Narrator: The outside of the warehouse was made of corrugated metal, like most any other warehouse. This one was different though, in that the base was made of red brick. The black beams framed the metal in. There was a slight pounding noise, and I bristled at first, until I realized it was a bassline in a song. It sounded like industrial music, the kind you hear at alternative bars and angsty stripper joints. I approached the front door, which bore no identifying marks except a pewter handle. I opened it, and stepped through.
The smell hit me first. The building smelled strongly of incense, which mixed with the sweaty smell you get after several vigorous rounds of very good sexual intercourse. I also smelled traces of fish, and assumed this had been one of those places that dealt with the fish harvesting. I tried to ignore the smell at first, and then I realized I should follow it, along with the music. The room was a veritable labyrinth.
I stepped further in, dart swinging in my hand, on high alert. I could hear the distinct sound of moaning coming from a few of the rooms off the center. I peeked into one of them, and saw a porn tape was playing, while two men watched and... enjoyed each other to the film. I didn’t dwell too long on them, but I couldn’t help noticing their eyes lacked pupils and were very glossy. Were they hypnotized by something? I closed the door and kept moving for the large door at the end of the hall.
I placed my right hand on the doornob. It felt warm, and I decided to turn it.
The sight my eyes beheld was at once beautiful and tinged with the grotesque. It wasn’t just a room in a warehouse; it was a harem. A harem full of naked men and women. Or rather, mostly naked men and women. Many of them were wearing collars, leashes and leather harnesses, and the ones that weren’t had various leather items on their various body parts. Some were writhing together on the cold black tiled floor, while others were leaning against the walls. Some were tied to the wall by rope. This wasn’t actually a harem: it was a twisted sex dungeon. They all had white eyes, as though their pupils had been glazed over by the rest of their eye.
I heard the girls over the earpiece. Jo wretched, and Scarlett said in horror
Scarlett: My Goddess... what has he done to them?
Narrator: I examined one of the men more closely, and I realized where I’d seen his face recently.
RedWing: Oh my god, Jo… These are the people. The people who’ve been going missing. Not just from here in the city, but from up and down the coast.
Johanna: The trafficking victims? This… this bastard. [growl] I’ll update the cops, have them send EMTs. Keiran, be prepared just in case.
Narrator: I nose wrinkled in fury and distaste. I moved further into the room, looking past the victims, looking for their captor. There was a throne in the back of the room facing the door I had just come through. On either side of the throne stood two muscular men in their mid 30’s, wearing sunglasses, with the words Whore, Property, Slave and Sinner written on their chests and and abdomens. In front of the throne, 3 men of the twink variety sat in a daze. They resembled cats to me, sitting at their master’s feet. Sitting on a throne was Alejandro, who was reclining like someone with no cares in the world. He wore a dress shirt in the color of lavender flowers, black leather cuffs and armbands. His brown hair was straight, falling in front of one eye, gelled and spiked in the back. He was wearing a silver tiara on his head asymmetrically with the center front over his visible eye. I had to hand it to him, as much as the thought curdled my blood, I thought he looked good. I mean, if you’re into the scene kid turned leather hunk look.
Alejandro: Welcome to my domain. You are the one they are calling RedWing then, yeah? [chuckle + tut tut tut] I should’ve guessed you were, Jordan. You were always a little goody two-shoes, weren’t you?
Narrator: Crap. I mean, I had figured he’s guess my secret identity, but it was still jarring to know that he had pieced it together.
RedWing: Where are Dean and Tim?
Narrator: Alejandro raised his hand dismissively pointing at the right wall. And there was Dean, chained to the wall and ceiling. He looked physically alright, except for his eyes, which resembled everyone else in the chamber. Tim looked the same as he had before, constricted to the chair. His head lawled to the side, indicating to me that he was unconscious and hadn’t heard my name.
RedWing: What have you done to these people, Alejandro? What did you do to Dean?
Alejandro: If you want me to tell you that, drop your dart thing, and let my men tie you up.
Johanna: [buzz] Don’t do it, J. He’s deranged and trying to disarm you.
RedWing: I don’t have a choice.
Narrator: I truly didn’t have a choice. I could feel Alejandro’s words enter my brain, commanding me to drop them. I dropped my dart.
Alejandro: Boys, secure the newest prisoner.
Narrator: The two men from the thrones’ side, tied my hands behind my back. They dragged me by the shoulder, and pushed me to kneel before Alejandro’s throne, flanked by the possessed twink boys. Alejandro stood, kneeled and lifted my head to face him. On his fingers, he wore steel armor rings with the fingertip of each one ending in a sharp point. I felt his fingers on my cheek. Our eyes met and I snarled. He grinned at my snarl.
Alejandro: I’m not surprised you don’t remember me.
Narrator: Alejandro sneered, knowing I was a little bit at his mercy. I’d have to wipe that smirk off his dumb face soon.
Alejandro: I didn’t really attract any positive attention. I never have. That was always left up to the boys like you, the handsome ones, the fearless ones, the ones that had parents who he knew always loved him. And all I ever got were bullies.
Narrator: I looked into his eyes, trying to search my memory for eyes that matched those. And then it hit me. The day I met Dean for the first time, the day I decided to stand up for that one kid, being picked on. That kid had the same eyes as this guy.
RedWing: You were the kid I saved that day… Almost 15 years ago.
Alejandro: So finally you remember. Heh, good. Good…
Narrator: He strokes my cheek with his fingertip slowly, not enough to draw blood, but leaving a scratch. The way he was staring at me, appraising me, I wasn’t sure if he was going to punch me or try to kiss me. He pushed my chin to one side, but my eyes never left him.
Alejandro: But now look at you here, on your knees before me. I’ve wanted this for a long… LONG… time. When we were in high school, I’d wanted nothing more than to have you look in my direction, acknowledge me, ‘be my friend’ or something like that. You had everything I wanted. Not the money, not the house, not the clothes... no, it was something else. It was the love.
Narrator: He spat that last word, but I didn’t wince.
Alejandro: You even got a second family after your first was killed. Someone wanted you. Not all of us are that lucky. After my mother died, my dad didn’t pay attention to me until he caught me with a school picture of you, and then he decided any gay boy attracted to you wouldn’t be his son anymore. I lost the only real family I had because of you. But you [chuckling] You lucky bastard. You told people who you were, you were able to be your true self, and everyone loved you for it. You made it look so easy. That same year I met you is when that happened, so you could imagine how much I could’ve used some help. But you didn’t help me. You ignored me.
RedWing: Look, Alejandro...
Alejandro: Call me Al, Jordan. Saves time, and besides, we go WAY back.
RedWing: Fine. Al. I snarled, and turned to look him squarely in the eyes. You could have come up to me. I couldn’t have known you needed someone in that moment. I would have helped you, like I did that first day. But I didn’t know. That doesn’t make up for your father, but...
Alejandro: [powers] Oh, shut the fuck up.
Narrator: I clamped my mouth shut.
Alejandro: [laughs like a mad man, before it gives into RAGE] You’re so full of shit. You don’t care about me and you never have. And why would you. The summer after you ‘rescued’ me, I walked all the way up to your house on the hill. I wrote you a letter, and I left it on the steps. I waited for days…. weeks. I left it there, and checked back everyday for a month. You never replied.
Johanna: Oh, fuck. We were away that summer, remember? That was the summer you started training. And even then, you didn’t live there.
RedWing: I never got that letter, Al. I was away that summer… I also didn’t live there. I... I am actually sorry that I wasn’t there when you needed me.
Alejandro: [slipping into insanity] When you didn’t respond, my heart broke. That was the day I vowed I’d have everything you had. That evening I learned that I had something... The heartbreak changed me. I became something irresistible to men. Men of all ages would approach me, and lust would fill their eyes, and they’d chase after me. Perverts, the lot of em. It even worked on my uncle Geno as I found out that night. He tried to touch me, and when I rejected him, he began to beat me. The whole time he beat me, all I could do was blame you. Something broke in me that very moment. When he stopped beating me, he looked fearful and ashamed, and I looked him in the eyes and told him to jump off the building. And wouldn’t you know it? He did. Right at that very moment.
Scarlett: Jordan, dear, I figured out his powers.
Narrator: Scarlett sounded cool as a cucumber, in the earpiece.
Scarlett: From his Santiago side, the Temptress side, he gives off powerful pheromones. From the Parcelli side, he can make people do what he wants them. He gives a command, and it is carried out. That power comes from his vocal cords, and the vibration they make. These 2 powers have been passed down from generation to generation, in both the Parcelli line and the Santiago line. He’s dangerous, keep your guard up.
Alejandro: My father heard what had happened. I was shocked, because for the first time, he said he was proud of me, but he still disowned me. Couldn’t have a fag in his family line. So he sold me to another family. That family built this dungeon to keep me in, and they’d send me trainers and teachers. Recently as you can see, my father got back in touch with me, and gave me a task. They had me take these people in for ransom. You see their eyes? They are my slaves. They are all in thrall to me. They will do whatever I command, with whomever I tell them to do it with. If I told them to go out and kill your father, they’d find him and shoot him in the street. If I tell them to go home with a powerful man to be his sex slave, they will do anything that man asks. It’s a very lucrative practice. People pay good money for things like this. And each time, my dad says he’s proud of me.
Alejandro: There are very few things a boy won’t do for the love of his father. But all that time, with every new toy I brought into the dollhouse, I was plotting vengeance. I wanted you to feel how it felt to have no one who loves you, I wanted you to be alone. I wanted you to experience my pain. If it weren’t for you, I’d have been normal. If you hadn’t rejected me, I wouldn’t have killed my uncle. My father wouldn’t have looked at me like a murderer, faggot, and whore. I would’ve been FUCKING NORMAL.
Narrator: On the last word, he grabbed my face, digging the fingertips into my face. He snarled, and kissed me full on the lips. I wanted to vomit. He licked my cheek, and then smacked me across the face, leaving vicious scratch marks. I fell to the floor, and rolled onto my back. He put his foot on my chest, pushing the air out of me. He laughed and snarled again.
Alejandro: [full joker level unhinged] Who’s the bitch now, huh, Jordan? WHO?!
Narrator: Jesus, he’s really unhinged. Jo mentioned her father and a team of cops being 7 minutes out. I had to 7 minutes to figure out how to subdue him, and free everyone in here.
Alejandro: When I learned how happy you were with Dean-o over there, the one who, all those years ago saved us both from those bullies, I just knew what I had to do. I waited until I heard you fighting and you ran out of the house. But you want to know something, Jordan? I didn’t have to use my powers on him to make him do anything. He wanted to do it because he wanted to hurt you. The only thing I used my power for was to make him last until you came home, so you could watch your beloved Dean betray you. He chuckled, the malicious grin on his face growing wider and wider. I tried to look away from him, but he used his boot to force my eyes back up to his.
Alejandro: [laugh while saying] But still you didn’t break. So, I tried to kill your remaining family members. I had one of my toys do it. He reported that Detective Lovelace had been shot through the heart, but he survived. And you survived too. That toy is dead now, by his own useless hand. I knew the only place I’d get to beat you nice and proper was here, in my warehouse sex prison, where I am king. Or rather, where I am the only... Prince. And soon, I’ll control this city, either by sex or death.
Narrator: Ugh, really? Let us pause for a second to appreciate how... lame that villain name is. Like seriously. At least Batman had villains Joker, Ra’s Al Ghul and Bane. Villains with proper villainous names. But my first super villain and I get this Prince? Bullshit. Besides, there would only ever be one monosyllabic, mononymous Prince, may he rest in paradise.
Narrator: He lifted his foot off my chest and pulled me to my feet. He pulled back his arm and struck my face with an impressive right hook. I couldn’t move, not until he told me to. That’s how his power worked. I just had to get him to invite me to fight. I cut the handcuffs with a hardened forcefield and had gotten back up to my feet.
Alejandro: [channel a young gay joker] Come on, J. Fight me like a fucking man. Bring it. Man to man, right now.
Narrator: He stood in fighting stance waiting for me to strike. I resisted his command, wanted him to throw it. He threw first, firing a few good punches, which glanced off me as I was moving away from them. He slid his leg under mine, knocking me over, but I rolled backwards to a kneeling position, next to my dart. I grabbed it, stood up and began to swing. Alejandro laughed at the small dart I’d brought with me to the fight.
Alejandro: You’ll never win with that ludacris tiny weapon.
Narrator: He jeered, and I was officially pissed off. I took a stance and swung my dart around in a figure 8 motion. I was going in for blood. I would not show mercy to him. He took off his dress shirt and was ready to fight me in a glossy black tank top. A saccharine smell reached my nostrils and I froze in my place. I felt my heart begin to race. He was using the pheromones to hold me steady and keep me from fighting back. I could almost see the transparent amethyst vapor rising from his body flowing into my nostrils. The pheromone cloud tightened around my neck.
Alejandro: [breathing heavy] You’re a strong one, Jordan. I’ve never had to use this much juice before.
Narrator: I began coughing. I was grasping for ideas for how to counteract or at least disrupt his pheromones in the air. He started walking toward me. By chance I looked up, and I got an idea. I was able to get out a thought before he got too close to me.
RedWing: WhiteHawk, Activate... Sprinklers...
Narrator: Within a few nanoseconds, there was a downpour of old pipe water on the room and I was able to move again. The smell disappeared. Al looked irritated, at so easily being thwarted and being so wet. The trafficking victims were shaking their heads and coming out of the haze.
Johanna: [cheering] Woooo! Smart thinking, J. The pheromones won’t hold up when mixed with the rust in the water from the pipes. Keiran, you’re on. Get those people out of there.
Narrator: Keiran came into the room, still wearing his helmet and jacket, but now with a utility knife and his medical kit. I wasn’t focused on him, I was focused on the fight at hand.
The rope of my dart wrapped around his left ankle, but before I could pull him down, he stepped on the rope with one foot and grabbed the rope firmly with the other. He pulled and I was jerked forward. He jump-kicked me to my cheek, and I wasn’t fast enough to prevent it. I was dazed for a second. With one tug, he pulled the dart from my grip, dropped it to the ground, kicking me square in the chest. I fell back, but got back to my feet. We traded punches and kicks for the better part of a minute.
Narrator: He took the upper hand and prepared to roundhouse kick my temple. I was dizzy and foggy and I didn’t think I could dodge in time. I squeezed my eyes tight shut and waited for the foot to connect.
Narrator: The strike didn’t land, however. I opened my eyes. I was in a forcefield, but it wasn’t mine. My force fields were always red, but this one was a swirling blue and purple color. I looked up and to my left and I saw a figure wearing almost the same suit as me, but sans emblem and with blue and gold accents where mine were red. He also wore an eye mask, and a navy blue balaclava covering his mouth and hair. His skin was the same color as my skin, and he was about my height. He held no weapon.
Johanna: Oh my god, is that... Jo asked.
Narrator: The man who has rescued me, who I had hunted for days, was crouching in a window. He glared at Al, putting him in a field. He raised the field up, and Al hung above me in a field. His field rose very quickly to the top of the ancient building.
Narrator: At the last second the field disappeared and Al slammed into the ceiling. Al then dropped from the ceiling to the concrete floor. I could tell he was down and out for the count, but not dead. I removed handcuffs from my holster, dragged him to a nearby pole, and strapped the handcuffs on his wrist and the pole.
I ran to free Dean from the wall. He was unconscious, but slowly regaining consciousness. I turned back to BlackBird, unsure what to say. He looked at me, and I looked at him.
RedWing: thank you.
Narrator: His voice was a slight bit deeper than mine with a cajun accent, but almost the same.
BlackBird: Whatcha gonna do wi’ dat cooyan over der? How yall gonta keep him from silvertongue-in’ his way out de custody?
Johanna: As a matter of fact, we have. It’s just an idea. Keiran came up with it. He’ll explain it.
Narrator: Keiran came over.
Keiran: Okay, So I have a theory about where the pheromones are being generated, and how he uses that and language to manipulate people. Basically, he secretes it from his hands and arms, and various glands all over his body. I don’t really have any idea how to deal with that, but that won’t help him get out of the solitary confinement cell. According to this book, he would also have the mind control ability as well, but his is voice-dependent. If we disable the vocal cords, he won’t be able to manipulate any of the guards. This should do it.
Narrator: He took a syringe out of his pack, filled with a liquid. I turned to look at Alejandro’s unconscious form lying on the ground. I looked back to BlackBird to say something, but he had vanished leaving only one black feather in his place. What an exit.
I hovered over Alejandro. I looked at him, and his unconscious face looked serene, as if he hadn’t slept in days and was finally getting to rest. My heart felt a twinge of guilt. I mean, I didn’t reject him on purpose, and I didn’t know he existed, but my existing in the world affected him so much that he was ready to kill whomever he needed to get a chance to kill me. I couldn’t blame him for his pain, for feeling like he didn’t belong. I actually shed one tear. I watched my tear as it hit his tank top, absorbing into the material. I remembered what I was supposed to be doing.
Keiran poked the syringe into his throat. He pushed the liquid in, only a small amount. I thought I heard a sizzle.
RedWing: Jesus, Key. What is that?
Keiran: A low level corrosive acid.
Keiran: Relax, he will recover in a few months. It’ll give us enough time to figure something else out.
Narrator: I watched as Keiran took the syringe out, and I said a sentence as completed his task:
RedWing: Silent Men Tell No Tales. May You Speak No More.
Narrator: After I was done, I heard Dean moan. I rushed to his side to help him stand up. Keiran grabbed Tim, who was still unconscious, and carried him outside the building.
Jordan: Are you alright?
Narrator: He stood up with not much difficulty.
Dean: Yeah, I’m fine, but J... LOOK OUT.
Narrator: Dean pushed me to the side. I heard 2 gunshots, and I whipped myself around to face Al holding a gun. Dean had pushed himself in front of me. He’d missed me, but I watched as the second bullet entered Dean’s chest. Dean was knocked onto his back.
Narrator: I screamed. I looked at Dean with sorrow, and then I looked up to Al with rage. My eyes glowed a blood red color, and with almost superhuman speed, I took my rope dart and knocked the gun across the room. I hooked the rope dart around his neck, and I pulled down, letting his face slam against the concrete floor. He was unconscious again. Keiran ran back into the room.
Keiran: Jordan, what happened?
Jordan: D-Dean... he’s been shot.
Narrator: Tears began welling up in my eyes for my fallen love. I looked at his chest, and there was no blood emanating from the room. Strange... I bent down to inspect the wound, but there didn’t seem to be one.
Dean: Jordon, I’m perfectly fine. I had meant to tell you. After the shockwave, i woke up with you, but i also woke up as basically a ninja. A bulletproof ninja, yes, but still. I’m indestructible.
Narrator: Dean sat up and pulled the folding stealth knife he always carried on him. He put it to his wrist, pressing firmly down, and dragged the blade across his skin. There was no mark, not even a small one. And when I looked at the knife, I saw the blade’s edge had been dulled against his skin.
Jordan: Woah. Wait... I wonder... try my dart though? It’s Darque Steel.
Narrator: I handed him my favorite dart, and indicated he should just try the tip of his finger, just in case. He did, and with a lot of force and effort, he drew a single drop of blood before the wound patched itself up.
Jordan: Jo, are you logging this? I asked into the Comm.
Johanna: Every single clip. I can pull up the data on Darque Steel if you need it, but let’s get you both back here. My dad is coming.
Narrator: I had almost forgot. I heard the sirens that were only a block away, closing fast. Dean exited with me through the same window BlackBird had vanished from. Just like the night before, we travelled by rooftop, and I got to witness firsthand how fast and powerful Dean had become. I mean, he wasn’t The Flash or anything like that, but he was above average, and could easily win the Olympic Silver without breaking a sweat. We were almost equally as fast, but he managed to beat me and I suspected he was holding back. We stopped in the Alley next to the agency and went in the side door. As soon as we got in, I sent a text to Jared, asking him to meet outside the agency in the Alley as soon as he was done processing the criminals. He texted back, 20. 20 minutes. That’s how much time I had to address the squad.
I walked into the office, leaving my suit on, and took my seat at my desk. I looked around, and the whole team was standing around the room in repose, waiting for me to speak. The girls were smiling, holding each other and I smiled back. The gentlemen both had one eyebrow raised. I nodded to them. I pulled the black feather, the one BlackBird had left in the warehouse, out of my pocket and looked at it for a moment. I rested my elbows on my knees and folded my fingers in front of my mouth, my nose resting on my index finger. I closed my eyes for a second, looking for the words. When I felt I had them, I began to speak.
Jordan: Guys, what we just did... When I was 5, my dad brought me to the comic book store. I picked up a comic about Batman, protector of Gotham City. The day my parents were killed, I remembered Batman and how he vowed not to seek revenge, but to seek justice for all those who need it. I remembered what he thought Gotham could become. I remember the Green Arrow trying to save Star City. I remembered every hero suffering and promising that on the other side, there needed to be hope. They are symbols of hope in every one of their stories.
Jordan: I accepted that mission right then. It’s why I host fundraisers to deal with the streets. It’s why I became a detective. It’s the reason I donned this suit and mask. My family has been here since the beginning, and it meant so much to all of them. This city is comprised of smaller stories, of individuals who need a sign that things are changing. They need hope.
Jordan: Today we proved that we can be that. We rescued so many victims today of trafficking. We are responsible for people being reunited with their families. We... We are the hope for New Ark City. But I can’t do this alone. I need each of your skills, just like we saw today. That is the only way we will be able to get this done. This will not be easy, but nothing in life ever is, and never should be. When I walk out there and bring Jared into the fold, I want him to come in and see what hope looks like. I want him to see us as the true Guardians of New Ark City. I want him to see us... as a team.
Narrator: I closed my eyes and took a deep breath for a second. I opened them, and continued.
Jordan: I am RedWing. If you will join me, pick a codename close to mine and we’ll seal this as a team. Are you with me?
Narrator: There was a long pause, and for one moment, I thought they were all going to scream NO in my face.
Johanna: I am the WhiteHawk.
Scarlett: And I shall be... the Cardinal.
Narrator: Dean paused for a second in thought.
Dean: My codename will be… the SexyFlamingo.
Narrator: I cocked my head to the side and gave him my classic, don’t try me face. We paused, and everyone laughed.
Dean: [laugh] I’m just joking. The WarBird, I guess.
Narrator: I nodded. Made sense to me. Keiran was the last to speak. He looked around at us, as if he forgot he was in the room and had to make a decision too.
Keiran: [gulp] Well...I think I’ll be... Sparrow.
Narrator: I looked at the 4 people I had before me, and thought about these guardian angels that saved my life that day. Every single one of them was new to this, but this was one hell of a team. I put my mask back on and I went outside to the Alley. I waited a few minutes and then he arrived.
When I knew he could see my suit but not my face, I spoke, my voice being lower than it normally is.
RedWing: Chief Lovelace. Welcome.
Jared: Thanks. Word on the street is, you’re messing with the big fish. You reeled in a challenging subject today. I owe you a personal thank you.
RedWing: No you don’t. It’s what we do. But you’re welcome anyway.
Jared: You gonna show me who you are under the mask?
RedWing: That comes in a moment. Right now, I need you to see something.
Narrator: Jared paused, and I beckoned him into the Agency. Jared stood there, looking at our 5-person group. He was surprised to see Jo, Dean and Keiran and had no idea what to make of Scarlett.
Jared: Johanna? Keiran? DEAN?
Keiran: Hey, sir...
Johanna: Yeah, dad. Hi. Big day, wasn’t it?
Narrator: Johanna was smiling and smirking at her father. I walked around Jared, and stood in front of him.
RedWing: This is our base. I’m Redwing, and though you may have guessed who I was...
Narrator: I took off the mask, looked Jared in the eye and declared the first big thing we’d say in our first team speech.
Jordan:We are the protectors of this city. We are the bringers of justice. We stand for hope and change. We are... the Guardians Of New Ark City.