I tend to get passed over nowadays, ignored as the guy who’s just hanging around, watching over stuff. I’m okay with that. I’ve had my time in the spotlight, I’ve been the hero. I got bored and disillusioned, as we all do, sooner or later. Later for me. It took a lot of deaths, a lot of hardship before I saw what He had been trying to tell me all along. What the ones I’m watching over are on the precipice of learning, still in that blissful period before they start dying and I have to tell them the truth about the SVRA.
Oh, bliss. Some of them, I won’t ruin. Exile’s probably figured it out herself, by now. That girl… If this were 1,000 years ago, then she would be the greatest hero known to man. If I had half her talent, or a quarter of her wit, I’d be living in Florida with my best friend drinking hard lemonade and reminiscing about a well spent youth. Instead, I’m jaded before forty, and I haven’t fought seriously in a year.
Last fight I had wasn’t actually too long ago. I threw a brief sparring match against Apollo, to give him the ego boost he needed if he’s gonna fight King. Speaking of Apollo, he’s one of the ones I’m going to have to ruin. He’s a good guy. Reminds me of… him.
Looking back at what I just wrote, I can’t believe myself. I’m being so vague, leaving my backstory as the mysterious mentor figure to be slowly revealed! Nope. Here it is:
I have some Gypsy blood, some Italian, some Jewish. I come from a few long families of mages. I learned I was a mage before superhumans became public. My family taught me various magic specializations, and I excelled. A friend of mine, whom I met playing around the town, found out he had superpowers when we were ten. We became major players in the superhuman circles, acting as “regulators.” Basically, we took down anyone who threatened to reveal our existence to the “civs,” as we called them. We were big, but not big enough to be recruited for the SVRA… at least not before it existed. The team known as the “Enemies of Injustice,” were gathered together as a back-up plan for if someone got through the regulators. They would show up, like a bolt from the blue, and save the land. Then, capitulating on their influence, they would get the SVRA established with pre-prepared legislation, and the rest, as they say, is history.
We joined the SVRA, got assigned to separate teams, kept in contact. Then, I heard he died. Killed himself. Sorta. Forced into suicide and murder. I’ve been working on that. Trying to find his killer, I’ve delved into things. I pulled strings to put me in the right place at the right time. I met some people. Right now, that’s what I’m working on. If I’m to get my revenge, I’ll need help. I need firepower, more than I can supply alone. I need this team to get stronger. Soon, they’ll have to fight for me anyway, I’m just making sure they’re strong enough.
“Sorry, what did you say?”
“I was asking if you were still there. I thought you zoned out. Considering where we are…” With a wry grin, Exile gestured out over the expanse of the city. Squinting, I looked through her arm.
“Where…?” She sighed, and facepalmed, her hand hitting her forehead without making a sound.
“Astral form, Alister. You wanted to see King’s reaction to Ronin’s loss?” I whipped my head around at her use of my real name. She chuckled, and met my eyes. “Jeez, it’s like you didn’t just teach me this. You broadcast your thoughts and can start to fade if your willpower slips while astral projecting.” I shook my head.
“If I didn’t think you already knew it, I’d tell you that-”
“Oh, and don’t worry about the firepower. We’ve got your back.” I stared at her, speechless. “Yeah, that happens to people a lot when they talk to me.” I shut my mouth and narrowed my eyes. After a deep breath, I sighed.
“Let’s just see what King’s up to, okay?”
He held his hands, cupped, over Ronin’s stump, a white glow emanating from his palms. Ronin was tied to the table, writhing and screaming against leather restraints.
“Yeesh,” Exile said, floating over to behind King. “I don’t think it’s working.” I ignored the action, pacing the room, waving my hand in front of King’s face, making sure he couldn’t see us. After checking out the room, I looked at King’s hands, the power he was using.
“What is this guy’s power? A power switcher?” Exile shook her head.
“I don’t think so. Upstairs, there’s a ginger girl sitting on her bed, staring blankly at the wall, not moving. She’s under the influence of some sort of mind control, and it’s connected to King. I’ve seen him use way too many powers, often concurrently, as well.” I tapped my finger against my chin.
“Something else, then. A domination power, perhaps? He can control people… probably with their blood… and use their powers? That’s probably just within a radius… if they’re willing. Probably more, too. A varied powerset.”
“Hmm… So, he surrounds himself with followers to use their powers?” I nodded.
“I’d guess so. Tread carefu-” The door to the room smashed open, and a figure surrounded in a glowing bright aura burst in. Exile and I covered our eyes and retreated, hiding in the corner. From the bright blue haze, a voice came.
“Milord! A delegation from the Followers of the Path of Mankind has arrived! They wish to discuss territory!” King stopped his healing, and looked up, staring right into the figure, as if the lights weren’t there.
“Shit,” I whispered to Exile, “That guy must be a ki manipulator. He can see us, and hurt us. We need to go. Back into the wall.” She nodded, and backed up, walking through the wall. I stuck around. “The Followers of the Path are here…” I whispered, a glimmer of excitement beginning within me.
“Ronin!” barked King, turning his head. Ronin panted, but his eyes opened, and he moved his head to acknowledge King. “Go visit the tinker. She’s a technician, so she should be able to fix you up with something.” He waved his hand, and the restraints snapped open, leaving Ronin to fall to the ground and stumble towards the door, falling down twice. “Delegation. Explain.” The blue shape quivered a bit… tensing?
“They are led by an unknown figure known as Ranger. He projects a powerful aura, A-class at the least. The other members are inconsequential. If problems arise, they will likely send one of the Apostles.” My heart lept into my throat.
/No… They can’t come yet… they’re not strong enough!/
King nodded. “Get me some of Ranger’s blood, secretly. I will control him and prevent the Apostles from coming. He will acquiesce to a deal wherein he shall receive some land, but stay out of mine. They will send me soldiers, as well.” I swore to myself. This was terrible, terrible news. The team wasn’t ready for the Followers of the Path yet, and if King gained more troops, he would overwhelm and destroy the territory.
/I need to stop King before Ranger comes under his control… but there’s not enough time. I need The Watchmaker./