CHAPTER TWO
SOMETHING STRANGE, SOMETHING SPECIAL,

SOMETHING OUT OF THE ORDINARY

     “Beep… Beeep. Beeeep! Beeeeep!” Scott’s alarm clock sounded. He rolled to the side of his bed and hit the off button, then drowsily sat up and rubbed at his eyes. He kicked away his blue blankets and got out of bed, walking over to his dresser. He pushed his dirty clothes from yesterday aside with his foot and pulled a black shirt and blue jeans from his bottom drawer. With a quick change of clothes he tossed his pajamas on his bed and stepped out of his room into the hallway.
     The dawn of a new day, and the only question he pondered to himself was what he would eat for breakfast. After finding the answer to his question in the refrigerator, he went through his morning routine of getting a quick shower, brushing his teeth, throwing on a white hoodie and grabbing his backpack. He then took one final look in the mirror, just long enough to comb through his short black hair. Once finished, he jumped into his shoes and was off.
     “I’m heading out! Bye Mom!” he shouted as he opened the front door.
     “Okay, bye Scott! Be careful!” his mom called back to him just before he left.
Off he went, running to the bus stop, sunlight just starting to warm the morning. He was the first to arrive and stood alone for about a minute before he saw his friend Jason come jogging over.
     “Hi Scott!” yelled Jason before reaching the bus stop.
     “Hey! What’s up?” Scott greeted.
     “Not much. You?” Jason replied, tugging down his red jacket.
     “Same. I finished the last volume of Revolt last night so I don’t have anything to look forward to during the weekend now,” Scott griped just before a school bus slowed down in front of them.
     “I’d invite you over Saturday but I’m going to visit my grandparents,” Jason said as he got on the bus, Scott following behind him. The ride was somewhat rowdy, as usual, but for Scott it seemed short and easygoing in comparison to the rest of the school day, which felt like it was dragging on forever.
     When classes had finally wrapped up, Scott parted ways with Jason, skipping the bus home so he could swing by the comic book store in town. He stopped a moment to pull out his MP3 player and headphones from his backpack. He turned them on, then after swinging his backpack on over his shoulders, he started a steady pace down the sidewalk.
     He bobbed his head just slightly out of habit to his loud and enthralling music, when out of nowhere an even louder ringing abruptly blocked out the sound. He yanked off his headphones but the ringing persisted and only seemed to grow louder, causing him to press his hands against his ears in an attempt to halt the deafening noise. Suddenly, the noise ceased, but along with it went the sounds of his surroundings.
     His heart began to race as he looked around at the silent but moving world. Trees stirring in the wind, cars driving on the roads just ahead, yet not a sound came from them. Then, for a moment it was as if everything slowed to stillness, and the echoes of a man’s voice rang through the silence.
     “He’s ready.”
     Scott’s heart all but leapt out of his chest as it happened, but just as quickly as it came, so did it go, and his hearing came back with the normal motion of his surroundings.
He looked down at his headphones, which laid on the concrete, still playing the same song. He hesitantly reached down to pick them up off the ground when, just as his fingers brushed against them, a sudden burst of fire broke them in two right before his eyes.
     “Gyah!” Scott yelled, hastily pulling his hand back. He frantically unplugged the cord that ran into his MP3 player and kicked the burnt headphone pieces away. He looked around but no one had noticed. Did that seriously just happen!? he thought to himself, placing his hand on his chest as he tried to gain his bearings. “Okay. Okay.” He tried to calm himself, but with a glance at his headphones his heart picked back up. He shook his head and ran to the corner of the street, where he caught his breath.
     Scott looked back and forth at the cars driving by as he tried to make sense of it all. He decided he had best skip the comic book store and head straight for home.
     He ran and ran until he got there. He threw open the front door and slid his backpack onto the floor as he kicked off his shoes, gasping all the while.
     “Mom! You home?” he called as he shut the door. “Mom?” he repeated. He walked into the kitchen where he saw a note hung on the fridge which read: Going to be late tonight. Pizza’s in the freezer. Love, Mom and Dad.
     “Great.” Scott sighed, sitting at the table and putting his head down in his arms. He reflected on the prior events, feeling uneasy yet curious. “Did that seriously happen?” he pondered aloud. He heard it, he saw it, he felt it, but what exactly took place? He did not know the answer, nor did he know whether it would happen again. The most curious thing of all, at least to Scott, was the voice that echoed through the silence. It was not one he had heard before. Not to his recollection.
     Scott stood up and headed toward his room. His thoughts had made him restless and uncomfortable with sitting still. He stepped through the entryway and turned back to shut and lock his bedroom door.
     “Ugh…” he groaned as his somewhat shaky hands struggled to lock it. Nervous as he was then, it compared little to when he turned around, for he did with the expectation to see his somewhat messy room behind him, but his heart skipped at the sight of a man now standing in the midst of it. He was tall and broad-shouldered and stood upright. His face was hidden by a helmet and his clothing was most peculiar, much like a costume in appearance with black fitted fabric and a charcoal-colored cape. The fabric had dark red details, such as a ring around the top of the neck and a thick stripe along each side that went from under his arms all the way down. The uniform covered him from his neck to his toes. Over his chest, shoulders, forearms and then from his knees down he had sleek armor which matched his cape and helmet in color. The armor seemed almost mechanical in appearance, yet with the strange touch of spikes that came up from the shoulders.
     Scott scuffled backwards against his door, his right hand reaching behind his back as he tried to unlock it while still keeping both eyes on the man.
     “Relax. If I wanted to hurt you, you’d already be feeling it,” the man said, the sound of his voice taking Scott’s attention away from his attempt to escape.
     “I…heard you earlier,” Scott said hesitantly.
     “You must be mistaken, this is our first meeting. I have, however, been tracking you for some time now,” he replied.
     “Wh…why?” Scott asked with unease.
     “I’ll explain, but not here.” the man strode closer and took hold of Scott’s shoulder before pressing a black colored device that was hooked around his right forearm.
     Scott tried to slip out when he saw him coming but was caught and whisked away with the man in the blink of an eye. They appeared in a white octagon shaped room set with computers and other processors. It had gadgets that looked like guns, knives and handcuffs mounted along the walls to the right, all of which matched the white theme. The floor was tiled, aside from the light blue circle they stood upon, and there to greet them stood another man, somewhat shorter in stature. He was clad in the same sort of costume as the man who brought Scott there, with a few variations such as the dark blue base color with light blue details and the sleek silver armor in place of the charcoal. Most notable though was the lack of a cape.
     Scott stood frozen in awe. “Maaaaaaan…” he said at last and began to grin. “Is this like some sort of command center?” he asked, his previous fears leaving him for curiosity.
     “Yes. This is Mainframe, our headquarters,” the man who had brought him there said. He walked to the center of the room, joining his comrade.
     “How did you build all of this?” Scott asked.
     “Hah, we didn’t. Long story short, my uncle gave it to us,” the man explained. “Now then, your name is Scott, correct?”
     “How do you know that?” Scott questioned, a slight degree of uneasiness still lingering inside him.
     “My name is Demitri, and this is Matthew,” the man said, gesturing first to himself and then to his comrade.
     “Hi there,” Matthew added casually.
     “We’re a lot like you, Scott. You see, we’ve both experienced things that were, how would you put it? Out of the ordinary,” Demitri said.
     “What do you mean?” Scott asked.
     “I saw what happened to your headphones. That’s quite an ability you’ve got there,” Demitri continued. “Like you, we’ve also got powers. But unlike you, we know how to use them.”
     “Wait, wait, wait, hold up. Powers?” Scott said perplexedly.
     “Yes, you know, like the kind superheroes have,” Demitri explained.
Scott’s eyes lit up and excitement overtook him. “Like superheroes? You mean I’m a superhero!?”
     “You know, he’s taking this in a lot better than I did,” Matthew murmured to Demitri.
     Demitri laughed and carried his conversation on. “Now don’t get ahead of yourself. Just because you have superpowers doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a superhero.”
     “Yeah, you have to do something heroic first,” Matthew added teasingly.
     “We’ll get to that,” Demitri said to Matthew, then he looked back at Scott. “Anyway, you’ve been blessed with a very special gift which is why you’re here. I can’t say I know everything about your particular powers, only what I was able to learn from Mainframe, but in any case I know enough to teach you how to use them.”
Scott looked at the large monitor connected to the main computer, then glanced at the other processors as he slowly turned back to Demitri and Matthew. “Sooo, that big computer, it reads information on people or something? Is that how you found me?”
     “We’re able to gather basic information on our next partner through Mainframe while their powers are inactive. During the time unique abilities like yours or mine are active, Mainframe locks in on the exact location of that particular person, showing a signal on the monitor to let us know,” Demitri clarified. “That’s how I knew it was time to bring you here.”
     “Uh… so, what are my unique abilities, exactly? I mean, I didn’t fly or shoot beams or anything, so as far as what your computer or whatever told you, what kind of superpowers do I have?” Scott asked.
     “You really are ready to jump right in, aren’t you?” Demitri laughed. “Come here and look at Mainframe.”
     Scott walked over to Demitri and Matthew, looking to the large screen.
     Demitri typed something in with the numbers sixteen-fourteen. It began playing an overhead video of Scott walking along the sidewalk and suddenly ripping his headphones away from his ears.
     “Whoa, okay, how’d you guys record that?” Scott asked nervously, his eyes still fixated on the screen.
     “Satellite, stoplight cameras, you name it. Mainframe has its own satellite and can also tap into some others. As far as this particular video goes, it detected your powers were active and homed in on your exact location, as I was explaining it could do just a moment ago,” Demitri answered then pointed at the screen. “Right there. Pay attention,” he said and Scott leaned in toward the screen. The video showed the moment in which he was reaching for his headphones and then the igniting flames that came out of nowhere.
     “I don’t…get it. What happened?” Scott asked, unable to fully grasp it.
     “That is your power,” Matthew said.
     “That’s right,” Demitri agreed. “Interesting enough, your powers were read as active before you actually used them, which may indicate that you have to accumulate energy first.”
     “Buuuut what is my power exactly?” Scott probed further, longing for a clear response.
     “You, my friend, can ignite objects. When you put your mind to it, that is,” Demitri answered.
     “You make things explode. Bummer for your headphones, but awesome for you!” Matthew said.
     “Yes. Quite a cool ability. But also a dangerous one you’ll need to learn to control,” Demitri added on a more serious note.
     Scott looked as lost as ever. “I didn’t do that, I just tried to pick them up off the ground!” he insisted.
     Demitri put a hand on Scott’s shoulder. “I know it doesn’t seem like it now, but that was you. Your powers are only just surfacing, and it may take some time before you’ll be able to use them at will,” he said, then gave a couple pats and pulled his hand away.
     “This is a lot to take in,” Scott said while seemingly troubled.
     “Oh yeah, NOW he says that,” Matthew exclaimed.
     Demitri shook his head in response to Matthew then focused his attention back on Scott. “I know. You don’t have to take in everything at once, though. Just say the word and I can send you back home to let this all soak in. That is, of course, if you can keep what you’ve seen and heard here a secret.”
     Scott scratched his head. “I can keep it all a secret, but I don’t need to rush home. I mean, I understand what’s going on, I think… It just started feeling a little surreal is all,” Scott explained.
     “Just started? Man, kid,” Matthew said in disbelief.
     “Well I dunno,” Scott shrugged. “I just kinda got distracted with all the technology and gadgets! But uh, I guess I should ask why I haven’t ever heard about you guys before? I mean, you are superheroes, right?” Scott inquired.
     “Right,” Demitri replied.
     “So shouldn’t you be on the news or something? Or in the paper? Seems like the media would go crazy over real superheroes,” Scott said.
     “Yes, I’m sure they would be all over us if word got out. But that’s the thing, Matthew and I, we’ve been a team for at least a good long year now, but we don’t work where the press could easily find us,” Demitri explained.
     “…Why not?” Scott asked.
     “Eh, kid,” Matthew started, crossing his arms and standing up straight. “We’re just two guys trying to help out where we can, but unlike some of the heroes you’ve maybe seen on TV, we can’t be everywhere at once, and we don’t always know where tragedy will strike next,” he said and gave his head a little tilt to the side. “Basically, we don’t want people to be depending on us. Once you’re out in the eyes of the public, there’s no backing out. You’ll find yourself under all sorts of criticism and pressure, and I really don’t want to go through that kind of hassle.”
     “I guess I can understand that…” Scott said quietly and there was a moment of silence.
     “…All right!” Demitri exclaimed, making a loud clap as he clasped his hands together. “Let me just get right down to business. What we usually do is get together at night, I mean eleven being the earliest time. Then, we check Mainframe for any unusual activity across the globe, tap into emergency hotlines, things like that. If something’s going on and we think we can handle it, we teleport over and do our stuff.”
     “And all the while avoid being seen!” Matthew added optimistically.
     “Teleport over?” Scott pondered out loud.
     “Oh yes,” Demitri replied. “Didn’t you wonder how I got into your room? Mainframe can teleport us anywhere we want to go, so long as nothing is blocking our destination.
     “Are you serious!?” Scott responded excitedly and Demitri gave a nod. “How is that even possible?”
     “One thing at a time! We’re getting off subject and I still have some explaining to do as far as the kind of jobs we take on,” Demitri said as he gestured with his hands for Scott to calm down.
     “Don’t you guys like, fight off bank robbers, put out fires, rescue damsels in distress?” Scott asked.
     Matthew put a hand to his helmet and glanced away as if in deep thought. “Y’know…”
     “Hm?” both Scott and Demitri responded.
     “I’ve been wondering when the damsels come in, myself,” he remarked. Demitri just shook his head but his helmet hid a smile underneath.
     Scott on the other hand had a sudden look of realization on his face. “Oh yeah!” He shouted. “Ugh, I can’t believe I didn’t think to ask you sooner! What are your superpowers? Both of you. I mean, you said you had them, but you never said what you could do.”
     “How about a demonstration?” Demitri offered.
     “Aw, yeah! Seeing it will be even cooler!” Scott exclaimed in agreement.
     “Heh heh, well I can’t really say you’ll see much. As a matter of fact, you won’t see it at all,” Demitri teased, then in an instant disappeared right before Scott’s eyes.
     “You can turn invisible!?” Scott yelled in disbelief.
     “Not exactly,” he replied, his voice now behind Scott. Scott spun around but still couldn’t see him. “It’s more like an illusion,” he continued, his voice sounding from all directions. “…which is how my armor seems invisible, too. You see, my true ability-” Demitri paused a moment, watching Scott try and figure out where he was. “-is stealth,” he said as he appeared right in front of him then laughed at seeing Scott jump back a bit in reaction.
     “He loves to do that. You’ll get used to it,” Matthew said casually.
     “Oh will he?” Demitri challenged.
     “Allright, lemme show you two gentlemen what real superpowers are like!” Matthew said then took a strong stance and focused. He raised his arms straight out and once he had worked up the determination needed he was engulfed in a force field. It was clear, yet visible as it was pulsing with energy.
     “Whooooooooaaa…” Scott responded in amazement. Matthew lowered his arms and the force field dispersed as he gave out a heavy sigh. “That was awesome!” Scott shouted in admiration.
     “Yep. I’m incredible,” Matthew said, placing his hands on his hips.
     “You’re something,” Demitri scoffed. “Back on subject, we obviously aren’t cut out for anything too serious. Although Matthew and I did handle one situation with an armed man, we usually try and avoid that. Powers or not, we’re still only human. One shot in just the right spot is all it would take to kill us,” Demitri explained. Scott felt just a bit of disappointment, but he didn’t speak up or argue about it.
     “Okay…well what about villains? Any super villains out there?” Scott asked.
     “Our villains are just the common criminals you see on the news.” Matthew shrugged.
     “So you guys are really more of the ‘cat’s up a tree, gotta save it’ heroes, aren’t you?” Scott said condescendingly.
     “Hm…I think I know what sort of action you were hoping to see,” Demitri replied. “Follow me,” he said, walking up to one of the walls. He placed a hand on the wall and it glowed in a blue light before vanishing and revealing an elevator. Scott stood upright and tense, hoping to see something cool beyond it but thinking he may have struck a nerve with his last comment. Demitri stepped in and waited on him to follow, then after Scott had walked in he looked to Matthew. “Coming, Matthew?” he asked.
     “I guess,” Matthew replied with a groan and stepped in with them. Demitri pressed a panel inside the elevator and within moments the wall reappeared, and the elevator moved downward. It seemed like it headed down for a while.
     “Where are we going?” Scott finally asked, though somewhat timidly.
     “To the training grounds,” Demitri replied, then the elevator stopped and the three stepped out into a large, industrial-like room. Scott looked around the empty room. He gazed up at the incredibly high ceiling and noticed the poor lighting as a result of the room’s magnitude.
     “I know it doesn’t look like much at the moment, but with some quick programming and the flip of a switch, presto!” Demitri shouted as he pulled down on a lever near the elevator. They heard a loud sound and slight vibration, then more lights turned on throughout the room. While Scott was taking it all in, Demitri tampered with a panel on the wall next to the lever and machines in the style of large guns came out of the walls and floor.
     “Wait, I don’t know how to use my powers yet!” Scott said, worrying that they might just toss him into battle without preparing him first.
     “Relax. There are lots of modes these robots can be set to, and right now they couldn’t hurt a fly,” Demitri assured him. “All right, let’s start with this one,” he pointed to one of the machines as they walked further into the room. It was a dark gray mechanism, about three feet tall. It looked old and worn compared to the others with their glossy white armored exteriors. They were still a bit of a distance from it when they stopped walking, and both Demitri and Matthew looked to Scott.
     “Show us your stuff,” Matthew said, but Scott only looked at the robot then back at them.
     “What am I supposed to do?” Scott asked in his bewilderment.
     “We want you to wipe it out,” Matthew answered.
     “Yes, your job is to blow that particular machine up. You can take your time. We don’t expect you to get it on your first try or anything,” Demitri clarified.
     “Or at all…” Matthew murmured and Demitri quickly nudged him with an elbow, causing him to give out an involuntary cough.
     “I don’t know how to do that!” Scott responded to Demitri with a voice hinting at implausibility.
     “Again, relax. You’re going to use your powers. I believe your ability works similar to Matthew’s. It’ll well up inside of your chest when you get it right, then you just push it out through your arms and into your hands. It’s going to involve focus on the object, physical contact, and more than likely you’ll need to get a good adrenaline rush since you’re not yet in touch with activating your powers,” Demitri said.
     Scott gave him a look of doubt. “Adrenaline rush? How am I supposed to do tha-”
     Shoooom! came the sound of a laser that interrupted his question and caused him to stumble backwards.
     “What was THAT!? I thought you said these things couldn’t hurt a fly!” Scott yelled before another machine shot a laser in his direction.
     “I did, but I never said they couldn’t hurt you!” Demitri shouted over the sudden noise as he and Matthew quickly stepped back to distance themselves from Scott and the active machines.
Shoooom! Shoooom! they sounded, one right after the other, and Scott tried his best to dodge them. He looked towards the elevator but it was now just a wall. He wasn’t about to escape the room or the machines inside of it.
     “Scott!” Demitri yelled through his helmet with a vaguely muffled sound. “There’s no getting out! You have to fight them! Place your hands on the old machine and just focus on it!”
     “Easy for you to say!” Scott yelled back in frustration. He had the old machine in view. Running towards it thinking his heart was already pounding as hard as it could, he found that it went on beating faster and faster as the lasers continued to fire off more frequently.
I can’t do this! he thought to himself as he approached it, reaching forward with one hand.
     “You can do it!” Demitri shouted right then, contradicting Scott’s thoughts and giving him a quick reminder of his headphones’ ignition earlier.
     It was him! Scott thought and suddenly things around him became silent and moved almost in a slow motion, similar to when things became still on his way to the comic book store. I knew I heard that voice before! he thought, still reaching forward with his fingertips almost touching the machine. Demitri said ‘he’s ready’ and that’s when it all took place! I can do this! Scott settled in his head just as his fingers made contact with the machine, then a rush of energy from his chest ran down through his arm into his fingertips, and the machine began to spark in reaction.
     “Uh-oh!” Matthew said, then charged in with Demitri who grabbed the back of Scott’s hoodie and pulled him back against Matthew. Matthew created a force field around all three of them and the machine exploded, giving a much grander display than the little flame from Scott’s old headphones. All at once the lasers stopped and Matthew let down his force field.
     “That…was…incredible! You did amazing, Scott!! I expected you to do well but never did it cross my mind that you would actually be able to destroy one of our machines!” Demitri shouted with utter delight. He looked down, however, to find a not-so-thrilled expression on Scott’s face.
     “You could have killed me!” Scott snapped, crossing his arms and scowling.
     “Matthew and I jumped in as soon as we saw you were actually using your powers on the machine,” Demitri said warily.
     “I’m not talking about the machine blowing up! You guys threw lasers at me from every direction! I wasn’t even sure if I was dodging them all, my heart was beating so fast I couldn’t feel anything else!” Scott shouted.
     Matthew walked over to a nearby machine. He leaned over it, opening a hatch on the back and pressing a few buttons before closing it up again and holding his hand in front of the gunpoint. “You mean these lasers?” he said just before one shot out, phasing right through his hand but leaving no sign of injury.
     “How did you-!?” Scott stuttered out, flustered and tired from running.
     “Holograms. And pretty convincing ones at that. We’ve even got sounds effects,” Demitri replied. “I’m sorry, Scott, but we wanted to see how you’d handle things. Honestly I didn’t think you had it in you to catch wind of your powers so quickly, but under stress it’s easy to build up that energy, isn’t it?” he said, crossing his arms. “I had noticed that about the first time you used your powers. Something got you worked up. It’s not always the best tactic, though. Be careful not to overdo it,” Demitri warned while giving a slight glance to the smoldering pile of rubble that was once one of his machines.
     Scott gave a deep sigh that sounded somewhat agitated, but then he gradually smiled. “I feel better knowing they weren’t real, but at the same time I kinda feel weird now knowing I was jumping all over the place and they couldn’t even hurt me,” he said and both Matthew and Demitri laughed.
     “Well if it’s any consolation, I didn’t see you get hit once,” Demitri pointed out and Scott grinned awkwardly.
     “Well, cats up a tree don’t sound so bad now, do they Mr. Hero?” Matthew mocked, nudging Scott with his fist.
     “Oh, quiet! I just didn’t think YOU guys would throw me into some deathtrap and leave me to face it on my own.” Scott nudged back.
     “Ha, well, technically we didn’t,” Demitri said, gathering his composure. “If we ever do go off into battle, we’ll do it as a team,” he said in a most assuring way.
     “Wait… if? You guys have a giant underground training room and there’s an if?” Scott puzzled.
     “As previously stated, we try to avoid anything too dangerous. But you never know, once we’ve built up our forces there’s no telling what we’ll be able to do,” Demitri said.
Matthew yawned and stretched. “So, test run went over well. Now what?” he asked Demitri.
     “Well that depends, do you want to pull an all-nighter?” he asked teasingly in return.
     “Don’t forget I have school tomorrow,” Matthew reminded him.
     Scott just quietly listened as the two debated their evening plans. Half of Scott felt happy and eager to learn, while the other half felt somewhat out of place. It was all so surreal to him, like a dream he would soon awaken from. He wondered just what the future might hold for him, if he would really learn to use these new powers, and most of all he wondered just how he got them in the first place. What was the relation between Demitri, Matthew and himself? Was there any at all? His mind began to feel a bit worn down from his continuous thought.
     “What do you think, Scott?” Demitri asked and Scott snapped out of his daze.
     “I think the kid’s falling asleep!” Matthew laughed.
     “No, sorry, I just missed the question,” Scott answered.
     “Do you want to do some more training, hang out upstairs or head for home?” Demitri repeated.
     “Uh, actually when are we gonna head for town?” Scott asked.
     “Town?” Matthew questioned.
     “You know, go help people and stuff!” he clarified, wanting to jump straight to the real deal.
     “Ah,” Demitri remarked. “We were actually going to hold off on that for a few nights. You’ll want to get a better understanding of your abilities before we go charging in, and I still have to figure out what kind of jobs we could put you to work on.”
     “Yeah,” Matthew popped in. “We usually try to prevent things from blowing up,” he teased in regard to Scott’s powers.
     “I guess,” Scott muttered in disappointment. Demitri walked over and gave him a reassuring pat on the shoulder.
     “No worries. We’ll get there soon enough. I’ll talk to my uncle about your special talent and see what we can come up with,” Demitri said.
     “Your uncle? You mean the same uncle who gave you this building and stuff?” Scott questioned.
     “That’s right. He’s an inventor, so finding a creative role for you shouldn’t be so hard for him. Oh, but just because my uncle knows about this place and our powers doesn’t mean you can tell your family about it. This all has to remain top secret,” Demitri said.
     “I got that. I’ll keep it under my hood. The last thing I want is for you guys to teleport into my room and murder me in my sleep!” Scott said jokingly.
     “Yeah, ‘cause we’ll do that,” Matthew said seriously and Scott’s face swiftly switched from a grin to a solemn expression. “…I’m joking!” Matthew laughed.
     “Well, I think we’ve put our newest comrade through enough for one night. Let’s head up,” Demitri said as he led the way back. Scott watched as Demitri placed his hand on the wall to trigger the elevator’s reappearance. There were a lot of interesting patterns that looked to be carved into the metal walls, but the one Demitri touched was rectangular in shape and simple in design, something Scott took a mental note of for future reference.
     The three arrived back on the main floor and Demitri went straight to Mainframe’s main screen to insert a destination to teleport to.
     “All set,” he said turning to look at the blue circle on the ground and watching it light up. Demitri then looked at Scott. “Step in and you’ll see a sort of pedestal with a button on it. Just press that and you’ll be transported right back into your room,” he explained.
     “Okay.” Scott nodded.
     “Oh and Scott, what time do you usually head for bed?” Demitri inquired.
     “Usually around eleven. Why?” he asked in return.
     “We’ll need to know what time to come and get you,” Demitri explained.
     “My parents typically head to bed between ten and eleven, but I can stay up a bit later,” Scott said.
     “Eleven is the usual time we do our workouts and missions, so that times out nicely so long as you’re okay with missing a few hours of sleep from now on,” he answered. “We’ll see you tomorrow night.”
     “See ya, Scott,” Matthew said.
     “Bye Matthew, bye Demitri. I’ll be ready!” he said confidently as he waved farewell.
     “Just call me Matt,” Matthew replied.
     “Okay, sure,” Scott agreed.
     “Bye Scott. You get some sleep, okay? You’ll need it,” Demitri said then waved him on. Scott stepped in and saw the button Demitri had mentioned toward the back of the portal. He pushed it and a strange humming sound began as the light from the floor grew brighter and he was whisked back home.

 

*  *  *  *  *

     Demitri crossed his arms and leaned back against the counter where Mainframes main screen was. “So what do you think of our new recruit?” he asked in a voice somewhat deeper than what he used around Scott.

     “Not bad. The kid’s way too happy-go-lucky, though. I mean honestly, I was freaking out for weeks when we first met,” Matthew commented.

     “And how do you think I felt?” Demitri laughed.

     “What? Rich guy with awesome powers asking some poor college student if he wants to join forces and disarm criminals?” Matthew snickered. “Probably pretty stupid.”

     “Yep, pretty much. Remember how that went, though? And the second that first guy pulled out a gun we both froze in place,” Demitri recalled.

     Matthew shook his head then began to remove his helmet. “Why did you freeze up, again?” he asked before having pulled it all the way off. “I mean the guy couldn’t even see you!” He went and mounted his helmet on the wall across the room from where Demitri stood.

     “I wasn’t ready yet. Despite my personal training and confidence, I didn’t know how to handle the situation,” Demitri said as he uncrossed his arms and straightened up. “Of course, I still pulled through and we got out okay, but we haven’t put ourselves in that sort of situation since.”

     “You say that like it’s a bad thing,” Matthew commented, stroking his hand over his short blond hair.

     Demitri glanced down at the floor in thought then he took his helmet off and shook his dark brown hair back out of his face. He looked at Matthew with a gleam in his brilliant brown eyes.     “What? I know that look. What are thinking?” Matthew asked turning his head slightly to the side but keeping his blue eyes focused on Demitri.

     “Scott seemed pretty interested in the saving lives bit,” Demitri stated.

     Matthew shook his head as an uncomfortable smile crept up. “Oh no. We are not doing that again. I mean, you can’t be serious, the kid freaked out once those machines went off!”

     “Yes, but his guard was down and his reaction was no worse than any normal human being’s would have. Notice how he kept a clear head and knew how to operate, even under the intense situation? He’s got the makings of a real hero in him. And we’ve come a long way ourselves, don’t forget! I really think with a little more training, we could do what we originally intended to. Save lives, fight bad guys, we could help people,” Demitri went on to say, but Matthew still only shook his head.

     “We already save lives and help people. I mean, what about that time last month? We pulled that guy out of a lake! We sure didn’t have useful powers for the job but we did it and that guy was okay,” Matthew said.

     “That’s the thing, though. LAST month. How much have we really helped anyone since? I’m getting tired of turning a blind eye to all those people crying for help. They need a hero, Matt. And to your point, a lot of the stuff we’ve been doing doesn’t really involve anything but Mainframe’s teleportation,” Demitri said.

     “Look, I see your point. Really, I do,” Matthew assured him as he took the armor off from over his uniform and set it beneath his helmet on the wall. “But if we want to go taking on the big game, we’re going to need a stronger team, and I really don’t think Scott is going to be ready for that anytime soon,” Matthew finished then gestured a goodbye. “I’ve got to go home and study.”

     “All right. See you,” Demitri said, gesturing a prompt farewell with two fingers by his forehead.Matthew stopped before entering the teleport. “One last thing…”

     “Yes?” Demitri replied.

     “Are you sure we can trust him to keep quiet?” he asked skeptically in reference to Scott.     “No worries. I did take a few precautions. If he squeals, we’ll know,” Demitri assured him and Matthew smirked.

     “All right then. See ya!” Matthew said and then departed. Demitri watched his friend teleport away. From there it was the usual routine. He placed his armor and cape on the wall, setting it next to Matthew’s, then went to put Mainframe into a conserved state, shutting down the lights and turning all but Mainframe’s main screen off. He set the portal to take him home, then off he went, leaving the room dark and vacant.

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