Crap. For some reason I thought I was next to last. I'm out all night tonight and most of tomorrow. I'll try to get something written up asap, but I thought I had time. Dang. ... When my turn comes, I might pass, since I still don't have an idea. I'm waiting for the idea fairy to smack me upside the head.
I'll make a spreadsheet tomorrow as well. (I assume one hasn't been made?)
EDIT: Oh. I just saw that the draft order was added to the first post. Dang. ... Ok, I'll come up with something.
The sign read, "Washington Monument, Closed Indefinitely for Repairs."
"Of course," the boy muttered.
He looked at the tourist crowd around him. Men, women and children of every race surrounded him, wearing clothes from thrift shops to boutiques, Some craned their necks up at the obelisk, some took selfies or pictures of each other with the tall stack of rock in the background, and yet others talked or walked on to the next destination.
The boy made a disdainful face at the throng, stiffening his back and crossing his arms. This did not make the short and scrawny fifteen-year-old at all imposing.
His expression faded after a moment, and he glanced around uncertainly.
"Took you long enough to get here, kid."
The boy went wide-eyed, then slipped back into a scowl. The old man was on the edge of seventy, tall, gaunt, and drawn with close-trimmed white hair and a long, dark coat. Impassive dark glasses matched his stony face.
"Who are you?" the boy demanded.
The old man flipped open his wallet in one hand and raised his sunglasses with the other, showing cold green eyes. The ID card identified him as a DHS employee named Henry P. Gyrich.
The boy nodded absently, then looked befuddled. "Wait—I was at the school..." he said, uncrossing his arms. "Then, I was in one of the planes, then in a car..."
"And then dropped off here, waiting for someone named 'Gyrich'." the old man finished, stuffing his hands into his pockets. "Grab your kit; you're with me," he said, turning on his heel and marching up the National Mall.
Th boy stared at him, confused, then glared at the old man's quickly receding back. A moment of clenching his fists at his side later, he snatched up his duffle and jogged to catch up. "Wait! Wait, old man. What's going on?"
Gyrich stopped sharply, half-turning back. "First, you'll call me 'Mr. Gyrich'. Second, it's cold. I want my afternoon coffee, and that's a walk this way," he said, pointedly stabbing a thumb in that direction.
The boy stared through him, then frowned. "My powers don't work." His eyes abruptly widened. "That bitch—"
"Watch your language," the old man said harshly, leveling a bony finger at the boy's face.
"You're joking," the boy said indignantly. "She's mind-controlled me—"
"I'm dead serious," the old man said, finger still pointed. "You will watch your language." He gave his head a tiny shake. "And I know your old headmistress. She's endlessly patient with dumb, young kids. She wouldn't have railroaded you here if you'd given her any other options."
The boy looked sullenly at Gyrich, then blinked. "Old headmistress?"
"Old. As in previous. Through natural talent and damn hard work, you actually managed to get yourself expelled from Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters the Summers Academy. That puts you in rarified company, kid." Gyrich paused, his expression turning neutral. "I understand there's a situation with your parents."
The boy's eyes slipped away, then stubbornly went back to the old man's. "They aren't my parents," he said stiffly.
The old man nodded without other reaction. "So, here you are. They can't dump you on the street, so they dumped you on me."
The boy looked around incredulously. "Why here? Why—who are you?"
The old man smirked in an exquisitely punchable manner. "Because this is where we work. I'm Homeland Security Under Secretary for Metahuman Affairs and Crisis Management. You're my official problem, and I'm your official mentor." At the boy's blank look, he said, "That means you're interning with DHS."
The boy's eyes narrowed with disdain, and he straightened for every bit of his full five feet one inch of height. "You're mistaking me for a sellout, Gyrich," he said, tensing for argument.
The old man only chuckled and resumed his progress up the Mall.
The boy stared after him. Then, gritting his teeth, the boy followed.
* * *
"'Sellout', you said," Gyrich said between sips of his coffee at the cafe table.
The boy looked up from his tea.
"Come on, I'm making a token effort to understand you."
"Sellouts. And that I'm not one," the boy said coldly.
"Why are they sellouts?" the old man said without concern for the boy's tone.
"Because they serve your state."
"It's their country, too." Gyrich said evenly.
"Genosha is their country," the boy said dismissively.
"If you like your democracy with a side of president-for-life," Gyrich said before taking a long drink.
"As opposed to this fascist, racist sham of democracy?"
Gyrich shrugged. "The one where you're the genetic minority and not an outcast without rights, no matter how much halfway-edgy rhetoric you throw around? Given how few American mutants emigrate anymore, I think that's the exact comparison we win at. But I digress—why are superheroes sellouts?"
The boy lowered his voice, leaning toward the old man. "'Superheroes' get rich by serving you instead of protecting other mutants," he sneered.
The old man rolled his eyes. "Not even my worst recruiters try to tell people they can 'get rich' in the federal government." At the boy's raised chin and contemptuous look, he shook his head. Then, as if the subject had just occurred to him, he asked, "Kid, have you ever wondered why we don't invade Canada?"
"...What the fuck?"
"Language," Gyrich said with a brief glower. "And answer the question. We're fascist, racist America, and they're right there, with all their oil and maple syrup."
The boy thought, then gave him a scornful look. "Let me guess, because Canadians are so nice that the noble American public would object to them getting conquered or genocided?"
"Canadians aren't nice, they're polite. Pick a fight with one, sometime, and you'll learn the difference. No, we can't attack Canada because NORAD is lousy with Canadians, all the way up to the number two guy, a Lieutenant General. He carries a sidearm right into Peterson and Cheyenne Mountain. If something went down, he'd raise...objections."
The boy thought. He shook his head. "That would never happen. It'd be unthinkable. Not like going after us," he said, waving a hand at himself.
The old man smirked again. "Up to the second World War, we had invasion plans on the books for Canada. Real contingencies, too, the things I used to work on, not the idle bullshit they've written up since. We might have trouble with the UK, or we might just need the resources. It was the Depression, after all." He threw back the rest of his cup. "Come the Cold War, though, and we're best buddies, building the DEW Line and setting up NORAD. Attacking them became unthinkable once they became indispensable. And after the Cold War ended, I built my career on making your people indispensible."
The boy sat back, his face trying to fight off uncertainty with more scorn. "So mutants might be able to survive if we serve humans?"
"And here, I thought you came from one of the best schools in the country."
The boy jerked upright. "With a 4.0 average."
"3.84, last semester. Weak in Biology. 'Human' means a member of the genus Homo. Human species include habilis, erectus, ergaster, neanderthal, georgicus, floresiensis, decendus, immortalis," he rattled off, standing and dropping his napkin on the table, "and, in large numbers today, sapiens, mermanus, and yes, superior or mutandis or whatever they settle on for you. We're all human. So, like it or not, welcome to the club."
Still smirking, Gyrich added, "Just don't piss off the bouncer. His name's Extinction, and he doesn't let anyone back in."
OOC:Henry P. Gyrich, after his involvement with the Avengers and Project Wideawake, took a new tack when the Berlin Wall fell: integration. He's built ties with Xavier's school and pushed hard for mutant rights and to get mutants (and other metahumans) into various levels of federal government.
He's still a smug asshole, though.
(Also, I'll assert the existence of a mutant-run Genosha and the School for Gifted Youngsters, but if anyone wants to rename the latter from "Xavier's", I'll edit here.)
A Very Bad Morning Part One | LA (Koreatown), 2019
Her cat, Mr. Snuggles, bats her eyelid until she wakes up, eyes still sealed in sleep. Mr. Snuggles is lying on her chest. Well, she thinks, that explains the nightmares. In the nightmare, her ex, Anok, was sitting on her chest. Not in a sexy way. And Anok was making out with her former best friend, Grace. As they were making out they both stared at her, smugly. Then she realized she was in Mrs. Pendleton’s class. And that she hadn’t studied for the big test. And then she realized she was naked. And everyone was laughing at her.
She grimaces at the thought of high school. And at the thought of Anok and Grace. She lies there, petting Mr. Snuggles, who clearly just wants her to get up and feed him. So she finally gets up. And steps on a wet mess of a hairball. “Oh great. Thank you, Mr. S,” she says, “God, I hope it’s not one of those mornings.”
In the shower, right as she’s soaped up her hair, the hot water goes out. “Fuck!” she screams, as she jumps back, her elbow hits something on the shelf and she hears a splash, and the music is suddenly underwater. Because it is. She just knocked her speaker into the toilet. She slips and slaps down on her ass and the soap gets in her eyes because, of course. The freezing water pours down. She sighs. It’s going to be one of those mornings.
A shoe lace snaps. She splits a nail. She’s out of milk. She can't find her favorite lipstick. Where the hell did she put it? Her car won’t start.
While getting out of her block, some stupid little kids race out on the street on their bikes. She slams on her breaks, spilling her burning coffee in her lap, and the kids flip her off. Damn it.
Traffic is hell. The 258 is insane. After a half hour, she gets onto the Santa Monica Fwy, and she finds out that her phone didn’t charge last night. What the hell? How is that possible? And her podcast cut off right as it was getting good.
Fuck it, she thinks. Keep your cool. She starts singing Drake at the top of her lungs from memory. She’s going to be late for work. Fuck. Janelle is going to be pissed. At least it’s nice out. Her beloved little Honda Civic is making weird noises again. Damn, she really wishes she could get one of those FF hovercars. Ping, ping, ping? What is that sound, baby car? Stay with me, baby. We’re both falling apart, but we’re gonna be ok, little girl. I love you, car.
An hour later, she’s still in traffic. She is listening to the radio. There was some sort of supers fight this morning. Megalox was fighting the WCA and tore up the highway. And she couldn’t take the rail was because that psycho Ül tore out the vibranium yesterday before The Tribe took him down. I mean, it’s great that no one was hurt, but the rail won’t be running again until Thursday.
Suddenly, everything whiplashes. Her head smacks against the steering wheel. Her foot pushes down on the gas and she slams into the car in front of her. A car hit her from behind.
Everything is still. She groans. Her lap is wet and for a second she wonders if she pissed herself, but then realizes she spilled the last of her coffee in her lap. At least it was no longer hot. She grimaces and gently touches her pained face. Crap, that's blood on her fingertips.
She’s listening to the tink tink tink of the car. She reconstructs what just happened when: Pop! the airbag goes off.
She tries to open the door and sees a man getting out of the car in front of her. He’s angry. He is screaming. Oh, fuck thi—
And she feels nothing but rage. And she bellows— and her windshield cracks, her iPhone cracks, the car mirror shatters. She squeezes her hands, which look different and the steering wheel bends underneath her grip and the airbag pops like a soap bubble. Fuck traffic. Fuck LA. Fuck these people. She pounds on the dashboard which crumples like paper, and suddenly the car is getting smaller. She is enraged. Not her poor little car! NO, she screams in a guttural voice. She stands up, the car in pieces around her. And she bellows in rage.
She is massive. Green. Angry. She tosses aside the asshole in front of her and goes to town on the Hov-Tesla behind her. It collapses with one swing of her fist. Everyone is running, screaming. She looks down and she is naked and bloated with unreal muscles. Which angers her. Some asshole is shooting at her with lasers out of his hands. She tosses a box truck at him. Another asshole is flying around her, like a bug, hitting her with sound waves, or something, and she tosses another car at her. There are all of these assholes and she just feels rage, so she starts smashing, and smashing, and smashing some more.
She leaps, and she’s suddenly high in the air. She looks down at the small puff of smoke behind her. That’s where she just was. She's falling. So mad. She smashes, face first, through a wall and into an empty store. She needs to get to work. So angry. She smashes out of the store and feels the building start to quake. She leaps again, sails through the air. Falling. Smashing. So angry. She leaps again. Falls again. She lands closer to work. So angry. There’s some old guy who is suddenly nearby. He looks familiar, but she can’t really think. He says something but she just pushes him. Old white man. Fuck him. But he is all taffy. She punches him. Fuck you, Old White Man. It’s like punching gum. She is screaming SMASH over and over. The Old White Taffy Man keeps bending and shifting, like water. She hates him. So angry. He is wrapped all over her, like tentacles. And she feels a prick. And everything gets blurry. No. No. Angry. So angry. She keeps punching Old White Taffy Man. She is getting sleepy. No. Angry. Everything is blurry. No. Angry. Everything is—
She opens her eyes. Her whole body is pain. She looks down. She is her. Not green. But no Mr. Snuggles. Is this is another dream? She is in some white hospital room. “Where am I?” she says.
An old white man hobbles up. “How are you feeling, Ms. Heard?”
“Who the fuck are you?”
“I am Dr. Reed Richards.”
“The FF guy? I thought you were dead.”
OOC: Meet the first identified victim of The Hulk Virus. Dr. Bruce Banner has been dead for years. He died of gamma radiation poisoning. Dun dun duhhn.