or, enter your birth date.*
Chronicles of the Guardians
Crouching Werecat, Hidden Pilot
By Spencer “Stormracer” Chappell
It was a warm Saturday when Stephen awoke. The sun was peeking through his blinds, casting rays of golden light across the room. Stephen yawned and shook his head, looking over to his alarm clock. 8:45 am was displayed in large blue numbers. “CRAP! I gotta get ready!” he thought to himself. He rushed to the bathroom, grooming himself for the day ahead. After dressing himself in a clean red t-shirt and crisp jeans, he ran out the door, only to be stopped by his mother, who insisted he have a little breakfast before he left. As he left, his mother called out, “DON’T FORGET, THE INSURANCE ADJUSTER WILL BE HERE THIS AFTERNOON!!!” “Insurance adjuster? Oh… damn, that’s right, for my car.” He thought. Stephen looked over to his car, which thanks to the Anti-Species Patrol, was currently inoperable. “Well… that’s not an option.” He thought, “Maybe Tony could loan me a car for the day.” Stephen hailed a passing taxi, slipping the driver an extra twenty dollar bill to get him out to Anthony’s house quick.
Stephen arrived at Anthony’s house, where Anthony was in the midst of replacing a headlight in Zatara’s SUV while Sav watched. “Cat boy.” Sav said, acknowledging Stephen. “Hey… Sav, right?” Stephen asked, getting a nod. “Hey, what’s up?” Anthony asked, looking up at Stephen. “Hey, Tony, I was wondering, could you help me fix my car?” Stephen asked, Anthony quickly replying with, “Oh sure, I’ll stop by with a couple of the bots to help out.” “Awesome. It won’t be today though, the insurance adjuster’s stopping by later on.” Stephen said, “Sooo… with that said, could I maybe borrow one of your bots?” Stephen asked. “Uh… I suppose, why?” He asked.
“Well… I have a date later this morning.”
This got Anthony’s full attention. He rose from under the hood, asking, “Oh really, what’s she like?” “She’s… different.” Stephen replied, a bit flustered. “Different, how?” Anthony asked, pressing for more details. “She’s an amazing girl, trust me” Stephen said. Anthony frowned and said, “Well, that tells me nothing.” “Can I borrow a car or not?” Stephen asked. Anthony mulled it over for a minute, finally saying, “Sure, I’ll buzz you into the base and you can have your pick of the bots.” Once he finished with the SUV, Anthony drove Stephen to the base, and after pleading Stephen’s case to the Guardians, let him take one of the special ops bots as a chaperone and vehicle. Really feeling the need to impress his date, Stephen picked Dead End for his black and silver Dodge Viper mode. Stephen drove off, thanking Anthony for the loan. “You’re going to follow him, aren’t you sir?” Rush asked. “Oh, you know it, and you’re coming with me.” Anthony said.
Anthony headed to his house, quickly gathering some surveillance equipment before re-joining Rush outside. “Ok, let’s see this mystery girl!” Anthony said. “Lets! Lets!” Sav said, having somehow slipped into the passenger seat unnoticed. “You’re coming along too? Well… ok then, let’s go!” Anthony said, putting the pedal to the metal. Despite having a head start, it was easy for them to find Stephen by following Dead End’s GPS signal. They tailed Stephen through the streets of Bayside, staying a couple of blocks behind him, waiting for him to stop. Eventually, Dead End came to a stop in front of a two-storey house in one of Bayside’s more peaceful neighborhood. Stephen walked up to the front door, only to be greeted by a young lady in a green shirt, blue shorts, and a baseball cap. “Ok… that must be Theresa…” Anthony stated. The young couple talked, and Stephen convinced Theresa to remove her hat, revealing two triangular cat ears. She then quickly adjusted her shorts, revealing a long, slinky cat tail. “Huh, she’s a catgirl.” Anthony stated, surprised, “Wonder why he’s being so secretive.” “She’s pretty.” Sav said, watching. Theresa and Stephen eventually got into Dead End’s car mode and took off on their date, with Anthony, Sav, and Rush in pursuit.
Stephen and Theresa went downtown, browsing through a few shops before heading to a nearby café for a midday snack. “Where’s the popcorn?” Sav asked, watching from the car. “Sorry Sav, I don’t have any, I just have chips and beef jerky.” Anthony said, handing her a bag of chips. Sav ate the chips one at a time, not really paying attention, but enjoying the car ride. The date ended a couple of hours later and Stephen escorted Theresa back to the car. Unfortunately for him, the Anti-Species Patrol had been lurking in the area, and called in backup. Two heavily modified trucks roared down the road, chasing the young couple into an alleyway, trapping them. “What’s that all about?” Sav asked. “It’s those damn Forester kids and their supremacist friends, up to no good!” Anthony replied, grabbing his sidearm. “That’s not nice.” Sav said, following him.
Stephen looked around the alley as the supremacists closed in. Dale’s older brother, David got out of his truck, holding a baseball bat. “Well, well, well, looks like you two freaks took a wrong turn.” David said. “Dave, just leave ok?” Stephen stated, “We don’t want trouble.” “Well, too bad, because you got it!” “David declared, “It’s bad enough you’re dating a non-human, but you had to attack my little brother Dale.” “Whatever, I was defending myself.” Stephen said. “Yeah, and now you’re trapped here with us.” David said.
“I’m not trapped here with you. If anything, you’re trapped here with me!”
Stephen roared as his body was covered by black fur, his facial features becoming more animalistic. Fingernails grew into claws, canines became longer, and muscles tensed as he transformed into a were-panther. Anthony and Sav silently watched from their vantage point down the alleyway. “Holy shit, he’s the mystery werecat!” Anthony said. “Huh, cat.” Sav commented, “Oh, that explains it, smells like a cat.” Stephen roared as he attacked, unleashing all out fury against his opponents, throwing them into walls, trashcans, and each other. David swung his bat, only be tossed through his truck’s windshield. Theresa stood back and watched as her boyfriend massacred his enemies. As the Anti-Species Patrol scattered, Stephen let out a victory roar.
“Well, Stephen, you’ve been holding out on me!”
Stephen turned and spotted Anthony and Sav entering the alley. “Oh shit! Hey, this isn’t what it looks like!” Stephen stammered frantically, trying to formulate an answer. “Relax buddy, I understand.” Anthony replied, going werewolf, “Someone has to keep those specists in line.” Stephen breathed a sigh of relief. “So, you’re a werewolf?” Stephen asked, adding “And you have the nerve to say I’m holding out on you.” “To be fair I’ve been a werewolf since… like, last October.” Anthony replied, turning to Theresa. “You must be Theresa. Well, it’s nice to finally meet you in person.” “Likewise.” Theresa stated, Stephen cutting in with, “Were you spying on us?” Anthony shrugged, saying, “Ehh, couldn’t help myself, I was curious.” Sav adding, “We were spying.” “Gotta say, you handled yourself pretty well.” Anthony said, “Come on, let’s sit over on the loading dock for a bit.”
Anthony sat with Stephen and Theresa while Sav explored the alley, playing with bottles and shiny rocks. “So, how long have you been a werecat?” Anthony asked. Stephen thought about it, responding with, “A couple of years, I guess. One morning, I just… woke up like this.” “Yeah, it happens quick.” Anthony said. “Ugh, it hurt so bad though.” Stephen said, “It felt like my skin was peeling off!” “Well, of course it did.” Sav stated, “Your body was going through what takes most species years of growth in a matter of minutes. Your skin was tearing and repairing at a rate unseen outside of the were-species. It’s to be expected for the pain to be excruciating the first time, what with your bones stretching and fracturing like that, and then mending in mere minutes. Oh, look Storm, I found a shiny rock.” The others were stunned silent as Sav walked over, putting the rock in Anthony’s hand, saying “It’s pretty, like Zatara.” “Uh, yeah, that’s cool…” Anthony said, while thinking, “Damn, has she always been this smart?” “Wow, she’s a smart one!” Stephen said. “Yeah… yeah she is special.” Anthony stated, “Oh hey, Stephen… I have a proposal for you.”
“What is it?”
“Well, I’m putting together a team, and we could use some able-bodied people.” Anthony stated. Stephen was intrigued by the idea of working with his mentor. “I’ll think about it.” Stephen said. “Oh damn, Stephie we gotta go! I have to get ready for girls’ night with my friends!” Theresa stated. “Ok, well, you two better get going! And Stephen, you can keep using Dead End for now.” Anthony stated. “Cool, I’ll talk to you about the job later!” Stephen said. As Stephen and Theresa returned to Dead End, Anthony looked at his watch, realizing that it was getting late, and it was his turn to get dinner. “You hungry yet, Sav?” He asked, getting a simple ‘Mhm’ in response. “Ok, let’s get some KFC for dinner tonight.” Anthony stated, getting in Rush’s car mode. They had a very interesting conversation between the alley, the restaurant and home.
Sav: “What’s KFC stand for?”
Anthony: “Kentucky Fried Chicken.”
Sav: “What’s a Kentucky?”
Anthony: “Kentucky is a state in America”
Sav: “What’s America?”
Anthony: “It’s a country”
Sav: “Hmmm… sound like shit.”
Anthony: “Uhhh…well, that’s debatable.”
Sav: “Where are we? Like, are we in a country?”
Anthony: “Yeah, we’re in Canada, a country that’s different from America. I’ll show you when we get home.”
After feasting on KFC, Anthony and Sav sat at the computer for a quick geography lesson, although Anthony ended up learning more from Sav as she pointed out countries that didn’t exist, at least, not in the public eye. Quickly getting the lesson back on track, he brought up a map of Canada. “So, Sav, we’re here, on this little island.” Anthony said, zooming in on PEI, “And because we’re within their border, we’re part of Canada, understood?” “Yeah.” Sav replied, studying the map. The two continued to work on Sav’s lesson, until they were interrupted by someone pounding on the front door. Anthony opened it, only to find a worried Stephen. “Stephen, what’s wrong man?” He asked, letting his friend in. “It’s Theresa, she never called for a pick up.” He answered, panicking, “She was supposed to call once the movie was over, but she never did, and she wasn’t at the theater!” “Whoa what?” Anthony interrupted. “She was supposed to call for a lift home, but she didn’t, so I drove by the theater and she wasn’t there! Someone mentioned a dark van picking them up.” Stephen mentioned. “Ok, you wait here, I’ll get a team together and start looking!” Anthony ordered, “Sav, let’s go!” Sav followed Anthony to the police station, while Stephen asked Zatara for some water. As she went to the kitchen, Stephen snuck out the front door. “No way you’re having all the fun Anthony.” Stephen thought, “Theresa’s my girl, and I’ll save her.”
Stephen snuck onto the base, making his way to the Colossus. He was in awe of the titanic ship, which was serving as the fortress for the Guardians. Climbing up one of the entry ramps, he waited until a small supply team opened a cargo bay door, and slipped inside, only to trigger an alarm. He was quickly detained by security, at least until Sig recognized him. “Stephen? What are you doing here, kid?” Sig asked. “Theresa’s never called and now she’s missing!” Stephen stated, “I’m worried, she might be in trouble!” “Relax, we got this.” Sig said, “You just wait here, and we’ll have her home in no time.” As Sig sped out, Stephen looked to the other bots. “I can’t just stand around doing nothing!” Stephen said, stressing out. “So then don’t.” Hunter stated, transforming into a dark green Jeep Wrangler, “If you really want to save your girl, then I say we go and give ‘em hell!” Stephen smiled and jumped into the driver’s seat, peeling out in spectacular fashion, determined to rescue Theresa.
While Stephen took matters into his own hands, Anthony had started searching for Theresa and her friends, while Sav fiddled with the police gear. “What’s this?” She asked, holding up a portable scanner. “That’s a radio scanner.” Anthony replied. “And this?” Sav asked, holding up a stun gun. “That’s a taser, be careful with that!” Anthony stated, hoping not to get stunned. “Oh, I know what those do.” She said, “But the ones I know were bigger.” As Anthony and Sav turned down a back road, they were flagged down by one of Theresa’s friends. Thug Breaker called it in while Anthony got out to help. “What happened? Where’s Theresa?” he asked. “It was those Forester assholes!” One girl said, “They took us at gunpoint, smashed our phones, and left us here while they took Theresa!” “Why are they so mean?” Sav asked. “They’re specists.” Anthony replied. “What’s that mean?” Sav asked, puzzled. Anthony sighed and said, “It means that unless you’re human, you don’t deserve to live on the same planet they do. At least, in their twisted minds. Ok girls, which way did they go?” “That way, look for one of those utility vans in dark blue.” The girl said, pointing the way. Sav and Anthony quickly got back into the patrol car and took off.
As they searched for the van, Sav watched the world go by. “I’m not human.” She said. “Then they have a grudge against you.” Anthony replied, focused on finding the van. “They won’t win though. I would crush them.” Sav said, “It wouldn’t be that hard.” I know Sav, Anthony said, “Let’s worry about saving Theresa first.” “Do you really?” She asked, looking at him. “Yeah, I saw the results.” Anthony stated. “Which ones?” Sav asked, “Those tests were soft and easy, Stormy. Oh hey, look, a deer.” Anthony swerved hard, avoiding a deer that had run into the middle of the road. “Deer have big ears.” Sav said. “Yeah…damn that was close.” Anthony said. “Oh hey, there’s the van.” They pulled into the old Forester family farm, where the lights were still on. “We should give the van ears, Storm. Big ones, like a deer.” Sav said, using her hands to mimic ears. “Then they won’t drive away, because their van isn’t human.” Anthony had to chuckle, because even though it was vandalism, it was funny, and with these supremacist fanatics, it would likely work too. “That’s actually a good idea.” He said, “Right now though, we should focus on finding the girl.” “Follow your nose.” Sav said, “You’re a wolf, you have a good nose too.” As they drove around, Sav heard a distant scream. “This way!” she said, pointing. “Let’s roll.” Anthony replied, heading for the old barn. “It’s fun to play good guy now.” Sav said.
They sped towards the old barn, bouncing on the dirt road. “Easy, kid, you’re gonna blow a tire!” Thug Breaker stated. Anthony slammed on the brakes, coming to a stop in front of a gate. “Damn, it’s locked, and there’s no way through... well, no without attracting attention… we’re on foot from here.” Anthony said, “Thug Breaker, go call for backup.” “Foot… can we eat them?” Sav asked. “No, because that’s cannibalism and that’s illegal.” Anthony replied. Another scream rang out, this time leading them to a side door that had been left ajar. They went through the door and hid behind some old junk. Inside, the Anti Species Patrol had Theresa tied up, her dress tattered and torn. The Foresters were torturing her with old whips, cattle prods, and anything else they had. “Alright boys, looks like she’s just about had it. Davey, let’s brand this freak and finish her.” Dale ordered. David heated the branding iron and walked towards Theresa.
They turned around and found Anthony, weapon drawn and Sav by his side. “Guardian PD, I said drop it!” Anthony ordered. “Yeah, we heard you, we just don’t care. You see, you’re outnumbered.” Dale said, “Now… you drop your weapon, and leave, or she’s gonna die.” Anthony begrudgingly holstered his weapon, knowing he had to keep Theresa alive. Sav, however, froze up. “Bad way, no restraints today.” She mumbled. “Sav, back down, we have to retreat and wait for backup.” “Either you leave, or she dies!” Dale declared, “In three!” “Come on Sav, we gotta go!” Anthony ordered. “TWO!” Dale shouted, retrieving and cocking a shotgun. “SAV COME ON!” Anthony ordered. “One…” Dale brought the gun up and took aim. Just as the barrel was put to Theresa’s head, a mechanical roar got their attention.
“What the hell was that?!”
Just as the words left David’s mouth, a Jeep came crashing through the wall, with Stephen at the wheel. Werecat and Cybertronian fought in perfect harmony, countering the Anti- Species Patrol shot for shot. While Hunter provided cover fire, Stephen shifted to his were-form and cut Theresa free, fusing with Hunter and shielding Theresa from the crossfire as the S.W.A.T. team rolled up. “My fuzzy hero.” Theresa said, kissing Stephen’s cheek, “Bleh, ick, little too fuzzy.” “Sorry, I should brush out my were-panther fur more often.” He said, chuckling.” “Ok, listen I gotta go de-brief, so…you two go make out.” Hunter stated, de-fusing and dropping them off at the farm gate. As the specists were hauled away, Anthony approached Hunter. “So, how’d he do as a pilot?” Anthony asked. “Your old man was right.” Hunter replied, “Kid didn’t even think about it, just fused and took control. He’s a natural pilot.” “Awesome.” Anthony said, smiling, “I’ll go talk to him.” Anthony turned to Sav, and asked, “Are you ok? You kind of froze up back there.” “Mhm.” Sav said, “Go back.” “Go back?” Anthony asked, to which she replied with, “Your house.” “Ok, Sav, in a little bit.” Anthony replied.
Anthony and Sav walked back to the gate, where paramedics were treating Stephen and Theresa for minor injuries. “So, you decided to ignore me and come anyway.” Anthony said. “Yeah, I should’ve listened, I’m sorry.” Stephen said. “Hey, I’m not mad.” Anthony said, “Well, okay, a little, but only because you’re still holding out on me! You’re a natural born pilot, and there’s definitely a spot on the team for a pilot like you.” “But what about my prep courses, my classes this fall, all that stuff? It’s already paid for.” Stephen said. “We’ll just transfer it to the academy for on-the-job training, and we’ll get you a refund for the prep courses you haven’t taken.” Anthony stated, “Come on, you know I wouldn’t leave you hanging, and it’s a good job.” Stephen shifted to his human form, thinking it over. “You do whatever you feel like.” Theresa said, putting an arm around her man. “Well, it was pretty fun.” He said, “And it did feel natural to me.” “Is that a yes?” Anthony asked.
“Ah, what the hell? I’m in!”
“Easy peasy!” Sav stated. “Welcome to the team, Stephen!” Anthony stated, “We start your training tomorrow, so get some rest.” “Gonna get your ass kicked!” Sav teased. “Greeaaaat… looking forward to it.” Stephen groaned, knowing he was gonna feel all the pain in the morning once the remaining adrenaline wore off. Anthony drove Stephen and Theresa to their respective homes before returning Sig to the police station, and heading home with Sav. While Sav watched more nature documentaries in her room and Zatara worked on a thesis paper, Anthony went into his home office. After closing the blinds, he opened his safe, and withdrew the roster. He located Stephen’s name and checked it off, before looking the list over. It was a long one, five hundred names next to dates and events that hadn’t happened, not yet anyway. Each name had the Guardian Specialist hexagon next to it, each one incomplete, with only one or two sections filled in. Anthony slumped back into his office chair, wondering why his father selected these people.
“Just what did you see, dad?”
End of Crouching Werecat, Hidden Pilot.
Sorry this is so late, but here's the conclusion to 'Tale of a Young Werecat', and it looks like Anthony's starting to work on his father's roster. First up, his friend from the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program Stephen. Can Stephen handle the rigors of Guardian training? Guess we'll find out soon.
Also, I'm sorry I neglected this in the last story, but just to clear up any confusion, it's still summer, and Stephen and Theresa are in different college prep courses. Something I should really consider doing this summer. Either that, or get a job and build my real world experience up.
All characters (c) their respective owners.
PS: if you're wondering why I'm so far behind, look in my latest journal.
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.