Category Archives: in-character

[In-Character] Truth & Justice, Episode 15

It’s finally getting to me, all the scheming and paranoia and fear and frustration. We went to Ryo’s soccer match as planned, with Suzuka still clinging to Razmus even after their date was allegedly concluded. The ref at the game was Wash. I don’t know how it happened, but he was there, calling the game normally, as though he wasn’t a supervillain and didn’t have fifty cloaked robots on the field. When Raz went down there and tried to hit one with with his baseball bat (I don’t know why he bothers using those on non-squishy opponents when they always get bent without doing any damage) the robots started uncloaking. As the people fled, Glenn and I rushed over to Ryo, but he just vanished, another abuse of their cloaking technology.

While Razmus and Sam started tearing through the robots — which kept self-destructing every time they took any decent amount of damage — I transformed and went for the eye of the storm, where Wash stood, calm as usual, behind a force field. He was in his usual obnoxious bantering mood, and he gave us coordinates where he wanted us to come get Ryo, and I can’t remember the last time I got that angry. Part of me knew that hacking at his force field wouldn’t do any good, but I just didn’t care. He said that Ryo was involved in this now. I don’t know how, but Razmus teleported inside the force field and beheaded Wash. With an SDF jet circling overhead, I was having visions of another Swan incident, but worse, but Wash laughed off the beheading like everything else. He said he was immortal now. If only we could launch him into the sun. Nothing we did could even slow him down; he seemed to be able to change into an energy form, then restore his corporeal body, completely intact. He teleported away. By the time my grandfather came back from taking Suzuka and mom to the van it was all over.

We tried hard to think up a plan for entering the base. Wash and his associates seem to really like making us walk into traps. But absolutely everything we could think of was a dead end. Between the five of us we have a would-be biochemist (that’s me), two who specialize in stealth (Razmus and Jack), a veteran superhero (Glenn), and someone who until recently made a living by bluffing (Sam). And yet in the end we had to barge in there, because there was nothing we could do to gain any advantage of any sort. The power lines were buried (a rarity in Japan), there was only one entrance, and very little to explore. I want to fight a supervillain where it actually means something. I can live with getting injured even, so long as there’s a sense of accomplishment that goes beyond enduring yet another of Wash’s monologues. I want to fight a villain who actually feels pain; I can live with being hated, so long as it’s by someone who will see us as something more than ants in a terrarium.

By all accounts it was, as Wash had said, a rural Project Perseus facility. There were four fake buildings, no more than movie props, and the real base was carved directly into the rock. Glenn drove the van straight in, through the glass doors and offices, until we got as far as it would take us. In an office area we found folders with data on various people — including myself and Glenn. Each one had a detailed profile, some kind of complex formula, and at the end a “Suitability Rating.” For both myself and Glenn this was listed as “High.” Which makes it a distinct possibility that his inclusion in all this wasn’t accidental after all.

After the offices was a stone hallway lined with portraits. There was only one that any of us recognized, and of all people it was of Amalgam, Glenn’s nemesis. At the end was a T intersection. In the right-hand branch we found Wash again — and Wild Rider. At that point all of our frustration seemed to come to a head, because Glenn made it look like he was refusing to take the confrontation seriously. Before long we’d all joined in. He claimed we were boring him, but ironically enough words are apparently the one thing that can get to him. Wild Rider was just as reticent as last time, but I could see his clenched fist shaking with fury. And then they vanished again.

In the other branch of the corridor, we found a set of holding cells. In one, Ryo was sleeping peacefully, while in another there was a middle-aged man, very badly beaten. We took them both back with us. The man had an imprint on his right arm, as though he’d been wearing a brace, and Sam said he was dreaming of being Wild Rider. At grandfather’s insistence we brought the man to our house instead of a hospital, and the old man did something to stabilize him and teleported him up to the spaceship.

Once Ryo was in his bed — he didn’t wake up the entire time, and may have been drugged — I found myself explaining to my grandfather what had happened, and all the while wondering why he wasn’t helping. Instead, he had more bad news. The alien shapeshifters are coming to Earth, in about six months’ time. For the first time Jack managed to say something really offensive, which in turn got Raz even further into denial about the whole matter. In fact, grandfather recognized Raz’ mother from that photo he carries, as a rebel who defied her own race to protect innocent lives. That definitely sounds like someone who could’ve been one of Razmus’ parents.

The other thing is, the Rider Council is waiting to speak to me. According to grandfather, opinions are divided as to whether I represent heresy or evolution. At least I know it’s finally come. When I think about what I’ve seen and read about metahumans, the Riders’ boys-only club seems utterly ridiculous. The metahuman heroes of earth are men and women, and they come from every corner of the world, from every social class, every religion, every nation. There are Australian aborigines, wealthy businessmen, common street thugs, and starving, orphaned children who have realized they have power, and used it to make the world a better place.

Tomorrow. I need sleep, if I can manage it. I shouldn’t have had that tea. Tomorrow morning is the next hurdle put in front of me. I feel like I’m nearing my breaking point. I think I still want to do this thing, but I need to do it as myself, not as my father’s shadow, an agglomeration of childood memories. Everything before this was just going through the motions, trying to stall for time and combat the boredom that came down from the sky, pressing everything flat. I had all these things to say to the council, and right now they sound like childish excuses. I want to be the light in the darkness, but instead we’ve been trying to cope with the problems brought about by the circumstances of our origins, in spite of having so little to work with. We’re in the dark ourselves, with nothing to light the way, just hands to hold.

I’m not going to cry. Ryo is safe. I can deal with this, because I have to. I want someone to tell me what to do, but I don’t think I’d believe them.

[In-Character] Truth & Justice, Episode 14

I think I’m finally coming into my own.

So. The old Project Perseus building. The upper levels had since been leased out to other companies, but it was entirely too easy to get into the basement levels through the back. The research labs had been completely gutted, as though someone was trying very hard to make it appear as though there had never been a high-security government facility there. The equipment — including some really massive stuff — had all been removed, probably disassembled, and even the industrial electrical outlets were removed, the wires covered up by a new layer of drywall. The first four basement levels had a few desks, and nothing else. Apart from a keypad lock on the back entrance, there were no traces of the project’s extensive security systems, no cameras, magnetic locks, key card readers, retinal scanners, nothing.

The fifth level — which I’d never been to before — was an entirely different matter. The room was pitch-black, save for a single cone of white light coming from the ceiling. The man who stepped into the light was Sam’s missing tag-team partner, Wash. In spite of his tacky Hawaiian shirt, he began speaking of world-shaking events. And he had some friends with him: Pinnacle, and more clone soldiers. Pinnacle was unusually quiet, while Wash started gloating about how the experiment to create new metahumans was a resounding success. Raz was impulsive as usual, and found out that they had another force field set up. He did at least give us a few puzzle pieces. Glenn was not part of their plans, for example. And they still know far too much about us. He offered to answer one question, and while I was trying to formulate a question about the nature of the catalyst, Jack asked him how to take down the force field. Wash’s answer was, “Take out the power for 15 city blocks.” Which tells us a bit more than he probably intended. Their force field device doesn’t have an independent power source, and it uses a large amount of electricity. The big question is whether they need to set it up in advance or they can simply deploy it quickly had have it somehow drain the power automatically.

They tried to work their vanishing act, but when Glenn opened the elevator, there was Pinnacle with four soldiers, and more started pouring in through the doors. Pinnacle was a formiddable opponent to say the least, but this time he seemed virtually invincible. He went beyond his usual inhuman combat skill, and everything we brought against him he either anticipated or outright ingored. He batted Glenn away, took Razmus’ claw attack unfazed, my Rider Drill did nothing against his armor, he happily inhaled the burning steam vapors Sam brought to bear and ignored it when Sam froze them in his lungs, and he simply stepped out of the way every time Jack tried to use his shadow powers. Seeing that this was getting us nowhere, I used the Mega-Beam, firing it past him at the soldiers in the elevator and sweeping it upwards until I blasted the ceiling above Pinnacle. The falling rubble made a massive dust cloud, and when it cleared, there was no sign of him. The soldiers faded away and were gone. We beat a hasty retreat as the klaxons began to sound.

But there was still more in store for the evening. A massive motorcycle growl sounded in the streets, a 1000cc engine, and a sound I knew. A custom Fenrir bike streaked past us, and I swear I saw a long red scarf streaking behind it. The other Rider.

Razmus decided to spend the night at a hotel, to avoid my grandfather. The old man is proving to have a lot of information, though as Glenn pointed out, he’s undoubtedly not telling us everything he knows. What he did tell me was that we were probably dealing with Wild Rider, a maverick Rider who wanders the universe on his own, and unusual in that he fights hand-to-hand. But what he was doing on Earth, he had no idea. When I asked him if it was normal that I was having so many dreams about my father, he just said, “I miss him too.”

The next day Razmus showed up in time to go to Akiba with Suzuka, who had already made a little plushie of him to hang on her bag. She makes those of most of the boys she likes, though some wind up with pins stuck in them. I don’t know how it went, and I’m not sure I want to.

Glenn and I went to visit the auto shop where dad’s motorcycle was built. Mr. Shige Matsumoto was there, and he took us down to his hidden underground shop where he was working on his secret custom bikes. When we asked about Wild Rider, he was shocked too. He’d made three bikes for my father. One was destroyed in Paris (so it was the Eiffel tower), one was in the National Historical Museum (we need to check to see if it’s still there), and the third was there in the garage, an updated version that was intended to be a present for Ryo’s 18th birthday. Matsumoto was unfazed when he found out that there had been a change of plans, and he was happy to give me the key.

It turned out to be just in time, because Wild Rider himself pulled up in front of the garage just as we got back upstairs, pointed at me (and how the hell did he know that I’m a Rider?) and said, “RACE ME.” So, I raced him. We both had a couple of the most powerful bikes in the world, and we tore through city streets before we found our way onto a mostly empty highway loop. I never quite got ahead of him, but I never fell behind either. I always liked motorcycles — it’s one of the few things where I’m a lot like my father — but this was unlike anything I’d ever seen before. Even now I’m itching to ride some more, just for the hell of it. But Wild Rider wasn’t content to just race; he screeched to a halt, hopped off his bike, and took up a fighting stance. With the helicopters circling overhead, we fought. His punches hit hard, sending me flying a couple of times even in my heavy armor, but the Rider Gemini Slash apparently did enough damage to convince him to turn tail and leave the scene.

I got back to the house as quickly as I could without being followed. We’d been on the news, which was now buzzing with that “Rider Lady” nonsense. I really need to come up with a name of my own, but then I have no idea what my adapted armor will even look like. From the picture I took with my cameraphone before the race, my grandfather was surprised to find that Wild Rider’s armor had changed somewhat, and from the description I gave, he said the voice had changed as well. If there is someone new who took up the mantle of being Wild Rider, then it had to have been someone with the Rider’s genetic factor that makes transforming possible. With the sighting the Watcher mentioned, plus the two times I saw him with my own eyes, it can’t be a normal human. Grandfather said the only other person on the planet who could do it would be Ryo, except he’s not old enough. It could explain his simplistic fightng style — nothing but big, powerful punches — but I’m not about to jump to conclusions. If the catalyst let me use the Mega-Brace in spite of being a woman, there’s no telling what might’ve happened to someone else. Even still, I took the opportunity to look through Ryo’s room (I used Sam the wrestler to distract him) just in case, but there was nothing apart from the usual boatloads of Mega-Rider merchandise, even more than I remember (I should’ve guessed they’d have “10th Anniversary Memorial” merchandise coming out). I really hope he was just playing soccer. Oh, and Razmus called me to congratulate me on a cool fight.

The thing that’s still bugging me is that Pinnacle and his friends have such good surveillance on us. They seem to know every move we make, though details of the conversation proved that they didn’t know what was said in my house, at least, even while my grandfather wasn’t there. I wonder if we could use their watchful eyes to our advantage somehow. And I can’t believe Razmus actually thought I’d look at him differently because of his ancestry. Just being Raz is more than enough. And I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop and someone to come tell me I can’t be a Rider because I’m a girl. My mother has been quiet as ever (do I take after her?), my grandfather was a little surprised, but mostly just took it in stride, and Wild Rider said all of two words to me in the whole of his little test. I can’t stop now; heroism is just as addictive as nicotine (my grandfather smokes too, indoors), and probably worse for your health in the long run.

Next up is Ryo’s big soccer match, and we have four hours to kill until then, which isn’t enough time to go to the museum. At the rate things have been going, we’re probably due for another incident there. With more media coverage.

[In-Character] Truth & Justice, Episode 13

Today was about me, apparently. I came to Japan wanting answers, but I didn’t expect to be buried in them without trying.

On the plane, Razmus was relatively well-behaved, and he even apologized for the “sellout” comment. He also showed me a polaroid of him and his parents, obviously from a number of years ago, and said that he might’ve said such a thing out of jealousy.

Mom and Ryo met us at the airport, and neither has changed much. Ryo’s soccer team is on its way to the division finals, and mom is… well, mom. For some reason Razmus felt the need to tell my mother, in broken Japanese, that he is “Hikaru’s boyfriend that he met on the internet.” He seemed annoyed that I shut him down (“こいつ、彼氏なんかねぇよ。”). He either has a poor sense of humor or doesn’t understand that my mother wouldn’t have believed it for a second. He forgets that we’ve only known each other for about six weeks.

The house is just as I remember it though. It feels like I’ve been away a lifetime, but really it’s only been a matter of months. The next morning, Eri, Takeshi, and Suzuka arrived, and it surprised no one that Suzuka was all over Razmus. What surprised me was that she got him to agree to a date of sorts — a trip to Akiba.

When mom asked me to go buy some salmon at the market, and I wound up with Razmus and Sam tagging along, and that’s when business started trying to ambush me. There was a scruffy Westerner in the market, who was fitting in perfectly. He telepathically introduced himself as the Watcher, and told me to say hi to Glenn for him. He went on to say that he was born in the 1700s, that he had a premonition that something important was going to happen soon, that there was another Rider operating somewhere in Japan, and that we should check out Project Perseus’ abandoned Tokyo facility. Razmus and Sam neither saw nor suspected anything at the time.

But that wasn’t the half of it. I took Glenn and mom into the kitchen to talk about a few things. I’d been gearing up to confess about what I’ve been doing, but she’d already figured it out. No climax. “I wouldn’t be your mother if I didn’t know.” What other surprises does she have? Glenn was surprised to hear about the Watcher, to be sure. Then my erstwhile grandfather made his appearance. He looked like a typical wizened old Japanese man, but he had a Brace of his own, and I could see from the look in his eyes that he is a man of experience and power. Then, he let Glenn and I ask questions.

My father really was an alien then, and so is my grandfather. The Riders consider themselves guardians of justice in the universe, and they send Riders to distant planets in need of heroes. Earth already has many native heroes, so they sent only one, my father, some 19 years ago (which would mean I was concieved not too long after he arrived…). The Braces are techno-organic, and contain a memory of sorts, though only some of the first-generation ones are sentient (the Mega-Brace is not one of those… and yet it’s 9,000 years old). It draws from a dimensional pocket an organic inner suit that serves as insulation and interface, and an organic outer armor, that wraps around the wearer. My grandfather (his name is Yukimaru) was shocked that I could transform, and while inspecting my armor he noted that it was very close to finally adapting to me. I’ve been able to use the suit’s main powers — armor, jumping, the Mega-Sword, and the Mega-Beam — but there’s another level, which involves combining them in different ways.

Being a Rider is treated as a hereditary post, but passed down from father to son. Ryo would’ve been the one to recieve the Mega-Brace next, but (thank god) not until he turned 18. If dad’s attitude was typical of Riders, Ryo would make a better fit, but it’s a little late for that right now. What is puzzling is that in theory the Brace should’ve gone into hiding on its own, and then proceeded to appear to Ryo when he came of age. Instead it somehow wound up in the hands of Project Perseus, and then me. On the plus side, if I really do decide to retire, Ryo would be able to take up the fight, but not until he’s old enough. On the other hand, when all’s said and done he has the power to make the world a better place without becoming a superhero. He’ll probably be furious at me for, in effect, stealing “his” superpowers, but that’s ironic considering that far more than me he can appreciate a normal life.

The other thing is that my father’s people have been waging a war against another race, an implacable enemy that is a bane to civilized life in the universe. And if my grandfather is to believed, Razmus is one of that race. I could tell the old man wanted to rip him apart, but he held back because Razmus is one of my comrades. When my grandfather finally left–vanishing in a flash of light–I went and told the others the parts I felt were safe to tell.

Raz, predictably, immediately went into denial, as though his ancestry somehow invalidated the experiences of his family, the circumstances of his birth. Neither the archeological evidence that points to Japanese people having come to the islands from the mainland, nor the fact that I’ve been living in San Francisco, nor even the fact that my father was an alien, make me less Japanese, much less not human. Razmus is still Razmus, and the man and woman in the picture are his parents. The problem is, we could find ourselves facing other shapeshifters who aren’t so friendly as him or his family. And another thing. Although I know better than to be naive about it, there remains the distinct possibility that what my grandfather told me was only the truth as he knows it. There are two sides to every story.

In any case, with that done, I announced that we were going to investigate Project Perseus’ Tokyo facility. And everyone went along with it. I don’t think of myself as having leadership qualities, but Razmus is too independent for that, Glenn just doesn’t seem to want to tell people what to do if he can help it (and I don’t blame him), and Sam and Jack are too passive. Still, when I took the initiative like that, I didn’t expect it to work out so smoothly.

Of course, we haven’t yet entered the building, so we’ll soon find out whether I made a good decision. What we’re approaching–by train–is outwardly a fairly ordinary office building in the middle of the city. It’s since been leased out to another, more innocuous organization. I have to try to remember where the research labs and such were located. I think most of that stuff was in the second and third basement levels.

I’m glad no one saw me the morning after we arrived. I woke up, and something about the dream I had made me wake up crying. I still can’t remember what it was about, but I coudn’t stop crying anyway. That isn’t like me.

[In-Character] Truth & Justice, Episode 12

We spoke to Glenn about Razmus’ findings, and the implications of what we’ve learned. We just don’t know enough, and we keep finding ourselves thinking around in circles. Glenn told us about the history between himself and Amalgam — they both became metahumans because of the same nuclear accident — who may be the one behind all this. Or there might be someone above him. That raises the question of whether Glenn was meant to be involved in this, and so on. Circles.

Razmus and I both got our powers from our parents though, and Project Perseus was trying to use both in some way. Furthermore, there are similarities between the cellular breakdown that would theoretically be caused by normal humans using the Mega-Brace and that which we’ve witnessed in the clones of Razmus. It’s not exactly the same, but the general process — where chromosomes are broken down at specific points — is very similar. In the case of the Mega-Brace this is because it’s meant “attach” at a genetic level when activated, and ordinary human DNA can’t withstand the stress that’s being applied at the wrong points. In the case of the clones, it may be a deliberate self-destruct mechanism.

In spite of the excitement the water nymph incident caused, the people here in Aegis seem fairly blase about the matter, and reconstruction began promptly. I also visited the costume shop and got a riding outfit as intended. Thankfully that part went smoothly.

The big news today was that Aphrodite was visiting Aegis. At least in terms of PR, she is far and away America’s biggest superhero. I don’t share Raz’s pathological need to insult her at every turn — a need that in him exceeds any pragmatism — but (apart from Jack) we’re all in agreement that she’s an arrogant bitch and not qualified to call herself a superhero anymore. It was her own arrogance and impulsiveness that cost Avatar her powers and split up the Watchmen (a lesson Razmus needs to remember I think), and the moment there were no cameras around she revealed her true colors, and it wasn’t pretty. That she has fans doesn’t surprise me; it’s the absolute devotion she’s afforded. No one, human or metahuman, can even stomach the idea of her being tarnished in any way, even by a 16-year-old who to all outward appearances should be of no consequence whatsoever. People act like she’s above the law, and by now she probably believes it too. And the control of information about her on the internet and in the media is downright Orwellian. I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt — she does at least give the world a positive view of metahumans — but that was a waste. She would be an impossibly powerful foe if it came to that.

Razmus has been a lot more friendly and such (and he even listened to me when I told him not to make pointless trouble by throwing a tomato at Aphrodite), but he still can’t help but find ways to infuriate me. In one of his regular visits to the comics store he picked up a Mega-Rider manga tankoubon — I didn’t know they published them in English — and when I mentioned about the extensive Mega-Rider merchandise (and Ryo’s collection of such) he immediately went conclusion-jumping and assumed that my father (you know, the one that Raz knows nothing about, much less has ever met) was a “sellout.” I’m going to let it slide this time.

I wonder if these dreams are because of the Mega-Brace. I hate feeling helpless. Two more weeks to go, and they’re passing so quickly. I called mom and told her Glenn and I — and three more — were coming. When I asked about my grandfather, she just said, “We’ll talk about that when you get here.” I suppose since she married him she must know something about my father, but it never occurred to me that there’d be something she was keeping from me. She’s always seemed so normal, and I think that’s what dad liked about her.

[In-Character] Truth & Justice, Episode 11

It’s been a long day. And a long night. After the water nymph incident was finally done with, everyone broke off to do their own thing. I went to look at motorcycles, and learned that I don’t have anywhere near the funds to get something that would actually support my armor. I picked up a book on metahuman genetics to give me something to do in my free time (I need a new hobby), and wound up having dinner with Glenn, Sam, and Jack. Over dinner, Glenn suggested we look into getting some kind of superhero costumes, for anonymity. Considering that Pinnacle and who knows what else are out there, in principle this sounds like a good idea. No tights for me though. I’m thinking a motorcycle riding outfit.

I’d suspected that Raz had slipped off somewhere to indulge his martyr complex, and it turned out he had in fact gone off hitchhiking to the south of Aegis. The guy from the Super-Mentors gave us a lift to go look for him, and we found him on the side of the road. He got his powers back (as I was sure he would, one way or another) and then some, so at least he’s got one less thing to complain about. When he was in the car, Raz handed me something he’d picked up, a folder of experimental data. And the watermark on every page was the twin snakes and sword of the Perseus Project.

Now, here’s the funny thing. He insisted that the two of us talk about it in private. He’s confiding in and trusting me. And reminding me a lot of Ryo, actually. Anyway, from what Raz told me and what was in the file, it looks like the project has facilities in the U.S., including an abandonded one that’s too close to Aegis to be a coincidence. The files showed chemical, genetic, and radiological experiments–stuff that the project’s stated ethical guidelines expressly forbids–being used on human subjects. The data is incomplete, a sheaf of surviving pages from at least a dozen different lab reports, and the chemicals and processes being used are exceedingly complex, but I’ve started trying to piece it together. More importantly, Raz said that in the facility — which was left wide open — he found another clone, only this one had been left in a tube of some chemical compound, and telepathically begged him for release, for death. He also found out the locations of some of the other clones, most in the Americas, but a couple in Japan. I told him about what they were planning with the Mega-Brace. I keep thinking I left something out.

He told me to call him “Razmus.” I don’t know what that means exactly, but I suspect it’s the beginning of the end of the friction between us.

Does the cellular breakdown that the Mega-Brace would cause to humans have some connection to the way the clones of Raz turn into a dehydrated black goo? I need to go over that data again. Plus Raz brought me some new samples. Having him around really is like having another little brother at times.

I need answers. This whole thing is driving me crazy. And now more than ever I think I’m only going to find those answers by going back to Japan. If I don’t get some kind of answer, some kind of sign, I may just decide to drop the superhero act and try to live some kind of normal life. It’s not too late to apply to Todai again.

I’ve been a different person once before. There was that little space between when my father died and when I started middle school, when I was the klutzy crybaby, and apart from the teachers, the only one in my class who wore glasses. Oneechan (who was actually my best friend Chiaki’s older sister) was the one who helped me grow up a little. She also exposed us to a fair amount of second-hand smoke, but nobody’s perfect. Chiaki, Miho, Karen, Oneechan, and me. I think Chiaki’s family is still in Yokohama.

I had that dream again. I really miss my father.

Ugh.

There’s this and there’s this. The comments add more context to the story, but ultimately make your brain melt. If I ever let myself get caught in stupid flamey arguments about games and thereby wasting time that could be spent creating or enjoying games, someone please slap me. Games are for having fun. Stupid flamey arguments are not fun.

I’m oversimplifying. My workload is wearing on me. Outside of my close friends almost no one reads this stuff anyway.

Or do you?

Oh yeah. I ordered The Mountain Witch (IPR was having a sale, so I finally caved in), and finished reading it the other day. Along with octaNe and the Halo game I need to finish writing, it’s now on the list of games I really want to try out.

Current Mood: Exhausted
Current Music: Pink Floyd – Time

[In-Character] Truth & Justice, Episode 10

Today I got to feel useful.

We took a private jet to Aegis, in the middle of the night. I keep mentioning Raz, but no one else feels the need to shove so many things in other people’s faces. He has a way of looking at the world that draws out the flaws in others. So, he accused the metahumans of Aegis of xenophobia. I suppose there’s a kernel of truth somewhere in there, but it’s leaving out so much of the story, seemingly to give him an excuse to look down on an entire city of people he’s never even met. If there’s anyone who should understand the desire to get away from people prejudiced against those who are different, it’s Raz. Instead, accusations, conflating cause and effect.

Aegis is small and flat and new, and populated not only by metahumans, but their families, and an entire secondary population that takes care of much of the day to day matters. Especially for a nonprofit organization, the facilities of the Super-Mentors is impressive. We signed the paperwork that made us a super-team. Officially. Unfortunately, not too long after we had two problems emerge — and at this point I can only assume they’re in some way related. Sam was feeling exceedingly tired, and had to be hospitalized, while Raz… seemed to have lost his powers.

I decided to investigate what I could, comparing the original samples with the black goo and the new samples taken by the medical center. The metahuman element in Raz seemed to have simply vanished, while Sam was… growing a third DNA helix, making him something unique in the world. It’s hard to say what exactly this means, except that it created a new incident. As the process was nearing completion, the water in the medical center started to go crazy. He started creating water nymphs, just like Raz said he did at Sunspot’s house, but this time there were several hundred of them, and they began to combine into two colossal ones.

I stopped Raz from going in there. He wants me to trust my instincts and make snap decisions, and that’s what he got. He said something odd; he asked how I would feel if someone took the Mega-Brace. I made some lame comment about how “we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” but once again he doesn’t understand how I think. I’m not proud of it, but if my conscience would let me be rid of it, I would. If the Mega-Brace hadn’t entered into my life, I could be attending Tokyo University right now, and instead I’m lying to my family, risking my life, and wearing my father’s mask, all for ideals I haven’t really been able to fulfill yet. The only life I can definitely say I saved was that of Swan after all. He said something about how his powers are how he knows who he is. Is this a teenager thing? I know who I am, even if I’m not always happy with it, and the Mega-Brace is at best a symbol, not the article itself.

Glenn and Jack rescued the comatose Sam from the medical center, and I used the Mega-Beam for the first time to help defeat the giant water nymphs. It was quite a sight to see more than 50 metahumans working as one, and an amazing feeling to be a part of something so big. The first one we literally evaporated, and the second one Glenn put oxygen tanks into, and I detonated. I wound up using it four times, and it took a lot out of me.

When the dust settled, the medical center was all but demolished, Raz still had no powers, and Sam was feeling exceptionally healthy. Maybe “Stormcrows” would be a better name for our group. When disaster doesn’t come to us, we bring it ourselves, one way or another.