Justice Wing, Serial, Superhero

⎇001JW Becoming Leather: Greenhorn #1

This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series Becoming Leather - Greenhorn

“That’s enough!” the officer processing Leather snapped. “Pipe down!”

Leather snorted, then stared at the officer. “Did you just… did you just tell me to pipe down? Are… are we actually living in a Heinlein novel? You have to tell me if we’re living in a Heinlein novel or it’s entrapment. I know my rights.”

The alternate universe coded ⎇001JW is home to parahuman heroes and villains, with none being more famous or celebrated than the legendary Justice Wing. However, in the wake of a planetary disaster and a shocked populace, tensions between parahumans and prosahumans have never been higher, and the public’s faith in heroes has never been lower. This is Justice Wing In Nadir.

Becoming Leather: Greenhorn #1

February

Anchor surged forward, dark radiance lining his arms as he curled his arm back. With one thrust he slammed his fist into an explosion of dark power that blew Thunder Lass back into the concrete wall hard enough to crack it. Off to the side the shark-woman Malie snarled as she savagely attacked Truncheon. The rest of Anchor’s crew — four thugs, henches, not powered — had been swallowed up by an inky blackness, which meant Upsilon had probably already laid them out.

Thunder Lass fell forward onto her hands and knees. Any normal woman would have been killed, but the electrokinetic was preternaturally tough, which was probably why her red hair glinted like metal. Anchor drove forward for the kill—

Tendrils of reddish electricity traced a nearby Temple Hotshot all-electric car. The roadsters were pretty much drive-by-wire computer controlled, with almost seven hundred horses under the hood. Anchor had been closing for the kill when the Hotshot’s wheels squealed, distracting him for a moment. Since the car could do zero to sixty in under three seconds, that moment’s hesitation was enough for the Hotshot to slam into Anchor and smash him through a chain link fence.

Anchor spun, the dark force outlining strands of muscle as he pulverized the car. Almost growling, he twisted to follow up—

Thunder Lass had thrown herself up into the air, her red electricity now playing over her blue suited form. A torrent of electrical power rained down on Anchor, causing his muscles to spasm before he fell back onto the ground. From the corner of his eye Anchor saw Truncheon flipping over Malie, who’d just had a concussive pellet shoved in her maw. He drove his telescoping baton down into Malie’s back, delivering a massive taser charge of his own.

Another electrical blast tore into Anchor, who screamed in pain and frustration. He forced himself up, but by the time he’d found his footing through the electrical barrage, an amorphous darkness was rising up from his feet and spreading up like inky tar. Upsilon had finally turned her attention to him directly. Between the Lady of Darkness and the Lady of Lightning, Anchor’s radiance overtaxed and consciousness left his body.

Curses. Foiled again.


Anchor had his head down, listening to the bustle in the Santa Domingo Parahuman Advanced Tactical Enforcement and Response unit of the S.D.P.D. With the Silver Horseman having made his home in Santa Domingo for so long, they were actually pretty on the ball for a smaller city like this one, but that didn’t mean they were equipped for this much business. A first tier villain, his second tier lieutenant, a pack of henches — that alone would make them busy. But beyond that, they’d already locked up a third-tier earlier that day, and if that weren’t enough they had yet another guest being processed. Santa Domingo’s resident hero was called the Silver Horseman — he’s who Anchor had expected. Instead, the Horseman’d been out of town fighting a fourth tier kid, which meant fucking Justice Wing was on call instead.

Well, okay. An ex-Junior Justice Winger, an ex-Protector, and an ex-Excelsior — but then, they were all Justice Wing these days, right?

Two of them — Thunder Lass and Truncheon — were still on hand while the PATER team processed the villains. They’d talked to the Horseman briefly, but he’d punched out pretty fast.

As it was, Anchor could hear what Truncheon was saying — though he was sure they didn’t know that. Having been bioengineered for life under the seas, a lot of Anchor’s senses were better than human normal. Truncheon was being all attentive. “They’re pretty docile for now, but that could change in an instant. Are you sure you don’t want us calling in DETAILS?”

“Yeah,” the PATER team commander said. “If you two can hang on a few more, we’ll get these guys into chambers.”

“Do you guys have enough?” Thunder Lass asked. “It’s a bad idea to double them up.”

“Oh, I know. Yeah, we have four. A ballot initiative funded them. Barely. A lot of people thought it was overkill. Turns out we fill them maybe two or three times a month. We already have Tenterhook in Chamber 4, so…”

“So you’re filling up. Gotcha.” Truncheon looked around. “So… what do we know about the kid?”

Anchor frowned, looking off to his left. He could see Malie in the far corner, thrashing against her negation restraints. Anchor didn’t bother — if he resisted them, he’d break out of them too easily, and this wasn’t a big enough deal to tip that hand. But Truncheon wasn’t talking about Malie. ‘The kid’ was the girl a few desks down. She was wearing a one piece leather motorcycle suit, and had an unnaturally black bob haircut. She clearly wasn’t used to the negation restraints, but was putting more energy into being youthfully defiant than actually fighting them.

“Her?” the cop sounded amused. “She goes by ‘Leather.’”

Truncheon chuckled. “Well, that’s on the nose, isn’t it?”

“Be nice,” Thunder Lass admonished. “I kind of like it. It’s straightforward. Is that… a racing suit?”

“A Dainese,” Truncheon confirmed. “A pretty good one. Smart thing for a new kid to wear — she’s better protected than most of the day one crowd. What is she — sixteen? Eighteen?”

Anchor saw Leather stiffen slightly, then relax. Truncheon was speaking softly on the other side of the room. Anchor’s hearing was good enough to make him out. Clearly Leather had parahearing too, and they didn’t know it.

“No idea,” the cop answered Truncheon. “She’s been running amok down in Sanbornton for a few months. The Silver Horseman finally decided to go put a stop to that — right on time for fucking Anchor to show up here.”

“Language!” Thunder Lass chided, though she sounded amused. From her, it sounded cute. But then, she always sounded cute. “I wonder… should we talk to Leather? I mean — maybe it’s not too late. What’s she done?”

“Stole a bunch of stuff. Took down a couple cops but out-patient only. The Horseman doesn’t think she really knows what she’s doing — she doesn’t have henches or anything, and I don’t think she has a lawyer.”

Anchor frowned, looking at Leather for a long moment. He then turned to the desk sergeant who was processing him. “Excuse me,” he said, his voice rumbling slightly.

The sergeant jumped in his chair. “What?” he asked. He’d been pretty focused on the forms.

“I’m very thirsty. It’s a medical condition. May I please have some water?” Anchor didn’t smile, and the rumble in his voice was disconcerting, of course.

“You can just sit there,” the sergeant snapped. “Shut up.”

“I am a gene-spliced, bioengineered life form designed to be perfectly amphibious,” Anchor answered. “Therefore, I need better hydration than most. I am making this request in a reasonable manner. Under the Parahumanity Recognition Act, refusing this request is a violation of civil rights and a form of active and discriminatory harassment. Neither of us want that.”

“Half the parahumans who come through here make that claim. You think you’re scaring me?”

“Check my file. I’m not making a claim. I’m asserting a fact which has been recognized in court. May I. Please. Have a glass of water?” Anchor lifted his chin. “My lawyer will be here within the next eight minutes. She carries equipment that can check my hydration levels. If you really want my case thrown out because of a failure to abide by the PRA and a lawsuit lodged against your department, by all means ignore my reasonable request.” Anchor leaned back as much as the negation restraints would allow. “It’s always fun to watch Parahumanity First find a new place to protest, especially when they settle in for the long haul. Generally food trucks start parking nearby to service the crowd, so your lunch options would skyrocket.”

The sergeant stared, then snorted, rolling his eyes and getting up to go get Anchor his water, trying really hard to look like that’s what he intended to do all along.

Anchor watched, then turned his head towards Leather and looked down at the floor. “Leather,” he subvocalized. “Don’t react. I know you can hear me. My name is Anchor.” He paused. “As soon as they finish processing you, they’ll search you, then bring you down to holding and put you in one of the chambers. I’ll end up on one side of you, Malie on the other. When I’m in my chamber, I will sit on the floor with my back against the chamber wall separating us. Sit down in the same place on the other side of the wall, and I’ll tell you more then. If you understand, let me know without letting them know.”

“Guhhh!” Leather suddenly snapped. “This is so boring. Can I at least meet Truncheon?” She tried to crane around in the seat, though the negation restraints made that hard. “Huge fan! And I love that suit. Do you, like, live for leg day or what?”

“…I’ll take that as a yes.” Anchor sat back up, looking forward. Despite himself, he smiled.

“You have to balance your workouts,” Truncheon called back in response. He had an easy smile on his face, and looked relaxed. Truncheon was old school cool. “Your glutes only get so good if you neglect your abs.”

“Ugh. Don’t talk to me about core muscles. I spent a decade on core muscles—“

“That’s enough!” the officer processing Leather snapped. “Pipe down!”

Leather snorted, then stared at the officer. “Did you just… did you just tell me to pipe down? Are… are we actually living in a Heinlein novel? You have to tell me if we’re living in a Heinlein novel or it’s entrapment. I know my rights.”

“Just shut up so we can get through this.”

“Right,” the sergeant said, walking over with a Nalgene bottle full of water. Points to them for going hard on volume, Anchor supposed. “Here’s your—“

“Sergeant!” Truncheon snapped.

The sergeant froze. “What?” he asked.

“Hand to him over your desk. Don’t walk around to hand it to him.”

The sergeant looked at Truncheon, then Thunder Lass.

“He’s right,” Thunder Lass said. “Don’t get within grasping reach without backup and a suppression team.” She smiled. “And you know that. I know you do. But we all need reminders sometimes and it’s been a crazy day.”

“Yeah…” the sergeant said. He stepped behind his desk, then offered the Nalgene bottle over the desk to Anchor.

The negation restraints made reaching over a bit tricky, but this wasn’t Anchor’s first day. “Thank you, sergeant,” he said, nodding. “And for the record? I wasn’t trying to get you in reach. I really do need the water.”

“Sure,” the sergeant said, warily. “Let’s get this over with.”

Anchor sipped the water. Tap water, but what could you do? “By all means. I’d like to be through this before my lawyer actually arrives. Saves us time on the back end.”

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