Sunday, December 28, 2008

Secret Identity #1.1

Kanza Park in the center of Mason City, Kansas was bustling with activity as the city's 7th annual Get-Out-And-Play entered it's second hour.  Andrew Warren, Jessica Murrow and Kyle Ratner were playing pirates on the top of the jungle gym.
"Ahoy, mateys, land ho!" Andy said as he raised his sword into the air. "The new world lay ahead."
Jess and Kyle arrived at the top as Andy stood on the top of the jungle gym, still holding his fake sword high in the air.  Andy's knees buckled and he fell backwards.  Time slowed as he fell to the ground below.  He seemed to hover in mid-air as Jess and Kyle, along with several parents who happened to hear Jess scream.
It happened so fast, no one could save him and Andy landed hard, right on the top of his head and slumped to the ground.  A bunch of people gathered around him, his parents pushed to the front of the group as Jess and Kyle looked on in horror from the top of the jungle gym.
Andy slowly picked himself up off the ground and looked at the crowd, surrounded him.  He looked confusedly at everyone and smiled.  "What?"

Andy parents, Harry and Sarah, rushed him to the hospital, being led by a policeman who was patrolling the festivities.  Dr. Taylor looked Andy over thoroughly for nearly two hours and concluded that nothing was wrong with him.
"So he's okay?  How can that be?" Harry asked, amazed that his son was fine.  "He landed on the top of his head.  Even though it was on sand, something should still be wrong!"
"I agree, Mr. Warren.  A fall like that, his top vertabrae should be shattered.  He is unharmed, perfectly fine.  You can take him home but if anything should happen, bring him back but for the time being, he is probably the healthiest person in this hospital," Dr. Taylor said.
"Okay," Harry sighed.  "Let's go home."
The Warrens went home and life resumed normalcy for the next nine years but Andy kept a secret from everybody.  Andy soon learned that he was able to run faster than anyone and anything, he was also immune to any type of harm and, something that he tried never to use for any reason, could fly.
He kept that under wraps until just before his high school graduation when he took Jess for a flight above the state of Kansas.  She marveled at the miles and miles of farmland, property lines defined by trees and different colors of fields.  Creeks, streams and rivers winding their way through the state emptying into lakes both man-made and natural.  He told her everything and, for the first time, they kissed high above Gove County before flying back to Mason City on the eastern half of the state.
After graduation the three friends moved in together in Centropolis, Kansas--the largest city in the world--and attended Centropolis University.  Andy kept his powers quiet dispite Jess' pushing for him to use them to help the citizens of Centropolis.  Andy and Jess just remained friends but she got closer to Mike Nolan, only son of long-time Centropolis mayor, Cal Nolan.  College was about to end for the four friends with everyone ready to move into adulthood with brand new charges--except Andy.

"The Hero of Centropolis"
Centropolis, 1856.  Founded at the convergence of the Missouri and Kansas Rivers, the city was never supposed to be a major city.  Cal Nolan II changed Centropolis from a tiny hodge-podge of lean-to houses to a bustling metropolis of over 10 million people.  Centropolis, named by Perry Fuller as a combination of "central" and "metropolis".  Cal Nolan changed the face of Kansas forever, turning it into the Wall Street of the West and initiated huge post-Civil War infrastructure projects such as widening the Missouri River from St. Louis to Sioux City and widening the Kansas River from Centropolis to Topeka, the state capital.
The widening of the rivers made Centropolis a major port from the east and the hope was to somehow connect the rivers to the west but the plans never came to fruition but over the years, Centropolis became a major rail line center and soon a major airline hub.  The Nolan family became the preeminent family in Centropolis and have had their hand in every part of the city's history whether it was wanted or not.
Cal Nolan IV is the current mayor of Centropolis and many say that he has more power than the President of the United States because not only does he control the largest city in the country, he also controls the largest corporation in the world, NolanMark, a manufacturer of various technology from automobiles to computers to airline jets.
Nolan considered himself the most powerful man in the world and, to a point, he was right.

Andy sat back in his chair and stared up at the ceiling.  "No, ma'am.  I don't know anyone who drives one of those motorized scooters," he said.  "You fell out and it ran over you, you say?  Well, that's not good at all.  Well, unfortunately, ma'am, I can't help you with that but I suggest you contact the manufacturer and, if you seem hurt in any way, your doctor.  Yes, the insurance will cover your doctor's visit.  No, I'm not sure how much the visit will cost.  Is there anything else I can help you with?  All right, ma'am.  Thank you for calling and have a nice day."
Andy quickly hit a couple buttons on his phone and threw off his headset.  He closed out and turned off his computer, put on his jacket and walked out of the building.  Jess was waiting in the parking lot with her car.  Andy waved to her and got into her car.  They sped off, heading back to the apartment they shared with Mike.
"How was work?" she asked.
"It was fine.  Same old thing, talking to old people who are complaining about how we're screwing them," Andy said.  "It'd be sad if it wasn't so true."
"You should quit that job, Andy.  You were made for much better things than talking insurance to old people on the phone.  You have those amazing powers..."
"That are worthless in the working world.  People don't get paid to be heroes, Jess."
"Policemen, firemen.  They're heroes, they get paid."
"And if we didn't pay them, they wouldn't be policemen and firemen.  It's better to just keep my powers on the down low and use them secretly like I've been doing.  Plus, it keeps the pressure off of me."
Jess sighed and shook her head.  "You were destined for more, Andy.  I hope you realize it someday."

Across town in Spyre Tower, a massive glass structure that housed every aspect of the city's government and was the tallest building in the world.  Mike Nolan walked into his father's office.  "Dad?  Thank you for seeing me on such short notice," Mike said as he sat down in a chair in front of Cal's desk.
"You're my son, Mike.  I always have time for you.  What can I do for you?" Cal Nolan IV was a massive man.  Over 6'5" and built like a house, his golden brown hair pulled back into a ponytail and wearing the most expensive suit he could find for sale.
"I wanted to talk to you about a series of job interviews I have coming up in the next couple of days.  I want to be a journalist, I feel that it's important for the world to have insightful and important news.  I know you're not a fan of..."
"Journalists..." Cal sneered, "are the bastion of this society.  The press has ruined many good lives and they make no apologies.  They've ran the Nolan name through the mud for decades and I have no sympathy in my life for those people.  I think you should choose another career path, my son.  Something more in line with the Nolan lineage."
"I don't want to follow in the footsteps of my last name.  Politics and corporate jargon do not interest me and while I am proud of my past, I wish to completely revamp the Nolan future," Mike explained, Cal still looking unpleased.
"I can't stop you from doing what you want, son," Cal said and exhaled slowly.  "I wish you would reconsider but I will support you in whatever endeavor to undertake."
Mike rose from his chair as did Cal.  "Thanks, Dad.  I'll see you later."
"No problem, son," Cal smiled and watched his son leave his office.  After a few seconds had passed after Mike left, Cal pressed a button on his phone and his secretary came in.
"Yes, sir?" she asked.
"Ms. Caplan, my son has several job interviews with the newspapers and I'm not sure which ones," Cal began.  "Call every newspaper in the region and warn them against hiring my son.  Tell them that if they hire him--or even consider hiring him--I will destroy them, their family and the paper."
"Yes, sir," Ms. Caplan acknowledged and immediately left the office.

Andy and Kyle sat in their apartment playing a video game about an army at war on Mars.  Jess was out working her last night at the diner.  Andy was aggrevated about Jess' complaining about his choices in life.  "I mean, I know what she's saying but what am I supposed to do?  I don't know what I want to do with my life.  I have a degree in American History.  What the hell am I supposed to use that for?  I should've went for something more useful like English or something."
"Thank God I'm an artist.  By the way, I got that artist's job for that comic strip," Kyle said.
"Really?  Congratulations!  Do me a favor and don't tell Jess for about five years until I figure out what I want to do with my life."
"I'll try to keep it from her but I'm sure she'll figure it out," Kyle laughed.
"I know," Andy smiled.  He paused the game and stood up.  "Take me out of the game.  I'm gonna go for a walk.  I'll be back in an hour or so," Andy left the apartment and Kyle resumed the game.
A few blocks away, Barney Renauld walked down 112th Street heading toward an aging brick building now masquerading as an apartment building.  Barney was a private investigator who, while being extremely good at his job, was unable to sustain a reasonable living due to him not finishing the job.  Barney walked up the stairs and rang a bell for one of the apartments.  Barney was buzzed in without even a second thought.  Barney went upstairs to the third floor and found apartment 3F and knocked on the door.
"Who's there?" a man behind the door asked.
"Just open up Sciata.  It's Barney Renauld.  You have a date with an interrogation room," Barney shouted and prepared to draw his gun.  Instead, he just heard Sciata running away from the door and trying hard to push open a window.  "Damn!  I hate when they run," Barney tried the door but found it locked.  Barney moved across the hall and shouldered the door, breaking it off it's hinges just in time to see Sciata disappear down the fire escape.
Barney ran to the window in time to see Sciata jump from the fire escape and Andy swoop in and catch him by the ankle and fly into the sky above the apartment building.  Barney and Andy stared at each other while Sciata dangled by his ankle upside down.
Barney and Andy left the police station together and walked down the street, heading back the mile or so to where Barney had parked his car to go to Sciata's apartment.
"Thanks for catching that guy.  I never could've caught him if he jumped and started running.  And he needed to be off the street," Barney said.
"No problem.  And thank you for keeping what you saw me do between us.  I'm very careful with my secret so I'm a little embarrassed that you saw me," Andy smiled.
"Well, seeing what you could do made me think, Andy.  There's this case I've been working on for months and the client is getting ready to pull out if I don't find out something new.  Would you like to help me on it?" Barney offered.
"Sure.  Do I get paid?"
"Of course.  Let's go back to my office and I'll get you caught up."

Alexis Barrett sat in the diner at the counter every night.  She was one of Jess' regulars and throughout the last year or so, both had become rather friendly toward each other.  Alexis was a photographer for The Centropolis Record, a less-than-reputable newspaper who usually had one article of truth surrounded by tales and urban legends that occured around the city.  Jess came up to Alexis and refilled her cup with coffee.
"What's wrong, Alexis?" she asked.  Alexis had been nervously sipping her coffee and fumbling with her camera since she came in.
"I have a problem," Alexis began.  "You know that monster that's supposedly roaming the sewers and steam tunnels?"
"Yeah," Jess scoffed, "that's such a load."
"I have to get pictures of it or I'm fired."
"What?  How can you take pictures of something that doesn't exist?" Jess asked.
"But it does exist.  You've seen the pictures of the people who have been unfortunate enough to cross it's path."  Alexis pulled out several photos from her backpack of people with their torsos ripped apart and mangled against the sides of buildings.
"How are you going to get the photos?" asked Jess.  "You'd have to be in the right place at the right time or go into the steam tunnels."
"Do you want to go with me?" Alexis asked.
"What?  Go into the sewer and try to find a monster that may or may not exist just so you can get a couple pictures?"
"So you in?"

Barney Renauld's office was a spacious one-room office with hardwood floors and very minimal furniture.  A couple chairs sat against the wall next to the door and a couple were placed in front of Barney's desk.  Four tall file cabinets stood behind the desk.  "The main case I really need help with is this man, Frank Crispin, has paid me to get proof that his wife is having an affair.  Now, those are normally the easy cases.  People are sloppy and they are easy to tail and watch but this case is different because of the person his wife is having the affair with," Barney said.
"Why?  Who is it?"
"Cal Nolan, the mayor.  He takes every precaution to insure that he is not caught or seen doing anything like that."
"How romantic.  I'm friends with Nolan's son Mike.  I doubt Mike knows anything but I can ask.  If not, we can meet up tomorrow and tail Nolan.  It should be easier for me to keep tabs on him since I can fly," Andy said.
"So you're in?" Barney asked.
"It's better work than listening to old people complain about their insurance," Andy smiled.

Next Week
Andy begins tailing Mayor Nolan; Alexis and Jess enter the sewer; Mike is rejected from every newspaper in the city; The true nature of Mayor Nolan is revealed; and Kyle discovers something on his way to work.