She listened to Connely and nodded a little. "I'll leave it up to you guys." She said. "I understand if everyone just wants to go home." She picked up her helmet, looking it over in contemplation. "I did promise you an interview though and I keep my promises so if you decide to go home just give me a day and time and I'll be back to talk to you again. Your fans will want to know you're ok though." She said. Now I get why they never take these off, even for a moment. She thought and slid the helmet back on over her head.
Sentinel Hawk smiled a little, recovering her usual optimism. "Ms. Connely, you were so kind to me to apologize for how he was acting earlier, I really appreciated that." The young girl's wounds were all gone now, her skin as soft and flawless as it had been a few minutes ago as if the fighting had never happened. She was now endeavoring to heal Ms. Connely and her crew by deflecting their attention away from what had just happened, aware that most of them were probably feeling their hearts beat in their throats still. Munoz adjusted her gloves a little. "If there's anything I can do for you to make up for what happened here..."
The corner of Adams' mouth trembled as she spoke, his downcast eyes filling with tears, his breath came in bits and pieces, then large broken surges as he tried to calm himself. Once again he slipped into that private theatre inside his mind, a world where there was only ever one film playing, again and again. Only now it had grown longer, scenes once lost were coming back to him. Those joyful times he had not relived in ages, lost to his grief. His daughter as she grew, the way she shirked her friends' prissy dolls and teddy bears in favor of the hard brightly colored plastic figurines, the way she would whittle away hours in the back yard, forging cities from tin foil and rocks and defending them from "evil insect invasions", her action figures impeding lines of ants as they crawled up and down her favorite heroes, all while he played the role of villain, "commanding" ants to swarm her chosen figures. They would play that way for hours, and when the ants caught on after a gust of laughter, scattering in every direction, the heroes would win, she would win. These bittersweet memories drew only more of his self ire, cemented his failure, but more than that they brought him more pain. Even so long after the invasion occurred his wounds still felt fresh, his missing leg still itched, and his daughter's absence dominated his every waking moment, his every restless dream.
The security guard looked down at her, his head tilting toward one of his massive, muscular shoulders as he did. The look on his face was one of utter confusion. "So do I turn him into the cops or the local shrink?"
Connely, for her part, looked about, her hands still trembling from the sudden and violent shift events had taken. The crew, also quite jumpy from their recent foray into unscheduled war coverage, were considerably shaken as well. With a nod from their faithful anchor however, the cameras were reset, Kate Connely took her signature seat, and a trembling voice resumed the countdown to broadcast. "W-we're on in ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five..." The rest of the numbers were counted down on the man's fingers, until finally the live broadcast resumed.
"Hello viewers, this is Kate Connely for Action News Six. Things took a rather sudden turn toward the violent in the studio today, but fortunately no one was seriously injured thanks to the efforts of our guest Munoz Hal, known to the world at large as Sentinel Hawk. If nothing else has convinced viewers of the high passions involved when discussing extranormal human affairs today, let this this stand as a reminder of the nature of this argument. I think we can all agree that irrationality and fervent zeal is not exclusive to either party."
"As I stated earlier Sentinel Hawk is in the studio today and remains so even after absorbing a shocking attack from our former guest, Mr. John Franklin Adams, who is being escorted from the building as we speak. We are now going to, ahem, umm... resume our interview." As she spoke the surreal nature of her situation continued to sink in. Moments earlier a barrage of incendiary and normally lethal pellets had exploded into her guest's neck and skull, nearly set the studio on fire, and exposed one of her guests as a murderous psychopath, and here she was, continuing with an interview as if they'd just taken a break for lunch.
"Yes. Well..." She shuffled a few papers in front of her, on them a few subjects she'd been meaning to bring up. "Ms. Sentinel Hawk. A lot of people out there are wondering about your actions in the Middle East, when you not so long ago supported a man known as 'The Exemplar' in his attempt" "To conquer? No, is that really what I wrote? Not conquer. That's... that's not fair to her. That wasn't what it was for her, I know it. "to bring the Middle East under his protection. Many are wondering what part you played and what your motivations were behind such an act, what did you hope the outcome would be?"
"She's going off script."
"Aren't you going to stop her? She's not... she's not leading her right."
"No, I'm not. That girl just saved her life, you really think I'm going to try and get Kate to tear her down now?"
"Listen Mark, I know you've known her for a long time, that you're friends and all that, but the views of the studio don't exactly mesh well with this softball, feel-good garbage you've got going on with this mutant. so--"
Marcus Phillips turned, his eyes narrowed, jaw clenched in barely restrained anger, staring down at the marginally smaller man who shrunk from his stare.
"You listen David, the studio and you and your producer friends can go right ahead and stick your opinions where the sun don't shine. We're not doing that today, we're not playing that game with girl."
"You know as Program Director I could have you fired for her--"
"I'm well aware, Dave. Now fluff off." Marcus jerked his head toward the exit as he scowled toward the portly producer. "And by the way, she's a 'Hawk Lord', not a mutant."
David Tember stared at the man for several moments, the sudden shift in his behavior was jarring, unexpected. He stalked off, allowing the program to go on uninterrupted, but already there was a shift. Things had changed, attitudes had changed.
It was one thing to report on the violence of extranormals or the failed attempts of a metahuman hero, but to actually see one in action, to see someone you have come to love and respect in the clutches of death, only to be saved by those you had spent years lambasting for their errors? It was eye opening. There was a marked difference between hating a people you had never met and seeing one of those people in person, coming to know them, to see their actions in the light of personal experience rather than the articles and scripts that had already passed through a lense of bias. Marcus shifted as he watched his anchor conduct the interview, shaky, seemingly unprepared, shunning the shallow questions meant to paint the Hawk Lord as one who thought herself beyond humanity, improved in every way, not subject to their laws. He spit into a nearby bin, clearing his throat and scruffling the thick mustache beneath his nose. "What the hell is a Hawk Lord anyway?"
"Take him to a shrink and have the cops meet you there." She told the confused guard. She watched Ms. Connely and listened quietly to her words as she struggled to ask the original question she had. The young Hawk Lord also heard her compatriots and boss arguing in the booth with her sensitive hearing and smiled a little. "Well...I'm glad you brought up the Middle East." Sentinel Hawk said. She decided to answer both the boss's question and the woman's in the same moment. "We're created by the Egyptian God Amun-Ra to act as his warrior servants. He originally created all of us during the time of ancient Egypt more than five thousand years ago. There was a war when Egypt fell and the gods either were destroyed or went into hiding. All but one of the Hawk Lords died in that war, permanently." Sentinel Hawk considered for a moment before she continued. "Typically when one of us dies we come back later, decades or centuries, depending upon when we are needed again. Luna Hawk for example has been through eighty one previous life times. Anyway, when Amun-Ra returned he had both Solar Hawk and Luna Hawk defending innocents and fulfilling their purpose but he didn't have anyone modern."
Munoz paused for a moment to consider her words again and then continued. "So he brought me back, except he didn't give me any of my old memories so I would be raised in a modern world with no old ideas and better understand the world as it is not instead of the world as it was. When Exemplar came to me with his plan I joined him because...because I had grown up in the poor areas of Iraq, I had seen first hand the poverty and depression that encompasses much of the Middle East and part of that comes from the poor living conditions, lack of water and so on. I chose to help him because I wanted to help everyone, I wanted to be able to make the Middle East into a better place."
Munoz looked down for a moment and then looked back up and said something she'd never said to this point. "It was a mistake...neither one of us accounted for how people might perceive our actions or the effects it might have on the wider world. I'm only glad no one was hurt. I shouldn't have done it, I see that now. I was operating on the instinct my life experiences...and my purpose as a Hawk Lord, had given me. Each one of us, each Hawk Lord, serves a different purpose. Solar Hawk is the anger of a person wronged, Luna Hawk is the slow boiling rage of a person pushed to far...and I'm the hope of a better future, the optimism that everyone feels when they wake up in the morning or as a child. My purpose isn't to punish or kill but to forgive and to protect the people that everyone else overlooks. It was those motivations that pushed me. Heroes are great, they save countless lives...but sometimes they overlook the obvious because they're too busy fighting to see other needs."
Sentinel Hawk considered Ms. Connely for a moment. "I know a lot of people viewed what happened in the Middle East as an attempt at conquest but it wasn't, it was just an attempt at making things better."
The doors crept open and brighter light flooded in as the M.O.R.S. raised their weapons and poured out the vehicle, scanning the area with their eyes and streaming the feed they received to Nemaz and Bradshaw's HUD. From within their helmets, they could remotely view what was outside. They were seemingly in an empty isolated parking lot, devoid of any non-Maverick personal as of currently, it seemed like something of a camp in the midst of being set up all about, complete with a checkpoint and every such thing. Reasoning behind their detention of the girl was for better protection as well as their high levels of telepathic resistance or immunity.
However, Nemaz and Bradshaw were indeed human, albeit one enhanced. As their masks slipped on, someone of an empath could have an idea of what they were thinking without seeing how they acted. Things like remorse, fear and empathy, were things they'd long learned to control experience. Indeed, they could come across as blanks to some but, in actuality, they were better at "putting off" emotions and suppressing them, if need be. Presently, there was no further need for this. Bradshaw moved out with his rifle lowered as men walked about and some chatted, the area indeed meant to be somewhere very mobile and portable, in the face of repeated attacks towards their established locals endangering the populace. It made protecting themselves against even ordinary threats, difficult in such times. Areas like DC that paid more money for them, naturally had seemingly stupefying amounts of protection that it would take more than just a few men to do battle with. But Denver was lost (Later to be explained.)
The Maverick Mutant Hunter's eyes looked about, ever analytical and with an extreme attention to detail that their genetic engineering alone has yet to truly match. Things of legend, as troops acclaimed his attention to detail, to be able to immediately notice any detail and draw from it's meaning, assessing situations with seemingly supernatural speed and acting accordingly. And he referred to it as only "instinct". Many had thought that there had to be more to it, than that.
Nemaz came to follow, a rifle in one but, his other hand on Stephanie's shoulder, guiding her along as he walked, his own eyes narrow and ears listening, as he functionally saw everything around himself for roughly a kilometer.
"A little young to be a soldier, aren't you, Stephanie?" He muses to her, mentioning a prospect he knows all too well. "We can discuss this later. But first thing is first. You have to be actually officially cleared first. For now, we'll be keeping you somewhere else." The group soon dispersed, Bradshaw turning towards the girl for a moment, before going off to orchestrate patrols. The area seemed to be a very wide open lot they'd rented out for their use, a condemned department store off in the distance they couldn't and did not enter.
They used the parking lot as an area to set up fences with a single checkpoint that regulated who could get in and who could get out. The mobile nature of their base attributed to constant attacks that generally endangered the populous, cutting down on the number of accessible established areas through which they can be reached. Most all personal were either M.O.R.S. or various types of ENCUs, many of them continuing like normal as she passed, even though she was literally the sole person they were protecting.
Nemaz stopped Stephanie in front of in actuality another APC, but much different from the last one. It was an M1133 MEV (Medical Evacuation Vehicle) Armored Personal Carrier, apparently retrofitted into being something of a decently liveable apartment. Things were moved around for it to have facility for mostly living, making it something like more an armored trailer, than a transport vehicle for troops. It had a bed, a shower, a TV with basic news, cable, a small laptop and a few small things.
Defenses included "Kryon" (CNT Aluminium composite) armor plates capable of withstand .50 caliber gunfire and a PASS reactive armor system to deflect RPGs and explosive ordinance and a remotely turret on top of it.
"Judging from your reaction to entering the previous carrier, you've probably dislike small spaces. While, it's true we have to detain you, Stephanie, this isn't meant to be a punishment. We have to keep you here, but we don't need to make it uncomfortable, particularly in the face of what you've been in." Which they'd known about for some time, being her guards. "But I hope you find it to your liking." He sets his rifle down near by.
"I have to go. If you need anything, let one of the female personal know. If you feel anyone of malevolent intent near-by, definitely alert us. Though the M.O.R.S" He points to one of the soul-less soldiers "Aren't people, we see and monitor things through them. Telling them will be telling us. I will see you again soon Stephanie."
With that, from the perspective of those who watched, he disappeared from plain sight.
Slowly Nemaz walked forth, out of body armor and now in a suit and tie as quickly as he left. He appeared miles away completely ready within twenty minutes total. He carried an air of a gentleman's swagger, cologn emanating from his rather large frame. The location of Stephanie Jacobs was unknown to the public, but Maverick had to address and answer to them. Bradshaw was good at many things, but interfacing with the public in a way that wouldn't be found "offensive" "Vulgar" "indifferent" and "blunt" was not his strongest point. He is more used to addressing fellow military than groups of "sensitive civies".
It was hardly soon before he was bombarded with question after question. Only through a mind with such abilities to mulitask and process data was able to sift through the noise to discern the voices without too great of focus. And then, he spoke.
"Please, hold your questions."
He sighs for a brief moment. Sentinel Hawk had caused some mixed reception in his abscence in her escapade with the news. While it was said she knocked out a guard, they can cover that. However, they were not keen on having her so interface with the public. Her seemingly naive nature and blunt, straightforward mentality had garnered some criticism, particularly in people wondering if she was actually old enough to join and mentally fit to do so. She'd pass any physical requirement but, how old was she? 17 was the age that one could join the military but could they deployed legally into combat? She'd gone rogue and even attempted to seemingly help someone who had gone to try to take an entire country, and with seemingly no repercussion to her at all. Nemaz, being the one considered responsible, often took considerable heat for her actions but he hadn't told her, nor did he intend to.
Good things did come of it however, as the HFF seemingly committed political suicide in likely that it would not be perceived as much better than the KKK or a group of Nazis. Even if not directly perceived as apart of them, such animosity couldn't help the anti-mutant sentiment. Not at all. Such an organization was one of the few that perceived of winning without directly trying to destroy Maverick. More, they sought objectives, and this made them dangerous. They could not be identified by DNA. Only by Ideals. They could be any one, at any time, at any place. They had achieved objectives of killing mutants and weren't at all deterred by Maverick raw technology and firepower. This made them dangerous.
"Much has happened, and I suppose, there have been numerous requests to address current events and happenings.
We perceive mutants and humans, as people, simply. One in the same. We are fully in support of a registration act that registers all superhumans and metahumans under a central entity. However, we do not believe in the needless persecution of mutants. No being in inherently evil. A human can be anything. A mutant can grow up to be no threat to general society at all despite their broken home. Others can be walking weapons if so given ability.
It is not much about race, more so, it is about power. But, then the question becomes how one wields such a power. However, most mutants are not such a large. Clearly, if people like us can handle them, it would be better we try to understand each other, rather than commit needless genocide. The solution is to monitor and develop means against those who would use their power for malevolent purposes, rather than killing everyone. Being a mutant won't necessarily make you anything.
Stephanie Jacobs was kept in conditions that violated basic human rights for no practical reason whatsoever. Sometimes, extreme methods should be used if necessary to protect a populous. But, she was kept without food, without water and left to wallow in utter darkness in her own urine and fecal matter.
We need to approach this with common sense. Otherwise, how are we much better then our ancestors who so commonly persecuted? How are we better than Hilter, then? The evidence of Xenophobia, basic negligence of human rights and an unknowing paranoia is prominent, and we ourselves have decided to make a case for the young girl, Stephanie Jacobs."
"Right-o, will do little lady." Adams' eyes remained downcast as the guard escorted him out, the hulking man's jovial, almost carefree demeanor a stark contrast to the stoic HFF member's.
Connely sat in silence, an unspoken respect emanated from her, she nodded as the young girl spoke, validating her points, treating her with the same respect she would show any expert or political guest.
"Well, that certainly clears up the origins of the Hawk Lords, and what a fantastical tale it is. Hard to believe, but seeing the evidence we have, the plethora of other magical artifacts and beings operating today and in the past, it's certainly not outside the realm of possibility." She smiled her answer, genuinely interested and pleased by the explanation, but the smile left her face as Munoz detailed her past in Iraq, the conditions she grew up in. Her gaze grew somber as she proceeded to describe the failed attempt at bettering the lives of others. "Well we can all understand the youthful drive to do something great with your life, to better the lot of others. We still don't truly know the intentions of the person known as 'Exemplar', but we know that one of the youthful up and coming heroes at least is actively striving to make the world a better place."
The teleprompter spewed out lines which Kate did not even turn to face, she instead reached out and offered her hand to the young hero, Munoz Hal, that had saved her life only moments before. "On behalf of all those you have helped, myself included, and all those you will go on to help, I would like to thank you Ms. Hal." She shook her hand, sincere gratitude reflected in her every move and expression. She turned back to camera and her prompter, which had been showing and repeating the same message for some time. "And yes, David, I'm well aware that if I continue I will be fired, so I'll save you the trouble. After this interview, I will formally resign from my position as Head Anchor of Action 6 News. To all of you in Delaware that I have had the honor and privilege of serving and informing, I thank you, but this station has never depicted a balanced picture of reality. I have been paid to feed the public cherry picked topics that show only one side of the issue, and it is high time the people knew."
"For godsake cut the godamn feed!"
"I calling them now sir, but it doesn't appear they're responding to my calls."
"Well why the hell not? Why the hell don't you go up there and MAKE them respond!"
"WELL? Why aren't you doing your goddamn job? Do you want me to--"
"Sir, you realize that Ms. Connely and Mr. Phillips have worked here for the last ten years, correct?"
"And you realize that you've only been here for a year and a half, correct?"
"What the hell's your point Mathers?"
"My point is that I respect that man and that woman a helluva lot more than I do you Mr. Tember. I'd rather get fired than cut this feed, than cut her last broadcast on this God forsaken network, and that I will knock you the fluff out if you try to touch this or any other piece of broadcasting equipment in this building."
"Why you little sack of sh!t, this is ridiculous! I'm going to--"
"You're going to stay right in that damn chair if you know what's good for you Mr. Tember. She is going to wrap up this interview, then we're all walking out of here. Hell you can even keep this neat little mug I've got here, if you don't force me to smash you in the skull with it."
"Glad we understand each other."
Kate listened over the earbud she always wore in case of breaking news, smiling to herself as the conflict upstairs resolved itself. It was her last show, and despite the fact that they'd long since exceeded the allotted ten minutes she was more than willing to go on.
"Now, is there anything else you would like to address, any matters you would like to expound upon, perhaps to correct an imperfect public perception? If so, now would be the time, Ms. Hal."
In the parking lot outside, far from the studio itself, lay the unconscious Armando, the 9mm Glock he kept for security duty gone from its holster. His car sped off into the distance, off toward Delaware's HFF HQ, Ivanov at the wheel.
I'll make you proud yet, Masha.
The embarrassment didn't last long, it seemed Maverick moved far too quickly for it to. She was escorted out, first the shorter man stepped off and then her and Nemaz, the taller, leaner soldier.Her focus had improved, her ordeal finally over, her destiny revealed to be something other than that grim and final fate of fates. With this mental burden relieved her powers returned to her in force, and for a brief moment she gained a glimpse into the minds of her saviors/captors.
(The following is her impression of the emotional states of these two individuals, any inaccuracies can be blamed on the odd technology at Maverick designed to functionally block out telepathy)
In Nemaz she sensed something she'd sensed before in many with the make up of a hero, a certain aloofness, an ease with which he carried himself that suggested effortlessness, perhaps even a carefree nature, but this was only the surface of his being, the side he presented. Deeper she found a certain alertness, restlessness, bordering on paranoia. It was a trait common to soldiers, one that kept them alive. He was always watching, divining exit paths and advantageous positions. He was always planning, every step he took, he was keenly aware of his surroundings. He seemed to always be thinking as well, his emotional state disrupted but the multifaceted activity of his mind. He experienced much at once, focused on little, at once wry amusement and caution coexisted, making him a natural jumble of emotion, making him confusing.
The older, stouter man was more difficult to get a feeling for, he appeared almost stoic, unfeeling at first, much like the MORS surrounding them, but for an instant she could eek out a sliver of his emotional state.
Weariness. He was a soldier, one of their elite. One called upon to deal with everything from the fall of nations to alien invasions, and it seemed to drain him. He had the weight of the world on his shoulders, and both he and the company that employed him seemed to know it. What carried him through, however, was another emotional cocktail she stumbled upon. He had an iron will, grim determination, and a somewhat tamed, somewhat restrained, slow boiling anger. She could not place why, but she felt, deep in the recesses of his being, rage bubbling below the surface, rising to his countenance only when he chose. He was emotionally guarded, it seemed, even then. Disciplined, keeping a distance from her and the others.
It was then that Nemaz took her shoulder, escorting her away. She kept silent, remembering the face he'd made when he'd caught her scent, and for once she was glad he was in that helmet. She watched the MORS bandying about, attending to whatever needed doing at a mobile base. There were seas of near identical artificial soldiers milling about, guarding her and the others while attending to some mindless chore or another. She shivered, the thought of insurrection among them unnerving her temporarily. Then Nemaz spoke, and she listened. Listened to his words as well as his heart. He seemed amused by her, but also a bit remorseful at the mention of youthful soldiers. His accent betrayed African heritage, and piecing the two together she thought she sensed pain there, but she was too afraid to ask. Instead she looked up at him, attempting to furrow out more meaning from his words by gauging his expression, an attempt thwarted by the helmet.
"They told me the same thing about being a hero, but being brave in a situation that demands bravery, being able to literally share some of that courage with others, being calm when a man is about to end his own life, and passing that tranquility on to him, it's actually a trait that makes me pretty good at what I do."
As long as I keep a level head.
She nodded when he offered to discuss things later, her eyes wandering as they moved away from the transport and into the camp. Her relief was palpable, until they reached the next closed transport vessel. She took a deep breath, preparing herself for another poorly lit APC ride, when it opened to reveal the relative luxury of a well furnished apartment.
The rest of his words went unheard as she raced inside. "Thanks for everything! Talk later!" She raced instantly for the shower, the image of Nemaz's crinkled nose still fresh in her mind.
Political prisoner or not I'm still a teenage girl, and I won't be thought of as 'that stinky mutant they rescued.'
One shower later she emerged, still nude, to the empty APC, the furnishings, and, curiously, the rifle still in the room. She looked about, switched on the television for noise, tossed the laptop on the bed and hopped on immediately. The first thing she did was sign into her FaceSpace page, posting that she'd been moved from her previous cell to a new one in a Maverick parking lot, one with a laptop, television, and working shower. She reiterated to everyone that she was alright, uninjured at least, and that was all. She did not mention the stay of her execution, lest it turned out as it felt, too good to be true, and after that she sent a series of messages to her father expounding how much she loved and missed him.
From there she set the computer aside, collapsed on the bed and wrapped her skin in the soft sheets and fluffy pillows Maverick provided. Sufficiently cocooned in sheets she grabbed the remote for the television when she saw the African super soldier's familiar face on screen. She stopped and listened.
"...left to allow in in utter darkness in her own urine and fecal matter..."
"Wha? Jeez tell the whole world why don't you!" Wait a minute, he just did.
"Uggghhh!! Nooo! I'll never live this down!" She shut off the TV, groaning into her pillow as she lamented his choice of words, but soon the extreme weariness of several sleepless days overtook her, and she drifted off into the darkness.
"You're sure about this? That's an awful lot of resources."
"That idiot Adams cost us."
"We could always disavow him."
"Go ahead, try to salvage the other branches, but for the loyalists, the ones that resonated with his final words on air, we need to show them that they're not alone out there. Time to recruit a few more into the Militia."
"...alright. Who do we hire then? Doubt anybody's gonna be as well armed as Maverick."
"That's why we hire one of ."
"? Won't that confuse the message?"
"No, it'll expose them for the animals they are. We'll just have to be extra careful to take good care of our new hire afterwards. Keep 'em quiet or... well, you know."
"Okay, fine. But how do we find her?"
"We already have."
"Little girl's been busy consoling her friends and family, looking after the 'emotional ' well being of others even from in her cage. So sweet."
"But Maverick would never allow us to trace that signal, so how did you...?"
"You know of any other Maverick occupied lots in this part of the country?"
"That's right, so get me someone capable, hell grab up as many as you can, and round up the boys too. Tonight, we're sending a message."
Sentinel Hawk smiled a little and embraced the anchor woman for a moment. "No I have nothing else I need to see, but I wanted to thank you for everything. I know you're putting a lot on the line right now but I know you'll find work elsewhere. For now though I should go, I have to deliver a message to someone for her father." She smiled a little. "I hope my answers help people understand what happened back in the Middle East and I hope people see that hatred isn't going to get us anywhere." Sentinel Hawk thanked everyone again and prepared to depart. The girl's face book posts had come up over her HUD and she'd realized two things immediately...first...where the girl was and second...the mistake the girl had just made.
Once Munoz had made her polite good byes she left the studio and took flight for the only base Maverick could possibly be keeping the girl. As she did she activated her com system and sent a text-message to Bradshaw. @maverick_6The girl just posted on Facebook and gave away her location. I'm on my way to give her a message for her father. Thought you'd want to know. Hawk Lord, eternal optimist...teenage girl. She ended the message with a special Hawk Lord emoticon that depicted a smiling hawk lord in flight. It was a goofy emoji she'd designed one day when she was bored.
Another visitor was at the station as Sentinel Hawk was leaving. She'd been impressed by the interview. Gale Xanders was leaning against a wall with her arms crossed over her breasts looking into the news room as Sentinel Hawk said her goodbyes. When she left the face of Jurassic World cleared her throat to grab Connely's attention. "I hear you're looking for a job." She smiled a little. Unfortunately both she and Munoz Hal were completely unaware of the threat brewing to take out the poor girl's life at Maverick's base. Fortunately for the girl it seemed Munoz might just be there by the time the attack went down.
(Sorry if I moved a long too fast, I wanted to shift my focus a bit now that the interview was over [I really did have nothing else for her to say] and didn't want to leave Gale out of this any longer than I already have. Hope it's ok. )
@sentinel_hawk: (Of course it's okay for you to move things along! This event is literally entirely unplanned past the original premise, I've just been making it up as I go along, so anything you want to do is fine by me.)
Slowly Nemaz walked forth, out of body armor and now in a suit and tie as quickly as he left. He appeared miles away completely ready within twenty minutes total. He carried an air of a gentleman's swagger, The location of Stephanie Jacobs was unknown to the public, but Maverick had to address and answer to them.
I know what you meant, but I still laughed when I read that. Then I pictured it and totally grossed myself out.
@sentinel_hawk: "There you have it ladies and gentlemen, this concludes my final segment here at Action 6 News. Take care out there Delaware, and may God watch over us in these troubling times."
With that the cameras shut down, the set cleaned up for the following morning, and a veritable exodus of staff exited the building, many loyal to the recently dismissed Connely and Philips. They said their goodbyes, promised to meet up another time, another place, and left along their separate paths. For Connely's part she walked out to her vehicle, cardboard box cradled in her arms, 12 years worth of memories packaged away. She'd started as an intern, clawed her way to the top, and thrown it all away in an instant. She knew what she'd risked, made a conscious choice to present the Hawk Lord fairly, but regret began to seep into her regardless.
"I hear you're looking for a job."
She spun on her heel, entirely lost in her own head, reflecting on the countless stories she'd covered from behind a desk she was now abandoning. "Well, they don't waste any time back at Jurassic World, do they?" She continued the walk to her car, placing the box in the trunk as she unlocked the doors with the press of a button. "I'm meeting up with a few other recently unemployed friends at Mulligan's, it's a local bar we all used to frequent back in college. Well, high school technically. Used to be a card shop, it's a long pointless story." She opened the driver's side door, stopping before she entered, leaning against the vehicle. "I knew Jurassic World was at the march, but I didn't expect the CEO to actually show up. What did you have in mind, exactly?" She looked her eye to eye, the setting sun catching her attention. She brought up her wrist, checking the time on her watch. "Oh, damn it. I'm going to be late if I don't leave now. Do you mind coming along? I don't know if you had an interview or something in mind, but I'd be glad to talk this over with you on the way, or we could always do this later."
She was already ducking into the driver's seat, leaning over to unlock the passenger side door. "Do you have a card, or would you rather come along?"
Normally I would handle this next bit with a perception roll or something... How good is your sense of smell, and how well would she do differentiating the mechanical smells that belong in a car with those that don't?
"Donovan! Donovan get down here!" Frank Ivanov, second generation Russian-American, stood in the lobby of the HFF's Dover City branch, car haphazardly abandoned in front of the building, one wheel propped up on the sidewalk, glock tucked into the back of his pants, shirt hanging over it, concealing it. Security guards took note of the man, but did not move to apprehend him. He was, afterall, the head of the branch.
From a glass staircase, centrally located in the building, descended a man. His platinum blonde hair styled back, bangs partially obscuring his face, dark sunglasses shielding his eyes from those below him. "Ah, John. So nice to see you again. Especially after that royal frack up at the station. Pretty entertaining TV." He removed the shades, wiping the lenses on the sleeve of his shirt, inspecting them carefully before glaring up at Ivanov. "Of course you did cost us a prominent news station. You have no idea how hard it is to get those as deep into our pockets as we'd like." Slowly, he replaced the glasses, shading his eyes once more. "And worse than that you've made us look bad, Frank. But that's okay, we have ways to capitalize on even the press."
"Oh I know all about how you manage your public image Don, I know all about the militia, I know all about your presence at the march today, the people you've killed!"
"It's hardly a secret, Frank. And we didn't kill any people, we killed mutants. We people. Just like we--"
"Shove it Don, I know what you are! I know what you do! Don't think I'm going down quietly Сукин сын!" Ivanov reached back, his fingers gripping the steel of the 9mm glock, thumb tracing along the safety, switching it off as he raised it, his eyes focused on the man before him, finger on the trigger, when he disappeared. An instant before he was aiming at Donovan Glost, head of the HFF, now, now he was staring at polished linoleum, a ringing in his ears, spots swimming in his eyes.
Donovan sighed as walked over, buttoning up his dark leather jacket. "Just like we're going to do with you, Frank. Don't worry, you'll see your beloved Masha again soon. Hell, I'll even send your unfaithful bitch of a wife along with you, my treat."
"Enough." A wicked smirk spread over the head of the HFF's face. He lifted his hand high, slid his fingers together, and looked smugly down at the man.
And with a snap of his fingers the metahuman security guard dragged him back out to the vehicle he'd arrived in, tazing Ivanov into unconsciousness. From there he was transported to the run down home of one Jeffery Holmes. The glock he'd shown up with was confiscated, the car's battery overloaded by strong electrical discharges. Ivanov was then unceremoniously tossed to the floor, his unconscious body hitting the floor with a thud. A bit of jerry-rigging with a car battery and an industrial grade cow prod and Ivanov was convulsing on the ground, his limbs spasming as they held him down with rubber gloves. The telltale marks of the prod were absent, and the shocks did not stop until something caught fire. It was promptly stomped out, the instruments packed up, his body left in the center of the room.
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