Jade spent enough time around Superheroes to know there was nothing super or heroic about them. The Supers she knew were more like super-egotistical jerks. Sure a lot of what they did saved lives, and on occasion, one had been known to save the world, but they were all about the glory. There was no higher cause motivating them to great deeds, only an insatiable desire to feed their already inflated egos—one more notch on their utility belt or one more feather in their bullet-proof, metallurgic cap. She knew the truth; their noble deeds were more about self-promotion than self-sacrifice.
As she drove up the windy, mountain road to the designated meeting place, a refurbished castle, of course, she couldn’t help but dread the forthcoming weeks. When she agreed to take her position with the International Bureau of Remarkable Genetic Assets, or IBRAG as she preferred to call it (though her boss always chided her for using the unbecoming, unofficial, acronym around the office), she had expected to be working behind the scenes, not directly with the Assets.
Her fingers tightened on the wheel as the road narrowed. She rounded the final curve and let up off the gas until the car slowed to a near stop, which afforded her the opportunity to take a good look at the castle.
The main structure had a single, high tower on the west end, and spread out on the east side into a long rectangular row, three stories high. There were several outbuildings that had been converted into garages, and a high, modern wall encircled the entire property that sat amidst the rocky green landscape of Ireland. Though it was at least ten feet high, she knew it was merely cosmetic, since an invisible force field covered the property like a dome.
She pressed the gas again and pulled up in front of a wrought iron gate, the only opening in the field.
“Here we go,” she muttered to herself when a tall muscled man in black pants, high boots and a long overcoat stepped out from the guard house to greet her. She rolled down her window.
“Hey green eyes, are you lost?” The man leaned down to rest his elbows on the window.
You knew it would be like this. Keep your cool. Jade grabbed her badge and did her best not to look like she was shoving it in the man’s face.
“My name is Agent Jade Markston. I’m with
He raised his eyebrows in a look that plainly showed he wasn’t impressed. Then he focused his eyes on the I.D. card. She saw his pupils flicker as he scanned her credentials with his X-ray vision.
“You must be Rex,” she said when he finished.
He nodded. “It’s always nice to meet a fan.”
It took all of Jade’s self-control to suppress the sarcastic retort on her lips, but offending the first Super she’d met on her team was hardly the best way to start off a mission.
“A bit of overkill don’t you think,” she said, changing the subject and gesturing to him and the guard station. “Where’s the regular security?”
“I volunteered to use my skills to man the guard station. You can never be too careful at a gathering like this. But now that we’re all here, I’ll hand the job back over to security.” He stood up and squared his shoulders as he spoke. She saw his eyes flicker again as he gave her entire body a quick once over. This time she made no attempt to hide her scowl.
“Is that really necessary?” she snapped.
“Just doing my job. We can’t have anyone smuggling in weapons.” He smirked, and pushed the button to open the gate.
“Jerk,” she mumbled under her breath. Her foot hit the gas like a lead brick, and she heard Rex chuckle behind her.
Sports cars of every make and model covered the long drive and parking lot in front of the castle. Most of them were customized and painted to match the colors of their owner. There were emblems and logos on them, many which she easily recognized, and a few she didn’t. She should have felt right at home, after all, her father had been the president of the largest advertising firm in the world. She’d spent her life surrounded by Supers since every hot shot champion in tights had walked through his office doors at one time or another to sign a lucrative sponsorship contract. Jade had been up close and personal with the world’s “best,” and she was not impressed. Her prolonged exposure to the elite race had steadily eroded any respect she might have felt for their heroic feats.
She pulled her rental car alongside a black and gold Aston Martin with a lightning bolt pin stripe, and rolled her eyes as she stepped out of the car. Volt was among the guests. She had known he would be there for weeks, but that didn’t stop the unmistakable knot from forming in her gut. This was going to be interesting, she thought.
The crunching of gravel drew her attention away from the expensive car and toward a golf cart coming down the drive. Rex was behind the wheel. She hurried toward the entry at the front of the castle before he caught up to her.
A double wood door, large enough to drive a delivery truck through, stood before her. It looked too heavy to open. She reached for the antique iron knocker, but before she could grab it, the door swung open without a sound.
A short, thick man with black, curly hair and small brown eyes stood before her, grinning. From his physique, Jade surmised his powers were mental. The tight, silver unitard with a brain emblem across his chest reaffirmed her conclusion. There was no mask on his face. She wasn’t surprised, the trend of late seemed to be to dispense with secret identities. She supposed that some Supers still considered them a necessity—the smart ones, in her opinion—but an SI didn’t get you a lot of day to day attention, and so the majority of Supers had forgone their double life, even the ones that still wore masks. And she had a suspicion many of them only continued to wear them to cover the fact that their faces were the least of their sensational attributes. Perhaps the man standing in front of her had once worn a silver mask to match the rest of his shiny costume.
She stretched out her hand toward him. “I’m Agent-”
“Agent Jade Markston. I know. I’m Deja View,” he took the outstretched hand and pumped it up and down with his own small, sweaty one. “You can call me DJ or D-man if you’d like.”
She realized she was looking at the future-teller of the bunch and the owner of the castle. She supposed making a fortune wouldn’t be difficult if you always knew what was about to happen.
He smiled and tapped his head with his forefinger. “I saw you coming.”
“So I gathered,” she said dryly, taking back her hand and resisting the urge to wipe it on her suit.
“The meeting’s this way.” He gestured to their left. She stepped inside and followed him. His short, stout legs moved quickly, creating a swishing sound as the taut fabric of his suit rubbed between his thighs. He’s going to start a fire with that kind of friction, she thought as they passed through the opulent entry.
To her right, two large staircases descended from the upper levels. They joined together and formed one grand staircase at the bottom. Above the marble-covered steps an immense, crystal chandelier was suspended from the top of the third floor. It illuminated every niche and corner of the room, all which held replicas of Greek and Roman statues. Her eyes wandered to the area behind the staircase, near a row of French doors leading out to the back patio, she could see a fountain. In the center was a larger than life sculpture of Atlas, bent under the weight of the world he carried on his shoulders. The water emerged from a hole in the top of the globe and then cascaded down the chiseled shoulders and abs of the burdened Greek god. Jade groaned inwardly and continued toward the door that D-man now held open.
“You choose to sit in the red seat over there,” he said, obviously pleased that he could give her a preview of the future with his powers. Jade looked across the room, where a dozen of the world’s elite Supers had gathered and stood conversing, to the red velvet chair.
The future was about to change.