The following is a complete work of fiction.
This is my first City of Heroes Fan Fiction. If you are not a person who knows the City of Heroes MMPRPG, some of this story may not make sense. However, like my X-Universe Fan Fictions, I have written enough background into the story that I believe it is accessible to anyone who likes science fiction and comic book worlds.
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City of Heroes - Book 1
Awakenings - Chapter 1
"Get your fucking hands off me!" I yelled, trying to pull free from the restraints. This was fucked up. I was Killer's second; shit like this didn't happen to me.
Craig grinned, his skull painted face wasn't as menacing as the anger in his eyes. "You've been holding out too long, Jasey boy. We finally get those legs of yours apart."
"Shut up, Craig," Jeff snarled, making sure the band across my waist was secure. "And loosen up on those; secure, not strangling."
If this was a rape, I'd have thought they'd strap me face down. With all the restraints, there was no way they could get my clothes off without cutting them off, and accessing anything else was impossible. Unless there was a trap door or hole in the table; I couldn't tell, but the idea that the table could be turned up or flipped sent a chill down my spine.
Craig tightened my other ankle even further, causing me to wince. "Got to make sure he can't get loose until it's over," he joked, looking at me from the base of the table. "We're going to enjoy this more than you do."
"Short sighted, and stupid." Killer's voice caused opposite reactions from my captors and myself. The lights in the room dimmed just because he wanted them to; that was power. Killer's abilities scared the others, but I always felt safe in his shadow; no one could see me there. "Have you thought of what he will do to you once he's free?"
Craig didn't say anything.
Killer glanced at my bruised jaw. "I told you to make it look like an abduction, not swell his mouth shut."
Look like an abduction? I stopped my struggle and waited.
Killer walked over to the table, checking my straps. The skull on his face distorted as he frowned. "Loosen these, shit head. He'll need his feet when this is over."
Craig grumbled, but did as he was told. I tried not to flinch as the pins and needles of blood flow returned to my feet.
Killer moved up so he could look in my face. He wasn't happy with my jaw and black eye, but he smiled anyway."I got a surprise for you," he said in a low, almost sensual voice. "Do you trust me?"
Killer was ruthless and driven, but he wasn't cruel. Of all the Bone Daddies, he was the only one with any sense of honor. He could see the bigger picture. He wasn't all about the quick profit, attitude, and treating people like used condoms. Yeah, I trusted him, but that didn't stop my trembling. I nodded.
He bent low, his breath hot against my ear, and whispered, "This ain't been sanctioned; new mix. The Skulls need some new blood and new talent."
My eyes widened as he stood up and I saw the syringe. Something about the mix didn't seem right; I could feel it.
"If this works, kid, you'll be the most kick-ass Bone Daddy of all of us." Killer grinned at me. His skull painted face made his smile more menacing than I thought he intended. "Then you can have a name."
I wanted to be "the" Death's Head. I wanted people to say my name the way I said Killer's, with awe. The Bone Daddies called upon the dark forces of the psyche and snuffed out their victim's lives. They took on identity names just like the Capes. They weren't the guys flying around in spandex and shooting energy bolts from their hands, but names were power and the Bone Daddies had that. I was going to be a Boss; then I wouldn't have been scared all the time.
From the moment Killer depressed the plunger, my life became an ever increasing hell of pain and agony. The Superadine burned into my cells and set my brain on fire. I didn't even have the ability to be scared. I was just living pain; I just wanted to die. Looking back, it should have been a revelation that when facing all the pain life had to offer, death wasn't scary – living was. Before I lost consciousness I heard other screams added to mine, explosions, breaking glass, and I saw, just before everything went dark, a pair of eyes; they didn't look real. Maybe angels had eyes that kind, that sincere. It was a shame that wasn't the direction I was going.
For the second time in my life I woke up to the sound of heart monitors, distant calls for doctors to report to rooms, and the distinct smell of over oxygenated air. Groaning, I opened my eyes. The lights were dim, except for one reading lamp beside the bed. I turned my head, which throbbed in response, and saw the glint of bluish metal. The metal moved. I tried to focus on what I saw. The metal contoured, like a second skin, to a leg. My gaze traveled up that leg, around the book that was being closed, and passed the metalized chest to the face. I wasn't surprised by the skin that wasn't quite the right color, the mostly bald head, or the pointed ears. I was surprised that I knew those eyes.
"Welcome back, Jason." His voice was deep, with an odd resonance. I would come to realize, later, that it was almost musical if you listened closely. "Are you in pain?"
Fuck. A Cape. Damn paranormal police were just waiting to haul me off. Two years since the Rikti Invasion fighting to survive on the street, and I was going to end up the butt-boy for some ugly, hairy felon. Or dead.
"No," I lied, and looked back up at the ceiling. Angel's didn't exist; only freaks who spent their time "fighting crime" and "saving the world" did. I didn't know why I was disappointed, but I was. I guess a part of me wanted to believe in God. I'd thought I'd given up on Him when He took away my parents. I was wrong, but I still didn't trust Him.
"I am relieved to hear it. The doctors have been concerned that you might suffer long term damage from the overdose." His smile was reserved, but honest. "My name is Urioch."
I tried not to flinch as I felt a soft wash of calm pass through me. Where did that come from? I wasn't feeling calm. Yet the sensation was there, sort of between my gut and my heart, and wouldn't go away. "Nice to know I'll be in top shape when you put me behind bars." I gritted my teeth. The calmness hiccupped for a moment. I wanted it to go away. My head throbbed and the new sensations were quickly tying my stomach into knots. "You guys should have just let me die."
I couldn't stop the heaves when the next wave of feeling hit me. It felt like someone had kicked me in the gut. I was bending myself over the side of the bed and heaving. Not much came out, maybe some bile and spit. I'd had a super-burger and mega-fries before I'd been grabbed and taken to the lab. It took days to digest that much grease. That shit definitely wasn't in my stomach now. How long had I been in the hospital?
I hadn't even managed to get myself back against the pillows before there were orderlies and a nurse in the room trying to hold me down. Desperation, concern, determination, fear, anxiety; they were all hitting me at once. Those weren't my emotions. It was like the difference between hearing your own voice and having other people screaming so loud that all you can hear are their voices. The emotional chaos didn't help when I saw the nurse pull out a syringe and reach for the IV feeds.
I freaked. I wanted out. I wanted them away. I wanted all the gut twisting emotions fighting inside me to shut the fuck up.
The nurse, flew from me as if struck by an invisible wave. She slammed against the far as the orderlies rocketed away in opposite directions. I hardly noticed the feeling of IV leads tearing from me as the stands, lamps, and monitors where thrown around the room as if caught in a storm as I flailed in panic.
Suddenly, I was held in place by two strong, metal coated hands. With the power in his grip, the Cape could probably have broken my arms, but he didn't. He didn't even grip hard enough to hurt. He pinned me there, against the bed, and our eyes met.
"Jason, you're safe. No one is going to hurt you."
I wanted to yell at him, and tell him to leave me the fuck alone. I knew that he meant every word. He meant them so completely that it washed away my panic. How the fuck could I feel safe while being pinned helpless by a complete stranger and knowing that as soon as the doctors said it was okay I would be shipped off to prison? He held me with those alien eyes, those eyes I thought had been an angel's before I woke up, and the fight just drained out of me.
"I promise," Urioch said in that voice that made you believe even when you didn't want to.
I wasn't going to cry. I was nineteen. I had survived the streets of this fucked up city since my life had been taken away in an explosion of plasma and pain. I hadn't cried then. I wasn't going to cry now.
I found myself held against the cool metal of his suit, being hugged for the first time since my parents died, and I was crying. I hadn't felt safe, not truly safe, for so long I'd forgotten what it felt like. I didn't remember falling asleep, but I woke up some time later, alone.
I hated hospital gowns. I wasn't a huge guy, but I wasn't a skinny stick either. The damn thing didn't come close to closing in the back and I didn't like the idea of my ass being exposed all the time. I felt vulnerable enough without adding that to the equation. At least I wasn't freaking out any more. Knowing what was going on helped.
"How do you feel today?" She asked for the second time. Dr. Perrin was resting her chin in her palm as she leaned on the armrest of her wheel chair.
"Like I'm drugged." I still couldn't string more than a few thoughts together without effort. I'd had so many panic attacks since waking up that they'd had to give me something to calm me down.
She grinned. "I'll have them cut back the dosage on your meds. You should feel calm, not lethargic."
"I'm sorry about the window." The last attack had resulted in one of the orderlies being launched out of the window. Thank God Urioch had been arriving for a visit, or the guy'd have been killed. I didn't' have a problem with hurting someone if I had to, but I didn't like hurting people who didn't deserve it.
"I hear it was a pretty spectacular display. You realize you launched a two hundred and twenty pound man with enough force to shatter safety glass? You're lucky Dave's an easy going guy who's used to dealing with injured paranormals."
"Yeah, I haven't woken up with him giving me a chemical enema yet." I'd actually been worried about that the first night after the fit. If I'd been him, I'd have dicked me over big-time.
Sitting up, she slipped on her glasses again. "So, any thoughts about my offer?"
"I didn't know I had a choice." The last offer made to me hadn't been one to be refused. Hell, in the past few years I hadn't had any choices. Well, I guess I could have chosen to die. I crossed my arms, disturbed by the fact it made the gown ride up and spread. "When the hell can I get out of here?"
I could feel her drawing back behind that "professional wall" of hers. Ok, so she was a level fifteen telepath-empath and she could roast my neurons if I pissed her off. She could also prevent me from picking up anything from her. Most of the time she let me sense her. I wasn't sure what was more comfortable, knowing that she was sincere, or not having to feel what she was feeling. At times I really just liked not knowing.
"Your nervous system is still unstable, Jason. From the best we can determine, it is adjusting to the changes the Superadine made. Until we're certain that it is over, and you don't need the neural stabilizers, you're stuck here." She grinned. "You'll be in our tender care for a little while longer."
Better care than Killer probably got. He was locked up by the capes who'd attacked the lab. From what little I heard about the raid, he'd put up quite a fight, even grounded a couple capes before they got him. He'd have busted me out of this place. He was the only one who would. But he was in Brickstown, and I was here; at least until they shipped me off to Brick as well.
"Your daily visitor is arriving."
I groaned. It'd been a week since I'd woken up, and Urioch was like "old faithful." Every day about five in the evening he'd show up and stay 'til eight. "You know, it isn't very subtle for the PPRD to send the security guard every day. I could always get out if I wanted to when he wasn't' here.
Dr. Perrin laughed. "Jason, there is a police bot outside this room that keeps you here; safe from others and from your own impulses. Urioch comes here on his own. God knows why, considering you treat him like the enemy."
I sighed. I didn't want to, not really. Something about him disturbed me. It wasn't that I didn't trust him, it was the fact that I did. It was the fact that I missed him when he left. I hadn't missed anyone in years. It was annoying. I hated being needy. I'd been needy at fifteen. I was almost twenty. I didn't know why the fuck was I getting needy again.
Dr. Perrin looked at me, pushing her glasses back up her nose. "Earth to Jason, come in please."
I wanted to throw a pillow at her. She was a fucking teep. She'd probably read everything I'd just thought and would be making notes later. Still, it was better than having some ugly, deformed mutant using me as his personal cum-dump.
"When do we start?" I asked, wanting the interview to be over before Urioch showed up. I looked about, trying not to be looking at the door when Urioch arrived.
"As soon as I get it cleared through the PSD, that's the Paranormal Services department." She closed her notepad and followed my gaze for a moment. "Probably won't take more than a couple days."
Urioch pushed the door open tentatively. "I hope I'm not intruding."
His smile was the most welcome sight of the day. I felt like my guts had turned to goop. I pissed me off that some brainy bookworm could do that to me. Of course, most brainy bookworms weren't six feet six and built like a body builder. The average book worm didn't have eyes that could pin me in place or a voice that made me feel safe. I knew it was hero worship, like what you'd feel for a fireman who saved your life. That didn't stop me from hating the fact I acted like a star struck kid whenever he came by.
"Hey." I grinned like an idiot and hoped he didn't see the desperation in my eyes. Just having him there caused the pressure to drain away.
What kind of person took so much time out of his life to check on an OD'd gang member? "Why do you keep coming to visit? Don't you have other rescuees to visit?"
Urioch was getting used to my moods. He seldom responded to my spiteful outbursts. He would smile patiently when I ranted and he would point out the errors in my thinking in that damn, calm, peaceful, hypnotic voice of his. I wasn't sure what disturbed me more, the fact that I couldn't meet his eyes without feeling my gut clench, or the fact that his voice could lull me into minutes of silence.
"No, Jason, I don't."
"You're telling me in three weeks you haven't stopped a crime, saved someone from a burning building or busted up gang activities?"
He chuckled. It was like a smile in sound. I resented the warm, fuzzy buzz that infected my gut whenever he did that. "Of course I have, but none of them are struggling with new powers or important life decisions."
I melted. Some big bad gang thug I turned out to be. "Sorry."
"Do you realize you've said that one hundred and seventeen times since you woke up?"
I snorted. "Yeah, right. How the heck would you know that?"
I opened my eyes and looked at him like he was an alien. Of course, he was an alien, but that wasn't why I was giving him the look. "Eidetic?"
Nodding, he shrugged. "Sight, sound, smell, touch, taste; I remember everything."
I shook my head. "But I thought you said you'd lost your memory."
He nodded. I felt a pang of regret, or maybe a sense of inadequacy. With humans, I could identify the emotion immediately. With Urioch, it was like trying to understand something that was being translated without all the information. All I got was an approximation. What ever it was, I felt it so hard that my eyes almost watered. How difficult would it be to have to start over? Not just like I had, but with everything. To remember everything you ever experience, yet having no memories of anything prior to the end of the Rikti Invasion? That would suck.
"I remember nothing prior to waking up, like you, in the hospital."
"Man, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have gone there."
He smiled. "It was a legitimate question."
I laughed. "Where did you come from, Mars?"
He shrugged. "I don't know. All I know is that I'm not human."
Was the regret I was feeling his or mine? God, I'd done it again. "I'm sorry."
"One hundred and eighteen."
I rolled my eyes. I would have to be careful about what I said around him. It could come back to haunt me.
"Empathic awareness and psycho kinesis, and your genetic records had no markers for psychic talents." I was so tired of hearing all the information I already knew being regurgitated by an old, anal retentive Hun. Mrs. Patterson looked up from her file, lifting her glasses from that witch's beak of hers. "You are aware that you will be required submit to regular medical tests to assure that your powers and your health don't mutate again, correct, Mr. Kilroy?"
I focused on the pencils on the table. They rolled back and forth as I tried to keep from losing my patience. I was the guy who had to take antacids whenever more than one person was in the room. I was the guy who would cause items to fly about with an over emotional thought. Yet she'd been in the room, talking about me, my genetics, the changes made to me by the weird chemical cocktail the Skulls had shot me up with, for over a half an hour. "Yes, I know." I had to bite my tongue not to add, "You bitch."
She frowned. You'd have thought I'd said what I'd thought because her expression was getting progressively more severe. It wasn't like I was projecting my thoughts. I wasn't a telepath, neither was she, but damn if the tension wasn't building by the minute. She picked her glasses up off the coffee table in time to keep the pencils from rolling into them, put them back on, and looked into the file again.
"Your parents were upstanding citizens of Paragon City. In addition, they were public servants and, by all reports, good people. Your records up until you turned fifteen were in accordance to that: good student, capable athlete, and no record of behavioral problems." She looked at me significantly.
It wasn't anyone's business what happened when I was fifteen. I turned my attention from the pencils. I'd had the thought of sending them at her, and they almost did. The last thing I needed was to impale some old bitch with writing implements; even if a stake through her heart would have been an improvement. I began stirring her coffee; fluids were harder to manipulate than solids.
"The last two years prior to their deaths are a different matter." Her gaze dropped briefly to her cup, but returned to me as if I were doing nothing at all. "Though you maintained moderately good grades and held a spot on the junior varsity and then varsity wrestling teams, your record is not so clean. You were brought in three times; once for vandalism, and twice for petty theft." She set down her file, leaving it open. "The items you stole weren't even worth the effort."
I frowned. I hadn't stolen the shit because I wanted it. I'd just needed something to relieve the stress. "Yeah, I was a bad seed, sue me."
She reached for the coffee cup, and for a moment it resisted her attempt to lift it. She waited; I let go. "Trust me, Mr. Kilroy. If I could make every juvenile delinquent who flouted the system and thought he was better than the laws we all live by pay for his cost to society, I would." She sipped her coffee while she studied me.
How the fuck could she sit there and judge what I'd done? I hated the bitch. I grimaced as I resisted the urge to blast her across the room. She wasn't there. She didn't lose her parents. She didn't wake up in the hospital after her life was destroyed. She didn't spend months in the shelters, overlooked because she were too old to be a kid and too young to be put into the work force. I glared passed her to the silk plants; no one would care if I shredded a few cheap pieces of the decor.
"I lost family and loved ones as well, Mr. Kilroy. You were not the only unfortunate child to be orphaned after the Rikti Invasion." She tapped her finger on the coffee table, drawing my attention back to her. "Thousands of children were left at the mercy of the system, but you will note that we didn't have a sudden influx of thousands of criminals. You had options then, Mr. Kilroy, but you failed to make the right decisions."
The plants shuddered. I wouldn't do it. I looked back at her.I hated her. I hated her with every fiber of my being. I hadn't fucking failed. I'd survived. She could go to hell. "Fuck you."
"Not in this life time, Mr. Kilroy." She closed the file. "You have the option of being arrested for gang activities and incarcerated for a minimum of six months to two years." She looked at me, her eyes hard. I couldn't tell what she as feeling. All she felt to me was hard. "Or you have the option of participating in the paranormal parole program. You would be required to perform public service for the next five years. You would also be considered an employee of the city. You would be provided a moderate income, housing and food credits. You would also earn educational vouchers you could utilize to attend a participating technical school or Paragon University."
"I never graduated High School. It was blown up before graduation." The Rikti had blasted the place to hell. All that had been left was a huge crater that smoked for months. I'd gone back several times after leaving the shelters, but I hadn't been back to the place in over a year. I wondered if they'd ever rebuilt it.
"Your records indicate that you earned all the necessary credits for graduation, Mr. Kilroy. You were graduated, in absentia, along with the other surviving members of your class. You also had social security benefits available to you, and you were eligible for city employee family relief funds. If you had worked with the system you would have known this."
I glared at her. "Yeah, whatever. What's the catch?"
She sat back, pulling off her glasses. "The catch, Mr. Kilroy, is that your life will belong to the city for the next few years, regardless of your decision. You will either become a ward of the state, being answerable to your case worker and to your trainers, or you will become a state prisoner. I suppose the second choice would give you the illusion of being your own man, but I think you're intelligent enough to know the truth of that."
"Who'd be my case worker?"
She sighed, and I could feel she wasn't looking forward to the answer any more than I was. "I would, Mr. Kilroy. You would grace me with your presence once every other week for the next five years. It is a prospect I do not relish."
She wasn't the only one.
The incision spot still hurt. They'd outfitted me with a "medicom chip" the day Dr. Perrin released me from medical care. That had sucked. They had a chip in me that provided identification, medical information and an emergency beacon if my vitals went critical. I didn't like the idea that someone could monitor my heart rate from nearly anywhere in the city if he wanted to. I rubbed the spot absently as I looked down the prospective list of housing options.
"Any luck?" Kevin came back from getting his coffee and I could tell he wasn't eager to attack the piles of paperwork that walled the prison of his desk. Just like any social services office, his was too small, over stuffed, and just on the edge of being a fire hazard.
I looked up and shrugged. Kevin, the frigid bitch's assistant, wasn't bad to deal with. Thank God I could do most of the shit with him instead of through her. "It's like Russian Roulette. I spin the wheel and take my chances. Everyone here is supposedly a 'hero', but that doesn't mean he isn't a one wipe wonder or worse."
Kevin gave me an ick-face and laughed. "We've got some weird ones, that's for sure."
I groaned. "Yeah, like this guy." I pointed at the screen. "He can only eat raw meat and his body mutates every forty-eight hours. I mean, that'd be so gross."
Kevin grinned. "He's a good guy though. I don't like shaking his hand, but we've had some interesting conversations."
I cringed. "No thanks."
I kept scrolling through the database. All the normal, slightly weird, or just tolerable roommate options were non-existent. All the available roommates were the freaks. I wasn't looking for eye candy, or even a friend. I just needed a place where I could live for the next five years and not get sick being around the person I was stuck with. I'd spent nearly the last two years hating or fearing the people I associated with. I didn't want to go through that again.
I neared the bottom of the list when I stopped. It had to have been a mistake. I clicked on the link and the information came up. An apartment in Galaxy City, Ion Beltway district:. two bedrooms, a shared bath, on the third floor. I stared at the screen, my breath coming up short. I blinked a few times and then looked over at Kevin. "Is this right?"
He came over and looked at the screen. "Yeah, have you met him?"
I nodded, feeling a little numb.
"His roommate got married and has moved into couple's housing. The room was just made available this week."
I blinked. "Is that allowed?"
"What, getting married?"
"No, for a probate to room with someone with a level fourteen clearance."
Kevin shrugged. "Sure. There aren't any rules about that. I really don't know why he hasn't applied for better housing. Galaxy is good, but with his clearance, he earns enough that he could easily get one of the places in Steel Canyon." Walking back to his desk, Kevin smiled. "If I were you, I'd jump on it. My understanding is that his only unusual habits are that he reads all the time and that he has a much broader definition of 'food' than we do."
I just stared at the screen. Urioch. Did I really want to room with the guy who'd saved my life and for whom I had a major case of hero worship? If I was smart, I would have kept looking. I never claimed to be smart. I hit the enter key and sent in the application for placement. All I could do was wait.