CHAPTER FOUR
A RISING TEAM

     The morning sun crept over the rooftops of the closely neighbored buildings, light glistening down upon dew covered grass and warmly entering through the welcoming windows with their open blinds and curtains. Scott was already wide awake, enjoying his favorite Saturday morning cartoons. Something felt a bit different this week, however. A most curious feeling came over him as he watched the television screen with its flickering scenes of action in one of the popular superhero cartoons. It was the same sort of great feat and excitement that took place in just about every episode, but this time Scott watched more attentively than ever before. He couldn’t help imagining the situations to be real and what it might be like to go through such trials with his own superpowers. The idea that any of it could take place made his heart pound with excitement.
     When cartoons were finished he got himself dressed and headed to the kitchen for breakfast. His dad was sitting at the table reading the paper and his mom could be heard pacing about the house as she was getting ready to go out shopping. Scott poured himself a bowl of cereal and sat down at the table with his dad, looking at the back of the cereal box.
     “Scott, do you know what you want for your birthday?” his mom asked as she walked past them to a mirror and touched up her hair.
     “Not really,” he replied before taking a bite of his breakfast.
     “Are there any video games you want?” his dad asked, lowering his paper for a moment to glance over at him.
     “Nope,” he answered between another spoonful of cereal.
     “Well there must be something. It’s your sixteenth birthday, so if you want to ask for something a little nicer than usual you can,” his dad offered.
     “Liiiiiiiiike a car?” Scott grinned as he peered over at his father.
     “Liiiiiiiiike no,” his dad replied as he opened his paper back up and got back to reading.
     “Like no, but not actually a no, right?” Scott said, still smiling.
     “Like no, as in not a chance,” his dad answered.
     Scott’s mom walked into the dining area and shook her head over their silliness. “Scott, have you invited everyone you want to have over? If there’s anyone else, you’ll need to act soon.”
     “I already invited Angela, Jason, Greg, Daniel, Amanda annnnnd...Pat. I’m good,” he assured her.
     “If you’re sure they’re the only ones you want over, that’s fine. Now, when you seriously think of something you want, let me know,” she said.
     “Hey, I was just being serious!” Scott replied, gesturing with both his hands defensively before sticking his spoon back into his bowl.
     “Realistically,” his mom replied. “I want an answer soon, okay?”
     “Okay.” Scott agreed, but thinking about anything aside from his secret was no easy task. His superpowers, Mainframe, and his new friends—whether he was texting, doing chores, playing games or anything else for that matter—those were the things on his mind all day.
     When evening came Scott sat in his room, patiently waiting for Demitri. He was thankful that their activities took place at night rather than day, as this made it easy to avoid any suspicion from his parents.
     Demitri soon appeared wearing a red dress shirt and black slacks. It was the first time Scott had seen him dressed in something aside from his hero equipment. Even when he had taken the armor off the other night he was still clad in the fitted black and dark red uniform.
     “Ready to go?” Demitri asked in a whisper, adjusting his right sleeve, which had the device they used for teleportation hidden underneath it.
     “Yeah, but uh, was I supposed to dress up? We’re just going bowling, right?” Scott asked, glancing down at his usual white hoodie, his casual blue jeans with holes worn through the knees and his old tennis shoes.
     “Yes, this is just the way I usually dress. Don’t worry about it,” Demitri assured him.
     “O-kaaay. Well let’s go,” Scott said and Demitri activated the device on his forearm, transporting them to Mainframe. There Matthew stood, waiting as usual. Scott noticed his casual t-shirt which proudly proclaimed his favorite sports team on the front and back. “Well it’s nice to see someone else here dressed casually. Demitri had me worried at first when he popped in all dressed up and stuff,” Scott said as he carelessly waved his arms back and forth.
     “Dressed up? Ha, no. Demitri’s version of dressed up is a full-on suit and tie with his crazy hair slicked back,” Matthew laughed. “That right there is his version of casual. Because he’s a weirdo,” he added smugly.
     “Shall we go?” Demitri asked, changing the subject.
     “Heh heh, all right!” Scott agreed and the three set the teleport and left for the bowling alley. Of course it was a different sort of alley they teleported down to.
     “Uhm… this does not look right,” Scott observed upon arriving to a cold concrete street hidden behind worn brick buildings. The light was very dim and flickering. The area was altogether rundown and vacant.
     “This is right. We can’t just pop into the bowling alley or someone might see us. This is the safest way of travel when we’re not dressed for our other nightly activity,” Demitri explained, referring to their duties as heroes. “Now then, follow me,” he said, leading the way out from the dark alley and to the sidewalk along the main streets. The streetlights shined a brilliant and welcoming orange light that reflected in small puddles on the sides of the road. Scott observed the puddles of light, thinking how fantastic it was that they could go from one place to another with the click of a button.
The three arrived at their destination after a brief walk and went inside. Just as Demitri and Matthew had said, it was practically empty. There was only one lane in use, with just a few people wrapping up a late night game.
Demitri took care of renting a lane, paying the cost for all three of them.
     “Oh, I have some money on me,” Scott said and began reaching into his pocket to pay Demitri back.
     “No need. I already covered it,” he said, unconcerned.
     “Are you sure? I can pay you back,” Scott assured him and Matthew started to laugh. “What?” Scott questioned.
     “Pheh, nothing,” Matthew replied and Demitri smirked just slightly.
     “Don’t worry about it,” Demitri said to Scott. “All right, let’s go do some bowling!” he exclaimed as he marched ahead toward their lane. The three had a most relaxing and pleasant night along with some over enthused rants—then gloats—then more rants from Matthew. Scott maybe didn’t score as well, but he held a good game when considering his lesser amount of experience. In the end, Demitri was victorious but remained quite humble. Perhaps it was due to Matthew’s over-the-top gloating that took place most of the night through, or perhaps it was just his usual good nature. In any case, the three all went back to Mainframe in good spirits, and all three left for home feeling the same way.
On the following day Demitri ran his weekly search for those with inactive powers, though he started it a bit later than usual. By evening when the team was together Mainframe’s scan was complete, but they were quite distracted from it. Scott cautiously considered his next move. They all knew things could go in any direction at this point, and Scott’s decision could very well spell the end. He glanced first at Matthew, then at Demitri, finally making up his mind.
     “Demitri,” he began, looking Demitri right in the eye then glancing down. “Got any eights?”
     “Go fish,” Demitri answered and Scott reached for another card, pulling out a ten.
     “Aha!” Matthew laughed. “Got any eights, Scott?” he mocked.
     “Argh!” Scott groaned as he reluctantly handed his eight to Matthew. Their game carried on in Matthew’s favor, but not one gave in until the end, when his victory was finally sealed.
     “And Matthew wins his third round,” Scott pouted as he leaned to the side and rested his head in his hand.
     “What can I say, I’m the fishing king!” Matthew gloated.
     “Well let’s see if we can’t take that title from you,” Demitri challenged as he gathered the cards from the floor and reshuffled.
Scott lifted his head up and stretched his arms a bit. “So when are we going to check for new recruits?” he asked as Demitri was dealing the cards.
     “We could check now if you’d like,” he offered.
     “Well doesn’t it need to scan or something first?” Scott asked, sitting up straight.
     “It does, but I started the scan already, late this afternoon. It should be done…” Demitri replied and got up to check. “Hm…”
     “What’s up?” Matthew asked.
     “Nope. No one found,” Demitri said, then sat back down and picked up his hand of cards.
     “Aww…” Scott moaned in disappointment.
     “No surprise,” Matthew said. “I mean, look at us! It’s obvious there aren’t a whole lot of people born with some freaky, mutated powers.”
     “Not ‘freaky mutated,’ Matthew. These powers are a blessing,” Demitri corrected.
     “Yeah, yeah, but my point is they still aren’t at all normal. Not a lot of peeps out there would exactly accept our ‘blessings’ you know,” Matthew said, glancing over his cards. “Got any eights, Scott?” he asked teasingly to which Scott smirked.
     “GO FISH,” answered Scott smugly in an almost insulting tone of voice.
     “There are a lot of things the world doesn’t accept, Matt. A lot of good things,” Demitri said. “You are right, though, that most people would probably look at us in a negative light. It’s strange how people can be so quick to reject those that come only to save them,” Demitri mused. “…Got any fours, Matt?” he asked and Matthew handed him a card.
     “It’s because no one wants to own up to anything,” Matthew commented.
So the evening went for at least three more rounds of Go Fish before the team went through two training sessions and called it a night. And so went the rest of the new week, with Scott waking early for school and staying up late for hero training. He had only one night in which he cancelled due to conflicts in schedule, but with Matthew missing two days that week, he didn’t feel too bad about it.
     When Friday came, Scott received a very special gift from his new friends.
     “You’ve been here just over a week now. I wanted to present you with this,” Demitri explained and revealed a device like the one he and Matthew had on their forearms. It was silver in color, just like Matthew’s. “My uncle put this together for you. It will take you right here to Mainframe, so I’ll no longer have to pop in and startle you for pick up.” He smiled as he handed the device down.
     Scott’s face lit up as he took the device from Demitri and linked in around his arm. “Aw, cool!” he cheered, then Demitri quickly explained how to set it for teleporting.
     “We call it the Communications Cuff. C-Cuff for short. You’ll be able to use it like a phone. It even has a line just for contacting Mainframe and both of us, no matter where we are. But don’t use it unless it’s an emergency,” he instructed.“Now then…there’s something else we have for you,” Demitri mentioned after his explanation. Matthew opened the elevator, revealing a large suitcase sitting inside, which he then wheeled out and over to Scott.
     “Open it up, kiddo,” he told him and Scott got right down on his knees to unzip it.
     “No way!” Scott exclaimed, pulling out his own hero uniform and armor.
     “Congratulations, Scott. You’re officially a part of the team now,” Demitri said.
     Scott’s new armor was lustrous silver like Matthew’s. He let the armor sit in the suitcase while he held the uniform up to himself. It was all one piece from the neck downward, and fitted like Demitri and Matthew’s, though dark gray in color and with orange details.
     “Do you like it?” Demitri asked.
     “It’s awesome!” Scott cheerfully exclaimed.
     “Good! Oh, there’s one more thing…” Demitri noted, then bent down and dug through the armor to the bottom of the suitcase. “Here,” he said and handed Scott a belt that had three light gray balls attached to the right side.
     “What’s this?” Scott asked as he took it.
     “Heavy artillery for you!” Matthew commented.
     “Haha, well, I talked with my uncle about your particular gift of making things explode. He came up with these. If you ignite and toss them, they’ll make smoke like crazy. It’s really just as a cover or to create confusion if we’re ever in a tight spot, but it will be a big help at times, I’m sure,” Demitri explained.
     “Cool!” Scott said gleefully.
     “Oh yeah, make sure you wear that when you come tomorrow,” Demitri said in reference to his uniform.“As for the armor, you’re welcome to hang it up next to ours. We did a little rearranging and made a spot for it.”
     “Okay,” Scott agreed. “But wait, tomorrow’s Saturday, isn’t it?”
     “Yeah, but we went bowling last week if that’s what you’re thinking,” Matthew commented. “We only do that every other week.”
     “Ah, right,” Scott said, then got back to checking out his outfit and armor. He was ecstatic about having his own costume and could hardly wait to try it on.
     He threw the uniform over his shoulder as he lifted his helmet up to wear it. It was a perfect fit. He was able to see out while no one else could see in. Once he took it off to mount on the wall, he noticed two empty areas with hooks for hanging armor, rather than just one.
     “Uh…Demitri?” Scott questioned as he held his helmet to the wall but hesitated to hang it up.
     “What is it?”
     “Why are there two empty armor spots?” Scott asked.
     “Oh! We went ahead and made two just in case we find ourselves another recruit. It will save us from any hassle later down the line,” Demitri explained.
     “Hopefully,” Matthew added doubtfully, as if he thought it unlikely someone else would be joining anytime soon.
     “For a second I was wondering if there was something you weren’t telling me!” Scott laughed, then hung his helmet in the empty area to the right of Matthew’s. “It looks good having our armor all set in the order of when we joined!” Scott remarked as he placed the rest of his armor on the wall, careful to make sure he caught the hooks before letting go.
     “Yep,” Matthew agreed.
     Demitri was distracted with checking the time. He went ahead and set the teleport to take Scott home. “I know we only just got here, but we really only wanted to give you your gear,” he told Scott as the portal to take him home lit up. “We have something big planned for tomorrow, so you’ll need to get some sleep.”
     “I’m the one who needs sleep!” Matthew yawned and stretched both arms into the air. “I’ve been so busy with school lately.”
     Scott gave a smile and waved goodbye to both of them. “Okay, see you tomorrow! I’m looking forward to it!” he said merrily and headed in to take his leave with his uniform and C-Cuff.
     “Same here,” Demitri commented.“See you tomorrow Scott. Goodnight.”
     Matthew drowsily added a “G’night.” just before Scott was gone.

 

*  *  *  *  *

     Demitri got right to setting the teleporter for Matthew after Scott was gone.“So you really think the kid is ready?” Matthew asked, sluggishly walking through the room.
     “Yeah. I even deactivated the bugs I had placed in his house. He’s trust worthy,” Demitri answered, glancing over Mainframe’s smaller screens.
     “That’s not really what I meant,” Matthew commented and Demitri paused a moment in thought.
     “…We won’t do anything that has too high of a risk,” he replied.
     “What do you have in mind? I mean, most things that require intervention could be chancy, how can we be sure it’s safe?” Matthew questioned.
     “I’ll wait until I find something minor. Who knows, for his first mission we might go help a cat down a tree.” Demitri smirked then activated Mainframe’s teleport.
     Matthew rolled his eyes. “And you still remember that,” he commented, walking into the blue light. “Later,” he said, ready to depart.
     “Bye,” Demitri replied and off Matthew went. Demitri handled the rest, just as he did every night, then left to rest for the new day ahead.

 

*  *  *  *  *

     A cloudy Saturday morning came, and for the first time in a long time, Scott wasn’t wide awake before his parents. He didn’t bother to turn on his television for cartoons, nor did he even get out of bed until it was nearly noon. It wasn’t a lack of motivation, but rather a plan to catch up on some much-needed sleep.
When Scott finally got up he went to get his breakfast still wearing what he had slept in. He felt drowsy, but he was looking forward to what the new day may hold in store for him, and even more so what the evening might hold.
     His mom was at the table looking over the mail when Scott walked in.
     “Hey mom…?” he began in a groggy voice.
     “Oh, good morning! I didn’t even hear you were up. Did you not watch cartoons this morning?” she asked, putting aside what she had been reading.
     “No. Um, I was gonna say, I think I know what I’d like for my birthday.”
     “Oh really? What?” she inquired. Scott smiled and sat down at the table across from her, combing his fingers through his hair, which had been showing a severe case of bed head before his doing so.
     “I was thinking,” he began, quickly becoming much more animated. “Maybe you guys could get me some artist pens and stuff along those lines? Either art pens or a tablet for the comp.”
     “Artist stuff?” his mom remarked in slight surprise. “Well, do you need a new sketchbook?” she asked.
     “No, I was actually thinking I would like to start a comic, but I need some supplies. We have computer programs that are good for coloring, but I’m better at drawing and stuff when I do it by hand,” Scott explained.
     “We could probably get you some stuff to help with that. No guarantees, of course! Your presents are still a surprise,” she told him with a sly smile. “So what kind of comic do you want to do?”
     “I was thinking a web comic,” Scott answered, scooting his chair out to get up.
     “Okay, but what’s it going to be about?” she questioned further.
     “Superheroes!” he replied enthusiastically before going over to a cabinet to look for breakfast. His mother collected the mail up from the table into her hands before scooting out from the table herself and rising to her feet.
     “Sounds fun! I’ll talk to your dad about it,” she told him. She gave a gentle smile before looking back down at her letters and envelopes, leaving the room, distracted and busy.
Scott hurried to eat his meal, as he was feeling a growing urge to draw. A feeling of inspiration was welling up inside of him. The concept he had for his comic book series was an idea he couldn’t wait to dive into.
     When he had finished eating, he got some sheets of paper and headed for his room. Once inside he sat at his desk, laying the paper out and taking one of his school pencils from his notebook to use for his art. He began sketching out his vision of a cover. On it would soon be three heroes; young men of the night who were always careful to avoid the watchful eye of the public…
     “…Done!” he said at last, setting his pencil to the side of his drawing. The next thing he looked into was setting up a website for it. He used the shared desktop his family had for that, deciding to multitask while he was at it, scanning his artwork and running searches online. Though his art was only a penciled sketch, he was much too anxious about getting started to worry on whether or not he would have nice pens soon.
     Scott spent most of his day either online or at his desk drawing, working solely on his comic book, though he did take some time for snacks. When it came time to setup his website, he took some time to do up a banner for it in color, though colored only with markers as the computer mouse proved too difficult and frustrating for him to use.
      Nearing the end of a long day, his dedication paid off. He had a simple site to start off with, consisting of a few character sketches posted on one page, while storyboards with text about the concept of his comic were placed on another. The name of his website matched that of his comic. It was a name he chose based on the fact that he wouldn’t be seen as a hero outside of his comics, but within them, he could show the world what he was made of. He would be known only as the name suggests; a Comic Book Hero.
     The evening came fast and Scott dressed in his uniform, ready for whatever the training room might have in store. He held off on announcing his new comic to any of his friends, planning to keep his site a secret until he could finish and post the first chapter.
     When he felt completely prepared, he set the C-Cuff on his arm, feeling only a bit nervous as to whether or not it would work. With little delay it teleported him to Mainframe, just as smoothly as Demitri’s always had.
     Demitri was in the room, wearing all but his helmet, though Matthew had yet to arrive.
     “Oh, Scott, welcome!” Demitri said before looking back at Mainframe’s screens and typing something in.
     “Where’s Matt?” Scott asked as he walked over to peek at the monitor screens.
     “He’s coming. He’ll be here in just a bit,” Demitri replied, still focused on his task.
     “Kay. Soooo, whatcha doin’?” Scott asked casually.
     “Looking for a good starting point,” he said with a pause to smile at Scott. Scott stared blankly, unsure what he meant. “Hah, tonight’s the big night, after all. No training room. We’re going to take you on your very first mission,” Demitri told him.
     Scott’s eyes widened a bit. “Really?” he questioned in suspense.
     “Really,” Demitri answered, continuing his searches over the United States for a good first mission.
     “YES!” Scott exclaimed with a leap into the air.
     “Haha, why don’t you go put on your armor?” Demitri suggested, to which Scott happily obliged.
     The teleport had a faint glimmer of light come forth as Matthew entered the room. “Hey guys! What’s up?” Matthew said as he walked over by Scott to grab his armor off the wall.
     “We’re going on a mission!” Scott replied with enthusiasm.
     “Well I knew that much,” Matthew said as he got on the floor to put his armor on around his legs.
     “Well I didn’t. This is a first for me,” Scott remarked as he finished outfitting himself.
     “All right, guys!” Demitri said, waving his hand to motion them over while his eyes seemed glued to the screen in front of him. Scott was quick to respond to the call and Matthew took only a moment extra. “It looks like we have a couple vandals on our hands,” Demitri said, referring them to the screen which showed a young man and a young woman, both painting graffiti over parked cars.
     “How’d you find them?” Matthew asked.
     “Took some looking around,” Demitri said as he went to get his helmet.“I found reports of graffiti being put on both public and private property, and as you can imagine those who’ve been hit by it are pretty unhappy,” he said as he got his helmet on then went to get some handcuffs. He also took something else from the wall and slipped it behind his back, hidden well beneath his cape.
     “So what are we going to do?” Scott asked as he looked around, trying to figure out where he should be while Demitri set things up for their departure.
     “We stop them before they get their dirty little prints over the hoods of more rides!” Matthew answered and Demitri signaled for them to both get into the teleporter. It was now cast in a blue light, showing it was ready to go.
     “Ready, Scott?” Demitri asked before they took their leave.
     “I’m not completely sure what to do,” he answered honestly.
     “We’ll shake them up a bit, you’ll cuff them, then I’ll call the cops and we’ll head back here,” Demitri replied, handing Scott the handcuffs he had taken from the wall. The three aspiring heroes then departed, arriving just a short distance from the vandals they planned to stop. Matthew leaned out from behind the large truck which was their current cover. It was dark, but there were some streetlights that lit the sidewalks along the large brick buildings.
     “Okay, what's the plan, boss?” he asked Demitri in a whisper.
     “I'll go get behind them first. If they try to run, I'll catch one. You get the fun job of confrontation,” Demitri explained quietly.
     “In other words, I ask them to stop then chase them when they take off running,” Matthew replied.
     “If they take off running...” Demitri said.
     “When do I jump in?” Scott asked enthusiastically and Matthew shushed him for being loud.
     “Oh, I've got an idea. If they try and run, I'll catch the girl and Scott can throw one of his smoke bombs in front of the guy to slow him down,” Demitri suggested.
     “All right, let's do it,” Matthew said and Demitri vanished.
     “Give me fifteen seconds,” the now invisible Demitri said. Scott and Matthew heard a very faint scuffle on the ground from where he was, followed by utter silence.
     “How is he so quiet?” Scott asked but Matthew only hushed him again.
     “Shh, I'm counting,” Matthew said, looking to see where the vandals were. “Let's move in a little closer. Remember to throw your smoke bomb ahead of the guy,” he instructed and Scott confirmed he understood with a nod. The two began to move in, staying low to the ground and trying not to make too much noise. They were successful in staying unnoticed.
     The young man they were after was making a remark as he painted over a tire and the girl with him giggled. That’s when the delinquents’ idea of fun was interrupted by Matthew, who stood up on the other side of the vehicle they just vandalized.
     “I hope you plan on paying for that,” he said and both of the scandals flinched, surprised by his sudden appearance and intervention. The young man then looked indignant and unimpressed while the young woman took a few steps backwards, trying to hide her face as she slinked behind her accomplice.
     “Who is this guy?” she asked in a whisper. The young man ignored her question, however. He obviously didn’t take Matthew seriously once he got a good look at his costume.
     “Why? This your car, geek?” he asked, then took his spray-paint and streaked it across the hood with a smirk.
     Matthew charged around the left side of the vehicle and the vandal who had mocked him was quick to run off to the right. He didn’t notice Scott, however, who had carefully gone ahead to hide around the corner of a near building. He began preparing a smoke device when he heard them running his way.
     The vandal had signaled the girl with him to run with a tap on her arm just before he darted, but she was immediately stopped and started screaming something had her. He looked back for only a moment to see Matthew rushing toward him, while she was struggling to break free from seemingly nothing. To his dismay, when he looked ahead again, thick smoke suddenly arose and he halted with a pounding heart and confusion.
     “Ha!” Matthew shouted as he caught the man from behind and yanked him backwards. He put up a good struggle, but Scott was quick to run over to help cuff him. “That’s what you get for mouthing off to me!” Matthew said smugly. His triumph was overshadowed by more screams from the young woman Demitri had. “Aren’t you supposed to be helping him?” Matthew asked Scott who seemed frozen in place and unsure what to do.
     “Oh, right!” he responded and hurried over to help Demitri, who was still invisible to them.
     The girl began to scream to Scott for help in her distress and bewilderment, which caused Scott to freeze up yet again. He stood still holding the handcuffs in front of himself in almost a sort of defense.
     “PLEASE HELP! I don’t know what’s got me!” the girl screamed, practically going into hysterics. Demitri then made himself visible.
     “Come on!” he ordered but Scott hesitated. Demitri had both of her hands behind her back now. “Calm down! Just calm down!” he told her as she was trying to fall to the ground to get out of his grip.
     Scott came in closer and cuffed her, then stepped back and stared while Demitri leaned down with her, letting go of her arms and gripping her by the shoulders in a gentle but firm hold.
     “Hey, hey, shhh,” Demitri was saying, to try and calm her. Meanwhile, Matthew was still at the corner of the building, making a call to the cops with his C-Cuff on one arm while holding the guy he caught in a headlock with the other. The girl had stopped screaming by now but had tears running down her face.
     “I wouldn’t be surprised if the cops showed up after all this noise… I’m surprised no one’s responded to all of this,” Scott commented quietly, then glanced over at Matthew, who was talking with the police through his C-Cuff.
     “Um, yeah, I want two cheese annnnd a pepperoni,” Matthew teased over the call, to an officer who sounded less than amused. “Oh sorry, wrong number on that. I’d just like two vandals I caught taken in, please,” he said, then he gave the officer their location.
     Scott glanced back at Demitri, who was still on the ground with the girl, talking her through what she’d done and how she would have to pay for her wrongdoings. Scott noticed Demitri sounded almost as if he were on her side, speaking more and more gently and calming her out of her prior fear. Demitri had seemed so serious when sneaking in at the start, then so vigorous and forceful once he made his move to stop them. It was the moment she had been cuffed that his attitude shifted and he sounded kind and sympathetic toward her. It was quite the contrast to how Matthew handled things, yet they succeeded in catching both of their targets. Scott knew it was a mission success.
     “Okay, cops are coming but I think they want me just as badly as they want the hooligans, now,” Matthew said as he dragged the young vandal along with him.
     “Right. You guys should go ahead and get out of here. I’ll handle these two,” Demitri said, rising to his feet and helping the girl up as well. She had fallen into silence and hung her head low, letting her dark hair hide her face from shame and humiliation.
     “You sure?” Matthew said, fighting with the young man, who was still adamant about getting free. “This guy’s a han-“
     “LEMME GO, YA FREAK! I’M GONNA KILL YOU!!” the roughed-up vandal yelled over him.
     “Handful,” Matthew finished.
     “Got rope?” Demitri asked.
     “I didn’t bring any,” Matthew said as he continued fighting with the felon.
     “You should always have rope on you,” Demitri lectured.
     “Yeah, well then why didn’t you bring any?” Matthew argued.
     “I did,” Demitri answered, keeping hold of the girl with one hand, though she showed no intent of escaping. He reached behind his back with his other hand, pulling out some rope from behind his cape which he had clipped onto the back of his armor earlier. “I figured it would be handy for catching two,” Demitri commented and handed Scott the rope. “Tie up his legs,” he commanded.
     “Um…okay!” Scott agreed and went over to Matthew. The man began kicking when Scott tried to kneel down, so Matthew pushed him to the ground and held him still. The vandal’s face was directed away from them all.
     “Tie around a few times. We don’t want this guy getting away,” Matthew told Scott as he pulled the rope around the guys legs.
     “That’s good, now you two get out of here and let me handle the rest,” Demitri commanded and Matthew quickly rose from the ground.
     “You’ve got it! Oh…” he paused and walked in front of where the vandal’s face laid on the sidewalk, squatting down to look at him while he squirmed in place. “Don’t even think about trying to run away. Or I may just have to punish you,” Matthew threatened and pulsed a force field around himself, which glowed a bluish light. The vandal became very still, and for the first time in a while, it was quiet. The girl he was with also saw, and her eyes widened but she kept her face down and pretended not to notice. “Alright, later! And we’ll be watching…” he warned, then teleported away with a whisk of light. Scott looked at his own C-Cuff, trying to remember how to use it, then teleported as soon as he recalled.
     Flashing red and blue lights could be seen in the distance coming their way. Demitri walked around the girl, positioning himself between her and her friend.
     “…What are you guys?” she asked hesitantly, glancing up at Demitri. It caught his attention, but before he replied the man with her shouted a response of his own.
     “Freaks! They’re not even human, they’re all freaks!” he cried out.
     Sirens sounded briefly and the lights came blindingly closer toward them.
     “Yeah,” Demitri sighed as he disappeared from their vision.
     The police now had sighted the two vandals and parked nearby. They got out, began questioning them, and the stubborn young man still laying tied up on the ground began shouting things about being framed. The girl didn’t try to fight it. Her will to struggle was gone and she confirmed that they were, indeed, the ones responsible for all the damages. A loud jingling sound was then heard and the cops immediately flashed light on the source. A key with a bell for a keychain was lying on the sidewalk. The key for the strange handcuffs the vandals were wearing. After having dropped the key, Demitri went to an alley to warp back to Mainframe and reunite with his comrades.
     He arrived to an excited and talkative Scott, who at this point was practically bouncing off the walls.
     “I mean, did you see the look on that guy’s face when I threw that smoke bomb!?” Scott was exclaiming to Matthew, who had already mounted his armor on the wall and was now leaned back against the counter Mainframe’s monitors were on.
     “Hey. Welcome back,” Matthew greeted.
     “Oh, Demitri!” Scott said, happily surprised. “That was awesome! I mean we totally did what real superheroes would’ve! Except not as many guns and explosions. It’s like those little side jobs they take care of before something really big happens!”
     “…You enjoyed it?” Demitri remarked sounding relatively surprised.
     “YEAH, I did! It felt so cool! I mean, the part where the girl started crying was awkward, but everything else was really awesome! And it feels so fun to be out late at night wearing this,” Scott said, glancing down to admire his costume.
     Demitri laughed and Matthew smirked. “I’m glad you had fun,” Demitri replied, removing his helmet and holding it at his side. “Just remember you’re going to be doing a lot of this from now on. As you may have guessed, it’s still a sacrifice. You’ll be giving up most of your evenings and your sleep. This job calls for selflessness and discipline.”
     “That’s right!” Matthew chimed in. “You can just look to me as an example,” he boasted.
     “Haaaaah!” Scott exhaled in response to Matthew. “I know, Demitri. But hey, what else am I gonna do? I mean, it’s almost summer vacation time! I’ll be able to sleep in during the day,” Scott assured him.
     “Count yourself blessed for that then,” Demitri replied. “Oh guys, I’ve been meaning to tell you, I have a business meeting on Thursday, so you can come in for some training if you want, but I’m not going to be here.”
     “Business meeting?” Scott questioned.
     “Well then I’m not coming! I’ll take a break wherever I can get it,” Matthew replied in an exasperated tone.
     “Hey, what happened to the great example you were supposed to set?” Scott asked.
     “A hero knows when to rest,” Matthew answered seriously.
     “That’s right,” Demitri laughed. “But no, you two are welcome to take the night off if you would like to. I just wanted to let you know I wouldn’t be able to make it Thursday,” Demitri said then went to hang up his cape for the night.
     The three engaged in some small talk, then wrapped up for the evening. When Scott arrived home he quickly changed out of his uniform and into pajamas. He hid his uniform and C-Cuff in the back of his dresser and then jumped onto his bed, briefly bouncing up and down. He gave out a satisfied sigh then rolled to his side, looking over his room and noticing the paper he had left on his desk for his comics. With sleep fleeing his grasp due to excitement and continual thought, he sat upon the chair at his desk and got to work writing up more storyboards—ones that told of the adventures that had taken place that very same evening.

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