“Vola! What are you doing?”
Red Goddess stood in the doorway to the recreational area of the Biblovisy Super Group headquarters, a scowl on her face, arms crossed. At 5’10”, wearing a red spandex body suit, red leather boots, and silver power bracelets-along with her fiery red hair-Red Goddess presented an intimidating presence. The recreational area was a small, outdoor area, just behind the SG, designed as a place of relaxation and meditation for SG members. At 10 years of age, it was also the favorite spot for Voladura, the adopted child of Biblovisy.
In the center of the recreation area, in the small garden, Psychosis, a retired controller, sat napping, his arms crossed and head lowered. Near him cavorted a number of fire imps, generated subconsciously by the sleeping controller. It was a well known fact that the elder controller tended to spawn them in his sleep. It was an endearing idiosyncrasy.
Red Goddess walked to the bench, stopped, and crossed her arms again.
Voladura sat on the bench beside the elder controller. She looked tiny next to the large man, yet substantial, her brilliant white hair radiantly shining with the reflection of the sun. She had quickly tucked her hands demurely between her knees upon hearing her name being called. She turned to look at Red Goddess, her face a picture of innocence.
“Have you been healing Psychosis’ imps *again*?”
“No, I’m just sitting here.”
An imp jumped then onto the bench beside Voladura. It pointed at the young girl’s hands and began jumping up and down and waving its arms in the peculiar imp way that resembled a psychotic dance, flames rippling and dancing all along the contours of its body. Another jumped, landing in front of Voladura, at her feet. It did three rapid somersaults, then pointed repeatedly-rapid fire, one could say-at the young girl’s hands now tucked between her knees, cackling madly.
“Your imp friends are tattling on you, young lady.”
Voladura sighed and lowered her head.
“I’m sorry. They like it when I heal them. I *like* to heal them. It feels good.”
“Come here, Vola.”
Voladura stood and walked slowly around the bench to Red Goddess, her head hung low, her dazzling white hair hanging down, hiding her face. She stopped in front of Red Goddess, clasping her hands in front of her. Red reached down and tenderly held her chin, pulling her head up. Red brushed the young girl’s hair back, revealing her glowing green eyes. The Goddess smiled.
“Sweetie, you know you’re not supposed to use your powers outside of class. You’re too young yet to fully control them,” Red Goddess said, the sternness gone from her voice.
“I know,” she paused. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have lied, Red Goddess.”
“It’s alright, Vola. Yes, you shouldn’t lie. But, to be fair, your lie was not a malicious lie.”
Voladura looked puzzled. “What does ‘malicious’ mean?”
“It means it wasn’t…it wasn’t meant to be evil. You didn’t do it to cause pain or for bad purposes. But, even a lie that we think is okay, that we think is not causing harm to someone, can cause harm in ways we don’t realize or can’t foresee. Do you understand?”
“I think so. I don’t like to lie. You just sounded really mad.”
Despite herself, the Goddess smiled.
“I understand, Vola.” Red Goddess took the girl’s hand and began to escort her back into the SG. “Can I tell you a secret?”
“Sure!” Voladura said, excited. She loved secrets.
“When I was young, a little older than you are now, but still young, I liked to heal things too. I got in trouble for it all the time.”
‘You! Got in trouble?”
Red Goddess laughed.
“Yes Vola. But as I grew older I realized how important it was to be careful with my powers. Do you understand? I don’t want you to feel bad or guilty about your powers. It’s okay to *want* to use your powers. You’re a very special Empath and it should feel good when you heal things. But until you’re older-which is not so far away from now, I promise you-you must be careful and follow instructions.”
“I will Red Goddess. I promise.”
“No more healing imps, or anything else, without supervision? Agreed?”
Voladura paused for a second, a serious look on her face, then smiled again.
“No more healing imps.”
“Good. Now, it’s time for lunch. Let’s go wash up.”
They entered the SG continuing down the hall, towards the kitchen, hand in hand.
“Is Sylvius back yet?” Voladura said suddenly.
“No, Sylvius is on a mission with Biergood and Eviscerator. He should be back soon though.”
“Good. I drew a picture for him in art class. I want to show him.”
“You did. What is it a picture of?”
“Him and his sister. Voladura. The one that died. The one that gave me my name.”
“That’s wonderful, Vola! I’m sure he will love it.”
They stopped in front of Voladura’s room in the living quarter’s section of the SG. The young girl’s room was next to Red Goddess’ and across the hall from Sylvius’.
“Can I ask you something?”
“How did I get here? Did my real mommy die too, like Sylvius’ sister, in the Rikti invasion?”
Red Goddess was shocked, unable to respond at first. They had expected the question to arise eventually, of course. Red had discussed it at length with Sylvius. To date, they had been honest with her to a degree, giving her only enough detail to satisfy her first curiosity about her past. Voladura had been told that they didn’t know who her real mother was, which was true, and that everyone in Bibliovisy had decided to raise her as one of their very own, which was also true. The girl, happy and optimistic by her very nature, had been satisfied with this vague description. Until now.
“Why do you ask, Vola?” Red said, unable to think of a better response.
“I can’t remember anything except all this,” Voladura said, shrugging her shoulders, then looking around, indicating the SG and her surroundings. “I can’t remember my real mommy. I’ve tried, but I can’t.” She paused, fidgeting a bit, and then asked: “Do you remember how I got here?”
Red carefully considered her answer.
“Vola, this is a serious question and deserves a serious answer. But first, I want to talk to Sylvius about this, then he and I, and perhaps some of the others, we will sit down with you and talk about this. Okay?”
“Good. Now go in and wash up. Lunch is waiting for us, I’m sure.”
Voladura turned and ran into her room. Red watched her go, a look of concern on her face. Of course she remembered. That night, that first night, when Sylvius had entered the Briefing Room holding that small bundle…she would never forget that night.
The membership was still standing around the small table in the corner of the Briefing Room, milling, drinking coffee from the large dispenser set up there, talking, waiting for Sylvius to arrive to begin the meeting, when Sylvius entered the room.
“There he is,” said Biergood, a young, impulsive Fiery Aura/Fiery Melee tanker. “Heh! And only 45 minutes late!” Biergood, standing a little over 7′ tall and as wide as a barn door, all of it pure muscle, looked almost comical holding a small white Styrofoam cup of coffee in his large hand. He slapped the back of Eviscerater, a Claws/Super Reflexes scrapper, standing beside him. Eviscerater, dark and brooding, did not respond.
“I apologize. I was detained by some Skulls in The Gish,”
“Are you alright, Sylvius?” said Red Goddess, an Empathy/Energy Blast defender.
“I’m fine,” Sylvius said as he walked to the large conference table in the center of the room, placing the small bundle in his hands on the table. “However, I found this.”
They walked as a group to the large conference table, curious.
“My God, Sylvius! It’s a child!” Red Goddess said, reaching for the infant and picking it up, holding it protectively. The baby giggled, reaching for a strand of the Goddess’ fiery red hair, holding it in its tiny, chubby fist.
“It was in a dumpster, wrapped in that blanket. I found this in the folds of the blanket.” He pulled a small piece of notebook paper, folded once, from his belt, dropping it lightly onto the table.
Biergood grabbed the note and opened it, reading it silently, a scowl developing on his face:
“The baby is evil from the saten. I didnt have the hart to kill it.”
He looked first at Sylvius, then at each of the gathered group. “This sucks. Big time.”
“Read it aloud, Biergood,” Red Goddess said.
The big man did, the small, crumpled note dwarfed by his monstrously huge hands. Stunned silence. Each of them, in turn, looked again at the baby held in Red Goddess’ arms. “‘Satan’ and ‘Heart’ are misspelled,” Biergood finally said, more to break the silence than anything else.
“Evil?” Red Goddess said, stunned. “What kind of…person…would leave an infant in a trash dumpster?”
“Obviously one that is disturbed, at best. However, there is one detail I haven’t shared with you yet, a detail that perhaps explains at least in part this misguided soul’s delusions,” Sylvius said. They each turned to look at him, waiting.
“The baby healed me.”
Biergood laughed, the booming sound of it echoing off the walls and vibrating loose objects on the table. “That’s a good one!” His laugh continued only until he saw the serious expression on the older defender’s face, unchanging, and he stopped.
“You’re serious, Sylvius?” Red Goddess said, incredulously.
“The baby healed me, Goddess.”
“That is not possible,” Eviscerator said, speaking for the first time.
“And yet, it happened.”
The baby began to cry.
“You’re sure, Sylvius? Is it possible you did it yourself, thinking it was the child?” Red Goddess said, rocking the child, shushing it.
“The child healed me, Goddess. I have gray hair now, but I’m not senile. The child is a natural Empath. A powerful one. There is no mistaking it.”
“Enough,” Red Goddess said, shaking her head. “I’ll believe you, for now. But for now, this child must be hungry. It needs to be fed.”
Biergood sniffed the air loudly. “I think it needs to be changed too.”
“Yes, that too,” Red Goddess snapped angrily. “I’m sorry, ” she said, seeing the look of hurt appear on the young tanker’s face. “I’m upset, Biergood. I didn’t mean to snap at you.” She paused, taking a deep breath. “Now, this baby needs to be cleaned and fed. Biergood, go now to the store and buy some things. Some baby formula. Some diapers. Some blankets. I’ll make a list for you.”
“Diapers! I’m not buying diapers!” Biergood said, horrified, looking around the room. “What if someone sees me? It’ll ruin my reputation!”
The large man, his teeth clenched, his jaw muscles dancing, his face turning as red as the Goddess’ hair, finally sighed. “Okay Goddess. I’m sorry. Of course I’ll go.”
“Good. Thank you, Biergood. Eviscerater, go to the SG vault with him and get him some Influence. There’s plenty in there. I’m going to my room to bathe-” Red Goddess paused, opening the blanket and pulling the front of the dirty diaper back “-her. Come to me when you’re ready, I’ll have the list ready. And hurry. I’m sure this child must be famished.”
“Goddess, when you’re ready, when she’s tucked away, clean, fed, and asleep, we need to meet. We need to discuss this.”
“Of course, Sylvius.” Red Goddess turned then and walked quickly from the room. Biergood and Eviscerater also exited, quickly moving towards the vault, located in the center of the SG.
Sylvius walked over to the large, comfortable chair at the head of the conference table and sat, sinking into the cushions. The rest of the SG still stood, talking excitedly now about this unexpected turn of events. The old defender turned to look out the large window, tuning them out, looking at the night sky, illuminated by the full moon. He had decided, but doubt still lingered.
There was no other course but for the SG to raise the child.
The child was too special to be turned over to civilians. It would, he thought, be a travesty. At best, she would be misunderstood and ostracized. At worst…he didn’t really want to think of the worst that could come of it. He shuddered to think of her in an orphanage, surrounded by other children, cruelly shunned, lost in the system.
And yet, there were laws. Government agencies. Bureaucracies. Miles and miles of red tape. All of it would have to be dealt with and, he supposed, it was entirely possible his idea was folly. In the end, City Hall would most likely win out.
But if it came to it, if it became a hopeless cause, if it came to that, there was one person Sylvious could think of who might be able to help. A person he’d never personally met. One person who supposedly had clout-quite a bit of it, in fact-with City Hall. With the mayor. One person who may or may not have an interest in helping since, to be fair, the idea was, if one were being honest, insane. One person.