Narrator: Jared hadn’t said a single word since the office on Thursday night. It had been 24 hours since Alejandro had called the office. Jo and I had been at his house for an hour. While still at the office, he had pursed his lips and just left. It was hours before we got a text saying, ‘Home. Now.’ from him. I threw on the sweatshirt I had hanging on the coat rack. Jo picked up her laptop, tossed Scarlett the key to lock up the office. We were now sitting at the dinner table, eating Jared’s ‘serious discussion’ meal, which consisted of mashed potatoes, corn and grilled beef franks.
Jared cracked open a beer, and sipped on it for a second. He cleared his throat, and folded his hands together. He finally spoke.
Jared: Do I need to count the sheer number of felonies you committed today, let alone the ones in the past 3 weeks?
Narrator: There was a pause. I got up the courage finally to answer.
Jordan: Technically speaking, none. At all.
Narrator: Jared raised his eyebrow and then furrowed both brows, but I powered on.
Jordan: See, I completed detective certification, which in this state allows me to research crimes and go undercover and participate in investigations.
Jared: [growl] Official investigations. Investigations that the chief of police, who is me, signs off on and assigns. Which I don’t remember doing. And you know good and well what that policy says. As well as the vigilantism policy. Your license in private detection doesn’t allow you to make arrests or neutralize citizens.
Johanna: See, but that’s not true.
Narrator: Johanna’s eyes glowed, and began to project the police handbook, the New Arklow Detective Licensure policies, and state policies regarding policing in the town of New Ark City, Massachusetts. Jared nearly choked on a piece of hot dog.
Johanna: As you can clearly see, it does state that a vigilante is a regular citizen who takes the judicial system into their own hands, to the detriment of public safety. However, United States citizens are allowed to make public citizen’s arrests if a crime is committed in their presence. So even if Jordan is acting outside of his Private investigation license, he is legally covered, as long as he doesn’t kill the criminals, which he doesn’t do. Jordan has his license, and according to the NADL department policies, a person who receives that
Johanna:(cont) license can investigate cases that they are contracted to investigate, OR cases that are beyond the purview of the police to solve. They are also allowed to intervene if the public is in danger.
Jared: [snarl] Beyond our purview? Excuse me?
Narrator: He was squeezing his fork and his left eye was twitching with rage.
Jordan: Jo didn’t mean it like that, Chief...
Narrator: Now was not the moment for me to call him dad.
Jordan: With all due respect, the only case we’ve really been investigating has been a bit out of the ordinary, involving forces that I’m more equipped to handle, and couldn’t be safely solved by regular cops. I can take more of a beating, I can heal faster, and I’ve been training for this since I was a child. The recent rash of muggings in this one district as well as YOUR own shooting, which was connected directly to to the criminal you took in earlier today, who is a violent sociopath, human trafficker and kidnapper. Without me, he would’ve evaded capture. He was out to harm me anyway. So it was my responsibility to handle it.
Jared: [softly, like a brewing storm] Speaking of how you handled it, can you explain to me why we have a perp whose throat was partially melted with acid, and how you expect me to hold him if he can’t verbally confess to the crimes?
Narrator: I froze. I had forgotten about that part of it.
Jared: Let me guess, you didn’t think of that part, did you? What did you do to his voice? What did you do to him? Can he sue you for it?
Johanna: He could, in theory, except he couldn’t prove it was Jordan without revealing himself and his powers, which verbally he can’t do so now. In terms of proof, you will have his verbal confession to murder and kidnapping on video from the lenses of Jordan’s mask. Also, you could have a signed confession on file on your desk by tomorrow morning.
Narrator: Jo said, blinked away her projection eyes. Jared put his hand to his forehead.
Jared: Are we just going to ignore the fact that you are falsifying documents? Absolutely not, Jo. I’m going to have to let him walk after 48 hours. If those papers are there, I will burn them. Justice is not something you can manufacturer.
Narrator: Jared looked furious, and Jo looked down ashamed. A silence hung in the room for a second.
Jared: And since when did you have these powers?
Johanna: Literally this morning. I woke up with a stronger bond to technology. My brain can link to any piece of tech in the entire. I think it has something to do with us descending from Ada Lovelace. Tech obeys me, but it also speaks to me. All devices, including the printer upstairs which has been out of ink for 2 months and is getting pissed, your cellphone who has a few text messages from a woman named Arianna. Sidenote, Dad... oh no. oh god, why… those pics you sent-
Jared: That’s enough, Johanna! God, you’re just like your m-
Narrator: There was a popping sound. Jared stopped speaking for a moment and his eyes went hazy for a moment. He paused, took a deep breath before standing up and slamming his palms on the table.
Jared: Look, I meant what I said, that RedWing can operate if he stays within the parameters of the law. These conversations never happened, and no one will discover my involvement in any of this. I worked too hard to get here. That’s the same thing I told them years ago.
Jordan: Jared, we would never jeopardize your job. We just realized that, with how dangerous it got today, you should know what we are doing. And what we will continue to do. Because this is our city, and we must defend it.
Narrator: Jared, while looking down at his plate which was now half empty, seemed to soften. It was as though he heard something in what I said that had flicked a particular switch in him.
Jared: I don’t say this enough... but I love you, kids. I literally knew this day would come. Please be careful. If anything happened to either of you...
Narrator: He shuddered as he turned away from the table to clear his plate. He walked into the kitchen, and Jo and I visibly slumped over. Talking to angry Jared was scarier than trying to take down Alejandro.
I looked across the table at Jo and remembered that we hadn’t had a moment to discuss BlackBird. Jared came back into the room holding a letter. I opened my mouth to say something, but Jared started speaking.
Jared: Look, I knew this day would come. I’m sorry that I couldn’t tell you this before, Jordan, but I had instructions to forget the past, and not to tell you until you said the actual magic words.
Narrator: He passed me a letter. I picked it up and examined it. It was sealed with wax, with my family crest embedded on the back. It bore my name in my mother’s handwriting on the front.
Jared: This is from your parents. They told me, if anything happened to them, that I should give you this letter, but only when you truly showed that you understood your mission, and when you reached that understanding on your own.
Narrator: I smiled and opened the letter. I read it silently, while Jo read over my shoulder.
Malia: Dear son, our beloved Jordan,
If you are reading this, your father and I have met our end. Jared has been kind enough to agree to take you in. He has helped us raise you, and you are exactly the young man we wanted you to be. And now, there are some things you need to know about New Arklow.
New Arklow, Massachusetts is a zone of magic. Magic zones are places where there has been massive amounts of blood have been spilled while the names of the ancients have been invoked, world-changing battles fought, or other moments of great significance and sacrifice. There are quite a few, but the New Arklow zone, as well the zone of it’s sister city, Bayou City, Louisiana, are the most significant in the world. The full eradication of the indigenous people on the soil of New Arklow contributed to this. Bayou City had the slavery rebellion. No one truly understands these zones, but we do know they contain a direct line to almost untold power. A theory your father and I had is that, if tapped into, the zones could have the power to make someone a god.
This is what drew our ancestors here. Back in Arklow, Ireland, there was a council of 13 Elders. They were scholars, artists, men and women of the cloth, healers, but they were also magic users. They dedicated themselves to studying the ways of the druids, magic in general, and they protected their communities with the magic they learned. At the time, when they were together, they were the most powerful witches in Europe, but they stayed hidden, especially from the Christians.
But they could not predict what would happen when they were discovered. Another town found one Elder doing a solitary ritual in the woods. The entire family of that elder was wiped out in one night. Fearing for their lives and families, they conjured a ship big enough to transport the town, and in the dead of night, everyone boarded and set course for America.
They landed here, with only one casualty along the way, and found the remnants of a civilization, wiped out by plague. They felt the power in the soil. It was your ancestor, Thomas Wade, who was wary of the power in the soil. Nonetheless, they settled here. Where our estate stands is the very place Thomas built the house. It was the only place that he felt was not touched by death.
This was the 1700’s, as you know, so slavery occurred. Soon, the families who could afford to, procured African slaves. Thomas refused, as he found it beastly to enslave another human. One day when he was visiting an Elder’s house, he caught the eye of a beautiful woman. She was a slave in that house. Her name was Ayita. They fell in love almost instantly. Thomas bought and freed her, and then they married. This was not looked on kindly by the rest of the town. They had two children, James and Belle.
Ayita was Yoruban [YO-Roo-Bahn] and Taino [Tah-ee-no], and arrived after having been sold from Haiti, the place of her birth. As it turns out, she was of noble birth in Yoruba. She also had latent magical abilities. Thomas taught her and their children everything he knew about magic. He even taught her how to write. And together they would write down everything they knew about magic.
The council would meet regularly, and eventually, they turned their sights on tapping into the power in the ground. They decided, because the zone had been made by death, that another death would bring it out. The council had excluded Thomas from this meeting. In the dead of night, they kidnapped Ayita and Thomas and their 15 year old children. They were tied to a wooden pyre. Ayita used her magic to free the children, but it was too late for her and Thomas. With their dying breaths, they cast a spell that has affected our family and this town to this very day. They erased the knowledge of magic from the minds of the Elders and bound our family to protect this town, declaring that our power will only strengthen as time goes on.
James and Belle now were the only two people with usable magic in the town. The townsfolk forgot about their crime, and catholicism came shortly after the abandonment of Magic. They chose to not use it. James married a Native American woman, and they had 2 sons, Jason and Percy. Jason Wade married Elena Redfield, and they combined their named. We’ve been the Redfield-Wade family ever since.
Your great grandfather built up Redfield-Wade Enterprise. It started simply as a university and a soon became much more. They became a leader in the field of Research and development for medicine and technology. Your Grandfather inherited the company, as did your father. You too will become CEO one day. This is how we chose to protect this city, by improving it.
We must now pass this responsibility onto you. But you need not do this alone. There is a secret I never told you about your Father and myself. Your father has a twin brother. His name is Isaac. The night after our wedding, your father and his brother went drinking. Terrance came home a little earlier than Isaac, who was staying with us. We did what any husband and wife might do on their honeymoon. Afterwards, Terrance had sobered up a little and went to go find his brother, to make sure he was okay. Isaac was in the house and saw Terrence leave. Realizing he was gone, Isaac snuck into my room, where I was sleeping. I will not tell you what he did, but you can infer by the context. He pretended to be your father. Your father came home as he was pulling his pants back on, and beat him to within an inch of his life. Terrence banished Isaac using magic to Bayou City. But he had an impact on me. I was pregnant with twins. You have a brother, and we named is Jeremy. Terrence knew, from the feather birthmark on Jeremy’s left arm, that he was Isaac’s son. Your birthmark is on your right. We had every intention of raising him on our own, but one of the nurses was his wife in disguise and that she took your brother that night and we suspect she delivered him to Isaac. I was never even able to hold him.
In any case, now that we are gone, you must find your brother. There is more to our story, but only the two of you can unlock it.
Always remember that we love you. We are so proud of the man you have become, and all that you’re going to be.
Your Mother, Malia Redfield-Wade
PS. Be good to Jared. We trusted him with this letter, and with raising you to be the best man you could possibly be. He has always been one of our best friends and closest confidant.
PPS. You should find your cousin John-Martin as well. My sister was a frequent collaborator with us. And find the book in the estate, in the place we told you to always keep safe.
Narrator: I sat back in my chair. I was crying, heavily. I missed them so much. To hear about what happened to my mother was earth-shatteringly painful, but discovering I had a brother was a revelation. I worried that this brother might harbor resentment towards me, for his forced banishment. I dabbed at my eyes with a napkin.
And then it hit me. BlackBird and my DNA were almost a complete match. And when I saw him, he looked almost exactly like me in my costume. BlackBird... was my brother.
Jared: [concerned and fatherly]Is everything alright?.
Jordan: That was just difficult to read. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss them.
Jared: I know... I miss them too.
Jordan: Did you know, Jared? About my brother?
Narrator: Jared raised an eyebrow. I handed him the letter so he could read that part himself. Before he could speak about it, Jo held up a hand.
Johanna: I just got a notification. Basic B&E but it’s in a weird spot. The data storage unit in the basement of Blackburn Labs. Someone is trying to take the files. I’ll slow them down, but they seem very determined. You should get there, fast. Should I call in the rest of the team?
Jordan: God, it is so crazy to think we have a team. We’re gonna all need matching uniforms. But no, I don’t think I’ll need everyone for this. I’m already dressed for this.
Narrator: I ran upstairs to my old room, which has the fire escape. I was soon soaring through the air.
I reached the wreckage of Blackburn Labs and I felt something. That same vibe I felt with BlackBird? Was that BlackBird down there?
The chemical smell from the fire was gone, but the smell of ash still penetrated every bit of my senses. I found the circular hole in the middle of the wreckage that looked like an improperly placed manhole. I gently lowered myself down into the hole and looked around. I didn’t see or hear anything, but the feeling grew stronger. The room was empty, except for a small laptop connected via ethernet cables. I moved toward the laptop to try to pick it up. I reached out my hand, but I didn’t reach it. I was tackled to the ground by a figure I couldn’t see. I rolled myself over on all fours, looking up to see a figure looking back at me.
We were illuminated only by the light from the laptop, but that was enough to take in some details. The figure was female, and tall. She was wearing a black vinyl catsuit with purple and silver detailing on the shoulders and legs, a black domino mask and combat boots. The front of the catsuit was unzipped just low enough to show a small amount of cleavage but not be completely immodest. Her shoulder-length hair was black, shiny and pulled back into a wavy ponytail. She appeared to have skin a similar color to mine, but a bit lighter. Her features had a distinctly classic elegance to them. Her eyes looked distinctly familiar. Did I know her? In any case, she was beautiful, and she was armed with 2 retractable forearm blades, several sets of knives, and god knows what else on her person.
Marilyn: Oh, it’s you.
Narrator: She withdrew her blades and straightened up.
Marilyn: You can tell your tech ninja to stop hampering me. We’re on the same side.
RedWing: I’m sorry, who are you?
Marilyn: You don’t remember me?
RedWing: No. I don’t know you. So I’ll ask again, who are you?
Narrator: She took off her mask, which didn’t really change much.
Marilyn: Oh my god. Duh! Of course you don’t remember me. I’m not like I was the last time you saw me, 2 years after Aunt Malia and Uncle Ter died.
Narrator: I looked closer. I knew I had one cousin on my mother’s side, but this couldn’t be them, because when I last saw that cousin, that cousin was a dorky-gangly boy. The person before me was completely and unapologetically a grown woman.
Jordan: M-m...Martin? Jean-Martin Lahiri?
Marilyn: I mean, I go by Marilyn now, but yes.
Narrator: She reached in and gave me a hug. I returned it, but I was still so confused.
Jordan: Of course... but there is... how... what?
Marilyn: Yeah, I know. Look, we don’t have a whole lot of time right now, but here’s the basics. Okay, you know how there was that shockwave that was sent out over here from this point?
Marilyn: Well, there was a shock wave 13 years ago yesterday in Bayou City, and it changed me pretty much a lot. I mean, I would’ve been a transwoman anyway, but the transition a little more... well... efficient.
Narrator: I took off my mask, realizing that there was no point in wearing it at that moment.
Marilyn: Anyway, I came up here for exactly 4 reasons: 1) to collect the data from this shockwave, hence the laptop. 2) I need to see if this shockwave was authorized by the same person. 3) I honestly had to come up anyway, for work. And of course 4) I was also going to check out your Agency tomorrow, catch up like family is supposed to and what not. But now is as good a time as any for the 4th one. Oh, and 5) There is a person up here I have to find.
Narrator: I seemed to come out of my stupor finally. This was very clear. Jean-Martin was always very concise and organized when we were little. This was a shock, but it wasn’t unwelcome. It was nice to see my cousin again. So I answered.
Jordan: I mean, I don’t know if I can get the full team in the office, but you’re more than welcome to crash with Jo and me tonight.
Narrator: Marilyn squealed with excitement just as she had done when we were kids, and that was when I truly realized it was my cousin.
Marilyn: Oh my god! It’ll be so good to see her! I bet she’s doing great.
Jordan: She’s like, essentially... well, she’s the internet now.
Marilyn: Oh, right. A technopath, huh? Shit, that makes so much sense.
Jordan: Spot on.
Narrator: We laughed, recognizing how apt this was of a power for her. It was a blast from the past.
About an hour and a half later, because it was still a Friday night, Marilyn, Jo, and myself were drinking and laughing it up at the bar down the street from my apartment, Axium. The vibe of Axium was youthful, full of twenty-somethings who were into craft beer, indie music, art history and old novels. It was just raucous enough to be fun, but also just the littlest bit bourgeois. This place was always good for a martini or a glass of wine. I hate beer, but I’m sure if I liked it, I’d love the selection here. Axium was classier than Sparklerz.
Marilyn had changed into a dress, and I was even more impressed by her appearance. She was wearing 3 inch black strappy heels, fingerless leather gloves with a heart shaped cutout, and a one-shoulder shimmery black sheath dress. She had that hourglass figure that had always seemed to be in fashion. She was thick in the hips, and though it was awkward to look at my cousin in this way, her chest was a fairly robust size. Her curves seemed to have been maintained with laser-like focus. She wore a smokey black shadow on her eyes and dark purple lipstick. Her hair fell perfectly on her right side, pinned back slightly on her right. She had done all of this in a matter of 15 minutes. Was she always this prepared? For all the world, she looked like a supermodel more than a superheroine.
I was looking great as well, reprising a version of my outfit from my date with Dean two nights previous. Jo looked almost as riveting as Marilyn, deciding to be a little girly for the night. Marilyn had done her makeup to match hers, except she gave her a deep fuschia lipstick and a royal blue strapless princess dress with a mesh sweetheart cut out on the upper portion of her chest. She decided to draw the line at real heels though, and wore a pair of sneaker-wedges that matched the fuchsia of her lips. We were easily the best dressed at the bar, and everyone was sneaking looks at us. I raised my class.
Jordan: Ladies, you look absolutely smashing.
Johanna: [pretending to be a bro] Cheers to that, bruh.
Narrator: We laughed and our glasses all clinked.
Johanna: Marilyn, I’ve gotta ask. Have you thought of modelling?
Marilyn: Actually, that’s the job reason I’m in town. I had a quick cover shoot this morning.
Narrator: She sipped her drink demurely.
Jordan: For what magazine?
Marilyn: Fierce Underground.
Johanna + Jordan: THE FIERCE UNDERGROUND?!
Johanna: Girl, what? That’s like... the most...
Jordan: Well-known Fashion magazine in the world! And you’re on the COVER?!
Narrator: Marilyn laughed and nodded.
Jordan: Dude... that is so cool. What did you do in the shoot?
Marilyn: Honestly, it was a little strange. They were trying for the ‘Eve and the Apple’ type iconography.
Narrator: She rolled her eyes.
Marilyn: I told them I wouldn’t do it unless the snake was added in later. So, be prepared for that.
Narrator: We shared another little laugh.
Jordan: So, you said you had to find someone up here, Right? Maybe I know them?
Marilyn: Actually, he said something about looking for you up here. You’ve probably run into him already. When ya came into the vault, I thought you were him, because I felt the presence.
Narrator: I put two and two together.
Jordan: BlackBird? You know BlackBird? Well this is just fantastic. I’ve been trying to figure out who he is, and why we have pretty much the same uniform...
Marilyn: So... You’ve seen him?He didn’t tell you yet, did he?
Jordan: Tell me what?
Narrator: Marilyn stayed silent, and looked at her drink.
Jordan: Oh, that he’s my twin brother? No he didn’t tell me that. My mom left a letter. But if you have details...
Narrator: She sighed, drained her wine glass.
Marilyn: Okay, well, about 5 years ago, just after the shockwave down south, an elite task force was put together to deal with the sudden influx of super powered humans in the city. We are called the Division, made up of 6 superhumans overall. I met BlackBird that first day. I freaked out at first, because I thought he was you, but we didn’t really address it. I tried to keep it a secret for a while. Anyway, they gave him the codename Blackbird. We became close friends, and they gave me the codename Rook.
Marilyn: Anyway, he told me he was an orphan and was seeking information about his background, but he didn’t have any leads until the last 4 months. We ran into a person with retrocognition, the psychic ability to see into the past, and she was able to tell us what his story fully was.
Marilyn: Back before Aunt Malia and Uncle Ter had you, or more specifically, the day you were conceived, Aunt Malia had... well... Did you know your dad had a twin brother named Isaac?
Jordan: Yeah, I just read about that. My parents put that in a letter. What does Jeremy have to do with this?
Marilyn: I’m getting there. So, Jeremy’s last name is Fields, which Isaac had being going by for years. Okay, so Isaac vanished the same week your parents died. Jeremy was put into an orphanage almost immediately, and then foster care.
He had a rough time of it, but he turned out to be fairly decent hard-working guy. When the shockwave hit, and our powers all kicked in...
Narrator: Everything was clicking into place for me.
Jordan: Wait. Does Jeremy know he’s my brother?
Marilyn: I’ll get to that... Anyway, we all loved him on our team, until...
Narrator: Marilyn paused, not sure how to continue. I didn’t tell her to continue, I was trying to process the new fact that I had a twin brother I never knew about, and that he probably knew who I was. How.... HOW?
Johanna: Well? Until what?
Marilyn: We were on a mission. My ex-boyfriend, and former nemesis Barbarian, had teamed up with Kane, Dark and Flora to biologically contaminate downtown Bayou City. My mission was to stop Dark; Hunter and Feral were taking on Flora; Doctor Solomon was on Kane, which left BlackBird with Barbarian. Everyone finished their fights, but Barbarian brought up Jeremy’s lack of a family, and...
Narrator: The sorrow on her face said it all. Jeremy had gone too far.
Marilyn: Barbarian has been in a coma for a month and woke up powerless and an amnesiac. He didn’t even recognize my face. Jeremy left that night in search of you. He wanted answers. He watched and followed you and I have reason to believe he’s in the area. We want him back. We all make mistakes, right? We just want our guy back, you know?
Narrator: I did know. It was the same reason I was with Dean again.
Jordan: So, Marilyn, I’ve been wondering this... So what are your powers? Are these powers genetic.
Narrator: I was beginning to realize the significance behind her words about our lineage.
Marilyn: In our case, yes they are. I am telekinetic and I can bend light around myself and go invisible, all of which came from my mom. The shockwave gave me this body, but it also enhanced my invisibility power.
Jordan: I can make force fields, which I’ve seen BlackBird do.
Marilyn: You two must almost the same, then.
Marilyn: So, your psychokinesis and shielding came from your dad, Terrence Redfield-Wade. Jeremy’s telekinesis and shielding comes from his biological father, Isaac.
Narrator: There was a pause, while we all sipped our drinks. Then Marilyn bit her lip nervously and timidly added another detail.
Marilyn: I was worried about you. He came over here with one real purpose, which was to find you. After that, I don’t know what he’s planning. I don’t think he’d hurt you, but... well. He grew up in abject poverty in Bayou City. Imagine knowing you were that poor with no future at the time... No hope... I don’t know if he harbors resentment for you.
Narrator: That’s a fair point. But then I thought, and verbalized that thought.
Jordan: But has at this point saved my life twice. If he was trying to kill me, wouldn’t he have just let me die sooner?
Narrator: Marilyn opened her mouth to answer, but she stopped as a gunshot rang out through the bar. The bullet hit a light on the ceiling, and sparks flew everywhere. Immediately I looked around for the gunman, but as I was looking, I saw a the chandelier that was hit fall towards a person that had fallen onto the ground. I threw up my hand and caught the chandelier just before it hit him. With a snap, I vaporized it, turning it into millions of glittering crystal specs that rained down on the saved victim’s head without injuring them.
THUG 1: EVERYBODY DOWN. GET ON THE FUCKING GROUND.
Narrator: I looked at their eyes, and they seemed to have enlarged pupils to the point where their eyes were black. For a second I wondered how they got past security, and then I realized, they were the bouncer and the security guard.
Jo and I rolled under the chairs, but when I looked around toward Marilyn, I couldn’t see her. Where did she go? I felt someone tap my shoulder near where she’d been sitting. It was Marilyn. She had her hands on both Jo and my shoulders, and was whispering words I didn’t recognize with her eyes closed. She opened her eyes, which were glowing a soft purple. I felt a gentle breath of air on me, and the fabric tighten around me. I looked down and realized I was wearing my RedWing suit. I looked over to Jo, who was now wearing an almost identical version of my suit, except it was white, with metallic blue and black feathers on the shoulders, a sweetheart bodice, and a white cape skirt with silver trim and black lining, and a black mask. She looked just as surprised as I did, but her face shifted back to serious. Her eyes were also glowing, so I knew she was updating their police. While I watched Marilyn, her body seemed to become hazy for a second, and when it became more solid, she was in her Rook outfit from earlier.
Rook: Sorry, Jo, hope you like this costume. I didn’t really know what your color would be.
Narrator: Jo didn’t hear her, because she was tracking the police nearby. A loudspeaker crackled. The man’s voice was gravelly familiar.
Antonio: Listen up, drinkers of Axium, this is not a fucking game. This is not a robbery. This is not a negotiation. I need only one of you, but I’m willing to kill every one of you if you don’t bring them to me. Every 3 minutes, my associates here will kill a captive. You have 10 minutes to produce the bullshit vigilante, RedWing, to the rooftop, or this entire building goes up with flames.
Narrator: I gulped, hard. This was really and truly some DEEP shit, but I wouldn’t be a good detective if I didn’t have a plan. The chandelier helped inspire me to get rid of these associated quickly. I whispered the plan to the girls, turned my voice modulator on and grabbed my dart.
RedWing: I’m right here, you pig faced losers.
Narrator: I looked at the girls, and saw Marilyn vanish. I assumed she was diving toward some hostages. The men turned toward me and aimed at me, but Jo cut the lights, causing them to falter. That was all the time I needed to let Marilyn clear the hostages out of the way while I wrapped my dart around the suspended strip lights over top of them. I used 2 darts to cut the cables and bring the light crashing onto their heads. The other lights came up, revealing the two unconscious men on the floor, almost immediately Marilyn had secured them with zip ties. I was standing on a table, with Jo on the ground to my left, and Marilyn on the right. The hostages turned to face us. I’d imagine it was jarring for these people who had never thought they’d meet the famous RedWing. The tumult hit an all time high.
RedWing: Everyone, please, calm down. I need everyone to follow Rook out of the building. WhiteHawk, can you illuminate path to the roof? Great. Rook, can you meet me up there when everyone’s out?
Rook: You know it, RedWing. You sure about this?
RedWing: Darling, I’m never sure about any of this but I need to get this done.
Narrator: Marilyn nodded in my direction, before calling everyone to follow her outside Jo’s eyes glowed briefly, and then flickered back to her standard color. I knew she’d still be listening and watching me as I went.
I climbed up the stairs to get up to the roof access door. When I reached it, I put my hand on the door, I remembered to be careful and to have a shield ready. As soon as I opened the door, a gunshot whizzed by my head. I ducked and rolled behind a water tower. I pulled out a dart.
RedWing: WhiteHawk, cameras on rooftop access? Also, let Rook know about the guns, and tell her to slow down.
Johanna: She’s coming up the side. Patching camera visuals to your mask now.
Narrator: Jo’s response crackled in the earpiece. The visual loaded before my right eye. I could see 3 figures standing facing the water tank. Two of them were clearly bodyguards, and the 3rd one was unarmed, but hard to make out. I grabbed one of my darts, and took a deep breath. I’d only done this move once before, and it is one of my most complicated dart maneuvers. I had to do the Scorpion’s Sting. I swung it around, and shot it out ahead of me. I pulled on it a slight bit to make it arch back over my head. The dart cleared the edge of the water tower. As if in slow motion, the dart angled towards the trio. It struck the hand of the guy on the right. I heard him cry out and heard the gun drop. I grinned and flicked the rope, bringing the dart up at an angle; that angle happened to coincide perfectly with the guard on the left’s eye. With another flick, the dart was around the man’s neck and I pulled him to the ground. I used a second dart, one of my regular steel throwing knives, to go through the leg of the second guard. He fell to the ground, in shock from the pain. Now in my line of sight, I saw the guns, and using a force field, threw them to another rooftop.
I jumped on top of the water tower, assuming a pose that would’ve been better suited for spiderman perching on a car hood.
RedWing: Hasn’t anyone ever told you? It’s rude to shoot at the innocent.
Antonio: From where I stand, you ain’t so innocent.
Narrator: The voice was melodic and almost stereotypically Italian. He stood at 6’3 or thereabouts. Black hair with grey on the side, he seemed to be in the foulest of moods. I knew exactly who this was and what he wanted revenge for.
RedWing: Antonio Parcelli.
Antonio: [snarl] In the flesh. Which is more than I can say for my son. YOU took my son from me, and took his powers away.
RedWing: Now that just isn’t true. He was trying to kill me, so I had no choice but to take him down. Just like I’m going to do to you.
Antonio: Ah, you’re a wise ass, aren’t ya? Just like your parents were, before I got to them. I froze, which he noticed. Oh, I know who you are, Jordan. I knew the minute you started fighting my men and I got those reports on what your powers were. I’d seen them before, on that night where I had your parents taken care of. When you gave me this.
Narrator: He held up his hand, which was a golden prosthetic hand. I did give him that, when I tore apart his hand atom by atom.
RedWing: You son of a bitch...
Antonio: You fought my son, now you’re going to fight me, and I’m gonna finish what I started all those years ago.
RedWing: Good. Fucking. Luck!
Narrator: I dove at him, and we proceeded to grapple for a few minutes. I landed some punches to his face, shoulder, and side. He landed powerful blows that could’ve broken bones on a regular person. He kicked me squarely in the chest at one point, and I was thrown back against the the edge of the tower. That was when I knew he had gained the upper hand on me, and I began thinking I’d lose the fight.
Antonio: Poor, weak, sad little shit you are. I don’t know what my boy saw in you. What he envied about you.
Narrator: I rose to one leg with a dart in my hand, which he kicked from my hand and then delivered another punch to the side of my face. I fell and tasted blood in my mouth.
Antonio: All that power, coursing through your veins, and you don’t even know how to use it. Pathetic.
Narrator: He gripped me by the throat, and held me over the edge of the rooftop. I choked and gagged, but couldn’t wriggle out of Antonio’s grip.
Antonio: Your parents would be ashamed. I’m glad I killed your parents when I did, so they wouldn’t see how weak you would become. How could I respect you, you weak little bitch? My father taught me to respect your family, but you are a disgrace to your family. I respected your family for as long as I could, but they began to meddle in my affairs, and killed my wife. Your mother was an honorable woman, and it brought me no pleasure having him killed. Your father, on the other hand... he was no saint, and he deserved what he go-
Narrator: He stopped, midsentence. His eyes widened with shock, as he gritted his teeth to an unseen pain. His hands loosened involuntarily, and I slipped from his grasp, catching myself on the edge, gasping for air and pulling myself back up. He turned to face behind him. I saw the throwing knife sticking out of his back and followed the trajectory.
Perched atop the water tower was BlackBird, Jeremy. His eyes glowed a turquoise color in the dark. He was glaring venomously at Don Parcelli.
Antonio: What’s this, eh? Some kind of joke?
Narrator: The Don reached back and pulled the kunai out of his back. He cracked his neck, and threw the blade down to the ground, where it stuck in.
Antonio: Who the fuck are you?
BlackBird: I’m BlackBird. Get away from my brother, or I will end you.
Antonio: Oh, really? Try me, boy. Bet you wo-
Narrator: He didn’t ever finish that sentence. It was the last thing he ever said at all. BlackBird’s eyes shone like stars in the sky. He jumped down to the ground, and darted toward Don Parcelli. It took him only two seconds to do, but when I realized what he was doing, it was too late. He plunged his knife deep into The Don’s stomach, and then kicked it all the way through his body. The don was thrown backwards off the building. His body landed moments later with a sickening crack of the spine. When I looked over the edge however, I didn’t see a body.
Jeremy: Are you alright, Jordan, did he hurt you? Jeremy rushed to my side. I couldn’t stand, but I held up a hand when he got near.
Jordan: [horrified]...what the hell have you done?
Jeremy: Um... I should think that obvious. I saw a problem, I saw you were going to die, so I neutralized the problem.
Narrator: He raised an eyebrow, in much the same fashion I do.
Jordan: You... you killed him. That’s not what heroes do. We bring people to justice, but we don’t become the executioner.
Jeremy: That man, that beast of a man, KILLED our mother, your father, and you’re defending him to me?
Jordan: This is my city. You obey MY rules, here.
Jeremy: And if I don’t, Jordan? [siren sounds] Look, we need to get out of here. The cops will no doubt be here momentarily, and we need to not be here.
Narrator: I hated to admit he was right. We were close to my apartment, but I figured Johanna wouldn’t appreciate that. I decided I’d take him to the Estate.
Jordan: Can you keep up with me?
Jeremy: Really? Remember how I saved your ass the other day?
Jordan: Oh. Right, I forgot.
Narrator: With careful movements, I made my journey toward the RW Estate with my half-brother. This day keeps getting weirder, and weirder.
As soon as we got halfway there, Jeremy kicked me in the back with a blow that knock the wind clean out of me. I rolled over, sat up off my back, looking up at him. What the hell was his problem? His eyes were bloodshot and he was breathing heavily. I also noticed his stance. I identified it, and kicked myself up off my back into a defensive fighting stance. I would be using aikido techniques in this sparring match.
Jordan: Jeremy, what the hell?
Narrator: I cocked my head to the side a little bit, but remaining at the ready. He did not reply, but he tried to take a swipe at my face. I caught the fist and used the momentum to flip him. While I held his fist in my grip, he spun like a top, sweeping me in the back of the knees. I fell face first, stopping myself with my other hand. He rose swiftly, and grabbed at the back of my neck. I rolled forward, which dislodged his grip. I stood up.
Jordan: Yo, Jeremy, cut it out man. I don’t want to fight you.
Narrator: I truly didn’t want to fight him. I actually wanted to talk. He apparently didn’t, as he tried to kick me again, but I caught his foot. He jumped with his other foot and struck me hard in the cheek. I involuntarily spat a mixture of saliva and the blood from earlier. I didn’t go down, but I was unsettled. He jumped on my back, trying to choke me. I grabbed his arm, flipped him onto his back. I felt him lose his breath as he hit his back. I quickly grabbed his other arm, flipped him to his stomach, and pinned him down.
Jordan: Jeremy, look I know what you must feel, but for the love of god, talk to me.
Narrator: It was then that I heard him sniffling. I eased off of him, and sat him up. We looked each other dead in the face. Jeremy was sobbing, uncontrollable deep sobs. I slowly took his mask off, and mine as well. We really did look almost exactly the same. Something about that realization made my own tears start to flow down my face. Jeremy grabbed my right shoulder with his left hand. I grabbed his right shoulder with my left hand. We rose up together, and we pulled each other into a strong embrace.
No words were needed to exchange. In the embrace, I felt all his pain and all the hurt from his existence. I felt all his jealousy and envy at my blessed life, but I felt most his sadness that he would never know our mother. He felt all my joy at finding I wasn’t the last of my family, finding that the weird feeling I’d always had about something more being out there, was truly about him, my twin. He felt all of the familial love that I could ever bestow on another person, even if we’d only just met. We embraced for what felt like hours, and in that embrace, there was so many things said and shared without words getting in the way. The only words that were said, at the end of it were said by me.
Jordan: You are not alone. We are family.
Narrator: We separated, looking into each other's eyes, still gripping each other’s shoulders. There was a pause, during which we tried to catch our breath from sobbing. Then Jeremy spoke.
Jeremy: Look, I know I shouldn’t have killed him. I wasn’t about to let him get away with killing mom AND you.
Jordan: I understand. This will be a nightmare though.
Narrator: I sighed and wiped a the dried blood from my chin.
Jordan: When a mafia head dies less than 24 hours after his son is institutionalized... well, mayhem follows.
Jeremy: I know. I’ve seen The Sopranos.
Narrator: We paused again, and then we both laughed. We laughed long and hard, at nothing in particular.
Jordan: Come on. I’ll bet Jo is missing me, at the house. I can’t wait to formally introduce you.
Narrator: I stood on the ledge. I had just enough energy left to get to the Estate.
Jordan: Are you okay with the couch for tonight?
Jeremy: I mean, sure. Was Jo the one in the white suit?
Jordan: Yeah, how did you guess?
Jeremy: The costume. It looked like Marilyn’s work, and it looked to be... related to your look.
Jordan: How did she do that, by the way? I was confused by that.
Jeremy: Magic, mon frere.
Jordan: How did she know to pick those colors?
Jeremy: [laughter] Marilyn just... gets people really well.
Jordan: I think I’m gonna have to learn that spell. It beats having to wear the suit under my clothes, or in a backpack, all the time.
Jeremy: It’s pretty damn convenient. It’s easier if you know where the items are and you’re just doing a basic teleportation spell. I think that’s only a two-worder.
Jordan: Well that’s great.I think we have something we have to do.
Jeremy: What d’you mean?
Narrator: Jeremy looked at me, one eyebrow raised. It was like looking in a mirror.
Jeremy: What do we have to do?
Jordan: I think we need to go to the Estate. For one, I’m wounded and low on power. And two, mom left a letter and she said there is something there we won’t see til we are both there.
Jeremy: Lead the way brother.
Narrator: Jeremy smirked, before we both took off.
A few minutes later, after a call to Jo and Marilyn to let them know where we were. We waited for them to pull up, back in street clothes in front of the Estate’s gate.
Jeremy was greeted by Jo with a firm handshake at first, and then she pulled him in for a hug. She let him go, and Marilyn hugged him. Then Jo held up her phone, using her power to project the image onto the wall. It was a blog post from our favorite society blogger. The sound was a little soft, but we could hear the newscaster talking about Don Parcelli’s death. They cut to a video clip of Alejandro in his cell, while they tried to ask him for a comment. He couldn’t say anything, but we could see the tear roll down his face, and the utter rage in his eyes. Something in me knew this wouldn’t be the last time I saw him.
Jared came on the screen next, and we turned it up to listen.
Jared: (via tech) At this time, we are uncertain what happened. It appears that Antonio jumped from the ledge intentionally. However, we cannot at this time rule out the possibility of homicide. There is no video surveillance footage of the the rooftop. If you have any information with regards to Antonio Parcelli’s death, please contact the NACPD.
Narrator: Kit Mojito came back on.
Kit: Antonio Parcelli’s death is expected to generate unrest in the criminal underworld. Antonio Parcelli as we know, has been the head of the Parcelli Mafia family since the death of his father and the merging of the Santiago and Parcelli families. And with his only heir in prison, it is possible there will be a regime change. Only time will tell.
Narrator: We shut off the video. Johanna and Marilyn turned to look at Jeremy and I. I locked eyes with Jeremy, and he bit his lip. Jo spoke first.
Johanna: Well. Good thing I erased the footage. I guess he’s done then... but I thought you and I agreed, J... I thought you said you would never kill anybody.
Jeremy: He didn’t. It was me. It was self-defense... kinda.
Narrator: Only part of that was true. Jeremy had killed him, and possibly it was self defense, but it’s not like he tripped.
Johanna: Well, you have to tell my father that. You should see the things he’s texting me. He’s pissed. Like really pissed.
Narrator: Jo bit her lip, and raised an eyebrow.
Jeremy: I’m sorry.
Jordan: Just be more careful next time, okay? We can sort this mess out this time, but I don’t know if we’ll be so lucky next time. Shall we go in now?
Narrator: Jeremy nodded, thankful to be focused on the front door. We entered the estate, and almost immediately something felt different. I felt something I never had felt in me before, and it was pulling me in a specific direction. I looked at Jeremy, and it was very clear he could feel it too.
We started walking down the hall, up the stairs, and down another hallway. We decided to use a flashlight instead of turning on the lights for every room of the Estate. When we got to the end of the hall, we turned left and entered the library. It was this very place where Mom had read me Sherlock Holmes stories. We turned on the light, illuminating the shelves, filled to the brim with books.
Johanna: What’s going on?
Jordan: I don’t know... but I think we are supposed to be in here.
Narrator: I looked around the room. I looked at the ceiling, the books and the fireplace. One of the books caught my eye and I moved to pull it from it’s shelf. It was a first edition copy of a collection of dark poems called, The Raven and other signs.
Jordan: I’ve never seen this before... and there is a note. It’s mom’s handwriting.
Narrator: I pulled out the note and read it aloud.
Jordan: Stand with your brother in the center of the library and pledge to defend the city. Love, mom.
Narrator: Jeremy and I raised an eyebrow. I never remembered Mom to be this cryptic. Looking back at it now, I understand why she didn’t just come right out and say it. It had to happen the way it did.
We looked at the floor. That was when I realized the carpet had our family crest emblazoned on it in the center of the room. I never remembered that being there before. We positioned ourselves over the family crest, facing each other.
Jordan + Jeremy: I pledge to defend this city.
Narrator:The room shuddered slightly. At first, we thought it was an earthquake, despite that not being a thing in our area at all. Then we looked up and realized it was the fireplace. The fireplace was moving. It was falling backward and pushing aside, like a hidden door, revealing a small darkly lit room. Obviously, we went in. The door shut behind us and we jumped slightly. The room was moving. We realized the room was an elevator. Facing the wall we walked through, we felt it move to the right, and then down what must have been 3 levels, before sliding left. The door then opened and there was a short corridor. We slowly began to walk down the hall. I still don’t think in my wildest dreams I would have imagined what we were about to find