Friday, October 24, 2008

"Never Special," Encounter, pt. 5, 429 words

I climb to my feet, angry at Nefarious and angry at myself, and still a little foggy from the gas, when a van pulls up on the side of the road. My stomach knots up. It's not emergency services of any sort.

Shit. Shit, shit, shit. Channel 3, the local Fox affiliate. In other words, the nightly news. I consider throwing myself into the air and away, but someone's getting out even before I can move and he already has a camera on me. On my face. Either way, I'm out. I'm in the public eye now. It may only be as part of a two-minute blurb about the new villain out there, but I'll definitely be aired, because they love pairing new villains with new heroes, and vice versa.

A woman in a pantsuit is moving in front of the camera, holding a wireless microphone as she opens up my part in the blurb. I recognize her, too: Lucila Martinez, one of those reporters hired on to cynically diversify the crew while still keeping the studio anchors lily-white.

"We're here at the side of the road with the woman who threw herself at today's new villain, the so-called 'Nefarious,'" the reporter says, not even looking in my direction yet. I could fly away now, but I'm paralyzed with fear. She goes on, "This unidentified individual is the first and, as yet, only hero to take up the chase."

Martinez turns to me, and I blush at being under the scrutiny of her emerald gaze. She may have been hired in a cynical move, but she's good. Sexy and sharp and entirely wasted interviewing people like me. A year ago, I would've loved to have been at the focus of those eyes, to have her full attention. Now, I'm just uncomfortable.

"Ma'am," she says, businesslike and direct, "most people would just let the other heroes here in Grey take care of this kind of thing. What brought you out here to the chase, Miss...?"

I blink. Being in front of the camera like this, it's a little unnerving, and I'm still not fully recovered from the gas. It takes me a moment to recover my balance, and I start to say, "Sha..." but choke off.

Shatterforce evaporates with the hum of the camera, the simple question of "Who are you?" Because it wasn't Shatterforce chasing that van, facing down Nefarious. She would have done it because it was the good thing, the right thing, to do. For puppies and kittens and apple pie. But I did it for myself.

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