Tuesday, 30 June 2015

1.11 Outsider Part 10

I casually walk into the living room that first gangster had left. Another of his mates is in there, already on his feet. Unlike the first, this one has short black hair and the beginnings of a beard that he is growing.

I catch the punch he swings at me and bring me other fist down on the elbow of his arm.  The man screams, alerting the rest of the gang. I need to finish him off quickly.

Within a split-second I kick him into the knee to put him off balance and grab his shirt. I slam him face first into the wooden table in the middle of the room a few times, stopping when the man is finally out cold.

I don’t even glance back at him. He’ll be fine apart from a nasty headache when he wakes up and a collection of bumps and bruises.

This is going well so far. Two members of the gang are already down and I don’t even have a scratch on me. I exit the living room to go back into the hall. Further down the hall you have only two places to go. The dining room or up the stairs.

Those stairs don’t look particularly safe. This house is one of the worst in the area so I suppose that is to be expected. And those two burly men coming down them don’t help their image of safety.

Two men plus the guy leaving the dining room make up over half of the remaining gangsters.

I step backwards. I can use the hall to funnel the gangsters towards me, one at a time. With only one of them able to reach me, I minimise one of the greatest dangers of this fight. It doesn’t hurt that I’m personally trained by one of the greatest fighters on the planet while these punks use little more than crude brute force.

The closest one rushes me and I easily dodge his clumsy swipes. My counter-attack is brutal. Two swift jabs to the head followed up by a gut punch to daze and winded my opponent respectively.

I kick the man backwards into his comrades. As he staggers backwards, I vault over his tumbling body and kick the next guy’s head into the wall. I only half-hope he isn’t too badly hurt as he slumps down against the wall.

I trip of the last of these guys up before kicking the first in the head. With a couple more kicks to the other downed gangster’s head, both are out of the fight. Five down, two to go.

I hear footsteps coming down the hall and I turn to face my latest foe, only to receive a fist to my face.

Despite being stunned, my training and reflexes take over as I grab the arm of attacker and pull it backwards with me. I hear a grunt of pain as I come to my senses. Seizing the initiative again, I pull the arm into the lock and yank it hard.

I’m rewarded with a scream of pain before letting go. I quick look at my muscular foe and I know I’m fighting the bodybuilder leader of the Marauders. That and his right shoulder is now dislocated.

I follow up with flurry of blows to his face until he drops over backwards. I step over the bodies of my opponents to face the final member of the gang as he backs away from me at the far end of the hall.

“I don’t want no trouble mate,” protests the gangster as he raises his hands in surrender.

I take the sight of him in. He looks like scum with only jeans and white tank top. Tattoos go down both of his arms while his head is clean shaven.

“Neither do I,” I reply calm as I slowly walk towards him.

I can only imagine how terrified the gangster is. After all, some kid just came in, beat up all of his tough guy pals with nothing more than a black eye in return and now he is coming after him.

“But you guys mugged my sister and her friend yesterday,” I continue before I pause about a half metre away from the petrified man, “And I’m sure you understand I can’t just let it go.”

“Totally,” agrees the gangster nervously.

“But it hasn’t gone far enough to involve police just yet and I’m sure you’ll want wrap this up without getting hurt,” I say, “So let’s make a deal. Tell me where the stuff you took is and let me take it and leave and you won’t end up like the rest your friends over there.”

The gangster gulps before answering, “Upstairs, third room down.”

“Thank you,” I say, “Now get out of my way.”

The man is eager to comply and scrambles into the dining room. I walk up the stairs quickly and find the room. It’s a pigsty, but I quick pull how my League communicator and scan the room as I pick up the bags of my sister and her friend.

Using the data from my phone, I spend another minute or two collecting the items from the bags that were lying about before heading back down. A couple of the gangsters are getting to their feet, but I ignore them.

I decide to head out the backdoor. I barely spare a glance to covering gangster I march past him. I use my parkour skills to hop over the fence before heading towards the sewer entrance.

It is useful having a sewer system large enough to fit people in. In the past, the authorities have proposed making it smaller and more efficient, but Sentinel Technologies have always paid the extra maintenance.

It really helps having this secret tunnel system, I think as I hop down, The sheer usefulness easily outweighs the smell of using it.

Friday, 26 June 2015

1.11 Outside Part 9

I march up to my lab and strip myself of my armour, saying hello to a couple of the Rileys as I go past them. I’m actually getting used to them being around the base much to my surprise.

Once I changed back into civilian clothes, I left the base, alone and unarmoured.

It feels strange and tense walking towards a fight. Not that I hadn’t done that a few times before, but this time is different.

I was alone, but that wouldn’t have mattered if I have my armour or if there is only one person to fight. I was unarmoured, but I would have been okay if I had someone else at my back or my opponent didn’t. I had no problem fighting a group if I had either people backing me up or the Sentinel armour.

But no, just Daniel Griffin without his friends against a local gang. No Sentinel with the League of Heroes to back him up.

On the other hand, I was certain I could take them. I am as fit as I can be and I still retain my fighting skills even without the armour. The key is that when you’re beating up one guy, you keep an eye on his friends so they don’t get the drop on you. All the fighting skill in the world won’t help you if that happens.

Plus if I’m lucky, all seven won’t even be there at moment. Perhaps just three, maybe four. Possible just two or even one if I’m extra lucky.

But Granddad said never to rely on luck. He also said not to worry about things you can’t do anything about and this is one of those things. Unless I back out of course.

Why are my thoughts straying? I got three quarters of an hour left to where Janelle said there hideout was. Better check again, I think as I pull out my phone. Janelle downloaded their location to my phone as a custom app that will tell me their locations as Janelle tracks their movements.

You know, I could probably use this app for the others purpose. It would be pretty useful for tracking people, especially I if put it on all the League communicators.

This is not my lucky day, I think as I stare at the location of all the gangsters. Unfortunately for me, they’re all in the same building.

Better think of something else to occupy my thoughts. Like the trying implement magnetic boots and gauntlets into the Sentinel.

The main problem I’m having is not getting the boots and gauntlets to work, but getting them to work in a manner that makes them viable in the field. Or at least to point that the pros of having them outweigh the cons.

I either get them working, but they’re too chucky and thick to fit to be worth having or I get them streamline enough, but they’re too weak to work.

I ponder the problem, but I am unable to do much other than come up with theories without access to the lab to actually test them.

Once I’m nearing the run down house that the so-called Marauders call home, I look up briefly, wondering if I doing the right thing. My granddad, both of my parents and the Bible say not to follow an “eye for eye” and instead “turn the other cheek”, but these people hurt my little sister.

As I look at up, I spot Sam or rather Lantern flying by on one of his patrols. I sigh. That the problem with powers and using violence to solve what’s wrong. Too easy to cross the line, be it quick or slow.

The League are vigilantes, but only because we don’t obey the letter of the law. We uphold justice and spirit of the law unlike some vigilantes who do it out of vengeance or some other reason.

I think about how this is going down. This is partially about vengeance, but it should also be about justice. I will not use excessive force nor will I cripple or maim any of the people I am about to fight.

I’m not walking into this fight completely unprepared. I pull out a pair of seemingly leather gloves to protect my hands when I punch. Scraped and injured knuckles are unpleasant. While they look leather, the gloves are actually much more durable and protective. They even have some power-boosters built in to give my punches, well, more punch.

My trousers and shirt both have cos-mat underneath to soften blows and blunt weaponry and block any sharp or bladed weaponry.

As I finish putting on the gloves, I decide I’m ready to enter the house, mentally and physically.

I open the door using the handle. As Janelle told me on my way via text, the Marauders have left the front door unlocked. I hear some voices and I spot a man get up in the room on the other side of the wall.

I walk down the hallway, reaching the doorway of the room as the man exits. Barely old enough to be considered a man, his hair is shaved way too short and his face has punk look to it. He looks at me in surprise briefly before I take him down.

I knee his crotch at the same time I punch him in the throat. He gags in pain and drops to his knees. Before he can recover, I grab his head and slam it into the radiator next to us. He slums as I let go of him and collapses on the floor.

One down, six to go.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

1.11 Outsider Part 8

“Can we wrap this up?” I ask Fiona, “I got other things to get done today.”

“Sure,” answers Fiona, “I got the hang of my powers now anyway.”

“Then let’s discuss your costume, codename and good superhero behaviour,” I say.

“I’ll be up in just a-,” starts Fiona, before stopping with a grin on her face.

She runs towards the observatory and jumps, flash-stepping in the middle of the air. Fortunately Fiona dulled the light so Alex and I are not blinded and irritated respectively.

“I already know what I’m going to call myself,” says Fiona as she stands up straight.

I look at. Something off, but I can’t quite my finger on it.

No wait; it is just her blue eyes. Which were brown earlier.

I can’t believe I missed that until now.

“Hey Fiona,” I say, “What is the colour of your hair and eyes?”

Fiona gives me an odd look before answering, “Black and brown of course.”

Alex makes a quiet ‘ohh’ noise and Fiona turns to face her.

“What?” demands the Drakesguard.

“That may have been the case,” I say delicately, now sure how strongly Fiona will react on the matter, “If you look at yourself, you’ll see that you’re a blonde with blue eyes now.”

“Serious?” demands Fiona.

“I believe the Awakener must have changed the colours,” I reply, “I hope you don’t mind as I have no control over what happened.”

“It’s fine,” shrugs Fiona, “It’s not like I can’t disguise it or anything. Plus it’ll be useful for keeping my secret identity separate from my superhero identity.”

“Let’s talk about that in a moment,” I say, “But first I want to talk about your codename for your costumed identity.”

“I assume I should go for something related to my powers?” says Fiona.

“Or something heroic sounding or a mixture of both,” I reply.

“What about Flashbang?” suggests Alex.

“Nahh,” says Fiona dismissively, “Wait, I’ll go for Flashblast. You know, because I can flashstep and blast stuff with my hands.”

“Good name,” I reply, “Now let’s talk about your costume. I can get you a cos-mat one for you with spares available, but what colour scheme will you want? I have some recommendations if you want?”

“You’re the expert,” says Fiona, “What are your ideas?”

“I think the best choice for you would be white as the primary colour with gold as a secondary colour,” I tell her, “The white fits in with your flash-stepping and both colours work well with your new hair and eyes. All of those would make for a good iconic image of superhero. Which is what you’ll be if you’re the first superhero in your home universe.”

“That sounds like a good choice,” replies Fiona, “I’ll go with it.”

“Then let’s move on to my next point,” I say, “As I just mentioned, you’ll be an iconic superhero in your home universe due to being the first. That means that whatever you do will set the precedent and expectations of publics. While some might argue what should or is expected of you, the average person will have their expectations shaped by the first superheroes, which would be you. All of your actions as Flashblast, no matter big or small, will shape your world for the better or worse.”

“That sounds like a big responsibility,” replies Fiona.

“It is,” I agree before continuing, “Once the authorities find out what you are, they’ll want you to either work for them or to control you. Most likely they’ll try to do both. If you do decide to give in to them, it’ll become accepted that superheroes should work for the government. If you refuse and continue as a vigilante, it’ll become acceptable for superheroes to be independent. If you choose to work for a corporation, that’ll be seen as acceptable, but I would highly recommend against that. I feel strongly against the idea of people selling out their powers rather than using them out of a sense of duty or morals. While vigilantes and government agents with powers are still prone to corrupt, it is much more likely to happen to mercenaries and corporate employees.”

“I understand,” says Fiona, “I have encountered that sort of people a few times. It...rarely went well. For them at least.”

“Yeah,” I mutter, “Same with my granddad. But as I was staying, there is certain behaviour I expect from a good superhero. It is basically the League of Heroes unofficial rules and regulations that most teams around the world have.”

“Let’s hear them,” says Fiona with a casual demeanour.

I’m about to reply when Narszara and James enter the room and take seats next to Alex. I glance at them before turning my gaze back to Fiona.

“One of them is no swearing as you know,” I tell her, “It sets a bad example to kids and I don’t want young children to swear because they heard a superhero do and think it’s okay because of that. Another is to respect those that put their lives at risk such as the police or military. For example, while the League does help the local police with everyday crime, we still respect the officers and let them make the arrests even if we are the ones to catch the criminals. We also try to keep politics separate from what we do. While it can overlap if we do something with political implications, especially if a politician is trying to keep it done, we simply claim it was coincidence as it would be. If we do get involved with politics, usually endorsing an action or policy, it’s because we feel it’s the right thing to do or it helps people. While only Gateway is the only new member of the League old enough to vote, she and the old Leaguers also do their voting in secret unless we strongly support a candidate. We also expect good behaviour to set good examples to those who take inspiration from us, especially children.”
I quickly look at the time on my HUD. Almost eleven now.

“Now if you don’t mind,” I say, “I have business to take care of in my civilian identity.”

Friday, 19 June 2015

1.11 Outsider Part 7

“Done yet?” I ask Fiona as I keep my eyes away from the training room as she gets changed into the white cos-mat suit Alex brought her.

“Yeah,” answers Fiona and I finally look back at the training room.

Fiona has piled her armour at the side of the room and is looking up at the observatory from the middle of the training room.

I almost don’t recognise Fiona. Fiona in a white closefitting cos-mat suit looks very different to Corporal Morgan in her black concealing armour.

I look at Fiona for a moment, observing this new look to her. Fiona would make a great superhero iconic. Her figure is most definitely there and is both shown up off by her closefitting fabric and concealed by it being a full body suit with thick material. Her body is lean and muscular, making her look strong and powerful. Her hair is cut short just short of the top of her neck and is a startlingly blonde.

Overall, Fiona looks like an amazon without being over the top buff and large. Strong, confident and power projecting. She has the look of a grand superhero and the power and skill to back it up to become the real deal if she so wishes.

Fiona suddenly poses and says, “Looking at me Sentinel?”

I look away and blush slightly.

“Just the contrast behind you in a superhero costume versus your armour,” I reply truthfully, “You have the potential to be a great superhero icon if you do go home.”

“Thank you dear Sentinel,” says Fiona as she adopts another pose.

Rather than reply to Fiona’s playful flirting, I press a bunch and a trio of humanoid combat drones drop from the ceiling. I do have a girlfriend after all.

“Whoa,” mutters Fiona as she rolls away from the drones.

She starts to move to take something off her back, but halts when she realises she doesn’t have her armour and weapons with her.

“Damn,” curses Fiona.

“Good superheroes don’t curse or swear,” I tell Fiona, “It sets a bad role model. I only recently got Storm Knight to come off swearing. Now he only uses words like banana or sugar.”

“So none of the League of Heroes swears?” inquires Fiona as she backs away.

“Only the old Leaguers when it got really bad,” I reply, “Try and use darn instead.”

Fiona smiles and pretends to look for her weapons again before saying, “Darn.”

I let out a little chuckle as Alex re-enters the control room and observatory.

“Can I punch them?” asks Fiona, “No complaining about breaking your property?”

“Sure,” I answer, “We had people a lot stronger than you train down here. I expect the drones to end up broken.”

“Great,” says Fiona as the closest drone takes a swing at her.

Fiona sidesteps and casually grabs the drone’s arm at the elbow whilst readying her other arm for a strike. She punches the drone in its shoulder, her fist slamming into it and denting its armour. Then it explodes.

The drone’s shoulder has blown open internally where Fiona punched it. The arm has gone flying across the room and the head is limply hanging backwards. The drone was blown off its feet, only Fiona’s grip on its other arm keeping it in place.

That was not supposed to happen, I think blandly as I try to figure out what did happen.

“I’m freezing the drones,” I tell Fiona as I deactivate the training drones.

“What was that?” asks Fiona as she drops the drone in her grip, “I saw the explosion, but didn’t feel it at all.”

“I’m just going to check the footage,” I reply, “But on a limp, I say you caused the explosion when you punched it.”

“Another power?” says Fiona excitedly.

“Most likely,” I mutter as I pull up the footage in front of me and review it.

I zoom in where Fiona punched the drone and press play. While it dents under the impact of her strength, it does explode or show any signs of exploding. Then the shoulder joint of the drone suddenly blows up from the inside.

Powers are easier to understand when they obey the laws of physics.

I turn the footage off when I hear a boom in the training room.

“Hey Sentinel,” says Fiona, “I think I can send out explosive blasts.”

She waves her hand at one of the frozen training drone with a boom, shaking it. You can’t see the explosion, but the sensors picked it up.

An invisible explosive wave with no logical source other than Fiona. At least we got a basic idea of what happened now.

“Okay,” I say, “Now we know what your powers seem to be, let’s figure how they work and what their limits are.”

And that’s how we spent the next couple of hours, figuring out the details of Fiona’s powers. By the end, I could say for certain that Fiona had the two powers.

Fiona quickly dubbed her teleporting ‘Flash-Stepping’. It works by moving and then teleporting further while in the same motion. So if she jumps, she could teleport up further. If Fiona rolled, she would teleport further and then come out of the rolling motion. Plus she could do through solid objects. The limits on distance seem to be a maximum of a few metres with no limits on how little she could go, but with her enhanced senses, reflexes and reaction times, Fiona could flash-step several times a second in the same direction.

The blinding flash of light always happens when Fiona flash-steps. She can dim it so it isn’t as blinding, up to the point where it is just a dull flicker of light. Fiona was also able to weaponise the light her flash-step gives out by simply move about by a couple of millimetres, giving off the flash while not really moving.

As for her explosive waves or concessive blasts as Fiona prefers to call them, Fiona can direct them with her hands and scale their power up or down. She can also cause selected parts of whatever she has made contract with to explode. Such as at point in the training, she destroyed all the joints of one drone.

I look at the time. This is taking too long. I still need to deal with those punks who went after my sister before school starts back up tomorrow. 

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

1.11 Outsider Part 6

Fiona yelps as the Awakener pumps her full of the aqua lightning. It finishes after a moment and Fiona glares at me as I move to unplug her.

“That hurt,” complains the young woman.

“I did warn you several times it would,” I point out.

“I know, but I didn’t believe you,” protests Fiona, “My enhancements should have dealt with the pain.”

“At least it’s a good reminder that you can still be hurt even you’re prepared for it,” I say as I finish freeing her from the Awakener.

“How did it zap through my armour,” grumbles Fiona as she gets up.

“Don’t know,” I reply, “My granddad and I didn’t invent it, we just improved it.”

“Can I use my powers?” asks Fiona.

“Let’s try them out in the training room first in case they cause collateral damage,” I tell her, “By the way, your eyes haven’t changed colour as far as I can tell.”

“That’s good,” mutters Fiona absentmindedly, “I don’t feel different.”

“I doubt you do,” I reply, “Through people who went through the Awakener would mention they felt they were at their best afterwards.”

“I was already at my best,” shrugs Fiona

“Maybe,” I mutter too quietly for Fiona to hear even her enhanced hearing.

“So what powers do I have?” asks Fiona.

“That’s what we’re going to find out,” I say.

“Do you two have any powers?” inquires Fiona.

“No,” I answer.

“I have an ability,” says Alex, “All my family does, but it doesn’t count as a power the same way being able to inherently master a skill doesn’t count. I’m considered to be gifted, not powered. ”

“I suppose that makes sense,” replies Fiona, “If that sort of stuff would be considered to be having powers back in my home dimension. Of course what’s normal is relative I guess.”

“That is certainly true,” I agree, “I consider the life of a superhero to be normal because that’s what I grew up with.”

“Just I consider what I am to be normal because I spent the few years living solely with people like me,” says Fiona, “How close are we to your training room?”

“You go in this door here,” I say as I stop, “It leads to the training room floor. Alex and I will go in that door further down the corridor. It’ll take us up to the control room and observatory.”

“Okey dokey,” says Fiona as she marches into the door.
She stumbles backwards, clutching her forehead.

“I expected it to open automatically,” complains the Drakesguard, “Or at least break open.”

“This base is one of the sturdiest and well-built structures on the planet,” I tell her, “It’s also one of the oldest buildings with electronics built into it. A couple years before automatic doors were even invented actually. And none were added in later years as they can be electronically hacked. Also the doors are strong enough to resist anything short of Class 6. Even then they can take a few blows usually.”

Fiona grunts and charges the door. She slams into before I can react and falls over backwards.

“Don’t damage my property!” I yell at Fiona, “Use the darn handle to get it open like a normal person!”

I check the door as Fiona back flips to her feet. No dents other than the ones already there.

“Fine,” grumbles Fiona as she finally uses the handle to open the door.

I watch her enter and wait for her to close the door behind her. I sigh before Alex and I head up to the control room.

Fiona is waiting in the middle of the training room.

“So now what?” asks Fiona out loud.

“Do something,” I reply over the training room speakers, “Try and use your new powers.”

“Okay,” says Fiona and stands there, concentrating.

“Maybe try moving?” I suggest after nothing happens.

Fiona steps forward and there’s a flash of blinding light. Well, not quite blinding for me as my armour filters most of the light away, but there’s still enough light for me to instinctively shield my eyes with my arm and look away. Alex, on the other hand, yelps in surprise.

“Whoo-hoo!” yells Fiona joyfully, “Did you see that?”

“We saw the light,” I answer as I look for Fiona.

I would say yes, but something might have happened that was concealed by the light.

“I teleported,” says Fiona happily, “By the Tragan, I teleported.”

“You did?” I reply as I replay the footage in the corner of my HUD, but the light fills the entire footage.

I flick through the different forms of viewing such as thermal, x-ray and ultraviolet, but all are also blocked.

A flash of light that can block viewing across the entire spectrum. Interesting. Of course it isn’t perfect, after all, my armour was able to filter it and someone who knew what they were dealing with could neutralise the effects.

Also it didn’t seem to work when Fiona wasn’t moving so that might be another limitation.

“What happened?” I ask Fiona, “The flash of light you gave off shielded you from being watched.”

“I step forward and suddenly I was a few meters forward,” explains Fiona, “I didn’t see any light.”

“So you weren’t affected by your own light,” I mutter before speaking up, “That’s useful. You could theoretically use your light to blind enemies or sensors while attacking or escaping. Especially if we figure how far you can move when teleporting.”

“Do you have any training drones I could fight?” asks Fiona, “To test out my new power in combat.”

“Sure,” I say and think for a moment before adding, “Without your armour.”

“Why?” protests Fiona.

“Because if you’re going to go home and be a superhero, you’ll be wearing a costume, not your armour,” I explain, “Therefore you should practice fighting without your armour.”

“So you want me to just take off my only clothing in a middle of a room while you watch me,” asks Fiona.

“I want you to change into a spare cos-mat suit,” I reply, “I’ll send Alex down with one and look away as you change. Any preference on colour?”

“White?” suggests Fiona, “I’ve had enough conflict with darkness and evil to enjoy the colour white and light it symbolises.”

Friday, 12 June 2015

1.11 Outsider Part 5

“I wouldn’t disagree with that idea,” says Janelle after a moment.

“I must deal with the Abby,” says Narszara before hanging up.

I’m silent as I check the stock. I didn’t really need to check the stock. Granddad always kept it ready to fight a prolonged war against a foe with superior numbers and firepower.

“First time we weren’t ready and the second time there wasn’t enough,” I remember him telling me, “The next time, I want to be ready for anything.”

“I’ll make her the offer,” I say to Janelle once I finished glancing over the numbers on the screen.

It is a few minutes before Alex and Fiona return, chatting away with each other.

“Got the measurements?” I ask Alex.

“Yup,” says Alex as she leans against the wall.

“Hey Fiona,” I say slowly, “You know you said you didn’t have any superpowers.”

“I did,” replies Fiona, giving me a strange look.

“Want some?” I continue.

She stares at me for a moment before blinking in surprise. Alex just looks at me intently.

“I got this device called the Awakener, a modified version of a device sharing the same name that the old League captured from a villain in the late seventies,” I tell Fiona, “None outside the League and its trusted and closest allies know about it. It can give someone superpowers, but it’s random. If a family member has powers, yours will probably be the same, but that’s the only way to try and predict what powers someone will get.I can use it on you, but I should warn you it’s painful. It’s also guaranteed not to give you hideous mutations like majority of the other methods.”

“Sure,” replies Fiona, “Especially with no mutations.”

“Well, your eyes could change colour,” I admit, “That’s happened a couple of times.”

“I can deal with eyes changing colour easily,” says Fiona dismissively, “So where is this Awakener?”

“Deeper down in the base,” I answer, “Only a few levels down. Follow me.”

I lead Alex and Fiona further down into the base. The base is really deep. The first level contains the most used areas such as lab, the main room and the kitchen while the next two down are purely residential areas. It is in those couple of levels that the Rileys, Narszara and Alex live. The next three contain more important stuff such as the archive, the Awakeners and the training room. The remaining fifty levels are mixture of storerooms, residential areas and areas need to make the base self-sustaining.

A total of fifty six different levels and the ability to house and internally sustain a population of almost a million.

It wasn’t always so large. Grandpa expanded the base twice, each time after one of the Invasions.

“The first time I we weren’t ready,” I can remember him telling us, “The second time, there wasn’t enough. The next time, I want to be ready and to have enough.”

“So have you used the Awakener before?” inquires Fiona.

“Only four times,” I answer, “Three tests on animals.”

“What happened?” asks Alex.

“At the moment that is a phasing cat, a flying terrier and a bulldog with laser eyebeams all living in Albion Defender’s HQ right now,” I reply, “The bulldog has red eyes by the way.”

“And fourth?” probes Fiona.

“Storm Knight,” I reply, “A member of the League of Heroes.”
“What powers does Storm Knight have?” inquires Fiona.

“He has electro-kinesis, sonic-kinesis and low level gravity manipulation in the form of flight,” I say, “His blue eyes turned grey after he went through the Awakener by the way.”

“Really?” says Alex, “Storm Knight believes he has storm powers.”

“Seriously?” I reply, “He thinks that?”

But that does open up new possibilities. Such as Stefan’s true limitations. His current limitations might not be his actually limits to his powers he hasn’t been attempting to use his powers to their fullest extent.

“That opens up new possibilities,” I mutter before realising where we are, “We’re here. Just through this door.”

The Awakener 3.0 is the middle of the room.

“There is the Awakener,” I tell Fiona, “If you would please sit down in it, I will plug you in.

“Sure,” answers Fiona, “So no mutations?”

“That hasn’t been any known mutations caused by the Awakener other than eyes and hair changing colour,” I reassure her, “But it will be painful.”

“How many people have actually been through an Awakener?” asks Fiona as she sits down.

“About a couple thousand,” I answer before explaining in greater detail, “A Bulgarian arch-supervillain called Black Storm invaded in late sixties. He used the original Awakener to give his soldiers and followers limited superpowers. He and his army were dangerous enough to wage a decade long guerrilla war.”

“That must have been nasty,” says Fiona, “How many supers is that compared to normal?”

“A lot,” I say, “There’s only a few hundred supers in Britain today and less than fifty active heroes. Back then, there were only about a dozen heroes and about three times as many supers.”

I step back as I finish connecting Fiona to the Awakener.

“I’m going to activate it now,” I tell her, “It’ll only take roughly a minute, but will be painful.”

“I can take pain you can dish out,” claims Fiona as I stand behind the control panel.

I shake my head as I activate the Awakener.