I've been meaning to post this for a while, but I couldn't think of a title. So while checking the song listing on one of my CDs, I found the name above...and realized it was appropriate.
The following is something I've worked on over the course of a year or so. It's gone through a number of incarnations, and even been completely re-written once (thanks to a computer crash). It's a slow work in progress because I only work on it when I feel inspired. So, beyond this first section, I have less than a page written. I have a number of themes and ideas already decided upon, so any surprises that happen will most likely be planned from this point.
Feel free to critique about ANYTHING, right down to the grammar. And please point out any plotholes. I know that there's bound to be at least one, and I've come up with answers for a number of them that I'll address later, but I'd like to have a complete list. My writing training is in reporting and historical, not creative, which is why I question my own abilities. But onto the show.
Prologue: What's Past is Past
The scene was horrendous on that hot June day. In the middle of a mile-wide crater in the southwestern U.S., hovered two beings who seemed to directly contradict each other. One a demon whose appearance (and, as some had been unfortunate to behold, action) represented evil, darkness, and everything society viewed as deviant. His very presence was a detriment to the senses. His eyes…spoke of the evils of mankind. His presence alone would make the strongest man quiver. The weakest went mad. The media had dubbed him “Darkness”, feeling it was “catchy.” There was a small sect that referred to him as Azazel, believing him to be the Hebraic demon of war.
The other man represented goodness to all the soldiers gathered on the rim of the crater…and the millions who watched the battle, thanks to the thousands of cameras. They knew him as a hero. He had served them well and saved countless lives. Those who didn’t admire him outright showed a grudging respect for the good deeds he had done. The old phrase “women love him, men want to BE him” was used constantly in the countless news pieces done on him. The media even gave him his name: “Amazing.” He had never adopted an official codename like many of his associates…it’s not likely he would be confused with anyone else. Amazing was unique.
That word was never as appropriate as it was now. Many of Amazing’s fellow heroes had tried to defeat this villain. Some were foolish enough to try it solo, others sought to overwhelm him in numbers. Both attempts were met with the same result.
…The lucky ones died.
The army had been called in at one point, but no orders had been given to assist the heroes. No one really thought the army could do anything, but it was more of a public relations move. They had to calm the people. Make it look like the situation was under control. If the people panicked, the situation would only get worse. It was all for the good of the people.
False hope was better than no hope.
That is why, as these titans fought tooth and nail in that New Mexico desert…a missile silo slid slowly open, exposing the missile within to the first sunlight it had seen in a very long time. Built to fight “Red Menace,” it had gone unused until that day.
Safeties were disengaged, keys turned…and as it slid out into the hot desert air, it froze as, one by one, the final steps were completed. As the missile lifted into the sky, the winds seemed to grow calm in response…sensing what was to come. The missile streaked into the cloudless sky: a new challenger to the epic battle.
As it closed in on the combatants, Amazing suddenly switched tactics. His face was set with a new determination as he caught his second wind and hammered Azazel with punch after punch, keeping Azazel distracted. But right before Amazing planned to break away and allow the demon to be hit by the bomb, the demon clamped onto his shoulder, its incredibly sharp teeth cutting Amazing’s long-thought impervious flesh.
Then a deafening silence. A deafening roar. Another deafening silence.
Those who weren’t worried over being deafened three times looked up as the smoke cleared, and saw nothing where the combatants had been. As they crept towards the crater, caring little about the possible side effects of the radiation, those soldiers looked down and saw something in the bottom of the crater. The demon, still locked on the hero. But neither moved. There was no stir, no intake of air, nothing. And of the soldiers looking into that pit, some cried, some prayed, some stood completely still, shocked, but not a single one of them doubted that they had lost the greatest hero they had ever known.
No words were spoken as, one by one, they moved away from the crater to tell their fellows of what they had seen. From there, the story spread around the world, as a few soldiers made it back to the media line…and told the tale.
Ceremonies were held, a graves were dug, tears were cried.
And time went by.
Colonel Connor Samson Truman was a bright man. He was tall. He was dark. He was handsome. He was considered by more than one woman to be perfect. Except for that one flaw. He was a man of duty. His father had raised him after the death of his mother, and he had made sure that his son knew respect. Made sure his son would succeed and be the soldier he could never be…but his father had been. He instilled a sense of duty, a sense of right, and a deep religious nature. Connor was still a man of duty. A man who knew right from wrong and was willing to defend it. But he was a man who had lost his religion. He could still remember the day. It burned deep inside him. He would never forget the day God let the heroes die. When God failed to prevent the demon from scarring the world. He was only a Corporal then. Fresh from training. Top of his class. After the blast, he had crawled to the edge and looked down…and stared. He realized two things that day: The world will forever need heroes. And there was no God. At least not one he could continue to believe in. But after seeing the demon with his own eyes, he found it impossible for anyone to truly be an atheist. He hovered somewhere in between Christian and Atheist…never sure where he belonged.
On that cool November day, a number of years removed from what the media had dubbed “the infamous day,” Colonel Truman marched down a hall in the Pentagon in full, perfectly pressed uniform. He had played on every contact he knew in order to get this meeting. He still didn’t know what was driving him to seek it, though. Why he would question his government. But he had to…it was part of the “protecting the right” in his life philosophy. He had heard rumors, and all he needed was a firm “yes” or “no” from someone in the government who would actually know. He needed to know that the government he served upheld the same definition of “right” that he did. That’s why he went to see the Deputy Secretary of Defense, one rung below the actual Secretary of Defense, but the best his contacts could get him.
Nearing the door to the Deputy Secretary’s office, he quickly checked his cuffs, his lapel, and the line of his jacket to ensure they were still perfect. Doing an about-face into the reception area of the office, he stepped briskly to the receptionist’s desk and presented the ID badge he’d been given upon first entering the facility.
“Colonel Truman to see Secretary Devin,” he said with the clipped, even tones he had developed early in his career. The kind that conveyed authority, demanded respect, and got his point across as clearly and effectively as possible.
“Alright, Mr. Devin is expecting you, so go right in.”
Nodding once in acknowledgement as he regained his ID, Truman made another firm about-face and headed down the short hall to the door marked “Deputy Secretary of Defense – Pat Devin.” Turning the doorknob, Truman stepped into the room to find a man busily typing away at a computer, his back turned to the pile of paper on his desk. He talked frantically into a phone cradled between his jaw and shoulder.
“No, no, no…I want those reports TODAY. Not tomorrow. If I don’t get those here, I can’t do my job. If I can’t do my job, I look bad. If I look bad, I find someway for YOU to look bad. If I lose my job, I fire you just prior to that. In short: I…WANT…THAT…REPORT.”
Turning around to slam down the phone, Devin noticed Truman standing there.
“Oh, yes, my appointment. You must be…ummm…help me here,” Devin stammered, searching the pile of paper for some clue as to who the gentleman in front of him was.
“Colonel Connor Truman, United States Army, sir,” Truman said, saluting and coming to full attention.
“What is it you came to see me about? And please, keep it as brief as possible.”
“I have a few questions regarding the operation carried out during the fight between Amazing and Azazel…”
“Oh, so you’re one of those ‘Azazel’ nuts. But please, go on.”
“…As I was saying…I’m curious about the measure taken to end that battle, and whether any warning was given to Amazing that that amount of force might be used. And why it actually came to that.”
“Well soldier, I think on some level, he KNEW it might happen if he was unsuccessful. And I’m sure that if you had been in a position to, you would have used such measures to end that battle. Certainly if you knew the end result would have resulted in that creature’s death…”
“Yes, but no one could have known the end result. And you failed to clearly answer my question…sir.”
“Soldier, I can tell you’re a man of duty. A man who follows the orders given. Without question. I may not, technically, rank above you, but I AM in a position of higher power. So I exercise all of that power, when I tell you that investigating this matter further will NOT be good for you. So, with the power vested in me…DROP IT.”
“Major…I have work to do,” Devin said, never actually hearing the other man’s rank, and just saying the first one that came to mind. He had turned back to his computer by the time Truman had gotten up.
“Yes, sir,” Truman grudgingly said, getting up from the chair and leaving the office. He mulled over the discussion, and how it had answered nothing.
And time went by.
“The main center will be going there. The training center to the left. The dormitories to the right. It’s a fairly straight-forward layout. As you can see, we aren’t taking your money and spending it needlessly. There are no statues, no fountains, or useless structures attached to the buildings. Mr. Truman wanted every part of the headquarters to be as necessary as the next,” a sharp-dressed man with a perfectly cut goatee was speaking to a group of men dressed in hard-hats and suits as they looked over the blueprints of the structure being constructed in front of them.
Nodding their heads in approval, the men congratulated the speaker on a job well done, shook his hand and headed back to their cars.
“Looks like that went well,” Connor Truman said, stepping up as the man rolled up the blueprints.
“Well it was more a formality than anything, so it’s not like there was a reason to worry.”
“I’ve found that when it comes to investors, every moment is something to worry about.”
“Yeah, but these guys seem to know what we’re doing, and accept that it comes with some pretty high costs.”
“I hope you’re right, David.”
Connor Truman, former Colonel in the United States Army looked at the construction site and thought back on how he had gotten to this point.
It seems like he had left the Pentagon only days ago…when in reality it was at least a year. He had been determined to do the right thing. Two days later, he had handed his superior officer a letter of resignation. Despite protests from the troops he had commanded, he had left the army with his head held high. Using the knowledge he had gained from the business classes his father had forced him to take (just in case he was ever injured in combat), he began formulating an idea. Initially he hired the man standing next to him, David Layton, to act as his voice in front of investors. He’d met David early on in his attempts to raise the money necessary for his plans. Fired due to a recent merger (which also resulted in the investment falling through), the two had quickly struck up a friendship on the elevator down. The man was calm, cool, and was better versed than Connor in handling clients. The man would become invaluable to him as he finally began to successfully raise money to fund his organization.
The idea for the organization was inspired by Amazing’s sacrifice. He decided to form a team of super-powered heroes that he could train to handle the
threats of the last generation, and the new ones constantly rising up. Although the investors were led to believe that he was doing it solely for profit, he merely sought to help people, and cared nothing for the money. That was the dream. Help those who needed it. Fill the gap that Amazing had left. Save the world.
“So, David, how’s the recruiting coming along,” Connor asked.
“Not so well, Mr. Truman. Mario Rufino’s agent is still trying to negotiate for higher pay. I keep telling him that we have limited resources, but he keeps saying his client won’t work unless we meet his demands.”
“Tell him he’ll take what we’re offering or his client can improve his q-rating somewhere else.”
“Yes, sir. As for Max Rowley, he’s still unsure if he wants to give up his life to, as he puts it, ‘play super-hero.’”
“Do what you can to reassure him. Let him know he’s free to leave whenever he wants, and remind him that this job pays more than his current job does. Oh, and let him know that as long as he’s affiliated with us, we’ll pick up the tab for any property damage he causes.”
“Thomas Clay, alias Ground Control, the would-be super-hero from the Midwest…”
“I have a good feeling about him.”
“Well, he said he loves the idea of joining a team and can be here whenever you need him. So far, he’s proving to be the most experienced and the most cooperative.”
“Good, well tell him we need him as soon as possible. I’d like SOMEONE here when this place gets finished. And who knows? He might be able to help get this place done. Surely the less we spend, the happier the investors will be.”
“For right now, I don’t think they can get any happier…but it might help bridge any problems we have down the line. As for the other two, Sarah Murphy is finishing college and says she can be here as soon as the semester is over. Liam Ellis says he needs to know exactly what the risks and rewards associated with this job will be.”
“Hmm…Ms. Murphy sounds like she’ll get along great with the team. As for Mr. Ellis, let him know the risks, and tell him that the only guaranteed reward is knowing that the world is a little bit safer. Tell him that if that’s not a good enough reward, then we’ll find someone else.”
“Yes, sir. Anything else I can do before making the calls?”
“Not a thing, David…not a thing.”
The two men set off to their separate cars. David had already pulled out his cell phone to begin making the appropriate calls to the appropriate people. Connor looked back at the construction site as a small smile spread across his face.
And time passed by…
(I think I fixed all the paragraph breaks, but point any out that I missed and I'll edit them in)