Over the next two incredibly exhausting days the VCS intervention teams, and the VCS department as a whole, mourned their dead. Janey’s Sword was particularly hard on supers who were actively using their powers, and its effect on shifters was especially brutal. Jane was in her human form instead of her elephant form when the weapon went off, and even she had suffered traumatic injuries that required the services of a healer who could reconstruct bodies from near total destruction.
Frank had been actively using his power, and had been killed almost instantly. The cowboy Bruce Ramirez’s ability to absorb energy into his muscles and bones was always active. In much the same way that Influx had died, both men’s powers had turned inwards on them explosively. The teleporter on Jane’s team, an ex-SSL player named Lucas Carter, had been missing, but was finally located; dead of exposure hundreds of miles up from the surface of the Earth.
Of the several heroes that went in, only two survived. The heroes had all been actively using their powers to fight when the Sword had been turned on. One of the survivors had been the strongman Strike, and the other had an illusion ability that just caused uncontrollable strobing colored lights and headaches for an hour after exposure.
Stella had been given both commendations and condemnations by the higher ups at the Department of Variant-human Affairs. She’d also been grilled for days on her actions, which came perilously close to exceeding her authority to use force.
Stella spent a lot of time stressing, and some time crying into David’s shoulder, which had grown even more massive since she’d last seen him. He’d been called in to deal with teenage boy with strongman abilities who’d lashed out at David; causing his body to adapt by growing a leathery hide and boney plates.
It was strangely reassuring to have someone who was like a literal rock to be an emotional rock to cling onto, but the more time they spent together, the more clear it became that David was nervous around other people with abilities. They remained friends, but his caution and worry about any of Stella’s friends or coworkers with abilities popping in for a visit put a strain on their relationship.
Stella prayed the cure for powereds came soon. It must have been awful for David. He had to be monitored constantly, and he was always being urged by the DVA to move to a rural school district well away from other people with abilities.
After a time, it became clear that it wasn’t Stella’s actions that caused concern for her superiors at the DVA as much as how her example might cause other DVA agents with super abilities to be more cavalier about using those abilities. Stella knew that one of tne of the DVA’s primary missions was to keep the peace between people who had abilities, and those that didn’t.
After the whole department and their families held a wake for Frank, Bruce, and Lucas the three surviving intervention team heads cornered Stella.
“When are you going back?” Miriam asked.
“What I do isn’t telepathy,” said Linda. “But when you think things through to yourself, it comes to me loud and clear. You’ve been thinking about going back to school, or at least back to an HCP campus. It’s giving me a headache, you debating with yourself about whether to stay here, or try for being a hero again. That if you went to Korman it wouldn’t be so difficult a move.
“It’s been done before,” Linda said. “Instead of pretending to get a degree you already have, they set you up with a part time job on campus. You’re well suited to working in any number of roles at a university, but you have been very good in your role here.”
“But we’ve lost so much,” Stalla said in a forlorn voice. “It feels like a betrayal, and you’re down two Guardians already.”
“We can manage with three teams,” said Miriam. “The world doesn’t revolve around you kiddo, and strongmen are a dime a dozen. Replacing teleporters like Lucas is the difficult part. You were good with us until you got a taste of real action. It’s a problem we have with our guardians all the time. They have to like to fight, but need something to keep them out of hero work, or signing on with a sports league. Go back kid, and when you’re ready to hang up the cape and cowl there will be a place waiting for you here.”
*** THE END ***
Sorry for the abrupt ending; endings are something I rather suck at, but that’s everything I wanted to do with Stella and the VCS. I have my own projects to work on, and with luck will be publishing some things of my own soon!