In the Living Room

In the Living Room

I spent the better part of the night organizing my information, so I could write my story.  There were two stories that would go out. The first one had already hit the evening edition.  It was all about what happened at the museum.   I gave an eyewitness account of everything that I saw and incorporating the information that some of the other bystanders that were there.  I was able to give a firsthand account of what happened inside of the museum.  What happened outside I had to lean on what I was being told by the individuals that were where in the area and took cover nearby.

Together there was a well written article that went out on the evening edition and online.  The press conference brought another element into the story. It was my first press conference, so I was nervous about how it would go.  I had to provide information to the online edition to make sure that the Planet’s site was updated as information came in.  The full story would go out online with it also being covered   in tomorrow’s edition.

I found the conference enlightening. It took only a few hours to get everything together and for me to exit the building, but the moment I did I looked across the street and a car waiting for me.  The window rolled down and a familiar face was on the side of it.

”Get in.”

I could say no, but it didn’t sound like I was being given a choice in the matter and I know that it wasn’t coming from Aaron.  Walking to the back seat I slip inside, because this was my Uber driver that I didn’t request.  Fastening the seat belt I leaned back against the seat taking a deep breath.

“On a scale of one to ten how bad is it?”

Aaron didn’t look back at me he kept his eyes on the road as the car moved down the highway.

“I’m going to go with an eight borderline nine.”

“Really?  You’re not overselling it a bit?”  That got me silence which was something that would annoy most people, but I was used to it.  You grow accustomed it to it when dealing with the Coles.  True Aaron wasn’t Joshua, but it didn’t stop him picking up several of his habits.

“Right then.”  So where were we going. I could ask, but I pretty much knew that I wouldn’t get too many questions answered. It was a bit more than an hour before we arrived at our destination.  The car continued going until it came to a stop and the door opened.

”Come on.”

Walking from the car onto the airstrip I headed to the plane that was waiting for us.   Did we always have to do this?”  The cabin door opened, and the staircase came down. Climbing them I stepped inside and Joshua was already shutting the door behind me.

”Take a seat. Wheels up now.” The first was for me the latter was for Joshua.  I walked into the main cabin which was anything but normal.  Taking a seat I strapped myself in and waited for the plane to take off. Didn’t really matter where we were going, but I knew the deal.  Joshua didn’t like standing around.  He preferred to be moving, always moving, whether it was on the ground, the air or on water he had to be moving.

“So, your first press conference?”

I looked over at him, taking a deep breath.

“Yes.”  I thought performed well.

”Let’s take a look shall we?”  Joshua said as he looked across from after we were air born.  He turned to the screen which was a replay of the press conference. He skipped ahead until he reached the Wonder Woman portion.

“What do you think?”

Okay not the question I thought he might ask.

“I’ve only head reports.  I haven’t seen her action.  I can’t assess her fighting style.  She’s the daughter of Zeus.”

”You believe her?”

“Why wouldn’t I? Wouldn’t be the first time and we both know magic is real.  You do possess the key.  Are you worried?”

”She would make for a powerful ally.”

The moment we reach cruising altitude I undo my seat belt.

“Wait so I’m supposed to go on a recruiting drive?  This is an internal Atlantean affair.  I’m not going to involve outsiders.”   I know the way that it sounded.  It’s not like that.  “It will only complicate matters.   That’s not my mission.  I haven’t finished my assessment.  Involving outsiders, landwalkers could…it would send the wrong message.  Especially given my presence here.  I was sent to observe.”

Why does this have to be so frustrating.

“You’re beyond that.  We both know that.  What happened to everything you said before?  During rehab?”   I was in bad shape. I said a lot of things and Joshua knows it.  Let me organize me thoughts.

“They’re attempting to build a collation.  Bringing them into this matter would help no one.  Not me. Not them.  There are still things to determine there.  There’s no indication what the American government will do.  I suspect right now they are giving them enough rope to hang themselves with. There will be a reckoning and it’s unclear who will initiate it.”

That much is clear. Whether it was her intentions or not a gauntlet was tossed down before the government.   This group is free from their strings. They are independent and given everything I learned while living among the surface dwellers I know that Luthor’s administration will not entertain this for long. If they cannot control this group, then they will not allow it to continue to exist.

“The ocean has been quiet, silent.  With Orin’s…” I fix my lips to say and I can’t.  All this time and I still can’t say it. “With him gone Orm has retreated to the depths.  We’ve given them no problems to come after us to make demands.  I have no idea what communications have occurred between Atlantis and the US government.  I rather not complicate matters. It’s too soon to know how this will shake out.”

I liked a lot of what was said, but we don’t live in a vacuum.  “Our governments are no friends of ours, Joshua you know this.  This group is untested, and they have challenges of their own to overcome.  You were the one that told me that I shouldn’t act recklessly.  I should learn more about the surface world determine who I can trust and who I can’t.  I will not jeopardize something that’s in its infancy to further my own goals. I know what’s at stake.” That should never be forgotten.

”Okay, then tell me why this happened?”Joshua pauses the conference at the moment I step forward to introduce myself and ask not one but several questions.

”Use the Planet to learn to see what the world is like. Attend college to get an idea of what new young minds are thinking.   Live in Metropolis to experience life outside of school and work. These are the things that we wanted, that your father wanted he wanted you to make an honest assessment,”  Joshua reminded me.

”Orm monitors surface communications. Black Manta monitors all communications.  Your hair is different.  Your face, altered slightly, but you voice.  It’s cadence its tone.  There was only so much that can be done.  You wanted to be able to move about freely. I agreed. I encouraged it, but you weren’t supposed to be in front of cameras.  These are mistakes you can’t afford. We can’t afford.” 

Not now he wanted to say, but he left it unsaid.

”If you’re not ready to reveal yourself to the world in any capacity you can’t allow yourself to be placed in situations where you could be exposed.”

Honestly, it was only a matter of time.  I can’t live like Joshua.  I can’t constantly be on the move.  One day I will return home and undo all that Orm and Manta have done. I restore Atlantis to the place it once was, but until then I will learn all I need to know about the surface world.  The good, the bad and the ugly.  It is a beautiful world.  It reminds me of the one that I left behind, the one that I can no longer return not now.  Still, if nothing changes then I will always talk about returning being at some point instead of something better.

”And don’t think I haven’t noticed the reports about a mysterious stranger assisting in disasters at sea.”

“I don’t, but I have noticed that you haven’t stopped me.“ It is the way I choose to honor my father.  I also can’t be my father.  I have to see for myself with my own eyes, before I make any move to be more than I am here.   He didn’t trust the people he worked enough to tell them that he needed their aid.  He needed more than the Others, but the older generation didn’t trust one another they kept each other at arms-length.  It was easy to divide wasn’t whole.   He always thought he would have time, but time is promised to no one.

Borrowed time is all we have and eventually it runs out.

“I did my job.  I was given an assignment and I believe I did it well. I was competent asking questions that I believe the Planet readers wanted answers to. I let the world know what this group, what Wonder Woman is attempting to achieve.  She is attempting to bring hope into a world that was on the edge, on the brink of teetering into hopelessness and that needed to be communicated to world, to everyone that was watching.   There are people willing to stand for what’s right for everyone without strings, without monitors.” I took a deep breath.

“They have a chance to do it right and whether or not I’m a part of that will be my decision and mine alone.”

I know he’s worried and he’s showing his concern the only way he knows how.  Joshua wasn’t known for his hugs, more for showing me how to break a person’s arm in at least three different places.  Knowing who to talk to and how to talk to them to get what you wanted. He had a set of skills that went beyond pep talks over cocoa.  That wasn’t his style.

“If we’re finished I would like to go back.  I have a meeting with Mister White in the morning.  He’s going to assess my performance.  I would like to get a swim in before it gets too late.”

Finding My Way

Walking down the street looking like my shoulder is sewed to the side of my head I groan just a bit, because I’m going to kill Carter.   I haven’t been able to find my headset since he sat at my desk.  Taking calls have been a pain, because I haven’t been able to stop at the store to get another one.  Twisting and turning.  Bobbing and weaving I make my way through the hustle and bustle of the crowds of Metropolis as I make my way back to the Planet.

Since they opened that new coffeehouse around the corner everyone’s been craving them.  I for one was starting to think that they put something in the coffee.  Not that I cared for the drink.  It was unpleasant and it made me gag, but I didn’t say that.  Course not fetching coffee was one of my jobs wasn’t it?

“Yes, Ms. Grant. I heard you.  I got you exactly what you wanted.  I’m walking through the doors right now. I’ll be up stairs shortly.”  Yes I’ll be upstairs to deliver orders and then I will be banished to the basement to finish the research that I was doing. Nearly all of the Planets copies had been digitized, but there were still items that needed to be cataloged to determine if they were going to be kept or not.   I was also working on a bit of a project for one of the reporters gathering information that the Planet had on metahumans.   Earliest sightings.  Something about a retrospective.

Truth be told with the press conference held by Superman to introduce Wonder Woman people were curious.  Some skeptical.   Some of the older reporters said it was nothing more than history repeating itself.   Why was I doing this?  Well, I had the good fortune or misfortune of offering information…strike that.  Volunteering information while Mister White was describing the assignment that he was handing out to said reporter.

I knew a little more than anyone expected.  They probably thought I was some kind of metahuman groupie as I expounded on the events that lead to the period of silence as I like to call it.

“The Keen Act…” It slipped off my lips easily and I provided a little more detail.  So, I was the one singled out to investigate the archives.  What wasn’t digitized I had to go into the stack as some liked to call it.   Basement was more like it, because that’s what it was, literally.

Still, it provided me with a good deal of time to myself while I was at the Planet and when I wasn’t there I was at school fitting in like any normal college sophomore who was majoring or considering to major in communications and information management sciences or at least that’s what they were calling it today.   I had a minor in mind, but that was neither here and there.

Right now I was simply Jackson Hyde, intern…maybe reporter someday.  True there was talk of a quite earnest reporter that had been among their ranks, but he went on sabbatical and no one had heard anything from him.  Kent.  Had a desk no office, desk had been cleared a new hot shot was brought in to replace him.

It was water cooler talk.   It’s how I got in with people listening to what they told me as I made my rounds becoming familiar with this person and another.   Tagging along all in the interest in furthering my education and interest in journalism.  Print media was a dying breed they said, but there were a few forward-thinking individuals that believed they could help revolutionize how information was shared and accessed by the public.  That’s not to say that the Planet hadn’t been through a few lean years.  The period between the Keene Act and Superman’s appearance were difficult, but give people something focus on and suddenly there’s a rebirth.   Add the fact that a corporate industrialist openly opposes him given his status as an alien.  You have something to sink your teeth into.

Of course, no one thought things would go the way they did and someone said corporate industrialist and megalomaniac would find a way to do the very thing the founding fathers of this nation abhorred, a life time leader…a king like leader.

The declaration was unexpected, but it seemed that power was being consolidated and with the laws of the land that had been crafted it seemed that a once great nation had fallen without even a single blow being struck.   Ebbs and flows like the tide.

I cannot order you to do this.   However, I can ask.

The voice, his voice played through my mind and I wonder what he would think about the path I have chosen.  It was my decision.  It has always been my decision and there are days that I have regretted the decision, because I always considered what if, but then I remember all the things that I have been told about what if.  I shouldn’t consider what I could of done especially when I was not present. I was focused on my task, my assignment.

Still what if one person could have made a difference and the world wouldn’t seem to be as dark as it was.  It seems that the world I walk in now is no different from the one I came from. I needed to consider what I was capable of and where I could do the most good and right now that meant continuing to learn more about the people that we shared the planet with.  True I was far cry from the leaders, but I did have information.

I needed information about all kinds of people which lead me to take a particular interest in some of articles that they did regarding metahumans, vigilantes and the like. It was good to know how they were treated.  To know how those that were different were treated.  It could provide invaluable insight on how they might treat potential friends.  Though with the current state of affairs one had to wonder how it all might unfold.

Even as I passed out the beverages I wondered when and how.  What would he do.  Would it be enough?  There was far too much to focus on and even though I had been instructed, counseled to keep my head down I found it difficult to do.  I spent the better part of a year waiting, because I was unable to act, but now that I am able to do so I find it difficult to simply sit on my hands and wait for someone to alert me as to when we would make our next move.

I felt that I was doing nothing more than gathering information that would never be utilized, not by the people it was meant for.  There was a danger lurking, but which threat was greater?  The threat above or the one below?

Focus.  Focus Jackson.   Jackson.   The mask that needs to be worn in order to keep my person safe less I’m found and brought back to stand trial for treason against the crown.  So rather than let my anger get the better of me I get coffee and focus on the assignment that has been provided by Mister White.  Provide research on rise and fall of metahumans over the nation’s history.

Still, one couldn’t help but notice the various leads regarding missing metahumans, young ones.   They weren’t that common but every so often there was a source that talked about a metahuman that they were familiar with that disappeared.   It wasn’t something that the Planet wrote a story about, but I had come across notes from the reporter that had gone on sabbatical, Kent.  He was looking into it.

It wasn’t something I shared with Johnson.  It should be tossed away, but I couldn’t let it go.  I had bigger things to worry, bigger things I couldn’t do anything about right now, but this?   I don’t know.   Perhaps someone could give them a voice when the time was right.

Work came and went and I found myself walking the streets. I wasn’t in a hurry to return to his apartment, off campus apartment. It was the agreement that I made with Joshua. It was better for everyone involved if he moved off campus rather than staying on campus.  Especially given the fact that I was starting to work a lot of late hours at the Planet.  I was going to be in and out a lot and there were classes of course.  It took some convincing, but I rather not put anyone in a compromising position if I could avoid it.

Besides I told him there were going to be times when I needed to be myself.  That I needed to be me and that wasn’t always convenient if I had to deal with roommates.  I needed to breathe.   To be honest I knew that I wasn’t always the most pleasant person to be around.  At the apartment I could be whoever I wanted.  I also could smile to the neighbors help them with their groceries and then shut the door and shut them out when I needed to.

Never in a million years did I believe I would find myself in this position.  I knew I wasn’t alone, but the support, the support I was accustomed to that I could turn to was gone.  Friend gone, dead by my hand. Talking with Joshua and the others wasn’t the same.  They had their own lives to focus on even though there were routine reports about what was happening.

They had been tasked with tracking Manta’s movements and letting me know if he or his men were in the area.  He was Orm’s eyes and ears on the surface.  Atlantis lost one operative and replaced him with another.  Manta had men and resources that could be places anywhere that Orm wanted.   Tracking their movements were critical in determining what came next.

It should be something I was involved in.  If, anything they could be using them to track down the Others and anyone else that may have been loyal to the Orin.  They needed to eliminate and sympathizers.  There was a part of me that wanted to believe that I wasn’t in this alone.  That it was more than me and the remaining Others.

Which is why it was difficult for me to figure out exactly what I should be doing.  I should be out there with them, but I couldn’t.  I was not allowed.  That was difficult to handle.  In my mind, I knew that I wasn’t being sidelined, but I was used to being able to take an active part in anything that I was involved in.  This was my life. They weren’t the only ones that were being hunted and perhaps that is why I found myself taking an interest in Kent’s notes.  The idea that someone went missing because they were metahumans.  The possibility that something could have happened to them.

It almost feels wrong, because it could easily be seen as a distraction, but it is far from it.  It is not a distraction.  It’s something that provides focus and clarity.   It also keeps me out of the hair of those that are doing their best to help me.  A distraction is what I’m doing right now, walking the streets so I don’t return to the apartment and try and get Joshua on the phone to see what he’s found out if anything.    Focus on the mission.  My mission whatever’s left of it.