The Wayward Son
Part I: Emergency
Nine straight hours of work. Three fourths of the way through my daily routine. Everyday was the same; I came to the company and labored from sunup to sunset on my father’s magnum opus; the Nandaka armor. My father was a genius weapon designer, I’d followed his footsteps. Except I was even better.
“What’s up?” Someone asked from behind me.
I jumped a little. I turned up and saw my little half-sister Sana standing behind me. She was only two years younger than I was although we weren’t all that similar. She was slender and tall, with coppery skin and light brown hair. Although we shared similar skin tones, my hair was darker and my build the opposite; short but sturdy, I’d always been the odd one out of the children, although I was Tamil like them, I didn’t look all that similar which came from being from a different mother, the result of an affair by my father.
“Cheesh, Sana. Don’t sneak up on me like that.”
“Didn’t sneak up, you were just so focused you didn’t hear me.”
“I brought you lunch. Mostly so the guards would let me in.” She gave me a paper bag, which I put down on my desk.
I got up and hugged her.
“How have you been?” I asked.
“Good, but you’d know that if you were home more often.”
“Sorry, work’s been making me busy.” I examined her and noticed that she wore a short cocktail dress and had her makeup done.
“It’s Ashleigh’s birthday. We’re going to 618. And you’re coming with us.” She said, putting her index against my chest. 618 was one of the most popular club these days; really high end. At fifteen Sana wasn’t old enough to drink but I knew she could pass for an adult, plus with her richer than rich ceo-daughter BFF that didn’t matter a whole lot.
“Oh come on, you’ve been wrapped up in your work all week end, you can at least come and party with us.” She said. “Can’t you do something other than work for one night? That’s all you ever do…”
“Sorry, not tonight.”
“Fine, have a good night.”
She walked away and I was left to ponder her words. She was right; it was all I ever did. I wasn’t sure what else to do either. Graduating high school at ten and breezing through college in a few years hadn’t left me with any idea on what to do with my time. I sat back down and went back to work. I always liked to have some noise in the background when working, there was something about silence that made me uncomfortable so I turned the TV up.
The modular equipment was the thing giving me the most trouble. Just adding a slot where you could bolt or unbolt other pieces wasn’t hard, but making it dynamic and able to remove or replace equipment on the field unassisted without it being a structural weakness proved to be a challenge. After two hours I gave up. I wasn’t making any progress and my stomach was protesting any more work.
I reached for the paper bag Sana had left and opened it before looking at the content. There was a four compartment tupperware containing curd rice, tamarind rice, sambar, and vegetable curry. A little taste of home just for me, all home cooked. It meant one thing; she had known I wouldn’t have come or she wouldn’t have worked so hard on it…
I took it to the employee kitchen downstairs and put it in the microwave. A crowd had gathered around the TV with worried whispers and it took me a moment to understand why…
Hostage crisis at 618
My heart sunk.
I didn’t think.
I ran upstairs.
The prototype we had was encased behind a glass case. I hit the release button and an alarm blared through the room. Security was warned that someone was accessing it. I didn’t have time to hesitate; I entered the override and booted the assembly sequence; scanners scanned me from all directions and soon after the mechanical arms built the armor around me, sealing it. The HUD booted just as corporate security stormed the room.
So I ran past them, the armor’s servos making it feel light. I passed the corridor and made my way to the stairs; going up rather than down. I kicked the door to the roof open, sending it off it’s hinges, and then ran toward the edge.
“Stop!” One of the security guard yelled.
“I can’t.” I answered in a whisper but the suit’s voice modulator amplified it.
I ran to the edge, jumped and prayed.
The ionic thrusters came to life and I glided through the air. It wasn’t a long way from SecuriTech to the 618, but it felt like it was. From the air, I could see the police had surrounded the place, the Met’s firearm unit stood at the ready, awaiting their orders.
I on the other hand couldn’t wait. I dove into the club, shattering the sky light.
My entry had resulted in a moment of confusion and I took the seconds it afforded me to case the place. Six men in cheap animal masks and guns stood in the club, hostages sat on the ground in the sides.
The first one to recover raised his gun at me and fired a few panicked shots, the bullets hitting my armor but harmlessly being stopped by the kinetic field. I didn’t let the others react before dealing with them. The smart targeting system let me hit him right in the shoulder of his gun-arm without any effort; my gauntlet-integrated weapons shooting him with a pulsed particle beam.
He went down clutching his shoulder and screaming. The others unleashed a barrage at me. I resisted the urge to try to dodge; if they didn’t hit me, they risked hitting the hostages.
The kinetic shields thankfully handled the stress and I activated one of the armor’s secondary weapon. A pulse of kinetic force filled the club, sending them down. It wasn’t strong enough to knock them out but it let me deal with them. I ran to the closest one and punched him in the stomach hard enough for him to fold up like a clam and exhale all of the air in his lungs. A second got up and I shot him in the knee and then the arms.
The last three didn’t fare much better; they weren’t professionals so they panicked and didn’t think.
“Sana?!” I yelled, once the last one of them hit the ground.
“Jay?” She answered, getting up from the mass of frozen people still sat on the ground.
“I am…” She answered breathlessly.
I didn’t have time to say anything else that the police stormed in the building. A half dozen officers surrounded us and aimed their firearms at us. I stepped up in front of them and shielded Sana.
“On the ground!” One of them shouted.
“I’m not a—”
I didn’t get to finish my sentence as Captain Thunder descended from the sky, coming through the same skylight I’d come out of, he was wrapped in lightning and eyes glowing with power. Despite being indoor, his pristine white and gold cape flowed through the air as if battered by wind.
“Calm down gentlemen.” He said in his naturally thunderous voice. “I’ll take this from here. Get the girl and the others to safety.”
The MET team scattered and returned to their duties. The MET and the Legion had a strange relationship; they sort of let each other handle their relevant business so long as the police got to handle any criminals that were caught.
“Walk with me.” The Captain said. It wasn’t a request. We walked through the building to a place without cameras or anyone watching.
“Do you have a name?”
“That wasn’t really one of my priorities.” I answered.
“It wasn’t? Normally wannabe capes can’t resist telling me the snazzy name they picked for themselves.”
“I’m not a wannabe.”
“Sure you aren’t. You just accidentally but in a hostage crisis.”
“My sister was in the crowd… I had to do something.”
“And you just happened to have a high tech suit of armor?”
“I was working on it at SecuriTech.”
“You work there?”
“So is that what you want to do with your life? Design weapons for Direct Action or whoever else can afford it?”
“What? No I…” I shut up for a moment. “I don’t know what I want to do.” I admitted. “This is just what my father’s been pushing me to do.”
“And you’re happy with that?”
I didn’t have an answer for him.
He grabbed his cape, pulled it closer and put two fingers inside, revealing a hidden pocket. He took out a card which he chucked at me. It was Black with a white and gold insignia. His official Legion member card.
“When you’ve decided you want to do something better with your life, swing by our London office. Give them this.”
With that he left me alone. Apparently I wasn’t under arrest even though I’d just interfered in police business. Then again they could arrest me at my workplace when I wouldn’t be wearing armor. It wasn’t like my employer was going to be happy about what I’d done.
I flew back to the company and came in the same way I left. I couldn’t be with Sana like this and I needed to be there to remove the armor. I found my father talking to some corporate people in our lab.
“Could you leave us alone?” My father asked the others once he saw me. His voice barely containing his rage.
There was a moment of hesitation but the oldest of the corporate suit acquiesced to the request. They passed by me and I entered the suit assembler.
“Do you have any idea what you’ve done?” He screamed at me when I came out.
“I saved Sana.” Was all I answered.
“You stole our secret prototype! Do you have any idea what the company is going to do to you?”
“Nothing. There’s only twenty nine days until our demo, if I don’t work their stock will take a hit because we won’t have delivered what we promised.”
My father stormed out, cursing under his breath in hindi; a language he’d never bothered to teach me or my sisters.
I got up and felt the business card in my pants. It was as if it had suddenly gained several pounds of weight…
When you’ve decided you want to do something better with your life, swing by our London office.
The words echoed through my mind.