Old Friends & Enemies: Part 2

This wasn’t a good time to ask. Or, thinking about it some more, it struck me that it might be. I could save asking about Adam until the end, just before Tara brought up something if she was going to do that. If he kicked us out at that point, we wouldn’t lose anything.

It might not be the best way to look at it, but it was at least practical. Plus, I felt confident that Tara thought the same way.

You’re right on that one even without telepathy, Daniel told me. Except for Yoselin, we’re all on the same page.

What’s she thinking? Tara glanced over at me and then at Daniel as I thought back at him, catching some tell that was visible even through the Rocket suit for her.

Bullet didn’t notice anything. He kept on talking about the rooms we were walking through as if he were leading a tour.

No idea, Daniel thought back. She thinks in Spanish, but she’s watching everything. You’ll have to ask her yourself.

I decided to leave that for later and it was just as well. We’d reached Bullet’s office. The best description I can give of it was that it fit the house—stained wood on the floor, walls, and ceiling, a thick white rug on the floor, enough space that there was room enough for everyone to sit, and big windows that gave a view of the mountainside.

On the walls hung pictures and framed news articles of Bullet. Some of them showed him with the Brew City Protectors and others with other teams—including the Heroes’ League. Grandpa and Grandma Vander Sloot, both of them in costume, stood next to him, all of them celebrating defeating the Abominators.

Except for his computer and monitors, the desk was empty.

He pointed to the couch and chairs on the other end of the office, saying, “Why don’t we all sit down?”

Everyone did—including me. Even though I wore the full Rocket suit, I guessed that his furniture had been made to take some punishment. By not even moving, much less creaking as I sat, the chair proved me correct.

“Now,” Bullet asked, “what brings you here? I know what it’s like to live this life. I’m sure it’s not a social call.”

We’d discussed how we’d handle it on the way over. In the end, we’d decided to go with what Vaughn called the “rip off the bandage,” approach.

“Have you been paying attention to the news?” I asked. Not giving him time to answer, I added, “I’m specifically thinking of Renewal Island or Metafight Island if you’re more familiar with that name.”

He nodded, “Of course I am. Armory was my friend. Even after he turned into…  whatever he is now—“

Bullet stopped, looking all of us over, eyes widening and the muscles around his jaw tightening.

“You’re right,” Daniel said. “It was us—not all of us here, but Cypher, the Rocket, and I were there.”

Slowly nodding his head, he asked, “What happened?” From his tone, he expected the worst.

Yoselin spoke up first, her accent noticeable–which I suspected was deliberate. “He was selling to anyone who could afford it.”

“It wasn’t his fault,” Daniel said. “Not completely. We looked into his head. He’d been influenced by the Dominators and it started when he was on your team.”

For the first time since we’d stepped into the house, Tara spoke up, “Who was the archer?”

Without missing a beat, Bullet said, “Sorry, that’s pri—“

Eyes wide, shutting his jaw, and holding his hand over his mouth, he got out, “I wasn’t trying to say that.”

“She wore purple,” Tara said, her tone flat and without emotion.

“Sorry, that’s…” Bullet’s eyes widened again, and he leaned forward in his chair. For a second I thought he might run out of the room, but he straightened up, staring ahead and saying to no one in particular, “She killed Master Martian.”

Then he started to sob.

We’d brainstormed possible reactions to our questions so that we’d be ready. Violence had been on my list. Uncontrollable crying wasn’t.

It’s not uncommon for people to cry when the Dominators’ commands finally lose their hold, but stay ready. Violence is still on the table. One command might fail, but if some are still active, it gets unpredictable.

I felt Daniel’s alertness through our link.

Bullet shook his head, and pulled out a handkerchief to wipe the tears from his face, “I haven’t thought about his death in years, but I know I dreamed about it. I remember her voice. She was the first superhero I knew about. It was…”

He stopped, took a breath, and said, “the Amethyst Archer.”

My first thought was that her name sounded kind of cheesy or maybe just dated–with the date being the 1920s. My second thought was that I’d never heard of her. I did, however, have access to Double V’s database and I searched on her name.

It wasn’t quick, and when the search did come back, it didn’t come back with much, just a few news articles from the 1920s through to the early 50s. From what I read, the Amethyst Archer appeared in Madison, Wisconsin, and nowhere else. She’d been named by a reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.

Comparing the black and white newspaper photos with the grainy 80s footage of her, the costume appeared to be the same. While I couldn’t see her face in either picture, both the picture and the footage of her shooting arrows seemed to show the same person. My implant concurred.

Skimming the articles brought up another interesting fact. She’d fought Master Martian twice. The second time she’d buried arrows in his chest and thigh without killing him. The article didn’t say how he’d survived, but she’d disappeared after that.

8 thoughts on “Old Friends & Enemies: Part 2”

    1. One wonders if maybe the current Master Martian is possessed by something that was possessing the Amethyst Archer.

      But it’s slightly unclear to me when Master Martian #2 appeared.

      1. It’s never come up in the story. There’s no reason that you should know that. So far, the only thing that’s been mentioned is that at some point a second Master Martian appeared.

  1. One wonders why, as telepath and a descendent of telepaths who intends to be a hero, Daniel hasn’t learned more languages. Seems like it would be a key part of his training.

    1. @JyoNaythan:

      Time, probably. Young legacy hero, just starting his costumed life… Daniel’s father and grandfather might not have been able to make him split his attention between action (and immediately action-related subjects) and studying languages (not immediately action-related). Too excited to study?

      I agree, though, it does seem like a strange omission, especially given Daniel’s sober demeanor and emphasis on “preparedness” in general… to say nothing of his father’s influence. Perhaps there’s some kind of Universal Translator ability in this world, and Daniel expects to develop it later or is in the process of developing it.

      1. Well, Daniel had the good fortune and misfortune to go through the US educational system. For better or worse, languages aren’t a priority since English is spoken all over and US citizens aren’t as worried about being unable to communicate as we probably should be. Thus, it’s rare that people learn more than one language before leaving high school and it’s seldom necessary to keep it up afterward.

        Both of my kids took six years of a language in middle school through high school (one took Spanish, the other Chinese). Neither is fluent. Personally, I took four years of German plus another three years of Koine Greek and Biblical Hebrew. At my best, I couldn’t count myself fluent in any of them–though I could communicate in German.

        In Daniel’s case, he learned Hebrew since he went to a Jewish day school, majored in history for his undergraduate, and took 2-3 years of Arabic then. He probably also has a smattering of Spanish, but not enough to translate complicated thoughts.

        1. Count yourself lucky. My junior high ‘did us a favor’ by handling our two year requirement of a foreign language.
          Read they got a discount on a used french teacher.
          I wanted to study Spanish or Japanese. (Of course Japanese was right out since they were still teaching COBOL on TRS-80s in the one computer class.)

          1. Heh, we had TRS-80 Model 4’s my Junior and Senior years. Only because our electronics teacher had moved from the professional world to teaching and recognized where things were headed. That was 40 years ago and he still holds the most respect of anyone I’ve ever met.

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