Thursday, September 12, 2013

12/22/12 - The Owl - The More I See the More I Fall - pt. 2


"...think he'll be fine," SPYGOD says, waving his hand in the air as he lights a cigar with his brain. One of the workers at the uptown pizzeria is about to say something, but then shuts his mouth as soon as he realizes who it is, and gets back to making more pie.

SPYGOD and The Owl are dressed in their civies, tonight, but it's not like anyone doesn't know who they are. After she got back to Chicago, Martha went on television and went public with her identity, promising the city that they could put a human face to the force that would be acting as emergency marshal. 

(And as for SPYGOD, it's a rare person who doesn't know his face, in or out of black leather.)

"I wish I could be that certain," Martha says, crossing her arms as she looks at the man across the table: "You didn't hear what he said to me. How he said it to me. Something... it's like they took what my son was and made a bad copy of him. No emotions, no kindness, no love."

"It's all there, Martha," the man says, putting a hand on hers: "He's just... how the !@#$ can I put this."


"That's putting it !@#$ing mildly. Kid's been through something that most of us never will. Imagine having your entire consciousness pulled out of your noggin and uploaded into a computer the size of a city. Then imagine that you can remember everything, now, and take every !@#$ing thought and dream that you had, and examine them. Imagine being able to put it all together for the first time, ever.

"That's the sort of state of mind that people out East spend their whole !@#$ lives trying to achieve. And Thomas? He got it done to him. And he's riding the effects, same as anyone else would in that situation."

"And you don't think it's changed him for the worse?"

"Well," SPYGOD says, tapping his eyepatch: "When I put this !@#$er in, my brain melted down. I could see everything, clear as day, including a lot of things we just aren't !@#$ing meant to see. And I know it sure changed me, and it still does, a little every day. But I have my coping mechanisms."

"Yes, I know," she says, watching him chug down the tenth beer he's had in the fifteen minutes they've been here: "But I hope you won't be upset if I say I'd rather my son not go that route."

"Not at all," he replies, wiping the foam from his lips and flagging down the waitress for round 11: "But we talked, and I looked, and I listened. And I think he's going to be okay. He just needs some time to adjust to this."

"And what he said to Mark? About being..." she gulps: "Being a god?"

"'Like unto a god,' I think he said."

"That's still disturbing."

"That's what happens when you get powers, hon. I'd have thought you'd have been around enough supers to know that, by now."

She scowls, sighs, and looks out the window. The streets are bustling with bikers and boarders, all hurtling down the empty streets to their destination.The occasional bus or city truck proves the exception to the new rule of people-powered transportation. 

"I guess change is what we have for stability," she admits, taking a sip of her coke as he gets his 11th beer and puts in an order for another.

"That's the way of our world, yeah," he says, trying to smile: "But... he loves you. And he understands that you're afraid. And he wants you to come back and see him, when you can."

"I don't know if I'm ready to see him, yet," she admits, more than a little ashamed to say it: "What I saw on the news... dozens of him, walking down the streets. It's frightening."

"It's his new reality. He's literally !@#$ing looking in a million directions at once. We had an... interesting conversation about that."

"And it doesn't hurt having a man who can be in a million places at once helping with the crime problem."

"No, it does not," SPYGOD smiles, wiggling his eyebrows: "Crime's down 75%, and at the rate he's going I think he might have it down to 90%, once he realizes what he's really !@#$ing capable of."


"Well, he's still shy about intruding in on people," SPYGOD says, wondering when their !@#$ pie is going to get baked and get to their table: "As well he should be. But when he gets over that, and learns when to be proactive and not just reactive, I think he'll really come into his own."

"It's a fine line."

"It sure is. And I know your father was more cautious about that than I am."

"He was, yes. He felt everyone deserved the right to make the choice. And then, if they chose poorly, we would be there."

She smiles, thinking of her father, and wondering how he would feel about what's happened to his grandson. 

"True. But sometimes you have to be harder than that. You don't want to wait until Chemcrook poisons the water supply to bust him. You have to stop it before it happens."

"Agreed. But what about petty theft? Should he break some kid's wrist before he can slip it into someone's wallet?"

"If he knew it was about to happen with 100% certainty? Absolutely." SPYGOD says, tapping his finger on the table: "Maybe not break it, but a good thwack on the !@#$ing fingers, at least. Worked for me in school."

"If only we could all be so sure."

"Those Nuns were sure."

The Owl shakes her head: "You know, this is going to sound like a terrible thing for a Christian to say, but I never really liked Catholic schools. Everyone I ever knew who went to one either turned out really boring or really broken."

"I think that's the idea," SPYGOD says, smiling as their long-awaited deep-dish comes around the corner, loaded with extra everything: "Ah, here we go. I can't believe you have never eaten here in all the time you've been in this town, hon. This is pie, right here."

"I've had it recommended. I've just never been because, well... training."

"Ah yeah," he says, smiling as he gets ready to cut off a piece: "Couple slices of this will set your exercise regimen back weeks, if you're lucky. But I think it's worth it, once in a while."

"Well, your one-man army does march on its stomach."

"Amongst other things."

She blushes: "Really, (REDACTED)."

"Really, Martha."

"How's he doing?"

"He's great. We got him a new body that's even !@#$ing better than his old one."

"And better at !@#$ing?"

SPYGOD starts. Martha laughs.

"Did you just... you did not," he says.

"I think your bad habits are wearing off on me," she laughs, cutting herself a slice: "Something about the company you keep."

"I'll drink to that," he says, winking as he clinks his beer bottle against her coke glass.

* * *

"So," SPYGOD says, after regarding the empty pie pan for a time: "Team Chicago. How are they doing?"

"Just fine," Martha says, having a sip of her coke: "I was a little worried at first, given how quickly we came together and how much we had to do. But everyone you set me up with has turned out to be pretty good."

"No problems?"

"Eh, no more so than usual. People trying to balance their personal lives with being in costume. Personality conflicts, thankfully nothing major."

"No suspicious activity?" SPYGOD asks, leaning in and looking her in the eyes: "No times when you hear their excuse for being late and know they're !@#$ing you? No apartments full of contraband or money they got for looking the other way?"

"Not at all," the Owl says, leaning in and taking her voice down a notch: "But then, I have to admit I wasn't looking too hard. I figured if you trained them and vouched for them, I didn't have to worry about that?"

"Well, you'd think so," SPYGOD coughs into his fist: "But apparently we have some problems."


"I've been collecting these kids when they popped up, all along," he explains: "I kept them under the radar, made sure they got training, had someone from the COMPANY keep an eye on them, and then had them ready to go in case of an emergency. Come the day, most of them performed just fine, and we lost a lot of them. Lost a !@#$ing lot of them, really."

"I know," she says, taking his hand in hers: "You did the right thing, (REDACTED)."

"Yeah, well, I'm wondering if doing the absentee team leader was such a !@#$ good idea, now," he says, leaning back: "That's one of the things your son's activities have turned up, Martha. He can see everything that goes on. So he could see certain members of Team Neo York City acting like !@#$ing crooks."

Martha gasps: "You're kidding me."

"I wish I was. I had to deal pretty harshly with one of them, yesterday, but he was just in with the mob, getting paid to look the other way. The other two I got on 24/7 surveillance to see if they go to their secessionist friends, and see where that leads us."

She blinks: "What are they doing, exactly?"

"Money and guns, mostly. But they're also giving them places to stay, and information on vulnerable sites and services."

"That's disturbing," she says: "And I bet you're going to tell me this isn't isolated?"

"No. I have reports from a few other cities that some of their new heroes aren't being too !@#$ing heroic."

The Owl nods, leans back, and considers this.

"In light of that, maybe I should be more forthcoming," she admits: "Two of my team members have been a little off, from time to time. I've put it down to stress and the life, but now that you mention this..."

"What do you mean by 'off'?"

"Weird hours. Being late. Things they don't want to talk about."

"Which could be part of the life, admittedly."

"But could also be suspicious, given what you've told me."

"Do you want me to handle it?" he asks, leaning in and giving her that look.

She looks at him, knowing full well what he means, and shakes her head: "My team, my responsibility."

"Your !@#$ if it goes pear-shaped."

"Well, let's just say I have faith I can pull this off," she smiles, gesturing for the check: "And I don't them to think I have to turn to you to deal with my problems."

SPYGOD smiles: "And you were worried you wouldn't be a good leader."

And Martha smiles, hoping he doesn't realize that her real reason is wanting to avoid dead supers -- even if they do deserve it.


"Aunt Martha?" Kaitlyn calls from upstairs in their apartment: "Are you still up?"

"I am, sweetie," she answers, turning down the volume on the large television she's been watching: "Sorry, did I wake you?"

"I couldn't sleep," the girl says, walking downstairs in her Spiderman pajamas, a blanket wrapped around her.

"Me either," Martha asks scooting over on the couch so the girl can sit down and lean against her: "Is it jet lag?"

"No," Kaitlyn says, looking at the television. On the screen, a man with blue hair and a sad face is answering questions at someplace that looks like a temple.

"Oh," Martha replies, turning it off: "I don't know what to say, honey. This has been a really bad couple of days."

"Is it true about what happened at the White House?" the girl asks: "What they said happened?"

"It's true," the Owl says, shuddering at the thought as she puts an arm around the little girl.

"And is it true about what Uncle Chaos says?"

"Yes, I think so. I wasn't there, but he doesn't have any reason to lie."

"I think it was a miracle," Kaitlyn says: "I think God worked through him. I just wish he could have done more, but..."

"I know," Martha says, holding her closer: "I wish God had done more, that day, too. But I guess we'll learn why someday."

They sit a while in silence, just breathing. For a moment, Martha wonders if she's gone to sleep in her arms.

"Are you still mad at them?" Kaitlyn asks.

"At Mr. Chaos? No, I'm not mad at him. Why would I be?"

"I meant uncle SPYGOD and USA."

"Yes, I'm still very mad at them," she replies, wondering why she didn't bring this up before: "Do you understand why?"

"I think so. I think you're angry at them because they couldn't save Grandpa."

"No, honey," she says, trying to explain: "I mean, that's part of it. But I'm really angry because they broke my trust, sweetie. We say that we're all going to be there for one another, thick and thin. And then they lie and don't tell us things, and..."

She pauses for a moment, not sure how much she should actually say. 

"But you said Uncle USA might have been able to stop what happened that night, at the mansion?"

"I don't know," she admits: "He says... well, he says there was a chance he might have destroyed time, or something. I don't know how true that is. I never played around with it, so I don't know. But I just feel like they could have done something."

Kaitlyn is quiet for a while, and then nods: "I understand."

"I don't expect you to be angry at them, too. That's your decision. But I want you to understand why I don't want to talk to them for a while."

"Do you think they did this to be mean?"

"No, honey, no," Martha says, turning to look Kaitlyn in the eyes: "I don't think they were trying to be mean or bad. They didn't think what they were doing was wrong. But sometimes that's the worst kind of wrong, when you think you're doing the right thing and don't tell other people what's going on."

Kaitlyn nods again: "Are you going to forgive them?"

"I have, sweetie," she says, looking at the dead television: "It's just going to take me a while to trust them, again. And if I can't trust them, I can't work with them. And that's really sad, but..."

She falls silent, thinking about how she's not sure she can trust at least two of the heroes she's in charge of, now, either.

And wondering what she should do about that, now that she can't call SPYGOD if it goes really badly.

(SPYGOD is listening to Wish (The Fixx) and having a Castle Rock Screech Owl

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