In Westchester, New York sat the city of Silver Plains. It stood out as the pinnacle of modernization even surpassing Manhattan due to the presence of companies like RajTEK and Kazuo Industries. It was a city divided into three sections, the north and west covered Gold Plains. The high-end portion of the city for all the richest and most expensive of tastes. To the south, Bronze Plains, where the less financially stable dwelled. Whether by misfortune or Kazuo Industries rapid expansion simply leaving them forgotten was a constant debate. Finally, covering the central and eastern portions was Silver Plains proper. On the edge of Silver Plains was a quiet suburb that was home to Jey Connors and his college friend turned roommate turned boyfriend turned superhero Hal Sharp, better known as the hero Black Ice. It was a small house with two floors with a living room and kitchen on the bottom floor. The bathroom and two bedrooms on the top floor. The cost of living was fairly high with the combined money from Hal’s deal with Rowena Gunma* and Jeys own career as a pro-gamer they were able to afford it.
Jey lay half-awake in their bed with Hal’s arms around him. His head rested against his chest. After being awoken by a particularly painful nightmare the night before, Jey wanted to remain in his arms for a while longer.* The anxiety that ate away at him slowly starting to act up once more while he waited. Only the sounds of their breathing and the cars passing by outside filling the room.
< Stop being lazy, you should get up. He probably needs to get up. Heroes shouldn’t be wasting their time cuddling in bed. He can do better. Stop wasting his time. >*
*Note, any dialogue within brackets are Jeys thought controlled by his anxiety
“Maybe I should get up…” Jey thought to himself.
< Why get up? Your team doesn’t need you. They can replace you if they wanted. It’s just Support. Just stay in bed and not get in their way. >
“Maybe they could last one day without me…” Jey inches closer to Hal, unintentionally causing him to stir.
“Hey, sleep okay?” Hal smiles with one eye half opened.
“Yeah, thanks to you.” Jey tilts his head upward to kiss Hal. “Did you sleep well?”
“Mostly.” Hal stretches.
“Sorry…” Jey apologizes.
< You’re in the way. Shouldn’t have bothered him. >
“No, it wasn’t you. Just thinking about the whole…Pheromaster thing.”* he finishes stretching and puts his right arm back around Jey.
“Do you want to talk about it?” Jey asks Hal as he finally gets up and sits properly at the head of their bed.
“Jeez, where do I begin.” Hal sits up so he’s next to Jey and turns slightly to face him. “Well after I left yesterday I ran into Cinder again. Well, more like he flew into me.”
“He can fly?”
“Kinda? He turned into ash and then he flew. Because apparently, he can do a lot of things I didn’t know about. Anyway, I beat him and he blurted out he was heading to RajTEK.”
“Again, so I go there and find a guy in a spider costume fighting a really big humanoid chameleon. So I freeze the chameleon and find out the spider dude is named SWAT-Spider. This is right before we meet some of the Inhibitors. Some of their people went supervillain so we had to stop them and rescue Mr. Eishner. But we didn’t know where they were so SWAT-Spider called his super speed son to help. He’s Jetstream by the way.”
“Wait, if his powers are spider based then how is his son getting super speed?” Jey struggles to try and absorb all the information being launched at him like a hailstorm.
“You know I didn’t think to ask about it. I was just enjoying my first superhero team up.” Hal shrugs. “Okay so, while Jetstream ran to Sweden we kinda just sat and waited. That scientist guy with the super cool gloves, Doctor Khonshu, figured out how to track a floating Inversion Prison pretty quickly. But we waited so the Inhibitors and SWAT could rest before deciding to head out.”
“Okay, I mostly follow you.”
“Cool, cause it gets worse. The prison? It’s run by literally one of the strongest Inversions on the planet so SWAT decides to let himself and the Inhibitors get captured so they can find out the bad guys plans while Doc K and I go to pick up Jetstream. We do that, fly back, punch a lot of bad guys, and I save the day by taking out Pheromaster. Get this, he’s the CEO for Acel-Corp.”
“Seriously, I spin kicked him in the gut. It was kinda awesome. Man, you should’ve heard him. He was full-blown psycho. Like I knew he was a dick but holy shit did that guy dive head first off into the deep end of crazy.” Hal shudders.
“Did he have an evil goatee?”
“If he did he probably would’ve been stroking it every time he spoke.” he jokingly motions to grope an invisible goatee of villainy.
“So what are you gonna do now?” Jey asks turning to sit so he’s facing Hal.
“Today I’m making it up to you.” he replies with a thumbs up.
“Really? What about heroing?”
“Way I see it, there are at least three other heroes in Silver Plains so I can take at least one day off. Did you have stuff to do today?”
“Yeah, I had a scrim with one of the other Moon Fox Teams later.” Jey sighs.
“Cool, when do we go?” Hal asks directly.
“I don’t think that’s such a good idea. It’s not you, it’s us.”
“Wait, are you breaking up with me or not letting me visit you at work?” Hal raises his eyebrow somewhat confused.
“The second one…but I guess it couldn’t hurt…”
Jey was hesitant to let Hal join him, it’d be a nice comfort having him there with him. But it was nerve-racking wondering how his team would respond at the same time. He’d need to think of some excuses just to be safe. As always, Jey wore his Team Moon Fox uniform. A white short sleeved shirt that had their logo, a fox appropriately in the shape of a crescent moon, in the center of the chest. Black pants with matching sneakers that had white highlights on the side accompanied by another team logo on the outside of them completed the look. Jey finishes moments before Hal does. His outfit consisting of a simple sleeveless blue shirt, jean shorts, and black sneakers.
“Are you driving or should I?” Jey asked grabbing both the house and car keys as the pair exit. They shared a simple red van passed down from Jey’s parents to him upon moving out.
“Pfft, driving? Where we’re going we won’t need to drive!” Hal scoffs before forming his Ice Grieves. “We’re skating to work.”
“Why can’t we just drive? Wouldn’t it be faster anyway?” Jey questions Hal’s idea.
“Because I’m doing something spontaneous and romantic. Besides, I have an IRC. I can use my powers publically now. Well publically without a costume on.”
“I’m not sure about this…”
“Do I have to beg?”
“Fine, but just this once.” Jey says before climbing onto Hal’s back.
“And awaaaaay we go!”
With Jey holding firmly to his shoulders, Hal skates out their driveway and towards Gold Plains. The cold created from his feet being enough to create a small patch of ice inches from them while moving. Allowing him to move while also melting when he got far enough away to not obstruct normal traffic. Hal wasn’t a particularly strong person, but skating with Jey felt natural to him. A sentiment shared by Jey who enjoyed the experience. He was glad Hal convinced him to do this and he didn’t want it to end. But all good things come to an end when the pair arrive at the Team Moon Fox house. A number of Team Moon Foxes members lived on the premises but others, like Jey, lived elsewhere. Either by their own choice or because there just wasn’t enough space for them. The building itself was one of the smallest buildings in Gold Plains, being a standard house in a sea of mansions. It aimed for inconspicuousness and being primarily for a comfortable living environment and place for the Moon Fox teams to practice without distraction. Although having an Inversion skate up to the front door was far from inconspicuous…
< They’re going to hate him. Then they’ll dislike you for bringing him. Shouldn’t have done this. Maybe they’ll kick you off the team. Just walk away before it’s too late. >
“How do I look?” Jey nervously looks himself over.
“Like you’re about to shit yourself.” Hal says flatly to Jey’s annoyance. “Don’t worry Jey, it’s just work. It’s not like you’re bringing me to meet your parents for the first time. Just treat it like we normally would.”
“You’re right, I’m just worrying about nothing. Just another day at work.” Jey tries to hype himself up but just stares at the door. “You know maybe we-” before he can finish Hal knocks on the door for him. “Dude! Why did you-” Jey stops his sentence short when the door is opened. A woman with curly light brown hair tied back in a ponytail stands before them. Her eyes were a dark brown and she wore the same uniform Jey did. She was on the heavier side and was slightly taller than Jey was. She stood with arms crossed and a scowl on her face once she notices Hal standing with Jey. “Hi, Julie.”
“Jey, who’s that? This is a Closed Training remember?” she reminds Jey while leering constantly at Hal.
“First, this my…cousin Hal.” Jey says regretting his excuse immediately. “He just wanted to see how stuff went here for us. Be supportive.”
“Cousin?” she asks in utter disbelief.
“Adopted cousin. It gets kinda awkward at family get-togethers.” Hal exhales awkwardly to try and sell the lie.
“Uh huh…Well, you’re still not coming in.”
“But-” Jey tries to defend himself but is interrupted.
“You know the rules, Jey. If he isn’t on the team he can’t be here while we practice.” she remained determined to stand her ground.
“Don’t you guys play in front of crowds? How would one be a problem?” Hal inquires to deflect the conversation from Jey.
“Yes, during public tournaments where they can’t steal our strategies.” she turns her attention to Hal with a look of suspicion.
“Does this look like a face that’d steal?” Hal points to himself. “Don’t answer that.” he notices how he just said what he said. “I guess I’ll see you later Jey. Good luck playing your kids game.”
“What?” Julie says insulted.
“What? You’re playing a game with a colorful bunch of attractive young adults. How is that not for kids?”
“You’re just trying to get me mad.”
“Not my fault you can’t handle the truth.” Hal tilts his head up smugly.
“You know what. You can stay and you’re gonna see how wrong you are about this kids game.” Julie fumes before storming off.
Hal leans towards Jey and whispers. “Cousins?”
“I’m sorry it just came out.”
“Couldn’t have picked an easier lie to remember?”
“I know I know…” Jey tries to shoo off Hal.
“Come on cousin, don’t want to keep them waiting.”
“Oh my god…”
“Do you hear that sound…” a female voice whispers to Jey.
“Huh?” he looks around for the source of the voice.
“You okay Jey? You don’t look so good.” Hal’s face was full of concern and worry. “Maybe we really should just go home.”
Jey’s sentence is cut short when he finds himself sinking into a sea of darkness like in his nightmares. His body unable to move no matter how much he struggles. But this time things went differently, he could see a dim light gradually glowing brighter as he approached until it was blinding. When he can see once more he’s floating gently in a small cove. The sky filled with a strange energy that shifted between blue, cyan, yellow, red, brown, green, and purple colors that reflected on the water. It hummed a calming tune constantly. All the fear and worry Jey felt was gone from his body. His mind felt at ease despite the suddenness of his seeming abduction.
“Where am I?” he thought to himself as he stood up in the lake. His body now made of the same energy in the sky, yet his body didn’t seem to shimmer or shift like the sky did.
“Do you hear that sound…” a female voice echoes across the breeze.
“What sound?” Jey asks before a woman manifests on the beach before him. She appeared to have long hair that reached down the floor and like him, her body was made of energy. Although hers shimmered vibrantly like the sky.
“The Aether.” she says sweetly. “Hello Jey, my name is Sylvanus. And together we’re going to save the World.”
“Wait, what? From who?”
“From Henry Sharp.”