Crusader stepped into the office in the administration section of the station. The lights were dimmed allowing for a spactacular view of the surrounding space habitats and the stars beyond. Looking out at this view was a tall man. His head was bald and he wore a a suit common for business-types today, but nothing outlandish. A fit man, his slightly leathered skin belied his age. “If you look to the right Sam you can see a pale blue dot, the brightest star in the sky. We started there – our cradle – and it is there where change must begin.” The man turned turned his head to look at Crusader, “Wecome. I am Dietrich Vance and I am in your debt.”
For an instant Sam thought maybe he didn’t have his mask on right. Then he realized that the most powerful business man, ever, knew who he was. This didn’t sit well… Keeping in beat with Mr. Vance, Crusader entered the room and stood arms crossed. “You don’t owe me anything sir. I’m just glad things went as well as they did. It seemed like a situation that could have ended horribly.” Crusader looked out the widow towards the blue dot of light and then back Mr. Vance, “You seem to be a man with a plan… For change? How do you see me in this plan Mr. Vance?”
“You are humble. It’s a good trait; one that many of your contemporaries don’t share – except for the ones in the other room speaking to Marius right now, they are special. Leaders, like you.” Vance replied. “Here me out on this and I’ll get to your question. I have a round about manner sometimes, but it always leads to an answer.”
He continued, “We are both observant men Sam. To be fair to you, I know who you are due to my access to the various manifests of who was where when during this incident. We had to move quickly to protect your identities, at least yours and Proximus. The others were not costumed and were witnessed by many people. Word will get out on them I’m afraid. What all of you did, not only for my granddaughter, but for the station as a whole was exceptional. It’s on all the news and datafeeds from here to Mars.”
He paused and finished his answer, “I do have a plan, an ideal. One that I have been mulling over for some time, myself and some like-minded individuals. There are many of us that are tired of the failure of the security services to deal with meta crime or doing so with a sledgehammer approach, tired of too-much relying on bounty hunters to get the jobs done, tired of so-called heroes causing vast collateral damage all in the name of ‘justice’, tired of humanity being at each other’s throats when we should be expanding to the stars in peace. Embarrised by the complacency of the human condition and the willingness of people to avoid responsibility and the slow stratification of society that caused it. We came up with a solution, at least the beginnings of one; but we just didn’t have the right people to make it work. You see, people need hope. Even if they have food, shelter, distractions, and the like; to be human they need challenges, they need ideals, and they need heroes to be that spark of change. They need a new genesis of the glory days of the heroes of the 21st century and the great ones who followed in their footsteps of your famous ancestor. They need you, Crusader. It is called the Genesis Initiative and I want you to lead it.”
Crusader Looked at Mr. Vance with the most serious of expressions. Turning his gaze back to the stars, Crusader took a few steps closer to the window to see the stars that seemed to welcome his stare.
“I appreciate what you have done for myself and Proximus. anything you can do for the others would be greatly appreciated and I would consider us even on this debt you feel you owe me. I have to admit my surprise. I would not have guessed such needs from one as yourself. I guess if one of your power recognizes a need for change there is hope yet for this world.
“This plan of yours is interesting. I see the merit of such a thing. However, to make such an impact on the world certain ideals must be established. This team of heroes must be defined on these ideals and set an example for those who need to be inspired. Inspired to lift a hand for their neighbor. Inspired to achieve greater things. However, these ideals that need to inspire worlds are must be true and not a product of engineering and manipulation. I will talk with the others involved who have helped in this situation. I will take this one step at a time and see if such a course of action is possible. To have a group of individuals working together for a common goal can be a powerful and inspiring thing. But, we need to make sure there is a common goal to follow. In the mean time I will be in contact with you Mr. Vance. Until then, I wish our relationship be professional and not tied to the possibilities that could come out of such a joining. Please do not take offense. I am honored that you approached me with such a plan. And, you thing such a plan should be lead by me. I feel such a strategy should have an honorable and true beginning. And, such a beginning must show the merits of the common individual. Not individuals hired by a government, or corporate entity. I hope you understand sir.” Crusader turned, moving his hands behind him, to look Mr. Vance eye to eye. His look was not one of intimidation, but one of intellectual acknowledgment.
Vance looked even more impressed. “I understand son, I do. Like you, I don’t believe in engineering goals, but finding the deep ideals of the human condition that inspires and unites us all. When I told you ‘a group of like minded individuals and myself”, I was not speaking of governments or corporations. If you stand true to the ideals of your forefather and those who have held to his legacy, the government – eventually – will come around. Corporations may truly run much of the Human sphere, but they won’t run you. Right now, you and your comrades are famous, or will be soon. It is the perfect time, and I am told the your friends have agreed to the idea of Genesis but want to talk to you. If you agree, and they join you, then let me help. We’ll talk about the details later; however, if you want to know more, we have time. A shuttle is being prepped to take you to Earth. I invite you and the others to talk along the way and stay at my place on Long Island to discuss it further if you wish. Marius will be fully informed and can answer any additional questions you wish on the trip.”
“You guys will call the shots Sam, we just want to give you the support you need to get the job done.” Vance finished and stepped forward offering his hand, “I’m glad to have met you son. I look forward to meeting the others, and don’t worry. They will be taken care of.”
Crusader looked at Mr. Vance with a cautious eye. He was willing to give anyone a chance and he presented himself well. In the back of his mind he knew business men of his stature were good at talking and getting what they wanted. And, they usually had a hidden agenda. For now he would trust him. At least until these details were discussed. Extending his hand and shaking it he looked to Mr. Vance.
“Let’s see what you have to offer us… And the people of Earth.”
Vance looked pleased, “Well son, you make the list – I see what I can do. We want to set up a trust for the Genesis Initiative as well, give you financial independance for the long term. Marius is good. He can vet out trustworthy people to help you, support staff, financial, medical, science, and the like; plus equipment of course. There are more people than you know that have ideals such as yours, they simply don’t have abilities as unique; but nevertheless they would want to help if given an opportunity.”
As they walked toward the door Vance paused, “It won’t be easy, you know. Some will doubt you, some may even hate you. But the majority, the people looking for heroes on Earth and beyond to the Outer Sphere, they will look to you for hope. It’s a tremendous burden, one your ancestor must have struggled with every day. I know for a fact Quantum did. I know you have it in you all to do this. Go ahead and talk to the others, see what they think and come up with that set of guiding principles you spoke of together. You know my mind and what I have set out to do and I think I know yours. Anything on your mind before you rejoin the others?”
“I’ll have to give it some thought and get back with you. Why don’t we head to the shuttle so I can meet the other heroes?”
The door opened and Marius was there waiting across the hall. “Sounds fine, but please let Marius take you and the others to the shuttle. For now, I must fulfill my part and make sure our young heroes remain anonymous for now and everything is ready for your arrival. Perhaps yourself and Proximus could suggest the others take up some form of code name? Leave it to me and my contacts to protect your identities for now.”
Marius added, “I’ll be along for the ride; however, you’ll all have your privacy in the main cabin area. Shall we proceed?”
The Shuttle Ride
Crusader walked to the shuttle with Mr. Vance. Looking to make sure the proper officials had everything under control at the base, he was lead to a private shuttle were he noticed his friends, and a total stranger sitting in wait. “Hello everyone. Do you mind if I join you?”
Lake’s lip twitched slightly. “Have a seat Crusader-man,” she said.
Marius added, “I’ll be in the front cabin taking care of some arrangements. Please board. The rear cabin area is all yours. There are refreshments, iNet service, and should you need me for anything please don’t hesitate to call. Mr. Vance and I assure you, you will have complete privacy during the flight.” He then left them to go to the front of the ship.
Lake figured that Kelsey must have told her father about her shapeshifting power, or perhaps the guildmaster did. She mentally shrugged. Oh well, if things didn’t work out, she could try to blend in somewhere else in the world. That would be a shame though, she kind of liked being Lake Rain. It was a pretty name. But hopefully it wouldn’t come to that. After all, she’d already agreed to Marius’s proposal and he seemed like an upfront kind of guy.
Plus, she suspected that Crusader and Sam might be the same person. Given his disguise, he probably didn’t want to talk about that. However, Oriana and Erebos were another matter.
“Okay, so our secret is out,” she said. “But they want us to keep using our powers to help people and I’m all for that. Are you guys all in, too?”
Crusader stepped over to sit in a position to be visible by everyone in the room. “You can call me Crusader. And I have to say… For never working together, you all did a fantastic job back there. Don’t get me wrong, any lose of life is a tragity and I will never forget the circumstances of their deaths. But that whole event could have been a lot worse. “I guess introductions are in order.”
He turned to look at Proximus.
“You may call me Proximus. I am a Spacer. I was on the ship from Proxima Station, when I found out about a plot and tried to stop it. Marius, I believe that you should know that I believe that Kelsey was not just there, they talked about attacking a girl and I think it was her, they were after. So they knew she would be there with enough advanced notice to have her be a taget for a specific team, to kill or kidnap I don’t know. I have been powers, you noticed the telekenisis I used. I can also grant others life support, up to 8 people including myself. you would be immune to heat,cold,vaccum,high pressure, radiation, and it should help in zero G also. I can also grant Hyperbalistic flight for the same number of people. When you fly really fast you can’t see as fast as you fly at low end its about a kilometer a second. I have other powers a high powered blast, an armor piercing blast and area affect blast. I am working on other things but they take time. As you noticed, I can fly and do this.” With that Proximus uniform melted away into the clothes he had been wearing. Then he started to speak and stopped and turned red and then mubbled something and ran to the bathroom.
Proximus had spilled his guts and then left so fast, nobody had time to really react. Lake said, “Daaaaaang. That guy has some serious powers there. He also has a point. I’m pretty sure he’s right about them going after Kelsey. I’d say the ransom thing is possible since she’s the daughter of a rich man. Also, they have some serious alien tech at their disposal.”
Listening to Lake as Proximus made a beeline to the restroom door, Crusader turned to face his friends. “And here I thought it was strange running into you all… I guess we got hit by the fate club today.” Crusader reached for the back of his mask and pulled it over his face to reveal Sam.
“Just when I thought my life was starting to get interesting. I guess when Proximus gets back we can all discuss the options that have been presented to us today. I must be honest. I was a bit overwhelmed just seeing you all today… The course our actions are taking us… Well, let’s just say there’s a lot on our plates.”
Looking to Rain, he said, “So what did this Marius discuss with you all?” Proximus still wasn’t feeling well something was definitly wrong even though as far as he knew he hadn’t been scratched, so while he waiting for his cramps to go away, he started to listen in hoping to learn more about these strangers that he hoped would become friends.
“He asked us if we’d like to be a part of a sponsored group of people who used our abilities to help others,” Lake replied. “What did Vance talk with you about?”
“Mr. Vance said a lot of the same thing. Also, he wants to help set us up as our own entity, both physically and financially. For a corporate hound he seems on the up and up. I guess time will tell. So did I hear you all correctly? This plan that has been laid out before us… Is this something you all wish to be a part of? A decision does not have to be made now. This is a big life altering decision.” Sam placed his shield behind his back and leaned forward, arms on knees listen very carefully to what was said next.
Lake looked at the twins and then back at Sam. “I’m up for it. But… does that mean you are okay with me? With what I am?”
Sam looked at Lake. “Why wouldn’t I be?” Sam smiled with a confidence that didn’t belittle Lake’s question, but looked to pass it by with little importance to their friendship or future working relationship.
“You are still as hot as ever, and I know that look in Sam’s eyes. While he may be all serious now, the other ninety percent of his brain is having a party in the gutter.” Erebos smiled as he leaned back with his hands clasped behind his head. “Count us in, I can’t wait to hang with you guys again.”
Lake looked at Erebos and Oriana and smiled, though she still worried. She didn’t believe they had any idea that she could literally become anyone — nor did they know she was not really Lake Rain. Still, this didn’t seem like the time or place to get into all that. “If you all really mean that, then you won’t find any more loyal supporter than me,” she promised.
The bathroom opened and the man calling himself Proximus came out still looking a little shaky, but determined. “My real name is David Knight, I am an Auroran. My family has made wine there for a long time. And I have left everything I love and know and am to be here with you,” he said in a low quiet voice, “I would not be accepted there. I came here looking for others like myself, who can do things that others can’t. I have lived in fear that someone would find out about me, afraid to be open with my friends and family, afraid to even give them the chance to accept me for fear that they would turn away. So when I say that as much as I love my old home, I would rather be here in the shuttle with all of you, please believe me. It is my heart felt wish to become friends and allies with all of you. This is a new beggining for me and a new future, now I need to sit down, there was something wrong with the teleportation technology. I feel wrong. I like when it put me back together it didn’t do it quite right. I was running on adrenaline before but I think I am going to need some help when we get to Earth.”
“That doesn’t sound good at all. We need access to medical equipment to do a proper scan,” Lake said. “Can’t be done at a hospital or they will find out about your mutant powers.” Lake moved to David’s side and picked up his arm, working his elbow, asking if it hurt, etc. and pressing here and there on his body to find out if something in particular was hurting or not working right.
As she worked, she glanced at Sam, Erebos, and Oriana. “I know you guys said you are comfortable around me, and thank you for the compliment, Erebos. Lake was a very attractive girl. But she died a long time ago. As long as we are telling the truth here, you might as well know that I can mimic anyone. There is no human body I can’t mimic right down to the cellular level. Down to DNA, even. I can tell you I’m the very same person you met in college, but I should also tell you that you never met the real Lake Rain. She died in a terrible car accident. I just took on her identity because I was declared dead, too, and I needed some place to go. I didn’t think it would hurt anybody to do it. She wasn’t close to her family, and I was able to make them and all her friends believe I was her.
“So there you have it; the reason I am worried you won’t trust me. Changing shape is my power; you all saw the only true form I really have for the first time just today. I’m sorry that I had to lie to you about who I am from the day we met. I didn’t have anywhere to go.”
“I know the feeling”, David said looking into her eyes and not at anyone else. Having focused on what he remembered as her true form, which resembled something like an android to him, he was able to keep his nerves on an even keel. “Here, maybe this will help.” David’s clothes melted away until he only wore a loin cloth. “I can move everything fine and I don’t think I’m bleeding, but I hurt everywhere.”
Oriana stopped her curious looking at something that caught her attention when they got on the shuttle. Though her attention was elsewhere, she was able to listen in when Lake was talking.
When Lake finished speaking, Oriana went over to her friend and hugged her shoulders, saying, “You will always be Lake to me. Besides I can think of a lot of fun we could have with the abilities that you have.” Saying that last with a mischievous grin.
Sam just looked at Lake with a serious look. Then, snapping out of it like he was in too deep a thought, “I guess we’re all blessed that you were there to give Lake a “second chance” as it were. I accept that the real Lake has passed away and I am sad for that. Deeply I am. However, your actions today, and at this moment, give me good reason to look forward to calling you friend and teammate for what ever the future has in store for us. As for you Proximus, lay down here and rest a bit. If you start to feel worse let us know, but I think the teleporter may have an unknown side effect. We just need to monitor your condition until we arrive on Earth. If it gets worse, maybe we can ask Marius for a private doctor.” Sam moved over to help Lake with Proximus.
Proximus gave Sam a shy smile, “Thank you”, he whispered. “No one here ever knew the ummm real Lake, but I look forward to getting to know the real you.”
“Oh and Erebos, just because your mind skims the trenches of the gutter, don’t assume does as well… Oh that reminds me… You still owe me twenty credits from that last poker game we had… ” Sam’s half smile became familiar again to Erebos as he kidded with his old friend.
Pale and white faced Proximus went over to a seat near the bathroom and reclined it. “If its not too presumptuous you all seem to know each other, could I ask all of you how you wish to be called and what name you wish to use in public.”
“My real name is Samuel Sanders. My Hero name is Crusader. It a pleasure.”
“In public? I think Metatide works. Lake Rain is what all my friends know, so let’s continue to use that among ourselves,” Lake replied. “What about you two?” Lake looked from Oriana, who seemed to still be thinking of mischief one could get into with a shape shifter, to Erebos.
Erebos mirrored Same and winked at him. “You sure on that?? I remember spotting you some creds when you went with that stripper.” He laughed. “Good times.”
He looked to Lake.”You are the only Lake I know my friend, and nothing will change how I feel about you, any of you. I am happy to call you friend as well,” he said as he looked to Proximus.
“I suppose I should say a little bit here, let’s see. My name is Erebos, you can call me Erebos. I control the darkness and my favorite toy is shadow. Oriana is my sis, and you can call her squirt. We are twins if you can’t tell and she plays with light. Opposites and equals…..balance you could say. But she knows my kung fu is the best.”
“Who are you calling squirt, there Bobo,” Oriana said a little angrily looking at Erebos. Looking back at the rest of the group, Oriana said, “I only have one name that I go by, and that is Oriana. And like what my brother said, I can control light, in different ways. But unlike what my brother says, I actually ‘know’ kung fu.”
“That’s awesome!!” Lake said enthusiastically. Martial arts was something that seemed to really excite her. “I’ve been taking kung fu classes since I graduated and have found that I really excel in martial arts. I noticed Sam really knows his stuff, too. Maybe we can set up at a dojo somewhere and work on it together? We could spar together and also maybe work on the one weakness of martial arts like kung fu — group tactics.”
Sam stood back and watched his companions talk and begin to get enthusiastic about this idea that had been presented before them. He knew the possibilities were amazing. But, something worried him. They had to move slow and work there way into the fate of a civilization. Bullying their way into the lives of those who, for a long time now, have forgotten to help themselves or others, could lead to the opposite effect of what they wished to achieve.
Sam moved to sit in the chair next to Proximus and Lake. “It sounds like everyone here has agreed that getting together and using our abilities to help others is a good idea. When we get to the location, Mr. Vance is putting us up with, we need to discuss a strategy on how we can best achieve this. At first, I see it as being one large brainstorming session. From that we can all take our ideas and slowly solidify our goals and how to achieve them. We do have some time now but I feel we need to make sure Proximus is one hundred percent so he can be a full part of this process. What does everyone think?”
Lake nodded. “That sounds like a good idea. I just have one more suggestion before we land and move to whatever location this is where we can talk some more.
“This reminds me of group projects back in college. Back then we elected someone in the group to be the organizer or project leader and it helped things go more quickly and smoothly. Sam, you seem to be the one thinking about this opportunity most carefully of all of us. I’d like to suggest that you be the project leader for this NeoGenesis Initiative thing, if you’re willing to take on that role, Sam. You seem to be the one really singled out by Mr. Vance already, anyway. Then when we land in Neo York, we can do our brainstorming together and you can put some kind of direction to it.”
Sam stood up in his chair and looked at Lake curiously. Then looking down in deep thought he regained his composure. “That’s a good idea Lake. Honestly I’m a little taken back by the idea. However, I am honored that you would consider me. I would accept this responsibility but only if everyone agrees.”
“I hate to disappoint you but I don’t know how long I will be able to stay Earth Gov wants to talk to me about the Observatory and I need to check in with my embassy and get Jander back.” I hope this won’t jepardize my place in the group and I think I am going to be sick again.” Proximus said as he rushed the restroom.
Helping Lake make sure Proximus does not hit anything as he bolts for the bathroom door, Sam looks to everyone.
“When we arrive why don’t we all take a day or two to get our affairs in order? We can always meet back at the location set up by Mr. Vance and begin our discussions then. This will be a fairly important meeting and I would wish everyone to be at their best. Are we all in agreement? If s,o we should exchange contact info so we can organize when to meet, after everyone gets things settled.”
Lake paused. “I guess I’m not sure what you mean by getting our affairs in order?”
“I’m sorry. Proximus asked that he needed to do a few things when he arrived on world. I assumed he needed to get that done first, before our meeting. If that’s not the case we can meet and discuss as soon as we arrive. Whatever works best for the group.”
“Oh! Of course,” Lake replied with a smile.
“Proximus, I tell you what,” said Sam. “When we get planet side we will go to the location Mr. Vance has set up for us to meet. From there we can help each other get the things done we need to do… For Proximus that would be checking in with his embassy and the such. Of course we would make sure Proximus gets the medial care he needs. Would that be alright with you Proximus?”
Looking even more wan and drawn, Proximus emerged from the restroom to just catch the last part. “I have a friend at the embassy, I can call I am not really sure what they do there, but I have a contact number. I was hoping Mr. Vance would be able to recommend someone. Since I got onboard the flight fine it might look strange if I were suddenly sick.”
Erebos watched with amused eyes”Hey Sam, can you do me for a favor.” laughing at the look in Sam’s eyes he continued.”A favor, can you do a favor for me? These guys pulled us out so quickly they didn’t give us time to tell them we had our own shuttle at the station. The rents will pop vein if it gets scrapped. Do you think you could ask Vance to get it for us?”
“Sorry your sick man, maybe they have some bizmol on the shuttle.”Erebos looked to Proximus.
Sam moved to the intercom and call for Marius. “Marius, would it be possible for a few things to happen? First, Erebos had a shuttle parked at the station that needs to be taken care of. Also, When we arrive, Proximus will need medical attention, but not public attention. Are these things you can set up for us? If not, We can take care of it when we reach Neo York. We just need to know if these are some of the things Mr. Vance had taken care of for us.”
Turning to Proximus who by now is probably laying down again, “Proximus, if we had a doctor available at the location in Long Island, would that be all right? Or, do you feel strongly about seeking out your friend’s help?”
Proximus was looking really glassy eyed at all the attention. “I am not going to die. I just wish I could right now.” He added softly. “A little delay won’t hurt and I do have medical reasons for not calling as soon as I arrive. ” Proximus sounded like he was trying to convince himself. “It should be fine medical attention as long as it takes and then I will call or contact my embassy.” He said with his shy smile.
“However you’d would like to handle it if fine Proximus is fine. We should be coming up on Earth soon. When we arrive we’ll continue this discussion when everyone is ready.”
Proximus was looking really glassy eyed at all the attention. “I am not going to die. I just wish I could right now.” He added softly. “A little delay won’t hurt and I do have medical reasons for not calling as soon as I arrive.” Proximus sounded like he was trying to convince himself. “It should be fine medical attention as long as it takes and then I will call or contact my embassy.” He said with his shy smile.
“However you’d would like to handle it if fine Proximus is fine. We should be coming up on Earth soon. When we arrive we’ll continue this discussion when everyone is ready.
“Just have a Dr. or a medbot waiting… where ever we are going. I don’t think they are going to be able to tell whats wrong if I just stick out my tounge and they thump my chest. Its going to take tests. On the bright side, because of the accident they brought everyones medical records, including mine. Don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine. I’m just going to try and rest.” From the sweat on his brow and his color everyone could tell that he wasn’t going to be fine any time soon.
to be continued in-game…