Finish the Superhero Story

I think it’s been a while since anyone started one of these things, and I’ve been wanting to do this one for a while. If no one’s interested, tha’s cool, but I just wanted to start this thing. And unlike that Sci-Fi story I intend to stick around until the end.

Puritan City, Rhode Island. As the largest city in the smallest state in the Union, it was an unlikely place to have the largest per-capita population of metahumans in the world. It was an even unlikelier place to have the world’s largest number of active “superhero” groups relative its total metahuman population.

To put it in simpler terms, Puritan City is a nowhere burg in a nowhere state full of self-proclaimed superheroes with very little to do. On the rare occasions when an actual criminal or, wonder of wonders, super villain rears their head, downtown PC is full of more young guys in colorful tight-fitting costumes than a San Francisco gay pride parade. During the other 99.99% of their existence, the so-called heroes hang around in basements swearing their sacred heroic oaths, shaking their secret handshakes, administering initiations to swell the numbers of a social club cum crime fighting organization with far too many members to begin with, and making plans to deal with the sort of things that happen in other cities, like mad scientists with death rays and cool evil stuff like that.

Into this environment, a new team is in the process of being born: The League!

Join us now as the would-be leader of this prospective team seeks to recruit a new member to her fledgling organization! Excitement and action are sure to follow!

Julie pulled up the collar of the leather duster she’d borrowed from Cowboy Jack, partly to better ward off the cold, but mostly because the wino sprawled against a lamppost across the street was giving her the eye and she feared maybe he recognized her. She really didn’t want to be recognized, here of all places especially.
This was a bad part of town. Not crime-ridden, not in PC, but filthy and run-down, home to drunks and derelicts and wastrels and assorted human trash, most of whom would be criminals if crime were possible.
She twitched irritably, the jacket chafing her butterfly-like wings, but she needed to keep them hidden. As a former child star once famous as much for her bizarre birth-defect as for her physical beauty, she was always in danger of being recognized and she hated it, so the wings had to stay hidden. For the moment, at least, she wasn’t Gossamer, she was just ordinary old Julie Warner, here in Junktown to see a man about a computer. Or rather, a man who was a computer. Sort of.

Following the directions the old man who owned the place had given her, she found the block of run down offices. The place was worse than she could have imagined, a near-collapsing ruin so utterly shabby it almost made the surrounding neighborhood look high-class by comparison. That the building wasn’t condemned was so illogical it bordered on anti-logic.
Sighing, she entered through the gaping hole that would be considered a doorway if there were any door to speak of and headed up a flight of rickety filth-caked stairs. The second floor corridor was a virtual nightmare, graffiti fighting for space with dirt and grime and what looked like bodily fluids in every imaginable variety, and the trash on the floor was piled so high that she didn’t even notice the dead man until she tripped over him.
She almost began to panic, then the corpse gasped, infusing the air with a scent that couldn’t have been any worse if he really had been rotting under a mound of trash for several days. She moved on quickly, practically running past one unoccupied office after another to the room at the end of the hall. The door was cleaner than anything that surrounded it, with several feet of the floor in front of and around it surprisingly trash-free. A plaque on the door bore the legend: Ignatius “I-Mack” Mackenzie: Human Computer for Hire. She wasn’t quite certain what a human computer for hire did, nor how many clients he got in a place like this, but she was determined to recruit him and his incredible bio-mechanical mind for her new team.

Taking a deep breath, she reached out, turned the knob, the opened the door and stepped inside.

The light was dim in the office, but the space, what she could see, was surprisingly clean, considering what was outside the door. There didn’t appear to be the obligatory desk that an office is supposed to have, and the only computer monitor Julie could see was pushed back into a corner, seemingly unused.

There were however, stacks and stacks of actual bound books. They were racked on shelves and piled on every flat surface. Some were open, with places marked. Julie inhaled deeply, as she was a bibliophile herself, and loved that “library air”.

Suddenly she started in surprise as a thin reedy voice seemed to come out of nowhere:

“Ah, Gossamer, child star of The Fairie’s Bride, Springtime of the Heart, and many, many others. What can I do for you?”

Julie peered around, looking for the speaker. “How did you know who I was?” she ventured.

A wizened old man popped up. “I never forget anything. It’s the power, or curse if you will, that sets me apart. After seeing so many pictures of you, reading your bios and so on, it could be no other. The line of the jaw, the timbre of the voice, that particular hunch of your shoulders. My mind automatically filters through all the possibilities. Now, as I said, what can I do for you?”

“There’s. . .,” she hesitated, almost afraid to speak out loud what had been troubling her. She braced herself with a long breath and began again: “There’s something that has never been printed about me.”

“Really,” the old fellow perked up, “do tell, do tell, I love information, you know.”

Julie took another breath, “I don’t know who my birth parents are.”

“Don’t know?” came the puzzled response, “Don’t know, you mean the Warner’s adopted you?” He paused a moment and reflected on this. “Yes, now I see, no birth record, only adoption records, with a notation that the birth records were lost. Interesting.”

“Yes, I mean, I don’t know anything about where I really come from or how human I really am.”

The old man sat up a little straighter as his eyes seemed to flash white behind his small golden reading glasses. “Ahh. . .well, the medical reports indicate you are baseline human, with certain genetic anomalies, so the consensus is you are human, mostly.”

“I’ve spent my whole life accepting myself as I am,” the information came more smoothly now, though the most difficult bit still lay ahead, “until recently.”

“Yes, do go on, I’m absorbing your story.” The voice, though still reedy, was more intense as IMac leaned inward to her.

“Well, I’ve had blackouts and dreams, over the last few weeks, that I can’t explain. The memories are always vague in broken bits and shrouded in fog. I see unusual creatures that I feel will do me no harm, but still, they frighten me. I can’t seem to reconstruct their features, only I know they aren’t human. I may wake up in my bed or in a field. I sometimes read of things I’ve done—always good things, so far,-- while I in this state. I’m—“ she began to sob, “I’m afraid I may be losing my mind. Can you help me? Please, I’ve no one to turn to that might understand.”

Ignatius nodded thoghtfully. Not being entirely human himself – at least in terms of accepted anthrocentric behavior – he struggled for years with his tendency to publicly display faux- mechanical peccadilos and inhuman quirks at sometimes woefully inappropiate times.

Gossamer’s identity crisis could provide an interesting backstory for his famed problem-solving talents, he allowed, but he mustn’t get distracted from the main issue at hand: the formation of The League.

Recent events in Puritan City demanded that a restructuring of the local superhero population occur. There existed in that stolid city the potential, talent, and undimmed glory for a top-notch superhero team to rival any other anywhere else in the world, from New York’s team of reformed super-villains, the Fascist Faux – to Chinatown’s superhero trio, Mizaru, Mikazaru, Mazaru… also known as the Three Evils Monkey Gang.

Meanwhile, what to do with this sobbing girl before him? What could Gossamer mean to his proposed The League in terms of public acceptance and her own quite considerable abilities? Ignatius handed her a handkerchief to dry her tears as he considered the prospect carefully, facet by facet, like an overcritical jeweller.

It was his dream to assemble a formidable team of superhero talent refreshingly devoid of those cliches that haunted other teams. No rival siblings. No jaded ex-lovers. No hotshots, captialist aristocrats, brilliant paranoid loners, alien boy scouts, scantily clad ingenues or. Why can’t you ever put together a team of normal inhumanely powerful neo-fascist crimefighters willing to work for the public good for free? He mused.

Then a hated voice behind him took a sucker punch at his optimism merely by speaking.

“Iggy – is that YOU? Hell, if I’d have known it was you put out this superhero call, I’d have crippled the mailman and shoved the notice up his butt.”

Ignatius cringed. No. It wasn’t possible. Not… her. Not now.

(Note: it was originally my intention that Julie be the one forming the team, and I’d envisioned Mack as a much younger man, but part of the fun of these things is seeing how the story develops as other people bring their own unique perspective to it. Mack being the one forming the team actually makes more sense to me than what I’d originally planned and it makes me wish I could go back and edit my original post. Oh well, chalk it up to growing pains. Hopefully we can avoid further such continuity errors in future.)
Jacqueline Cartwright had been born with a number extranormal traits: greatly enhanced reflexes, strength and endurance twice that of any normal man - let alone a woman - and slightly above peak human senses of sight and hearing. Combine that with a love of Westerns instilled in her by a father who had, in his youth, worked as an extra on some of the greatest Hollywood Westerns ever (and more than a few stinkers as well) and you’ve got a woman with a “lone gunslinger” complex and the ability to turn her obsession into a sort of reality, though gunslinging on the streets of a modern urban landscape is admittedly quite different from the way things were done in the Old West, and worlds apart from anything ever depicted in a ritzy idealized Hollywood horse opera. Still, Jacqueline had always found the role of Western-Themed Lone Vigilante an agreeable one.

As a girl she’d always been a tomboy, and as a woman she had an undeniable masculine quality. She was tall, broad, flat-chested and plain of face, and had a thing for damsels in distress. Damsels in general in fact. Early in her career she’d had no codename, preferring simply to think of herself as “The Woman With No Name” but a sleazy tabloid reporter had, with cruel intention, dubbed her “Cowboy Jack”. But “Jack” had liked the name so much she took it for her own, and insisted on being called by no other from that day forward.

IMac sighed heavily. He should have guessed, the floor-length leather jacket the butterfly girl was wearing to hide her wings (The poor girl had been a bit paranoid about concealing her identity ever since her life had been turned upside a few years earlier by the intrusion of a mad stalker, who had nearly been the death of her and had been the death of her film career, which she’d abandoned not long after.) was, now that he gave it a closer look, undeniably Jack’s.

It didn’t take all of IMac’s powers of deductive reasoning to figure out Jack’s interest in all this. The insufferable woman had always had a weakness for metahuman ingénues, particularly those facing serious personal crises. The way Jack preyed on emotionally weak women was very “manly” of her, and Mack found it despicable.

“So,” he said turning to Jack, the distaste in his voice palpable, “Why have you chosen to darken my doorstep, especially after what happened last time we met? I put out the call yes, but I should’ve appended: Cowboy Jack Need Not Apply. In future I’ll be more prudent.”

Jack’s eyes flashed as Mack continued

“Yes, indeed, I’ll be more prudent. No reason why you should have a film career when Julie doesn’t, after all.”

“What do you mean by that?”

IMac sighed,“Jack, I know things, and what I know I’m not afraid to use. But I don’t like to make threats, so I’m just asking, are you going to back off?”

The Cowboy looked into the little man’s eyes and saw something there that gave her pause. Her shoulders relaxed ever so slightly and she nodded. “Well, I still think I have something to offer. Is it alright if I just stand over there and listen in?”

“It seems you are already in, since you know of us, so yes. Just remember, this is my place.”

Mack turned to Julie, who seemed to have recovered somewhat. “Julie, I wish I had more time to talk just now but there should be others along shortly. If it means anything to you only one of them will be a “normal” human, and he used to work for a government agency. You will fit in(here he was gratified to see Julie’s face clear a little).”

A voice boomed from the still open door “Damn, Ignatius, this building reeks! Don’t suppose you could have picked anything more upscale could you?”

IMack was about to address the figure in the doorway when he sensed a presence. A deep, gravelly voice reminicent of Jack Palance on a bad day seemed to eminate from everywhere, and nowhere. “You sent for me?”

IMack turned toward a dark corner of his office while everyone else was trying to figure out where the voice was coming from. Then they noticed IMack and turned to follow his gaze. The figure of a man had materialized out of the ether. He wasn’t very big but he was solidly built, still looking like the athlete he had been when he was more human. The Zero had arrived.

IMack nodded his acknowledgement to the Zero and turned to the large, dark-suited man who’d just moments before appeared in the doorway.

“I picked this building because it’s the last place anyone would ever think to find me. It’s called subtlety, I think you’re familiar with the concept Steve.”

“I’m also familiar with the concept of hiding in plain day,” replied Steven Spector, the former BEI* Special Agent known in the metahuman community as “The Spook”. “Funny how the bad guys’ll find you in a place like this faster than they would a big office in a building downtown.”

“Well, there is a reason I chose PC of all places, Steve. At any rate, we’re awaiting two more arrivals, then we’ll do our introductions and get down to business.”

IMack sent another annoyed glance Cowboy Jack’s way. Seven was such a cliche number for a team roster, but he had a sinking feeling the “Sapphic 'Slinger” - as many in the community called her, though never to her face - would be hard to get rid of, especially since Gossamer seemed so attatched to the woman.
Mack reflected that inviting the troubled young woman may have been a mistake, especially given Jack’s interest in her, but he could hardly turn away a girl in need. At any rate, for the moment he needed her at least as much as she needed him. Luckily the others he’d chosen were as uncomplicated as they come, though that didn’t mean further complications wouldn’t arise.

*Bureau of Extranormal Investigations

“‘Mack’ MacKenzie”?

A Daria fan, by any chance?

First, let me apologize for the odd left turn at the beginning. Had I read more carefully, I suppose it wouldn’t have happened. When we archive it, we should ret-con it somewhat, to fix my unfortunate lack of attention.

“Hey, Iggie,” came the grating voice of Cowboy Jack, “I think we’ve got company.” She indicated a shadow under the door as three raps emanated from it.

“Come in, friend.” Pronounced IMack.

The door opened to display a well dressed gentleman, Derby hat, jacket, waistcoat, silver-tipped cane, and finely pressed pants. His shoes seemed to be impossibly clean and shiny and he held himself in an aristocratic posture that spoke of his refinement.

“I say, Ignatius,” a low, well modulated voice spoke in a very high-born British accent, “this place is an absolute sty.”

“Seven, I’m so very glad you could make this meeting.” Replied IMack.

“Were you aware that there are bags – paper bags, mind you – filled with money in this hall?”

“Seven, it is entirely likely that their presence is more a manifestation of you powers, as no one else stumbled across them.”

“Well, I am quite fortunate in most matters, however, these are likely remnants of criminal activity. May I enter?”

“Please do.” IMack turned to the others. “May I introduce to you all, Mr. Seven, or, the Master of Luck as the press have labled him.”

“Oh, do go on, Ignatius, you know how I love a complement.”

Cowboy Jack responded first, “Howdy, there Seven, can’t wait to see you in action.” She moved forward and pressed her hand into his, pressing down to check his grip. Her words had barely hidden her contempt of this dapper man.

However, as she bore down on his hand, she felt something odd happen:

“Ahhh. . .damnation and hellfire!” She grabbed her right wrist with her left hand and began shaking it, as if to remove something from it. As a string of expletives poured from Jack, Gossamer, forgot her own troubles and moved forward to minister to Jack’s discomfort.

“Jack, Jack, what is it?”

“A cramp, a granddaddy of a cramp in my hand!”

Mr. Seven observed the scene calmly as IMack allowed a wry smile to uncharacteristically develop.

“So, sorry, old girl,” said Seven flatly, “sometimes, I can’t control how my luck will fall out.”

Oooo, I love a well-dressed man with an accent! going to fun learning about him!


This is your thread, so, I don’t want to tread on any toes or anything. I’ve been building a document in Word with comments – where they were above or below the story (sort of the conversation flow) – and correcting spelling and grammer. I did rewrite the bit I screwed with at the begining from your post, to bring it into continuity as we’ve gone on to esstablish it as well (keeping the original line in a comment field).

I thought perhaps we might look at it after a few more posts. Also, I hope you don’t mind the introduction of Mr. Seven, I was unsure if we were to add characters or not, but went ahead and did so.

Finally, how often should I post, I’ve tried to stay my hand (I believe I’ve posted twice) and would add the final character as I don’t see that we have anybody capable of projecting energy – which is almost critical anymore – your call.

This is great fun, and I thank you for allowing participation, I just don’t want to cause any hard feelings.



The Zero cleared his throad as he stepped out of the shadows. Actually, the noise he made sounded more like a soft growl than anything else. Wearing a black track suit, he looked to be in his late-thirties with close-cropped hair that had prematurely gone grey.

“My apologies,” said IMack. “Everyone, this is Zachary Rowe, or ‘Zero’ as he prefers to be called now. As you have seen, he has the ability to go pretty much anywhere he wants without being noticed.”

“Of course!” exclaimed Steve. “I thought I recognized you. Zach Rowe, former All-American. Last I heard, you had disappeared and been declared dead. The BEI didn’t even have anything of substance, just rumors of some unseen force prowling the streets. What happened?”

“Don’t know. Went to bed one night and woke up like this,” came the reply from Zero.

ddgryphon, I won’t presume to speak for Fibber, but based on the other “Finish” stories I have participated in(one of which I started), the amount of times you post is pretty much up in the air. And new ideas and characters get introduced all the time.

If you read the following thread story
you will see I made an icky continuity error about midway through, and later wrote a post that explained it away. Sort of like “the whole last season was a dream of Pam’s”

And in this Western story

new ideas and characters were developed quite readily. I wouldn’t even worry about the OP, it’s likely Fibber could come up with a way to “adjust” it in a later post.

But both those threads had occasional synopses, to list characters and plot developments up to those points, and these helped us keep things straight(mostly). I’d just say go with the flow. I for one think your stuff has been great so far.

“A late bloomer, huh?” snarked Jack.

“Yep.” rasped the Zero, from a point directly behind her. He might not be a big man, but his hands seemed rather large, as they were clasped around her neck, just barely touching her skin. “My, what a pretty throat you have, want to keep it?”

Mack decided this had gone far enough. “Zero, if you would, back off for now”, and suddenly the athlete was back in his former space, Jack staring after him with a grudging respect.

Steve spoke up again. “Mack, didn’t you say that there were two more to show up? So who’s the last one?”

“That would be me.” This time the now obligatory voice from the door was feminine. The speaker was quite ordinary in appearance, somewhat pudgy in fact, but the thing that set her apart was that unlike the rest of those gathered she was smiling!
“Good grief, what’s the matter in here? Why is everyone so tensed up?” She glanced at their faces and seemed to take special note of Julie. “Lighten up, will you?” The others seemed to feel a relaxation of muscles, both physical and mental, sort of a “what was I so worried about?” feeling.

“That will do, Emma” said Mack, but in a mild tone. “Remember how we worked it out. Your ability could be addictive.” He was stll smiling however.

Emma was immediately contrite. “I’m sorry Mack, it just seemed like you all needed it.”

“Well, perhaps we did.” He turned to the now complete assembly “Everyone, this is Emma Fetzer. She works as a psychologist, as her mental abilities lie in being able to manipulate the emotional states of others. She can, for example quiet down psychotics without using drugs, and thus make them available to more conventional therapies.”

Julie wondered privately if the newcomer might be able to help her.

This background vignette popped into my head when I read Fibber’s set-up. It won’t affect the plotline, but it might help flesh-out Puritan City a bit.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Puritan City…

Benny Ortiz empathized with the Siberian tiger. Not the superhero who called himself “Siberian Tiger”, but the actual animal. Benny, like the tiger, was an endangered species… the Puritan City criminal.

“Time to go,” thought Benny, as he scanned the street one more time with his binoculars, then dropped them into a pocket of his roomy overcoat, already considerably heavier than it had been when he left his apartment. Moving out into the street, Benny timed his walk to pass by an executive-looking man just as the ‘mark’ turned the corner onto Puritan Boulevard.

“Those cell phones are making this job too easy,” Benny mused, as his quick left hand relocated the executive’s wallet into Benny’s coat pocket. “Nobody pays attention to ANYTHING anymore.” As the executive disappeared around the corner, Benny crossed the street… or tried to.

“What the heck…?” Benny’s feet had stopped dead, and a glance downward showed that they were somehow covered with mounds of street asphalt, as if the pavement had changed shape to engulf them.
“Oh, crap,” Benny thought resignedly, as a large section of pavement ahead of him shifted, bulged, and humped itself up into the rough shape of a man.

“GOTCHA!” yelled the asphalt-man gleefully. “I gotcha, I gotcha, I gotcha!” The asphalt face opened two startlingly human-looking eyes, looking around to see who was watching.
Nobody, actually… Puritanians were far too jaded to pay much attention to yet another daring super-hero exploit. The asphalt man was unfazed.

“Hey, everybody! Look at me! I caught a robber! Me… Blacktop: Master of the streets! No need to thank me, I do it all for the good of the common man! Remember the name… Blacktop! You’ll be seeing it on the news before long!”

If his legs hadn’t been a direct extrusion of the street itself, the absurdly-enthusiastic Blacktop would undoubtedly have been jumping for joy. It’s not every day that an up-and-coming (or so he believed himself to be) super-hero managed to catch a bad guy in Puritan City without any interference from OTHER up-and-coming heroes.

As Blacktop examined Benny, struggling to remember the “right to remain silent” bit, the roar of a supercharged V-8 echoed down the street, followed by the scream of tortured Goodyears. A 1963 Impala hurtled through the crowd of pedestrians, barely missing two, and spun to a dramatic stop near the confused Blacktop and the immobile Benny.

(to be continued)

The man in the cheap rumpled suit shook his head and took a wide berth around the controntation between an unfortunate pickpocket, a weird asphalt man, and a gangly Puerto Rican youth behind the wheel of a '63 Impala who he recognized as a local superhero-wannabe who called himself Lowrider. Such scenes were all too common in the PC, as he well knew as he’d been part of them more than once.

He was a con-man, or he had been once, and a rather successful one. He was called Gladhand by some who knew of him and what he could do, but lately he was mostly known as Arthur Dane, unemployed loser.

His power was one of trust. He could make anyone trust him implicitly, and all it took was a handshake. He had no idea how it worked, all that had ever mattered was that it did. The effect wore off eventually, but by that time he was long gone with the mark’s money. He’d been living pretty large at one time, but then the BEI had bagged him. Yhey’d offered him a deal, one he’d since heard the Fed’s had been giving to all the non-violent metaoffenders for years: move to Puritan City or go to prison. It had seemed too good to be true, they were just letting him off, no jail time. They hadn’t even told him not to try plying his trade anymore. They’d even bought his plane ticket for him. Of course he’d heard things about PC, but people exaggerated.

What was happening to that poor kid back there though, he’d been there more than once. He’d learned the hard way what the BEI had really done to him when they’d sent him here. He didn’t dare leave the city; the BEI kept track of its PC parolees somehow, and if he tried they’d be on him so fast it’d make his head spin.

As he turned the corner into the alley two other local wannabes - the grinning Gadfly, running along in his tight-fitting purple spandex jumpsuit, megaphone in hand, and Stuntboy, bouncing off walls and flipping over cars like an extra from The Matrix - and shook his head again. Poor schmuck. All he was doing was trying to earn a good, dishonest living.

The alley was a shortcut on his route to the flophouse he called home these days. He’d passed through it without incedent countless times, but this time a tall man emerged from behind a dumpster, a transient in a battered overcoat, his face hidden behind a shaggy, filthy mass of beard.

“Leave me alone old man, I ain’t got spare change or any other kinda change.” Arthur said by way of dismissal, but the bum stepped into his path and stayed there.

“What’s your problem, old . . .” Arthur began, but then he looked into the man’s eyes. Cold, black, empty. He felt himself falling into those eyes, the world around him swimming and turning dark. A voice filled his head, a voice that was many joined as one.

DANE. the voice said.


"D-Do I have a choice?’ he stammered, more frightened then he’d eve been before in his life.


With that the darkness reached out and engulfed Arthur Dane; the experience was not unlike drowning. Gasping for air the darkness began to absorb him, the sky, the alley, every element he had known was gone from his sight. The temperature dropped and he slipped quickly into the emptiness.

The next sensation he had was of light striking his closed eyelids. He slowly opened them, and though he sensed some pain, managed to focus on his meager efficiency apartment. “What a crazy dream!” He told himself as he moved into the bathroom. He Drew a sink full of comfortably warm water and splashed himself in the face. As he was drying off with the hand towel, he glanced in the mirror. There, staring back at him were two black pupil-less orbs instead of eyes and behind them thousands of souls crying for release. Arthur Dane opened his mouth to scream, but instead head a voice like his, but ghostly and distant speak: “Welcome Arthur Dane. I/We am/are Abyss and there are many souls I/we must harvest.”

With “IMac” in charge, the seven people gathered in his office were now getting down to business.

“Since you heard or sensed my call I don’t have to repeat why we are gathered” the human computer began. "All I will say is that, if any of you widh to become part of this proposed League, there are two requirements. The first is no egos. This will be a team, with team players, not stars. " (He was gratified to hear Zero, the former star, grunt in agreement, and see the Spook, the only “normal” human present, nod in appreciation)

Julie asked quietly “What’s the second point?”

"In a word, trust. We can’t be worrying about whether or not another team member is using their talent on any one of us unknowingly. That will not happen! "

Jack spoke up “If we are all supposed to be team players like you said, then who is in charge?”

Mack fixed his gaze on her and spoke in a bland tone. “I thought that was understood Cowboy. I am. Even a team needs a coach.”

He continued, “Now, I think we are all mature enough not to want tights, capes, and the like. That’s for showoffs, even if they are well meaning. Our goal isn’t shouldn’t be to make the cover of Meta-Humans Quarterly. I’d rather not even ask for formal pledges. I feel the League could do a better job of fighting evil by staying low profile. Any questions?”

“Just one” said Emma. Mack looked at her expectently. “When do we eat? I’m starved!”

The room dissolved in much needed laughter, releasing much of the tension that had built up. As a friendly argument began over whether to cook or order out, Julie relaxed enough to take off her long coat. As her delicate, iridescent wings unfolded, the others looked on in appreciation of their shimmering colors, set against the background of her equally delicate coffee-colored skin.

Because most of them wanted something different, the group decided on the one thing they all could agree on. They called Super Express, an outfit that delivers for a bunch of different PC restaurants. While waiting for the food to arrive, they decided to get to know each other better. “So, what are you, non-coporeal?” Jack asked Zero.

“Not exactly. I can’t walk through walls but I can pass through windows if they’re big enough.” Zero doesn’t usually say much but he kind of enjoys talking about himself.

Emma asked, “What else can you do?”

“Not sure, it’s almost like I’m finding something new every day. I know I have a bit of tele-, tele-, um, telekinesis.” Zero flashed a rare smile at finding the right word, then he demonstrated by levitating IMack’s coffee mug off his desk.

“Woah, hold it!” cried IMack as he grabbed his mug before any of its contents spilled out. This got everyone laughing again.

“Sorry,” Zero said sheepishly while everyone else started chatting amongst themselves. Zero was a bit relieved not to be the center of attention anymore.

A short time later, a knock came at the door. Zero tried to open but all he managed to do was rattle the knob. “Guess I don’t have the hang of doors yet.” A bit more laughter.

Steve said, “I’ve got it.” He opened the door to reveal a man with their food. It was delivered by another superhero-wannabe, a part-time Elvis impersonator who had turned into something that looked like a cross between Elvis and Mark McGwire; he called himself The King of Clubs. All of the orders had a King of Clubs card on it, identifying its contents. The card on IMack’s order also had a message that only he and The King could read.

Written on the bottom of the card, in a complex code shared only by IMack and certain trusted members of his network of informers, was a single word: Abyss.

Supressing a grimace of displeasure, Mack paid the King, tipping him heavily, and sent him on his way. Abyss was exactly the sort of threat he was assembling the League to battle. Everyone knew about flashy, colorful supervillains like Doctor Apocalypse, Professor Mento or the Wolf King, but it was creatures like Abyss that were the true threat.
If Abyss was in PC, he knew, it could only be for one reason. Abyss posed little threat by itself, however. It could not have been in the city long and it would take time to put its plans in motion. Time enough perhaps to get his League ready for action. He would tell them everything he knew about Abyss, but that could wait until after everyone had eaten.