I’m trying something a bit different with my new novel, and that something is giving it away for free – one chapter at a time.
Since DarkLight: Redemption is a superhero story, and most superhero stories are told one monthly issue at a time, I’m releasing this in a similarly serialized manner.
Fret not, though, because I won’t just release one chapter a month. I’ll be rolling it out twice a week to completion. I’ll try to keep them regularly rolling out every Monday and Friday.
And so, without further adieu, here is the first chapter in the first book of what I’m calling the Post-Human Universe.
What is the difference between a hero and a villain?
Sometimes it’s easier to tell than others. For example, saving a person from plummeting to their death off the top of a skyscraper is pretty damn heroic. While running through the streets at night killing people with a katana blade is among the more villainous things you can do.
But what if the person saved from falling to his death — or the people chopped apart on the street, for that matter — are serial murderers or terrorists? Who, then, is the hero, and who is the villain?
My own situation is decidedly less intense from a philosophical standpoint. I’m not like Katana Klown or The Archangel, who go around slicing up civilians and bad guys (respectively). My name is Tom Reynolds, and I’m a thief.
Although I’m more widely known as DarkLight — and technically, I’m a supervillain. But only because I have super powers and have engaged in some admittedly villainous activities.
I don’t have any plans for world domination, and I’m not seeking revenge on a society that fears and rejects me. I just do the jobs that I’m assigned to do because I made a deal a few years ago, and I have a contract to fulfill.
There’s actually quite a lot more to my story, but I don’t really have time to get into it right now. Currently, I’m flying above the clouds to avoid being spotted by the military convoy below. Flanking me on either side are my partners for this particular job.
To my right is Magnus Svetssen, AKA Mimic, named so because of his ability to replicate any other Post-Human’s powers in his immediate vicinity. He’s all decked out in white, symbolizing his blank slate/ever-changing type of powers. At least I think that’s what he’s going for.
No mask, but most guys who’ve got a rap sheet don’t bother with the masks, except in the rare case when they’re trying to change up their shtick. No point in hiding your face if everyone already knows who you are.
Me and the girl on my left are both fliers, so I can’t say for sure which one of us Mimic’s aping, which is a little disconcerting. I don’t know her real name — fact is, I’ve never met her before — but she calls herself The Dominatrix.
Can’t say what came first, the name or the black leather get-up she’s been sewn into. She wears it well, though, that’s for sure. Nice cape, too. It’s hard to pull off a cape most of the time, but she’s acquitting herself quite well. Long, straight black hair and an oversized domino mask make up the rest of her attire.
The mask appears to be made of microfiber that’s been molded to fit her face. It reaches halfway up her forehead and curves down her cheekbones. She’s new, and it looks like she’s trying to maintain a secret identity. Smart.
Below us, Lance Cassidy, AKA Blynk, is waiting for the signal to make his approach. Blynk is the fastest person on the planet, faster than any of the several alien races that I’ve encountered, too. So he may well be the fastest being in the galaxy or universe, for all I know.
Mimic is leading the mission, as he’s one of Drake Weston’s most trusted allies. Weston is the guy that I made my deal with, and we’ll discuss that in further detail later on. At any rate, Mimic looks our way, and we know that it’s time to go to work.
My powers are energy-based; I emit a deep blue light when they’re activated. Mimic now begins emitting the same light, so I know he’s replicating my powers instead of Dominatrix’s, which never ceases to be creepy. As far as I’m aware, she’s got the classic package of super strength, super speed and flight.
Mimic begins to dive, and Dominatrix and I both follow suit. The convoy consists of four trucks sandwiched in between two Humvees. The item we’re looking to procure is in one of the trucks. Our intel suggests that the other three are simply diversionary.
Mimic swoops down to take out the Humvee in front while I go after the one in back. He fires a powerful energy blast directly under his Humvee, causing it to flip over in the desert.
My instincts tell me to make sure everyone is still alive in that Humvee, but I need to stay on target. I open my hands and fire off four narrow beams of energy, which blow out the tires of the rear Humvee.
Sparks flash out from the undercarriage, and it only takes a few seconds for the vehicle to skid to a stop on the street. I look behind me and see Dominatrix crash in through the roof of the first truck.
I look to my side and see a straight line of sand shoot up from the ground. The line originates several miles back in the desert, but that’s nothing to Blynk. He’s in and out of the other three trucks before Dominatrix even finishes searching her first.
I see Blynk stop running. He appears like a mirage and shrugs at me before blurring his way into the truck that Dominatrix hit. As soon as he enters through the rear, Dominatrix flies out through the top with a large metal cylinder. I’m guessing she’s found what we’re here for.
Blynk flashes back into the desert, and Mimic follows him just as speedily. Seems he traded my juice for something more appropriate for a quick getaway. Not that I’m slow when I fly — I’m just not on Blynk’s level.
I know we’re done here, but I spot a flame growing from the Humvee that Mimic flipped. Looks like three soldiers are trying to crawl out, and they’re having a hell of a time of it. With the mission accomplished, I’m free to follow my own inclination, and I fly over to the burning vehicle.
I extend my energy shields out like a pair of long arms and hoist the Humvee off the ground. I’m about to extend a few more strands to move the soldiers away from the wreckage, but they manage to get to their feet themselves.
Two of them are carrying the third toward the street when the Humvee goes critical. I concentrate more energy outward, and form a full force field around the vehicle.
The fireball is contained inside the force field, so I contract the field and seal off any gaps. When there’s no oxygen left within, the flame swiftly suffocate. I drop what’s left of the Humvee to the ground, just in time to see an energy blast coming my way. I shift the force field toward the blast and deflect it like a shield.
That doesn’t mean I’m immune to the impact, though. The force of the blast knocks me to the ground, and I see the source of the problem. Sgt. Walter Cavanaugh, AKA BioBorg, has stepped out from the Humvee that I de-wheeled.
BioBorg is one of the government issued Post-Humans. More specifically, the Post-Human Affairs & Technology Engagement (P.H.A.T.E., for short) Bureau. They used the highest tech available from their own research, combined with some alien stuff left behind, to put these guys together.
Cavanaugh was one of the first, as he was badly wounded in the line of duty. His injuries would have killed him, so the military had free reign to do with him as they pleased.
Half his face looks human; the other half is full machine. Most of his body is metal now. His left arm is an ion cannon, and his right arm and his legs are super strong. He’s an intimidating sight, no doubt, and he’s got me dead bang. All I can do is toss an energy ball his way, which hits him just enough to throw off his aim.
There is now a five-foot-deep crater directly below me, which means it’s time to leave. So I put up the default force field around my body and take to the sky.
BioBorg doesn’t have flight capabilities, which makes me glad they sent him instead of FlyBorg with this convoy. Yeah, government-approved nicknames are all pretty unimaginative.
Either way, I’m happy to not have to slug it out with a damn war hero who’s just doing his job. My own job here is done, and it was my last one. At least that’s what I was told.
As I ascend, I spot Dominatrix in the distance. She’s still holding the device, and I’m not sure whether she stuck around to make sure I didn’t get taken alive or to help out if I needed it.
Motives aside, it wasn’t a great decision on her part since she’s the one carrying what we came for. She’s definitely new at this.
Me, I’ve been doing this for almost ten years. But after today, I won’t need to do it any longer.
She flies ahead of me and is en route to the drop point. I break off to the east and make my way to Weston’s office for my exit interview.