Chapter II: The Call

Chapter II: The Call

A Chapter by Etienne Lantier

Erica had the television turned to Channel Five News.  They were rerunning the story from the night before.  Currently, Bob Stoker and Debra O’Conner were setting up the story, as if there were actually someone on the eastern seaboard who hadn’t heard the story.  Bob droned on about the fire, and Debra smiled and agreed with everything he said. 


It was just after seven in the morning.  She wasn’t going in to work today, so she didn’t have to be awake, but she hadn’t slept all night.  She’d been up.  At first she’d paced around, but she was quickly finding it impossible to continue.  The downstairs neighbors were complaining about the noise.


Finally, the footage from last night.  The building in question really was completely destroyed.  There was exposition about the family that had lived there.  The father was dead.  The mother was still in critical condition in an unnamed hospital.  They had two daughters, eighteen and sixteen.  The youngest was under custody, had anyone seen the older girl?


Then the clip of The Guardians.  They came in on a wave of energy that physicists couldn’t quite explain.  It was a true mystery, and it made the four superheroes seem even more magnificent, traveling around that way. 


They were methodical.  They showed up, gave a short wave to the cheering crowd, then started investigating the fire.  The Guardians were a truly spectacular group.  She watched the footage of them working in the fire’s rubble. 


Blue Specter was the one with the power to teleport.  He was also the most mysterious of the four.  He wore a blue cowl and loose,  grey armor lined with more blue over his entire body.  They really spooky part, however, was that he wore a grey mask over his entire face.  No eyeholes or anything.  His face looked shapeless and grey.


He could fly, and use some sort of teleporting power.  He also seemed to be a quick and agile fighter.  There was no official listing of powers anywhere, but she’d seen him fight on television before, and he seemed more resistant to harm than normal people.  They all did.


The next two worked in as a duo within a team of four.  They were called Sol and Luna.  Sol was a large man with a yellow costume, with dark orange pieces of armor attached to his chest, shoulders, forearms and legs.  His chest piece had a yellow circle surrounding by small triangles, symbolizing the sun.  He wore an orange helmet that covered his face, to hide his identity, and had control over some sort of red energy that he could shoot in a destructive ray. 


Luna was the opposite.  Where Sol was brightness and flash, she was stealth and shadows.  He fought like a brawer, she like a ninja.  If she wore any armor, she didn’t show it.  It just looked love black street wear.  She wore a small mask, over her eyes, and had long black hair.  The only piece of her attire that was black was a small pictures of a crescent moon in the middle of her shirt, which was pure white.


Her powers were strange.  She also controlled some sort of energy, but it was black, and she couldn’t concentrate it into beams.  Instead, it would gather around her fists and give her attacks a very strong, very destructive force.  There was a clip online of her losing her temper and punching straight through a wall.


Their leader was a man whose codename was Armory.  He didn’t have any powers, as far as anyone could tell, but he led the government funded team because he was a soldier.  No one knew who or what rank, but he was a trained soldier inside a mechanized suit of armor.  It was something straight out of a science fiction movie.  The government had reportedly spent $57 million dollars on the design and development of the golden armor, but refused to reveal its power source.


He was named ‘Armory’ for a reason.  There were machine guys in the armor around both hands.  He had small missiles all over the place.  He could fly, too, from a combination of exhaust ports in the armor’s feet and back.  Nobody knew exactly how many weapons he had, because it could change from mission to mission.  


He looked like a robot, and when he spoke, his voice was changed to sound mechanical.  The armor was nearly indestructible, at least by normal means.  He was the military’s golden boy, and they colored his gear as such.  He led the team, and none of the others questioned his authority.


The news report was over.  Erica hadn’t even paid attention to it.  She just needed to see them again, before she called up the local station with a story to run.


The Guardians, she thought.  They were heroes. 


She decided to take a shower, to calm her nerves about the phone call she was going to make.  As she walked across the apartment, the floor creaked, but it held, and she was grateful for it.



“Not many can get a visit with me from just a phone call,” said the man in the red jumpsuit.  “It’s good to see you again, Beacon.”


“Good to see you, too, Eagle,” the empath replied.  “World still safe?”


“Will me around, of course it is,” replied the giant of a man.  “Come on in, I’ll get you a scotch.  Still take it on the rocks?”


“You know it,” said Beacon.  “Not usually at one in the afternoon, but visiting the great Iron Eagle is a pretty special occasion, isn’t it?”


“For everyone but you, it seems,” said Iron Eagle as poured a couple of drinks. 


Iron Eagle wasn’t like any of the other superheroes that Beacon knew, and he knew a lot of them.  Iron Eagle was like Superman from the days before superheroes were real.  He had the strength and speed and flight of the Man of Steel himself, although he lacked the special eyes and ice breath.


Visiting the man was always an intimidating experience, although Beacon did his best to hide the fact.  But the man could snap you in two with one hand, if he wanted to.  He was also well over six feet tall, and always had on his red suit with the stylized eagle symbol in the middle, as well as his mask.  Beacon didn’t blame him.  Superheroes didn’t trust anyone.  Very few people knew the identities of the government-employed heroes.


And besides, he was still wearing his trench coat and mask, wasn’t he?  Even here, in Iron Eagle’s DC complex, he hid his face from the world and the hero of all heroes.  Part of it was safety.  Part of it was playing a character.


“I thought you were in New York last night,” said Eagle as he handed over the scotch.  “Should I be worried?”


“I hitched a ride in with Specter,” Beacon replied, sipping his drink.  “And I can tell you’re already worried.  You’ve got that energy about you.”  He added a smile, to reassure his friend.


“You never have anything good to tell me,” joked the superhero.  “Come on, let’s sit down, and you can give me whatever bad news you have for me.”


Iron Eagle’s DC complex was one of many such complexes scattered across the country.  Few people knew of their locations.  The government probably kept a few secret from even the Guardians, but Beacon knew of locations in DC, New York, LA, and Dallas.  All of them were underground. 


They were furnished well, however.  Iron Eagle lived in these facilities.  He was too powerful and well known to have much of a normal life.  He went out in public disguised occasionally, but Beacon heard it was becoming less and less often. 


Beacon sat down on a couch that faced an enormous flat screen television.  A football game was playing on mute.  The Steelers were presently winning, but their quarterback had just been sacked.


“Football,” said Iron Eagle, sitting in an armchair.  He took a swig of his scotch.  “I always wished I could have played football.  It looks like fun, doesn’t it?”


“Not my thing,” said Beacon, also taking another drink.  “That’s why I leave you guys to do the fighting out there.”


Iron Eagle sighed.  “You here to tell me I’ve got a fight coming up?”


“I don’t know,” said Beacon.  “I really don’t know.  But I can feel something big happening.  I think it has something to do with that girl up in New York.  The one police still haven’t been able to find.”


“I always hate it when I have to fight girls,” Iron Eagle said.  He smiled.  “I think I can take her, if the sun’s not in my eyes.”


“You sure?  What if you got a cold?”


“Or that,” said arguably the most powerful man on the planet.  “But seriously, you’re worried about this girl?”


“It’s bigger than just her,” said Beacon.  “I can’t explain it.  It’s not an emotion I’m getting.  It’s something different.”


“You tell the future now, Beacon?  That would make you one hell of a detective, I have to admit.”


“I don’t know what play the Steelers are about to run, if that’s what you mean,” Beacon replied.  It was a pass play, and it didn’t work.  “I can’t give you specifics or anything.  But I already told the Guardians to be on their feet.  I thought you should know, too.”


“Fair enough,” said Iron Eagle.  “You got business today?  Can you stay and watch the game?  I got three grand on the Steelers.”


Beacon finished his drink.


“Didn’t take you for the gambling type, Eagle.”


“My alter ego is,” he said, smiling.  “The world’s not in danger at the moment.  I didn’t get called out on the search for your fire girl.  The Chinese are staying quiet, lately.  I’ve got to do something to keep life interesting.”


“Well, keep that bet a secret,” said Beacon.  “I’ve got to get back to New York, though.  Blue Specter is expecting me in about twenty minutes.  They think my powers will help locate this girl, like I’m a damn hound dog following a scent or something.”


“Oh,” said Eagle.  “Well.  Okay.”


He was sad.   Beacon could feel it. It was weird, sensing such an expression on the nation’s greatest hero, but it was unmistakable.


“I’m sure Specter would warp you to the game, though,” Beacon added.  “It’s not even halftime yet, and I bet they could find you a seat somewhere.” 


“That’s okay,” replied Iron Eagle.  “I’ll just stay in and watch it here.”


Disappointment radiated from the superhero. 


“Okay,” said Beacon.  “Well, thanks for the drink, anyway.  Be seein’ ya.”




He laid his glass on the drink table as he made his way to the front door.  Iron Eagle didn’t leave the armchair to the door, but two government operatives were waiting just outside the living room to make sure he went straight out. 


Such is the life of a superhero, he mused. 



It was nearly half past four.  Erica stared at the clock on her wall.  She had been doing this for quite some time now.  She watched the second hand tick, over and over again, and she realized she was the only person she knew who owned a clock with hands.  Except for her grandparents.  They had a beautiful grandfather clock.  Erica’s was pink and made of cheap plastic.


She held her phone in her hand.  If she wanted to make the five o’clock news, she’d have to hurry.  Her eyes were watering.  She walked into her apartment’s laughably small kitchen area, picked up the phone she kept on the counter.  It, too, was going the way of the dinosaur, being replaced by cell phones.


Just like me, she thought.  Going away.  I even looked this number up in the phonebook. 


Very carefully, she dialed her phone.



The football game had concluded more than an hour ago, and Iron Eagle"the man touted as the world’s greatest hero"was watching sitcom reruns.  He had flipped through channels for a while, but nothing was entertaining.  The action shows seemed dull compared to his own life.  He tried watching a romantic comedy for a while, but its entire premise seemed implausible and stupid.  The stand up comedian was funny for a while, but he started ripping on superheroes, so he’d changed the channel.


Now the end of this sitcom was playing on his television screen.  A man and his wife had been arguing three minutes ago, but now they were smiling and"wait for it"kissing.  The fake audience went “aww” and the final credits started rolling.  Commercials began to play.  The Channel Five News was up next, with some breaking story or another. 


“Another emergency, I’m sure,” said Iron Eagle to absolutely no one.  He was currently lying on the couch.  He rolled over onto his back and stared at the ceiling.  “Another goddamn crisis.  Probably one I can’t even fix.  You can punch the bad guys, but you can’t make an economy work.”


He sighed and wondered if another drink was worth making.  Probably not.  In a few minutes he’d get up and do it anyway, because what else was there?


He rolled back over and looked at the television screen.  Blah blah blah, Channel Five exclusive, blah blah blah, exposition.  Cut to a conference room…


“Oh, s**t,” said the hero, sitting up. 


He pulled out the cell phone specially designed for use by someone with super strength, and hit speed dial number one.  It only rang once.


“Iron Eagle,” said the man on the other line.  “Go ahead.”


“Mr. President, I think you’d better turn on a TV.”



“This is hopeless,” said Armory.  His voice was distorted and mechanized by his equipment in an attempt to help hide his identity.  “We’ve got to call the search.  We’ve been going at it for hours.”


“Quittin’ time!” Sol said with feigned excitement.  “Do we even get that luxury?  Do heroes get to call it quits when a search turns up fruitless for hours on end?”


“I don’t like it either, Sol,” said Luna.  “But what are we supposed to do?  New York is a big place.  We’ve asked around.  We’ve hit up contacts.  Armory and Specter have been flying around for hours, searching.  We can’t go forever.”


“Agreed,” said Beacon.  “I’ll get some guards stationed out here, in case she comes back, but I wouldn’t count on it.  I’ll stick around the city and see if some old-fashioned detective work can’t figure this out.  I’ll stay until I’m called out on a different case.”


They had ended their search back at the remains of the burnt house.  They had been talking for a few minutes now, discussing the options and the lack of results.  Except for Blue Specter, who just stood around, silent.  Beacon had never once heard him say a word, in the year or two he’d known the hero.


“Good man,” said Armory.  “The Guardians will stay around the area for a while, in case we have to engage the target.”


Beacon felt a wave of sharp anxiety pass through each member of the Guardians, but none of them showed any signs of it.  They didn’t want to fight anyone, but they would, if they had to.  Even Blue Specter, who was just standing in the corner, silent,


They’re a different breed, thought Beacon.  He felt like a sidekick, surrounded by all these big name, superpowered heroes.  Working with them was an honor, but it always felt like play with fire.  One wrong move, and it could all go up in smoke. 


He looked at the remains of the house, and wondered if his thoughts were in poor taste, and he was grateful that no one could feel his guilt.


“Wait,” said Armory.  “Incoming call from the president.”  Presumably he was taking the call inside the suit of armor.  It wasn’t a long one.  “Our priorities have changed, Guardians.  We’re going to DC.  Right now.”


“Need me?” asked Beacon. 


“No mention of you,” said Armory.  Beacon could feel a wave of annoyance coming from the man in the machine.  “Specter, get us out of here.”


Blue Specter didn’t say anything.  There was just a blue flash of energy, and suddenly Beacon was standing alone.  As soon as they were gone, he picked up his phone and dialed.


“Hello.  Yeah, hey, Crosser.  You want to tell me what’s going on?”



Nobody ever tells you how awkward it is talking into a camera.  Erica was starting to regret requesting that nobody be in the room when she did her interview.  The lights were hot, and she could barely see Bob Stoker because of them.  She was rather nervous just talking to him, and on top of it, she was wearing a ridiculous sweat suit, as well as an impromptu mask made from a ski hat at the last minute.  It made her even hotter, and she knew she looked dumb with her blonde hair spilling out the back of it.


“And why did you come to us with this news?” Bob asked.  He looked earnest, but he was paid to.

“I didn’t know what else to do,” she answered.  Her voiced seemed to croak.  “After seeing what happened up in New York, I wanted to make sure nobody got hurt because of me.  But who do you call for that?  And I figured you guys might like a story.”


Bob laughed his fake tv laugh.


“You got that right, miss,” he said.  “Well I’m sure we’ll get someone’s attention with this interview.”


“I hope so, Bob,” Erica said. 


“Now, you know we have to ask this.  Would you mind demonstrating your claims?  The audience at home would love to see it, I’m sure.  And if any important figures out there are watching, they might need some convincing.”


Of course she knew they’d ask that, but she’d been dreading it.  Still, he was right.  If she wanted anyone to believe her. she’d have to be willing to put her money where her mouth was.. The proof was in the pudding, after all.  Or so they said.


“Fine, Bob,” she said.  “You got something heavy?”


They must have been waiting right outside the door, because two men entered the room just a few seconds later, pushing a cart with an extremely large television.  They weren’t struggling with it, and one man probably could have pushed the cart, but it would prove her point.


“All right, miss,” said the news anchor.  “Go ahead and give ‘em a show.”


She nodded.  The television was pushed over to where the lights were set up, and the two crewmen stepped out of the way.  A cameraman picked one of the cameras off its tripod to make sure he didn’t miss his shot. 


Erica stood up and prayed that things hadn’t somehow gone back to normal.  She’d die of embarrassment if she suddenly could do it.


“Something you’d like to say?” asked Bob.  “Something for the folks at home?”


She thought about her boring desk job and her boring apartment and her little pink plastic wall clock.  She thought about the upstairs neighbors who always made too much noise walking around at night.  She thought about the family she hadn’t seen in almost three years.  She thought about her Sunday afternoon book club, and how she didn’t care for a single person in it.


“Bob.  Here goes nothing.”


She tried too hard to lift the television, and it ended up being jerky.  But once it was up over her head, she effortless held it in place using one hand.  She pumped it up and down a few times, for show, and then set it back down.  If it hadn’t been so hot and stuffy in her damn outfit, she wouldn’t have broken a sweat.


The room was speechless for a few seconds.  Erica coughed.


“Oh, um,” said Bob, and then he recovered.  “There you have it, folks!  We have a new hero on our hands!  Tell me, miss.  Have you thought of a codename yet?”


“No,” she said.  “I was too nervous about this interview to think about anything else.”


That got a laugh, and then two large men in black suits entered the room, escorted by the station’s head of security.


“Miss,” said one of the men.  He had jet black hair to go with his suit.  “My name is agent Faulker of the CIA.  We’d like you to come with us.”


She sighed a nervous sigh.


“That was the idea,” she said.  She got up to leave.


“Good,” said the man.  “This is agent Saunders.  We will take you a limousine in the parking lot, where the president is waiting.”


She froze.


“Have you changed your mind?” he asked again.  “You will be perfectly safe, I can promise you this.  You will not be forced to do anything against your will.  This isn’t"“


“Faulker,” said Saunders, finally breaking his silence.  “These cameras are still rolling.”


“Of course they are,” said Faulker.  “Thank you, Saunders.  Now, miss.  Would you please come with us?”


Erica was shaking.  She tried to speak, and found she couldn’t.  So she just nodded.


“Thank you,” said Faulker.  “This way.”


Well, she thought, no more pink wall clock.



He dialed the cheap plastic cell phone he had bought minutes earlier.


“How far does the eagle fly?” asked the voice on the other line.


“As far as the eye can see,” he replied.


“What have you got?”


“The girl.  The one in New York.  She has a sister.  Younger.”


There was a long pause.  Finally, the man on the other end of the phone said, “Get her.”


“As you wish.”


The line went dead.  He threw the phone away in the first trashcan he came across, and continued walking down the busy New York street.


© 2011 Etienne Lantier

Author's Note

Etienne Lantier
Rough draft.

My Review

Would you like to review this Chapter?
Login | Register

Share This
Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


Added on January 23, 2011
Last Updated on January 23, 2011
Tags: superhero, superheroes