Binding Oaths – Chapter 16 | Arc-1 Aeneas 1

Debriefings were just as tedious, but obviously necessary, as Shane had been told and thought they would be. It definitely didn’t help that they hadn’t been able to sleep after their fight with the criminal Super.

Hearing everyone’s first-hand account of events had been interesting at first of course, especially considering he hadn’t been present to see most of it for himself, but it quickly became dull as it only took two retellings to get the general sequence of events. Though Shane suspected that, out of all of them, their DVA agent Maria suffered the most. She was the one stuck with having to take near constant notes and write down the sequence of events in what looked like excruciating detail. His teammates didn’t fare much better as they went through the motions. All of their Mentors went through it with stoic expressions and practiced ease, with Amy and Shane trying to imitate them with varying levels of success.

Greg visibly slumped in his chair and suppressed more than one yawn but responded immediately when prompted by Maria with surprising clarity and recollection. Vanessa was much the same, though she did tend to grimace slightly whenever someone went over her initial clash with the Minotaur, who had now been identified as “Dave Jefferson”.

After Greg finished telling of how, when, and what he saw Shane do to trap and incapacitate the Minotaur he finally spoke up, “Are we gonna have to worry about Shane getting in trouble for what he did?”. At his fellow Intern’s confused looks he quickly continued, “Not saying what he did was wrong, he saved a bunch of people after all, but I think certain groups might have a problem with the tactic he choose. What Shane did to that fella was pretty brutal, and I’m almost certain more than a few people caught the whole show on their phones.”

Both Jack and Maria nodded in understanding while Hugh gave his Intern a look that was a mix of approval and appraisal.

“I was actually going to have a talk with Shane about his technique after the debrief was done and escort him personally to his agent tomorrow.”, Maria said, her tone tired but not as annoyed as the Interns had guessed she would be. “Anyone with half a brain could tell that Shane wouldn’t exactly be a ‘family-friendly’ Hero, but this was still a pretty bad public showing of what his shadow manipulation could really do; even if it was inevitable.”

“If it makes you feel any better,”, Jack began as he gave Shane a meaningful look, “I’m fairly certain that whatever videos been recorded has already spread to every criminal-Super with an internet connection and two brain cells. And neither Heroes, the public, or the DVA care about Heroes looking scary to them.” He gives an enthusiastic thumbs-up that Shane returned after a moment of hesitation.

“I mean, it’s not exactly a secret that Heroes sometimes have to kill. What Shane did can’t stir up too much outrage, can it?”, Vanessa said from her edge of the table.

“It’s one thing to just know in the back of your mind that Heroes sometimes make life-or-death decisions. It’s something else entirely for people to see graphic video evidence of a Hero iron maiden-ing another Super with a writhing mass of living-shadows.”, Elizabeth countered with more than a little exasperation.

“We can debate how badly Shane may or may not get reamed by the Media later, point is; What he did wasn’t illegal and we still need to finish this debrief.”, Maria says before prompting Vanessa to re-tell what she saw once the Minotaur ran away.


A few hours later and all of the Interns lounged about in the common room, watching the news on the communal TV. It was the next day and a few hours before they needed to go on their new afternoon Patrol, so both Amy and Shane had decided to watch the fallout of their battle from last night and then get in some light *Focus training.

They all noticed that Shane had brought a nondescript brown leather-bound notebook, but none thought it worth asking about as the news-woman started speaking, “Early this morning a Super that shifted into what looked like a giant Minotaur went on a rampage through the Red Hook business area and caused widespread destruction before the Hero team, Pristine Strikers and their new sidekicks, stopped the monster.”. She began in a professional drawl before directing the feed to another reporter on the streets. Leaving Vanessa and Shane briefly wondering if she meant “monster” figuratively or literally before listening to the rest of the broadcast.

All told; twenty-six people had died, unconfirmed amount of wounded, before their team had arrived. The brief fight with the criminal-Super had caused relatively minimal property damage and exactly zero injuries or fatalities.

They all visibly relaxed at the fact that their first Hero battle had been a textbook success as far as Super fights went; No property damage at all was pretty much a forgone conclusion when every Super involved had high-caliber display abilities.

Then the video of Shane capturing the Minotaur finally came up. There were actually just three videos of it, one from the back of a car in the traffic jam, one from someone’s apartment window, and another from a traffic camera. The traffic camera was the steadiest but the one from the apartment window was the longest and caught most of the action, so that was the one the news broadcast choose.

“… Well, it’s not as gruesome as we thought it would be.”, Amy tried to appear optimistic as they all watched the giant Super be shanked into submission by Shane’s power.

In fairness, it truly wasn’t as graphic as they had thought would look, which Shane chastised himself for not thinking of since it was being shown on public television at all. The roaring and screaming was significantly muffled by the distance and wall, all of the lacerations were mostly concealed by all the shadows trying to restrain the Super. But the unnaturally dark blood and bits of skin that came from the Minotaur and pooled onto the street was still very much visible however.

The brief gout of violet fire was pretty at least.

The journalist and host Neal Chandler, who made an appearance any time Super fights broke out, looked on with morbid curiosity and awe.

“…I can see why you told me not to watch this before coming in live.”, Neal adjusted his tie as he gathered himself again, cheeks slightly flushed. “This new Hero’s name was ‘Styx’ you said?”

The male reporter, who’s name Shane always forgot, answered first, “Y- yes. He was first seen using his power to transport a sick civilian while on patrol. But it didn’t grab much attention, nor did his ability seem so… destructive.”

“Speak for yourself.”, Vivian, the female reporter with vivid orange hair, spoke up. “I knew from the start that he could wreck shop. The Pristine Striker’s have a reputation to keep after all; Surprised they went for a Summoner of all things though. Not many of them work on a strike-force oriented team.”

“Summoner?”, Neal asked with no small amount of incredulity.

“Yeah, there’s no way there were actually that many shadows on that street; I’m betting he’s just a clever Summoner with a lot of versatility.”, her assessment was said with surprising confidence and fueled by a history of seeing numerous Heroes hide the exact nature of their powers in various ways.

‘She’s not entirely wrong I guess.’, Shane thought as he began to tune out the news and slip his notebook into one of his coat’s pockets. ‘There weren’t that many individual shadows nearby, but there were plenty of big ones I could stretch and manipulates into multiple tendrils.’

“What’s with that book, Shane?”, Vanessa pointed blatantly at the bulging side-pocket of his coat. She tried to keep her tone light and conversational, but seeing him bring it and then just not use it all peaked her curiosity.

“Ah, it’s my, ‘Lives Lost’ book, I guess you could say. Never really thought of giving it a name.”, Shane said with an unusual hesitance to his voice.

“Sounds morbid. What, are you going to right down; all the people that get killed in every fight?”, Vanessa decided to press the issue, even when Amy and Greg gave her wary glances.

“No, no, nothing so dramatic.”, Shane assured her with a chuckle, “It’s a habit my Grandfather told me about; a lot of the Heroes I’ve met use it too. You’re supposed to write down the names of every person you weren’t able to save. It’s supposed to keep a Hero grounded apparently.”. Shane neglected to mention that his grandfather had less “told” and more “ruthlessly drilled” the quasi-tradition into him.

Amy frowned sharply, “My parents never mentioned such a thing and they’ve both been Heroes for over twenty years.”.

“It’s a tradition among my family and the Heroes in my grandfather’s circle of friends, but not really prevalent outside of that.”, He briefly thought about asking who exactly her parents were as Heroes, but decided now wasn’t the time.

“So, since nobody got so much as scratched during our fight?”, Greg had apparently finally gotten bored of the argument still going on between the reporter and host.

“Then nobody gets put in the book yet.”, Shane said as he took out and flipped through the moderately thick, yet empty, tome.

“What if I’d killed someone when I crashed into that house?”, Vanessa suddenly asked. Everyone’s attention suddenly snapped to her and the mood turned decidedly less amiable. “It wouldn’t have taken much, he could’ve hit me at a lower angle and sent me through a window instead of skidding across a roof.”

Shane decided to take his previous approach with Vanessa; brutal honesty, “I would have still kept my list blank. But, if you were so inclined, you could’ve written down and memorized the deceased person’s name, learned from your mistakes, and even gone to apologize to family members personally if you felt up to it.” What Shane said last wasn’t the lie it would appear to be to someone unfamiliar with the aftermath of Super fights; It wasn’t particularly rare for Solo-Heroes and teams to make public and private apologies after especially dire battles, even when they had done their best.

Vanessa took the hypothetical advice in stride, only grimacing slightly at the word “mistake”, before letting her sharp features relax into a sad smile, “Thanks, Shane.”, she said before giggling as Greg slung an arm around her shoulders and gave her a shake.

“Com’n V, you still moping about that? Do I need to give you another pep-talk to get your fine glutes in gea-”, Greg’s friendly tirade was cut short as the air around Vanessa warped and she lifted him bodily into the air.

“No pep-talks necessary, Lil-G. And I’ll thank you to not talk about my ‘fine glutes’ in front of my new friend.”, she said before putting her stocky teammate into a fireman’s carry and haul him towards the training areas deeper in the base.

Shane gave Amy an inquisitive look, his face a mask of barely contained snickers, “’Fine glutes’ and ‘Lil-G’? Seriously?”.

Amy rolled her eyes and pushed off of the plush couch, “They’re not dating, nor do they have some unknown crush on each other. You could call them… ‘flirty-friends’ I suppose.” She grabbed her blank bottle of water and sauntered toward her room, “Now come on and get ready, I really want to work off the nerves from last night before going on patrol again. I’m still plenty upset I only got to stab that dick in his knee and runaway.”

Binding Oaths - Chapter 15 | Arc-1 Aeneas
Binding Oaths - Chapter 17 | Arc-1 Aeneas

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