Previously on Blessed Inversion SWAT…
SWAT-Spider, still injured from his torture, is approached by Haze with a bargain. Intervene in Pheromasters upcoming plan and kill him. In exchange, Haze would erase the memory of his identity from the leader of the mafia Biohazard. With the aid of the Inhibitors, Doctor Khonshu, Black Ice, and his son Jetstream, Pheromaster is stopped without having to resort to murder. Now he returns home with a new family member in tow…
-RajTEK Head of Security. Recovering
-RajTEK CEO. No longer a prisoner
-Steven’s son. Self-sufficient rookie hero
Doctor Khonshu/Kreon Galanis
-RajTEK R&D. Smartest Man on the Plane
-Former Inhibitor. Depressed
Henry “Hal” Sharp/Black Ice
-Former Inhibitor. Taking it one day at a time
The flight back from the Pathogen, thankfully, didn’t end up with us getting attacked at some point. The Doctor sat on the right side of the VTOL with Raja and Black Ice. I gotta admit, the Doctor really came through this time. He knew it too from the smug look glued to his face. Raja looked deep in thought. Not surprising, it was the second time in a week people tried to kidnap and murder him. Black Ice was the new guy I just met, he wore an actual costume. Skintight like mine, black, blue on the snowflake emblem on his lower abdomen and lining his arms, neck, and the brim of his weird bandanna mask hybrid. He seems well meaning enough. He really saved us at the last minute stopping Mentalist. Gabe sat on my left asleep leaning against me with my arm around his shoulder. He probably did the most of us running across the ocean to help us out. Raina sat next to him and couldn’t seem to take her eyes off Black Ice. I know she was a humanitarian so seeing someone dedicating their life to selfless heroing for her was probably inspiring. Wendell was on my right. Poor kid went through a lot too…killing his grandfather and being Mentalists puppet for so long couldn’t be healthy. I close my eyes for a second and when I open them were landing at RajTEK.
“Thank you for flying Air Shephard. We hope to get your service again in the future. You know…when the world isn’t about to be conquered again.” Miles joked on the intercom.
“I make no promises.” Black Ice said as he stood and stretched.
“Thanks, Miles. Oh, and Stephanie would kill me if I didn’t say this. But you should call more often.” Doctor Khonshu called to the front. He’d occasionally reference a Stephanie but I never really questioned it. Apparently, he and Miles both knew her.
“Sure, pretty sure I won’t be doing much for a while anyway…” he responded. The fate of the Inhibitors still up in the air.
“I hope we can work together again in the future Miles.” Raina walks to the cockpit to hug her friend.
“Same to you Raina. I know it wasn’t your fault. Hopefully, everyone else sees it that way.” he let go of Raina so she could depart from the VTOL.
“Let’s go, Wendell.” I said picking up Gabe and putting him on my back. Figured I’d let him sleep. It still hurt to move but I’d bear it for the time being. Wendell was quick and opened the door for me. “Thanks.” I stepped out onto the rooftop. “Welcome to Silver Plains. It’s a pretty nice place. Hopefully, you like it.” Wendell looked out at the city below and was captivated. Director Boone told me he could fly but part of me doubted he ever went far with it. Sadly, the moment doesn’t last, Doc K clearly wanted to go home and used the Khonshu Drive to take us all down to the streets outside the front door. So much for using the elevator.
“Will you be fine on your own Raja?” Doc K asked Raja as he floated in the air clearly ready to abandon us any second.
“No, go on home. I’ll see you tomorrow.” Raja responds.
“Good, then see the rest of you…whenever the hell I see you. I think I’m going to sleep for a week.” he said before flying away.
“I’ll stay in touch…really hope Jey isn’t too mad at me…” Black Ice saluted before he skated off.
“Sure you’ll be okay?” I ask Raja knowing something was up.
“Yeah, just gonna get Raina to a hotel and do some thinking. See you…” he paused briefly. “How about I just call you next time I need you to come in?”
“Cool, take it easy man.” Raja waved as he walked off. He was parked in the back of RajTEK while my car was a block over.
“Goodbye Steven.” Raina gives me a half hug and a wave to Wendell before going to follow Raja.
I led my guest down the street to where I had parked. Thankfully, I wasn’t towed away…just ticketed… “Great…” I sighed opening the back right door. It took a moment to get Gabe in and buckled up. Wendell got in the front passenger seat right before I got in and took off. It’d take about 20 minutes for us to get home so I attempt small talk. “We have a bit of a drive till we get home. Nothing big or fancy but we’ll make it work.” I glanced over to see if his body language changed but he just looked at the window at his new home. “There should be a notepad in the glove compartment. I’m not the best at sign language but at least this way we can communicate.” It took a few minutes before he finally searched the glove compartment. I can see him fiddling for a while before glancing over. “No pen huh? I’ll make sure to get one in the morning.” A few more minutes pass before I say something again. “I’m giving Gabe a day off tomorrow so we’ll show you around. Try to help get you settled in and adjusted.”
My apartment was a part of a small complex, three buildings with about 20 apartments in each. Gabe, myself, and from now on Wendell lived on the third floor. The inside was still messy and Gabe’s school supplies were still out in the living room. Wendell didn’t seem too impressed, I couldn’t blame him. It was probably a downgrade from wherever he lived with his grandpa and definitely one from the Cell.
“Okay Gabe, no more free ride.” I said kneeling on the floor.
“Fiiiiine.” Gabe grumbled as he finally got off my back and began using his own two feet. I let him fake being asleep because of the work I put him through but all good things come to an end.
“God…that’s the last time I do that.” I groaned as I worked my way to my feet.
“Don’t you have super strength?” he asked snarkily.
“Enhanced strength smartass.” I respond. “Maybe you’re just packing on the pounds with all the eating.”
“Am not!” he defends insulted.
“Yeah yeah. Anyway, you’re staying home tomorrow but that doesn’t mean you get to stay up tonight.”
“Fiiiine.” he whined as he left to prepare for bed. Putting the Khonshu Band on the counter.
“Don’t mind the mess Wend. It’s not normally like this. Uh…” I rub my hand through my hair. “Back there’s the kitchen.” I point to the small kitchen on the left of the room. “Down this hall on the right is a closet and the bathroom, the left is Gabe’s room, and at the back where you’ll be staying.” I open the door to my bedroom so he can look around. “I never really used it much with my work schedule. Figured you’d want the privacy.” I grabbed my sweatpants from off the side of the bed and head for the door. Stopping to say one last thing. “It’s not your fault what happened Wendell. You weren’t in control of what she made you do. The only one guilty is Mentalist. I don’t expect to fill the void your grandfather left. I don’t even really know what we should call our relationship, I mean we just met. But as long as you live here you’re a Kessler which means Gabe and I will look out for you. I promise we won’t end up like your last families. So, let’s just take it one day at a time.” Wendell responded with teary-eyed sign language. I have no idea what it meant but as a parent, I had an idea. I walk back in and open my arms so he can let it out. He tried to muffle his cries on my shoulder but was too tall to properly do it half the time. I didn’t mind, he needed it. “It’s okay, I’m here for you.” It takes about an hour before Wendell finally calms down. “If you need me, I’ll be in the living room okay?” he nods before I head to the living room to change. There wasn’t a good spot to put my SWAT uniform in the living room so I just toss it under the foldout couch and lay down. The soreness from all the fighting, carrying Gabe, and comforting Wendell finally hit me like a truck.
“How sweet.” a familiar voice said from across the room. That bastard Haze really doesn’t know what invasion of privacy is. He just sat in my chair casually with his fingers in a pyramid like a cross between friendly and mob boss.
“What do you want Haze?” I asked summoning my costume and rolling back onto the wall.
“You broke our deal. Pheromaster is still alive.” Haze seemed surprisingly calm about it. But he was also a psychic who could make illusions. For all I knew, he was pissed wherever the real him was.
“He probably won’t walk right for the rest of his life and is at the bottom of the Pathogen. He’s not going to be bothering anyone ever again.” I say confidently.
“I know, but you put me in a good mood with that little interrogation move you pulled. Kinda surprised Director Boone was okay with that.” he puts his left hand to his chin in thought. “Or…did she know that was your plan at all?” I don’t respond to his question. “Whatever, I don’t care. I at the very least am a man of my word. Biohazard doesn’t know who you are anymore. Your family is safe…for now at least.”
“If you’re done, get the fuck out my house.” I summons Aranea’s Legs as a show of force.
“Talk to you again soon Kessler.” Haze smirked before fading away.
I banish my costume, get off the wall, and lay back down. I had a lot of things to figure out tomorrow and my brain was fried. But before passing out I use Guardian Aranea to bring the Khonshu Band to me and set a timer. I set it to wake me up around 6 am so I could give them a special breakfast surprise. When 6 comes around, I force myself to stand up and start cooking. I wanted to welcome Wendell and celebrate Gabe’s first day as Jetstream and helping save the world. Pancakes, bacon, and eggs are the name of the game. 45 minutes later, I hear a sudden impact from the hallway.
“Ow…” Gabe groaned from the hallway seconds before he’s sitting in one of the kitchen chairs. His eyes barely open while he rubbed his forehead.
“You okay?” I asked.
“Uh huh…” he puts his head down and begins falling asleep again. The allure of food was enough to wake him up but not keep him up.
I let him sleep another 15 minutes before I head to my former bedroom and knock on the door. “Hey Wend, mind if I come in?” I give it a minute before I peek my head in. He’s sleeping with his back to the door but glances at me to show he’s awake. “I made breakfast. If you want to get up and have some now you can. If not I’ll save some for you. Pretty sure if I don’t Gabe will inhale it all.” I try the open-ended approach. I don’t want to come on too strong when we just met or come off like yesterday was a one-time thing and I’m abandoning him either. When I get back to the kitchen, part of me was surprised Gabe woke up and finished eating in the time it took me to walk down the hallway and back. “Had enough?”
“I’ll try and make more.” I should’ve known with Gabe using his super speed more he’d be eating more too…This is going to be expensive…
“Wait, you don’t have to dad. You shouldn’t even have done this much.” Gabe insisted trying to make me sit down.
“Parent.” I say pointing to myself. “Going out of my way is in the job description.”
“Fiiiiine.” he whines. “Were we gonna do anything today?”
“Avoid your mother at all costs.”
“Besides that.” he responds.
“Come up with a cover story for why you aren’t at school.”
“Besides that.” he responds yet again.
“Give Wendell a tour of Silver Plains. Then we’ll swing by RajTEK and see about getting in touch with the Inhibitors so we can get his stuff. Some of it at least.”
“Are you gonna be staying in the living room?” Gabe asks concerned about my recovery. When I had my costume on moving was fine but it was a different story when I didn’t.
“For now, haven’t really thought about all the fine details. But we’ll figure it out.” I notice Wendell’s shoulder sticking out from the doorway. He must not have wanted to interrupt us. Or maybe he was just awkward. “Come on in Wend, we don’t bite.” I pause and look at Gabe. “You don’t bite do you?”
“I don’t think so. Wait, don’t you have a spider bite power?” Gabe turns the question back on me.
“Not how you’d think, but the bad guys don’t know that.” I stand and offer Wendell my seat. After a brief pause, he takes it and I serve him breakfast. He’s slow to eat but it’s better than nothing. “Whenever you’re ready we’re gonna give you the grand tour.”
It takes Wendell half an hour before we get ready. Gabe put on his usual white hoodie, cargo pants, sneakers, and googles. All but the goggles having a blue lining to them. The hoodie, in particular, had the cloud designs on them lined with the blue color. Wendell still had his simple orange polo shirt, jeans, and black sneakers. Loaners from the Pathogen so he had something actually decent to wear. I just throw on a pair of shoes and a sleeveless shirt. Not exactly the classiest outfit but convenient if I have to drop everything to fight. In three minutes we’re all in the car heading for the main section of Silver Plains. Gabe playing tour guide from the back seat, pointing out any landmark he sees for Wendell excitedly.
Elsewhere, Raja Eishner sits with Raina in yet another replacement office after his first was once more ruined…His heart heavy as he scans through various articles on his desktop. RajTEK dominated the headlines at every turn with only passing references to its competitors…or rather it’s only competitor Acel-Corp. With the rise of RajTEK, smaller tech companies consistently collapsed inward or were assimilated. Hearing and seeing the lengths Jason McKellen went for Acel-Corp, albeit extreme, made him think about the wider context of his actions. He had tunnel vision for his goal and unintentionally ignored the consequences of these actions.
“RajTEK conquers competition…Acel-Corp delays latest cellphone, RajTEK increases production…M&P Digital forced to shut down after record losses…Kazuo Industries expands development with RajTEK partnership.” Raja thought as he read the headlines. “Is it really bad that I’ve been using my powers to help RajTEK?” he asks Raina who sat with hands on her lap as if she was in a classroom.
“I don’t think so. You’ve always made stuff that helped the world.” she answers with her trademark smile.
“Yeah, you have a point.” he replies halfheartedly as he continues his research. Stopping only to pull out his cellphone and place a call. “Hey Kreon, mind if I ask you something?”
“Remember what I said about boundaries?” Doctor Khonshu asks with his usual snarky tone.
“It’s actually important so can we not do this for once?”
“Okay.” Doctor Khonshu responds after a moment of surprise. It was rare for Raja to be this serious and direct.
“Was it wrong that I started to use my powers for RajTEK?”
“Do you get mad at a chef for cooking a 5-star dish with his natural talent? No, so you shouldn’t have to be bothered by using your powers. I know I’m not…not that either of us can exactly stop if we wanted.”
“Does that mean Jason was right about us?”
“I’m assuming you mean the whole making competition thing you referenced yesterday? Yes, he was. How do you think we got so successful? Sure our products are fucking GLORIOUS! But, thanks to our combined Inversion genius and your technopathy we are literally leading the tech field. With us around why buy other products? And don’t you dare say customer loyalty.” Doctor Khonshu was blunt but he wasn’t wrong. This was just how business was. While RajTEK was doing good that meant it wasn’t for the rivals, and if they can’t keep up then shutting down is the only option.
“Thanks, you’re still a dick about it but thanks.”
“Anytime Raja.” Doctor Khonshu says hanging up the phone.
“Is everything okay?” Raina asks concerned.
“Not really, but I’m going to do my best to change what’s wrong.”