There’s a bar by the Shipyard (the soccer stadium turned grey market, not the actual shipyard) that serves the most disgusting alcohol I have ever encountered. I think I heard that it’s made out of fermented whale oil or blubber or something. It is absolutely wretched. The only way I can choke it down is by cutting it with a drink they have around here that’s something like soda but is more like Kool-Aid without enough sugar in it – it has the advantage of being dirt cheap. Possibly because there’s dirt in it.
The advantage of this whale-puke drink is that it’s so strong that after five or six belts even with my mega constitution, I can get a little bit of a buzz going. Not much, but these days I have to take what I can get. I don’t know the name of this place, but it’s an open-air joint with a single old man as the proprietor. I don’t know if he speaks French or English because I’ve never heard him say a word to anyone. He just pours disgusting booze in little clay cups and collects seemingly random amounts of money in return.
I was at this fine establishment when I felt a strange rush of air around me. I don’t know generally how super people fly, if it’s anti-gravity or what, but this one apparently did so by lifting and moving themselves along with a jet of air. It wasn’t as obnoxious as being near a helicopter, but it was significantly annoying. A nice person would land a few blocks away and walk the rest of the way so they don’t blow away everyone’s newspapers and muss up hair and scare dogs and the like, but she just landed a step away from the stool on my left. Her outfit looked like a black minidress but it was made out of that weird material that super people with costumes have their stuff made out of – I wonder where they get it from. She looked more like a runway model than super-whatever.
I choked down the dregs of my stomach-churning brew and belched quietly “Wearing a skirt while flying seems like you’re asking for trouble. Do you have some modesty shorts on under there or do you just let everyone see your business?”
She held out her hand “I’m Doctor Atlas.”
I held up my hand to refuse her handshake “Better not, I’m getting over a cold. So Doctor Atlas? Does that mean you’re strong enough to hold up the sky? Why Doctor? Why not Captain? Or Lady Atlas? I actually like the sound of Lady Atlas.”
“Atlas is my real last name. I have a doctorate in chemistry.”
“Nice. I assume you didn’t float over here in your skirt just to shoot the breeze, what can I do for you doc? Hey, do you have any money in that get up? Would you like to buy me some real booze? And some food?”
“No, I’d like to talk to you about the future.”
“I met a guy from the future once, he seemed pretty depressed. But he fixed all that, so I think we’re good futurewise. I guess I shouldn’t tell you that though because if you find out that the future is good maybe then you won’t do the thing that makes the future good because you think you don’t need to. Time travel is tricky I tell you what.”
“I want to talk to you because you’ve realized the same thing that I have, that people like us – non baselines as they call us – are becoming more common. What you haven’t realized is what that means. Right now the governments of the world are concentrating on creating and controlling us, but they’re starting to catch on that the proverbial cat is out of the bag. And once they fully understand that, they’re going to change their goals to destroying us.”
“Seems like a bit of a reach.”
“After I was given my powers they studied me for a year and a half. Why do you think they did that? So they could figure out how to do it again, but also so they could figure out how to kill me and people like me. When there was just Angel, god rest her soul, and a few others in the world, no one thought about what it really meant for people like just to exist. But as more people like Angel and myself and you come around, things are changing. And we need to do something about it before it’s too late.”
“Uh, they don’t need to do a lot of research do they? A bullet to the head will take care of me and pretty much all the super-people I’ve met. Angel, god rest her soul, was something altogether different.”
“And yet she still died, didn’t she? How do you think that happened?”
“The dirty commies came up with some new bio-weapon.”
“That’s what the government wants you to believe. How could a bunch of dirt poor revolutionaries develop and deploy such a weapon? Even the cover story that they were aided by foreign groups doesn’t hold water. Angel was assassinated by her own government as a test of a new weapon designed to neutralize the strongest of non-baselines.”
I snorted “Bullshit, the government would never destroy their own best asset.”
She grabbed my arm tightly “Of course they would! They don’t have any other choice. They lost control of the production of superbeings and they see what’s happening and where this is all heading. Every day there’s more of us and that scares the hell out of them. Before long, there’s going to be laws passed about what you and I can and cannot do and where we can and cannot live and that’s just the beginning! If we don’t take a stand now, we’re looking at slavery at best and more likely extinction.”
“And what do you plan to do about it? Build a giant laser and hold the world hostage?”
“The first step is organizing. The only way we have a chance to stand against them is if we stand together. I’d like for you to come to a meeting of myself and some like-minded people, and I want you to bring your friends. We need all the hands we can get working together.”
“Is it like a mixer? Will there be food?”