Threat Level: N/A
Power Type: N/A
Danny came to feeling well-rested. The blanket of warmth had long since faded. Lying on the cold hard table in just his jeans, Danny felt a chill. The cold had worked itself into his bones. When he shivered, a wave of goosebumps spread from his wrist all the way to his shoulders.
Danny’s palms had a line of folded skin across them. It almost looked like a scar akin to a cut from a metal wire or a sharp blade. Unlike in the Asuran Veda’s pages, opening the mouths took some trial and error to figure out. It wasn’t until Danny cupped his hands with the thumbs sticking out at almost right angles did the appropriate set of muscles respond. Perfect circles opened in the centre of his palms. The basement’s sounds suddenly grew sharper and Danny felt a soft hum around the new orifices.
Nothing hurt when he sat up. Danny didn’t feel weak, either. However, a tightness pulled at his left side. A pale white scar now sat where the hole had been. He saw no stitches, signs of bandages, or iodine. Instead, it appeared as if the body had naturally patched the injury.
Was it Kaka, the Asuran Veda, or Kabandha?
“You’re awake!” Kaka exclaimed, jumping up from behind the desk. Still dazed, Danny hadn’t noticed him. Bags sat under his hazel eyes, and the smell of coffee filled the room. Kaka stuck a thermometer in Danny’s mouth, before checking his pupils, tongue, and the wound. “Please tell me you didn’t pick Ravana in the end.”
“I didn’t,” Danny said, showing him the hand-mouths. An uncharacteristic high-pitched scream burst from Kaka as he leapt backwards. “Don’t worry.” Danny laughed. “It’s not a vampire or a churel. No need to worry.”
“Who is it then?”
“The demon from the Ramayana?” He frowned, taking the thermometer. Kaka took the reading, nodded, and made a note. Suddenly, he looked more like a doctor than a chef. “Why him? I thought you might pick Kumbhakarna for strength or Hidimbi for dominion of earth and fungus.”
“The Asuran Veda didn’t give me many details regarding what they’d give me. I had to work off intuition and guess work. To be honest, I didn’t remember half of these characters—entities, gods, demons, or whatever they are. I felt a connection to Kabandha, though.” Danny paused, his eyes narrowed as he studied his uncle, recalling the chanting and the many strange concoctions he’d used. “None of that matters now, Kaka. You’ve got a lot to explain.”
“I know.” He sighed, pulling a chair. He rubbed his eyes and took a seat, facing Danny. “I’m sorry. I should’ve told you about our family a long time ago. It’s just that… It took so much effort to distance ourselves from that world that I wanted to forget about it. I knew the book would awaken again someday, but I expected it to choose me to bring balance. Not you.”
“If it chose you, then you could continue to lie to me,” Danny said. Kaka broke eye contact, looking away. “What balance, Kaka? Start from the beginning, please.” The words came out harsher than Danny would’ve liked. He understood that anger wouldn’t get him anywhere. He wanted super powers and now he had them. Despite the deception, Kaka had been a parent to him. “You’ve given me a good life, Kaka. You were my age when everything happened. No one would’ve blamed you if you put me in the foster system and never looked back—”
“I’d never do that, Danny.”
“I love and respect you for that. However, it doesn’t change the fact that you’ve been lying to me all this time.” Kaka’s eyes glistened with tears. Danny couldn’t recall ever seeing such vulnerability in the man that had raised him. “You owe me the truth, and I want it now, Kaka. I’m not mad, and I don’t want to argue. I just want to understand our past.”
“It’s a long story, Baba,” he said, letting out a deep sigh. “First of all, you need to understand that most mythologies and legends stem from reality.” He poured Danny a tumbler of cool water. Despite the injury and the sudden recovery, Danny didn’t feel hungry or thirsty. Yet he sipped from the glass, watching Kaka dry his eyes and compose himself. Kaka drank from a metal flask on his desk before continuing. “The science-fiction bullshit about alternate realities and dimensions is all true.”
“I didn’t know you drank,” Danny said when Kaka paused for another swig.
“It’s been a while since I’ve picked this beauty up.” He smiled weakly. “After the day we’ve had, I need it.” A tremor passed over Kaka’s body. He cracked his neck before taking a much larger gulp. “That really hits the spot.”
“Go on, Kaka. I’m sorry for interrupting this train of thought.”
“Very well. These alternate realities don’t house other versions of us, but magic-wielding beings far more powerful than any meta gene user.” He went to drink again, but then looked between Danny and the flask. He screwed its top close and dropped it on the desk with a loud thump. “Once upon a time, long, long ago, they used to come to our world to fuck and flex.” Kaka rarely used cuss words. The near-death experience and the alcohol appeared to have lowered his inhibitions. “They stopped visiting most of the world thousands of years ago. However, in places like India and Greece, they still pop by every few centuries. Our family carries their bloodline.”
“In other words, we’re magical?” Danny asked.
Kaka nodded. “There is no proven research data on it due to how rare magic-based supers are, but I believe it's why you never awakened. Individuals with the blood of interdimensional mages in their bloodstream don’t awaken meta genes.” He took the tumbler from Danny once he had drained it, and turned his attention to the hand mouths. Leaning forward, he studied them closely. “Unfortunately, sources of magic in our world are scarce and mostly lost. The majority of magic-based supers get their abilities from relics, inherit it from someone within their family or by contracting with an extra-planar entity.”
“And I just did all three, didn’t I?”
“That you did.”
While the hands had frightened Kaka, his jaw dropped when Danny showed him the floating eyeballs, and he felt the soft vibrations coming off them. The humming stopped as soon as Danny closed the orifices, and suddenly, every sound around him became somewhat muffled. Danny struggled to make up his mind about whether he found the excess information was overwhelming or the lack of it felt crippling.
“How do we fit into all of this?” Danny asked after an almost eternity of silence.
“We belong—rather used to belong to a society called Keepers,” Kaka answered. “Our job involved keeping these relics out of the wrong hands.”
“How did you decide which hands are right?”
“Almost all hands are wrong hands. Most relics, especially the ones we used to guard, come with terrible costs. One of our own stole a relic for fame and fortune. Another picked one up to retrieve the stolen article. Hundreds died including everyone we called family. I had no choice but to take them and run.” Kaka sighed. “It was wrong of me to keep the few that I have left hidden from you, Danny. However, I thought I was doing what was right.”
“What’s the cost of me bonding with the Asuran Veda?”
“I don’t know. There is a lot of information you need to earn, and I don’t want to overload you. It’s worth knowing though that the tome was a part of a pair. They’re supposed to balance each other. Our family kept them dormant for centuries. If one Veda does good. The other must do bad. If they don’t cancel each other out, the residing world becomes unstable. The barrier separating it from other planes and Universes weakens, leading to unnecessary disasters.”
“You mean the Vedas are the reason there are rifts opening all around the world?”
“Not the sole reason, but yes. The imbalance plays a role in the frequency of rifts appearing around the world,” Kaka said.
“The Asuran Veda mentioned that the universe’s karma was in the negative,” Danny told him. “I wasn’t sure what that meant.”
“It means the other Veda’s owner is up to no good. They’re either actively using their powers for malicious purposes or are driven by greed alone.”
“That means I need to use the book of demons and monsters to do some good. That’s almost funny.” Danny watched Kaka as he leaned back in his chair. The older man looked ready to pass out. “Did you watch the news? Do you know what happened to Sal’s gym? There were strange supers around that I’ve never heard of before.”
“First, I need to know who shot you. Was it an accident, or did they mean to hurt you?”
“It was Power Merchant,” Danny replied. After some thought, he decided not to share the full truth. “Druid was disarmed by Power Merchant’s henchman and in danger. I threw him his weapon and was trying to get away when he shot me.”
“I hope for both of our sakes the heroes keep him on the back foot,” Kaka said. “It’ll be bad if he comes looking for you or after the restaurant. Either way, I’ll set down some wards so people are discouraged from coming here looking for you.”
“You can do that?” Danny’s eyes widened.
Kaka nodded, smiling weakly. “I’m more than just a takeaway chef, Baba. Let’s get some food in you, then we both need proper rest. We can continue this later.”
Danny checked the news and ThreatLevel App while eating. The app marked Highbury and Islington Station and the immediate vicinity a red zone. Sal’s gym had burned to the ground, and a little over a dozen people had died.
The news claimed Dryad had suffered grievous injuries after getting ambushed by Power Merchant and a new villain team called the Freaks. The heroine would be out of commission for several months. Danny wasn’t sure if he believed the League’s official press relief. He’d seen Dryad’s head rolling in the dirt. Something or someone had decapitated her. At the same time, there were several supers with ridiculous regenerative abilities.
He checked the Super Database’s entry on Dryad.
Threat Level: B
Power Type: Plant creation and manipulation. Can use plant matter to create armour, healing powders, or toxins. Can absorb plant matter to recover from injuries rapidly.
Classification: Controller/ Master
Despite the entry, Danny still struggled to believe Dryad could bounce back from such an injury. Next, he looked for details on the Freaks but found nothing. He looked up Roach and Mindpunch. The database had information on neither of them. After eating a full meal, Danny withdrew Druid’s HoloLens from its hiding place and ensured disabled its connection to all outside networks. Then he analysed himself with the scanning function. It pricked his ear, drawing a speck of blood.
Threat Level: N/A
Power Type: Unknown
Danny’s lips curled into a smile. His statistics were barely better than that of most henchmen. He didn’t understand what parameters League used to measure everything, but he didn’t care. Danny was pleased to see everything had moved from O for Ordinary. F put him a step above the average human.
The Spark statistic intrigued him the most. While Might represented a super’s ability for destruction caused through physical means, Spark did the same for metaphysical. Projectors and Controllers often benefited from a high Spark statistic, and the rating suggested Danny was now one of them.