Nukes: It’s been several hours since your destructive excursion to the convenience store. You receive a text from Violet at about noon, interrupting your Netflicks binge watching. In impeccable grammar, the message reads
“Hey, I think we should try the Thai place over on Munroe Street. I’ve got a prep meeting for about 20 minutes and then I’ll be able to meet you…we said one, right? Meet you at one. <3”
As far as the news you’ve been browsing, the most charitable thing you’ve seen so far is a few excited tweets talking about a new cape in Los Doce, with the less charitable articles reading “Unidentified Parahuman Attacks Store; kills one; hospitalizes two.”
Overcast: I text her back. “sounds great V <333” “but uh, there’s something we need to talk about” I get off the couch, go to my closet and fetch something a little more presentable. Realizing that I might have a few bruises to cover up, I check the bathroom mirror, and get out my makeup.
Nukes: Hoo boy. That’s definitely a bruise on your jaw there. The ones on your forearms are less severe, but you hadn’t quite dissolved all the way when you got that fucker’s fist in your cheek. It’s not quite disfiguring, but it’s slightly hard not to notice. As you hang up and fold the spandex of your costume, you consider how you feel about the death of that skinhead. Sure, he had it coming. But you, accidentally or not, killed someone in that 7-11.
The other two got off with tasting their own fillings for the rest of their lives, from the sound of things. But still, it doesn’t change the fact that even though you risked your life for that guy behind the desk, he wound up turning more on you than the thugs. Maybe he was more intimidated by what the Riders would due to him if he spoke up, more than what you might do.
You’ve read about some of the things they’ve found happen to people who piss off the Pure Riders. The kind of death someone like Lynch or Zyklon can cause, or worse, what Cleanse does to people…You suddenly realize you fall under the purview of “someone who pissed off the Pure Riders”.
Overcast: The thought does not sit well. But of all the people to be up against, at least opposing them feels… right. I spend a few minute trying to cover up the worst of the bruises, particularly the nasty one on my jaw. Ech, still kinda hurts. While I cover things up, I start thinking about just how in the hell I’m going to explain all this to Violet. Not that that wasn’t already at the forefront of my mind.
Nukes: Speak of the devil…a text. “Oh no, what happened Rose? Are you alright?”
“I just got out of the meeting with the client, do you need me to come home??”
Uh oh, double question mark. She’s concerned.
Overcast: I send back a few texts. “nono, im fine” “well, maybe not fine but dont worry about it” “we ll talk about it over lunch, k?”
“I really really REALLY hope she doesn’t flip out.”I think as I apply the last of the coverup on my jaw. Soon enough I’ve got my good clothes on, car keys in hand, and I’m ready to head out the door and make my way to the Thai restaurant.
Nukes: “Thai Dye – Authentic Bohemian Thai Cuisine”
You feel like you just blundered into Southeast Asian Woodstock. Everything is draped in beads and Buddhas, and the smell of Pad Thai mixes with Curry and a faintly skunky smell you think is coming from the “employees only” room. Violet is sitting in a booth, reading a menu. Her face lights up when she sees you, then her smile turns into a frown, and her eyebrows furrow, and as you sit down she just says in an urgent voice “Rosie, what happened?”
Overcast: I fast-walk to the seat facing her in the booth. “Okay, this is going to be uh… A doozy. So you might want to get ready for it, but like, keep it down, okay?” I plead. Her serious expression and worried eyes speak volumes.
“Okay, so remember that night I came home beat to shit, pissed, and… wait, okay, maybe I should start with today…” I take a deep breath and swallow my hesitation. The look on her face is killing me, I can’t stand making her worry like this.
I lean in close, and in hushed tones, I whisper to her. “I’m a cape…”
Nukes: Violet’s eyes widen. She actually stammers momentarily for the first time you’ve seen…ever?
“Erm, uh, I…what? Rosie, you-you’re joking, right!?” She screams in a whisper.“How long!? Who did this to you? Why didn’t you just tell me?"
Her pupils are dilated and she’s breathing quickly. She looks at you and then seems to really, really look at you. She then slowly pulls out her phone and thumbs to a gif of security footage. Two men in leather jackets are tossed through a window. She turns it to you, looks you dead in the eyes, and very softly says “you didn’t.”
Overcast: I gulp, looking to the side guiltily. “I… I did. B-but, this was the first time. My first time out, okay, it’s not like I really wanted to hide this from you, Vi.”
Nukes: Violet stands up, touches you on the hand and just says “I-I need a moment.” She then promptly backs out of the restaurant, fumbling in her pockets.
Overcast: I follow after her, catching up to her just outside the door, a sorry expression on my face. “Vi…”
Nukes: Violet is fumbling with a cigarette and a lighter, for the first time you’ve seen in over a year.
“Please, Rose. Just…why? Why didn’t you go to the authorities!? Why didn’t you just tell me? I know what I said about capes all those times but you should have trusted me!”
She flicks a cheap lighter a few times and doesn’t get a spark. As she notices the cigarette in her mouth, she tears it out and throws it on the ground. As she stares at the ground, she’s quiet for a few moments. She sniffles, wipes her face with a cloth from her pocket, and composes herself.
“I think we should maybe order to go.”
Overcast: I clasp my hands, awkward expression still all over my face. “Yeah…” A few minutes of relative silence and an unexpectedly swift order later, we head home, Thai food in tow.
Nukes: You take separate cars, and you spend the ride alone in tearful, uncomfortable silence. Violet hasn’t touched a cigarette in, like a year. Why did she even have one with her? This case must be getting to her head more than she’s letting on…and then she got this dropped on her. You pull into the lot, and park your van.
As you open your apartment door, Violet is sitting on the couch, having looked up from untouched curry.
“…Tell me everything, Rose."
Overcast: “Okay…” I sit down next to her, eyeballing whatever “pad kra pao” is, before taking a deep breath, and letting it out. “That night when I got beat up by the PRs. That was my trigger. A-and I didn’t want to… I didn’t want to freak you out, or worry you, or…” I sigh. "Ever since then… I thought, if I have these powers then, maybe… I mean, maybe I should be a hero. Maybe that’s what the world has planned for me? And yeah, I did just do something stupid, and… rrgh.”
After a brief moment of silence between us, I break it. “I got a tip on the internet that the Pure Riders were fucking around near Soledad, and I should have had more of a plan than I did…But like it or not, there’s a new cape in town. And it’s me.”
Nukes: “It’s…a lot to take in, Rose. You know how I feel about vigilantism. I trust you…but what you did by the beach was dangerous. Dangerous and dumb. If you’re really serious about this, I’ll do what I can to help you…but I need to know some things. I canceled my 2:30, so I’ve got time. We need to make a plan. I seriously think you should go to the Wardens, they’re at least legally in the clear and they have the resources to help you. I’ve seen what happens when the wrong people get powers, and I don’t want to see you get hurt or worse. I’d never forgive myself if you got hurt and there was more I could have done.”
Overcast recalls The Wardens
Nukes: [The Wardens are the Government-sponsored syndicate of superheroes formed in the wake of 2003’s attack on DC by the Endbringer Typhon. Consolidated out of hundreds of super teams across the nation, the Wardens have been the driving force over the last decade in battling Parahuman crime in the United States.As the first line of defense against insane capes and monsters like the Endbringers, the Wardens are well-funded and hold near celebrity status. The local branch, led by the telekinetic Adept, are locked in a PR war with Corporate-funded team The Olympians, when they should be dealing with the immediate threats to public safety.]
Overcast: “The Wardens, Vi? Seriously? Their egos are almost as big as the Olympians’! And I really don’t want be part of a team more concerned with their public image than actually helping people… Even… Even if that means I’m putting myself at more of a risk."
Nukes: "I…I just can’t feel comfortable knowing you’re going out there with no safety net. I’ve seen people do some scary things, Rose. I might feel more comfortable if I could…maybe see exactly what it is you do?”
Overcast: “Uh…” I wanted to say “Yeah, sure.” but in that moment, the world slowed to a stop. My mind raced back to the the convenience store. The ruined mess, the body, the cowering angry man behind the counter. I snap back, silent as the grave.
Nukes: “That bad? I…I’m having a hard time thinking of somewhere private enough…oh! We can go up north, maybe to the flats out in Fulton? Nobody would bug us out in the desert.”
Overcast: I nod. "Mmn, yeah. “ I grab my keys, take Violet by the hand, and head for the door. “Wait…” Stopped in place, I turn, looking at the Thai takeout on the table. I close everything up, shove it back in the bag and take it with us. “Come on, let’s go.” I say as I go back to the minivan, Violet right behind me. The ride over to Fulton is far less talk-saturated than a ride without Thai food would be, making it almost seem quick.
“Alright, here we are. Yeah, doesn’t look like there’s going to be anyone around to see…” We exit the car.
Nukes: “Alright, you can show me now, right?” Violet chimes in.
Overcast: “Yeah.” I walk out a fair distance away from her. I turn back towards her, and take a deep breath, instants later, my body begins to dissolve into vapor, a huge cloud forming when I was, or rather, where I still am.
Nukes: Violet’s eyes widen for the second time that day, and she sits very hard down on a chunk of upraised concrete. The cracked sign for the “Fulton Shopping Sooper-Plex” that never came to be creaks slightly.
“Well…there goes my last hope of this being an elaborate prank…”
Violet begins to chuckle, then she begins to laugh, and then she guffaws, and then she throws up.