The metro train rumbled as it made its way toward Western Brooklyn, the graffiti ridden stone walls flashing by as it shot past at blurring speeds. Most of the people seated in the moderately comfortable plastic benches of the locomotive were either looking at their phones, talking, or trying to catch some sleep despite the constant buzz.
The only real oddity in the compartment was a middle aged man seated near one of the centermost doors. The man’s appearance wasn’t particularly notable, but the two binders and three notebooks floating around him in a slow orbit certainly were. Occasionally, one would stop in front of him and open, seemingly all on its own.
Apart from a few furtive glances when he initially boarded, the man was largely ignored. Despite the fact that he was obviously a Super, and one that didn’t care to try and hide it either. The people on the train were apparently content to mind their own business if he minded his, which was a pleasant surprise to the young-man sitting across from him.
But Shane kept his eye on the weathered-looking man regardless. He’d been reading up on the Hero teams and Super activity in the area—something he viewed as common sense—but had promptly stopped when the man had stepped onto the train with his lose orbit of office supplies.
The guy had short dark hair, graying at the tips, and was wearing a tan business suit, the skin of his head and hands a dark beige. Shane usually wouldn’t have paid such a man this much attention, but this was a rather inconvenient time for a Super like him to be nearby. After all, he couldn’t have an Advanced Mind overhear that he was going to a Hero team’s base.
Thankfully he’d received training for the mind along with the exercises to hone his body and powers. Learning to marshal one’s’ thoughts against telepathy was one of the first skills a student had to learn before graduating. So while the man’s presence wasn’t ideal, it didn’t merit any real worry on his part. But just to be on the safe side of things he decided to take his attention off of the man and put away his phone to get his mind off hero-related topics.
Shane decided it would be best to clear his mind and perform a simple exercise for the rest of the trip—a little more training never hurt after all.
He let his posture slump and tilted his head down with his eyes half closed, ensuring that people wouldn’t notice when his sclera turned pitch-black. The young man could feel his senses warp as he filled every shadow in the compartment with life and his awareness. Shane could never explain exactly how this felt to others, but it was closets in comparison to touch.
With a part of himself in the shadows, and his sense of perspective warped, Shane relaxed. He could now feel the people, possessions, furniture, and even the very walls of the compartment of the train around him. This sense wasn’t exactly accurate, but it did give a sort of three-sixty field of awareness and had saved him from a sneak attack on more than one occasion.
After a few minutes of flexing his awareness and control, Shane heard the call for his station and felt the train slow to a stop. The shadows on the outside of the locomotive suddenly becoming more stable giving him a heads-up.
He turned off his power, checked his pockets to make sure he still had his possessions, before picking up his mini-duffel bag and heading out of the sliding doors. Shane trekked his way through the crowd, back up above ground, and started off at a brisk walk. He had twenty minutes left before he needed to meet his contact in the Red Hook neighborhood. The brisk Fall wind howling against his windbreaker as his boots crunched over the fallen leaves were his only company as he half-jogged toward the ominous looking structure only a few blocks away.
Like most Hero bases, the Pristine Strikers’ had originally been a large abandoned factory near the edge of the town they protected. The base was a steel affair, most likely the reinforced kind, sitting at four stories tall and with windows situated evenly but sparsely on each floor.
To be honest, Shane thought it looked a little odd; like something built purely for utility. He could respect that kind of mindset.
The entrance was a steel double door with a rounded marble staircase leading up to it, but Shane wouldn’t be going there.
He couldn’t very well just walk into the base, even with the security they probably had, someone walking into a base and never coming back out would be a rather obvious sign to the more astute criminals. The text from his Mentor he’d gotten in the morning had very specific details about where to go and how much he could bring with him. So, after one last look towards what might be his new home, he took a left turn down towards the laundry mat that should be exactly a block away and close to closing time. The place had a surprisingly modern look to it, the neon signs up against the front already lit, and the front window had an almost sparkling sheen to it.
A small middle-aged woman beckoned him in from behind a chrome green counter, obviously having expected him. The door opens with the light jingle of a bell and she quickly hops forward and leads him by the hand into the back room.
“You’re awfully early, young man. But no matter, I quite like my employees to be punctual.”, she says with a surprisingly cheerful and accented voice, her short stature and chubby frame pulling him along with surprising strength. The woman opened the door and lead him into a rather bare bones looking office with grey concrete walls, and a dirty tiled floor, the other exit being an emergency-exit door towards the back.
There was a woman with skin the color of cocoa that was sitting at a cluttered desk in the center, drinking what looked like tea. “My husband can interview you hear while I handle the register, dearie.”, and with that the old-woman gave Shane pat on the shoulder before heading back to the front.
Turning back towards the lady in the suit, Shane found that she had already gotten to her feet, long legs bring her to eye-level with him. With the empty mug left on top of the desk, she smoothed out the wrinkles in her suit before addressing him, “Why do you serious types always have to get here so early?” She pushed her braided hair back a little before stepping forward with an outstretched hand. “The name’s Maria Zaria, I gotta say it’s nice to meet the grandson of the first official Super-Hero.”
He didn’t bother giving his name in return, she obviously already knew about him and his family, he’d gotten used to DVA agents knowing him by name despite never having met him personally before.
“I can’t help it ma’am, four years in the HCP will do that to you.”, Shane replied with a polite smile as he shook her hand before stepping back and looking around the small room. “So, is this where every intern goes to get inside the base?”, he asked absentmindedly.
The tall woman gave a short snort before patting him on the shoulder , “Of course not, kid. We’ve got more than a few stores for several blocks around that we picked at random for each of you.”, before he could have responded or backed away she took a firmer grip on his shoulder and closed her eyes in obvious concentration as the world warped around them.
“Now get ready, I’m fast, but my power doesn’t exactly make for the smoothest ride.”