Sunday, February 17, 2013

10/02/12 - Bodies in Motion - Pt. 5 - I Always Feel Myself Becoming Him

All around the world, and in a few places beyond it, the shadow people are moving.

They take time of from work, and let their friends and family know that something's come up. They tell their butlers and personal assistants to hold their calls for the next week or so. They disappear into the crowds, or the quiet, lonely places where anything could happen, and often does.

For the shadow people are coming home. 

There, they open old trunks and high-tech closets, hidden bases and dimensional pockets. They put on old costumes and new armor. They change their illusions or reveal their true selves. Renew old bargains with the hidden powers or make new ones.

The shadow people are becoming something else.

They take up their tools and trappings of unseen office. Items of power and words of wisdom. Secret formulas and magic words. Puissant relics that shook the world, once, and subtle, sly things that escaped notice, but changed the course of nations.

Supercars and flying carpets. Capes and cowls. Guns and gauntlets. They summon them all into service, this day.

For the shadow people are here, again.

They have been silent too long -- absent from view. Watching from the darkness while conquerors strode the land, and made it theirs. Quiet in the shade as the invaders spoke their lies, and spread their poison. Seemingly serene as the world was remade into utopia, but all too aware that paradise was perched over a black and soul-destroying nightmare.

The shadow people have waited long enough.

Armed with new information, they stand tall once more. Given marching orders from the leaders of the revolution, they make themselves ready. Prepared to fight for the nation they call home, they leave their lives behind for battle.

Prepared to die for the world of their birth, they step from the shadows at last.

Bright heroes and dark vigilantes. Old soldiers and new supermen. Aged sidekicks and teenage subordinates.

Harsh gods and loveable monsters.

The shadow people have come, and they have brought the light with them.

* * *

MRS LIBERTY: So what exactly is the plan?

DOCTOR POWER: I'm not 100% certain. But I think it's going to require a couple different things going off at once.

AMERICAN SHIELD: We have to get Deep Ten off the playing field first. If we start attacking and they start firing, it's all over before it even starts.

DOCTOR POWER: That's not going to be a problem.

FREEDOM BELLE: Are you sure? I know what you said about Alpha Base Seven, but that's one !@#$ big thing to 'not going to be a problem.'

DOCTOR POWER: I agree. But he says he can deal with it. And given who he is, I trust him.

AMERICAN SHIELD: Fair enough. So that leaves the Imago, the False Faces, that city in the Pacific, what used to be The Flier, and God only knows what else to deal with.

RED ALCHEMIST: The DEROS, too. Don't forget them.

MR CHAOS: Not to mention every co-opted public servant, soldier, and police officer who thinks we're the criminals, courtesy of the mass media.

THE VISIONARY: I have it on good authority from Old Ben that he's got that in hand. They'll be confused at first, but I think they'll be on our side when it goes down.

MR CHAOS: You mean that creepy sex addict who claims to be a founding father? I'm surprised we have anything to do with him. 

MRS LIBERTY: He is who he says he is. And yes, he's a little eccentric. But when it comes to dealing with things like this, he's the best man we have. Especially since we don't have Dr. Yesterday on our side, anymore. 

AMERICAN SHIELD: !@#$. I forgot all about him. What do we do about him?

DOCTOR POWER: Antarctica will be dealt with, and him along with it. 

LIBERTY BELLE: What do you mean by 'dealt with.'

DOCTOR POWER: I mean that I have been told that, when it starts, drastic measures are going to be taken. I don't know the full scope of what that means. But I think SPYGOD's cat is involved.

MRS LIBERTY: Oh my god. That's... I have no words. 

MR CHAOS: I do. 'Awesome.' Best kind of work for that !@#$ thing. 

LIBERTY BELLE: Do you have no soul, young man? Even an enemy does not deserve that.

MR CHAOS: My soul doesn't factor into it. You all know how I see things. This is an example of putting the right resources at the right problem. And I think we all know that cat's best left off the field, or somewhere where it can do a lot of damage and then go cough up a hairball or something, somewhere far from us. 

RED ALCHEMIST: I can't disagree with that. But what about the other part of the plan that's got the big question mark on it? The white boxes?

AMERICAN SHIELD: The energy generators SPYGOD was talking about? Apparently, we may have to destroy them all. Without them, the Imago will lose a lot of their power.

RED ALCHEMIST: So why the question marks?

DOCTOR POWER: According to the Leader of the Resistance, SPYGOD is still looking into whether it's a good idea or not. And if that sounds like it's not a lot of information, the Leader of the Resistance agrees. But that's all he got from SPYGOD, and until he finds out what he needs to find out, we're not touching them.

LIBERTY BELLE: What is it with the Leader of the Resistance, anyway? He seems to be deferring to SPYGOD an awful lot.

MRS LIBERTY: SPYGOD is the one who's in charge, dear. And I know that sounds weak, but I've found it's best to trust him in things like this. Besides, if the Leader of the Resistance didn't trust him, he wouldn't be following his lead.

THE VISIONARY: Speaking as an illusionist, that's silly. We don't know who we're following, here, and that's part of what got us into this mess in the first place. 

LIBERTY BELLE: And speaking as someone who's dealt with SPYGOD's mess for too long, I don't think we're going to be following his lead for too much longer after this. The drunk idiot more or less bungled our planet's security because he decided to attack things we'd had at bay. The President died under his watch. These things invaded. He has a lot of blood on his hands, and a lot of explaining to do.

DOCTOR POWER: Oh, stuff it. Please. I think we know why you're really angry at him, and it has nothing to do with this.

MR CHAOS: Woah! No flame wars, people. We have a world to save, here. 

MRS LIBERTY: Agreed. We can puzzle out who the leader is later. What's important now is what we do once the shooting starts.

LIBERTY BELLE: Fine. But don't complain when you're left holding the bomb, again. And I think we all know that's going to happen. We should be solving mysteries, not serving them. 

RED ALCHEMIST: The mystery is the mystery itself, LB. 

LIBERTY BELLE: Oh !@#$ you.

* * *

"My God," Martha Samuels says, putting her hands to her face as the man in front of her puts his mask and hood back on. They're all alone in the sick bay, but he clearly doesn't want to be uncovered for longer than necessary.

"Well, I wouldn't go that far," the masked leader of the resistance says, adjusting his cape: "But for the next few weeks, I'd appreciate it if you didn't let on that you've seen my face."

"I don't think they'd believe it," she says, sitting down on her hospital bed: "How... how long have you...?"

"Decades, more or less," he says.

"More or less?"

"Well, some of it's been linear, some of it's been jumping back and forth, and some of it's been backwards. I've just gone where I've needed to be."

"And you can... do that? Just like that?"

"Not me, no. Someone else has been helping me."


He holds up a hand: "I can't tell you that, Martha. I'm sorry, but that needs to be a secret, at least for now. But if it helps any-"

"I know him, and I've fought with him, and we answered the same call," she sighs: "Is this secrecy, again?"

"It's prudence," he says: "And actually, I don't think you ever met him. not really. He was on the way out when you were on the way in. But you have heard of him. And I think you heard good things."

"I haven't ever heard too many bad," she says: "I'm sorry. I know this must be difficult for you."

"More than you can imagine," he says, sadly: "I've been a prisoner to history, Martha. I've been working in secret in its corners and grey areas since just after World War II. I've seen friends grow old and die, all over again, and been unable to change much of anything. 

"But I've done this because it needed doing. We're up against something truly terrible, here, Martha. The Imago aren't even the tip of the iceberg of what's coming. They're just a bad wave ahead of it.

"So I've done what I can, when I could. I've protected people from things they had no idea about, and threats no one else could see. I've pulled strings and woven threads, put people together and kept them apart. It's been a heck of a ride, at times, but it's always been done with sadness, because there's some things I could never change. And believe me, I wish I could."

"Like my father," she says, looking up at him.

"Your father. Your brother. Everyone we ever lost before their time. I've had to watch it happen all over again and do nothing. And that's been... terrible. I just wish there was some way I could prove this to you."

"It's okay" she says, taking his hand in hers: "I knew you. And I trusted you. My father looked up to you immensely, and so did I, even if we never worked together all that much. So I still trust you."

"Thank you," he says, extending his other hand to help her up off the bed: "And I think I can trust you with something in return."

"What's that?" she asks, standing up.

"With what's coming, I might not have time to explain everything. If something should happen to me, there's a letter I left in my quarters."


She thinks he's smiling behind the mask: "You'll know where to find it. Wait a month, just to be sure I'm really dead, and then read it."

"Is it the whole story?" Martha asks, a little amused.

"It's enough of it," the man says: "It'll explain everything you'd have a question for, anyway. Will you do that for me?"

"Anytime," she says, hugging him: "My god, you brave man. You brave, brave man."

"More lucky than brave," he says, hugging her back: "And I'd do it all over again, Martha. I hope you know that."

"I do," she says, and they stand there for some time, just holding each other. 

In an hour, once the doctor gives her a clean bill of health, she will leave here. She will then get Kaitlyn, and talk to her about what's happened, and what's to be done. An oath will have to be made, along with a prayer, and then the cycle that has ruled her family for the better part of a century will repeat itself. 

The battle that's coming will need heroes, and the Owl will need her Talon.

* * *

In a train station in Yekaterinburg, not far from what little remains of a train, a young girl hides next to a trash can and tries not to think of what's happened to her.

Her name is Katya,and she has just turned five. She was traveling from Moscow to Omsk on the express, to see her grandparents for her birthday. Her parents were cross with her, because she was so happy to be going to see grandpa and grandma that she was bouncing all over the place, and getting in the way.

When the train stopped in Yekaterinburg, she was told she had to stay in their room. She had been bad and was being punished, which made her cry all the more because it was the day before her birthday. Her father said if she was good and stopped crying he might relent, but she couldn't stop the tears, so in the room she stayed.

Was that what saved her? She doesn't know. All she knows is that as soon as the train stopped, there was a terrible noise, and the entire train went to pieces around her.

Her mother was sitting in front of her when it happened. She didn't have time to scream and then she was in pieces too small to see. Wood and metal and plaster and bone and flesh and blood flew everywhere, and the noise got louder and louder.

The last thing that Katya saw, she was looking at where the noise was coming from, and saw a line of metal men with large guns, firing them at her. Then one of the things they fired went right into her eyes, and everything went black.

When she woke up, it was a day later. She was lying on a pile of bodies, off to the side of what was left of the train. The men in metal suits were walking around, talking with each other, and then to the Imago who watched over Omsk (Orange and Gold). He seemed to be approving of what they'd done, though it was hard to understand exactly what they were talking about.

She thought to tell him that the bad men had destroyed the train, but realized that if she did, they'd shoot at her again. So she crept away from the pile of bodies, and hid until most of them were gone.

It wasn't until a few minutes ago that she realize that she'd been lying on top of her father. Her mother had come apart like a roast, right in front of her, but her father was still recognizable, even with half his head gone. But somehow she didn't realize it until just then.

And somehow she kept herself from weeping too loudly, because she knew they'd hear and come to hurt her.

She does not know how she is still alive. She does not know how she could have made it through what happened to the train and not even have a scratch. Her clothes are ripped and torn and full of holes, but she is just fine. She's not even hungry or thirsty, and hasn't had to pee since what happened.

This is strange, but she cannot bring herself to process it. All she can do is sit by the trash can and wonder what has happened, and hope somehow that her grandfather might come. He would know what to do.

She hears a strange noise, like what you hear when someone opens a door and it's a windy day outside. And then there is a young boy, standing next to her. He's just a little older than she is, and she remembers him from the train. He got on in Moscow, too.

"Are you alright?" he asks, looking around and then crouching behind the trash can, along with her.

"Yes," she says: "My mommy's dead. She fell apart in the train. Daddy, too."

"Mine too," he says. His eyes are still red from crying, but he seems to be moving past that, somehow.

"What's your name?" she asks.

"Petr. What's yours?"


"Katya, we need to get out of here," the boy says: "I... I don't know how I can do this, but if I think about it, I can go somewhere that no one can see me, but I can see them. It's weird, but I can do it. It's how I lived through what happened."

"My grandpa and grandma are in Omsk," she announces: "He'll know what to do. We need to get there."

"I think we can do that," Petr says, holding out his hand: "We might have to walk there, though. You okay?"

"Yes," she says, getting up and taking his hand: "I'll walk with you."

He smiles and closes his eyes. So does she. And when they open them up, again, they're somewhere that none of the men who destroyed the train can find them.

They have entered the shadows, now. And it's a long walk to where they're going, but they're going to get there.

Somehow they just know.

(SPYGOD is listening to Possession (The Cure) and having a Superhero IPA 

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