RETRIBUTION
PART ONE

It was a cold night, much too cold to be late July. A freak windstorm had come up out of the northeast, bringing with it an unseasonal blast of arctic air. What had been a sweltering heatwave in the nineties had been slashed to barely half that temperature, sending people running for sweaters, jackets, even hot chocolate.

Despite the ferocity of the wind that blew around him, Jon stood still out on the deck of the home he shared with his team. He remembered his grandmother telling him that any winds coming out of the east were ill omens, referring to them as “witches winds.” He smiled slightly; the thought of his grandmother, the woman who raised him, was always a comforting one. She was sour, headstrong and deeply opinionated, but she always let Jon know she adored him.

Of course, he sighed, he could never think about her without thinking about the day that completely changed his life, the day the Hellions came to visit. What had started as a break-in turned into his grandmother’s murder and Jon’s joining the Skulls, which in turn had led to other things.

A chill ran down his spine. He wasn’t superstitious, but there was something unsettling about this storm. He turned back to the house to go inside to ask Kirk. The younger man’s gifts of foresight had gotten stronger over the past six months through their constant use, and he could now see events as far as two weeks out. That knowledge made him smile more; not even Azuria could predict something that far out.

As he came inside, he saw JD, Carlos, Kirk and some new person dressed in a black t-shirt and black jeans. The four were glued to the large tv screen, intently playing a video game.

“Hey, Ferguson. When did you get here?” Jon asked as he casually went to the fridge.

“Just got here. Scarlett was on some sort of crazy redecorating rampage. I had to leave.”

“Welcome to the world of the serious relationship, my friend.” Jon chuckled as he popped open a beer.

“Any idea when Bianca and the girls are coming back?” asked Kirk.

“I think the photo shoot was today, but I hope they don’t try driving home in this mess.” Jon answered, not failing to miss Kirk’s concern for Bianca. The young man had an unrequited crush on the British bombshell. He saw a pile of dollar bills on the table. “You guys order pizza?”

“Yeah. Xandria don’t like me eating unhealthy, so this is the only chance I got to eat it.” JD piped in as he suddenly tapped ferociously on one of his control pad’s buttons. “No! Dang it!” he yelled at the screen.

The girls, Sara, Xandria, Flora and Bianca, had all been invited to do an advertisement for Revlon. They were revamping an old campaign from twenty-years ago, changing the slogan from “The Most Unforgettable Women Wear Revlon” to something involving superheroes. Revlon had asked Sara and Xandria, the only superheroes with a modeling background, to do the shoot, but had included Flora and Bianca as well. Other heroines were also asked to be part of the campaign, since the makeup company liked to have a variety of models wearing their product.

“I can’t imagine what that room must be like. Probably catfight city in there!” commented Ferguson. He chuckled. “Remember the fight that Sara and Scarlett got into after that party we were all at?”

“I remember the fight, but what started it?” asked Kirk.

“Sara called Scarlett ‘dye-job’, like she’s got the market cornered on being a real redhead.” the former cosmic entity rolled his eyes.

“Girls, go figure.” said Carlos.

“You’re still young, kiddo.” said Jon. “When you got a second, Kirk, I need to ask you something.”

“I can only do the lottery thing a few times, Jon. I told you that.”

JD gave their group leader a sharp look. He had been lectured many times by Jon about using Kirk’s talent for personal gain. “Hey, now! If I ain’t allowed to do that, then why should you?”

Kirk gave JD a wink, making the electrically-gifted man realize that he had just been had.

“Seriously, what do you need, Jon?”

“Is there anything you see unusual about this storm?”

“Aside from the fact we’re having a noreaster in July? You’re looking for something else?” Kirk paused the game to the consternation of the others. He closed his eyes and tried to see if the storm was indeed a portent of doom.

Visions swirled around him; as always, brief flashes of future timelines. He never did understand how he had this ability, only that he was able to do so after the Rikti invasion. Kirk saw the team fighting men in red and black, flames, and a woman in a very provocative leather outfit. A few other fractured images came and went, but those were the stand outs. As he pulled his mind back to the present, he blinked his eyes rapidly, as if he needed to refocus his eyes.

“Well?”

“I saw us fighting the Hellions, a lot of fire, and some woman. Whether any of it has to do with this storm, I can’t say.” Kirk shrugged apologetically.

“Well, at least it’s not the Winter King again.” JD quipped.

“Hmm.” was all Jon said, his mind, of course going back into Worry Mode. The doorbell rang, breaking him out of his thoughts.

Gathering the pile of money, he straightened it out and went to the door. It was just a freak storm, he told himself, absolutely nothing to worry about.


The woman lit the candles like she did every night. She had found it odd that for almost a year, the candles never diminished in height. She had tried getting someone from the magic-based superhero division over to look at it, but they never did. She decided to dismiss the carved candlesticks as harmlessly enchanted items.

Ever since her husband had purchased the mirror, she had a bizarre fixation with it, especially when the candles were lit. She swore she heard drumming, but her husband told her that she was imagining it.

Tonight, however, it seemed different. Liz moved closer, peering into the mirror’s image. As she looked, she saw something, barely visible, but still present. It had the vague outline of a man.

Startled, she jumped back from the mirror, letting out a small scream when she saw a man’s face staring back at her. As quickly as it had come, the face vanished, and all she saw was her own reflection again.

She quickly blew the candles out and ran to the phone. Someone from City Hall had to hear about this, she thought. This was something important.

“Hello, City Hall, Department of Heroes. How can I help you?” came the voice.

“Yes, I need to speak to someone in MAGI.” she said, her voice shaking.

“Hold please.”

Liz waited nervously, looking around the apartment. Why, why, why did weird things have to happen when Dwayne was out of town, she thought. She looked back at the mirror, and her skin crawled as she saw that the candles had re-lit themselves.

“MAGI, this is Russ speaking.” came a friendly sounding voice.

“Yes, I’ve called before. I have a mirror and candlesticks that my husband had purchased a year ago from the old church in Perez Park. The candles won’t extinguish and I just saw a man’s face appear in the mirror.”

“Would you like us to send someone out to look at it?” Russ asked.

“Please. I need to know what to do, or if it can be fixed or something!” she said in a panic-stricken tone. She went to the candle and blew harder. The flame lengthened, but did not die. “This is freaking me out!”

“Ok, ma’am. We’ll get someone out there right away. Would you like to stay on the line?”

“Yes, thank you, Russ. I was just thinking that it’s always, hello? Hello? Russ?” she looked at the phone, which had gone dead. She tapped the phone. No dial tone whatsoever.

She grabbed her cell and tried to make a call; again, there was no dial tone.

“Liz….help…me….” came a voice.

She didn’t have to look to see who was speaking. Steeling herself, she went to the mirror to see what it wanted.

“What?”

“Help…me….”

“How do I help you?” she said.

“Free me.” the spectral face requested.

“If I do, will you leave me alone?” she demanded, her fear slowly melting into annoyed curiosity.

He smiled. “Absolutely.”

“What do I do?”

“Write this list down. It is the ingredients for a drink. Make the drink, and bring it here.”

Liz grabbed a pencil and paper, and with an irritated sigh requested for the specter to begin.



“So, why exactly did you give up modeling again?” asked Flora out loud as the masseuse kneaded her back muscles. She let out a deep sigh of contentment. “I could have one of these every day.”

“You were there, darling, you know why.” Sara said from her chair. She too was being attended to by several manicurists, as well as receiving a facial. She had sprung for a full spa treatment for the girls, partly as thanks, partly as a bribe, and mostly because they earned it.

“Miss, what have you been doing with your nails?” chided the woman working on Sara’s fingernails. “They are all sharp and pointy.”

Sara flexed her forearm muscles, allowing the claws to extend themselves fully. The gasp of surprise from Mrs. Khao brought a perverse smile to Sara’s face. She didn’t have to see to know that the Thai woman was exchanging horrified glances with the team working on her.

“Sara, be nice to Mrs. Khao!” yelled Xandria from the next room. She and Bianca had opted for the hot rock massage. “I want to stay in her good graces. Besides, you ruined my last stylist. You owe me.”

“Will you get over that? That was years ago!” yelled Sara.

“What happened?” asked Bianca.

“She insinuated I was seeing another stylist. I went in for my appointment, and he lopped off my hair in revenge. I wanted to kill Sara for that.” She paused. “By the way, what was up with that little exchange between you and Ms. Liberty? The last time I saw cattiness like that was Naomi and Linda in Paris a few years ago.”

Sara came waddling into the room, cottonballs between her toes, hair wrapped in a towel and her face green with the muck they were using on her face. “Gossip! I want to hear this!”

Flora came running in as well, her towel barely covering her. “I was curious about that too.”

Bianca smiled sweetly at the other three. “Let’s just say she and I have dated someone in common, and if given the choice, he’d choose me over her. That knowledge doesn’t sit too well with Miss Goody Two Shoes.”

“So….Who’s the guy?” asked Sara.

Bianca motioned for them to come closer, and when they leaned in, she whispered.

“No!!!” gasped Flora, in imitation of Sara.

“Him?” Xandria processed the information for a moment. “But he’s so old!”

“That Power of Will that he’s always talking about gives him more than super strength, darlings.” She casually spaced her fingers apart and gave them all a knowing look. The other superheroines burst into giggles as they each went back to their rooms to be finished off by the waiting attendants.

“So, how long have you two known each other, Bianca?” asked Xandria.

“Several years now. We met when he tried to rescue me from a couple of Skulls.” she laughed a little. “Not that I needed rescuing. But I decided he needed a proper reward.”

So, is he Delilah’s father? It would certainly explain a lot about her, she added telepathically.

Yes, and no one save Edward knows. Not even Marcus knows he’s the father. He met her once, but never put two and two together. I told him she was someone else’s. Fortunately, he’s never bothered to check on my story.

Why not tell him?

Two reasons: first, if it was known that Delilah was Statesman’s daughter, she would probably be the number one target for every villain in Paragon City. Secondly, as weird as this sounds, it’s to protect him, as a man and as an icon. You can imagine what a public relations nightmare it would be for him if he had to publicly admit he had an illegitimate child. I do not doubt that he would be an excellent father to our daughter, but his love for the people of the city is greater.

I see.


“Hey! What are you two thinking about over there?” shouted Sara.

“Mom-type stuff. You wouldn’t be interested.”

Sara sighed. Xandria was right; she wasn’t interested. She leaned back in her chair and closed her eyes, letting the women finish working on her nails.
CONTINUE >
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