Auditions II. Apollo I

I should start out by saying this: I really do respect Zeta. He has prowess as a fighter, and is a great publicity maker. However… he should not be the leader of the team. I’ve always gotten the feeling that he’s never actually cared about saving people. He always acts as if he’s in it for … fun? He’s not committed to the SVRA, or really… anything. I can’t deny that he performs well, but if you asked him why, he’d just say, “I feel like it.” I’m sure he’s out for his friends and the team, but… I can tolerate necessary collateral damage on the side, maybe even a civilian casualty if it was for the greater good. But, Zeta, though he avoids the deaths of the innocent, causes ridiculous amounts of dangerous damage. One time last week, he punched a wannabe strongman Super Villain named Iapetus into a building so many times that it collapsed. If Everest hadn’t held it up while Dagny levitated and psychically warned the inhabitants, there probably would have been some bad shit. It frustrates me, it really does. I’m really tired today, so you’ll have to excuse me if my first journal entry is pretty short. What happened today is crazy. We just got back from the SVRA boot camp two weeks ago, and we’ve barely had a moment to rest. Let’s see… what has it been? We left for the boot camp April 10th, spent three months working out, tuning our powers and learning what we as SVRA agents can legally do. It was pretty redundant for me, cause I’ve done it all before. Some of the people on the team, though… Zeta had to take remedial public relations lessons, and Everest took four times the expected time to learn two legal procedures. It’s definitely going to be an interesting team. The part I had the most trouble with was where powers come from. According to our instructors, everybody is composed of three parts. The ki, the psyche, and the aura. Even norms have them. The ki is invisible, intangible energy that only few can see or manipulate directly. The rest of us, the ones with powers, that is, use it automatically. Apparently, it ‘looks’ like veins running throughout our body. Someone with a constant physical power like me has it constantly pushing into my tissue, reinforcing it and making me stronger. Someone with speed would only push it when they turn on their power. Someone with a power like Pyrokinesis, whose powers don’t affect them pushes their ki into the air around them, changing its form. So, Zeta’s ki can change types. He’s a good example. His first two powers involve pushing his ki out of his body and into a different form. The second part is the psyche. Most metahumans don’t pay any attention to this, for good reason. For most of us, it’s purely defensive. It refers to our mental strength. Pretty useless in a fight unless you’re going up against a psychic. If you are, though, it can save your life. To use telepathy or mind control, psychic turn their ki into a sort of wire that conducts thoughts. If you don’t want one of those to attach to you, you better have a strong enough psyche to resist it. I’m probably not explaining it well, but whatever. Its not like anyone is going to be reading this. The third part is aura. All I know is that it’s what happens when you combine ki and psyche and push it out of your body. The instructors didn’t seem to know much about it. While I was on my way to the interview, Diane, shit. Okay, screw it. My name is Will Alexander. Codename Apollo. My sister is Luna, or Diane Alexander. I came from a team in Wisconsin. I would have been leading it in a year, but it wasn’t going anywhere. Once our parents had figured out what we could do, they started paying the best to teach us. How to fight, that is. I’m accomplished in Eskrima, Jujitsu, and a few others. Same with my sister. The difference is, I prefer long range weapons, javelins, bows and guns. My powers give me enhanced strength, but my hyper-coordination lets me take down enemies with low risk. My baby sister prefers close combat. But of course, she has about twenty sets of armour at this point. And, though most people say that metahumans only appeared a year ago, we know that’s bullcrap. We’ve had our powers since birth. I’d imagine that plenty of the others are the same, and the Enemies of Injustice had met a long time before, and were just waiting for their moment. But that’s just a theory. I like rules. I’m against killing. That’s all I’m saying to justify myself. I get plenty of shit from Zeta about it. Zeta… he’s not so good to have on a team. The other members are mostly fine, which I think helps balance out our “wayward” leader. I say most, but there are a few exceptions. Notably, the first late joiner. A few hours after the initial interviews, Zeta brought him in. I still haven’t made up my mind about him. He joined in a confusing time. It was right after the interviews, and we were in a police van…

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Auditions II. Zeta II

He leaped at me, screaming, “DIE!”  I switched to lightning, and jabbed at his chest as he flew past me.

“I’ll pass, thanks.  If I died, I couldn’t have fun kicking your ass!”  He turned around, in mid air.  With a thud, his feet hit the ground, and he became wreathed in lightning.  I laughed.  “Oh yeah.  Great idea. Fight lightning with lightning.  That’ll work.” He opened his mouth, stretching it inhumanly, like a snake, and let loose a torrent of power against me.  I didn’t even bother dodging. I let it fizzle against my chest, then rushed forward with my fingers crackling.  But, before I hit him, as I had expected, he switched powers.  What I didn’t expect was for him to grab me by the head and lift me.  You see Legion said he was a power switcher like me.  That means he can switch between various (usually simple) powers, and that he has a companion like my serval, who, by the way, calls himself Khan.  I called him an egomaniac (Khan means king), and he pointed out that he’s just a reflection of my personality.  That isn’t the usual for power switchers, though.  Companions just happen for power switchers, each in a different way, with different capabilities. Mine was particularly obnoxious, denying the fact that he was my companion.  He claims to be my jailer.  I had to find out what his companion was if I had a hope of beating him.  However, I was getting nowhere fast while he was grabbing my head.  I switched to fire and started turning up the heat.  He didn’t flinch. I swore.  Fucking Super Strength.  I started physically struggling, but to no avail.  After that, I blacked out for a minute.  I felt an impossibly powerful pain in my stomach, but after that…  next thing I knew, I was puking my guts out next to the wall of the arena, and Legion was still in the middle. My entire body hurt like I had gotten hit by a bus, and I couldn’t move one of my legs. Then, I saw a slight disturbance in the air, and I was thrown up by my neck and pressed against the wall.  I could feel the heat slipping out of my body, so I did the only thing I could.  I turned my flame on to the max, regardless what it would do to my air supply.  I was barely surviving, at that point.  It was all I could to do keep myself from hypothermia.  Legion leisurely floated over to me.  Telekinesis, I realized.  He looked at me with amusement, the same way a little kid looks at an ant that’s scrabbling at the glass wall of an ant farm.

“Go ahead,” He said. “While you’re struggling, let me give you a little science lesson.” I croaked. He smiled patronizingly, “Do you know what cold is?  It’s the absorption of energy!”  I grunted, getting tired from the constant output and lack of oxygen.  “So, if you pour enough heat into something cold, it becomes hot!  But…   What if all the heat is stored?” He winked, “Of course, this has only been possible since the superpowers came along, but you know that.  Then, the cold thing remains cold until the storage area is full.  When that happens?  All the heat and energy is released in one burst!  Do you know what that means, you pitiful excuse for a hero? It explodes.”  He grinned as my eyes widened in realization.  I slowly let my fire die, and looked at the wall I was being pushed against.  It wasn’t blue anymore.  It was a deep, blood red.  The same color as the crystal that had smacked me in the chin.  The same crystal that had exploded.  “Oh, fu-.”  My vision went black, as if covered by a blindfold in the middle of the night, in a dark, windowless room.  I couldn’t see any of what happened, but I heard it, and god, I felt it.  The earth shook, and it felt like my eardrums would shatter.  The earth under me spun, and I fell.  A few minutes later, I tried to stand up, my vision still black.  It didn’t work.  I fell back to my knees, and a jolt of pain shot through the one I could move.  When I did, though, the black retreated, and showed me…  Khan, licking his crotch in front of me, on what looked like snow. On a second glance, I realized it was the white remnants of the explosion covering the ground.  Thousands, no, millions of little white crystals.  Legion was nowhere in sight.  I looked at Khan again, and flipped him off.  “What.. Where…  What the hell was that, and where the fuck have you been for the past week?”  He didn’t answer for a minute.  He just continued making these disgusting slurping sounds, as he cleaned his privates.  I coughed.  He looked up.  Opened his mouth.  Closed it, and went back to his nuts.  I glared at him, and tried our thought channel for fifth time that day.  You see, this was about two weeks after the school fire.  A week ago, he had just disappeared.  He didn’t show up, he didn’t answer my thoughts… I had just gotten used to life with him, and then he was gone.  I didn’t know where.

/Man, I’m a dick,/ I thought.

/Hey.  That’s me you’re talking about. /

/I know!  Where the fuck have you been?/

/…/

/What?  Why can’t you tell me where you’ve been?/

/I’ve been…. elsewhere. /

/GRAHH.  THAT DOESN’T-  Nevermind.  Fine.  How am I still alive?/

/That’s easy.  I lent you your seventh power.  Just to save your life, mind you.  You still only have fire and lightning at will.  I just didn’t want you dying, so I stretched the rules./

/You can do that?/

/No,/ I heard back, the sarcasm practically dripping off of his thoughts.

Next thing I knew, I was in the hospital, with Rune standing over me.  He helped me pick a name, and acted as the liaison to the SVRA to get the team set up.  He was following Legion, and was rather impressed that I survived the encounter.  Turns out, Legion is the reason there haven’t been any heroes in Connecticut yet.  Legion works for a gang called “The Court.”  I had heard of them, of course, but I didn’t know just how powerful they were.  They’re one of two gangs in the entire state.  They hire metahumans to kill all wannabe heroes, and crush other gangs.  Rune said that nobody knew much about them, but New York SVRA agents had died trying to find out. He was trying to gather information, and saw Legion dispatched on a mission.  He saw the whole thing, but had to take cover when the crystal turned red.  I asked him what I had done to survive, but he wouldn’t say.  I wouldn’t figure out what happened for a long time.

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Auditions II. Zeta I

I met Legion before I was Zeta. I was just me, then. Not even a costume. I was beating up criminals in the street for fun. Mostly. I also wanted to attract the attention of the SVRA. I wasn’t being a vigilante for any sense of morality, or anything so noble. That’s not me. I wanted to try being on a hero team, and see if I enjoyed it.
I was punching out small time villains. People with minor stunning powers, small heat generation… stuff like that. Barely C class, some of them. Oh, I should explain that. Okay. So, there are a bunch of different power rankings. They say, essentially, how strong a person’s power is. They were invented back on March 28th, in 2016. It goes G, which is the weakest. If you have this, your power probably killed you at birth: whatever the reason, the power most likely involved heavy mutations that you just couldn’t withstand. Then, F. This is for the people whose powers make them weaker than most people, like those who have hollow bones… with no other birdlike traits. Then D. This is a power that doesn’t do anything, like being able to change the color of your own eyes or something. It might make your life a little more convenient, but nothing major.  Then, C. If someone has a C class power, they’re recruitable for a gang. It gives them an edge over the normal civilians. Maybe they can blow really hard, or paralyze people. Then you have B. B is the minimum for joining the SVRA. B powers are pretty useful. Flight, cryokinesis… usually these are standard powers. B rarely has unique things, but they’re decently powerful. Then, there’s A. A is one class, but there’s plenty of strength variation. I’m on the stronger side of A, so I can beat most metahumans in a one on one fight. But, my friend C…Discharge far outclasses me. He’s called an A, but he’s on par with the Enemies of Injustice, due to his resourcefulness in using an already powerful and versatile power. An A class can have standard or unique powers, but they’re always stronger than B classes. After A is the last class, S. S is reserved for the extremely powerful ones. Hacksaw, Samson…. ones like them.
I was fighting C class guys. In my defense, I only had two powers then. Fire and Lightning. Pyrokinesis and Fulgurkinesis. I was pretty weak myself, back then. I had just shocked a guy with knives for fingers. I saw him trying to mug someone, and I ran over, punched him, grabbed him by the neck, and gave him… a decent shock. I just realized I still have no idea how to measure my output. Holy crap. I need to get on that. But, back to my story. Shocked him, dropped him. I turned to the person I was saving, only to watch them turn into a bloody splatter before my eyes. I stared. Blood was dripping down into my eyes, but I didn’t stop to wipe it. That’s why I have no idea what hit me. All I know is that something hard slammed into me at a high speed. I was thrown… it must have been twenty feet. When I got up, there were two figures standing in front of me. I glared at them. I felt the rage building within me, and I let it out in a roar. As my fire bloomed around me, untouched by the inferno, I roared, “WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT?” I let the fire die, savoring my rage. I got a clearer look at the people standing in front of me. One was wearing a black hoodie, with his face covered but an ominous aura around him. The other was dressed in a lab coat with a pair of heavy goggles covering most of his face. The latter raised his hand, and a blood-red crystal shot up from the ground, smacking me in the chin. I reeled, clutching my jaw. I shook my head out, growling slightly, and turning my flame on around my hands. Then, the crystal exploded. Red shards flew everywhere, and I hit the ground. The majority of them missed me, but a few shards (now pure white) lodged in me. I winced as I stood up. The one in the black hoodie walked forward, gesturing to the one who had bombed me. The scientist wannabe muttered, “Kruos,” and all around us, blue crystal started rising, forming a dome around the three of us. I faced off with the ominous one, ready for a fight. To my surprise, he bowed, and started speaking. “Hello, fellow metahuman!” He said in a theatrical tone, “My name is Legion! My companion here is Krustallos!”. I am a power switcher, and he makes crystals with various fascinating effects.” I stared at him in disbelief. He continued, “He created that bomb crystal that you were pitifully unable to dodge, and he created the arena we’re in right now! I should warn you though, it’s made of ice crystal. If you touch it, you’ll make this fight a very dull one. I’ve found myself rather bored, and I’m looking for a pick-me-up. Perhaps you can assist me?” I coughed.
“Um… Well, Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog is a great supervillai-” I abruptly stopped, as something flew past my head. All traces of his polite manner gone, Legion hissed at me, “Don’t be a moron!” He leaped at me, screaming, “DIE!”

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Auditions II. Crane III

“So, you seem like a rich kid, playing with your mask and swords. Do you have anything to share with the less fortunate?” He said, “less fortunate,” but judging by the way he spoke and fiddled with something in his jacket revealed that he was making a threat. I doubted it was an empty one. “Those are some nice toy swords you got there. Care to give them to someone who needs the money?” Right. Sign that prick up for the Police Academy. Either that, or cut off his balls so he can’t reproduce. Either way, you’d have a winning choice on your hands.
“Hey, look, I really don’t have anything to give you. Just fuck off or I might just enjoy bisecting you, and leaving bits of you all over for your friends to find.” The last part was not characteristic of me.  I was honestly a little surprised I said it, but decided to roll with it.
“Really now, you little rat fuck? You think you can scare me?” He pulled his jacket away to reveal a glock-19.
“Yes.” I pulled out one of my katana, and as he reached for his gun, I sliced off his hand.
“Shit! What the fuck is wrong with you!” However, before his two friends could even move, I had launched myself up the side of the building and disappeared. I could hear their confused whispers. My heart was pounding and I found that I was smiling. I had enjoyed the terror I created. The desire for blood continued to course through my veins and a twisted grin formed under my mask that I couldn’t control. I slowed my breathing again and tried to regain control of my body. After a few minutes of deep inhaling I had found that my mask hadn’t retreated. I shrugged, and started back on my way to the Police Station. I was leaving the roof of the landmark building when I noticed the two friends of the recently…disarmed…individual, rooting through the jackets of a young man and women.

Their corpses were pockmarked with bullet holes. There, a once bright and colorful blouse had become a foul example of the clear issues with the city’s police system. My neck seized up again and I felt the rage build up inside me. As the two walked away from the bodies I stepped of the roof top and pulled out my blades. It seemed like I was falling slower than I really was. The windows were passing by as if gravity had decided to take a break and let me do whatever I wanted. By the time I had hit the ground, I had already planned out my course of attack. I landed feet first on the thug farthest from the road. As I landed on him I pushed both blades through his chest, then in a swift motion brought them up through his shoulders in a swift “V” like fashion. As his body toppled away I sheathed my swords and turned to his friend. His friend fired a shot, but I swiped by hand up and a stream of ice caught the bullet mid air.

In a flash I blasted him against the side of the building, keeping him trapped there in a thick sheet of ice. I looked at the fear on the man’s face. I should have felt pity, yet all I felt was a growing pain in my neck, and an intense desire to see what else I could do to him, how much more I had to push before he lost all of the light in his eyes. I grinned.  I touched my right arm to his face, my fingertips crackling with electricity, and released five streams of lightning directly into his trapped body. He screamed in agony, his head slamming back into the wall. His hands and legs began to spasm. As soon as the odor of burning flesh entered my nostrils I stopped. There wasn’t much of him left. Well, at least not much anyone could recognize. I started on my way to the Police Station again.
Despite my relaxed state I couldn’t relieve the intense pain that I was feeling in the back of my neck. Every time the pain spiked, an image of the same kid flared into my mind. I walked for several, uncomfortable minutes and reached the intersection where the police station was located. The building did not seem as imposing at it once had been to me, only a few hours prior. I pulled open the weighted front door and stepped inside the cool building. I looked up at the arched roof and back down to where a sign on the wall dictated that I was to take the left hallway to the weapons screening and visitor center. From my place I could see the gruff officer who had turned me down, sitting at his desk and chuckling about something he was looking at on his phone. I continued walking, but something caught my attention. It was the picture of the guy. His blondish hair was immediately recognizable.

However, I was surprised to find his picture plastered on the front of a poster for the SVRA. The searing pain erupted in my head again. There was nothing I could do. I was no longer fully controlling my thoughts either. I was present, but I couldn’t believe what I was planning to do. I had to kill this kid, or the pain would never fade. This kid was a part of the SVRA, and clearly had powers. The best way to attract the attention of heroes is destruction and slaughter. Now I was in a place that represented all they stood for. An attack here would attract some attention very quickly. Once again, an evil grin spread across my face.  I sprinted and crashed my way through the school and dove into the administration office. In a deadly whirl of gold and black I cleaved my way through a small crowd of officers, bits and pieces falling everywhere. As others drew their guns or tried to run I released blasts of ice, catching many of those who tried to flee. I turned to the direction that some officers had taken cover behind and lightning arced from my fingers catching some in a intense embrace and setting fire to the wall behind them. Then the shadows that rolled over me extended outwards and attached to the foundations of the building and tore them from the wall. As the building began to fall I sprinted out the same heavy door I had entered through, climbing up a wall and took perch on the building next to the police station. And from there I waited, and waited.

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Auditions II. Crane II

“I’m glad you made the rational decision” he breathed, a smile stretching impossibly far across his face.
The man stood up straight, the dark material on him writhing like a nest of snakes. Two black and gold katanas began to emerge from his back. He reached up and pulled the two blades out, black liquid spilling on the floor. The blades handles were long, and tapered into a point. The black material that the sword was comprised of was inlaid with gold. He handed the two blades to me. The first was light, but an intense cold radiated from the metal. The second blade was just as light, but had a hot and intense energy.
“These are Masamune katana, but with a little twist. Each sword possesses its own power. The left blade give you cryokinesis, telepathic control of ice, and the other, fulgurkinesis, telepathic control of electricity. Be forewarned, if you kill another human with an elemental power, the swords will take the new power, and the new power will become dominant. Go ahead, give them a try.”
I swung the two blades with an elegance and skill that I didn’t know I possessed. I’ve done a lot of martial arts training, but it was almost as if the swords had a mind of their own.
“Oh, you may also need this,” he said.
He handed me a bag with two long sheaths on the back. I put on the sheaths and found that they were still remarkably light, even with both blades in them. Now I decided to test out the powers that I had. Around my left hand ice crystals began to form in the air. I pointed my hand at the wall and mimed shooting something at the wall. To my pleasant surprise a shower of knife-like ice crystals flew into the wall and shattered. I tried to do this again, but this time I wanted to see what would happen if I relaxed. I opened my hand and a stream of ice shot forth from my hand and froze a row of trash cans to the wall.
“Alright, now we’re in fucking business!” I said.
Next was my right hand. I could feel the power pulsing through my hand and I made the motion I had used for the ice shards. A sudden burst of electricity exploded forward with a resounding sizzling sound. The dark man looked up and nodded.
“Very good. Now there is just one more power for me to give you. This will be your core power, your defining feature, if you will. But… before I give it to you, remember… take care of my, our, little itch.”
“Sure, sure.” I said, excitement still evident in my voice.
Then, faster than I was able to react, he dashed forward and grabbed my face, his fingers digging into the soft skin right under my jaw. His fingers became pointed and broke through my skin. Then, as quickly as it started, he pulled his fingers out and I dropped to the filthy alleyway floor. I turned to the ice on the wall and saw that I was reflected in it. There were four small black holes in my neck, and despite the trauma, there was no bleeding. I got up and began to turn to where he had been standing.
“What the fuck was…” He was gone. Not a trace of the man could be found.
I sat on the ground for a few minutes. I turned back to ice mirror and told my self to activate whatever had been injected into me. In a sudden flare of pain the four holes on my neck opened, and a shadowy material similar to that of the mystery man wrapped around my face. Two slits remained open for my eyes, and four short curved lines over my nose. There was enough space between the material and my mouth to allow for speech. In fact, the mask resembled an ancient kind of mask worn by ninja in feudal japan.
“Well. Apparently, I’m a ninja, now.  Looks like my costume have an Asian theme.” I thought to myself.  “Maybe I’ll get some Chinese food!”
I began to jog, but forgot that my mask was still active. My feet felt lighter, and found that I was moving forward with great speed. I tried to jump, and something pushed the bottom of my feet. I sailed up to a third story window.
“This will be fun. This will be very fun,” I muttered to myself.
I turned to the wall to my left, which was covered in ads for Big Poppa’s Gentlemen’s clubs.
In hindsight, I don’t believe Big Poppa knew anything about serving mink or fox hunting, but that’s irrelevant. I jumped across the alley, and started to run at the wall across from me. I found that in several swift kicks, I had sprinted up the wall. I looked down on the street from the roof of a three story building. I looked down at my arms and noticed that my normal clothes were no longer visible.  Instead, I was covered with what seemed to be a layer of shadow.   I looked in the mirror and noticed that I could hardly make out my image.  I tried out a few things, and discovered that if I focused my energy I could become almost invisible for a short period of time. I was overcome with an intoxicating and intense form of giddiness and joy, that seemed completely out of place. I sat down on the ledge and let my feet hang over when I was overcome with a searing headache, a pain on the back of my neck and the bizarre desire to tear a blondish teenage male to pieces.
A few minutes later I decided to return to downtown to give my new powers a good test drive. The headaches had become more and more frequent and I had started to fantasize about slicing some kid into pieces. The weirdest thing was that I started to form an unconditional hatred for him. I had my strong suspicions that this had something to do with the figure that had given me my powers, but I found myself unable to think about it for more than a few seconds. I got to running and began to sprint up a 10 story apartment building. The mask had taken its place and my deranged sense of excitement returned. I sprinted across the next building and kicked off a air conditioning unit onto the next roof. I landed as if I had just stepped down off of the stairs.

Then, I jumped from the roof of this building across the street. Unfortunately my jump fell short. However, when I reached out for the building long tendrils of shadows shot out of my lower arm and fastened to the side of the building, pulling my directly into the wall. After trying to determine whether my nose was broken or not, I climbed back up the side of the building and collapsed on the roof. I dropped down into the adjacent alleyway. From my best guess I saw I was rather close to the police station and began to make my way, however, I was stopped by a gruff voice.
“Hey there, slim jim. Chill out for one second, I just wanna ask you something.” said a tall twenty year old looking caucasian prick. If there was a standard degree for douchebag, this guy met it. His hat, his boots and baggy pants made it clear he was screaming for attention. He had two friends behind him, both of whom looked like they had some latino blood. They were snickering to themselves. However, I wasn’t sure if they were laughing at me, or at their friend who was walking in my direction.

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Auditions II. Crane I

I walked up to the front desk in the police station at about 2:15, nervous as hell.
“Um… hello? I’m interested in applying for the SVRA team?”
“Thats nice, kid, but you had to make a reservation. I’m not here to interview you.”
“Wait, really? The ad didn’t say anything about having to call. Today is really the only day I have free. Could I just meet with them quickly?”
“No.”
“Why?”
“Because procedure, punk.”
“Thanks for the details. Look, let me just show you what I can do, and you can choose to refer me to them if you are impressed.” I said
“Fine. Whatever, kid. What can you do, make the twenty bucks I have in my wallet disappear?”
I gingerly reached for a small knife in my coat pocket and quickly cut my upper arm. A small bit of blood began to seep from the wound.
“What the fuck?” shouted the cop.
“Wait, wait for it. I promise I have powers. Just give it a second.”
Despite my pleadings the police officer at the front desk did not look at all impressed. I stood there for another good twenty seconds, glancing nervously at the offensively bright, blue wall of the station’s interior. Then, the small cut I had made in my left arm started to close.
“That’s it?” The cop asked, clearly unimpressed.
“Yeah, pretty cool, right?”
“Kid, I’ve seen a stronger healing factor in a starfish. I’m sorry, you’d be lucky if that’s a D class power, and we simply can’t accept a low level power like that. You would get in the way of the other more…proficient members.”
“You’re shitting me, right? How many people do you know who can do that?” I probably shouldn’t have said that, as it was clear I was coming between the cop and whatever he was playing on his smartphone.
“Alright, now son. I know people who can spray fire from their armpits. What you have is hardly anything of interest. Hell, my great aunt is probably more interesting than you, and she’s dead! Now please, you’re keeping me from attending to the monitor and thus interfering with police activity. So please, get the fuck out.” I backed away, throwing a scowl the officer’s way before taking off running. I didn’t get far before a kid dressed in black, with blonde and brown hair walked out of a conference room. He cleared his throat, and said,

“The following heroes have been accepted. Apollo, Luna, Dagny, Everest, and Exile. To those applicants denied acceptance to this pres-,” He paused, his head drifting to the side as a devilish grin appeared on his face. “To those applicants denied acceptance, please get the fuck out and never come here again.” Then he marched out of the room, the six people he named following him. I stood there, stunned for a moment. I couldn’t believe the way these so called “heroes” were treating applicants. After a moment, I decided that it was in my best interest to leave. Maybe find someone more appreciative of my talents. Maybe strike out on my own, and become a vigilante. Maybe…maybe give up on this entire dream of being a hero. There were other viable jobs out there. It always seemed like there was a need for more telemarketers as the number of those people who were hunted down and killed must be remarkably high in that profession. Yeah, maybe that was the path for me. I knew that there was no immediate career in paleontology and I had to make some money first, and telemarketing might have been the thing for me.

I pushed through the large front doors of the station and made my way through the downtown area. The vast array of bank owned buildings towered over head, giving the illusion that I was actually in a large, and far more impressive urban center. It was time for some serious thought regarding my future, and when serious thought is called for it is best to smother that idea with a movie or some other distraction. After deep consideration I decided to just go buy a used game at gamestop, and head home.
To make up for lost time at the station, and to avoid getting to the store after closing hour, I decided to take a series of winding back alleys. It wasn’t too long before I began to regret my decision. The tight corridors of the alleys seemed to form a maze of brick and cold metal. The walls seemed to stretch up, tapering off into some unseen ceiling. I was so consumed with well designed urban architecture and my own troubles that I almost failed to notice a tall, lanky figure approach me. My eyes immediately started to hone in on him, but still, before I could even make out the basic figure of his body, I was struck motionless by an intense aura of uncontrollable panic. The corners of my eyes began to fill with darkness and a bitter chill cut right through me. With a good deal of effort I managed to shift my head upward and had my first clear look at the man who had frozen me in my tracks. He was tall, with long, thin arms and legs. His entire visage was shrouded in a thick shadow and constantly seemed to be shifting and bulging, making it difficult to make out any definite details. As I tried to focus harder on the figures head it would suddenly shift onto its side, then immediately back to its normal position. Simply focusing on the figures head was disturbing. As he approached I could see that he was wearing just a simple black hoodie and jeans. He removed his hood and bent down, to look me in the eyes. I stood there, unable to speak, or move.

At first, his eyes seemed normal enough. Vibrantly green, but otherwise human. Then…then, they changed. His eyes flipped to solid black, with just a tiny red dot in the center. I screamed. He brought his hands out from his pockets, and revealed long fingers with well kept fingernails. He shoved one across my face. I will never forget those eyes. Something in them implied … Look at it this way. Humans have three things going for us. That’s all that’s kept us alive since we evolved. Our brains, our hands, and our brutality. Our brutality, combined with the ability to make tools… that’s what’s made us the dominant species. When there were multiple hominids, we cro-magnons killed the rest of them, even though they were better in almost every other way. Since then, we’ve buried that side. We act politely, donate to charity. But, under that thin veneer of humanity, we’re still just brutal animals with a nice gimmick. What I saw in those eyes was demonic. It was not human. It was something far beyond. Infinitely more intelligent, looking at me as if I were an ant. But that wasn’t the scary part. No, what I saw in those eyes was a brutality so far beyond our pitiful human violence that there’s only one word for it. Evil. What I saw in those eyes was pure, unfiltered Evil. If I had seen them for any longer, I would have been left gibbering.

After half a second, his eyes turned pure white, and his expression changed. He looked as if he were trying to swallow an egg that a skunk had pissed on. Upon closer inspection, it appeared as if there was something slithering around under his skin. After a minute, he seemed to get it under control, and he looked at me, his eyes a psychedelic, changing mix.
“You look tense. What’s wrong?” He joked.
His voice was disturbingly relaxed. If I had been able to close my eyes and listen, I would have thought that he was an old friend, greeting me after a long separation. I could feel my limbs begin to relax, and control return to my muscles. I turned and began to run, but before I made it two steps, something cold grabbed my leg and pulled me back to him.
“Now, now” he said. “That’s no way to make new friends.”
“Who the fuck are you?” I shouted.
“Irrelevant. A far more interesting question is who are you…or perhaps, who could you be?”
“What?” My eyes widened a fraction. “Wait, what do you mean?” I asked.
“I know what you desire. I can smell the reeking stench of rejection, of failure. You strive to be recognized as something more, even when you really shouldn’t be. However, I find your desire to improve yourself…admirable. In fact, it reminds me of myself. That is why I am extending you an offer.”
“Wait, what do you mean? What are you gonna do?” I asked, fear starting to ebb into my voice.
“I’ve been watching you, and you really are not anything remarkable…not yet. Your power is weak, but I could offer you an alternative. An opportunity to be something, far greater than what you are now.” The soft certainty he said this with was chilling.
“Wait, so you can give me powers? Class A powers? What’s the catch?” I asked.
“Well, as I’m not one to lie, there will be certain desires to satisfy. One may stand out stronger than the others, however once you have “scratched” this itch, I think you will find you new power set very agreeable and, well, more stable.”
He paused and I thought over the opportunity. I knew that the ability to hand out powers was not common, and that there was probably something more to this man than I could see. I remembered the flat, bored face of the cop, and that smug look many with high class metahumans have. I was overcome with a burning passion, no, a lust to be more than mediocre.
“Yes. I’ll take it. Give me everything.” I said with more certainty that I was comfortable with.

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