It’s been a while, but I’ve finally finished another story to share. Ha…llelujah. Go ahead, somebody from the crowd give me an “amen!” And don’t worry, it’s now culturally acceptable for white people to do it too. Mostly. It depends. Anyway, I’m not the religious sort so church is not my cup of tea, though, I do applaud those goodhearted human beings that do and will reward you with a break from whatever deity you wake up so early to pray to and a healthy dose of comic book fan fiction created by your friendly neighborhood writer. Sit back, relax, and enjoy.
A New Dawn:
Volt and Ash
Austin started to adjust to his situation the more he ate his burger. He spoke very little since the ride over to S.T.A.R. Labs. He ended up embarrassing himself when he bombarded Batman, Wonder Woman, and Green Arrow with questions. He asked them how they got their powers, how they operated missions, if they were going to the Watchtower, and if he was going to meet the Flash. Maze wasn’t able to stop him from ranting because Maze passed out hard after a few minutes on the jet. When he fell asleep, everyone got worried because his body started to absorb the electricity from the jet. Austin could have sworn that Batman was about to attack his friend, so he lightly blasted Maze with smoke until Maze woke up. Austin informed his friend of what happened and Maze apologized with a laugh.
From that point on, Austin spoke carefully and made sure not to do anything that might piss off his idols. Maze on the other hand wasn’t concerned in the slightest. If he was, he did a great job not showing it. Austin was also too tired to want to do anything but sleep. After having a recorded interrogation with Black Canary for an hour and waiting even longer in a cold cafeteria for the Justice League to decide what to do with him, sleep was all he could think about. He stared at his cell phone. Lifeless. Probably filled with messages from his girlfriend and his family.
Maze watched Austin as he chowed down his second burger. He loved In-N-Out burgers. So simple, yet so deliciously perfect. Unlike his situation. Attending college to get an engineering degree with a crap ton of debt and loans to pay for was complicated enough. Now he had to deal with the world of super heroes and villains. Even though he hated his situation and just wanted to go back to his apartment and sleep for a whole day, he also felt oddly excited. He had always dreamed of getting powers and being a hero. He finally had the power to make a difference in the world. To save lives. Unfortunately, becoming a hero was not as easy as he would have liked. After almost getting beaten up by Batman because he did something he wasn’t aware of or even control, going through an annoying interrogation that was recorded for some reason, and having to wait for what seemed like eternity in the coldest room ever with some of the young heroes from earlier guarding the exits.
Maze finished his fries and picked up Austin’s phone. He slowly pumped it with electricity until the battery on the screen turned green. He then proceeded to do the same to his own phone. “It’s four in the morning. Wake them up and let them know you’re safe before they report you missing.” Maze got up and stretched. He was preparing for any hero who finally decided to confiscate their cellphones.
“Thanks, bud.” Austin smiled as he tried calling Selene. “Nice to see that you’ve got your strength back. All you needed was a nap and some food, huh?”
“Well, that and sucking the power from a jet, causing it to almost crash, perked me up a bit, too. I don’t know about you, but I’m gonna play with my powers while we wait.” Maze started to lift a table with his electricity.
“Nah, I’m good, I’m too tired to do anything else today. Just don’t destroy anything, you’re in enough trouble already.”
“I unknowingly threaten to bring down one plane and everyone wants to throw a fit. I don’t think we can stress enough how new these abilities are.” He tried blasting the ground to hover in the air, but didn’t get enough height.
“Are you trying to fly?” Austin asked as he set down his phone. He couldn’t reach anyone.
“Yea, I’ve always wanted to fly. I just don’t know how to do it with these powers.”
“Let me try.” Austin stood up and gathered smoke into his arms. He blasted the floor and soared into the air. “Woah, this is fucking great!” Austin hovered across the cafeteria as Maze looked on in amazement. Austin lowered to the ground right in front of his pal and was filled with excitement. “That was insane! Did you see that?!” He made sporadic movements as if he was trying to pump out even more excitement.
“That was totally awesome. I’m disappointed that I can’t do it, but that was cool, either way.” Maze couldn’t help but laugh at his friend.
“I guess it’s just not one of your abilities, bud. You could do what Static Shock did and use a disc to fly around. Like a trash can lid.”
“Yea, but I don’t want to copy someone else. That’s not cool.”
“Yea I feel ya. What else do you want to try?”
“I thought you were tired?”
“I was, but I’m jonesing now.” At that moment, Black Canary walked into the room and the boys went silent.
“Nice to see that you’re making yourselves comfortable,” She said as she walked towards them. “I have some news for you guys.” Maze and Austin turned to each other and talked some things over before turning back to their jailer.
“No offense, Black Canary, but if the news isn’t about us getting a hot shower and some sleep, we’re not interested,” Maze declared.
“I understand. We will get you properly arranged soon, but first, we need to go over some important information that has to do with your new abilities.” The boys gave each other questionable glances and silently agreed on what to say next.
“Okay, we’ll listen, however, what did you mean when you said you’d get us ‘properly arranged’?” Austin asked. The boys had an inkling of what their host meant and hoped that wouldn’t be her answer.
“The League has decided to keep you boys here for a few days in order to run some tests. We think that the mist you two were effected by activated your meta-genes, causing you to develop super human traits. Unfortunately, we can’t be sure without running tests and then we can see how else the mist may have affected your body chemistry.”
“And then can we go home?” The duo asked simultaneously. They stared at each other in shock. Canary was also stunned. She recollected herself and sighed,
“I’m not sure. It depends on the results of your testing.” The duo knew they had no choice, so they agreed. However, they both knew there was more that Canary wasn’t telling them.
“We’ll do the tests as long as you are completely honest with us, we’re in our twenties. We can handle it.” Maze hated when people beat around the bush. He wanted people to just say what they wanted to say straight out. “And you can start by telling us how many days we’ll be here, exactly.”
Unlike Austin, Maze had trouble staying asleep in their not-so-comfy hospital beds. He despised hospitals. All his life he had to stay in one cold, sickly building after another. Now he wasn’t even in a hospital and still had to sleep in one of those uncomfortable beds. He would’ve complained about there being hospital beds in a lab facility if he hadn’t already done it days ago. Maze decided to talk a walk around S.T.A.R. Labs. Because his clothes were torn up too much to ever wear again, he had to settle for wearing clothes bought by Black Canary. At least she got the clothes he requested. A pair of blue jeans, a new black and blue jacket, even a new blue beanie. He thought the lightning bolt t-shirt was a little much, but he had no choice. It was better than wearing those stupid white jumpsuits with the yellow S.T.A.R. Labs logo on it.
Actually, the entire facility was white. The walls, the floors, the furniture. Like someone went out of their way to prove how uncreative they were. Austin told him that maybe the person who built the place was being creative by having everything in white, but Maze couldn’t accept that. That was pure bullshit. As pure as the whiteness of the halls. Whomever cleans this place should get a serious raise, Maze thought. He had reached the roof. The nicest part of the building, for sure. A wooden deck with yellow lawn chairs and a quaint yellow table to eat at. There was even a random white couch. This was the oddest area of the whole property. As if someone else found the original layout absurd and said, “screw this,” and placed this here.
It was nine in the morning and the sun was already blazing over San Francisco. Maze gazed at the colorful city landscape when he announced, “it’s useless sneaking up on me. I saw you before you came outside.” Maze didn’t bother looking back.
“So you improved your electroreception. Great job.” Canary took a seat at the table. She wasn’t dressed in uniform. Instead she wore yellow capris, a blue blouse, and heels. The only black item she wore were her sunglasses. The light of the sun reflected off her blonde hair into Maze’s eyes.
“I was tired of people getting the jump on me. I improved more than that, though. You’ll find my results from the last five days pretty shocking.” Maze smirked.
“It doesn’t seem like your jokes have improved,” Canary smiled back.
“Ouch. That was uncalled for.” Maze took a seat. “What’s with the normalcy? I didn’t think heroes got a day off.”
“We do sometimes. Being super all the time can be stressful, believe me.”
“There you are, bud. I thought you snuck off to the city aga- oh hey, Canary, I didn’t recognize you. You look good.” Austin stopped talking before he made things even more awkward. Maze’s head hang in disappointment. The two of them worked real hard to keep their ventures into the city under wraps, but they could say goodbye to that now.
“Nice to see you Austin. And don’t worry, I’ve known about your trips for a while.”
“You have? How?” Austin wasn’t the only one stunned. Maze couldn’t believe it either.
“Articles about a vigilante duo beating up robbers and stopping a gang war aren’t common in San Francisco.” Canary set a copy of the San Francisco Chronicle on the table. The headline read, “Hooded Metas Blowup Gang War.” Maze started laughing.
“Hell yea, man! We made the news!” Austin read through the article.
“What I want to know is why you had to blow up half a block of the Mission District and how you did it when there weren’t any explosives present.” Canary had the demeanor of a cop conducting an interrogation.
“Well, that’s kinda hard to explain,” Maze answered. “You see, we sorta, accidentally, combined our powers, causing a huge blast. It didn’t kill anyone, but it did destroy much of the street we were on and injured a bunch of gang members. Which also made them easier to capture, so that was a plus.”
“At least we weren’t on Mark Zuckerberg’s street or we would’ve destroyed his mansion.” Austin added. Maze glared at him.
“That’s not helpful, bro.” Canary just shook it off.
“Okay, clearly you both need more training, but I am here thank you nonetheless. You two single handedly crippled the power structure of three gangs and halted their underground drug trade.”
“Does that mean we don’t have to stay here another week and can finally go home?” Austin asked as his face lit up.
“Sorry, Austin, but no. Instead I’m here to give you the day off and taking you both on a field trip.” The guys looked at each other with uncertainty. “Oh, and while we’re in public, call me Dinah. Dinah Lance.”
Dinah drove the duo from the Financial District to the Intercontinental Mark Hopkins hotel in Nob Hill. It was a fairly large and elegant old bricked hotel. Top of the line. The duo followed Dinah to a room on the seventh floor. After a short pause in the hall, the trio were greeted by a man in business attire. A gray haired man wearing a gray suit greeted, “Hello, Dinah. I assume these are the boys you told me about.” He shook both of their hands as they walked in a rather spacious suite. A one bed living space with a living room set with a couch and two chairs all matching the tan and light brown color scheme. “It’s nice to finally meet you two, my name is Lucius Fox. And I believe you have already met my colleague.” He gestured to a blonde boy about the same age as Maze and Austin in a green hoodie with a single orange line across it. He pushed his glasses up his nose and said,
“I’m Richie Foley. You guys met me back in Phoenix when I was Gear.” He smiled at them. The boys had no words. What the hell is going on? Austin thought. This was not his idea of a day off. Finally, Maze replied,
“Is the secret identity rule not a strict nowadays?” Everyone besides Austin just laughed at the question. Austin tried to figure out why they were brought there.
“It’s nice to meet you both. I’m Austin Parslow and this is my friend, Maze.” They both waved at their hosts. “Could you tell us what we’re doing here?” Dinah stepped in.
“Lucius is CEO of Wayne Enterprises and supplies the League with much of our technology. Richie here, also known as Gear, has the power of super-intelligence and creates many gadgets to help with the hero business.” The duo nodded their heads. They still didn’t know what any of that meant.
“Okay…” said Austin. Canary picked up on their confusion.
“In other words, if you and Maze are going to continue playing hero with your powers, you might as well look the part and equipped for potential dangers.” Austin and Maze’s eyes widened.
“Does that mean?” Maze asked. They all approached a sheet at the back of the room.
“Fellas, I present to you your very own super hero costumes!” Richie and Lucius unveiled two full bodied manikins. One had a black suit paired with dark blue boots, a leather, hooded jacket, a blue eye mask, and blue, fingerless gloves. Two blue lightning streaks ran up each side of the torso of the tight, short sleeve suit and down the arms. The same design appeared on the jacket, also black with a blue hood. On the suit’s chest was a blue V-shaped lightning bolt in a static circle. The same insignia was found on the dark blue utility belt, except in black. The second manikin had a red and gray outfit. A red mask and fingerless gloves as well as a tight, short sleeve suit. The pattern on the torso were gray flames that turned red at the tip. The rest of it was red. A hooded vest had the same design, but the hood was also grey. The outfit was completed with dark gray paints, dark red boots, and chains wrapped around both arms. Austin and Maze were so shocked, they had to take it all in for a moment.
“Holy shit! Those are our suits!?” Austin didn’t take long enjoying his moment of silence.
“I can die happy right after I try that on,” Maze rejoiced. Lucius starting explaining the details of both suits.
“Like many of current heroes’ costumes, these costumes are made out of triple-weave Kevlar-lined material that can withstand standard gunfire and most sword strikes.”
“Did he just say ‘most’?” Maze interrupted.
“And ‘standard gunfire’,” Austin added. Mr. Fox continued.
“They are also lined with Nomex-reinforced fabric which makes them fire-resistant. You’re masks, vest, and jacket are made of the same material, but not as much Kevlar. And both pairs of boots are steel-toed. You will find several accessories attached. For Austin, we have two shatterproof polymer chain whips that can attach to your person as you see fit. And for Maze, we have a utility belt with a few gadgets made by Richie to accompany your unique abilities.”
“This is so awesome. Thank you all so much.” Maze and Austin’s wildest dream was finally coming true.
“What’s with the static V on Maze’s suit?” Austin asked.
“That is his symbol. It stands for Volt. It’s your hero persona. And yours is Ash. I came up with them myself.” Richie smiled, eagerly waiting for a response on the names.
“Those are cool, but a bit too simple,” Maze replied. “If you’d give us a moment.” Austin and Maze turned around and started whispering ideas. Their expression changed from delight to disappointment to confusion and disgust over the span of two minutes. They finally turned back to the others with pride.
“We’ve decided,” Austin proclaimed, “we will be known as Volttech and Steampunk.”
End of Part 2