Threat Level: N/A
Powers: Enhanced Sight and Hearing, Sonic Blasts, Durable Arms, Metabolic Regeneration
The following morning, Danny left the house early in the morning while his hand-mouths still detected Kaka’s snores through the walls. They’d stayed up late the previous night discussing what had happened. It consisted mostly of Kaka calling him a fool, and regularly peeking out windows to ensure there were no unwanted supers on the doorstep. They’d stayed up until the early hours of the morning.
Even though he’d slept for less than a couple of hours, Danny went on his usual jog. The thrill of his powers outside of training and saving a life refused to let him sleep. For the first time in his life, he took roads with an orange threat level instead of going around them. The direct route shaved three minutes off his run to Finsbury Park.
Much to his disappointment, Druid’s sandwich truck wasn’t in its usual place. He returned to the park’s entrance to ask a coffee stall about it and the woman running it said they hadn’t seen it in a week. She and the other vendors had grown worried about the young man who operated it.
After thanking them for their time, Danny bought a muffin and water from one of them before continuing his jog. Once he was in a quieter part of the park, he messaged Druid using the HoloLens.
Danny: Hey. I came around for a sandwich, but no one’s seen you in a while. Did everything go okay last night?
Druid: Last night?
Danny: I was out making deliveries near Highbury and Islington when the thing with the Freaks happened.
Druid: Please do not contact a League official regarding an ongoing investigation. It can result in disciplinary action against the official and legal trouble for the person contacting them. When contacting a League official in the future, please use a traceable Holo device.
Trace probe detected. Would you like to reveal your device to the League Network?
“No,” Danny answered, slowing to a walk. He frowned, reading over the messages again as the pieces fell into place. Since the League had put Druid on probation, they were likely keeping a closer eye on him. To use assets outside of League networks, heroes needed seniority or permission from the organisation. Druid had neither. The Asuran Veda had changed his HoloLens, making it untraceable. As a result, the messages looked suspicious to anyone monitoring communication, and Druid likely saw it as a test from the higher ups.
After eating half the muffin, Danny bought himself a bagel from his favourite bakery. Instead of smoked salmon, he opted for corned beef with wholegrain mustard. The onion bagel was still hot and the corned beef had a freshness about it, too. He savoured the meal as he walked home, enjoying the revitalising effects of Metabolic Regeneration.The muscles in his legs and back tingled, and the headache that came with sleep deprivation faded. However, Danny could feel tiredness and exhaustion wearing down his mind in the background. The power didn’t remove his need for sleep.
That’s good to know. I love sleeping.
Walking or running out on the streets without his eyes out left Danny feeling vulnerable. His hand mouths still read the vibrations in the air, but it wasn’t enough. Around him, civilians walked around with their powers in the open—hiding them wasn’t an option for some. Many featured odd physiologies. A few had little minions following them. None of them had organs or glass replicas of them floating around them. The eyes were too distinct to blend into the crowd.
To make it as a hero, Danny needed to separate his super and civilian personas in public. If that meant living as a blind person for half the time, Danny had no choice but to do just that. He settled for keeping his palms pointed at the ground and kept the mouths open. Occasionally, he brushed it against a lamppost or a concrete wall. It gave him a rough idea of the distance between him and other pedestrians.
It was five-minutes past nine before Danny got home. Kaka stood in the kitchen, checking the day’s deliveries. The fish sat in cardboard boxes filled with chipped ice, but as head chef he double-checked it with a temperature probe. He did the same with the meat. Danny helped Kaka put the proteins away before they sat down for a meal. Even though he’d already devoured a bagel, Danny tucked in for a second breakfast.
After cleaning up, they were heading down to the lower basement when the doorbell rang. Kaka’s back stiffened and his fingers wrapped around the necklace he always wore.
“Are you expecting a veg delivery?” Danny asked.
Kaka shook his head. “Veg and dry goods deliveries come tomorrow.”
Neither of them said it, but Danny saw it in Kaka’s body language. They had the same concerns. If the Freaks traced them home, the restaurant would likely go down in flames. They saw his face when Danny tossed the speedster at them. The speedster had tried to sell him out, too.
Since Danny’s powers gave him decent defence and enhanced recovery, he took the lead. Kaka followed close behind me, one mirror sphere in hand. The doorbell rang again, and Danny felt both of their heartbeats picked up. He pressed his left palm to the door and listened. He only detected one person on the other side. Their heartbeat was faster than Danny’s or Kaka’s.
“Did you invite the delivery girl over?” Danny asked.
“Who? Sasha?” Kaka looked at Danny with a confused look in his eyes. “No, I told her never to come back here.”
“Nice to see you again, Sasha,” Danny said.
Sasha, the speedster and former Kolkata Tandoor delivery girl, stood leaning against the doorframe, tapping her feet on the ground impatiently. Her high-heels and the tempo made it sound like the start of a bad drum solo.
“Took you long enough,” Sasha said, looking Danny up and down. After hesitant for a moment, he relaxed the hollow canal in his left arm. “We need to talk. Can I come in?”
Kaka tugged on Danny’s shoulder, but the gesture went ignored.
“Come in,” Danny said, standing aside. The Freaks had gotten a better look at her than they did Danny. He worried they’d tail Sasha and find her hanging around the restaurant.
Sasha marched in, heading straight to the little room staff used for their breaks. She took a seat at the small two people dining table and kicked off her shoes, wriggling her long elegant toes as soon as they were free.
“Make yourself at home. Why don’t you?” Danny remained expressionless as he took a seat opposite her.
“Thanks, I will.” She looked Danny up and down again, her eyes narrowing. “That was you, wasn’t it?”
“How dare you come back here?” Kaka interjected. “First you crash on the job and refuse to take Boosters, then you attack my nephew in the streets. We have every right to file a report, you know.”
“Breathe,” she said, tapping her feet once again. “I screwed up, alright? There’s an experimental programme the League is sponsoring for low-rank speedsters like me. We need to push ourselves as much as possible without using Boosters. There are drugs and several exercises involved. The programme is supposed to push our meta genes, improving speed, reflexes, healing, and hopefully awaken additional abilities. I’m seeing changes, but measuring my blood sugar has been a nightmare. My outburst last night and how I behaved… it was a low point and I’m ashamed of myself.”
“Why are you here?” Kaka asked. “It can’t just be for a half-arsed apology.”
Sasha ignored him this time and focused on Danny. “I know that was you.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about—”
“I might come across as a low-rank speedster, but my abilities put me in the Stalker category, too,” she said. “My meta gene makes my ears sensitive to a wider range of frequency than yours.” Speedsters often had enhanced senses. It helped them keep track of things when moving at high speeds. In most cases, they had super eyes. Danny had read about a few with improved touch, too. Sasha was the first speedster with enhanced hearing. “Whatever ability you used against Malfunction yesterday, it gives off this special signal. You were broadcasting that when you opened the door.”
Kaka and Danny glanced at each other. He suspected she had a hypothesis and was trying to get a reaction out of him. However, Danny worried that accusing Sasha of lying would set her off again. He pressed his left hand flat on the table and focused. Sasha’s heartbeat travelled through her elbows into the wood. Danny could hear it, and the rate hadn’t changed since he detected her through the door.
“You got me. I’m sorry I threw you at the Freaks. It wasn’t my intention.”
“I guessed as much. You’re not as stupid as you look.” Sasha laughed. Now in regular clothes and not on the verge of exploding, she no longer intimidated Danny.. “You saved me from—whatever they were planning afterwards. I supposed that makes us even. Thank you.”
“Sasha, why are you here?” Kaka repeated. Danny had never heard such coldness in his voice. “What if they’re following you? The Freaks could be rallying their forces right now to take revenge.”
“All displaced heroes, including Druid, are in Holloway now. The Freaks wouldn’t dare to surface now. Besides, I think they were toying with us. The four of them only engage in petty theft or specifically target Power Merchant’s operations. How long do you think you can keep this up, though?” She looked between Kaka and Danny. “Your nephew wants to be a hero. I don’t know if there’s something wrong with his head or it’s got to do with his power, but he threw himself into danger yesterday when running home was an option. How long do you think this will last? This time it’s just me knocking on your door. Next time, it could be someone a lot worse.”
“Are you going somewhere with this?” Danny asked. “If you want hush money, Sasha, you’re barking up the wrong tree. Neither of us can afford to pay you. Besides, with me applying to the League, that’s not the best idea.”
“I’m not after your money!” She laughed, smacking the table. Her pitch rose once again to a strange, unnatural pitch. “Considering what you did, I guessed you intend to join the League, but you have concerns regarding hiding your identity. Am I correct?”
“Well, my aunt is an agent,” Sasha said. “She has a licence to represent supers. You would register with her, not the League. She’ll take a portion of your earnings, but will take care of costume procurement and repairs. Her services include keeping your identity private from everyone, including the League.”
“I know how agents work.” Danny replied. He had heard most of them dealt with super actors or athletes. If agents dealt with the League, they kept the connections quiet. “The League will pay her, not me, and she’ll shave a good forty percent off the top.”
“My aunt charges thirty, actually.” Sasha hopped off her seat and walked over to the corner where the staff stacked their cans of soft drink. She helped herself to cola and drained it in under five seconds. After letting out a loud, satisfied burp, she continued. “But she’ll also represent you in all legal matters, sort out sponsors and other revenue streams. In other words, you’ll be affiliated with the League, but won’t have to share your identity with them. I imagine that’s important to you?”
Kaka stepped forward, looking like he wanted to answer for his nephew, but Danny grabbed the man’s forearm and gave it a light squeeze. Danny hadn’t considered agents, but working through one would mean he could keep his two lives separate and let Kaka enjoy the anonymity he preferred. If there were individuals in the League still on the lookout for Rakshasa’s kin, they’d most likely identify Kaka while putting him through old facial recognition databases.
“What’s in it for you?” Danny asked.
“You obviously care about your community and the area.” She looked between Kaka and him. “I mean, your restaurant works with local suppliers instead of going for the big names and you donate to the upkeep of Holloway. The League doesn’t care as much and would rather funnel their resources and heroes to where the money is. My aunt is trying to gather supers that will focus on protecting the borough of Islington and neighbouring areas. I get the feeling you’d be a good fit.”
Kaka sighed, sitting down. He knew his nephew well and guessed talking Danny out of the idea after Sasha’s sales pitch would be near impossible.
“I’m acting in self-interest, too.” Sasha continued after a brief pause. “If this programme works out, I plan to join the League. Once that happens—”
“You want to surround yourself with supers you can trust,” Danny said, completing her thought.