Meeker. It’s a small town in the north east of Colorado. One of the three locations I had to visit before the expedition.
I stood on the platform, a crowd of people around me. My power was overflowing and spreading like a mist through the town, weaving through the crowds as I expended more and more of my power. A space of myself consumed all and the crowd thinned out as I did so.
Maybe they expected a tingling feeling or something? I thought.
“Ryan, you’ve reached the limits, you can stop now.”
Agent Morris. A fat man who recently joined the NHN during my three years absence, and whose presence unwillingly serves to remind me that the world changed while I was locked up. While I was peeling fingernails, Derek was bleeding out, constantly jumping between the moment the shrapnel tore open his neck and his failing attempts to stop the bleeding.
Maxine told me that due to his powers, he was able to at least say goodbye.
I shook my head and stopped from creating more space, relaxing. My powers served as a nullifier for anyone inside my space who used powers I was aware of or understood, and the space I created was stronger.
No powers will ever work in my space, ever.
I looked at Agent Morris. “Yeah, I’m done.”
He gave a nod and gestured away, the crowd almost entirely gone except a few important locals.
A truly fat man was waiting for me, his balding hair and wrinkled yet pudgy face was reminiscent of Santa Claus in the way it disarmed me. He walked up and grabbed my hand, shaking it with both of his.
“So you are the wonderful kid behind all this commotion, right?” he said, a grin beaming on his face.
I took a second and responded, waiting for him to stop shaking my hand. “Yes. I’m Ryan Anderson, by the way. Mayor…”
“Mayor Alexander Warren,” he replied, finally letting go to clap his hands and rub them. “Pleasure to meet you.”
I smiled back, lowering my hand.
“We are glad you allowed us to try something like this, Mayor Warren,” said Agent Morris. “Thank you.”
“Don’t thank me,” the mayor said, waving his hand out at the street. “Thank the town. I put it up to a vote and they approved, especially since we have no NHN building and several rogue metahumans.”
“No NHN, what happened?” I asked.
“Some villain called Trauma passed through, a week later the only two NHN capes went crazy and killed each other. Starshifter and Anorak I think.”
Taker struck my back with the whip, stinging the flesh on my shoulder. I turned my head around.
Agent Morris was standing there, his hand on my shoulder. “Ryan, you should go.”
I nodded and said my goodbyes, leaving for the other NHN agents. Morris started to talk to the mayor as I left the stage and I could overhear the words ‘itchy subject’ and ‘best not mention it’ by the time I hit the last step.
I was irked as I began to walk back to the caravans and various other transports provided by the NHN, and if I said it wasn’t because of my coincidental inability to escape Trauma’s presence I’d be lying.
She seemed to be leaving a trail and for the strangest reason I keep following it, even if I wished to avoid her.
I shook my head and opened the door to my caravan, lifting the visor on my helmet. It’s been a while since I wore a costume. I lost the last one during the war, so they had to replace it. It still looks the same, but I no longer wield a large riot shield but a smaller, more compact retractable one that forms the shape of a large teardrop when extended. I no longer wield any batons, since I lost them early every time I fought.
Apart from that my costume is the same as before; a set of re-purposed swat gear provided by the NHN.
Annoyingly, instead of ‘riot’ or ‘police’ printed in bold letters printed on my body armour, I have ‘Blocker’ attached instead. I dislike the name, but it clearly stuck, and my absence hasn’t given my any chance to fight it.
I took a few steps, turned on the television hanging off the left wall and sat on the couch on the opposite side, my right arm rested on the table that served as a worktop for the small kitchen. Rivets held the iron shackle down as Fractal slowly took the pliers and a knocking on the door shook me out of my daze.
“Ryan? You in?”
The TV was showing only static. I quickly grabbed the remote off the couch and hit a button to turn it off, and opened the door to let Morris in.
“Hey,” I said, sighing. “What’s up?”
Morris took a few steps in the cramped stairs leading into the caravan with an apologetic face.
“I’m sorry about the may-”
“It’s fine,” I reassured him. “I’m not upset over this, it was just an unpleasant surprise.”
Morris gave me a worried glare. He didn’t believe me.
I gave a fake smile and shrugged, walking over to the kettle. “Tea? Coffee?”
“You know the crap we got is awful, there’s a coffee house in town we can go to,” he scoffed casually.
He was right. The tea was bland, the coffee was dull, and the sugar was practically metallic.
“Really? where is it?”
“A few streets away,” Morris said, slouching on the couch. “Wanna go?”
I wordlessly dumped the tea into the sink and opened the door, gesturing him to lead the way out.
“It’ll be my pleasure, I haven’t eaten good food in days,” I joked, checking to make sure I still had some money on me.
Agent Morris stepped out of the caravan and I locked it behind him.
“Don’t get your hopes up, Ry. I never said the food wasn’t shit, just the drinks.”