Kellen Gustke, Present Day
“Wolfrick Heppenheimer,” Magnus echoed, tailing me as I walked to the teleportation room. “He’s a chimera scientist who works for the European branch?” he asked.
“Yes,” I replied, not really having the patience for Magnus at the moment.
“How do you know him?” he asked, frowning.
“I used to live with him and his son,” I explained. I didn’t talk much about my past, mostly because I had been determined when I came across to America that I would build my own success without relying on my surname. People in America were so distracted by their own worlds that very few people actually knew Gustke was the name of the man leading the Europe branch of the Syndicate.
“Oh, so you were involved in the chimera rings?” he asked, sounding surprised.
“Something like that,” I lied. I was relieved to see the security staff hadn’t done anything insulting like cuffing him. Heppenheim stood up from the seat he had been given as I walked in. He looked tired, his wrinkles deeper than the last time I had seen him. Admittedly it had been at least three years.
“Didn’t expect you to turn up on my doorstep,” I said, giving him a warm smile.
“Kellen,” he said, sounding equally surprised and relieved. I pulled him into a hug.
“It’s nice to see you again,” I said. “Right,” I said, pulling away from him, “Why are you here?”
“The Legion found us.” I felt my skin pale as something dawned on me.
“Where’s Jaeg?” Heppenheim’s face broke before me, the closest I’d ever seen it come to tears.
“They caught him,” he whispered, sounding mournful.
“Fuck,” I sighed. “Okay, follow me. Yvanna is a tech genius, she’ll be able to work out where they’re keeping him.” Heppenheim nodded and followed, then Magnus intercepted us.
“Look, I’m all for helping the old man, but we have a mission,” Magnus said.
“Your team can take it,” I replied, making him double take.
“But Ethan said-”
“You guys can take the prize. This is more important,” I said, brushing him aside and leading Magnus to the main hub room. Yvanna looked up from her screen, cocking an eyebrow.
“Yvanna, will you please work with Heppenheim? We need to track down a European agent,” I explained.
“My eye has access to all the cameras in my lab building in England, maybe some of it will help?” he suggested.
“It’s a start,” Yvanna nodded. I left them to it and went into the corridor, pulling out my phone and calling Ethan. He picked up on the fifth ring, by which point I was tapping my heels impatiently on the metal grated floor.
“Magnus informed me you’re directly ignoring my orders,” Ethan said, his tone calm. Shit, of course he beat me to it. I knew that tone as well, he only used it when he was keeping his temper in check.
“Heppenheim came to the base. Something has happened in England, I’m helping them-”
“That’s a problem for the Europe branch. Let them handle it,” Ethan cut me off. I bit my lower lip, letting out a measured breath.
“I know the protocol, but the Legion have an old friend of mine Ethan,” I said. Silence reigned on the other line and I began to pace.
“Kellen, we were very clear when we began relations that you would not use it for more favourably treatment,” Ethan finally replied.
“That’s not what I’m trying to do Ethan. You wanna dock my pay while I’m doing this search, go for it,” I threw back, annoyed he saw through my ruse.
“Who is this old friend?” Ethan asked.
“His name is Jaeger Heppenheimer.” Ethan let out a short laugh.
“You’re asking me to let you use work hours to help your ex?”
“It’s not like that Ethan,” I sighed.
“Kellen, you’ve always followed the rules precisely. Suddenly your ex has been caught by the Legion and you’re recklessly abandoning all of them – so I believe there is a connection.” I rolled my eyes at his lecturing tone.
“Right, well enjoy the hotel alone next week since I’ll be doing the search off-duty,” I said, shrugging with a grimace on my face. I felt his hesitation before he eventually sighed.
“You have 48 hours to find him. If he’s in a cell or somewhere in Europe, we let the european branch handle it.” he hung up and I glared at the phone, just about resisting the urge to throw it at the wall. Ethan had basically given me the go ahead to do absolutely nothing. I could find him and he could be bleeding out in a ditch somewhere in England, and I couldn’t help. Fuck. I took a moment to get back my composure before heading back to where Yvanna and Heppeneheim were working.
“Any luck?” I asked.
“He’s being transported to Mingulay prison,” Yvanna sighed. “However it looks like one of Legion heroes has already scheduled to visit him.”
“What does that mean?” I asked.
“It could mean nothing, or something,” she shrugged. Another screen beeped and she opened the window, smirking. “On the plus side I have some locations for you and Magnus’ team to check out.”
“What’s the nearest place?” I asked.
“Washington,” Yvanna said. “The other location that’s probably worth checking out is Ravenhold Academy.”
“Wait, you mean the superhero school in Maine?” I asked. Maine was on the other side of the country to us so was a fair old trek.
“The one and only,” Yvanna replied. She went back to hacking something without speaking and in a few moments we saw grainy black and white footage of a plain grey room with simple table and chair. And sitting in one chair with his hands cuffed together was Jaeg. I felt a lump form in my throat at the sight of him. Heppenheim moved closer to the screen and Yvanna wheeled aside for him.
“Who is that?” I asked, the hero was clad in a full body suit and mask, no way to guess their alter ego.
“Sentinel,” Ace said. I jumped and spun to look at him. “Ethan called, said you’d need some back up,” he shrugged. “So little Julie,” he murmured looking at the screen.
“He’s called Jaeger,” I said through gritted teeth.
“Right, sorry. It’s been a long time since I’ve thought about him,” Ace murmured.
“I bet,” I muttered.
“Is there any audio?” Heppenheim asked, oblivious to our conversation. Yvanna did some more typing and we could hear conversation.
“Well?” the hero said, leaning forward.
“You,” Jaeger murmured.
His voice sounded so much deeper than I remembered. Then again he had only just started hormones back then.
“Want me to become a-” he cut himself off, unable to complete the sentence and instead bursting out laughing.
“What does the news say about human chimera’s Jaeger?” she asked him, making his laughter die down quickly. “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.”
“Is she asking him what I think she’s asking him?” Ace asked.
“What, your mind reading voodoo don’t walk across an ocean?” I muttered.
“You’re very moody today,” he sighed.
“A lot’s happen-” I was cut off by Heppenheim shushing me. After deliberating a long time she was leaving, but Jaeger had stood up.
“Sentinel,” he called. A moments hesitation. “Sign me up.”
Everyone watching the screen was quiet for a moment until Yvanna killed the live feed and began analysing the footage. Zooming into the image, focusing on the leaflet Sentinel had given him.
“He’s just avoiding prison,” I said.
“Are you sure?” Ace asked.
“It’s Jaeger. We practically grew up mocking heros. If someone can reach out to him wherever they send him then he’ll leave in a heartbeat and come back to the Syndicate,” I shrugged.
“Well, you’ll have to do the reaching out,” Yvanna said, drawing my attention to the screen. “He’s going to Ravenhold.”