Neutrino strode down a line of people seated on the bank floor with their backs to the wall, faces lowered, and hands on their heads. The armed supervillain’s footsteps were the only sound in the largest financial establishment in the city.
Police had surrounded the building and cut power nearly an hour ago however, due to the caliber of the hostage-taking villains, extreme caution was warranted. Per procedure, police did not intervene and instead waited for the arrival of a hero.
Inside the bank, Neutrino’s associate Dr Volkow leaned an elbow on a counter beneath a massive abstract painting created with smears of blues, whites and golds. He hadn’t spoken or moved since their crime commenced, leaving the command of the hostages and interaction with law enforcement solely to his efficient partner.
Volkow fiddled absently with writing implements in an ebony pencil cup on the counter as his intense iced-green eyes wandered past the fearful civilians to numerous nefarious devices attached to all built and potential entryways. His disguise, involving a black parka with blue fleece lining, served a sharp contrast to the bank’s elegant high-ceiling, gleaming pillars, and live potted palms.
Neutrino, whose black-and-yellow disguise didn’t blend any better, stopped at a window, careful to not stand directly in front of it as he discreetly peered outside. “Looks like they’re gonna try to get someone inside. The tactical unit is escorting them to the front door.”
Volkow broke his silence. “Which superhero?”
“No one I recognize. It doesn’t appear to be a law enforcement officer either…” A scowl gathered Neutrino’s brows. “Are they sending teenagers now?”
Straightening, Volkow replaced the pen in his hand into the pencil cup and joined his associate at the window.
Outside, an armored team with bullet-resistant shields formed a cohesive mobile unit around a visibly spooked young man in a plain dark uniform.
“Let him in,” said Volkow. “Let’s see what’s they’re up to.”
Neutrino moved quickly to unbolt the heavy door and stepped back, weapon at the ready, as the door was pulled open from the outside. Watchful, Volkow shifted to stand beside a sign that read ‘the line starts here’ and waited.
A young man entered alone. It wasn’t the grand or assertive entrance one might expect from the gaudy, overpaid heroes of the day. Worse, he committed the grave error of failing to assess the entire room upon entry the way a trained law enforcement officer might which resulted in him remaining unaware of Neutrino who stood less than three meters away with a weapon pointed at his back.
Neutrino, baffled and appalled, glanced to Volkow who cleared his throat loudly to gain the young man’s attention.
The hero appeared to be barely out of high school. Big green eyes. Not a drop of arrogance in them. An oval badge adorned the left arm of his plain midnight blue uniform-like costume, signifying he was a registered superhero. Not a hero’s assistant—a legitimate superhero. Even more bizarrely, he didn’t react upon making eye contact with the villain in the parka.
“Excuse me, young man…” Volkow had been under the impression that he knew all of the heroes. “Who are you?”
“Waveform, sir,” said the hero. “A-Are you alright?”
Volkow held up a hand and the young hero fell silent. Clasping gloved hands behind his back, the villain lifted his chin. “I am Dr Volkow.” Seeing the expected change in Waveform’s face, he nodded toward Neutrino. “And my associate, Neutrino.”
Noticing Neutrino for the first time, Waveform turned gray.
“Uh.” Neutrino’s gaze flicked from his associate to the kid. “Hey.”
The villains’ reason for intruding on everyone’s day was to confront one or more of the city’s nauseatingly corrupt elite heroes on a public stage. Sadly, squaring off with anyone less than disgustingly corrupt would be pointless. Punishing this young person, whose inexperience glared like neon and who had probably truthfully written ‘to make a difference’ on his superhero application, would be pointless.
Villain sighed at the prospect of a wasted day. “May I ask you a question, Waveform?”
“Sure, I guess.”
“Is this your first field assignment?”
Waveform’s forehead shimmered with sweat. He nodded.
“Good for you,” said Volkow after a pause. “Congratulations. However before we get down to business, I encourage you to take a deep breath to steady yourself—it’s completely normal to be nervous—and meanwhile we can chat for a minute or two. I’m interested…”
The hero inhaled deeply, held his breath for a few seconds, and let it out slowly.
Volkow stared. “…um, interested… in how a fledgling hero earned this assignment?”
“Well, I wasn’t really ‘assigned’. It was more like I volunteered.”
Something beeped quietly. Neutrino withdrew a device from his pocket and moved away.
“Volunteered,” repeated Volkow. “Why would you do that?”
“There was no one else.” Waveform shrugged. “I couldn’t do nothing.”
“You had to try.”
“I see…. In the meeting when you volunteered for today’s assignment, which of the city’s elite professional heroes were present?” Volkow held up a finger. “Think, but don’t tell me.”
Curiosity gradually replaced Waveform’s anxiety. “Okay…”
“Now, which one objected?”
The curiosity became a frown.
Volkow tilted his head. “Are you aware of the On-Call Policy? It’s alright if you don’t, there are hundreds of policies and it’s difficult to remember all of them. The On-Call Policy states that no less than three elite heroes must be on-call at all times within city limits and, if not engaged, at least one of them is required to respond to scenes with Hazard Levels of Green or higher to prevent fatal outcomes of heroes with fewer than five years of emergency response experience.”
Scowling, Waveform looked away as if into a memory, seeking to verify what he was hearing with something he might’ve read in a book somewhere.
“This went into effect three years ago,” Volkow continued. “And I’ve been monitoring the emergencies today. Aside from Neutrino and me, it’s been quiet. Did they… did none of them protest you taking their place?”
The hero’s green eyes widened and his focused expression waned painfully with realization.
Volkow’s mouth twitched. He cleared his throat. “You know, you don’t look old enough to be a Registered Hero’s Assistant. In fact, you hardly look old enough to open a bank account without a guardian.” He nodded. “Are you?”
“Whu–sorry, am I what?”
“Old enough to open a bank account without a guardian?”
“I–.” Waveform’s perplexity would’ve been comical under other circumstances. “I have no idea what the rules are for banks. My grandma made us use her credit union, and that’s all my mom and I have ever used.”
Volkow’s face became a mask for a long moment. “Get out.”
“But I can’t just—.”
“You AND the hostages! EVERYONE! STAND UP AND GET OUT OF MY SIGHT! ALL OF YOU!”
**For more stories involving these characters, click here.
4 thoughts on “Evil’s First Hello”
Welp, I totally get why the doc feels protective of this kid! Great origin for their funny history together 😀
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Thanks for reading, Jen!
You’re welcome! I wouldn’t mind if you continued this current vignette – I would LOVE to see Volkow’s actual coming to terms with this fresh faced kid and his newfound protective feelings XD
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You know, I wanna see that scene, too. It’s gotta be just right, though. Definitely can’t rush or force it.