“This is Roberto Kurtzman, reporting to you live for Fox 11 Los Angeles. We’re here in Simi Valley where we are here to interview, well, frankly, a national hero. We’ve just arrived at the scene, and police are still escorting people out of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. But here with us is this mysterious pink-haired man.”
The camera operator swivels around to point at my face. Presumably beaming its signals directly to millions of watchers. Normally, I’d be completely unfazed by such a thing, but somehow it has given me a slight chill.
The news man looks at me with the giddiness of a beaver facing its prey. “So, what’s your name? Who are you?”
“I am Eryk Solbourne,” I say. “I’m just a simple man making his way through the galaxy. Um, the Earth. Um, the United States.”
He doesn’t seem suspicious. Good. I had to rehearse that line with Delta a few times before she would let me talk to him. I think I got it right.
“So then, Eric—“
He looks confusedly. “So then, Eryk, take us inside your head. Tell us about the heroic deeds you and your friends performed when you foiled the terrorist plot. It was a three-day hostage crisis, and yet you subdued the terrorists before they could steal former President Reagan’s body to sell on the black market. Not a single casualty! It’s a miracle more than anyone could have dreamed.”
“It’s all about gumption,” I say with my best lying abilities. “Sometimes, when a normal person gets involved in a situation, they’re called to stand up and do what’s right. That’s all I did here. The Weathermen Boogaloo will no longer threaten our great nation.”
“Most normal people don’t have pink hair and pink eyes and wear frilly skirts around while beating up armed terrorists, you know.”
“Well, it’s California.”
“But sir, Mister Soulborn—“
“Mister Solbourne, there are rumors that you were involved in the riots in Paso Robles last week. And there’s even reports about the succession crisis in Santa Barbara, where an unidentified pink-haired man—“
I walk away and decline to answer the man’s questions. There is just too much going on, and hopefully I can slip back into anonymity, as is my main desire in life (other than becoming the first S-Rank Hero in eons, of course).
Francis and Delta join me at the edge of the police blockade and past the circus of media people. There’s so many middle aged men trying to record me for their podcast shows that detail the true stories of interesting people, but I simply don’t have the time to deal with all that.
There’s one plus to the technological inferiority of Mystix over the complex world of Earth—it’s bigger, it’s wider, and it’s so much easier to avoid the incessant chattering of celebrity. The world may know of my deeds, but they will never necessarily know who I am. We may not have clocks on Mystix, but we do have free space to dwell in peace.
“Can we, uh, still ride Amtrak like this?” Delta asks. “Is that okay?”
“We’re only an hour or two away from Los Angeles. It shouldn’t be THAT bad, right?” Francis shrugs at his own question. “I don’t think anyone will notice. They’ll just think he’s a Blaze Blitzer cosplayer or something.”
“If Julie sees me on the news, she’s probably going to flip out,” Delta groans.
“A little late for that. I told you we shouldn’t have gone to that stupid Reagan Library! It didn’t even give Eryk a Destiny Point or anything...”
“I enjoyed the elementary school read-a-thon,” I say. “All the children were very adorable. It was quite fun to save their lives as well, after the Weathermen Boogaloo kidnapped them.”
“I don’t know if ‘fun’ is the correct term to use about a hostage situation,” Francis tells me, “but I will admit that I’ve always wanted to reenact Die Hard in real life, and I guess we got that chance. Or, mostly Eryk, but still.”
I wish I knew what Francis was referring to, but it does sound like we have achieved something great here. A terrorist organization was defeated, the world was saved, and I gained a multitude of Destiny Points by felling foes and trying new foods out of the various scattered vending machines on the library campus.
“I’m still so sad about that little guy,” Delta says. “The little clock guy.”
“Yeah, him,” she says.
We all stop walking and take a solitary pause together.
Francis nods. “He saved all our lives,” he says. “And we’ll never forget him.” A single tear falls from his cheek.
“Indeed. I agree wholeheartedly to that. I was the one who cast [Enliven] to grant him sentience, and in a befitting manner I was also the one to bury his remains in the back gardens. To many, he would have been just a normal mantelpiece clock, but to those who knew him, Gimlet was a keeper of the peace. A hilarious jokester. And more than anything, a hero. Let us honor his memory one more time.”
A moment of silence for our [Enlivened] friend we knew for such a short time before his noble sacrifice.
As is the common saying in North Spire, I mutter, “Goodnight, sweet prince.”
And then we continue walking away from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, hopefully never to return.
It is a few days later than we originally planned, but this trio of the Systemless Squad is finally about the embark on our Amtrak train to our next, most important location: Los Angeles!
We go to the station and board the next train away. It’s been an incredibly long, incredibly eventful three days, and I’ve hardly slept a wink in all that time. Finally, all the chaos of Simi Valley is over. I may be slightly more famous than I wanted to be at this stage in my path to heroism, but such is the price to pay for someone giving it their all to become the ultimate [Adventurer.]
I’ll pay any price to fulfill my destiny.