Liberty Rose

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Posted 6/30/2007 12:44 AM by Liberty Rose. 561 reads. Share:

It was the best of days; it was the worst of days.  Yes, I’m paraphrasing – but I’m not exaggerating.  I’d been in Paragon City for maybe two months – and for the last two weeks of that, I’d been an official member of the Champions.  I’d barely gotten names and costumes straight.  Lady Blur had given me cookies;  Malachai had ‘ported me to the top of Atlas’ globe; and Banshee had scared the bejeezus out of me just by entering the room when I didn’t know he’d be there.  That man _radiates_ danger… and it’s not just ‘cause he’s over seven feet tall and weighs heaven knows how much.  Um.  Radiated.  Weighed.  I keep forgetting. 
During those two months, I’d been training under and then side-kicked to Dr. Sable Davis, better known to the hero-ing world as Medika.  Long black hair, the face of a Madonna, and the sort of competent, musical voice that makes you want to listen forever.  She was co-leader of the Champions and medical physician to half a dozen super groups based in Paragon City.  She was _that_ good.  My mom knew her.  Or, rather, of her – and knew someone who knew her.  How someone who spends all her time putting together pieces of ancient American history and is more interested in Mayan mythology than in this morning’s newspaper would happen to have connections to a genuine, keys-to-the-city, super hero is beyond me.  But I’m grateful.  After all, that’s how I, Liberty Rose, late of Berkeley, California, came to be Medika’s side kick.  I have empathy powers too – albeit the scratches I can heal are almost nothing compared to what _she_ could do.  I’m told she was once last-healer-standing on the tank team in a successful Hamidon raid, and I know _just_ barely enough about that sorta thing to be impressed.
That day was the first time I was going to be allowed along on one of the Champions’ Portal Corp. missions.  One of 24 heroes making a jump into another dimension.  I was to be just an observer – and I’ve no idea how many strings got pulled just for _that_.  I am ‘way, ‘way, ‘WAY too inexperienced to normally be allowed through the doors of Portal Corp.  But there I was, racing from tram to tram in Paragon City to reach the ferry from which Mal would ‘port me straight to the portal.  And I was LATE!  I was so worried about getting there on time that it took a moment to register the fact that police were swarming the next block assisting an Army squad and some Longbow agents and heaven knows what other heroes. Sirens were wailing, the temporary war walls flickered into place, and some megaphone was bawling out instructions for residents to take cover: a Rikti portal had been spotted.  Hoo-boy!  But, I thought, I’m a card-carrying Champion and repelling invasions is one of the many things they’ve done on a variety of worlds, um, dimensions – um, whatever!  So I flew in to start a little blasting, Liberty Rose style.  Double hoo-boy!  There’s a reason the Champions have me on observer-only status in those zones.  I couldn’t hit the broad side of a police cruiser, much less one of those chitin-armored creeps!
The air sang with blasts.  So I started patching up police and civilians caught in the crossfire. The distinctive whine of engines caused me to look up.  A flight of Longbow Chasers, like red-streaked angels, were angling in towards the most central spot of the battle.  More flashes of blazing white.  Concussive sound screamed through the air as their weapons hit.  To my horror, though, one craft seemed engulfed in the greenish purple haze of a Rikti blast.  Part of the tail disappeared.  The rest nose-dived into the nearby SERAPH Laboratories building.  Its explosion almost tossed me to the ground… but I rode its energy in to see if I could help the pilot.  I’d seen that he or she’d been ‘way too low to bail. 
The smoke was horrid and filled with chemical fumes that were surely more than airplane fuel and burning plastics.  Odd pulses of energy seemed to emanate from the crash site.  I spammed my localized heals to make sure none of it got to me – and, hopefully, anyone still alive nearby.  The fuselage was, by some miracle, intact in the cockpit area.  Some other cape with muscles had shown up and was ripping the wreckage from the pilot, so I felt free to administer First Aid, Liberty Rose style.  The jet boy was still alive, though covered with goo from the laboratories he’d crashed through.  The stuff was glowing … or maybe it was a reflection of the odd energy that seemed to pulse through the room.  His eyes opened as I worked on him.  Green as new grass.  “Hi,” I tried to smile at him.  “I’m Libby and I’ll be your flight attendant for this rescue.”  He grinned crookedly, “Hi, hun.  I’m Victor Ruiz and I’m  -- not quite feeling -- myself. When did  -- the Air Force start issuing angels?” 
He was unconscious again and still glowing when they took him away.  I waved as the ambulance sped down the rubble-strew street, and made a mental note of the hospital it’d go to.  Victor had nice eyes.  I KNEW I’d see him again.  I WANTED to see him again.
And I was STILL late!  My Champions I.D. got me through the war wall and back on my way to Peregrine Island where I figured I’d at least be able to greet Medika’s team when they returned through the portal.  I was just standing around trying to stay out from underfoot, when alarms started clamouring more loudly than the constant, teeth-jarring, normal roar of the portal.  Technicians raced to maintenance stations.  The glowing plasma in its circular bond seem to hiccough for a moment, as several shadowy figures started to step through back onto the launch ramp.  Sparks started tesla-ing all over the equipment. A domino-effect of explosions raced around the portal frame, filling the room with smoke and shrapnal   The plasma swirled  in hideous desperation as though being pulled down an impossibly deep drain. I saw Mal’s face as he was sucked back with the others into infinity.  Then the roar was gone.  The plasma was gone.  Three twisted figures bled onto the ramp.
Again spamming my heals, I raced up the ramp.  I KNEW two of the uniforms.  Ningal no longer had her hood… or her head, for that matter… but that one body had to be hers.  The other I didn’t know:  black combat armor of some kind from which blackish purple smoke was swirling.  But the third – whose black, white, and red I knew like my own – was Medika.  She lay like a broken doll.  I was crying as I stooped down to try a healing touch.  Her eyes – blue as the deep ocean – flickered open and she gave me the ghost of a smile.  “Bye, kid.  Be great!”  I wanted to scream, but all that came out was a hoarse whisper, “No, Med!  You haven’t taught me near enough yet.”
“Then perhaps I can help?”  I glanced around.  Hovering just above my shoulder, a floating tentacular shape was coalescing out of the smoke from the dark armor.  I’d been in Paragon City long enough to recognize a Kheldian – but this was dark: a Nictus.  The evil Kheldians.  “Get away," I hissed at the thing.  It ignored me.  “I _can_ help you,” it said to Medika, “if you are willing.”  Med nodded.  “I – said – I’d find you – help,” she gasped.  “What – better – way….”  Her body went limp as her eyes closed.  The Kheldian moved swiftly, settling on her faster than I could move.  For a moment it seemed as though her form became smoky too.  Then it all solidified and her eyes opened again. Almost like nothing was wrong.  “Medika?” I said anxiously.  “Meh,” her voice growled in a reverberating bass register.  “Meh,” her voice squeeked in a frightened falsetto.  “Meh-dik-kaaa.  Mor-dik-kaiii,” her voice slid along the scales like a singer practicing mechanically.  Then her voice sounded just like mine, “Yes.  We could like that name.  You may call us Medikka.”
Of course the Kheldian liaison in Galaxy City was called in to help orient this new warshade who had once been my mentor.  After I’d talked to the police and the insurance agencies and the representatives of all the estates of those Champions now dead or presumed so in the portal collapse, I tried spending time with the new – Medikka.  But, every day, she seems to imitate me more and more.  Even her looks.  Her hair is now short.  And white.  It was unnerving each day watching it streak and grow whiter.  Her uniform, too, is less conservative and more and more like mine.  I don’t think I can stay much longer.  The liaison says that it’s one of those infrequent cases of imprinting.  The warshade imprinted on the first person it, um, she saw.  Me.  I don’t think I could stand a carbon copy of me around… particularly as she really doesn’t seem to remember that much about herself.  I mean the REAL Medika.  The one I knew.  But the willing merger of a human and a Nictus is always welcomed -- as though a new hero had been born.  Still... I miss my Medika.
So I’ve found another place to live… and I’ve been paying visits to the hospital.  Major Victor Ruiz is changing too.  The SERAPH Lab's  molecular bath he took in the crash seems to be turning him into something rather, um, super.  <smile>   And it seems to suit him.  I’m thankful.  So much COULD have gone so much worse for him.  Nevertheless, the Air Force and Longbow have given him medical discharges.  When the therapists let him go, I think I’ll show him the ropes of the hero-ing business.  Paragon City can always use a good man like my major.