Narrator: My eyes took forever to open and I had a pounding headache. I don’t normally get hangovers, so this was at once confusing and mildly disappointing. I was so out of it that it took me a few moments to realize where I was, how I’d gotten there, and why I was stark naked but my back felt warm.
Jordan:(thought) I’m in Dean’s apartment... In Dean’s bed. This is Dean’s arm around me. Man, he’s comfortable.
Narrator: I untangled myself from Dean’s arms and stood up. I reached my hands up and stretched. I felt sore in strange places, but as the night before came back to me, I began to smile. Reconciliatory sex is some of the best sex ever. I mean, Dean and I were already great, but the added urgency and heat was very titillating. Never a disappointment.
I pulled on my boxer-briefs, and realized with a start that Jo had my street clothes. I walked over to Dean’s closet, sneaking so as not to mistakenly wake up the gorgeous, sleepy man in the bed. I put on of his tight fitting tank tops and grabbed a pair of his sweatpants... but then I decided to leave them off. I’d imagine I looked a wee bit sexy in the I just had mind-blowing sex way. I looked like I just came from a boudoir photoshoot.
I grabbed my phone from the pocket of my pants holster, and walked out into the kitchen. I leaned my arm on the counter above the since. I had one voicemail, 3 texts, and 2 other notifications. The voicemail would be from Jo. The three text messages however were from 3 different people. One was Jo, asking if I was alright, and telling me that something weird happened and that she needed me to come home. Vague, but okay I guess. One was a calling for an emergency hearing for the Founding Family Council, sent by the ever-blonde, ever-bitchy Fayth Flaherty. Why, oh, WHY was she in charge of organizing these FFC things? The last text was from Scarlett, asking if Jo and I could visit her house for a chat that afternoon. I replied to Fayth, saying I’d be there. I texted Jo that I was fine. I told Scarlett that she could come around midday. There, no meltdowns. At that moment, I felt Dean’s strong arms wrap around my torso, while he kissed my neck. This always made me giggle.
Jordan: Well, good morning to you too, then.
Dean: Last night was incredible, J.
Narrator: He planted a kiss on the back of my neck.
Dean: Simply magical. I really missed us. [pause] Wait, was that actually magically enhanced?
Narrator: I laughed and turned around planting a kiss on his lips.
Jordan: No, that was all us... All us.
Narrator: We kissed for a few more moments, but I stopped myself. I remembered the reason we met up the night before.
Jordan: Listen, Dean...Last night was phenomenal, and we will need to repeat that, hopefully tonight. But I need some time. I love you, but we’ve been broken up for a full year. And I still have to find out what happened with the mafia guy. I want to be with you, but I think, given all the new information you have, and that I have... we should take it slow. Like pressing reset on your favorite game.
Narrator: He nodded, but looks a little dejected.
Dean: That’s fair. Do I at least get you for breakfast?
Jordan: Sadly no.
Narrator: I grabbed a pair of his pants out of his room and a t-shirt.
Jordan: The lab explosion is gonna have consequences. Jo’s office just blew up, we don’t know who that scientist was, or that crazy blue light. I’ve got some sleuthing stuff to do today.
Narrator: I dealt with my hair, and corrected my overall appearance. I kissed Dean for another minute or so. With my hand on the door, I remembered to say one more thing.
Jordan: Also, don’t mention this to Jared. I want to break the news to him after I figure out who all these people are. I’ll call you tonight babe, okay?
Dean: You got it, J. Love you.
Narrator: I paused, unsure of myself for a minute. I finally replied.
Jordan: Love you too.
Narrator: As I found out later, almost immediately after I left Dean, he made a discovery. And armed with that discovery, he went in search of Alejandro, to make him pay for the year of hell that we’d been through.
Roughly an hour later, after sneaking into my own home, showering the sex off my body and eating a hefty amount of Honey Nut Cheerios in my room, I felt prepared to face Jo. Jo was looking a little squirrely, and fidgety. I was a bit disconcerted, so I approached and put a hand to her forehead.
Jordan: Jo...? You okay, love?
Johanna: Yes... I mean, n-no, but yes. She didn’t look at me. She stared at the refrigerator, looking frightened and exasperated.
Jordan: Are you... high?
Narrator: She looked at me with disgust and scoffed.
Johanna: Eww, no. You know better.
Narrator: She’s right, I totally did know she wouldn’t dare. I cocked my head to the side, wordlessly asking her what the issue was then if not for drugs.
Johanna It’s just... well... since I’ve got up... and don’t freak out... but fridge has been yelling at me about how empty it is.
Narrator: She paused, and turned to face the fridge. She scowled, and yelled back at it.
Johanna: Fine, we’ll change your bloody filter. Maybe you’ll finally start freezing ice for a change. What do you mean you don’t know what ice is? You’ve got a freezer as a literal part of you.
Narrator: I raised my eyebrows. It had finally happened. Jo had gone completely and utterly insane. I thought about calling Jared to let him know we’d have to bring his daughter to the crazy ward, but decided to listen to her first.
Johanna: Okay, so this morning, I was woken up by the alarm on my phone. But what it actually sounded like was Siri deciding to throw shade at me for never waking up on the first tone. I was really confused. Then when I got to the kitchen, the oven was complaining about how cold he was, and the refrigerator was also angry.
Narrator: Jo stood up and went to her computer in the next room. I followed in time to see that without her even touching it, it turned on. She blinked, the computer replied and started a search for the search terms she was thinking of for what this might be.
Johanna: I guess, the long and short of it is... you’re not the only one in this apartment with powers anymore.
Narrator: Jo worried her lower lip and looked very confused.
I couldn’t make sense of it. How was this possible? We’d sequenced her DNA several times, hunting for the genetic markers that existed in my DNA, and had found nothing unusual. What changed between yesterday and today? And then it hit me.
Jordan: That blue light... have you figured out what that shockwave is?
Johanna: That’s what I called you for. I think the blue wave was an activation signal of some type. I don’t know who it affected other than myself. I started a quick analysis of my blood last night, and compared it to the samples I keep on file. All previous blood scans, for lack of a better word for it, were ‘clean’. Today, there is something new. I don’t know what it activated in me, but I’m guessing that whatever it was altered something in my genetic makeup.
Narrator: She stood up, and walked to stand away from the computer, facing me. The image on the screen flickered off the screensaver to the search results for technopath.
Johanna: To the best of my understanding, I can manipulate electrical currents and communicate with technology. It appears I can manipulate the tech as well, just using my brain. There was a pause for about 30 seconds, and then she smiled. This is gonna make hacking super easy now.
Narrator: I rolled my eyes. Of course Jo would become the world’s only person to be able to manipulate machines with her brain. She will literally never shut up about this now. Great. But then I realized another thing.
Jo might not be the only one.
Johanna, for all intents and purposes, had just the morning before been completely normal. Today, she was a superhuman computer. Would there be other people, like her, that were nearby the explosion? How far did the shockwave reach? What specifically happened?
I hazarded my question to Johanna.
Jordan: Jo, what if you’re not the only one this affected? We don’t know what this is, but if it appears in other people, we may have to figure out a way to neutralize it.
Johanna: I’m going to run as many different kinds of blood test as I can. I must find the reason. I’ll set up a call alert, and I’ll just keep you in the loop if anyone shows their abilities.
Narrator: Cool, she was still one step ahead of me. What would I do without her?
Jordan: Hey, Jo?
Jordan: You should have a codename, now, you know?
Johanna: I thought of that. We’ve been over that already, and it makes so much more sense now. WhiteHawk. See, it works, because hawks see everything, and I’ve always looked great in white. Plus... birds of a feather, right?
Narrator: I had to admit, it sounded good. RedWing and WhiteHawk: Defenders of New Ark City. That name slays.
At that point, our buzzer rang.
Jordan: By the way, [quickly] Scarlett is coming. She said something happened magically speaking, and she needs to address us both about it.
Johanna: [loud whisper] WHAT?!?
Narrator: Jo shouted in a loud whisper, causing the TV to turn on, and then promptly shatter, along with the toaster dinging up with no toast. She’d have to learn to control that.
Johanna: You invited her here? With me? Like this?
Jordan: Well, go get fancy, I’ll stall for you.
Narrator: She shot me a glare, but I knew she appreciated it. She ran into her room and closed the door, while I buzzed Scarlett in and instructed her how to get to our door.
Scarlett entered the apartment, and removed her black lightweight formal jacket. She was looking as serene as she always did, casting a majestic purple-shadowed, emerald-eyed gaze over everything, with a mischievous smile dancing across her red lips. Her rich copper red hair was pulled back into a large frizzy bun. She wore an elegant floor length empire dress the color of sleek onyx. She appraised the apartment, though it was hard to tell if she viewed it favorably or not. I felt a little self conscious about the uncleared table and chairs.
Jordan: Welcome, Scarlett.
Scarlett: Thank you for allowing my entrance.
Narrator: She lightly put a hand on the dining room table, and looked me in the eyes.
Scarlett: I apologize for it being so last minute, but it was urgent that I speak with you. May I sit?
Narrator: I nodded and signaled to the mostly clear couch. We took our seats. I offered her a cup of tea, and she pulled out a fancy teacup from her purse. Wow, that was the single most British thing I’ve ever seen anyone do. I filled her teacup with water, and used my forcefield to alter the temperature of the water in the cup. I brought it to boil, and offered her a teabag. She took it, and began steeping her tea.
Scarlett: My word, that power is useful, isn’t it? I’m quite jealous.
Narrator: Scarlett giggled, and it sounded like tinkling bells.
Johanna: What seems to be the trouble?
Narrator: Johanna was behind me. She was wearing a white short sleeve button up with the light grey vest that I seem to recall Jo purchasing because it propped her breasts up perfectly. Johanna had applied winged eyeliner, and I could smell the warm vanilla notes of her perfume from where I sat. She’d put on her best pair of white skinny jeans. She was trying to make a good first impression, and pulling out quite a few stops.
Scarlett: Ah, Miss Johanna Lovelace. So pleased to make your acquaintance.
Narrator: Scarlett stood and extended her hand for Jo to shake. Jo gently kissed the back of her hand.
Johanna: The pleasure is all mine, Scarlett Crescent.
Narrator: There was a moment of tension, where I looked at the two woman and raised my eyebrows. I looked away and puffed out my cheeks. I debated leaving and giving these two the apartment. I waited a few second more and cleared my throat.
Scarlett: Oh, my apologies. Yes, there was a disturbance in the magical order last night. I sensed and felt a great disruption around the time of the fire. I was considering that it may have been the fire itself, in the way that many fires cause a disturbance when they consume, but this felt different.
Scarlett: It must have had something to do with the shockwave, correct?
Jordan: [thinking] Hell if I know.
Narrator: I thought.
Scarlett: Well, I don’t expect you to necessarily know. I merely wanted to know if you’d determined what the source was of the disturbance. You were both on the scene yes?
Narrator: Did I say that outloud? I somehow managed to miss how she had responded to something I didn’t say out loud.
Jordan: Yeah, we were both on the scene. I’m not sure what the deal is with the shockwave, but it caused Jo to develop powers. I was at the center of the blast and I didn’t feel anything though. [paused] Did you experience any changes, Scarlett?
Scarlett: Why yes, I did.
Narrator: She crossed her legs, rested her elbow on her knee, and leaned forward a little, revealing far more cleavage than I’d actually wanted to see. I could practically feel Jo’s blood start racing.
Scarlett: You see, I’ve always been... well, I know a fair bit about Magic. I’m also quite good at reading people. Understanding emotions, empathic intuition, all that. And as you know, divination is my specialty.
But today, when I awoke, I was hearing loud voices. They didn’t appear to be talking to anyone in particular, but they sounded clear as day, as if someone was saying them. It
Scarlett: (cont.) turns out, I had a 2 clients waiting downstairs. I hid in the shadows for a moment, and watched them. The voices continued chattering to themselves, but I saw their lips weren’t moving. I was able to hear their thoughts.
Jordan: So, you’re a telepath?
Scarlett: It would appear as such.
Jordan: So it’s true then. The blast caused people to develop powers. But then... how many people were affected? Are there a bunch of people like me out there now? Dear god, that would be a total nightmare.
Scarlett: I’m certain there are a few.
Jordan: Oh no... Oh this is bad. Good lord. Okay, well, we’re gonna need answers.
Narrator: I let out a sigh, and ran my fingers through my hair.
Jordan: I’ve got a Founding Family meeting soon, but perhaps you both can work on figuring out what this is, and how we reverse it.
Narrator: Jo looked hurt and shook her head.
Johanna: I don’t want this reversed. I love this power already.
Jordan: Well, except your power Jo. but we’ll need you to figure out where it came from, what gene mutated, and how we... un-mutate?
Narrator: Definitely never used that word before. Is un-mutated a word?
Jordan: Jo, also, please check in after Keiran. He’s out of a job too. You can set up at the Agency.
Narrator: Jo’s face soured, as if she forgot that the building of her primary employer had just blown up, but she nodded in agreement.
My phone buzzed as I left the apartment. It was Dean. The text was strange and read:
Dean: [text voice] I love you, Jordan. I will take care of this. I will always take care of you.
Fayth: Well, finally, we have the council all assembled.
Narrator: I was exactly 35 seconds after the time the impromptu meeting was set. I’d had just enough time to change into a red dress shirt with a black skinny tie and black slacks; my
Narrator: (cont) best approximation of a young professional’s attire. Everyone was just beginning to be seated. The heads of the family varied in age, but I am the youngest council member. The irritating woman who tried to throw shade at me was Fayth Flaherty. Her straw-colored hair was pulled back into a bun, held in place by 2 ornate purple chopsticks. Her icy eyes were, well, cold as they always were. You would think with how much she rolls her damn eyes, that they’d get warmer with the friction. I was not having it today.
Jordan: Perhaps giving more than 2 hours notice would be helpful. Or did my invite get lost in the invisible phone again? A little early for wine, isn’t it?
Narrator: She stiffened holding a bottle of white wine that was always present at these meetings that she usually finished by herself, and I continued.
Jordan: So what is so pressing that we needed to call the founding family council to have this meeting?
Fayth: [snarl] Perhaps you didn’t noticed, Jordan. But it’s Your company’s laboratory has burned to the ground. Again. So really, it’s your fault the meeting had to be called.
Jordan: [sighing out while speaking] I’m well aware of that, Fayth. And as the lab was one of the many subsidiaries of Redfield-Wade Collective, it is a matter I will be handling personally. I will be meeting with the mayor shortly to discuss the circumstances under which last night’s debacle occurred. The council can rest assured that when it is be rebuilt, it will be built at no cost to the city, thus making this not an issue up for discussion by the council. So I reiterate my previous question: why have you called us all here?
Narrator: She bristled, and paused. The rest of the council began to whisper. Fayth cleared her throat, and afixed a plastic smile to her face.
Fayth: [condescending] Well, that’s just wonderful that you have found an acceptable solution to the issue of rebuilding. But that’s not the only reason why we came together.
Jordan: Oh really? Come out with it then, Fake.. I mean, Fayth. Some of us have jobs to do.
Narrator: Okay, I admit it, sometimes I’m a child and also petty. She glared, and poured a small bit of white wine before explaining.
Fayth: There was a spotting last night, which is why I invited the police chief in for this.
Narrator: A pit in my stomach, the same as where you feel pain, pulsed red. The pain feeling was replaced with a slowly simmering anger. Calling public officials was a thing she was allowed to do, but that was not the point. Captain Lovelace, being my adoptive father, should’ve been called by me. She overstepped, but all I could do was grit my teeth.
When the door opened, Captain Jared Lovelace acknowledged the rest of the room, but sat next to me, giving me a half smile. I returned the smile. I have always believed that your parents from birth are important, but the people who raise you have a special place in your life. The people who take you in when they absolutely don’t have to… they are true heroes. The title of father never seemed to appropriately encompass all I felt I owed to this man, but it would have to do.
Jared: Hey, kid.
Narrator: He said to me, before addressing the rest of the council.
Jared: Captain Lovelace, present and at the service of the council.
Fayth: [plastic and fake] Yes, thank you, Captain. Can you please update us on the sighting from last night?
Jared: As you wish, young lady.
Narrator: My adopted father raised me well, well enough to know how to properly be petty. Most gay men learn the subtle art of shade from watching drag queens, but I learned it from Jared, the arrant father of the most brassy lady I’ve ever known. He used to tell us, when we were younger, When someone thinks they are better than you, they leave a lot of themselves exposed for ridicule. No one is perfect, and everyone has insecurities. If you want to knock them down a peg, make them aware that you know their weakness. In this case, he knew how Fayth hated that her being young made her less qualified to make demands of elders, and for a control freak, that burns. It made me smirk. Jared continued, and my blood ran cold.
Jared: Over the past few weeks, we’ve been receiving reports of a vigilante of our city. This person has donned a mask, and taken to patrolling the shadows of this city. Several of the Mafia underlings have told us he operates under the name,
Jared: (continued) Redwing. Just two nights ago, we received a 9-1-1 call about a 2-11 Henry in progress in the alley on 2nd and Washington. Shots had been fired, and we were expecting a fatality. When we arrived, the criminal was restrained and the couple, who wound up being the mayor’s niece and her fiance, were safe and unharmed, though the male claimed to have been shot in the chest, and had enough blood on his shirt to suggest he had been shot, as well as a bullet hole, but no bullet or wound.
Jared: You all understand, of course, that vigilantism is illegal, and my office is investigating this individual. We have no leads currently, but we have one single still image taken from a rooftop security camera. We do not have a clear face, but we at least have identified the weapon he is using to... subdue the criminals. It is suspected to be Darque Steel, which as we know is a synthetic metal manufactured in Blackburn Labs. We are currently investigating the lab employees to see if anyone fits the profile who would’ve had access.
Narrator: I realized I’d been tensely sitting up, and then I breathed a sigh of relief, which caused Jared to look at me strangely. I coughed, and relaxed a slight bit.
Jordan: And what was the sighting last night? Was it to do with the explosion, Captain?
Narrator: I didn’t dare say DAD in front of the council.
Jared: It’s funny you ask, Jordan. My partner and second-in-command Detective Dean Morrighain was the first one on the scene. I hadn’t heard from him after he went in, roughly 2 minutes before he went in. I hate to ask you about your personal dealings before the rest of the council, but when it comes to my crew, I can’t leave any lead unturned. He was with you just before that, do you know if he’s alright?
Narrator: Before I could respond, Fayth interjected,
Fayth: My sources tell me he returned to his apartment yesterday and that, Jordan here,
Narrator: She paused to look at me, with a bitchy smirk on her face.
Fayth: Was seen leaving his apartment this morning. Isn’t that right?
Narrator: This bitch.
Jordan: Who is your source? TMZ? Gossip Girl? Kit’s Corner? Well, Fayth, not that my personal and private life ever is any of your business, but yes, I was with him last evening. We are still friends after all, and of course it beats being home entirely alone on a Friday evening. Speaking of alone on a Friday evening, how is Dale?
Narrator: Low blow and problematic, bringing up her ex-husband that ruined her mayoral campaign by being caught in a public restroom with another man’s junk in his hand, but she literally just tried to shamed me for being gay and sexually active as a full grown adult, so it stands to reason remind her about her own personal life. And I was right, it shut up about me and my love life after that. She looked mortified. I turned back to Jared.
Jordan: Captain, are there any suspects?
Jared: None at this time...
Narrator: Jared narrowed his eyes at me, like he knew I was keeping a secret.
Jordan: If I may, when Dean comes back to the office, I would ask him to be in charge of the hunt. He said he had information and may have a lead on who it could be. He said this morning that, last night, he has come face to face with Redwing.
Jared: Was an officer discussing an ongoing police investigation with you as a civilian?
Jordan: At that time, it was me as a detective, not as a private citizen. Speaking of, you know my agency will help wherever we can.
Fayth: [snapping] Well, that’s lovely. Speaking of assistance, we need to discuss how we will address the employees of the Lab. Most of those men and women have lost their jobs, and will be struggling. We should do something for those unfortunate souls.
Narrator: Her fake sincerity was maddening, but she had a point.
Jordan: You know what, Fayth? For once, I agree with you. The RWC will already be providing them with paid leave until the building can be rebuilt. However should we decided to hold a victim relief fundraiser, I do have the Redfield-Wade estate to offer as a venue, and the culinary program at the high school will be more than happy to offer the food and hors-d'oeuvres. Do you have any other suggestions for a free-of-charge venue and free-of-charge food?
Narrator: I knew she wouldn’t. I turned to face the other council members.
Jordan: Alright. All those in favor of hosting a benefit a week from now at the Redfield-Wade Estate in honor of the workings of the Blackburn labs, please raise your left hand.
Narrator: Everyone except Fayth raised their hand almost immediately. As I knew they would, because all of them remember the halloween party I threw there in college, and how fortunate it was that there were still guest bedrooms on the second floor.
Jordan: Well, I suppose that settles that. With that business completed, this meeting is adjourned.
Narrator: Fayth looked furious. We all turned to stare at her, as if to say, you want to try all of us?
Fayth: Ugh, Fine. The Meeting is adjourned.
Narrator: She rolled her eyes. I stood up, nodded to the council, and Jared.
I left through the front door. I was about to hail a cab, when Jared came to me. He pointed off to the side, where his cruiser was parked. I nodded, and he lead me to the car.
As soon as he sat down in the car seat, Jared began asking questions.
Jared: Alright, so out with it. What happened last night? What happened to Dean? You have information, and I need to hear it. I didn’t tell the council, but another witness said they saw a light on in your agency shortly before the explosion.
Narrator: I gulped, he heard it and continued.
Jared: Kid...Did you have anything to do with the explosion?
Jordan: No! No, of course not, no. Why would I blow up my own building? Dean had brought me out to give me information on a... uh... case we’ve been working on.
Jared: Since when do you and Dean partner up? I thought all that was done when he cheated.
Jordan: It was, but I have reason to believe there is more to the story now.
Jared: Whatever it was, clearly was a significant tip, since you wound up back at his place.
Narrator: He rolled his eyes, the same way Jo does. Like Father, like daughter.
Jared: Please tell me you at least used protection.
Narrator: I laughed, and scrunched up my nose.
Jordan: Oh my god! Dad! I mean, of course I did, but gross.
Narrator: Jared paused, realizing I’d called him Dad. Even though I’d been doing that for years, it still caught him off guard, but he smiled as he always does.
Jared: Jordan, you know you’re the son I never got to have. You know that you can come to me with anything. I mean that, truly. Anything.
Narrator: I nodded, and we drove along in silence for a few minutes. I felt terrible, keeping this secret. He may be my adoptive dad, but he was still the chief of police. If he knew what I was going, he’d have no choice but to arrest me. I can’t let that happen. One day though, I will tell him.
I finally spoke up.
Jordan: I know it’s your job, and you have to do it, but please... Don’t hunt Redwing. He saved Kieran’s and Dean’s life last night and he’s only doing good in this city. And technically, he’s only been performing citizen’s arrests.
Jared: [sigh] Kid... I know. There isn’t much I can do. There is no real loophole. If I see him, I will have to bring him to justice.
Narrator: I frowned, but Jared continued.
Jared: So have Dean tell him to make sure we don’t catch him slipping. I won’t look too hard for him, so long as he stays on the straight and narrow. I’ll tell Dean to pass that message along.
Narrator: I smiled at this.
We continued on, chattering about Jo and some department drama, but all the while I was thinking about what he said. It obvious I can’t tell him what I’m doing, that I’m the winged vigilante. I had always thought there was a loophole. I still have my detective badge, meaning I’m still legally allowed to work these cases. I’m legally allowed to use a gun, but I find it much harder to kill someone with my darts. I never strike first, so every action I take is in self-defense. There are no major injuries, and no killing. I always provide evidence for the police of wrongdoing. It is better to apprehend a bad guy and let him be prosecuted, than to have redwing become judge, jury and executioner. In that respect, I’m no different than I was when I was a cop. I just am not a cop anymore. I’d argue being a detective is almost like being a cop, and because I always call for backup, I’m not really committing a serious crime... right?
God, being a vigilante detective is confusing.
Narrator: Jared dropped me off a block away from the city hall offices. I waved goodbye as he pulled away, and I walked to the building. When I got inside, I straightened my tie before waving to Tim Cortes, Mayor Field’s receptionist. He’s a Latinx gentleman I went to highschool with, Puerto Rican if I recall. He was about 5 foot 10, slender, and dressed a little bit like a librarian. All in all, he was attractive in a rather nerdy way. We’d never really talked much, but I always got the hint he might have had a crush on me back in the day. I’ve caught him looking at me a few times. One of these days, I’m going to talk to him. In fact… why not let that be today? I put on a charming smile and approached Tim.
Jordan: Hey Tim, how are you? I put a charming smile on.
Tim: Oh, uh, Jord... I mean, Mr. Redfield-Wade… hi...
Narrator: He was blushing. He was adorable.
Jordan: Heh, you had it right the first time. Call me Jordan.
Narrator: I gave him a little wink. I thought he might melt. I leaned against his desk.
Jordan: Hey, can I see your cellphone for a second?
Narrator: He looked confused, but handed it to me. I entered my cell number, saved it, and even took a picture of my face for the contact. I also sent myself a text from his phone, so I’d have his number as well. I handed him back his phone, and he looked like he was going to faint.
Jordan: You should use that number sometime. How about Saturday?
Tim: O-Okay, sure.
Narrator: He smiled, and I smirked.
Tim: Oh, you have an appointment… You may go in, The mayor will see you now.
Jordan: And I’ll see you later, won’t I?
Narrator: I knew the answer, even though he didn’t say a word. I walked to the mayor’s office door, giving one last flirty look back. Tim’s face looked about as red as RedWing’s emblem. I winked and opened the door.
When I opened the door the mayor’s chair was facing the large window, away from me. He was speaking on the phone, and hadn’t heard the door open. I heard a snippet of his conversation.
Edward: ....just you wait, Cassie, my love. It will be Saturday, I promise, just give the boys time.
Narrator: I cleared my throat, and the chair turned around. He saw me and smiled,
Edward: Darling, I’ll have to call you back, my meeting is here.
Narrator: He hung up the phone and stood, extending his hand to me.
Edward: Good to see you as always, Mr. Wade.
Jordan: Of course. And please, Mr. Mayor, call me Jordan.
Narrator: I honestly hate it when people shorten my last name. It’s a hyphenated name, but that doesn’t mean both parts of it aren’t important. It’s Mr. Redfield-Wade, end of story.
Edward: Only if you call me Edward. Please, sit down, make yourself comfortable.
Narrator: I sat across from him at his desk. The chair he had me sitting in was quite comfortable, but not as comfortable as his very plush office chair. I had met the mayor many times before, at various functions. He came to the area around when I was young. Sitting in his office, he looked like a off duty Private Investigator from any 1950’s chicago noir. His brown hair was cut short, and the little that remained on top was gelled to the left with a bit of grey streaked throughout. He was in pretty great shape for his age, which I presumed to be in his mid-50’s. He wore a white casual button down, with black pants and black suspenders. His sleeves were rolled up to his elbows, revealing a black leather cuff with some intricate markings on his right arm, and the beginnings of a large tattoo. His eyes were something else though. They were brown and piercing. Looking into them made me feel as though they were very familiar to me, and that he was hiding something. I voted for this man on his policies, but when I think about about his eyes, they made me feel uneasy.
The Mayor sat down in his chair, leaned forward and put his elbows on his desk. He steepled his hands before his chin, and pursed his lips slightly. The corner of his mouth twitched before he spoke.
Edward: So tell me what happened. What caused the explosion? Do you know which employee is behind it?
Narrator: I shifted in my seat, suddenly extemely uncomfortable.
Jordan: Honestly, sir… we don’t know what caused it. It’s hard to know what it is when we have no security footage. My P.I. agency is across the street, but we didn’t pick up anything on our end. The server is being examined by my technicians later today. No one was actually injured, and only our property was damaged. Our security is too good during the day to have let someone enter if they were going to plant a bomb. My guess is that someone left chemicals exposed to each other, and a reaction somehow formed an explosion.
Edward: So, just an accident then? Imagine that…
Narrator: He paused and looked at his clock for a second. I thought I detected a look of disappointment. He turned back to face me, a smirk on his face.
Edward: Well, as long as everyone is fine. You’ll be rebuilding I’d imagine?
Jordan: Of course.
Edward: Good… Good. Now, what d’you make of this character that’s been seen on the rooftops of the city?
Narrator: I knew what he was talking about, but I wanted to stall to see what I could find.
Edward: What do they call him…. RedBird… BirdWing… BatBird... RedBat…
Narrator: I had to stop myself from laughing at those names.
Jordan: Oh, you mean RedWing?
Edward: YES! That’s his name. What d’you make of him?
Narrator: He smiled, but his eyes and brow seemed to narrow like he was angry somehow.
Jordan: Well, so far, I think he’s done some good for this city. I mean, there is no telling what he’ll do next, which makes him a wild card, but I get the impression that he is fighting on behalf of those who cannot fight for themselves. And I admire that personally, as I’m sure you do.
Narrator: He made a face for a millisecond that seemed annoyed, but he smiled.
Edward: Well, that would be where you are wrong. This person who goes about hiding his face and injuring the citizens of this city who, even if they have made a poor choice in life, don’t deserve to have their freedom encroached on by a common street thug in a halloween costume.
Narrator: It was my turn to bristle slightly, but unlike the Mayor, my face didn’t change. Mayor Fields continued.
Edward: There is a saying, Mr. Wade. ‘If you give a man a fish, he will eat for a day, but if you teach him how to fish, he will never go hungry.’ Well, vigilantes like this Redwing character are just handing out fish. He is creating a complacent population of people who just want to be taken care of. Freeloaders. When I was a young boy, when my brother was still around, he was that type. He would always stand up for those other people, including me. What wound up happening is those people began to not be able to fight their own battles. Each and every one of them had the potential for individual success and greatness, but instead of achieving it, they grew lazy. I was one of those kids. I knew he’d always have my back, so I started doing more and more reckless things. I would walk at night outside alone, expecting him to be watching out for me. I’d walk around badmouthing bigger boys on the playground, knowing they wouldn’t mess with me or they’d have to deal with my brother. Well, one day, one of those kids didn’t know my brother, and he beat me relentlessly and I couldn’t defend myself from him. I went home that day broken and bloodied, but I didn’t tell my brother a thing. From that day forward, I fought my own battles. I didn’t wait for someone else to fight my battles for me. If I’d waited for that, do you think I’d have wound up here?
Narrator: He stood and looked out this window.
Edward: This city may be the city of progress, but it has bad habits that need to be cleansed before we can move forward truly. And that, Mister Wade, is what I aim to do.
Narrator: He looked me dead in the eyes as he said the last sentence. I shuddered, bit the inside of my lip, and let the tense silence hang between us for a moment.
Jordan: I think you are dramatically underestimating what the people of this city are capable of. I have to say, your comments are really troubling.
Narrator: I pulled my phone out of my pocket, pretending it went off.
Jordan: .... Oh, would you look at that? I just got a text to come into the agency. I must have a customer waiting.
Narrator: I stood and extended my hand to him to shake.
Jordan: Always a pleasure to see you, Mr. Mayor.
Edward: Likewise. Keep up the good work, Mr. Wade. I will see you very, very soon.
Narrator: He sat back in his chair and turned it to face the window as I left. I said a quick goodbye to Tim, and left the building. I couldn’t leave fast enough.
When I got to my agency at around 2:45 in the afternoon, the air still smelled like smoke and rubble, and the street was blocked off. The fire trucks had gone, and all that was left was smoking ash and melted computers. When I entered the agency, the air felt strange. I heard the floorboard creak near me. I froze, readying myself to strike. The floorboard creaked behind me. I ducked and swung my right leg underneath my assailant, knocking them to the ground, and pinning them with my arm. It took me a moment to recognize the face.
Keiran: What the fuck, man? [paused] Would you mind getting off of me, mate?
Jordan: Oh right, sorry.
Narrator: I eased up. Keiran sat up.
Jordan: What are you doing in my agency?
Keiran: Well it’s not like I have a job to go to, do I?
Narrator: I forgot about his job as a Medical research assistant at Blackburn Labs.
Kieran: Anyway, Jo said to come here, and that she’d find something for me to do.
Narrator: I stood and walked to my desk. I sat in my chair, and Keiran sat in the client’s chair, facing me. He was wearing his black leather jacket with green stripes on the sleeve and green zipper teeth, black biker pants, and a t-shirt. This is the most casual I’d seen him in years. It was almost alarming. I ruffled my hair and sighed, leaning back.
Jordan: Are you okay, Key? Like... really?
Narrator: I looked at him, concerned. Here was a guy who had lost everything more than once. Behind his glasses, deep inside his hazel eyes, you can see it all: The first lab fire that killed his mother, the mental illness that took his father, the drug abuse that had taken his brother, the depression that took his sister, the explosion that could’ve taken him... and yet still, here he stands. Or in this case, here he sits, regally, with his head held high. He was darker skinned than me, but only barely. His hair was cut into a caesar cut with a fade; a conservative haircut that he’s kept since he spent that year as a combat medic after getting his Master’s. Like the LaCroix surname suggested, it was clear that his family was Haitian and French. He looked like he could be my slightly darker nerdy younger brother. I mean, he’s not. Jo checked up on that in college.
Keiran: Weirdly? Yeah. I am. Sure, my life work is gone, but I’m here. After everything, I’m still here. And as long as I’m standing, I can rebuild.
Narrator: He smirked.
Keiran: Besides, my therapist was telling me it was time for a change. I want a different job, you know? Something that is more direct in working with people. Somewhere I can see the good I do.
Jordan: You’re goddamn right, Key. You’re goddamn right. Hey, can I get you something to drink or anything?
Keiran: Got anything strong and sweet?
Jordan: Sweet Honey On The Rock?
Keiran: Ah you remember my favorite! Of course. Just a small one though.
Narrator: I nodded and pulled out the sweet tea, ice and honey bourbon from my office mini fridge. I always had the cabinets stocked, in case someone stopped over for lunch. I poured a half glass for both of us. We knocked them back, and then I pulled up 2 water bottles. We chatted for about a time, before being joined by Jo and Scarlett.
Around 5pm, while updating Jo about my flirtation with Tim, my phone rang. It looked to be from Dean, so I answered.
Jordan: [laughing] Dean, should you be calling me while you're at wor-
Alejandro: Surprise, bitch. This ain’t Dean, Jordan. It’s me.
Narrator: My blood ran cold at the word mean. I’d never heard a voice hold more venom in a single word. It was almost like it gripped my throat through the phone. The voice was clearly male, even though the voice had more of a tenor’s timber than that of a bass. I realized that there was only one person this could possibly be. Only one person could hate me this much and be connected to Dean.
Jordan: Where is he, Alejandro?
Narrator: I seethed. I signaled to Jo, who nodded and tapped her ear. Her eyes glowed. I knew she was listening in, and tracing the call. Kieran looked at her in fascination, but stayed quiet.
Alejandro: Oh good. You’re not as dense as you look.
Narrator: This bold bitch here. I prepared to read him for filth.
Alejandro: He’s very clever, you know, Dean is. He figured out who I was yesterday, and today, he decided to run all the way here. To make me apologize for what I did to him. But I didn’t do anything, Nothing he didn’t want to have happen. And now, he’s standing here with one gun pointed at his head, and the other at his heart, just waiting for my command to take himself out. And he will do it, too. People always tend to do what I say.
Narrator: My heart froze, beating slower than ever. So this was serious. I had to think carefully about this. I don’t know this Alejandro guy. I don’t know why he is the way he is. But there were a few things I could infer about him, enough for me to exert some control over the situation. I’d have to be careful, since Dean’s life hung in the balance. Beads of sweat formed on Jo’s forehead. She tapped Scarlett on the shoulder, and held out her cellphone, which had a transcript of the call, with the last thing Alejandro Parcelli had said. Scarlett gasped, bit her lip and standing up, went to the bookshelf. She rifled through the magical theory books on the shelves, and pulled out a book called, ‘Donum Maleficis: the gift of witches.’ Satisfied they were on it, I made a verbal move.
Jordan: [growled] Pathetic.
Alejandro: What did you say?
Jordan: Oh, sweetheart, I called you [drawing out, annunciate] Pa-the-tic.
Alejandro: Is that a wise thing to say to the man who can take your lover’s life with a single word?
Jordan: [the verbal equivalent of an eye roll] Please, bitch. You called me at 5 pm on a Thursday. You waited until you had something of mine that fell into your lap before acting. You didn’t have the balls to interact with me off your turf. You NEED me to come to you, otherwise you’d have come after me sooner. You are weak, and you need this advantage, because you know you couldn’t win against me anywhere on equal terms. You won’t kill him, not now, because if you did, what reason would I have to come to you? I don’t know why you are so hellbent on hurting me. I don’t know what I did to YOU, bitch, but let’s handle this like men. Face to face. That is: [laugh] If you think you can take me.
Narrator: The line was quiet. Jo, signaling to hand up, pointed at the map on her computer screen. Alejandro finally spoke.
Alejandro: [bored and disinterested] He’s not the only thing I have of yours. Check your texts. You have exactly 30 minutes to get to where I am. Oh and Jordan? [evil laugh, before growling] Let’s dance.
Narrator: He hung up, and I looked at my texts. I saw a text from Tim and I blanched. I opened the text and it was a picture message of Tim Cortes blindfolded, gagged, tied to a chair just on the left of Dean, who had his gun pointed at his own right temple. The message was clear: if Dean shoots, he’d kill them both.
I showed Johanna the message, and her face set into an angered blank stare. She had already put her headset on.
Johanna: [all business] He’s 15 minutes away by rooftop. He’s in an abandoned warehouse near the harbor. I’ve managed to shut off security cameras between here and there. Like a boss. [voice low, focused, mumbled close to the mic slight bit] They are going down much easier than before. Fuck, this power is great.
Narrator: I turned to Keiran, who raised an eyebrow.
Kieran: Rooftop? Powers? Jordan... What the fuck is going on?
Jordan: Look, Keiran, since you’re in the agency now, you are sworn to secrecy, I’ve got something to show you.
Narrator: I pulled out a drawer in my desk, and pulled out the suit. I took off my shirt and pants, which caused Jo and Scarlett to look away, but Keiran continued to watch. I honestly was unsure what Keiran’s sexual preference was, I’d always assumed he was Ace, but I also knew that this was not a moment to worry about such things. I zipped up the bodysuit and turned around. The emblem on my chest glowed like ruby. I put on the domino mask and applied the leg holster, checking to make sure all the different darts were there. I pulled on the bracers. I looked at Keiran, whose jaw was practically on the floor.
Kieran: YOU’RE the vigilante? The one they have been talking about on the street? The one who saved me yesterday?
Jordan: Yeah. I’m Redwing. We paused for a few moments.
Kieran: Isn’t that a little... on the nose, in terms of name?
Narrator: He smirked. I knew he was in.
Jordan: Branding, right? Good marketing.
Narrator: With that, I walked toward the back door. I paused, and looked back at Jo, realizing I was about to run into this blind.
Jordan: Search as much as you can about the Parcelli line, but pay particular attention to Alejandro’s ancestry and history. I’m missing something about him, why he hates me specifically.
Johanna: You got it, boss.
Narrator: Jo’s eyes began to glow a bluish white like a computer screen left of a blank document. Her hands raised up and the computer screen was suddenly projected like a hologram. Jo was shocked by this new extent of her powers, and Keiran dropped his glass on his foot.
Johanna: Woah. This is dope as fuck.
Scarlett: Jordan, darling.
Narrator: Scarlett didn’t looking up from the book she was perusing.
Scarlett: Please be careful. I’m getting a feeling. I’m sure you know you’re walking into a trap. But I’m not sure what kind yet. I’ll let you know, of course, as soon as I figure it out.
Narrator: I nodded to her, and then to Keiran I said,
Jordan: I know this is quite a bit to take in, and I don’t want to ask so much of you, but can you follow behind me? We might need medical assistance, and you’ve got the combat medical kit.
Keiran: Anything you need, J. Good thing I brought the bike.
Johanna: Hey, Key, take this.
Narrator: Jo tossed Keiran her headset.
Johanna: I won’t be needing this anymore. This power is excellent. Just plug it into your phone and I’ll be able to communicate with both you and Jordan.
Narrator: Keiran nodded and followed me out to the alley, where he had parked the Motorcycle I’d gotten him when he’d gotten his Master’s degree. He put on the helmet, checked the directions.
Kieran: I’ll be there about 3 minutes after you.
Narrator: Shortly after I was soaring through the air from rooftop to rooftop, but also swinging from various poles sticking out from buildings. I didn’t care if I was seen by civilians from their windows, just another story for them to tell. I activated the comm device and communicated with the office.
RedWing: WhiteHawk, as soon as I have a visual on Dean, put in a call to your dad directly. He asked to talk to RedWing specifically today.
Johanna: Roger that. Are you ready for the details on the family of this fuckwad?
RedWing: What did you find?
Johanna: Okay, so, you know that there were 3 primary crime families in New Ark City: The Parcelli Family are on top and have the most political influence, the MacNamara Clan controls import and export at the piers, and the Santiago Gang, which has reportedly fallen under command of the Parcellis. Roughly 30 years ago, 3 years before we were born, a pretty intense turf war erupted between the 3 mobs. The MacNamaras, as New Arklow was still considered an Irish-American city at the time, were winning, and the Santiagos joined forces with the Parcellis. This went well, and they took control of New Arklow and campaigned to have it renamed New Ark City, losing the tie to Ireland. Peace was fostered between the Santiagos and the Parcellis.
Johanna: This lasted 2 years, and then disaster struck. Don Santiago ordered a failed hit on the 25 year old Antonio Parcelli. Apparently, he’d caught Antonio with his daughter Isabella. The previous Don Parcelli retaliated and strangely enough, the 2 Dons agreed to a duel.
Johanna: (cont) Like we’re talking old school, pistols at high noon, duel. It resulted in both Dons being killed, but Don Santiago had no male heirs to take over for him. The elder of the Santiago daughters, Maria, become La Doñiña, and has taken over the family business. She works closely with Antonio, but keeps him at a distance. There were not many hurt feelings after the parents killed each other. Isabella was banished, because her family thought she had disgraced them. Shortly after that, Alejandro Parcelli was left as an infant on the doorstep of the new Don Antonio.
Johanna: His birth certificate only lists his father, but if I had to wager a guess, based on his name being the spanish ‘Alejandro’, his complexion, and the timing, I’d say that he is the love child of Isabella and Antonio. Alejandro was born the same year as us, and he went to one of the private schools with you. I’m guessing something happened there, but I can’t see anything in the incident reports concerning you. Can you think of anything?
RedWing: Nope. Not a damn thing. I don’t even remember seeing anyone like him.
Scarlett: Jordan, dear, there is something else you should know. Much like your family and your ancestry, these gangsters come from very ancient lines. Some ancient lines cross paths with magic. The Santiagos are direct descendants of someone known as the ‘Temptress’. The Parcellis are descended from someone who went by the name ‘SilverTongue’. Nothing is said about whether they were specifically witches, but most powers are passed down via lineage. Alejandro would have his own set of powers. This is all the more reason to be careful.
RedWing: Roger that, Scarlett. I’ll keep my guard up and a shield at the ready.
Narrator: I landed just outside the warehouse.
RedWing:I’ve arrived, and I’m going in