I was extremely relieved to hear him say he would help me. If he hadn’t been willing, I don’t know what I would’ve been able to achieve. We tried to brainstorm some ideas about what our battle plan should be.
“I need you to find out everything you can possibly uncover about Jacob Everett. Properties, companies, known associates, criminal records, criminal records of known associates, anything at all that you can find.”
“How do you want me to acquire this information?”
“Do what you do best.”
“So you want me to hack in to say, the FBI.”
“If you can do it, then do it. We need everything we can get.”
“You realize this is extremely illegal?”
“I do, but Jacob is so much more dangerous. I’m willing to take the punishment if it means we stopped him.”
“What if we end up in jail before we can stop him.”
“What prison can hold me?”
“That’s fine for you, but what about me?”
“I would come get you. Come on.”
“No. I’m not hacking the FBI. I don’t even think I could.”
“I know. I know. Whatever you can find will be a huge help. I’m gonna spend my time watching him.”
“Cool. I’ll get started first thing in the morning.”
“Thank you Alex. I’m sorry again.”
“Yeah yeah yeah. Just don’t let it happen again.”
I smiled and said I would come by in a couple days and see if he’d found anything yet. I went home right afterwards and went to bed, but I didn’t sleep. I didn’t even feel tired. I just kept thinking about all that had happened in the last few hours. Yet again, my life was being turned upside down. I was lied to. All my new friends were being used. Aria had left me for him. The funny thing was that I was sure that she believed me in the end. Still she left me. What hold did he have on her? I loved her and she loved me, but her allegiance was to him. I was so angry.
I lay in bed until I couldn’t stand it any longer. I wasn’t going to fall asleep and there was a villain to take care of. I slid into the Shadowverse and went immediately to find Jacob. He was asleep. I can’t say that the idea never crossed my mind that I could just end it right then and there. It did and it was immediately dismissed. For many reasons. Namely, it was wrong, Jacob would surely be prepared for a backlash, and it was wrong.
So, I watched. I watched not only him, but also Dark and Pulse. I wasn’t sure if Dark knew anything, but I doubted that he could hold such a close position to Jacob and not know. Either way, if they made any moves, I would know about it. As long as they stayed in close proximity to each other. Otherwise, I would have to move to whatever portal platform covered the area they were in.
I watched all day. I fell asleep for a little bit, but for the most part I stayed vigilant. It was boring. I was hoping that they would run right to the next step in their plan, but Jacob was a patient man and he knew that I could be watching. Well, if he could be patient, I could as well.
It took Alex about a week to get back to me about his research on Jacob. He seemed less than enthusiastic.
“I have some information. It’s not that much, though.”
“What do you got?”
“I couldn’t really find anything on Jacob. I don’t know where he gets his money. Known associates. Nothing.”
“How is that possible?”
“Maybe Jacob is an alias?”
“Of course. I completely forgot. His whole appearance is an illusion. It would make sense that his name would be fake as well.”
“It would help if I knew his true face. Are you the only one?”
“I think so, save for Dark and Pulse.”
“Is there anything else?”
“Yes, I looked into his associates. Christopher Packer and James Grant. Are these the guys?”
He showed me a couple mugshots. I nodded to him that they were indeed Dark and Pulse.
“How did you find their last names?”
“Well, I thought about it. Where did Jacob find these men who are so willing to do anything for him. Including committing crimes, or even killing for him. You don’t necessarily find out you have powers and become a killer.”
“That makes sense. Still don’t see how you found them.”
“Well, I figured they might have a criminal record. That wasn’t enough info to narrow down the search though, so I factored in unexplained circumstances.”
“They have powers. There would have to be some kind of weird occurrence.”
“Of course. Nice job.”
“Just another day in the life of a genius.”
“Just tell me what you found.”
“Heh okay. So, both these guys served time together in Chicago. Mr. Packer was brought in on murder charges and Mr. Grant attempted robbery. It seems Mr. Packer had some kind of directed explosive device on him when the cops came to arrest him. Blew up a couple cops but he remained unharmed. Apparently, his victim looked much the same. He kept claiming it was an accident. They never found any evidence of the device.”
“He probably didn’t have control of his power, yet.”
“On the other side, Mr. Grant robbed a couple banks. He did it in the middle of the night and would’ve gotten away with it except for a security guard that got the drop on him. The funny thing is that the surveillance systems were always recording but at the times when he was in the building they went black with zero evidence of tampering. Also, I found the police report where the guard claimed that whenever he moved his flashlight to shine a light on the suspect, it would stop working.”
“So he can shut off the lights? I wonder if that’s the full extent of his powers.”
“You know what this means, though?”
“It means he could’ve shut off the lights in the base and I could’ve gone with them. They just didn’t know I could watch from the shadows.”
“They know now.”
“Yes. And they aren’t making any moves because of it.”
All this info was good, but it wasn’t enough to make any real progress. I got up and started pacing the room.
“What’s wrong?” Alex asked.
“I’m just wondering how they are free.”
“Good question. The only answer I could find was in a small article in a local newspaper from a town near the prison. Apparently, a source inside the prison could only say that two prisoners disappeared a couple years ago. No clues whatsoever on how it was done, when it was done or where they went.”
“So they meet in prison and they escape without a trace. Then they meet Jacob? Or did they meet Jacob in prison as well.”
“There were only two missing prisoners according to the article and I couldn’t find any other prisoners with unexplained phenomena related to their arrest or their crimes.”
“What if he wasn’t a prisoner? What if he was an employee?”
As I walked down the street in front of the Railyards, I felt numb inside. I didn’t cry or rage or really feel any kind of strong emotion. I just felt empty. She hurt me deep. I couldn’t understand why she didn’t come with me. What was Jacob’s hold on her? How did this all happen? What was in the briefcase? What is the endgame?
I had almost no time to react to what was happening. Pulse lunged at my torso and my body reflexively avoided his attack. As I was falling out of my chair, I felt the shockwave explode out of Pulse’s hand. Had I not dodged, I would have ended up exactly like that soldier. Continue reading
I was horrified. I almost couldn’t believe what I had just seen. I just sat there staring at him through the portal as he brushed himself off, picked up the briefcase, and went to reunite with the team.
I jumped into action and summoned the portal tower. I could hear a couple of gasps coming from the group as the pillar of shadow loomed over them and I couldn’t help but smile. Eventually, the portal into the base presented itself at ground level and I invited everyone to step through.
“The Army?” I blurted out.
“Yes. My resources have informed me of a nearby research facility that is currently running experiments on several of our people. The facility itself is funded by the DoD and staffed almost entirely by Army personnel save for the civilian scientists running the various projects.”
I sat back in my chair and shook my head in disbelief. The government was experimenting on us? This was insane. It’s funny that I wasn’t surprised, but the truth still hit me hard. I couldn’t help but think how much my life was going to change. How much my parent’s lives would most likely be affected. I wondered if I was stepping into a world that I didn’t want to be a part of. Or had I stepped into it the day David Marco threw me into the janitor’s closet.
It all came down to needs. The team needed me to get them inside. The people trapped in that facility needed me to get the team inside. I couldn’t really let them down, could I? I didn’t want to be the person that left my fellow man to rot in misery. Hopefully, if my parents ended up seeing my face on the nightly news, they would come to understand that it had to be done.
Suddenly, I was aware of Jacob’s voice again. He hadn’t stopped talking while I daydreamed. I figured I should probably pay attention. He was talking about the layout of the facility and where the prisoners were being kept. He turned to me to layout exactly where I would need to drop the team off and wait for their return. I was impressed with how many details he had acquired for this mission. When Jacob said he had resources, he meant it.
That thought lead to even more thoughts on where his sources came from. Were they people with powers? Either way, I had stopped paying attention, again. He had been saying something to Summer, but I hadn’t caught it. This meeting was starting to remind me of sitting in class. Important stuff that I needed to know and my mind would wander. Still, I knew where I was going and what I was doing.
Before we finished, Jacob informed us that we would be using our codenames. Summer rolled her eyes. She apparently didn’t care for that kind of thing. I wasn’t sure she cared for any kind of thing. Dark and Pulse preferred their codenames over their original names. Reeve’s codename was Crucible. Summer was known as Serumm. I was later told that it had to be spelled with two m’s cause it was an anagram of her actual name. I’m pretty sure that’s a large part of why she hated it. Never dared to ask though.
Finally, they all turned to me.
“What would you like to be called, Michael?” Jacob asked.
“I don’t know. I’ve thought about it before but I’ve never been able to come up with anything that I liked.”
“If you’re not careful,” Summer interjected. “You’ll end up with something stupid.”
“Are there any suggestions?” I asked.
“I’ve been thinking about this, as well.” Jacob said. “How does ‘Void’ sound to you?”
It had a nice ring to it and it fit with my powerset as well as anything. I wished I’d come up with it.
“I like it.”
“Then it’s settled, your codename will be Void. Alright then, Dark, I will hand the reins over to you. Good luck to you all. See you when you return.”
Dark turned to me and said, “If you would be so kind.”
I walked over to the light switch and turned off all the lights except for Jacob’s desk lamp. Its light was just soft enough to leave plenty of usable shadows on the walls. I moved to the nearest one and set my hand against the wall. I activated my powers and my hand entered the shadow but I didn’t step through.
“After you.” I said as I gestured for the group to enter the portal I had opened. They all hesitated as they first walked up to the shadow. I tried to imagine what it might feel like for them. It was probably pretty strange, if not terrifying. Suddenly, I remembered the Dangers and rushed to get in before anything happened. I stepped into the shadowverse to see Dark, Pulse, and Reeve or Crucible or whatever standing in front of Summer ready for action as Wolf and Gorilla and all the rest towered over them.
“Enough!” I shouted. The Dangers immediately loosened their poses. “These people are my guests, and as such, will have safe travel throughout my realm. Is that understood?” The Dangers bowed in genuflection, some more than others, and blinked away.
“Sorry about that guys. Forgot to warn you about them.”
“Idiot. You could’ve gotten us killed.” Reeve yelled.
“Crucible! He took care of it. Nothing happened. Let’s move on.” said Dark.
“Yes. Let’s move on to whatever the heck those things were and this being your realm?” said Summer.
“Well, it’s kind of a long story. Let’s just say that this place came with my powers and from my mind. And as for the Dangers, Aria and I think that they kind of represent the darkness inside us all.”
“So they bow to you?” Reeve asked.
“Well, not always-“
“This is all very interesting, but we have a mission to complete. Get us inside the facility, if you would.” Dark interrupted tactfully.
We continued to train for several weeks. As I grew in my abilities, I was more and more impressed in her teaching abilities. She exposed my weaknesses and brought out my strengths, all the while encouraging me to continue. Continue reading
She walked several paces across the room and turned to face me.
When he saw who it was, he stepped aside to let us in.
“Ahh, Michael, Aria. Come in. Have a seat.”
“Thanks, Jacob. This won’t take long. I just wanted to tell you that I’m in.” I said.
I was feeling good. I had defeated my inner demons, literally. I told my girlfriend that I loved her and then rejected her offer to stay the night and possibly made her cry… It was a good night. Or at least, I felt good because I had acted honorably. On top of that, the morning would see me joining a super hero team. I would be getting back to the work I had started when I first discovered my powers. It was, indeed, a good night.