or, enter your birth date.*
Chronicles of the Guardians
Tale of a Young Werecat
By Spencer “Stormracer” Chappell
The sun was shining brilliantly as Anthony got started on his day. It was orientation day for Shade, so Anthony figured instead of a boring lecture, he’d start with a tour. As he got the orientation package ready, he looked to the roster. Anthony knew that sooner or later, he would have to find and talk to Stephen. He wasn’t quite sure why his father chose Stephen, but Anthony was confident he’d get his answer soon. After all, Anthony Sr. never did anything without good reason. So, if his dad did deliberately choose a young college boy, it must’ve been for a reason Tony wasn’t aware of yet. Either way, Anthony had to build his roster, and quick. After getting his uniform on, and grabbing some toast with his coffee, Anthony headed to the Guardian police station, still pondering the puzzle of Stephen Thomas.
As he rolled into the parking lot, Shade was there, waiting by the front door. “Well, good morning, Mr. Voleck.” Anthony said, waving, “Did you find the place easily?” “Oh yeah, no problem.” Shade replied, “Just had to look for all the black and white cars.” “Ok, great to hear.” Anthony chuckled, “So, instead of just talking your ear off for an hour or two, I figured it’d be better to just show you around. With that said, let me show you around the cop shop.” Anthony took Shade on a quick tour, showing him the forensics labs, the bullpen, the holding cells and the armory. When they reached the parking garage, Anthony took a look at the schedule to see which bots were on for that day’s shift. “Alright Shade, this is Sig, and Sig, this is the new guy.” Anthony said. “Pleased to meet you.” The Dodge Charger Interceptor stated, “Forgive me for not transforming to bot mode for a proper greeting, but were a little behind schedule on our patrols.” “Right, let’s get rolling!” Anthony stated. After handing Shade his orientation package, Anthony started the cruiser and headed out on patrol, with Shade in the passenger seat.
The first stop on the tour was downtown Bayside, the business center of the city. While Anthony was talking, Shade took notes on the various areas. “Alright, so, Shade, one of your regular assignments will be to patrol Bayside. Nothing overly huge or demanding, petty shit most of the time thankfully.” He said, “You know, small time dealers, convenience store hold-ups, bar fights, and the occasional domestic dispute.” “Why does such a small place have such a high theft rate?” Shade asked, “And shouldn’t you just let the bar fights sort themselves out?” “Well… last time that happened, someone died.” Anthony said, “Anyway, to answer your other question, theft’s been on the rise since some of the hard-core drugs started circulation. You know, meth, cocaine, oxy, other narcotics. Thank god the crime rate’s not higher.” “Right…” Shade replied, jotting down more notes. “Anyway, there’s a color coded map in your welcome package that highlights the high crime areas. Don’t let the map fool or scare you though, even the high crime areas have quiet days. Most of the time, it’ll just be a regular patrol. Once you sign in, you’ll get your assignment, your equipment, and a car.” Shade just nodded and said “Ok, easy enough.” “After that you’ll--- hold on.” Anthony stated, his phone cutting him off mid-sentence.
“Hey honey, it’s Zatara. Listen, one of Stephen’s classmates called.”
“What happened now?”
“From the sound of things, he’s in another fight with that Forester guy and his Anti-Species Patrol.”
“Aww shit… ok, I’m on my way.”
“What’s that about boss?” Sig asked as Anthony hung up. “From the sound of things, my little bro went and stuck his nose in a beehive again.” Anthony replied. “Heh, uh, what?” Shade asked, Sig cutting in with, “Those damn Forester kids again?” “Yep, ok Shade, you might want to hold on.” Anthony said, spinning Sig’s cruiser mode around. They burned rubber for the Slemon Park Heights section, lights blazing and siren wailing. On the way there, Shade went over his notes, realizing Anthony was listed as an only child. “Hey, you got a step parent or something?” He asked. “No, why would you— oh the—oh no, let me explain.” Anthony stated, “See, Stephen isn’t really my little brother. He’s a kid I took under my wing when I first started.” “So, he’s not your little brother.” Shade said. “No, not really. See, after I took over, I was on patrol when I ran into him. He’s a good kid, bit of an outcast, kinda kept to himself.” Anthony said, “So I signed up for the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program and became his mentor.” “So… why not just call it a mentorship?” Shade asked, a little confused. “Well, it’s complicated.” Anthony said, “The short version is, we kind of learned from each other, and he… well, he became part of the family. Which is good for him, given his home life’s been rough.” “Huh, seems helpful I guess.” Shade stated.
The trio pulled up to a baseball field where several young men were fighting a young, black haired boy. Anthony got out of his car and rushed over, hand on his pistol just in case. “HEY, HEY, HEY! BREAK IT UP!!” he ordered, scattering the group. Shade leaned against Sig’s fender, watching the group disperse, taking notes on human culture. One young man turned and said, “Next time you won’t be so lucky, you animal sympathizing freak!” “Yeah you just try something Dale!” Anthony shouted, “Backup’s on the way, and I’ll put your ass in jail so damn quick, your head will spin!” As police cars roared up the road and went into the neighborhood, Anthony tended to Stephen. “Hey, you ok kid?” He asked, helping Stephen to his feet. “Meh, just a few new lumps and bruises.” Stephen replied, “Assholes dragged me out here after morning class, chased me like an animal.” “Don’t’ worry, they’ll get theirs.” Anthony stated, “In the meantime, I’ll give you a lift.” “Thanks, hey who’s the new guy?” Stephen asked. “Afternoon. That’s quite the shiner you have forming there.” Shade said, greeting him with a half sarcastic salute. “That’s Shade, one of my new hires.” “Cool, anyway, you can drop me off at home.” Stephen said. “Nah, nah, nah, no can do, little bro.” Anthony said, “I’m taking you to the hospital, make sure there’s no permanent damage.” Stephen quietly slumped in the back seat, angry that the specists had yet to be caught and punished.
Anthony drove Stephen directly to the hospital, where Stephen met Zatara, and spent the better part of the day being examined and tested. In spite of a minor concussion and a few bruised ribs, Stephen was none the worse for wear. Shade took notes again as Stephen growled and winced while Zatara switched between cleaning and stitching his wounds shut. “Wow, they worked you over good, huh?” she asked, bandaging the last wound. “Nothing as bad as what dad used to do.” Stephen said, “Thank god mom divorced his sorry ass.” “Well, you’re good to go home, but come back right away if your head starts to ache or your vision gets blurry.” Zatara stated. “Come on, I’ll give you a lift home.” Anthony stated. “Actually, if you could just drive me back to my car, I can drive home” Stephen said. “Are you fit to drive though?” Anthony asked, to which Stephen replied with a simple “…yeah, good point, my head’s still kinda ringing.” “I’ll have your car towed home.” Anthony said, Shade chiming in with “Hey I can drive him home, it’s on my way. Besides, it’s easier for me to get home anyway.” With a thanks and a handshake, Shade brought his car around, and once Stephen was in, he headed back into Bayside.
Shade’s car made its way through the crowded streets, following Stephen’s directions. “Ok… this left or the next?” Shade asked, watching the street signs. “This left here.” Stephen replied, “Hey, thanks for the lift.” “Oh, no problem.” Shade said, pulling up to a small bungalow. “Ok, this is my place, just me and mom.” Stephen said, “Not as big as the old house, but still, it’s ok.” “I like it, looks cozy.” Shade commented. Stephen’s mother rushed over, immediately tending to her son’s wounds. “Hey, thanks again man, I really----oh my god!” Stephen went slack jawed mid-sentence. Shade followed Stephen’s gaze and spotted the reason. The flatbed had shown up with his car, which, thanks to the Forester boys and their specist friends, had been trashed. Every light, mirror, and window had been smashed out, all four tires slashed, its radio stolen, vital hoses and lines severed. Even its once beautiful cobalt blue paint job had been marred by scratches and spray paint. “MY CAR!!! MY FUCKING CAR!!!” Stephen yelled, freaking out, “I had to scrape my change together, I had to do odd jobs, pinch every penny, and save up a long time for that car!” Stephen slammed his hand on the steel mailbox, leaving a sizable dent. “Do you want a new one?” Shade asked. Stephen stayed quiet, looking at his car. “It’s fine…I…I have insurance.” Stephen said. As Stephen spoke, Shade caught the briefest flicker as Stephen’s eyes went from brown to golden yellow. “Uhh… you alright there, bud?” Shade asked.
“I SAID I’M FINE!!!”
Shade was taken aback by the sudden, angry response. Even for a tracker, this was weird. There was no way someone as skinny as Stephen could leave a dent that big in anything metal, even sheet metal. Furthermore, Stephen’s eyes briefly changed color, and that last shout had come out almost as a roar. Stephen caught himself and rubbed his eyes. “I’m fine… really, it’s no big deal.” Stephen said. Stephen and his mother put a protective tarp over the car, then went inside to change Stephen’s bandages and arrange for a claims adjuster to come and examine the car in the morning. “Weird.” Shade commented, shaking his head. Convincing himself he was just tired, Shade drove home. However, Stephen slipped out the back door unseen, jumping the fence, heading into the city.
Back at the Edwards home, it was business as usual. Anthony and Zatara had agreed that, in order to help advance Sav’s education, it would be best to get her a computer. So while Stephen was being tested and bandaged, Anthony had gone out, and after shopping around, found a suitable laptop on sale. After setting the parental controls, loading it with security software, the latest office suite, and a few fun games, Anthony brought it home, setting it up on Sav’s newly purchased desk. Sav, intrigued by this development, inspected the new device. “Ok, Sav, this is a laptop computer.” Anthony said, getting a puzzled look, “This connects you to the internet.” Sav looked at it, replying with a simple, “Ooooh.” “See, the internet is… well, it’s a big invisible ocean of information.” Anthony stated, only to be interrupted with an “I know.” Figuring it was easier demonstrated than explained, Anthony helped Sav get set up. “Ok now Sav, don’t stay up too late, and give your eyes a break every now and then, ok?” He asked, getting a nod in return. “Ok then, have fun Sav.” He said, leaving her to explore the internet on her own.
Zatara came up an hour later with dinner, finding Sav still at her desk. Sav had stumbled onto Netflix and found a documentary on African wild dogs. “Find something interesting?” Zatara asked. “Kind of.” Sav said, shrugging. “Oh, wild dogs, they’re cool.” Zatara said, Sav stating, “I like their ears.” “Right, anyway, I brought you dinner, it’s boneless chicken breast with a baked potato.” Zatara said, setting the plate down, “I’ll bring you something to drink, is there anything else you want?” Shaking her head and replying with a “No.”, Sav went back to watching her video. Zatara couldn’t help but smile and shake her head. “Quiet as ever, aren’t you?” She thought to herself. “Ah well, someday you’ll feel more talkative… I just hope that day comes soon.” Zatara brought Sav some water, then went about cleaning up the dishes downstairs.
As bedtime approached, Sav was watching a documentary on YouTube, when something popped up in the sidebar with the title, “CRAZY MUST SEE VIDEO! WERECAT ATTACKS ANTI-SPECIES PATROL!!!” Sav clicked on it, bringing up a shaky minute long video that showed a large black figure attacking one of the Forester boys in his truck. Sav, intrigued by the video, followed the link at the end to a news story. Apparently, a large beast had been on the prowl in Bayside, hunting specists. According to eyewitnesses, it resembled a black panther that walked upright like a man. As she scrolled to the bottom of the page, she found a photo. It was dark, grainy, and very low quality, but it was enough to capture the beasts glowing yellow eyes. Sav let out a hushed “whoa”, now fully interested in the story.
“Hey Sav, what’s up?”
Sav turned and met Anthony’s gaze. “Look.” She said, pointing to her laptop. Anthony went over and looked, surprised by the photo. “Whoa… a were-panther. Not very common around here.” He said, reading the news article. “Really?” She asked, getting a nod, then continuing with, “Very big…” “Yeah, it’s trouble waiting to happen.” Anthony replied. “Why?” Sav asked, confused. “Because Sav, a werecat, or for that matter any were-animal running around, uncontrolled… well, that’s just bad news, especially if it’s a thrall.” Anthony stated, “It’s only a matter of time before someone gets hurt.”
The next night, Anthony went on patrol with Sig, while an emergency forced Zatara to work a little later than usual. Shade was sitting on the rooftops, waiting for his target. Eventually, Stephen ran into view, unknowingly changing into his were-panther form in full view of the Tracker. With the Anti-Species Patrol hot on his tail, Stephen summoned his inner cat, ditching the Forester boys with extreme parkour. He jumped across rooftops, his silhouette arcing across the sky. Shade kept up with the were-panther, keeping his distance, not wanting to risk a confrontation in such a crowded area. Eventually, Stephen landed at the back of a restaurant. Hiding behind a dumpster to catch his breath, Stephen shifted back, waiting as Dale’s truck passed by. “Shit, I’m gonna be in so much trouble!” He thought as he frantically dialed Anthony’s home number.
Zatara was unloading groceries from a rushed shopping trip to the store when the home phone started ringing. She and Sav answered at the same time, Zatara speaking, while Sav listened on a portable handset;
“Hey it’s Stephen, is Tony there?”
“No he’s out on patrol, but I can call him.”
“Actually, could you have him meet me behind the China Star Restaurant?”
“Ok Stephen, I will. Are you in trouble?”
“Gotta go, bye!”
Zatara hung up the phone and turned to her pile of groceries, frowning. She thought for a minute, then turned to Sav and asked “Hey do you want to go out somewhere?” Sav replied with, “I wanna eat Chinese.” “Okay then, let’s go get some Chinese food.” She said, smiling. Zatara grabbed her keys and headed out the door, Sav following close behind. Zatara texted Tony Stephen’s message and location, asking him to pick Stephen up. Anthony headed to the downtown core, wondering what mess his little brother had gotten into this time.
Anthony followed the directions, heading behind the restaurant. “Stephen? Stephen you here?” He called out. Stephen popped up from behind a dumpster. “Thank god, I thought I was stuck here.” Stephen said. “You’re welcome. Let’s get something to eat.” Anthony replied. Sig left with a holo-driver at the wheel while Anthony and Stephen ducked into the restaurant, knowing the Anti-Species Patrol wouldn’t risk a public confrontation with witnesses around. Anthony walked with Stephen over to the table Zatara and Sav were sitting at. “Hey girls, Sav, this is Stephen.” He said, introducing his little brother. “I want to eat.” Sav replied, cold and disconnected. “Riiight… ok then.” Stephen said, taking a seat. They sat down to a meal of chicken fried rice, fried wontons, honey garlic spare ribs, and other dishes. “This was good for a change.” Anthony said, enjoying some Beef Lo Mein. “Yeah, I was busy with emergency cases all day today, and to be honest, I didn’t feel like cooking.” Zatara said. “Don’t worry hon, let’s just go home and rest.” Anthony said.
The group piled into Zatara’s SUV and headed for Stephen’s home. During the ride, Sav kept looking over to Stephen. “You smell like a cat.” She said. “What? Pfft… you’re smelling things.” Stephen said. “I don’t smell things” Sav replied, straight-faced. “Yeah, well this time you are.” Stephen stated, getting defensive. “No I’m not.” Sav said, “Just because you own a cat and don’t wanna share, doesn’t mean you have to get mean.” “But I don’t own a cat, oh and there’s my house, bye!” Stephen said, bolting for the house. “He smells like a cat.” Sav stated. “Which is weird, because he doesn’t own a cat, like he said.” Anthony said, watching as they drove away. “Smells. Like. A. Cat.” Sav said. “So what?” Anthony asked. “So nothing, I am making an observation. Can I not do that?” Sav inquired. “No you’re allowed to make observations…it’s just…look he was probably handling someone else’s cat.” Anthony said, “Don’t worry about it.” Sav thought it over, and gave an “ok”. “Ok, hopefully that keeps everything and everyone calm long enough to recruit him” Anthony thought to himself, “Still, why did dad choose Stephen? And why DOES he smell like a big cat?”
Anthony’s answer was in Stephen’s home. After saying goodnight to his mother, Stephen headed to his room. He removed his grey hoodie, hanging it on a hook. He removed his shirt, checking his still healing bruises and wounds. Stephen looked over in his mirror, transforming into his were-panther form. Stephen inspected his form, worried about his future. After all, Anthony was on the hunt for a were-panther now, specifically the one attacking the Anti-Species Patrol. “Man, what am I going to tell him?” Stephen thought, “More importantly, when am I going to tell him?” Stephen powered up his PS3 and played a few games, staying up until midnight. As he got ready for bed, his course of action became clear. “Tomorrow. Tomorrow, I’m going to tell Tony everything.” He said to himself. He climbed into bed, set his alarm clock and drifted off to sleep.
“Yeah… tomorrow, after my date with Theresa, I’ll tell him everything.”
End of Tale of a Young Werecat.
or, enter your birth date.*
Chronicles of the Guardians
(B-side: Building the Roster)
By Spencer ‘Stormracer’ Chappell
With a new day, came new chances to answer the same old questions. For a week, Anthony struggled to answer one question that repeated in his mind over and over; just what exactly is Sav, and what was she made of? Ever since he and Zatara rescued Sav from her former home, questions were raised that Anthony just couldn’t answer. So far, all they had to go on were the DNA results from Quickfix’s testing, and all that said was that she wasn’t human. That is to say, she wasn’t a natural human, but rather, a lab grown human-esque construct. Anthony just wasn’t satisfied with that answer, so he decided to grant Quickfix and a few other scientists the opportunity to test Sav’s biological body, imposing a strict ‘non-invasive’ policy. He wanted to know more, but not at the expense of her well-being. After all, he made a promise to his father to keep her safe and happy.
After breakfast, Anthony and Zatara left for work. Given Sav’s lack of knowledge regarding her new home, and her lack of social skills, they both felt it would be best if she had a sitter, and nominated Patch for the job. As he transformed and shrank to human size, Patch could already tell this would not be an easy task. He headed inside, using the spare key he got from Anthony to unlock the door. Once inside, he was immediately met with stares from an agitated Sav. “Hey Sav, I’m Patch, remember me?” he asked, getting silence in return. “Soooooo… what’s going on today?” Patch asked, again, getting silent angry stares. Feeling uncomfortable, Patch remembered that Zatara wanted Sav to come to the hospital for some strength and endurance tests. “Want to go and see Zatara?” Patch asked. Sav still said nothing, just nodding in response. “Ok, let’s go see her.” Patch stated. Making sure everything was turned off in the house, and locking the door, Patch returned to his normal height and transformed into his vehicle mode, which consisted of a modified Dodge Magnum outfitted as a paramedic fly car. As Sav got into his car mode, Patch couldn’t help but think “Man… this is going to be a long day.”
Patch arrived at the hospital, thankful the uncomfortable ride was over. Once Sav got out, he transformed and shrank before escorting her to the emergency department, where Zatara had just finished setting the cast on a skateboarder’s broken leg. “Oh hey Sav, what are you doing here?” She asked. Sav just pointed to Patch, who waved. “Oh right… the tests.” Zatara said, “Well, come with me.” Zatara led Sav to the administrative wing of the hospital, where several surgeons and specialists had small offices for patient consultations and follow up exams. Zatara took Sav to her office, offering her a lollipop from a stash she kept for kids. “Hey, you want something to read?” Zatara asked. Sav nodded, and Zatara immediately gathered up the best material she could find. Unfortunately, the best Zatara could do at the time was a stack of old fashion magazines, kids’ books, and old copies of Time magazine. “Sorry Sav, it’s the best I got.” She said, apologizing. Regardless, Sav said, “It’s okay.” as she looked over the magazines, picking one out of the stack to read. While Sav was occupied, Zatara made a few calls, hoping the upcoming tests might finally explain what Sav really was. Once things were finalized, Zatara approached Sav. “So, hey Sav, listen… Tony wanted the doctors to test your abilities.” She started, “Would you be ok with that? Showing up what you can do? In a controlled environment of course.” “Okay, testing.” Sav replied, “Mhm.” “Okay then, let’s go after lunch.” Zatara said.
While Zatara was preparing to test Sav’s abilities, Anthony was researching the Tracker race. At least, he was trying, but he wasn’t making progress. Even with the library of the Primes at his disposal, there was almost nothing on the Trackers, except for what they looked like and some of their capabilities. Almost all relevant information, including where they lived was missing. Giving up on the ancient texts, Anthony sent Shade another formal invitation, and decided to look into recent reports, scanning for any suspicious characters around sixteen years of age. However, all that turned up was a teenage boy breaking into his high school to pull a prank. Finding nothing remarkable, he paired up with Thug Breaker and went out on patrol. Things had been quiet recently, and today, they had drawn the short straw; traffic and parking enforcement.
A few hours into their shift, a young boy approached Anthony while he was writing his 22nd ticket. “Excuse me, sir.” the kid said, tapping Anthony on the arm. “Hmm, what’s up kid?” Anthony asked. “Some guy paid me to give this to you.” The boy said, handing over an envelope. Anthony took the envelope, thanking the kid before opening it. Inside was a handwritten note;
Sorry, kind of busy, but word on the street is you’re kind of obsessed with me, huh? Talk to you later though!
“You know, I hate to say it, but you have been kind of obsessed with that punk and his species lately.” Thug Breaker stated. “What can I say? I’m a curious person, and the Tracker species intrigues me.” Anthony stated. Reading the note again, an idea occurred to him. “Thug Breaker, isn’t there another museum with a lost civilizations exhibit?” He asked. Thug Breaker searched and replied, “Yeah there’s one in Toronto and I already know where this is going.” Anthony smiled and continued his patrol. “Ok, Shade Voleck, game on.” He thought to himself. After finishing their patrol, Thug Breaker and Anthony used the space bridge to travel to the Royal Ontario Museum, which just happened to be hosting an exhibit on lost civilizations. Anthony went through the museum, and found the artifact he was looking for. He wrote a small message with directions to a meeting place in Latin, placed it where only Shade would find it, then left, knowing it was all a waiting game now.
Back at the base, the doctors were finally ready. Zatara took Sav from her office to Quickfix’s lab, where several training targets and various obstacles had been set up. “I’ll be right here, Sav.” Zatara said, “I promise, there’s no needles or biopsies involved. After you finish, we’ll get pizza for dinner.” “You ready Sav?” Quickfix asked, completing the equipment calibration. Sav nodded in silence, looking to the training dummies. They weren’t anything special, just standard foam filled training dummies that were fitted with pressure mats and load cells to test how hard Sav could hit. “Ok Sav, let’s with something simple.” Quickfix stated, “Go ahead and attack the dummies.” “Just hit them?” She asked. Quickfix nodded and Sav did as instructed, walking up to the first target and giving it a little smack. Needless to say, Quickfix was not impressed by the relatively weak attack. “Ok, can you hit it harder?” Quickfix asked, Zatara adding, “Maybe with your claws?” Sav just looked over and said, “You didn’t say that.” “Ok, let’s try again.” Quickfix said, “This time, hit them as hard as you can!” “I do not think you want me to do that.” Sav commented. “No really, it’s ok Sav.” Quickfix stated, “Just… hit them as hard as you can.”
Sav hands transformed into massive claws, and what followed was nothing short of total destruction. Sav rushed the first training dummy, delivering a massive hit. The graphs all flashed red ‘OVERLOAD’ prominently displayed on the screens. The attack was a mix of burning, melting and tearing, reducing the first dummy to nothing but plastic and foam. The next few attacks were no less destructive, the strikes going through the dummy, gouging deep into the steel walls. “WHOA, WHOA, WHOA!!!!” Quickfix shouted, “Ok, that’s enough!” “You said as hard as I can.” Sav coldly replied. A few of the scientist applauded her efforts, while others took notes. “You feeling tired Sav?” Zatara asked. Sav just looked over and said, “No, I still have forty minutes before my energy reserves become low, but I can keep going if that’s required.” “No, that’s good enough for now Sav, you did great!” Zatara said. Acknowledging this, Sav’s claws retracted, her hands returning to normal. “That is still amazing.’ Quickfix commented, “Sav, if it’s ok with you, we’d like to do a full body scan.” Sav looked to Zatara, nervous and unsure of what to do. “It’s ok Sav, they’re just going to scan your body with a machine.” Zatara said, taking Sav’s hand, “Nothing invasive, I promise.” Sav nodded and followed the team to the diagnostic imaging department.
In the MRI lab, Sav was put into the machine and over the next forty minutes, her body was scanned and mapped in the machine’s computer. “So Sav, want to see what your insides look like?” Zatara asked as she helped Sav out of the machine. “No thanks, I’ve already seen my insides.” Sav replied. When the images were finally ready Quickfix opened the file. The medical team was caught off guard by Sav’s unusual composition. “Quickfix…what the hell is going on?” Zatara asked, “Do we need to recalibrate the machine?” Quickfix looked at the scans, surprised and confused. “No, that is her body, the machine’s working as it should.” He said. “So…what are we looking at?” Zatara asked. “Well, that’s her heart…there’s her lungs…I think that’s a liver.” Quickfix said, puzzled by the extra organs, “That’s… I’m not sure… I don’t know what that is… and what the hell’s that thing?” “Maybe Tony would know?” Zatara asked, confused. As the doctors went over the scan results, Zatara texted Anthony, saying that they had to talk about Sav’s results after dinner.
Anthony arrived home to a pizza dinner and an exhausted Sav. After Zatara had texted Anthony, they decided to do more physical testing, which had taken its toll. As they sat down to dinner, Zatara poured Sav a glass of root beer, then handed her a plate with a couple of slices of meat lover’s pizza. As Sav gorged herself on the meal, Zatara handed her a side of garlic fingers, then took Anthony to the side. “Honey, after dinner? We need to talk.” She said. “Wow, something got under your fur.” Anthony said, “What’s wrong?” Zatara just shook her head, saying, “It’s better if you just see for yourself.” After dinner, Sav went into the living room to watch TV, and luckily for everyone, it was Shark Week. While Sav was distracted, Anthony and Zatara loaded the dishwasher, talking about the test results. “Here honey, you better just see for yourself.” Zatara said, handing over pictures of the scans. “Hmm, okay… so far it’s all normal.” Anthony commented, flipping through the pictures, “Oh, ok that’s new…uhh, not quite sure what that thing is… never seen one of those… what the fuck is that thing?” “See what I mean?” Zatara said, “Someone did their homework. This is some high quality next generation work. I’ve never seen anything like it.” Anthony just looked at Sav, who was imitating the sharks by baring her teeth. “Enjoying Shark Week Sav?” he asked. “They don’t eat enough people.” Sav said, “They should eat a few more.” “Oh? Why’s that now Sav?” Anthony asked. “Less people is better, quieter.” Sav said. “Can’t argue with that logic.” Zatara snickered. Shrugging, Anthony set the pictures off to the side and sat down with the girls to watch some TV.
Eventually, bedtime rolled around. Anthony and Zatara took Sav upstairs, where they had a surprise for her. In her room was a new flat screen television, all set up on a small entertainment center. “What’s this?” She asked, confused. “Well, it’s a TV.” Anthony said, “Zatara and I figured you might like to watch some of your favorite shows on your own time.” “Oh…ooooooh!” Sav said, realizing what was happening. “We also got you some more books.” Zatara added. “Books?” Sav asked. “Yeah, some science books, some more story books, and some books on animals.” “So, you like?” Anthony asked. “Yes, thank you!” Sav said, smiling. “You’re welcome Sav.” Anthony said, “Like I said before, we take care of our own here.” Anthony and Zatara gave Sav a hug before letting her get ready for bed. Once Sav was tucked in and asleep, they went to their room, knowing they needed to have a serious talk.
In the master bedroom, the overall tone shifted from relaxed to serious. “Ok, you’ve seen the results.” Zatara said, “What do we do now?” “I… I honestly don’t know yet. I’ve never seen anything like her.” Anthony said. “I’m serious! What do we do if she gets sick?” Zatara asked, “Is she allergic to anything? Will normal medicine even work on her?” “Hey, easy there, my panicking pretty kitty, you’re gonna stress yourself out.” He said. “I’m serious, we don’t know anything about her! If anything, we’re left with more questions now than when we first brought her home!” Zatara stated. Anthony hugged his girlfriend and said, “Look, maybe I can lift some info from the drives the bots recovered. For now though, we’ll just take it one day at a time. If she gets sick? Well, we’ll just cross that bridge when we get there.” “Yeah…ok… ok you’re right.” Zatara said, “I hate not having all the facts… but for now, it’s all we can do.” “Ok, now, let’s get some rest.” Anthony said. With a goodnight kiss and a yawn, Anthony and Zatara curled up for the night, knowing they each had a big task ahead of them.
The next morning started with home brewed coffee and donuts from the local bakery. While Zatara reviewed her cases, Anthony headed to the Colossus with several hard drives the bots had collected from an earlier raid at the hospital. He headed straight to Spinout’s lab, where he had the fortune of running into Boomer. “Yo Boomer! Got a job for ya!” He called out. “And what can your friendly electronics and programming expert do for you?” The bot asked, prepping a terminal. “Got some hard drives for you to crack open.” Anthony said, “Some of our spec-ops boys snagged them on a raid at Lakeview.” “Ok, let’s take a peak.” Boomer said, plugging the first drive into the terminal. The drive whirred to life as several windows opened. “Ok, triple encryption… twelve character code, and a failsafe program. I try the password too many times, and it’s gone.” “So, impossible to open?” Anthony asked. Boomer studied the screen for a minute, then said, “I never said that. Oh sure, it’s gonna be tricky, but it’s doable.” Boomer said, “I’ll get Spinout to help with the decryption when he gets back.” “Ok, sounds good.” Anthony replied, grabbing his police gear, “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a previous engagement. Let me know when you get those files.” With that, Anthony left the lab, met up with Thug Breaker at the police station, and headed into town for a hopefully productive meeting.
“He’s not gonna show.”
“I’m telling you boss, he won’t be here.”
Anthony and Thug Breaker sat in a downtown parking garage, waiting for Shade to show up again. “Have faith, buddy, he’ll be here.” Anthony said, taking a sip of coffee. “What makes you so sure?” Thug Breaker asked. “Because, I left him an irresistible offer to consider.” Anthony said. As if on cue, Shade appeared in the parking garage. “So… you came after all.” Anthony said, climbing out of Thug Breaker’s car mode. “Yeah, I was kinda curious.” Shade responded, “So what’s the job?” “Eager, I like that.” Anthony said, “Ok, here’s the deal; I’m putting a team together, I need all types, I need doctors, soldiers, engineers, forensic investigators, even a few special ops guys in case there’s any… wet-work to be done.” “Sounds like fun.” Shade said, leaning against a wall. “You get full dental and medical, vacation time, and work expenses covered.” Anthony continued, “You’ll still be able to take some of your bounties, but when the time comes, you gotta be ready to answer the call. So, you in?” Shade thought long and hard, weighing the pros and cons of the offer. Naturally, it meant some bounties would have to be considered, or possibly even rejected. But for Shade, it also meant a steady paycheck and a chance to see more of the world.
“Yeah… yeah, I’m in.”
“Awesome, let’s get you signed on” Anthony responded. Anthony gave Shade a lift to his house, where he retrieved the proper papers from his home office and discussed the terms of Shade’s employment contract. As Shade studied the fine print, Zatara walked in. “Hey hon, didn’t realize you were home, who’s your friend?” She asked. “Oh this is Shade, the new guy.” Anthony answered. Zatara looked at Shade, studying him for a while. “Huh, aren’t you an interesting one, Shade.” Zatara said, “Your eyes… you’re not from around here, are you?” “No ma’am, I’m not from these parts.” Shade replied. “Well, it’s always nice to meet an off-worlder.” Zatara said, smiling. “Heh, I could say the same.” Shade responded. “Well, actually I lived in the Amazon for a couple of years.” She said, smiling. “Uh, if I could interrupt?” Anthony said, cutting in, “Ok, so the short version Shade, is that you’ll be a freelance agent. You’ll be able to come and go as you wish, you will have your regular assignments, and full benefits after probation.” “Huh… yeah okay, I just need something to get a better understanding of your currency.” Shade said. “Oh, why’s that?” Anthony asked, to which Shade promptly replied, “My currency doesn’t transfer well.” Shade slid over one of his credits for Anthony to examine. Anthony picked it up, noticing it was composed of rare, precious metals that, quite frankly, didn’t even exist on Earth. “Wow… this is pricey stuff, what the hell?” He asked, impressed and surprised. “Yeah, we have paper like you guys, but that’s even harder to change over.” Shade commented. “Uh yeah, just to correct you, we’re changing over to polymer bills, but I know what you mean.” Anthony said. Shade just nodded and said, “Alright, well, besides that, looks like we have a deal.”
After finalizing the paperwork, it was time for Shade to head home. Anthony offered to take Shade on a tour as part of his orientation, which he agreed to. As they went about their evening ritual, Anthony and Zatara both realized big changes were coming in the near future. But Anthony couldn’t worry about the implications or their magnitude just yet. After all, Shade was just one man, and one man does not an elite team make. If Anthony wanted to fill his roster, he needed to review everything his father had left for him, and pick the best pilots for the team. With a heavy sigh, Anthony went into his home office, plugging names from the list into the computer and conducting criminal background checks. The first name to come up was Stephen Thomas. Anthony knew him well, he was a young man that Anthony had mentored and bonded with through the local ‘Big Brothers, Big Sisters’ program. “Ok dad, I’m not sure why, but I know you chose Stephen for a reason.” He thought, “I guess it couldn’t hurt to talk to Stephen about being a pilot.” Anthony looked to his desk and realized he still had to get some material ready for Shade’s briefing. Anthony brought up all the relevant data on Bayside and began compiling it, still wondering why Stephen was named, not realizing his answer would come soon.
End of Unexpected Results.
or, enter your birth date.*
Chronicles of the Guardians
The New Guy
By Spencer “Stormracer” Chappell
So far, it had been a quiet day on base. Sav was now registered and in his care, Zatara was out getting some clothes for Sav, and he had made some progress in socializing with her. Better still, there were zero emergencies to deal with. No robberies, no murders, no fires, no accidents, no natural disasters, not even so much as a cat stuck in a tree. Anthony took full advantage of this and helped Quickfix with the necessary paperwork regarding Sav’s medical history. “You know, it’s rare I get days to relax like this.” He thought to himself, “Maybe after this is done, I’ll finally get a chance to do some maintenance on Zatara’s ride.” Little did Anthony realize that one text would quickly change everything, including the status of a long thought extinct race.
That text came in the middle of the night. “Hey hon, what’s up?” Zatara asked, rolling over. “I just got an alert from Wall Crusher.” He said, looking to his phone, “Huh, multiple unknown assailants, reports vary between seven and ten suspects.” “Where is it?” She asked. “Bismarck, North Dakota. Ok babe, I better get going.” Anthony said. With a kiss on the cheek and a “See you soon dear.” from Zatara, Anthony headed to the Colossus. As he prepared for his mission, he noticed something. Maybe it was a trick of the light, maybe it was the low resolution of the cameras, but to Anthony’s eyes, two of the suspects looked like men that had been captured in a photograph from World War II. “Nah, that can’t be them.” He thought, “If it were the same guys, then they should look at least seventy years older! It’s strictly coincidence.” Focusing on the task at hand, Anthony headed through the space bridge to the last known sighting; a museum in Bismarck.
Anthony arrived after dark, immediately debriefing with the officers on scene. Someone had tripped the silent alarm, and as a result, the perimeter was locked down. So far, no one had shot at the officers, but that could change if the suspects were provoked. Keeping that in mind, he headed inside, his service pistol ready. He wasn’t sure how many there were, or if they were armed, so Anthony was counting on his stealth suit to keep him hidden. Anthony quietly searched the museum, careful not to alert any remaining intruders to his presence. As he approached the exhibit hall, he spotted one of the men from the photos. The man was quite young, no more than sixteen, possibly seventeen at the most, and from his equipment, it was clear he was there to do more than gawk at some artifacts from lost civilizations. The young man stopped in front of a display containing several items from a long thought dead race. While the young man used what looked like a scanner, Anthony snuck up on him. “Hey you! Hands where I can see ‘em!” Anthony ordered, only to get waved off. Drawing his pistol, Anthony shouted, “I SAID HANDS UP!!” The young man looked at him and said, “Amice, non sum ok?” Anthony shook his head, his built in translator unable to comprehend what was said. “Ok, I don’t know what you said, but you’re going down.” He thought, grabbing a set of handcuffs. “Don’t even try to fight me.” Anthony said, grabbing the man’s wrist, “Put your hands behind your back, you’re under arrest for breaking and entering.”
What happened next was too quick for Anthony to process. The young man, half Anthony’s size, put his heel in the side of Anthony’s head and twisted, lifting Anthony and slamming him on his back. Anthony’s pistol flew out of his hand, landing next to a garbage bin. “Shit, what the hell!?” Anthony sputtered. Giving the young man no time to advance, Anthony drew his stun baton, electricity crackling across its metallic surface. However, as Anthony advanced, the young man’s form because blurry, Anthony’s eyes unable to focus on the target, despite their enhancements. Anthony rubbed his eyes, trying to clear his vision, but the further the man backed away, the harder he was to see. The young man turned and said, “Visam te circum eras.” With a sarcastic salute, the young man backed into a display mirror and simply vanished. Anthony ran over and inspected the mirror for tricks or trap doors, anything that would explain what happened. But nothing showed up, it was just an ordinary mirror. “Man, fuck this shit. I’m going home.” Anthony said. He returned home with a bruised ego, and a new mission; find the young man that put him on his backside, find out what he was doing, and if necessary, lock him up.
Anthony was greeted by Zatara and Sav as he walked in. “Hey, how’d it go?” Zatara asked. “They got away.” Anthony said, “Whoever they were, they were small, quick, strong, spoke a weird language not even registered in my translator, and kicked my ass.” “Wait, really?” she asked, interested. Anthony nodded and showed her the video his body camera had captured. “Huh, he’s speaking Latin.” Zatara stated. “What? How do you know that?” Anthony asked. “Part of being a doctor is knowing the Latin names for diseases, venomous creatures and toxic plants, so I studied Latin.” She said, “See right here, he says, ‘Friend, I’m not done.’ And here, he said ‘I’ll see you around, cousin.’ Whoever he was, he was genuine, I can’t hear a bit of sarcasm in his voice.” “Well, who the hell speaks a dead language?” Anthony asked, “More importantly, who breaks into a museum, and doesn’t take anything?” “Someone looking for something, and not wanting others to enthusiastically pursue them.” Sav said, looking over from her place on the couch. “Oh hey, there you are, how are you?” Anthony asked, walking over, “Doing better?” Sav nodded and replied with a simple “Mhm.” “You like the new clothes I got you?” Zatara asked, getting another nod, “I hope you don’t mind love, but I took Sav clothes shopping, y’know, get her something better than hand-me-downs.” Anthony just waved his hand and said, “It’s fine, love, thanks.” Anthony then turned to Sav and said, “Look, I know… I know I could never replace my father, but… I’d really like to try and help you.” Sav just stayed silent, listening. “You could call me Tony Junior… or Anthony, or… I don’t know.” “What about your Cybertronian name?” Zatara commented, “You know, Stormracer?” “Storm.” Was all Sav said. “Fine, for now, you can call me Storm.” Anthony said. With that settled, and with new pajamas on, Sav went to bed, followed shortly by Anthony and Zatara.
With a new day came new opportunity. Anthony decided to research this stranger, while Sav watched an Animal Planet special on crocodiles. Anthony couldn’t find much on his mystery man, until he hit a secret file. It was a small one, different case from the early eighties, nothing but a few fuzzy pictures, but it was proof; the man Anthony had encountered hadn’t aged in thirty years, which meant he was the same one from the war photo. As he worked, Zatara walked into the living room. “Hey Sav, what’re you watching?” She asked, sitting beside Sav. “Crocodiles.” Sav replied. “Oh yeah?” Zatara said, “We had a few crocodiles in the Amazon when I was living there.” “This can’t be right.” He said, confused, how can someone not age?” Anthony showed the girls the old and new pics side by side, “See, he hasn’t aged at all, he still looks sixteen!” Sav, clearly not entertained, said, “I’m going back to my crocodiles.” Anthony examined the pictures, and noticed one distinctive feature; the young man had intensely yellow eyes, almost golden in color. “Yellow eyes… that should make him easier to pick out.” Anthony said, “I’m going to head out on patrol girls, be good!” Leaving the girls to watch Animal Planet, Anthony grabbed his police gear and headed over to the police station, with a quick stop at Quickfix’s infirmary.
Anthony arrived at the station and took Thug Breaker out on patrol. “Sir, with all due respect, I read the file and this guy’s been spotted all over the world.” Thug Breaker stated, “So, I have to ask, how are we, a bot and a pilot, going to find someone who’s been all over the world, but never successfully identified?” Anthony sighed and said, “I don’t know yet, but at least when we catch up to him, we’ll be able to understand him. I stopped by the infirmary and had Quickfix update my translator to include Latin.” “Well, at least we have that going for us.” Thug Breaker said, rather sarcastically. The pair took off, Thug Breaker’s vehicle mode standing out. After all, it wasn’t every day that you saw a Nissan 350Z used as a patrol car. As they sat at a red light, Anthony just happened to spot the young man’s distinctive black hair at, of all places, a coffee shop. “I don’t friggin believe it.” Anthony said, “That’s him!” “Ok, you are officially the luckiest man alive.” Thug Breaker said, “We should park around back, avoid drawing any undue attention.” “Right, good thinking!” Anthony stated. Thug Breaker pulled into a parking lot behind the coffee shop, and Anthony headed inside on foot, ready for a fight. “Got you now, punk!” Anthony thought, ignoring the barista trying to get his attention. The young man was sitting at a window, reading a book while sipping iced coffee. Once he was close enough, Anthony drew his Taser, activating the laser sight.
The young man looked to Anthony, somewhat unimpressed. “I said stand up!” Anthony ordered. The young man sighed and said “Vestri 'iens commoventes et terrere populum.” Which translated to “You’re going to cause a commotion and scare these people.” “I’m just doing my job, arresting a felon who fled the scene of a break and enter at the museum. Now either you have a damn good reason as to why you were there after hours, or we’re going to lockup!” Anthony threatened, Taser still pointed at his target. The young man cleared his throat, and asked “Why do you care?” “Whoa, whoa, whoa, hold up!” Anthony said, “You speak English?” the young man just replied with a rather snide “Duh.” “Well that makes this easier.” Anthony stated, “Now, let’s try this again, why did you break into the museum after hours?” The young man looked at him and said, “Just wanted to avoid the crowds.” “Yeah, well, it’s still break and enter, which is a criminal offence.” Anthony stated, lowering his Taser a bit. The young man countered with “You can’t charge someone who has no record of existence here, aside from a few pictures.” Anthony growled, knowing the little smart-ass had a point; without any paperwork, he couldn’t charge him with anything. “Fair enough.” Anthony said, “However, you do exist somewhere. So what brought you to Earth?” “Curiosity. Why don’t you sit and stay a while? People are staring.” Shade said. Anthony reluctantly took a seat and ordered a coffee, deciding to extract as much information as he could.
Anthony: “So, what’s your name?”
Anthony: “So, Shade…what’s your story?”
Shade: “Ain’t got a story.”
Anthony: “Where are you from?”
Shade: “Farther than your strain of humans has been.”
Anthony: “You got a home?”
Shade: “In a sense.”
Anthony: “Got any family?”
Anthony: “What are you exactly?”
Shade: “Not you.”
That last response confirmed Anthony’s suspicions; this kid was an off-worlder. Anthony decided to play that angle and try to make friends. “Well, obviously, there aren’t many half-Cybertronians on Earth. “He said, quickly transforming his right arm into a plasma cannon and back. Any doubts Shade had as to the existence of Cybertronians quickly faded. “Damn, you grew up, didn’t ya?” Shade commented. “Wait, what do you mean, grew up?” Anthony asked, “You’ve seen me before?” Shade mulled it over, saying, “No, no… well, maybe…no, your tech.” “Really, you’ve seen my tech before? Where?” Anthony asked. Shade took a sip of his coffee and said, “Older versions, in what you humans call ‘pawn shops’, but not here.” “And what about me?” Anthony asked, “You said ‘I grew up’?” Shade responded with, “I meant your tech advanced.” “So what are you, a spy?” Anthony asked. “Sometimes.” Shade answered, “Depends on who’s paying.” “So you’re a gun for hire.” Anthony stated, “Interesting.” Anthony knew that if he was going to build a team, he’d need someone who wasn’t afraid of ‘wet work’, and although he’d probably regret it later, Shade was the perfect guy for the job. “Come on, let’s settle up and go for a ride.” Anthony stated. Paying for both his coffee and Shade’s, Anthony starting plotting out his next course of action; recruitment.
Anthony brought Shade to the base, despite the numerous vocal protests from Thug Breaker. “Your bot friend doesn’t like my much.” Shade stated. “Well, with all due respect, you are kinda shifty, you know, breaking into a museum and all” Thug Breaker retorted. “All the more reason not to trust you.” “Hey being shifty doesn’t mean I can’t be honest.” Shade said, a sly grin on his face. “Ehh, not from my experience.” Thug Breaker stated, clearly irked. “Then clearly, your experience is limited to this galaxy.” Shade said. This exchanged continued until Anthony interrupted, asking, “So, what were you doing at the museum?” Shade looked over and said, “Oh, research.” “For what?” Anthony asked, only to get “It’s private.” in response. “So, you got a place to stay here?” Anthony asked. “I’m not staying the night.” Shade replied, “At least, not planning on it.” “Heading out huh?” Anthony asked, to which Shade simply said, “Eventually.” “Say, what’s your last name?” Anthony asked. Shade, not seeing the harm, replied, “Last name’s Voleck.” “So, you’re a Tracker.” Anthony said. Shade looked on, surprised, wondering how this human would know. “Hey, you got your secrets, I got mine.” Anthony said, “I read about your species in some ancient texts. Faster, stronger, and more powerful than any human. Seems you Volecks are the most prominent in the Tracker community.” “We try.” Shade said. “Isn’t your old man a general?” Anthony asked.
“Heh… sorry, I doubt that. Never really knew my father.”
“Oh… sorry kid, I didn’t know.” Anthony apologized, knowing he offended his guest. Shade looked at him, mildly offended, and said, “I can assure you, I’m much older than you in human years.” “Oh yeah?” Anthony asked, intrigued, “How old are you by human years?” Shade thought about it, saying, “Hmm…about two hundred and thirty.” Anthony went wide eyed, not sure if Shade serious or playing games with him. “Ok then… can you prove it?” Anthony asked. “The planet I’m from has a much larger star and moves much slower.” Shade stated, “My bones will show the growth rings differ from those of a human. How would you prove, for example, an elf’s true age?” Anthony, unsure, just said, “I don’t know, I never met any elves.” “I age far slower than you.” He said, shrugging, “Or, you humans just die quicker.” “So, you want to head to my place for dinner?” Anthony asked, trying to be neighborly, “My girlfriend’s cooking pork chops.” “Nah, I have to head back and file a report.” Shade replied, “Maybe another time.” “Fair enough, where can I drop you off?” Anthony asked. “This is good here, I’ll get a ride.” Shade replied. Anthony pulled over and let Shade out. “Remember, we’re watching, so no funny business!” Thug Breaker stated. With a grin and a sarcastic salute, Shade fell back into a mirrored window and vanished. “Well, that’s certainly one was to get around.” Thug Breaker stated.
Once Thug Breaker was back at the station, Anthony headed home, greeted by the smell of pork chops frying in a pan. Sav was in front of the television, still watching her shows. “Hey girls, I’m home.” He announced, entering the living room. “Just in time, dinner’s ready.” Zatara said, “Come and eat you two!” Anthony and Sav went into the kitchen, where Zatara had pork chops and whipped potatoes served up. Zatara handed Sav a plate, saying, “Eat up Sav, enjoy.” Sav quietly ate while Zatara and Anthony discussed the news, eventually emptying her plate. Still hungry, Sav asked for seconds, and for her, a miracle happened; she got seconds. Anthony looked over and noticed Sav, who looked overjoyed, to the point of being in tears. “You never had it so good before now huh?” He asked. Sav just looked, sniffling and shaking her head. Anthony, feeling comfortable, did something Sav never expected; he got close and gave her a hug. “Hey, around here? We look after our own, Sav.” Anthony said, “You’re one of us now, so we’ll look after you.” Sav just smiled, nodded, and sat back down to eat, clearly overwhelmed by these new, positive feelings she was experiencing.
After dinner, the trio watched a little TV, with Sav as quiet as ever. After watching the nightly news, they headed for bed. As he was tucking her in, Anthony asked “Do you like your new bed?” Sav nodded, answering with just “Yes.” “Want me to get you anything?” Anthony asked. Sav thought about it, only to be interrupted mid-thought. “Oh hey, that reminds me. Be right back!” Zatara said, heading downstairs. She returned minutes later, carrying an armful of books. “Here, I bought these for you.” Zatara said. It wasn’t much, some fairy tales and some childrens’ science books for her to read in her downtime. Sav looked on, studying each cover. “Want me to read one to you?” Anthony asked. “Yeah!” Sav replied, elated. “Ok then, you pick one and I’ll read to you.” He said. Sav went through the books one by one, eventually picking one that piqued her interest. Anthony sat at the side of her bed, reading to Sav until she fell asleep. Anthony smiled at Sav, curled up in her bed, clutching the teddy bear his father had given her. He whispered, “Sweet dreams Sav.” and quietly exited the room, careful not to slam the door.
It had been a strange week to say the least. Mutants, bio-engineered weapons, guys popping in and out of mirrors. Anthony was just happy to be able to relax and finally get a good night’s sleep. As he got ready for bed, Anthony talked with Zatara about recent events. “It’s been a crazy week, eh love?” Zatara asked. Anthony just nodded and replied. “Yeah, tell me about it.” He said, “Lab grown weapons, rabid mutants, men that teleport with mirrors and speak Latin… you know, even with all the different bots, it’s too much for one pilot. Unfortunately, the soldiers just don’t have the right stuff.” Zatara sat on the bed, her ears twitching as she thought. “Then… maybe it’s time to considering your dad’s backup plan.” She said, “You know, team assembly plan one?” Shrugging, Anthony asked for the plan. Zatara reached under the bed, retrieved a locked black attaché case, and opened it, removing the large manila envelope that was inside. Anthony looked at the label which read ‘For Cmdr. Edwards only.’ and broke the seal.
Nothing could’ve prepared Anthony for what the envelope contained. Inside it were several lists; one containing over five hundred names, one containing locations, and one containing events that hadn’t happened yet. What really struck Anthony were the names. Some were high profile celebrities, some were average Joes, and some were people Anthony knew and hand a personal connection to. “Hey, isn’t that that kid from the big brothers, big sisters program?” Zatara asked. Anthony looked and nodded, surprised. “Yeah… yeah it is.” He said, taking note of yet another small data disc that had appeared from the envelope. Anthony took the disc and popped it into the old rugged laptop. After verifying the disc, he played another video message from his father;
“Hello son. I knew you’d be at this point sooner or later. You’ve found the Colossus, you’ve beaten Stone, and you’ve retrieved project Savage Born. I wish I could say things got easier from here, but they don’t. In fact, it undoubtedly is starting to overwhelm you by now, otherwise you wouldn’t be watching this. The lists will tell you who your pilots are, where and when you’ll find your pilots, and the events that have to happen for them to be triggered. If you’re wondering how I know all this… well, you can thank my power of future sight for that. However, I cannot provide you with accurate descriptions. I can only give names. It’ll be up to you to find your pilots. Thankfully, you’ll have your Hero’s Heart ability. It seems to be one of the few powers that didn’t go dormant after the accident. If anything, it seems your cybernetic implants enhanced it.”
“Hero’s Heart?” Anthony wondered, “What the hell is that about?”
“You’re no doubt wondering about the Hero’s Heart.” The video continued, “You see son, ever since you were little, you’ve been able to see into the hearts and minds of people and see their true colors. It’s no wonder you never liked Stone, sensing what you did. Anyway, your power has two phases; detect and activate. The ‘detect’ phase makes you a sort of spiritual divining rod, able to detect the true heroes. Once you find them, you can switch to your second phase, the ‘activation’ phase. The activation phase allows you to unlock their full potential, sort of like a master key unlocks all locks. I have only three requests son; that you keep the lists private, that you trust yourself, and that you let the events unfold as described. If they unfold as planned, they will trigger each hero, and trust me son, you’ll need every hero you can find for what you’re going up against.”
“Gee, thanks pops, as helpful as ever.” Anthony said sarcastically, powering the laptop down. “What do you think the last part meant?” Zatara asked, worried. “It’s probably going to be something big, bad and emotionally scarring. Something on the apocalyptic scale no doubt.” Anthony replied, “I know his name isn’t on here, but I really think that Mr.Voleck would be beneficial to the team.” “If you think so, babe.” Zatara said, “I’m behind you, all the way.” “Yeah, we’ll be ready for whatever the dark forces throw at us.” Anthony stated. “Right, but we should get some sleep.” She said, “We both have a long day tomorrow.” Anthony nodded, laying down by his sweetheart. As he reached over to shut off the lamp, Zatara went under his arm, cuddling her man. The two lovers kissed and cuddled as they fell asleep, listening to the hypnotizing sound of a summer shower.
End of The New Guy.
or, enter your birth date.*
Chronicles of the Guardians
Rescuing Savage Born Part Two:
By Spencer “Stormracer” Chappell
There was an air of mystery when the scout team got back to base with their cargo. Only a few soldiers either smart, quick, or lucky enough, caught a glimpse of the girl in the stasis pod. Rumors spread through the base like wildfire, declaring the girl a monster, a demon, anything they could come up with. Unsurprisingly, Anthony and the team immediately moved her to a quarantine area within the Colossus’ infirmary, as it was protocol. At his request, Quickfix and a few of his assistants took blood, hair and saliva samples, in the hopes that they could learn her true identity. It was only after Quickfix had conducted a full medical examination that he reversed the effects of the sedative gas and tranquilizers. He quickly left the room, not wishing to be torn apart by the undoubtly crabby little monster currently sleeping in a hospital bed. Quickfix told Anthony he would have the tests expedited and the results to him within a few hours. Anthony nodded, and went home to sleep, having been up since yesterday morning.
Those few hours seemed like an eternity, but Quickfix finally called, to tell Anthony he had the results of the genetic testing. Anthony rushed to the infirmary with Zatara, hoping they could undo the doctor’s mutations and reunite the girl with her family. However, upon reaching the quarantine area, the look on Quickfix’s face turns his feeling of hope into one of concern. “Quickfix, what’s up, my main med-bot?” Anthony asked, worried. “Well…I have the results.” Quickfix started, clearing his throat, “But… I’m not entirely sure how to say this.” “Don’t tell me she’s an orphan.” Anthony groaned. “It’s not that.” Quickfix said. “Well then, what is it?” Anthony asked.
“Well… simply put sir, the girl… err… she doesn’t exist.”
Anthony looked at Quickfix, visibly shaken by this revelation. “Doesn’t exist?” He asked. “Wait, what? How can that be?” Zatara asked, “Surely she must have some form of ID. Maybe you missed something?” “We double and triple checked everything, you two. We even went through the extranet in the off chance she’s an off-worlder.” Quickfix stated, “There’s no missing persons that match her description, no social security number, no permits or licenses, no birth certificate, nothing. Simply put, she does not exist in any database or on paper.” “That’s just not possible.” Anthony stated, rubbing his eyes, “Keep working on it.” Quickfix nodded, taking note of the quarantine room. The girl was finally awake, groggy and confused. “While you work on finding out who or what she is, I’m going to go say hi.” Anthony said, carefully opening the door. He hoped the forced nap had calmed her down to a degree.
The girl awoke from her sedative induced slumber, disoriented, unsteady, and groggy. As the fog from her mind lifted, she took stock of her surroundings, realizing she wasn’t in her containment cell, but in a white, sterile, quiet room. Unfamiliar with her new surroundings, it was no surprise she became defensive as Anthony opened the door. “Hey sleepy head.” Anthony chimed, approaching slowly, “How are you feeling? Do you remember me?” The girl gave a low, beastly growl in response. “I’ll take that as a yes then.” Anthony said. “Miss, you really should try to calm down.” Quickfix stated. Unfortunately, the veteran doc-bot’s presence had the exact opposite effect, as she unsheathed her claws. Anthony dove backwards as Quickfix’s assistants rushed the girl, restraining her with long metal poles. “Miss, we’re not here to hurt you. Maybe you can help us by telling us your name.” Anthony stated. The girl growled and snarled. “What is your name?” Zatara asked, signing out her question, only to get more growling in response. “Shit, we’re not gonna get anywhere like this.” Anthony said. Frustrated, and slightly hungry from his inadequate breakfast, he reached into the pocket of his cargo pants, pulling out a package of beef jerky, and ripped the top open.
Anthony looked back at the girl, who went from growling and snarling to sniffing. He looked to his beef jerky, then back to the girl. “Hmm, I wonder…” he thought, approaching the girl. He reached into his pack again and pulled out a bottle of water, offering them to the girl. With her claws still out, the girl cautiously took the food and water, allowing the team their first good look. She wasn’t very tall, and she was extremely thin, with her claws attaching to her arm with fleshy growths. “Oh god, look at how skinny she is! She must be absolutely starving!” Zatara stated. “Yeah, and here I am, being stupid! She’s not hostile, she’s just hungry and scared.” Anthony commented, “Patch, go get the young lady some food!” “Aye sir, I’ll bring something from the cafeteria!” Patch said, saluting. “Something substantial, not just desserts and junk food, rookie!” Quickfix called out as his assistant rounded the corner.
Patch didn’t waste time, rushing back with a roast beef sandwich and a Styrofoam container full of chicken noodle soup. The girl was back in a corner of the room, growling like a feral animal when he returned. Anthony and Zatara took the food in, keeping a careful eye on the girl as she growled. Zatara carefully put the tray down on a small bedside table, backing slowly out of the room with Anthony, who had a Taser ready just in case. Neither one dared to breathe until the door to the quarantine room was closed and locked. Once the door closed, the girl came out of her corner, sniffing the food on the table. Taking no time to enjoy the smell or the flavor, she attacked the meal, practically inhaling it, careful not to waste anything. “Wow, she definitely was starving!” Zatara stated as she watched, “She’s not even chewing thoroughly, just inhaling it!” “Yeah, she’s probably thirsty too.” Patch commented, “We should record what she’ll eat and drink, so we can help fulfill her dietary needs.” “Yeah, and I have an idea of what to test first.” Anthony said.
Anthony headed to the cafeteria himself, returning later with paper cups and several drinks, ranging from plain water to soft drinks. Anthony poured a sample of each drink into a cup, carefully labelling them so Patch would know each cup’s contents. He re-entered the room, greeted by growling. The girl was back in her corner, hugging her knees to her chest, glaring at him. “Easy, miss.” He said, putting the cups on the table, “I’m just bringing you something to drink.” He made sure the labels were facing the mirror, then left the room, where he was pulled to the side by Quickfix. “Anthony, I know why we can’t find her birth certificate.” Quickfix stated, “She was never born. Well, not born in the traditional sense.” “Could you elaborate, old friend?” Anthony asked. “Gladly, her very genetic makeup was engineered.” Quickfix stated, “It seems she’s been built with several DNA samples of unknown origin. Unfortunately, there’s no way to tell what she’s truly capable of.” “So, what do we do now?” Anthony asked. Quickfix sighed, and said “Well, she can’t stay here. Keeping her here seems to remind her of her old prison, which is putting stress on her already degraded mental state.” Thanking his old friend, Anthony left the Colossus for fresh air, mulling over this dilemma with the girl.
While Anthony contemplated where the girl would stay, Patch moved to a dark observation room with a two way mirror so he could observe her as she sampled the drinks. “Ok, let’s see… we have water, plain milk, chocolate milk, apple juice, orange juice, grape juice, Coca-Cola, Mountain Dew, root beer, and orange soda.” He said, writing out the names on a piece of paper, “Now… which one’s first?” The girl sampled each paper cup carefully, unsure of their contents. Naturally, water was the first thing she drank. She sampled the white and chocolate milk next, although it was apparent she didn’t enjoy the chocolate milk. “Ok, not a fan of chocolate.” Patch said, scratching out his notes. Although a bit unsure of the soft drinks, she enjoyed the cola and the root beer, as well as the apple juice. The grape juice was a maybe, while the orange soda and orange juice were both disliked. Patch scrawled out the results, only to be interrupted as a nurse came in, delivering Quickfix’s report. “Well, she may be bio-engineered, but she eats and drinks like anyone else.” Patch stated. As he continued observing, Zatara entered, bringing in a few biscuits covered in strawberry jam. “Hey there, little one. “She said, waving to the girl, “Thought you might like a little snack.” Zatara set the plate down and left, letting the girl have some quiet time. The girl investigated the treat, taking an immediate liking to the strawberry jam as she inhaled them. “Ok, big fan of strawberry jam covered biscuits!” Patch stated, scribbling more notes onto the paper, “This is… this is good data, this is good stuff.”
Zatara came back some time later, deciding to chance fate and clean the girl’s room. When she walked in, the girl was back in her corner, curled up, watching her every move. Zatara noticed the girl was in some discomfort. “Are you ok?” She asked, getting no response. “Are you sore? Or maybe you’re tired, is that it?” Zatara asked, getting a huff in response. “Oh I know, you ate too much.” She said. Zatara grabbed a paper cup and a pitcher, filling the cup with cold water. She then took out a small travel bottle and retrieved two antacid tablets. “Here.” Zatara said, offering the tablets, “Take these, chew them up and swallow them with some water.” The girl just growled, backing away from the pills. “It’s ok, you can trust me.” Zatara commented. To prove what she said true, Zatara took two more tablets from the same bottle and chewed them up, swallowing the powder. Once she saw no ill effects from the little white tablets, the girl stuck her hand out, and Zatara dropped two tablets into it. In spite of their chalky taste and texture, the pills worked, calming the girl’s upset stomach. “There, feel better?” Zatara asked, getting a glare in response. “I’ll take that as a yes.” Zatara continued, “Need anything else or want anything?” The girl looked up at Zatara and shook her head. Happy to have made some form of progress, Zatara left the room, her tail swishing from side to side.
Zatara closed the door to the girl’s room, just as Anthony walked up. “Hey hon, I was just giving her a little medicine, she had a few too many sweets.” Zatara said, greeting her man with a kiss. “Has she said anything?” Anthony asked, to which Zatara replied, “No, sorry, most of her communication’s been non-verbal.” Anthony sighed and looked through the window. “She can’t stay here…” He said, “even if she’s a bio-engineered weapon, she’s still just a young girl, and a quarantine room is no place for children. Plus Quickfix says it’s causing her a lot of undue stress.” “Well, we damn well can’t send her back to that madhouse, it’s too dangerous!” Zatara protested. “I know…what to do, what to do.” Anthony muttered. He stood there, rubbing his chin as he mulled his options over in his head. Sending her back to that lab was off the table, keeping her in the infirmary was a bad idea, and given the events that had transpired the previous Christmas, it was unlikely Anthony would get any help from his family. Eventually, Anthony sighed, realizing there was only one clear option.
“Well, bear with me, because this is crazy…but what if we took her in?”
Zatara looked at Anthony confused. “What I mean is, we’ll take her in and look after her.” Anthony stated. Zatara thought about it, then said, “Ok, but you better let me talk to her. She doesn’t seem as hostile around me.” “Yeah, so I’ve noticed honey.” Anthony stated, opening the door. “I’m keeping the door open, but you better go in and do the talking.” “Wish me luck, sweetie.” Zatara stated. “Nah, you don’t need luck.” Anthony commented, kissing her cheek, “You’re great with kids.”
Zatara re-entered the room, looking at the girl, who glared back at her. “Hey, it’s me again.” She said, getting silence in response. Zatara kneeled down, looking the girl in the eye. “You don’t like it here, do you?” Zatara asked, again getting silence. “How about we go somewhere better?” She asked. This offer of ‘a better place’ got the girl’s attention. “So, how about it?” Zatara asked, offering her hand, “Want to get out of here?” The girl hesitated, unsure of this cat-lady’s offer. “It’ll be ok, I promise.” Zatara stated. The girl took Zatara’s hand and followed her out of the room. With a silent nod from Anthony, the trio left the base behind, heading for the old Edwards family home.
Anthony’s truck pulled into the driveway, giving the girl a good overall view of the modest two-storey home. “Well, here we are.” Zatara said, helping the girl out of her seat. The girl didn’t respond, instead clinging to Zatara’s side, unsure of her new surroundings. “Want anything to eat or drink?” Zatara asked, getting the usual silence. Sighing and shaking his head, Anthony spoke up and said, “How about we get you into some clean clothes and let you rest for now? It’s getting a little late.” They walked the girl up to her new bedroom, opening the door. Granted, it had the basics; a fairly big bed, a dresser with a mirror, a closet, a couple of bedside tables with lamps and a ceiling fan/ lamp combo. To the girl, however, all but the bed were new, their purpose a mystery to her. “Miss? Are you ok?” Anthony asked. The girl didn’t respond, as she was still processing her new room. “How about we get you out of those old clothes and into some new ones?” Zatara asked, handing the girl new clothes, “The bathroom’s right down the hall.” The girl looked on, confused by the clothing and the surroundings. “Uh… on second thought, maybe I’ll help you out.” Zatara said, leading the girl to the bathroom. Anthony, knowing Zatara was the better one suited to handle the hygiene needs of the girl, started turning the guest bed down for the night.
Zatara led the girl to the bathroom, drawing a nice warm bubble bath. “Didn’t you have a shower stall in your cell, at least?” She asked, noting the girl’s somewhat lacking hygiene skills. The girl just sat in the bath, going through the motions, much like a patient in a hospital receiving a sponge bath. As Zatara helped the girl dry off, she noticed multiple writing lines, needle marks, and healing biopsy scars. “You poor thing… what the hell did they do to you there?” Zatara thought, disturbed by the scars. She helped the girl change into a nice comfy pair of light pajamas, then escorted her back to her room, where her bed was waiting. As Zatara helped her to bed, Anthony came in with a surprise. “Here miss, this might keep you company.” He said, holding out the teddy bear from his father’s locker. The girl’s eyes went wide, and she snatched the toy from Anthony. “Wait, so that’s your bear, hmm? Well, finally nice to meet you, Sav, I’m Anthony, by the way.” Anthony said. The girl eyed Anthony, clutching the bear. Although she’d never admit it, she could see that this man shared many features with a man from her past, the one that gave her the bear and treated her well. “You’re little friend was a bit torn and somewhat grungy, so I cleaned him up and fixed him with a little thread.” Anthony said, “Anyway, it’s time you got some rest.” With that, he closed the blinds and shut off the lights, while Zatara tucked the girl into her bed. It didn’t take long after for the girl to close her eyes, finally able for the first time in her life to sleep with a sense of security.
While Sav slept, Anthony and Zatara got ready for bed themselves, in desperate need of rest after the crazy week they had. “Anthony…there’s something bothering me about this whole situation.” Zatara commented, changing into a pajama top. “What is it babe?” Anthony asked. “That poor girl was covered in needle marks and biopsy scars” She said, worried. Anthony, quite surprised, asked, “For real? Biopsy scars? Are you sure?” “Positive, I may be a relatively new surgeon, but I know what a biopsy scar looks like.” Zatara stated as she climbed into bed. “Ok, here’s what we’re gonna do.” Anthony started, kissing her cheek, “We’ll monitor her health for a while, make sure she’s ok, and if any issues spring up, well, we’ll face them one at a time.” “You really are a sweet person.” Zatara said, “I’m glad we met.” “So am I love, so am I.” Anthony stated. Cuddling up with his girlfriend, they both nodded off, enjoying the relatively cool summer night breeze.
The next morning, they got ready for the day as usual, only to remember their new house guest. Anthony offered to get breakfast ready, knowing Zatara had a better chance of communicating with Sav. While he made breakfast, Zatara went upstairs and into the guest room. “Morning Sav, did you sleep well?” She asked, once more getting silence in response. “Come on, silly, it’s breakfast time.” Zatara said, her voice as cheery as ever. Sav walked with Zatara, still holding the stuffed bear. Once in the kitchen, Sav was greeted by the sight of food, good food too. “You hungry Sav?” Zatara asked. Sav silently nodded and sat at the table, waiting. Anthony quickly served up some waffles with maple syrup, and to make breakfast that little extra bit special for Sav, Zatara sliced a few strawberries, putting them on the waffles. Sav dug into the meal, still curious about how they knew her name. “Still trying to figure out how we know your name?” Anthony asked, “Simple, it’s on the bear.” Sav examined the bear and sure enough, there was her name, printed on a small tag. Sav sat there, enjoying her breakfast, looking around the kitchen, when she saw a picture of the nice man up on the fridge.
“Hmm? I’m right here, Sav.” Anthony stated. He looked at her, then followed her line of sight to the picture. “Oh yeah… Tony was dad’s name too.” He said, “Did you know him?” Sav replied with an enthusiastic “Yes!” “How did you know him?” Anthony asked, to which Sav said, “Very nice.” “Yeah…he was a good man.” Anthony commented, then asked, “Did he give you that bear?” Sav nodded with a simple “Mhm” and Anthony smiled. It was just like his dad to try and make a sad kid smile. “What else did he do?” Anthony asked, only to get silence. Smiling and sitting across from Sav, he said, “It’s ok Sav, you can tell us…how else did Tony help?” Sav looked at Anthony and said, “Books” “He gave you books to read?” He asked, to which Sav said “Mhm… and show.” “Show… like a TV show?” Anthony asked. Sav shook her head and said “No, how the words work.” “Ohh, ok.” Anthony said, “So was it just books and a teddy bear?” Sav again shook her head, saying, “Food too, lots…good food.” Anthony just nodded and said “Good, he did a lot.”
“Where’d he go?”
“Well…shit.” Anthony thought to himself. She asked the one question he hoped wouldn’t come up. She asked where his father went. Quickly composing himself and wording the answer in his head, he looked at her, holding back any tears that welled up. “Sav, uh… there’s really… no way to sugar coat this.” Anthony said. He took one last look at Sav and drew a deep breath. “Tony was… killed in action years ago, on assignment in Kandahar. He was shot by one of his own soldiers.” Anthony waited for her to start crying for her savior, only to get a rather sedate “Oh, well… that happens.” Dumbfounded, Zatara and Anthony looked at each other. “Well… she took that better than expected.” Zatara commented. Sav suddenly recoiled as Cojack walked into the kitchen and over to her, sniffing this stranger. Cojack then gave this stranger an early morning lick and Sav again recoiled out of confusion as to why this big furry thing was licking her. “Cojack, down, be nice! She’s our guest.” Anthony commented. Cojack just barked and wagged his tail, while Sav recoiled again. “Oh don’t worry, he is a wolf, but he’s harmless.” Anthony said. Cojack walked over to his food bowls and ate. “Well, so far, so good.” Anthony thought, “Time to take care of a few things.”
After breakfast, Zatara and Anthony had a lengthy, hushed discussion about Sav while they washed the dishes. After coming to an agreement, Anthony turned to Sav, who was still at the breakfast table, eating. “Sav, I have a proposition for you.” Anthony said, sitting down. Sav looked at him, curious. “Seeing as how you don’t really have a home… uh… how would you like to stay with us?” Anthony asked, “You can stay in your current room and decorate it as you see fit.” “How about it, Sav?” Zatara asked, “Want to stay and live with us?” Sav looked at Anthony and Zatara, and said, “… okay.” With that, Anthony got out his laptop, booting it up. “Ok great, I’ll help you get some clothes and other things! Shopping trip!” Zatara said, excited. “In the meantime, I’ll have Quickfix get you a medical card and help you obtain citizenship.”
“What is citazing ship?” Sav asked, confused.
Anthony sighed, knowing this would be a long day. “Well Sav, citizenship is the status of a person recognized under the custom or law as being a legal member of a sovereign state.” He said, “Unfortunately, since you’re technically not from Canada, you need a Maple Leaf Card.” Sav looked even more confused than before. Anthony pushed on, asking, “So, what’s your name, Sav?” Sav looked at him. “You’ve never had a proper name, have you?” he asked, sighing. “Do… do you mean my identification?” She asked, to which Anthony nodded. “Yeah, let’s go with that. What’s your identification?” He asked. “Oh… you are not registered. Savage Born”
“Ok that won’t quite work.” Anthony said, groaning a little. “How about we go with what dad called you. In his old journals, dad…err, Tony had named you Savana, how about that?” Sav thought for a little bit and said, “Ok.” “Ok, Savana Edwards, and for now, I’ll register myself and Zatara as your legal guardians.” “All registered?” Zatara asked. “Yeah, we’re all good.” Anthony said, giving her a thumbs up. “Awesome, I’m just gonna let the hospital know what’s going on, then I’ll head out and get Sav some new clothes.” Zatara stated as she left the room.
With Sav now declared a refugee for her own safety, Anthony leaned back in the kitchen chair, staring at his father’s picture. “So dad, is this what you had in mind?” He thought, “Were you looking to bring Sav home and protect her?” He sighed and stood up, stretching. “Well dad… if this is what you had planned, I’ll play along for now. But why do I feel like you left some parts out?” He volunteered to stay home while Zatara went shopping. He had no way to see what, or who was headed his way.
End of Rescuing Savage Born Part Two.