Leaving the Darkness: Part II
Part II: A New Reality
Mingulay used to be an uninhabited island in the Bishop of the Isles to the far north of Scotland. Older remains like castles had long ago been converted and made part of the large prison structure that now spans the island.
The metal is imbued with the only element known to dampen parahuman abilities, element zero. No one even knew the scientific compound of it, that’s how tightly controlled it is by the world governments. There were measures in place for other types of beings as well. It was one of the few of it’s kind scattered throughout the world.
The building stretched high before me, no doubt accommodating a good sixth of the world’s villains within its walls. As the gates rolled before me I tried to steady my breathing. I’d dealt with these types before. I’d spent time in juvenile, this would be no different, right? All the officers of the prison wore the latest in combat suit protection, the SecuriTech logo embossed on the chest plates.
“Get moving, you’ll have plenty of time to gawk at the place,” a male officer sneered before giving me a hard shove through the main doors. I knew on the other side of the building was a mirrored entrance for the female prisoners. Obviously the legion had been kind enough to send them everything they needed as processing didn’t take long at all. There hadn’t been much point fighting after Heppenheim had disappeared. The heroine with the domino mask had studied me curiously the whole time as I was handed to the police, and now just four hours later here I was.
“How long do you give him?” my ears flicked as I overheard the two officers behind the desk whispering as they worked. The second officer glanced my way, taking in my short 5’7 height and lithe build.
“Pretty sure they’ll kill him before he even reaches isolation,” the second guy snorted a reply. I felt my fists clench within the all-encompassing bonds the police had thrown on my hands and wrists.
“Go eat more doughnuts,” I muttered in German as I was being pushed through another large gate.
A second gate straight ahead. I could see lockers on the wall and a shut door between, male faces watching curiously through the bars ahead. Oh no, they wouldn’t. The officer went to unlock my bonds, speaking in a bored voice as he recited the usual warnings of behaving myself. I was more concerned with what was about to happen.
“Remove all of your current clothing and get used to grey,” he muttered, dumping a set of prison clothing on the bench next to the lockers. “We’ll bag and tag your stuff in case you ever get out of here legally,” he added as an afterthought. Based on his tone that wasn’t something that was going to happen.
“Don’t suppose there’s somewhere more private for that?” I asked. He raised an eyebrow at me and made a derisive sound.
“Villains don’t deserve privacy.”
I gulped, aware that more guys were watching now. Obviously someone new joining the prison was the most exciting part of their day. I’d much rather not make it more exciting. I gritted my teeth and reached to pull up my T-shirt, aware that all eyes were staring at the old scars on my chest, some self-inflicted and others surgery related. My back was facing them and I could feel the malformed wings stretch slightly. I fought back a burning sensation in my eyes as I begun to undo my flies when a voice interrupted me.
“Hold up. Someone’s here to see him,” the second guy from the reception desk called. The guard with me rolled his eyes and motioned to my shirt on the floor. “Today Xeno,” he muttered.
I pulled it on quickly and wondered who had saved me as the cuffs were replaced around my hands. I followed both of them out the first gate and down side-corridors to a large break room. This must be where the prisoners meet visitors. They sat me down at a table and clipped my chains to a metal rod in the middle of the table and left. The only thing keeping me company was the low hum of vending machines and a small TV hanging in the corner of the room. The volume was turned down but there were subtitles below the reporter.
“… weeks on from the attack on club 618 and people are still wanting answers on the mystery hero who intervened. It’s such a rare precedence for no one to take responsibility for something this impressive. The Legion haven’t provided any statement either but we have sources that confirm Captain Thunder intervened and…” I rolled my eyes and looked away. More heroes being stupid. One last glance showed a blurry picture of a full body red and gold suit, sparks flying as bullets connected with it.
“You’re wondering how someone could be so crazy as to put their lives on the line like that, aren’t you?” I jumped at the intrusion. I hadn’t even noticed her walking in. Sentinel walked up to the chair opposite me and sat down, folding her hands in front of her. The domino mask was still on of courses so I had no way of guessing her ethnicity.
“There are better things to do with your time,” I shrugged.
“Such as smuggling illegal goods?” She countered.
“It’s better than being homeless and starving,” I replied. She made a noncommittal sound, her lips frowning slightly as she looked at the TV. The story had moved onto something new. I glanced to see images of a recent protest. Hate filled anti-alien signs filled the screen. I couldn’t help making a disgusted sound before looking away, to find Sentinel studying me again.
“Interesting,” she murmured. I cocked an eyebrow but she didn’t elaborate.
“Are you here for a particular reason lady?” I asked, not that I was in any rush to go back to public humiliation. She met my gaze head-on for a few moments before letting out a breath.
“Do you want to go to prison?” I blinked at the question.
“No. Who the hell ever does?” A soft laugh left her lips at my response.
“You’re a very blunt person. Can I assume you’ll be honest with me on any matter?” she asked.
“I guess,” I replied, unsure of this entire conversation.
“If there was a way to avoid prison. A chance at reform. A fresh start where you could do something far better with your life than running with some gang,” She paused for a moment to let the words sink in, “Would you take it?”
“Yes.” There wasn’t a second of hesitation between her question and my answer.
A large smile formed on her lips at the words. She reached into a bag and pushed a pamphlet across the table, the words ‘Ravenhold Academy’ yelling at the top of the cover. I vaguely knew the name from somewhere. It took me a while to figure out what it was about as it was written in English. When the penny dropped I looked up at Sentinel, expecting her to say this was all a joke.
“Well?” she asked, leaning back.
“You,” I began uncertainly, “want me to become a,” I couldn’t even utter the word without letting out a choked laugh.
“What does the news say about human chimera’s Jaeger?” she said, causing my laughter to die down abruptly. The muscles in my jaw and neck tensed immediately. “It’s never good, right? A lot of villains. I’m not going to make assumptions about your past but I can tell you that whatever it’s made of, it doesn’t have to be your future. You have the powers to be a great hero. The power to change public perception.” My lips parted but I couldn’t think of a response. Sentinel sighed, placing her palms flat on the table and standing up. “Figured it was worth a try,” she shrugged, turning to leave.
A thousand thoughts and questions raced through my mind as the distance between us grew. All boiling down to one final realisation; Heppenheim had abandoned me.
“Sentinel,” I called, standing up and causing the chains to rattle. She paused mid-step, her hair flicking as she looked over her shoulder. I shifted nervously, was I really going to do this?
“Sign me up.”